Saturday, August 27, 2011

Indian Hakka Noodles

Hakka noodles are a popular item found on Chinese restaurants in India. The dish was brought to India by Hakka Chinese immigrants (from Southern China) who started coming into the country (mainly via the port of Calcutta, the capital of British India) in the late 18th century. In the subsequent years, Chinese food in India has been transformed into a unique cuisine in its own right (distinct from either Indian or Chinese food), and Hakka noodles is one of the more famous staples of this cuisine. Both of my parents spent significant periods of their lives in Calcutta (and I was born there), and based on their recollections, I recently became interested in making Indochinese foods. As I researched Hakka noodles, I found that there is little agreement on what the essential ingredients are. So, my particular recipe here is based on my interpretations of firsthand description from my parents and information from the sources I consider most reputable. The dish is vegetarian, but can easily accommodate minced meat or strips of beef. The addition of cabbage, I think is essential for the desired texture of this dish. Finally, the use of dark soy sauce is required (not light soy sauce), because I have found that the Chinese in India exclusively cook with the dark variety (which is aged longer and contains more molasses, making it thicker, sweeter and less salty than the light variety). Overall, this is a really simple recipe to make, and it packs a lot of flavor!

Read on for the recipe:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hazlenut Kitchen - Trumansburg, NY

Restaurant Info:
53 E. Main Street,
Trumansburg, NY

Downtown Trumansburg is about 20 minutes away from Ithaca up Rt 96. For those who shelter themselves in the Cornell bubble, this town will feel like a total different universe. However, within this "universe" (and many others) is a hidden (literally) gem called the Hazelnut Kitchen. We did a good amount of reading on this restaurant and their unique sample menus that changed frequently were always intriguing. If you look at their websites, they document several photos of their dishes, especially the desserts!

We arrived for a 8:30 reservation. Reservations are highly recommended for this restaurant due to its seating capacity and popularity (and the fact that it's only open Thursday-Sunday for dinner). Although we were about 15 minutes late, we still had an intimate table right near the window. The restaurant was simply decorated, with nonmatching chairs and tables, antique paintings and lighting fixtures. There was a large chalkboard with daily specials that were so popular that they ran out of a few by the time we arrived at the restaurant for our late reservation.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mexican Steak Salad with Cilantro-Lime Vinagrette

I'm not a big salad-guy. While Tricia absolutely loves salads and raw veggies of all kinds, I have a hard time dealing with what I consider rabbit-food (or to make it more Ithaca-appropriate: deer-food). Even so, for a recent cookout, I thought that a salad might be appropriate as an opening course. I was also making fish tacos, so I wanted my salad to keep with a sort of Baja-Mexican theme. Since I had my charcoal grill out and hot, I figured that I'd like to incorporate a grilled element into the salad as well. In the end, I settled on a marinated flank steak as a grillable item for the salad, to go with cotija cheese, corn relish, and a lime vinaigrette. Check it out:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Continental Midtown, Philadelphia, PA

Restaurant Info:
1801 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-3712

For our second visit to Philadelphia, we decided to tour the many eateries of the city. We wrote down a list of several places to eat that were famous or popular (we did a lot of yelp-ing). Out of 4 interesting places we listed, we only made it to only one of them due to time constraints and being way too full. This place was called The Continental Midtown, situated in the middle of the shopping district and the Franklin Institute, decorated with a large martini olive.