NJ Dining: A Taste of Greece 2.0 (UPDATED)

April 18, 2009

A Taste of Greece
935 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge NJ
(201)967-0029

Back in April of 2005 one of the first restaurants that I chose to profile during my 2-year stint as NJ Quick Bite writer was A Taste of Greece, a tiny Greek takeout in River Edge. One of the things I liked about this restaurant was its attention to detail and authenticity in its dishes, choosing to buck the “homogenized” Greek restaurant trend found in most Northern NJ Greek eateries with its real Pork Gyro and use of real imported Greek ingredients.

The original owners moved on two years later. One of them, Vasili Mastrokostas, went on to open Vasili’s Taverna in Teaneck. For a brief period A Taste of Greece was ran by the owner’s children and retained most of its original staff, and was recently sold to a new owner, Themis, a young, friendly, service-oriented and health-obsessed marathon runner. Themis took a rather unattractive, small takeout and put some money into the place, adding nice ceramic tile and other positive aesthetic changes, such as new wooden tables and chairs.

Themis has kept much of the restaurant’s original flavor (including its signature pork gyro) and has added more fresh and healthy Mediterranean dishes such as more grilled seafood plates. I actually think the place is a better restaurant now and is more compatible with my current lifestyle, and along with my other favorite Mediterranean options in the local area, such as Joeyness and Bennies, has now become one of my favorite places to eat well and eat healthier.

A Taste Of Greece on Kinderkamack Road in River Edge, Photo April of 2005.

A Taste of Greece’s new owner, Themis. Themis is extremely accommodating to special requests (such as low-carbing the entrees) and is himself a health and fitness nut.

You too will want A Taste of Greece. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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The Evolution of Re-Engineering Chinese “Takeout”

August 10, 2008

Since I embarked on my “course correction” in October of 2007 and becoming 67 pounds lighter, and with Rachel herself carrying 50lbs less — we’ve been doing a lot of Asian-inspired stir-fry cooking at home as our “go to” typical dinner when we are very hungry but want to eat something healthy. Where we used to order from our favorite Chinese American local delivery places, we now cook our own healthier, albeit different versions, with higher amounts of vegetable and protein content and much less fat. To be perfectly honest, I actually prefer eating this way now, even though I really miss my egg rolls, fried rice, lo mein, and egg foo young soaked in gravy.

The photos I am going to show you should give you an idea of how we’ve been approaching our typical, non food porn meals. You will notice a common theme is that we incorporate a lot of green vegetables as well as tofu in our cooking, and many of our sauces are stock based. We also now use a large, nonstick wok and “paint” it with a small amount sesame oil using a silicone basting brush instead of free-pouring oil, which also cuts down on the fat content quite a bit. We also use a lot of alternative whole grains to just plain brown rice as the beds for our stir fries, such as Quinoa, Kamut, or Barley.

Beef with Oyster Sauce by you.

Here is one of the earliest attempts to actually “re-create” a takeout dish, Beef with Oyster Sauce and Chinese Broccoli. Note that we are now using portioned controlled amounts of brown rice instead of white rice.

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Low-Karb Veggie Kugel

April 20, 2008

by Rachel Perlow

This veggie kugel was a big hit at our Passover Seder last night. Knowing it was low carb and low fat, everyone took seconds of this instead of the Potato Kugel. When we made it yesterday, I used 4 boards of matzo and 20 oz of egg product, but we found the results a little too starchy tasting. So, the proportions below use less matzo and more egg. I am hoping to achieve a more quiche or souffle like texture on our next attempt.

It’s not just a Passover dish, it’s a St. Patrick’s Day dish too! Green Kugel is made of PEOPLE!!! It’s made of PEOPLE… oh never mind.

Does the Veggie Kugel frighten you? It should, because it’s damn tasty. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Soup, Glorious Soup: Part 2, Beans and Grains

March 17, 2008

In Part I of “Soup, Glorious Soup” Rachel presented a variety of recipes for lentil soup. Now, she’ll share some ideas for using other legumes and whole grains in soups.

