Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cooking in Hoboken

October 1, 2009

If you check out this blog for specific posts you'll notice that I've blogged very little since moving to Hoboken almost two years ago. I love cooking, eating, and writing about food, but in Hoboken until two weeks ago, I didn't really have a place that inspired me to cook. That has changed.This is just a little corner of my new kitchen, and it seems I can think of nothing but cooking. There is a whiff of fall in the air and I'd love nothing more than to bake an apple pie.

You'll see I took a cue from the Home and Garden cable network by putting my cookbooks on top of my cabinets. This is going to require getting a nice little step stool to reach them, but I'm game for that. Until I get the step stool home, I have a ladder. And as a matter of fact, I can cook pretty well without the cookbooks.

It crossed my mind that I have no buddies in Hoboken who are avid cooks. They are all good cooks, but they don't get excited sharing recipes and techniques. I know such foodies are out there in Hoboken--because it's a food town if there ever was one--but there are such great restaurants that the enthusiastic home cooks are under the radar. Maybe this blog post will bring out a few and we can talk FOOD. I hope so.

I had lunch at Biggie's Clam House yesterday with a couple of Hoboken b 'n' r's, (that means, "born and raised in Hoboken" to you who are not in the know). We saw a nice older man--meaning older than us, which is indeed pretty old--eating something like greens out of a bowl. Carolyn's husband Rich said, "That man over there is eating something you'd love," to his wife. When Brother, the son of Biggie, and now the heir apparent to the title of "Biggie," came by our table, we asked what the man was eating. "Brocolli rabe," he said. "We make it with sausage."

I sighed that I had done the predictable thing and ordered fried clams. (I must say the others at the table had done the more Hoboken thing and ordered "Italian hot dogs," which are sausage sandwiches with onions and peppers and a sausage-and-pepper sandwich, which is just a little different.

Today I had a phone call from Connie, who was one who had ordered a hot dog yesterday. I told her I was going to try the brocolli rabe the next time. I have never been a fan of brocolli rabe--I find it bitter--and Connie said, "I always add fresh lemon juice. If you don't do that it will be bitter."

This triggered a long conversation about how Italians cook vegetables, the dependency on fresh lemon juice for vegetables (I have to have lemon juice on my spinach), and other food notes. She said she adds olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice to everything from cauliflower to escarole. I realized I had been missing this offhand swapping of recipes and kitchen ideas.

I'm looking to meet others who love to talk about food and cooking. If you live in Hoboken and have ideas on the subject, get in touch with me. I'll cook up a little something for us someday soon.


Dennis said...

Never heard of "Biggies Clam Broth House?" Been to the Clam Broth House many a time and never saw sausage there. Biggies was downtown and THE Clam Broth House was uptown, depending on how you look at a map. A good cook should not use a cook book for a receipe. You get an idea and go with it, and then suffer what you make if it turns out bad. Done that a few times myslef. Want to make a good Bar-B-Que sauce?? Get a cup of soy sauce, the real stuff, and put a shot of Jack Daniels in it and mix. Then soak your meat or whatever you are cooking in it for a hour or two. Really gives the meat a good taste and the alcohol burns out, so nobody will get plastered on you. Forget putting sugar in Spaghetti Sauce, put a cup of real Italian red wine in it. Figure a cup for every quart and let it simmer for a couple of hours. Corn Beef and hate that salty taste? After the first boil, drain the water out and start all over again putting in DRY SHERRY. A cup should do it and do not taste the sherry as you cook with it. You have to have the dry sherry. It makes a difference in the corn beef with that colored stuff.

Mary Lois said...

I'm pretty sure the sign says "Biggie's Clam House," but I'll check next time I go out the door. I know it isn't the Clam Broth House and never was.

I love cookbooks more than just about anything. I learned to cook from Julia Child and love the Food Network shows that really teach cooking. I like to experiment, too, but I believe in having a text to work from.

Like your cooking tips, Dennis. If you look at a jar of prepared spaghetti sauce, you'll see they usually put CORN SYRUP in it! Yecchh! Easy enough to make from scratch, and in Hoboken a lot of excellent jarred sauces are available, from great restaurants and some from Italy too of course.

I like the salty corned beef, but your approach sounds interesting.

All the same, I ain't giving up all my cookbooks.

Nan said...

I love it, I love it! Beautiful kitchen and great to see the cookbooks up there. Terrific idea. Looking forward to recipes! My tomato sauce recipe is here:

Most people add other stuff but this is the way we love it.

I couldn't read all your titles but I recognized two that I have - the Joy of Cooking, and Deborah Madison's book. I mean to use the latter much more than I do.