Miss Ginsu: About/Bio

 

Two words

Two words that embody what's awesome about flying Air France:

"Champagne Apéritif"

Champagne Aperitif

Ahhhhhh. Chanoine Brut Grande Reserve. The fennel crackers weren't half bad, either.

Actually, I love flying Air France for a number of these little niceties. The texture of the blankets and pillowcases. The fact that (even in the standard economy-class seats) they give me a little travel packet with a moist towelette, earplugs, headphones and an eyeshade.

And I love the menus. Actually, I'll share the menu here. Isn't it lovable?

In-Flight Menu

Here are the offerings within:

Choice of Beverages: beer (Heineken), mineral water, juices, soft drinks, white wine (Vin de Pays d'Oc Chardonnay 2008 La Baume) or red wine (Vin de Pays d'Oc Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 La Baume)

* Surimi, carrot and zucchini salad with ratatouille bread

Choice of Main Course
* Chicken with spiced coconut sauce, basmati rice and fried onions
-or-
* Four-cheese tortellini with Neapolitan sauce and Italian cheese

* Butter, demi-baguettes, Camembert wedge, gingerbread-fig tart, fruit smoothie, coffee and tea

Don't forget the after-dinner brandy digestif and the pre-landing snack pack (mineral water, butter cookies, drinkable yogurt).

Nowadays, I usually pack my own picnics on flights. Boiled eggs, summer sausage, apples, grapes, cheese, carrot sticks, raw almonds, a bite or two of chocolate...

I realize cost-cutting is important and all, but flying used to be part of the fun of the travel adventure. I miss those days. Thankfully, Air France still manages to hold on to a few of the humanizing details that make a multi-hour flight bearable.

More from the adventures in Northern Italy and Southern France on the way. Meanwhile, I'd be happy to hear any in-flight food survival tactics, so if you've got one, throw it in the comments.

Cheers,
Miss Ginsu

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10.02.2009

Mystery Macro Unveiled

And the answer to yesterday's Mystery Macro?

Melon. Honeydew melon, to be precise.

Have another look:



In the meantime, thoughts of melon give me a good opportunity to highlight a very tasty and refreshing salad I ate recently...

Some guests to a picnic brought this mozzarella, mint & melon salad, and gosh... It was just the thing.

Mozzarella-Melon Salad

There's not many nice days left this season, but if you do get out to grill just one more time, consider making one of those end-of-season melons into this tasty salad. I think it'd be just as nice with honeydew or cantaloupe or crenshaw. Or whatever melon you happen to find.

I'm told the original salad-makers found the adorable little mozzarella balls you see above (sometimes called ciliegini, which means "little cherries" in Italian") at Fairway Market in Brooklyn.

If you can't find anything so petite, don't fret. Just cut down a larger ball of fresh mozz into bite-sized niblets for this recipe.

Mozzarella, Mint & Melon Salad (Serves 4)

1 medium-sized melon, cut into 1" pieces
Juice from 1 lime
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 Tbsp fresh mint, sliced thin
1/4 tsp salt (optional)

1. Combine melon, lime, mozzarella cubes, mint and salt.
2. Chill until ready to serve.

The lightness and sweetness of this salad would be especially nice with grilled meats, but do keep it on file for a quickie picnic side.

Cheers,
Miss Ginsu

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10.02.2008

Ten Thousand Picnics & One Custard Baklava

Our extended cold, damp spring was all forgiven this past weekend. For those of us who stuck around for the holiday, three glorious days of sunshine, blue skies and idyllic chirping birds reminded us that New York can actually be a pleasant place to live.

From my informal survey of city parklands, I estimate there were roughly oh, somewhere in the neighborhood of ten thousand picnics happening around the city this weekend.

Prospect Park, Central Park, McCarren Park and every other patch of urban green upheld seas of blankets, spread after spread of good eats and a few million grinning hominids.

Sheep in the Sheep Meadow
Sheep in the Sheep Meadow, Central Park, image from the NYPL. Circa 1870?

Picnics in the Sheep Meadow
Picnics in the Sheep Meadow, Central Park. Circa 2008

For my own pic-a-nicking, I was in the mood for something exotic. I found a recipe for galatoboureko (custard baklava) in Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase and, despite the book's out-of-season topic, I thought it might make for a nice picnic dish. My adapted version appears herein.

As it turns out, a bourek boureko is either a Greek dish or a Turkish dish (depending on whether you're speaking with a Greek or a Turk) composed of layered phyllo with a filling of meat, or cheese or veggies or a sweet or savory egg custard.

