Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A taste of the islands

escoveitch!Image by wayneandwax via Flickr

My wife and son didn't return from Jamaica empty handed. Her luggage contained nearly a dozen small fish that had been escoveitched, a spicy preparation that made a great dinner tonight with yellow rice, large butter beans with tomato and a green salad.

My mother-in-law fried the fish and then doused them in vinegar with hot pepper, pimiento, onion and carrot (photo). They were wrapped in aluminum foil.

I had business Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack, and tried to return home for lunch.

But it was pouring Tuesday, so I ducked into John's Coffee Shop on Sussex Street, near the courthouse, and ate lukewarm vegetarian pea soup and an egg-white Spanish omelet flecked with black bits from the grill. The original owner, who served judges and lawyers for decades, sold the place, and the new owner -- well, let's just say I won't be returning.

Here is a link with a recipe for those small fish my wife brought home: Jamaican fish recipe
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

At La Ziza Restaurant in Clifton

Hookah / Sheesha assembled


La Ziza is a Lebanese restaurant near the Paterson Farmers' Market that opened recently in the space once occupied by Al Assayad.

Unfortunately, the use of a hookah (photo) is allowed in the dining room, a concession to smokers that drove me away from the old place.

Luckily, only a few other tables were occupied while I had dinner last night, and I didn't find the fruity smoke a problem. I asked Jamal, the waiter, if smoking the water pipe improved the appetite, and he said he didn't think so.

I watched people at the next table as they ate, then smoked a little and then returned to eating. I still don't get it.

At the old place, to get away from the smoking, we asked to be seated on the second floor. But the service was poor, because the waiter had to run up and down the stairs.

Fortunately, the food at La Ziza is good enough to persuade me to return with my wife and son.

After I placed my order, I got the usual plate of pickles and olives, and warm, chewy pocket bread, which, as is the custom at Arabic restaurants, is microwaved in the plastic bag (with a small opening).

I enjoyed a fatoush salad ($6.95), which combines romaine lettuce with cucumbers, tomato, onion and fried bread chunks in a lemony dressing that includes powdered sumac. I wasn't sure whether it was sumac, because it lacked the sourness of the sumac used in the za'atar thyme mixture.
I ordered the fried whiting listed on the menu ($12.95), and received a platter of rice with fried bread sandwiching four whole fish, each about seven to eight inches long. They had been quickly fried, leaving a crunchy tail and head and moist flesh along the bone. Wonderful. I ate two fish there and the rest for dinner tonight at home.

Strong, smooth Arabic coffee came in a small pot ($2), enough for two cups.

This would be a terrific place for maza, the meal of small plates chosen from the appetizers, such as fava beans and spicy potatoes, to name just two of the meatless items. But carnivores will find plenty of meat throughout the menu.

La Ziza Restaurant, 341 Crooks Ave., Clifton
(Crooks Avenue divides Paterson and Clifton);

For an update on La Ziza, see North Jersey-style food run

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why are these tortillas green?

La Flor de PueblaImage by Hagens_world via Flickr

I had lunch with a friend yesterday at La Batalla, a small, colorful Mexican restaurant with groceries in Bergenfield. Non-meat offerings were limited, but I enjoyed two soft tacos with small shrimp, served with refried beans and yellow rice.

After we paid, I noticed stacks of tortillas, including green ones I had never seen before (Mi Pueblito brand from Passaic city, where thousands of Mexicans live). A customer and the woman who worked there didn't know why they were green. My friend looked at the label and said "green corn." Was that a statement or a question, because when I got home I saw only "corn flour" listed. (Photo: Produce store in Mexico.)

I wanted to use the tortillas for dinner last night, so I heated three of them on my stove-top griddle, topped them with sliced provolone cheese and stacked them on a plate. I made three sunny-side-up eggs in extra-virgin olive oil with salt and coarse Aleppo red pepper and put them over the tortillas and melted cheese, which were delicious soaked in the broken yolks.

I had mixed vegetables on the side and drank pinot grigio from Italy.

La Batalla, 83 N. Washington Ave., Bergenfield; 
201-385-0303. Credit cards accepted. Web site:
La Batalla

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Free-range Australian lamb for $1.99 a pound

based on :Image:Lamb-Cuts-Brit.Image via Wikipedia

For Easter, A&P and Pathmark are discounting free-range, grass-fed Australian leg of lamb for only $1.99 a pound. The sale at both starts today.

