Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dining in and dining out: A welcome return to the familiar

One of the first dishes I prepared at home after returning from a vacation in Montreal was a gooey frittata with egg whites, sliced Swiss cheese, shredded Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, plum tomatoes and pesto, all from Costco Wholesale.


I've been having fun looking in our refrigerator and kitchen cabinets, and preparing meals at home after eight days of eating out in Montreal restaurants.

Some of the wonderfully rich food we ate on vacation undoubtedly contained butter and cream, two things I never cook with.

Now, I'm back to organic quinoa, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta, wild salmon, a simple green salad with every dinner, lots of fruit, reduced-fat cheeses and cooking with extra-virgin olive oil.

Organic whole-wheat capellini with organic diced tomatoes, chopped fresh garlic, capers and anchovies. For a pound of pasta, you need a lot of liquid so I also used a 32-ounce bottle of Classico pasta sauce, red wine, extra-virgin olive oil, red-pepper flakes and dried herbs. I also rinsed the capers and anchovies to reduce sodium in the dish.

Use a big pot if you want to, but you'll need only a few inches of water to boil a pound of capellini, also known as angel-hair pasta, and never salt the water. There is plenty of sodium in your other ingredients, especially if you use bottled pasta sauce.

Whole whiting is an inexpensive wild-caught fish with a center spine and a minimum of other bones, making it ideal for picking up and eating like fried chicken. Here, I served the fried fish with leftover organic quinoa prepared in an electric rice cooker with a can of organic diced tomatoes, salt, and olive and sesame oils. My wife bought the fish for $3.99 a pound at the H Mart in Englewood.

I had three bottles of Archer Farms Roasted Salsa Verde from Target in my kitchen cabinet. The mild salsa, made with tomatillos, jalapeno pepppers and green chiles, is ideal as a sauce for leftover organic quinoa, added before you reheat it in a microwave, above, or spooned onto a simple egg-white omelet with reduced-fat cheese in the last minutes of cooking, below.

Unlike bottled green salsas made in Mexico, Archer Farms Roasted Salsa Verde contains sugar.

Fresh wild sockeye salmon, cut into serving pieces, poaching in Roasted Salsa Verde, which serves as both a cooking medium and a sauce for rice, quinoa, pasta or other side dish. I added salt and optional Aleppo pepper to the fish before I put them into the boiling salsa and covered the pan, cooking them for about 8 minutes. Also optional is fresh lime juice added to the salsa before heating it up. 

When I plated the fish with reheated leftover quinoa, I added chopped oregano and mint from our garden, above and below.

My wife bought the wild sockeye salmon at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack on Tuesday for $10.99 a pound. The label didn't specify where in the United States or which river the fish comes from. Tonight, I ate cold leftover salmon and salsa with ripe peach slices.

This morning, I enjoyed one of my favorite breakfasts, pasta and eggs, in this case leftover whole-wheat capellini and two organic brown eggs, sunny side up, from Costco Wholesale with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, Aleppo pepper and chopped oregano, mint and basil from outdoor and indoor plants.

Six 12-ounce pints of sweet Jersey Fresh Blueberries -- called a "flat" -- are on sale for $6.99 through Saturday at the ShopRite in Paramus. One of the produce guys said the blueberries can be frozen in a Ziploc bag, and thawed out on the counter overnight. I'm trying that. Golden pineapples are two for $5 and a half-gallon of ShopRite Lactose Free Milk is on sale for $3.29, a savings of 20 cents.

Complete dinner for $10

The first restaurant meal my wife wanted after we returned from Montreal was Korean soft tofu, with a fresh egg, four side dishes and steamed rice.

At So Gong Dong in Palisades Park, the place-mat menu lists the complete meal for $9.99. On the check, it is rounded up to $10 and includes the tax.

Soft tofu is addictive, and you can order it as spicy or as mild as you want.

The stew is brought to the table with your choice of meat, seafood, kimchi or soybeans, bubbling furiously, and a fresh egg is provided for poaching in the steaming broth.

My Rich Soybean Soft Tofu contained whole soybeans.

Rich Soybean Soft Tofu at So Gong Dong in Palisades Park.

Cabbage kimchi is one of the four side dishes that come with the meal, and you can ask for as much as you can eat. Hot or cold tea also is included.

Pickled radish and jalapeno pepper.

Besides soft tofu, we also ordered a seafood pancake ($12), but took most of it home. The simple dining room has tables to accommodate multigenerational Korean families.

The expanded place-mat menu also offers pork and beef barbecue, dumplings, ramyun, bibimbap and other traditional Korean dishes.

So Gong Dong, 118 Broad Ave., 2nd Floor, Palisades Park; 1-201-313-5550. Open 7 days. Free parking on side streets. 

Other So Gong Dongs are in Manhattan and Hartsdale, N.Y.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please try to stay on topic.