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El Convento Black Bean Soup

-----Original Message----- 
From: Peter 
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2014 6:36 PM
To: Phaedrus

Dear Uncle Phaedrus, in 1965 I was in Puerto Rico, a friend’s honeymoon, 
his wife had gotten a bug and they were bored . I was invited  to add some 
life to the party. the groom  and myself were in San Juan and ate at an 
old convent, maybe the El Convento. We had a fantastic Black Bean soup 
with a cone of chopped onions on top. I would like to find this recipe 
to give them for their 50th wedding anniversary . Thanks Peter

Hello Peter,

The El Convento Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico is a historic hotel with three restaurants: Patio del Nispero, Pizza e Birra, and El Picoteo. Since the Pizza e Birra is an Italian restaurant, it must have been one of the other two at which you had black bean soup, or "Sopa de Frijoles Negros." This soup is a traditional Caribbean dish and has strong associations with Cuba. The chopped onions on top is a traditional garnish.

I had no success locating an actual recipe for black bean soup from either of those El Convento restaurants. Even if I had found such a recipe, it might not have been the same exact one they used fifty years ago. There are other black bean soup recipes. You can see the cone of chopped onions in the photos accompanying the recipes on these sites:

This "Spanish Black Bean Soup" recipe is from someone who is familiar with the Patio del Nispero's soup, so it may be the closest: Smoked Paprika

Here are some other recipes:

Sopa de Frijoles

Black Bean Soup

This one is in Spanish: Chef Milani

El Convento has a website here: El Convento

You could try e-mailing El Convento's Executive Chef Luis Castillo. He may not have any idea of the particular black bean soup recipe that was being used there in 1965, but he would have access to the one that's being used there currently. His e-mail is:


Hoe Kow Egg Rolls

-----Original Message----- 
From: Ann 
Sent: Monday, September 01, 2014 5:43 PM
Subject: Hoe Kow Eggrolls - Chicago

All over the internet, I have read numerous posts that the best egg roll 
ever came from Hoe Kow Cantonese Restaurant on Lake Street in Chicago.  I 
agree, as during the 1960’s - 1980’s, we ate there constantly.
Surely, there must be at least one employee who worked there who knows the 
recipe.  One of the family broke off and created the restaurant ‘Sin Kow” in 
one of the northern suburbs close to the Loop.  It is quite agreed amongst 
the boomer generation, that Hoe Kow was the greatest Chinese restaurant 
ever. I want that egg roll recipe - and any other recipe that still exists.

I am an expert at research.  Someone who worked for either of these 
restaurants will have the recipe.

Let’s look and look hard.  Phaedrus - this is where you prove yourself.

Hello Ann,

Yes, I see the nostalgic posts about Hoe Kow's egg rolls. There are a few matchbooks from Hoe Kow, and a few photos of the restaurant on the web. The restaurant appears to have been at 153 East Ohio St. before it moved to 73 E Lake St. However, finding a recipe, any recipe at all, from Hoe Kow is quite a different matter. The owner, Raymond Moy, passed away 15 or so years ago. If the egg roll recipe was ever written down, he or his wife would have likely been the only ones who had it. Whether they passed it on is another question. I looked for an obituary that might list relatives, but I had no success. After 20 to 25 years, there may not be an employee still around who knew the recipe or one who can remember it now even if they knew it. That's a long time ago, and it was pre-internet. If you found anything at all, it would probably be just an egg roll recipe that someone said "tastes like" Hoe Kow's egg rolls.

I'll post this on my site. You can never tell what might turn up.


Matzoh Brei

I get lots of requests for recipes from Ratner's Jewish Dairy Restaurant. These kosher vegetarian restaurants were once very popular in NYC. This recipe, from "Real American Food" by Jane & Michael Stern, doesn't claim to be Ratner's actual recipe, but it's similar to what was served in New York "Dairy Restaurants"

Matzoh Brei

6 matzohs (onion flavored, if desired)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup cream or milk
4 - 6 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
sour cream as garnish

Break matzohs up in a large bowl, but do not crumble them. Fill bowl with water and drain water immediately.
You want the matzohs wetted, but not soaked.

Add eggs, sour cream, and cream or milk. Stir gently, coating matzohs but trying not to pulverize them.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in matzoh and spread out evenly in butter. 
Dot top of matzoh with additional butter. Salt generously. When underside is browned, flip and brown top. Don't be 
concerned if you have to break up the "pancake" to flip it. Matzoh brei is best served in ragtag pieces.

Serve with additional sour cream.

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