The Pathmark ad doesn't specify the country of origin, though it's likely Australia or New Zealand, where lower costs allow ranchers to raise their animals naturally, without antibiotics, growth hormones or animal by-products. You need a Pathmark card to get the sale price. I haven't seen the ShopRite circular to compare prices.

The leg of  lamb is semi-boneless.

At Fairway Market in Paramus, conventionally raised American leg of lamb with the bone is $5.69 a pound. So you can see what a great deal Pathmark and A&P are offering. Unfortunately, even though lamb is an all-time favorite, I won't be buying any because of our meatless-meal pledge.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

I can't believe I ate the whole thing

EggplantImage via Wikipedia

I was out all day yesterday and grabbed meals where I could -- in Morristown and Wayne.

For lunch, I did takeout from Cha Cha Cha Cuban Bistro, which opened a couple of months ago. I liked my avocado salad with mixed greens, onion and orange slices in a mango dressing ($6) and small black bean soup ($3), but the yellow rice that came with it was undercooked and hard.

On the way to see a Turkish film at William Paterson University in Wayne, I stopped at Brother Bruno Pizza, the octagonal wooden restaurant on a hill that I had passed so many times in the last few decades without going in. (It's been there since 1976.)

The displayed pizzas looked ossified, so I ordered an eggplant parmigiana hero and seltzer. The sandwich tasted homemade -- just the right proportions of thin, breaded eggplant, melted cheese and sauce that didn't get  all over the place, including on  my clothes.

But it was at least a foot long and enough for two. I can't believe I ate the whole thing.

Brother Bruno Pizza, 140 Hamburg Turnpike, Wayne;
 973-790-3321. Web site: Brother Bruno Pizza

Cha Cha Cha Cuban Bistro, 23 Washington St., Morristown;
973-998-6388. (15% off delivery orders through April.)

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eating alone

Basil leaves (Ocimum basilicum).Image via Wikipedia

My wife and son are away, freeing me from having to prepare dinner for three this week.

So I've been eating this and that for breakfast and dinner, and keeping our meatless pledge.

Our last meal together was Sunday night, when I served lobster ravioli with pesto sauce and king crab-and-corn chowder -- all from Costco in Hackensack -- along with toasted Balthazar Bakery bread and a salad of organic greens. (Photo: Basil leaves.)

We went to Lotus Cafe in Hackensack for dinner Saturday night -- tofu and spinach soup, large shrimp in chili sauce, lo mien with vegetables and snow pea tips with fresh garlic.

On my own Monday, I had a sardine sandwich for breakfast and fish and pasta for dinner -- spinach egg noodles with pesto and steamed Pacific flounder (from frozen).

This morning, I grazed for breakfast on leftover dips from Aleppo Restaurant in Paterson, smoked salmon fillet, sardines, cheese, a toasted bagel, sliced tomato with za'atar thyme mixture and kimchi, all washed down with black tea.

Dinner came from H Mart in Englewood, where I found a spicy fish-and-tofu soup ($4.99) and rolls of rice, vegetables, imitation crab and seaweed ($3.49). I ate the soup with steamed yellow rice I prepared.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

ShopRite or shop wrong?

ShopRiteImage via Wikipedia

It seems like I have been patronizing ShopRite forever. I recall moving to Englewood 30 years ago, and visiting what passed for a supermarket downtown. I can't remember its name, but nearly every shopper felt they deserved better.

We eventually got better -- urban renewal and a shopping center anchored by a ShopRite. Late 1980s, early 1990s? Can't be sure, but it became my main source of food locally. From the outset, produce was a weak point and it never really improved, despite the addition of organic products.

But the store began carrying Readington Farms chicken, a cheaper alternative to organic that is raised on vegetarian feed and without antibiotics; free-range, grass-fed Australian lamb and beef, the latter often for under $5 a pound; and packaged cold cuts without preservatives. Unfortunately, you couldn't count on every ShopRite having these products.