Chunky Bean and Vegetable Soup

The first recipe is for split pea. Split pea soup has always been one of my favorites – I make a vegetarian version that you’d swear was cooked with a ham hock. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s hardly necessary to soak beans before cooking them, as you will see in the second recipe. I just simmer for an hour or so before adding the other soup ingredients and my mixed bean soup is perfectly tender. The third recipe below is for an addictive minestrone. Finally, I present Mushroom Barley. I brought this soup over to a friends house for part of a dinner we were making together. Jason’s friend went crazy over it, the wife has asked for the recipe for her mother – she said it tasted just like her grandma’s. Even the kids liked it, and it’s vegan!

If you don’t read the rest, there’s NO SOUP FOR YOU! Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Soup Glorious Soup: Part 1, The Pulse of Life (UPDATED)

March 16, 2008

Rachel has turned herself into a regular Soup Diva. Here’s the first in a series of articles about how to make some easy, healthy and nutrilicious soups. Take it away, Rachel.

Photo: French Lentil Soup.

In our Top 10 Lifestyle Changes list, we recommend adding beans and lentils (aka pulses to your diet. They are high in protein and fiber, while being low in fat. One of the primary ways we like to include legumes in our diet is in soups. Below are five lentil soup recipes. I didn’t even like lentils when we began all this healthy lifestyle stuff, back in October, but I’ve found many different varieties and recipes and have grown to love them.

In Part II, I’ll share some ideas for using other legumes and grains in soups.

Red Lentil Curry Soup

Soup’s on! Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Steak Boriqua

February 28, 2008

Nothing, and I mean nothing, satisfies a man’s appetite like a good steak. But one of the problems of trying to lose weight is learning that “a good steak” is also by definition, high in fat content and also high in cholesterol. So what do you do? Well, one option is to go for the cuts of meat that are the lowest in fat content, such as Flank or London Broil. However, both of these cuts really need serious marination and flavor boost. I can think of no better preparation for these versatile economy cuts than to employ a few tricks from the Latino community. Specifically, the Puerto Ricans, or as they like to call themselves, La Comunidad Boriqua.

Adobo Marinated Flank Steak with “Boriqua Slaw” and Arroz con Gandules, yellow rice with pigeon peas.

Want to learn how to make steak the Boriqua Way? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Turkey Burger Redux (UPDATED)

February 22, 2008

The last time we visited Turkey Burgers here on OTB, it was nearly a year ago. And while I think the rules of bold seasoning still apply — I’ve personally gone from turkey burger as occasional curiosity to turkey burger as virtual necessity. Turkey burgers and ground turkey meat in general has become a staple in our household now that we have gone down the healthy lifestyle route. And why shouldn’t it? It’s a very malleable protein, which is great at absorbing flavors, be it used in a burger, sausage, kebab, chili or even stir-fry dishes. And it shouldn’t surprise you that in future cooking posts, you’re going to see this ingredient creep up a lot.

This last weekend we got particularly burger crazy, as we wanted something easy to cook because we were all burned out travelling to Connecticut and bringing back our new dog, Kona, from the folks at Flora’s Pet Project. And it didn’t help at all that we were all couch potatoed when we got back and watched dietician-chef Ellie Krieger on Food Network cook up some particularly tasty looking DIY Diner Food.

Our first Turkey Burger was a bit of a cheat, as it involved the use of pre-made frozen burgers from COSTCO. All hail the mighty Kirkland! But we amped up this burger with our Giant Mushroom Chili that we made for the Superbowl along with a small amount of melted cheddar cheese, served on a whole grain burger bun. But it was a quick and easy lunch, and really satisfied that Chili Burger craving. Hell, the last time I had a real chili burger was back in August at The Varsity in Atlanta. This one was just as good, and nowhere near as bad for you. Next time I’m going to use use fresh ground turkey meat instead of COSTCO pucks.

But wait! There’s more burgers in store. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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