Thursday, January 17, 2013

Double Comfort

Left burner: Peking duck soup. Right burner: Green beans, potatoes, onions and kielbasa. My work days are getting long, as they tend to do in January, good time to stock up the freezer with some comfort food to come home to at the end of the day. They had another great guest musician the Dempsey's seisiún on Tuesday night, but I decided to skip it and tend to the cooking -- Sunday's fun, plus a trip to the Peking Duck House on Friday for a consolation dinner for TQ (who couldn't go on Sunday) left me with a refrigerator full of ingredients that I was ready to turn into something good. Or a couple of somethings, as it turned out!

I'm not sure I ever really explained what Sunday's adventure was - the week before, I was just being silly about the jellyfish, Sunday night I was too tired to do anything more than serve up Tillerman's seaweed and the menu, and the week's been a bit hectic. The day's event (as shown on the final menu, the one without the jellyfish, that I posted a picture of on Sunday) was a "Chinatown Shop and Cook", a really fun 2-part event that was put on by one of my favorite local restaurants (there are a few!)The Farm on Adderley. The way it worked was that we all met Tom Kearney, the restaurant's chef, and Stephen, the manager, in Brooklyn's Chinatown (Sunset Park, just to the southwest of Green-Wood Cemetary, where I've gone to watch the parakeets) at 1:00 in the afternoon.

They started out by giving us copies of the evening's menu, and then they walked us around a number of the local markets, with Tom telling us about what we were seeing and what they could be used for as we went around. That lasted over two hours, then we all parted ways for the rest of the afternoon, reconvening that night at restaurant for an absolutely wonderful meal. We walked out with recipes, but even more than just replicating the things we'd had for dinner, the idea was that with this general introduction, we could start thinking of how to use a lot more of the good things you can find in NYC's various Chinatowns in our own cooking.

It was great. I'd jumped at this when I saw it because my office is very close to Manhattan's Chinatown, and I walk through the area all the time. I do shop there but I've never gotten terribly adventurous; I walk in, I look at the unfamiliar items with curiousity, and then I walk out with the same old bok choy and lap cheong I got the time before and the time before that too. With this intro, I think I can start trying some different things. I actually hadn't planned on doing much shopping on Sunday, but as we were in the first market and Tom started talking about how you can use the various preserved vegetables to add good flavors to a soup or a stew, it hit me that I had a nice meaty duck frame in the 'fridge, and I started buying. A jar of bean paste, some Chinese bacon, some dried things -- this is either going to be the best duck soup I've ever made, or completely inedible.

Oh, and how did the other pot on the stove, an easy easy dish of my mom's that I loved when I was a kid, and still do, fit in with Sunday? Well, it does happen that the Chinese bacon found its way into both pots, but the kielbasa was a special bonus find during the break between the tour and the dinner. My friend Gail had joined me and we were going to go watch the parakeets come home to roost in the evening, stopping in whatever stores caught our eyes along the way. One of those was a Polish butcher shop and grocer that had to have been a holdout from earlier days - it was such an interesting anomaly that we had to go in. They had all sorts of Polish delicacies, including a whole case of all sorts of delicious-looking kielbasi. The shopowner didn't speak English too well, but she did her best to tell us about the different kinds, particularly recommending a variety called "domowa", which she said that was the best and her favorite. We were still hemming and hawing, so she made up our minds for us with samples. Sold!

BTW, I did take lots more pictures that day and I'll try to put those up tonight! Note, 9:30 PM - Oops, I won't be putting up my pictures because it would seem that I somehow managed to delete them all. Bummer. I hate that even more than I hate it when the penguins come to my office, and I miss them! However, if you happen to be on Facebook, the folks at the Farm have posted a very nice gallery - Click here to visit.. I knew I wasn't the only person taking pictures. Although drat, I did have a lovely photo of the octopus balls that Gail and I had for an afternoon snack. I'll have to go back for another try!

This has been a lunchtime blogging break. Because the afternoon's project involves a list of Captain Underpants titles and I can't look at those and eat mushroom barley soup at the same time.


my2fish said...

A double Southern Comfort on the rocks?

bonnie said...

That will be my consolation prize if I wreck the soup.

bonnie said...

Well now I want that because I just discovered that I deleted all my pictures from Sunday! Bummer bummer bummer!

bonnie said...

But at least the soup was good.