For example, the Rochelle Park store, which I began to patronize after our move to Hackensack in 2007, isn't strong on Goya and other Hispanic products, and doesn't even sell plantains. It also doesn't carry preservative-free cold cuts; the deli guy told me when he stocked them, they rotted on the shelf. And the fish guy there once confided he sprays a preservative on seafood. Gross.

Now, I shop at the Hackensack and Rochelle Park ShopRites, but my wife insists on returning to the Englewood store, which has been expanded at least twice. I get most of my produce and fish at H Mart, the big Korean supermarket in Little Ferry, or at Costco in Hackensack. 

I occasionally visit the Stop & Shop in Teaneck for the chain's naturally raised food, sold under the Nature's Promise label, which can be found throughout the store -- meat, dairy, lemonade and so forth.  

But Stop & Shop doesn't carry the items ShopRite imports from Spain and Italy: artisan, bronze-cut pasta; lemony lady fingers, and carbonated, 100%  fruit juice, to name just three.

Over the years, my visits to ShopRite became less frequent as I relied more and more on Fairway Market in Harlem (and now in Paramus), Trader Joe's, Costco, H Mart, Whole Foods and Fattal's Bakery. Yet, I don't think I'll ever stop going there for something.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

ShopRite takes on Stop & Shop

At the ShopRite in Paramus in 2014.

 ShopRite has a full-page ad in The Record of Woodland Park today, trying to document its claim of being the "low-price leader" over Stop & Shop. 

You might have seen all the TV ads touting Stop & Shop's prices recently.

ShopRite says it has more than 700 items in its circular, compared with about 280 items in the Stop & Shop flier. 

"Where do you really think you can save more money every week?" 

The ShopRite ad lists 22 items with prices from both stores, and says ShopRite saves you $36.84 or 36%.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shopping and tasting notes

Great Falls in Paterson NJImage by Tony the Misfit via Flickr

When you live in Hackensack, as I do, it doesn't make sense to do takeout from Aleppo, my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in Paterson. But on the way home from Morristown yesterday on Route 80, it was an easy detour to buy our dinner and stock up on Syrian bread, sardines, canned hummus and other items. (Photo: Great Falls in Paterson.)

My first stop was the parking lot in front of Fattal's Bakery on Main Street. I bought 10 cans of sardines (99 cents to $1.09 each); three dozen fresh pocket breads ($1.50 a dozen), canned hummus ($1.09), hot peppers ($2.99 a pound) and homemade spinach-and-cheese pies ($8.99 for six).

At Aleppo, less than two blocks away at Main and Thomas streets, I asked Halla the waitress for a bowl of lentil soup -- a delicious puree scented with cumin and served with small pieces of fried bread and lemon. I also ordered takeout -- fried whiting with rice, the hot pepper dip called muhammara, hummus and fried cheese turnovers.

The fish, oily rice, dips and turnovers made another satisfying, meatless dinner. Tomorrow will mark our third week without chicken, beef, pork or lamb, and I still haven't run out of menu ideas. I've actually dropped a few pounds and can fit into my old jeans again.

Thursday night, we enjoyed Boca-brand soy burgers with cheese on yeasty Balthazar Bakery potato-onion rolls. I made a Syrian-style fingerling potato salad: extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, allspice, coarse Aleppo red pepper and salt to taste, and also served an organic green salad.

I'm not sure where we'll be eating tonight -- our weekly dinner out -- but I have lobster ravioli and corn-and-crab chowder in the freezer for Sunday dinner.

Although we haven't been buying meat, I've noticed ShopRite hasn't put free-range, grass-fed Australian beef on sale for weeks, but continues to discount conventionally raised U.S. beef and chicken.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Trader Joe's is still on my list

Niman Ranch, Inc.Image via Wikipedia

Before we pledged to eat meatless meals more than two weeks ago, Trader Joe's was a reliable source for uncured, preservative-free bacon, hot dogs and cold cuts, and incredible, naturally raised, fully cooked St. Louis-style ribs from the Niman Ranch -- all at good prices.

When I found myself in Westwood yesterday, I dropped into the Trader Joe's there to see what else might help us diversify our homemade dinners.

