Monday, October 31, 2011

Shucking Oysters

Oysters are coming into season, so here is a quick video on how to shuck them. Thanks to J.D. for shooting the video with my phone. More Cooking 2.0 recipes coming soon!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mound of Flounder with Simple Salad and Sweet-Savory Red Potatoes

Here is another easy one, especially considering it allows for sloppiness. Though they're a bit atypical, the salad and potatoes are easy -- in fact, they have been covered in past posts -- and the fish is a classic cast-iron prep. If you don't have a cast-iron skillet, a regular will do. As always, adjust portions as needed.

For Fish:
- Flounder filet
- Kosher salt and black pepper (a few dashes)
- Crushed red pepper (about 1 tsp)
- Flat-leaf Italian Parsley (chop a handful for raw filet, chop a handful for garnish after  -- it's best to do the chopping immediately before you need it, the flavors will be most alive)
- Dash olive oil to coat
- 3/4 cup peanut oil (for frying)

For Potatoes:
- 2 red potatoes, cubed
- crushed red pepper (1 tsp)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil

For Salad:
- Red or green leaf, Boston or Romaine lettuce
- 1 carrot, julienned
- Feta or Goat cheese to top
- 2-3 radishes, sliced
- Handful of almonds, toasted and crushed
- Kosher salt and black pepper (to taste)
- Your favorite dressing (oil and vinegar, or a fruit-based vinaigrette, is suggested)

Pour a tall one and let's get started ...

First, the fish should be room temperature when you season it. Prepare a dry rub of the oil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and parsley and apply to fish, lightly rubbing into the flesh. Let fish sit for the moment at room temp. Add cooking oil to skillet and place on burner, heating to med-high heat.

Second, pre-heat oven or convection to 425 F. Cube potatoes, place on baking sheet and season, tossing to coat. Place in oven, they will take approx. 20 minutes to finish. Occasionally stir with spatula and check doneness with fork.

Third, wash lettuce and dry/spin. Chop vegetables and combine with lettuce, carrots and radishes in a bowl. Reserve cheese, nuts and dressing until you're almost ready to serve.

Next, when oil is ready (wet your fingers and splash a few drops of water in it -- when it cracks, you're ready) place fish in it face down and let cook for 3 minutes, frequently slipping a metal spatula beneath to prevent sticking (you should have enough oil to prevent this). Flip, and cook another 2-3 minutes. The flesh and skin should start to become crispy when done, and the flesh of the fish will want to break apart. Carefully remove from oil to a plate and dab with paper towel to remove excess oil. Let cool a moment.

In the meantime, the potatoes should be done or close at this point ... when a fork can easily penetrate and cubes are soft, all is good. Remove from heat.

The flounder is likely inclined toward falling apart -- LET IT!!! Plate it, allowing it fall into a mound. It's actually easy to eat this way, and will taste fantastic no matter what. The cast-iron and oil will have worked their magic. Garnish with remaining chopped parsley.

Add final ingredients to salad. Plate everything and enjoy with a cold glass of Pinot Griogio, Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc.

Tonight's music: Watching My Life Go By by Michael Hedges and Funnel Cloud by Hem.

Technology tip: Turn off the TV, put down the cellphone ... unplug and go outside. Enjoy that morning or afternoon sun, or that autumn moon ... listen to the late season birds ... talk a walk ... reconnect your soul.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thai Drunken Noodles

Drunken noodles have been a favorite of mine to order at Thai restaurants for years. It's a simple recipe and so flavorful -- moreover, you can do a lot with it when you make your own. The name of the dish almost always serves as a misnomer for those unfamiliar; eating the dish will not make you drunk, as it has no alcohol in it. The title implies how much beer you need to drink to counter the spiciness of the food. BUT, that too is misguided ... because fluid will only make excessive spiciness more intense. Instead, use bread or some kind of potato dish. As always, adjust proportions for your table ...

INGREDIENTS ( ... most of the work is in the prep here ...)

  • - 7 ounces 1/4-inch-wide flat rice noodles (half a 14-ounce package). Of interest here ... many restaurants will use dried rice pasta flakes instead of dried flat noodles (1/4'') for this dish. Either works, so choose what you will.

  • - 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • - 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • - 1/8 cup chopped fresh Thai chiles
  • - 3/4 pounds chopped chicken (or tofu, shrimp or beef)
  • - 1/8 cup fish sauce
  • - 1/8 cup black soy sauce (use regular if you can't find the black variety -- one is made from soy beans, the other from soya).
  • -1/8 cup Golden Mountain sauce or light soy sauce (this is fairly easy to find, but if you can't just add a little more soy sauce from the previous ingredient)
  • - 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • -2-3 large plum tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
  • - 2 Anaheim chiles or Italian frying peppers, OR 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • -1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves* or regular basil leaves (some cooks will add the basil leaves near the end of the saute so that they will wilt some ... this is a personal preference. Wilting them will impart a deeper basil flavor to the dish, while adding them fresh on top just before serving will add the fresh green flavor.

