Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tofu, coffee beans, brown rice and feta cheese

Tofu in an entree, above, and a soup, below, was the star of our dinner at Wondee's in Hackensack, where a small bowl of brown rice is $2.50 extra.

We asked for bowls of Vegetable Soup with tofu from the Vegetarian Menu to be made spicy.

Pra Ram is described as "steamed watercress" topped with tofu and Wondee's peanut sauce. When eaten with rice, this entree served two.

We usually have an early dinner at Wondee's Fine Thai Food and Noodles in Hackensack, never make a reservation and have the place to ourselves.

But on Saturday night, my wife and I didn't get there until 7, and we were the first in a wave of customers that quickly filled the restaurant, disrupting one server's dinner.

Two large parties of 10 or more people put a strain on the kitchen, which forgot one of the entrees we ordered.

It was just as well: We were full after soup, a shared entree and a bowl of rice -- for a grand total of $23, including tax. 

I also drank a bottle of Mexican beer I brought from home.

I don't eat meat or poultry and my wife wanted to go vegetarian, so we ordered a small vegetable soup with tofu for each of us ($3.50), and an entree of vegetables and tofu in a light, flowing peanut sauce ($11). 

When our second tofu entree, Mock Duck Kraprow ($12), didn't arrive, the peanut sauce was perfect with the half bowl of brown rice I had left. 

We love Chef Wandee Suwangbutra for packing her dishes with fresh vegetables and garnishing them with fresh herbs, and when we feel like whole fish or meat, there are plenty of choices from her kitchen.


Wondee's, 296 Main St., Hackensack; 201-883-1700. BYO, small parking lot in rear, reservations taken, no delivery, closed Mondays.

A Starbucks in the Astoria section of Queens has a black-and-white photo mural showing scenes from the early years of the company, right.

The daily grind

I may never again buy a pound of coffee beans from New York-based Fairway Market in Paramus.

I stopped at a Starbucks in Queens on Friday, and took advantage of a coffee-bean promotion: 

2 pounds of Tribute Blend for $14.95, the normal price of 1 pound.

The blend was created to celebrate Starbucks' 40th anniversary, using four coffee beans, according to the company Web site:

"Ethiopian sun-dried beans with an exotic flourish of dark cherry; Aged Sumatra, loved for its syrupy body and cedary spice notes; juicy herbal and complex coffees from Papua New Guinea; and our Colombia coffee, bright, balanced and nutty."

Worth the price

Starbucks coffee beans are more expensive than those at Fairway, but the coffee made from them tastes better, too.

Frequent promotions bring Starbucks beans close to or below the price for Fairway Market beans.

I use a Turkish grind in my drip coffeemaker.


At the Starbucks in the Astoria section, I saw an elderly man with a walker slouched in a chair, enjoying a large cup of coffee.

"I live across the street, and I've been coming here since it opened, 14 or 15 years," said the white-haired man, who appeared to be in his 80s.

He said he drops by "two or three times a day" for coffee.

Hole everything

The day before, I stopped for a takeout cup of coffee at Jackson Hole, the chain hamburger restaurant on Grand Avenue in Englewood.

The cashier refused my credit card as payment for a $1.90 cup of hazelnut coffee, and asked for cash.

That would never happen at Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's or lots of other places I buy coffee.

I've been using Della-brand Organic Brown Rice from Costco Wholesale as a substitute for bread at breakfast, above, and as the foundation for home-cooked entrees like Icelandic flounder poached with organic diced tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil and lime juice, below.

Greek New York

The Astoria section of Queens is known for its many Greek restaurants, and on Friday, I saw people enjoying fantastic-looking seafood at sun-splashed tables outside Taverna Kyclades on Ditmars Boulevard.

The next morning, I incorporated crumbled feta cheese in a frittata with Kirkland Signature smoked wild salmon and Basil Pesto, and fresh and sun-dried tomatoes.

With sodium in the feta cheese, smoked salmon and pesto, there is no need to add salt to the 4 whole eggs and egg whites I mix with a little low-fat milk for fluffiness and season with Costco's Organic No-Salt Seasoning.

The egg-and-milk mixture are poured into a 10-inch, non-stick pan with extra-virgin olive oil that is preheated on the stove. Ideally, the mixture sizzles when it hits the pan. Then, tomatoes, sliced salmon, feta cheese and pesto are added while the crust firms up, The frittata is finished under the low setting of a broiler for about 10 minutes, until the top browns, above.

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