I went looking right away for one of our favorites -- sliced yogurt cheese with jalapeno ($4.69) -- and discovered shredded soy three-cheese blend ($3.79), and other soy cheeses for future shopping trips. I also picked up some great hand-made tortillas -- flour and whole wheat ($2.49 each) and habanero lime ($2.69).

And I bought another bottle of raw organic agave sweetener ($2.99) , which is terrific over yogurt or pancakes, and Trader Joe's premium extra-virgin olive oil ($7.99 for 32 ounces). The front label says imported from Italy, but on the side, it lists four countries for the product: Italy, Spain, Argentina and Greece.

Web site: Trader Joe's

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Guess who's coming for dinner?

ProvoloneImage via Wikipedia

No. I didn't invite Jerry's to dinner at my house tonight, but most of the food we'll be eating comes from his Italian specialty store, which is even more alluring during the recession.

Oh, it's not just the free cheese, bread, olive oil and other samples I enjoy when shopping in the South Dean Street store in Englewood.

It's the good value you get there, like the homemade potato focaccia with onion and tomato ($3.99 for a hefty 24 ounces) that I'll be serving as an appetizer tonight, possibly adding sliced provolone (photo) at a friendly $2.49 a pound.

For our entrees, three of us we'll share two restaurant-quality "Meals To Go" -- grouper and tilapia with such side dishes as spinach lasagna, artichokes and orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage (which we'll discard to keep our meatless pledge). They are only $6.99 and $4.99 after 4 p.m.. if there are any left.

Red wine and salad will complete our meal.

Jerry's Gourmet & More, 410 S. Dean St.,
Englewood; 201-871-7108.
Jerry's Homemade

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Just smell that wonderful broth

Basic Pho Bo Hanoi StyleImage by Hanoi Mark via Flickr

We moved out of Englewood in the summer of 2007 and stopped going to Saigon, the Vietnamese restaurant where we first encountered pho when the place opened about nine years ago.

I remember how I met owner K.T. Tran in the checkout line at the ShopRite and she showed me the lease she had just signed on a Palisade Avenue storefront. 

Yesterday, we returned for an early dinner after deciding against fighting traffic to eat at Aleppo Restaurant in Paterson -- the fourth postponed meal there since it was reviewed Feb. 17 in The New York Times.

When Joe the waiter set down my bowl of pho with shrimp, I leaned close to the anise-scented beef broth and breathed deeply. Wonderful. You'd be hard put to find a broth that matches the aroma of this one. 

The rice-noodle soup and fried vegetable dumplings made a satisfying meal, even though we knew the broth violated the spirit of our meatless pledge.

And we really enjoyed catching up with Joe and K.T.

Saigon R, 58 W. Palisade Ave.,
Englewood; 201-871-4777. Closed Mondays.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Monotony is setting in

a garnished crabcake.Image via Wikipedia

My 12-year-old son was the first to use the word "monotony" to describe the meatless, fish-heavy meals we have been preparing at home for the past two weeks. Today, that word echoed in my head as I made my weekly trip to Costco in search of more variety.

I picked up Boca-brand soy burgers and frozen Maryland crab cakes at the Hackensack store, but passed on frozen mahi-mahi fillets and frozen Icelandic fish and chips, because I still have lots of frozen Pacific flounder and frozen Alaskan sockeye salmon, which I steamed in an Asian sauce and served with instant mashed potatoes and salad last night.

I walked warily past the Australian lamb I used to love to see what was in the fresh fish case, and startled a woman with a warning about the farmed salmon she was looking at. Damn. No fresh, wild-caught haddock, thick, meaty fillets that would be great fried -- my son's favorite preparation.

So, it looks like Maryland crab cakes (without the garnish shown in the photo above) and lots of frozen vegetables for dinner tonight. I'm not proud. If you have an idea for a meatless dinner, please pass it along.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

More meat-free meals

Yellowfin tuna, the other of Cross's common fi...Image via Wikipedia

Fish and seafood have been our salvation during the meatless regimen we have been following for nearly two weeks.

This morning, I made a canned fish salad with yellowfin tuna (photo), sardines, chopped red onion, Dijon mustard, cumin and lemon juice, and put it on a sandwich spread with pesto. For dinner last night, we had flounder fillets in Mexican red sauce, black beans and yellow rice.

