Friday, July 27, 2007

Wedded Bliss!

Okay, a little off topic, but I figure this is as good a place as any to post links to our wedding photos... Restaurant photos were taken at Mombar, home of Ali's brother Mustafa.

Photos here are courtesy of Zora and the ones here were taken by Matt R.

Enjoy! Stay tuned for more SND!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ali In The New York Times!

Our very own Ali El-Sayed, The Master Of Egyptian Hocus-Pocus, got a stellar review from Peter Meehan in today's New York Times. Check it out here.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Last Dinner Before The Wedding... Beer Can Chicken Redux!

So, for the last Sunday Dinner before next weekend's big Staten Island Ferry wedding, we wanted something simple, but bursting with the flavors of summer.

Beer Can Chicken to the rescue! Initially, I had grand ideas of making pickled okra, chow chow and maybe even cheese straws, but these were quickly tempered by the lack of time and the fact that Zora was out of town until the food was supposed to hit the table. We had 17 hungry kiddies to feed.

It was ungodly hot, (like 94 degrees hot). Everything was going swimmingly until the beer bubbled over the cans and sort of extinguished the coals and the temperature kept dropping. The chickens were beautifully cooked on the inside, but the skin outside made them look like sickly babies. Not so nice.

After a tense conversation that ultimately required Peter to step in as arbitrator, we transferred the boiling ladies from the coal grill to the gas grill and nearly incinerated them with the new, higher heat. I think I recall Peter muttering something about a fire extinguisher, as we watched flame from the chicken grease shoot out the sides of the grill... Ultimately, they looked less sickly and more like burnt babies, but they were perfectly cooked and soooo juicy, because they had cooked for so long on a lower temp. Who knew?

Zora got extra points for showing up with HONEST TO GOD REAL BALTIMORE CRAB CAKES.

There was no overt violence (fork related wounds, eye poking, bite marks or, you know, plain old punching) as there had been in previous attempts to serve crabcakes in an orderly fashion, but they were sure gone in a hurry. These delicious little fuckers were followed by:

Boiled Peanuts -- just like Grammy from Alabammy makes (Not my Grammy, mind you, but someone's Grammy.)

Farm Lettuce Salad With Radishes, Celery, Red Onion and Cucumber in a Buttermilk-Mint Dressing

Our Guilty Secret Cornbread With Paprika Butter

Black Eyed Peas With Jacob's Cattle Beans, Ham Hocks and Slab Bacon

Grilled Treviso With Olive Oil and Salt

Salt Boiled Potatoes

Summer Squash Au Gratin With Salsa Verde, Gruyere In Brown Butter With Breadcrumbs


Jean Halberstam's Deep Fried Peaches for dessert. Good Lord.

Oh, and, of course... all of the wine and beer our systems would permit.

Karl was the kitchen slave of the day and Karine joined also to help. Thank god-- or I never would have made it.

Next time we do this.... we will be joined in holy matrimony.... or something like that!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

What I Did For Independence Day Lunch

Dredging the chickenses in flour & corn starch...


Hamly goodness!

Rewarding the kitchen staff!

Why We Love Edna Lewis...

Oh My God... Totally Fucking Delicious.

Edna Lewis' Fried Chicken!

If you missed my food commentary during the second hour of WNYC's Morning Edition today, Click here to listen! or play it here:

It's called "Independence Day Through Food" , and it's about my tradition of serving
Edna Lewis' Fried Chicken every July 4th. Interested chicken fryers can scroll down to read the recipe. Over 24 hours to prepare, but trust me, it is so worth the effort.

Praise the Lord and pass the Lard!

Our Founder
We Love Edna!

(Adapted by Tamara Reynolds)

One 4.5 lb whole chicken, cut into 8-10 parts, or 3-4 packs of thigh parts, skin ON

Salt Water Brine** see below

1 Quart Buttermilk

1/8 tsp Cayenne -- more if you like it spicy!

1 lb lard (Fresh is best-- see your local bodega)

1 stick butter

1 good sized hunk of country ham

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 tbs Cornstarch

Salt and Pepper to taste.

** Salt water brine: The ratio is: 1/4 cup Kosher salt for each quart of water. Dissolve salt in water.

Start 24 hours before you want the chicken to be ready. Cover chicken with brine mixture in a non reactive pot or bowl, refrigerate.
DO NOT use table salt: disaster will ensue. Brine chicken in saltwater for between 9 to 13 hours.

Remove chicken from brine. In another pot or bowl, combine the buttermilk and cayenne, add brined chicken, mix with your hands until coated, cover and refrigerate for another 12 hours. Wash your hands thoroughly, since raw chicken is like

Remove bowl from refrigerator, and let mixture sit until it nears room temperature. Remove chicken from buttermilk brine.

Heat lard and butter together in a deep skillet (ideally cast iron) to 375 degrees. Slice the country ham into a few slices, and fry pieces for about 10 minutes, until crispy. You may be tempted to skip this step, but don't. It is so worth it. The ham deepens the lard flavor.

While the ham is sizzling away, prepare your flour and cornstarch mixture in a wide shallow pan (I use a cake pan, but you get the idea.) Also, set up a large plate with wadded sheets of paper towel to drain cooked chicken pieces.

When the ham is crispy, remove from lard, drain, and share with the first person who comes into the kitchen and offers to help you... Dredge buttermilk coated chicken parts in the flour/cornstarch mixture. Add pepper. Dredge each piece twice, so that it is heavily battered.

Drop each piece into 375 degree fat. Do not overcrowd skillet, or the temperature will drop, and the chicken will not cook properly. Two pieces at once is ideal, or you can use multiple pans, if you're cooking for a crowd. Turn each piece after about 6-8 minutes per side. Watch your temperature! Parts are done when they float to the top of the lard, and are crisp and golden brown.

Drain on wadded up paper towels. Salt, and serve.

This is so good, it will make you

Tamara Reynolds

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sardine Dinner

This was grilled sardines, grilled escarole with bagna cauda, Gurhan's eggplant salad, skordalia, salt boiled potatoes (good God, y'all), Turkish flat beans and cucumber salad. Grilled peaches were an improvisation -- hot grill + peaches + homemade vanilla Ice cream makes EVERYONE happy!

The "F**king Delicious" Video