GET a short drink and let's get to work ....

Put on water to boil with a dash of salt. Give enough time to get close to a boil ...

Meanwhile, heat oil in medium pot or skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and Thai chiles; sauté 30 seconds. 

Add noodles to boiling water.

Then, add chicken (or whatever meat/tofu) and next four ingredients to pot/skillet and sauté until meat is cooked through. 

When rice noodles are done (soft but still 'spaghetti' consistency), drain and rinse with cold water. 

Back to the pot/skillet -- add noodles, tomatoes, and Anaheim (or substitute) chiles; toss to coat. Transfer to plate or bowl, sprinkle with basil leaves, and serve.

Isn't that EASY?!! Yes Yes!!

Tonight's music: Gaucho by Steely Dan (yes, again)

Technology Tip: okay ... at this point, web-based services/apps (or, 'Web 2.0) have been around awhile. Which ones are you still using? Is it Facebook? Myspace? Flickr? Yahoo? Shutterfly? Photobucket? Vudu? Dropbox? Friendster (are they still around?!). There are still HUNDREDS. But maybe not as many as, say, five years ago -- the buzz is over and now it's GAME time. For the companies, it's a question of staying power, and what they want to do in both an innovative and commercial sense; for consumers, it's an issue of where they want to put their time and INFORMATION. The bottom line? Feel free to experiment, as always, but those days are largely behind us -- the current Web 2.0 climate demands users be more aware and discerning of their actions. In 2004, one could create accounts across the web at numerous social media and sharing sites just for fun ... maybe you'd remember to come back and check in a few months, maybe not. But, things are a little different now. The social media landscape is changing. Facebook is king today, but will it be tomorrow? 

Be careful, not just for mere safety but for expediency  -- and most of all, privacy. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Easy and Stylish Summer Grilling

When the days are so hot, something simple but delicious is always a welcome option for dinner. And, it's an excuse to fire up the grill and stand outside with utensils and a cold drink, taking in a warm evening. Here, we use a fresh halibut steak with a summer salad and pesto noodles on the side with a light Spanish white. Pesto is easy to make and if you keep it in the fridge during the summer, it's a great go-to when you're putting meals together.

(for pesto and noodles - can be made ahead and stored in fridge)
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (a dash to taste)
- Spaghetti (or pasta of choice)

(for salad)
- A good lettuce (red or green leaf, boston, romaine, arugula ... just no iceberg!) or fresh spinach
- Handful of fresh strawberries, halved or quartered
- Toasted and crushed almonds (or could be pumpkin seeds, walnuts, etc.)
- Carrots (chopped or julianned)
- 1 avocado, chopped
- Freshly chopped flat-leaf parlsey or cilantro (to taste)
- A fruit-based vinaigrette, such as blueberry, raspberry, pomegranate, etc.

(for fish)
- Halibut steak, coat lightly with olive oil (should be near room temperature when prepared)
- Dry rub: 1 tsp kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper (a few dashes), 1 tsp crushed red pepper and chopped flat-leaf parsley (increase proportions as needed, this is about what you need per steak)

As per usual, put on some summer music and get a drink -- to work!

First, in a food processor combine pine nuts and basil. Pulse a few times and add garlic, pulsing some more to start breaking things up. Gradually add olive oil while food processor runs, blending ingredients. Add cheese, a dash of salt and pepper to taste, and continue to process until pesto is well-mixed. Scrape down the sides of the processor as needed. Reserve pesto for the moment.

Second, put on some water to boil pasta. While that is working, coat fish and cover with dry rub. Let sit for the moment.

Third, prep salad, adding greens to a large bowl (or single plates, if you like) and topping with remaining ingredients. Do not add dressing until you are almost ready to eat, else it will get soggy.

Open wine to breathe.

When the water is boiling, add pasta (a smaller amount if you're just cooking for the evening, more if you're planning for leftovers). When it's done, drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is no longer hot. Mix well with pesto in a separate bowl (roughly 1 tbsp per cup pasta). Reserve and chill.

Fire up your grill to med heat. When ready, cook fish skin side down with the hood down (if you want to go hood up, make sure you'e at least on med-hi heat). Periodically check fish every 1-2 minutes, checking for doneness. When flesh is white throughout (about 4-5 minutes for a med-sized steak), it is done.

Now you're ready to plate (all on one or separate dishes for each item ... up to you). Dress salad, pour the wine and you are ready!

Tonight's music: Zappa Plays Zappa.

Tech tip: Need to share audio on the web but can't find a good way to do so? Check out SoundCloud: With the relative absence of a simple, easy-to-use audio sharing tool on sites like Facebook and Blogger, SoundCloud is graceful solution for sharing your creations -- spoken, musical, etc. - with others. For example:

Open Eyes by Dan Luhring

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweet-Savory Lamb Kebobs WIth Roasted Red Potatoes

This dish nods in the direction of the Mediterranean and Middle East. Not only is it easy, but also very flavorful and surprising if you're not used to having sweet and savory spices in the same entree. Lamb does not hold the place that beef, chicken and pork do in the culinary continuum, so we will give it some attention and respect here with this recipe. On the other hand, its presence is on the rise in nice restaurants as well as establishments that strive to use as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible.