The Pasta Prima-brand lobster ravioli from Costco we prepared Wednesday evening were delicious with salad and wine.

On Friday, during an unscheduled visit to the Hackensack Costco, I found spinach patties and saw but didn't buy wild-salmon patties. (I have an unopened bag of sockeye salmon fillets from Alasaka in my freezer.)

How about this for dinner? Heat a spinach patty with thin-sliced Swiss cheese, top it with a salmon patty with same or different melted cheese, and spoon light tomato sauce over them.
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wild salmon in a box

Coho salmon Based on the drawing from Silver o...Image via Wikipedia

The boxes have been on my counter since Valentine's Day. Inside, there are 3-, 4- and 5-ounce portions of wild-caught Alaskan salmon, hardwood-smoked without preservatives.

The meaty fillets are in aseptic pouches, and the pouches are inside shrink-wrapped cardboard boxes. The fish doesn't require refrigeration -- one reason I don't feel compelled to eat it. That's a lot of packaging, and the boxes are much bigger than necessary. (Photo: Coho salmon.)

The other day, I assembled a breakfast sandwich on toasted baguette, opening one of the pouches and, after draining a little liquid, adding the fish to some sliced smoked wild salmon from Costco, hummus, tomato with za'atar thyme mixture and lettuce. As I ate, the only off note was the dry salmon fillet.

I bought the smoked fish from Kasilof Fish Co. of Marysville, Wash., online at
Once it's gone, I don't think I'll get more.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A hearty fish soup for dinner

my king mackerelImage by Lil' El via Flickr

I was planning to prepare veggie patties or lobster ravioli for our meatless dinner last night, but my wife surprised me with a thick, delicious, Jamaican fish tea.

That's right, fish tea is fish soup -- filled with pieces of king fish steaks, fingerling potatoes, carrots, dumplings (boiled dough), hot peppers and chayote. Almost any fish would do as well. (Photo: king mackerel.)

Two bowls full, toasted baguette and wine made a lovely dinner, supplemented by two items I picked up at H Mart in Englewood -- finger maki (vegetables and rice wrapped in seaweed) and stewed pollack with peppers.

My wife used Grace-brand fish tea mix from Jamaica as the base for her soup (ShopRite in Englewood has a nice selection of Jamaican food products). The fish-flavored soup mix contains MSG. (Originally, I wrote it didn't have monosodium glutamate.)

This soup would be fairly easy to make. First, prepare two packages of  fish soup mix, according to the directions, then add the ingredients that take the longest to cook first -- carrots and potatoes. When they are tender, add remaining ingredients, plus some garlic.
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

In search of more meatless meals

Diversity in dry common beansImage via Wikipedia

I made my weekly run to Costco in Hackensack today with the goal of  bolstering our meatless dinner choices, and came home with three different wild-caught fish and some wonderful-looking lobster ravioli.

I picked up a tray of fresh haddock fillets from Iceland at $7.49 a pound, frozen sockeye salmon fillets from Alaska ($25.89 for three pounds) and an item I hadn't seen before -- frozen Pacific flounder fillets ($8.69 for two pounds).

The lobster ravioli should provide two meals ($11.99). I looked at the ingredients, and Atlantic lobster is listed second, right after the flour to make the pasta.

At Balthazar Bakery later in the day, I bought a double baguette and hit the jackpot -- it was about 10 inches to 12 inches longer than usual, but the $4 price was the same. When I got it home, my wife, son and I stood around cutting off pieces and eating them with thin-sliced Swiss cheese.

For dinner tonight, I cooked the haddock in Mexican green salsa and opened a can of organic pinto beans from Whole Food Market, heating them in a small pot and adding non-salt seasoning and black pepper. We ate the fish, salsa and beans over steamed white rice with a salad.

Tomorow night, I plan to serve veggie patties with cheese, lettuce and tomato on onion-potato rolls from Balthazar. On Wednesday, we'll try the lobster ravioli in tomato sauce.

And it looks like our one meal out Saturday night will be at our favorite soft-tofu stew restaurant in Palisades Park. If we make it to Sunday, it will mark two weeks without meat (chicken, pork, beef or lamb).