J recently traveled through both countries and found it everywhere (particularly the not-so-sweet egg variety, which he ate for breakfast). His suspicion is that galatoboureko hails from an ancient neighborhood in Istanbul (so ancient it was still Constantinople at the time) called Galata.

Processing the phyllo

Galatoboureko

The recipe below has a few adaptations from the original, which makes enough to feed an army (about 42 pieces). This one will serve a smaller army with about 21 pieces, depending on how you make your cuts.
Galatoboureko (Custard Baklava)
For the citrus syrup:
1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 slice orange (optional)

For the custard:
1 quarts milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup farina or Cream of Wheat cereal
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp nutmeg

For the phyllo:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 pound phyllo dough, thawed

1. To make the syrup: Add sugar, water, lemon juice and orange slice (if desired) to a heavy saucepan and simmer 10 minutes, skimming away any froth at the surface. Remove and discard the orange slice. Set aside to cool.
2. To make the custard: Heat the milk and sugar in a deep saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the milk steams and is about to boil, shake in the farina. Add the butter and salt. Stir until the butter has melted and the mixture is thick and smooth, then remove from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
3. Beat the eggs and vanilla together in a large bowl until light, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cooled farina mixture, blending thoroughly.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
5. To assemble the dish, brush a 11 x 9-inch baking pan with a thin coating of the melted butter. Unwrap the phyllo dough, laying it out flat on a clean surface, and covering it with a slightly damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.
6. Lay 1 half-sheet of phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan and brush it with a thin coating of melted butter. Continue layering and buttering the dough in the same manner for 8 half-sheets.
6. Pour in all the custard and spread it evenly. Cover the custard with 8 more half-sheet layers of buttered phyllo dough. Puncture the top sheets with a sharp knife in several places to allow the custard to breathe during baking.
7. Bake until the custard is set and the pastry shakes loose from the pan, about 30-45 minutes.
8. Let cool 30 minutes, then pour the sugar syrup over the pastry. Cool completely before cutting into triangles or rectangles. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

The version of galatoboureko J has encountered abroad is much like this one, but he said they didn't generally use the citrus syrup to finish it and the dish was usually served for breakfast rather than dessert.

Either way, I can picture this boureko fitting in well at a brunch buffet... it holds up nicely at room temperature. Just don't plan on storing it too long before serving it. I find that storage softens the phyllo a bit much.

Now that we have another half-box of phyllo to play with, I'm excited to try out a savory bourek...

Meanwhile... cheers, ya'll!

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5.27.2008

The Hedonista Hundred, Part V: 21-25

Pushing onward in the quest to uncover and document 100 wonderful and tasty things...

If you've missed prior twenty, you'll find 'em at the archive page.

Ollie's Noodle Shop
Takeout from Ollie's Noodle Shop on a flat-top rock in Central Park.

21. Picnic food. Even if it's only a loaf of bread and a chunk of cheese. Even if you don't have a blanket. Even if you didn't make it yourself. There's just something twice as grand about eating outside under the sky.

roadside farm
Next exit: Ripe stonefruit, berry baskets and fresh zucchini (3 for $1).

22. Roadside produce stands. Likewise, fresh sweet corn out of the back of a pickup truckbed. Sweet. Juicy. Awesome. Extra bonus: farm stands offer unique discoveries... which is kind of the philosophical opposite of the cookie-cutter, gas-n-go, drive-thru, "back on the highway in ten minutes flat" experience one finds along the New Jersey Turnpike.

Canned goods at the Hong Kong Mall, Queens
Canned goods at the Hong Kong Mall in Queens, NY

23. Local grocery stores. Think the museums and monuments tell the whole story? Not likely. Stop into local food shops around the world to gawk at the cool packaging and variety. See how the natives stock their pantries. You don't really know a place until you know how its people eat.

My CSA
Williamsburg CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) pick-up day

24. Community-Supported Agriculture Groups and farmers' markets. Give the money to the farmer. Get vegetables, fruit, eggs and flowers. It's fresh. It's direct. It's local. It's environmentally friendly. What's not to like?

Podunk in the East Village
The afternoon cream tea with scones and berries at Podunk

25. Teatime. I don't have a lot of love for their bangers and mash, but the Brits were really on to something with the afternoon tea. Civility, serenity, caffeine and lush snackies. That's a tradition I can get behind.

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3.04.2007