The proportions here are enough for one, so adjust if you are feeding more. This recipe is a good one to break out for dinner guests, they will think you're some kind of brilliant chef when they taste the kebobs, when all the while you know that it is one of the easiest things you've ever made.

for lamb:
- Lamb steak (or cubed lamb). Make sure it is at or near room temperature when you begin.
- Maras pepper (similar to crushed red pepper, which may be substituted, maras may be found at most international food sections and markets. If your local doesn't carry it, they are lame and tell them so)
- 1 tsp salt and black pepper (each). Freshly ground pepper is always best -- why? Because the flavors are so much richer and vibrant just after the peppercorns have been cracked.
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground coriandor
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1 tbsp olive oil (for sautéing)
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- plain yogurt (served on the side)
for potatoes:
- 1 large red potato
- 1 tsp salt and pepper (each)
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil

Make a vodka, put some music on and get to work. The lamb will take approximately 10-15 minutes to cook, depending on your range. The potatoes will roast in about 20 minutes.

First, combine the spice mixture for the lamb in a medium-size bowl. Mix it well. Then, cut the steak into bite-sized chunks, trimming fat as you do. Take care not to make the chunks too small, as they will be difficult to impale with a skewer and will fall apart. When finished, add to spice mixture and toss to coat with hands, so that the spices are rubbed into the meat.

Let the lamb sit while you prepare the potatoes. Cube the potato (unless you're lame, leave the skin on). Place in oven pan. Add olive oil, then spices, coating the potatoes well. Heat oven to 425. While it warms up, work on your drink. Turn up the music if necessary. When ready, put them in.

Back to the lamb. In a medium-size skillet, add olive oil and heat to medium heat. As it warms up, add garlic. Then, add lamb, sauteeing to medium-rare (or medium) doneness. When done, remove from heat and let stand for a moment.

About that time, the potatoes should be at or near done. Remove from oven and plate.

Place lamb cubes on skewers (you should have enough for roughly two) and plate. Serve with a small serving of plain yogurt, perhaps in a bowl with a fish on it:

Garnish with flat-leaf parsley or cilantro if desired. When you're plate is ready, this dish pairs well with a deep red wine such as zinfandel, shiraz or cabernet. Pour a glass and enjoy :)

Tonight's music: Little Voice by Sara Bareilles

Technology tip: it's all so overwhelming, why don't we just skip it this time?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chicken Vindaloo

Happy New Year! For the first recipe of 2011, I have chosen a favorite Indian preparation of mine, vindaloo -- specifically, chicken and shrimp vindaloo. The origins of vindaloo come from east India (and further back, Portugal). In a restaurant, one would typically encounter vindaloo with beef, chicken, shrimp or vegetables ... here, I combine chicken and shrimp for a little variety. And, I had shrimp that needed to be used. Necessity so often creates our dishes.

This recipe is actually quite easy -- the spice list looks a bit long, but most of it is all pinches and dashes if you're halfway accustomed to cooking. If there is a spice you are particularly fond of, exaggerate it. Put on some tunes, pour a vodka and get to work ...


  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3/4 cups chopped tomatoes (about 2 medium)
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon (more if you like it hot) cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 dozen (approx) regular shrimp, tailless, peeled and de-veined
  • 2 small russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (I say small because so many vegetables are grown so BIG right now ...)
  • 1 cups (more if needed) low-salt chicken broth or water
As I do from time to time, this recipe is an adaptation ... here, the recipe is taken from the vindaloo dish served in the Ambassador Dining Room in Baltimore, MD.

I recommend having all ingredients at or near room temperature prior to beginning. Then, prepare and blend first 11 ingredients and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a food processor until paste forms.

Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add paste from processor and cook until slightly golden, stirring occasionally, 5-7 minutes.

Add chicken, shrimp and potatoes; sauté 8-12 minutes. Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes. Uncover and simmer until chicken and shrimp are cooked through, 5 or so minutes longer. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a nice, cold white wine, a light-bodied beer or a cold tea. Enjoy! This dish makes great lunch leftovers.

Tonight's music: Dave Brubeck, Legacy of a Legend.

Technology Tip: are you into Internet audio? And, have you ever had the need to record audio from a web page? Well, over the past several years several apps have come and gone that enable users to internally record audio happening in their web browser ... for the savvy audio person, there is Soundflower:

Manufactured by Cycling 74, this app enables users to perform inter-application audio routing. At the time of this writing, it is only available for Mac OS X ... though the company manufactures their flagship product, Max/MSP/Jitter, for both major platforms. Perhaps some pressure would get a Soundflower version for Windows?