Breakfasts have been easy. I've had eggs with Colombian corn cakes (arepas), hot oat meal with dried blueberries or a sandwich of wild smoked salmon with kimchi on the side. I've been trying to skip lunches, relying on black coffee or home-brewed espresso and crackers and cheese or fruit.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Is this restaurant a honey?

Killer KabobsImage by Another Pint Please... via Flickr

We had dinner last night in an Iranian grocery store with several tables that calls itself Honey Mediterranean Gourmet & Market.

The tables, which seat 20 to 25 people, seem to be an afterthought. Service in this family run place was well-meaning but slow. We were seated at a glass table near the front door, which proved drafty when a group of six or seven people took their time leaving.

We told the waitress we didn't want to eat meat, but could have fish, and she pointed out meatless soups, appetizers and an entree on the limited menu. My wife and I  liked everything we had, but the real specialties here are kabobs of well-seasoned beef and lamb, filet mignon and chicken, and the place was filled with their cooking aroma and the sound of Iranian music.

Frankly, I am all kabobed out, if there is such a word. Every Syrian, Lebanese, Armenian, Turkish and Iranian restaurant in North Jersey offers kabobs, but at most places you can find much more interesting food that isn't served on a skewer.

When we sat down, the waitress brought us a plate of parsley and raw onion (to eat with our meal, we were told), and a tasty, round flat bread baked in the restaurant. We got a second one with our soup, a thick preparation of spinach, cilantro, parsley, noodle, bean and lentil called ash reshteh. My son -- a soup-lover -- only had a couple of spoonfuls.

We tried three appetizers -- bland hummus; cold rice-and-lentil stuffed grape leaves; and a vegetable souffle called kookoo sabzi. Falafel also is served. Our entree was sabzi pollo -- tilapia and basmati rice green with dill and other herbs.

To finish, I had unsweetened tea, and we shared some nice coconut macaroons. Our meal cost $52 with tax but not tip, which you have to ask the woman at the register to include in your credit card total or  leave in cash.

Honey Mediterranean Gourmet & Market, 
1150 Teaneck Road, Teaneck; 201-530-5082.
No American Express cards.
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Friday, March 5, 2010

Jerry's 'Meals To Go' went fast

The Patagonian toothfish is a robust benthopel...Image via Wikipedia

If you've ever had one of the complete dinners called "Meals To Go" from Jerry's Gourmet in Englewood, you know what a delicious bargain they are. What I didn't know is that the Italian specialty store drops the price to $4.99 from $6.99 at 4 p.m.

A restaurant-quality meal -- entree, vegetable, pasta and other side dishes -- is already a steal at $6.99. At $4.99, well ... they really fly out of the refrigerated case, as I found out when I showed up a little after 5 p.m. today and they were gone. My consolation prize was free samples of a half-dozen cheeses Jerry's puts out every day.

I remember well the  "Meal To Go" with Chilean sea bass (photo), and others with flounder and other seafood, which we have been eating in place of meat since Sunday.

Tonight, I took a cup of  leftover Mexican green sauce with a little fish in it, added six eggs, tomato, red pepper and onion, and poured the mixture into a large, non-stick frying pan with hot extra-virgin olive oil. I put pieces of sliced yogurt cheese on top, and let it cook on the stove for about 15 minutes. I finished it under the broiler.

We ate the frittata with leftover spaghetti and sardines in tomato sauce and broccoli rabe from our dinner last night.

Jerry's Gourmet & More, 410 S. Dean St., 
Englewood; 201-871-7108.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Shopping, eating and restaurant notes

Broccoli RabeImage by g[wiz] via Flickr

 If we eat meatless meals, do I have to do less food shopping?

We started our regimen on Sunday, I made my weekly visit to Costco on Monday and didn't go food shopping again until today, when I bought broccoli rabe (photo) to go along with tonight's spaghetti and sardines in tomato sauce. (I even have some terrific Balthazar Bakery mini-baguettes in the freezer to scoop up the sauce.)

I didn't have to go to ShopRite, but wanted to recycle plastic bags that were piling up in my garage, and thought I'd go in to see if I could get collard or mustard greens for tonight. But the greens had brown edges or looked as if they had been there from the day before. 

The broccoli rabe seemed high at $2.99 a pound, and it rang up at $4.69 (1.57 pounds). Wow. So who is more bitter, me or the broccoli? I looked at arepas (Colombian corn cakes), and they were priced $1 more than at Hackensack Market. The other items I bought were on sale: extra-sharp cheddar cheese and Breyers ice cream for my wife and son.

Yesterday, I met Bernadette Baum, the vibrant and charming author of the "Diva Indoors" food blog, and her friend Jennifer for lunch at Huong Viet in Nutley, and managed to find meatless choices on the extensive menu: vegetarian summer rolls, egg noodles with tofu but without the usual ground pork, fried tilapia and mustard greens with garlic.

Service was slow when I had dinner there with my wife and son, but I was brought tea and a menu when I walked in around 12:15 yesterday afternoon and said I was waiting for someone. After Bernadette and Jennifer arrived, we were moved quickly to a bigger table and, although the waitress was pleasant, some of our food took a long time to emerge from the kitchen. I also noticed food stains on the uncovered table from previous customers.
I again tried the thick, black coffee I loved from my dinner there, and again didn't have the patience to wait for it to drip into the cup -- a full five minutes. I hurried it along, but it was only lukewarm when I drank it. Bernadette asked for "Vietnamese coffee" and later asked to see the package, but the waitress said it was too big to bring out to the dining room.

For dinner last night, we had fully cooked, all-vegetable patties (Costco) that I warmed up in the oven and topped with sliced cheese. I put mine in pocket bread and added some of my organic salad mix and Dijon mustard. Very nice.
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The upside of going meatless

Parmesan cheeseImage via Wikipedia

Since starting our meatless regimen on Sunday, I've enjoyed a lot of cheese -- glorious cheese.

Cheese is one of those fatty foods I have been careful about. Although I have never met a cheese I didn't like, being lactose-intolerant has never made it an easy choice.

Usually, I had only Parmigiano-Reggiano (photo) in the fridge, because it is made with skim milk, and a sliced yogurt cheese with jalapenos I buy at Trader Joe's. Lately, I've expanded to a thin-sliced, lactose-free Swiss cheese from Costco.

Two farms in North Jersey, Bobolink Dairy in Vernon and Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley, have wonderful, artisanal cheeses I have enjoyed occasionally, and I've lost count of the "lunches" I've made of the free cheese samples at Jerry's in Englewood.

Looking for a meatless lunch today at The Famished Frog in Morristown, I chose the vegetable panini, and it was filled with a gooey cheese, probably mozzarella, along with a meaty mushroom and other veggies. It was a little bland until I added Dijon mustard.

Our meatless meal tonight was Canadian flounder fillets, which cooked in under 10 minutes in a covered pan with Mexican green salsa, and gourmet fingerling potatoes, boiled and then sauteed in oil with onion and sweet pepper.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Stocking up for meatless meals

ChickpeasImage via Wikipedia

I spent $68 today on my weekly run to Costco in Hackensack -- all of it on produce, fish and non-meat items that will help us keep our pledge to eat meatless meals. (See earlier post, "We take the pledge at Wondee's")

I brought home a 13-pound carton of California navel oranges ($8.99), wild-caught Canadian flounder fillets ($8.49 a pound), all-vegetable patties ($10.89 for 14), organic edamame ($4.99 for 24 ounces), gourmet fingerling potatoes ($6.99 for five pounds), organic salad mix ($4.49), herbicide-free tomatoes ($4.99), strawberries ($4.99 for two pounds), lemons ($6.49 for five pounds) and bananas ($1.32 for three pounds).

I saw Glatt kosher, vegan falafel for about $7 (two pounds), but thought that was overkill. Falafel is made of chickpeas (photo) and spices. Who needs it both kosher and vegan? I could probably do better on the soybeans at H Mart.

Last night, we sauteed two pounds of wild-caught shrimp that had been marinated in red wine, garlic, red-pepper flakes and salt, and served it with yellow rice and organic black beans, which I heated up and seasoned with lots of spices. I also had a salad of organic greens. Very satisfying.

Tonight, we are having a vegetarian meal imported from India by Target, with rice, bread and salad. But Costco was out of Asian Indian bread, so we'll eat Syrian bread. Tomorrow night, we'll fry the flounder I bought today.
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