Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blackened Mahi-Mahi

Mahi-mahi is one of the easier skin-on fillets to work with, and it also has a mild flavor that makes it a good candidate for lots of different spice treatments. Here I give a SWEET, simple blackening.

This dish is a good accompaniment to roasted potatoes (red, russet or sweet), shellfish, and salads -- in fact, the mahi could go IN the salad if you really wanted ...

This makes enough for a large fillet (enough for two, or for one with leftovers).


- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp turbinado sugar
- 1/4 (or to taste) cayenne, ground chipotle or crushed red pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 or 2 dashes kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

You know what to do ... tunes, drink, et al ...

First, set the fish out to start climbing toward room temperature. Get ingredients out and gather pots, cooking tools/utensils, etc., together. Double-check this recipe -- you got everything? Take a drink ... all good? All right then ... put on your apron and get to work.

Combine paprika, sugar, pepper (cayenne, chipotle or red), thyme, oregano salt and black pepper in a small bowl. You will use this to rub the fish. Mix well and reserve.

Prep garlic and heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat (if you don't have one, use a regular medium or large skillet). Add garlic and saute until golden-brown (don't burn it A-hole!).

While the garlic and butter do their thing, put the rub on the fish, dusting it over and gently massaging it into the flesh.

When it's done, discard the garlic and add the butter to the skillet, heating it until the foam dissipates. Then add the fish, cooking 4 minutes per side or until cooked through. Use a slotted metal spatula to turn and remove fish when done, placing it on a plate covered with a paper towel -- this will soak any excess oil. Then plate the fish, topping lightly with chopped parsley and adding whatever side dishes you've prepared :)

Tonight's music: I Feel For You by Chaka Khan and Strange Mercy by St. Vincent.

Technology Tip: For ALL important documents you will want/need to keep long-term: back them up twice, then print out a hard copy. This goes for photos too -- and for those pictures that are really special: in addition to backing them up, have them printed. You can either display them in a frame, or place them in an envelope for safe keeping. Most photo services on the Web (Flickr, Shutterfly, etc.) offer printing services, as do many desktop and mobile apps -- and, you can also take photos on disc, flash drive, etc., to Target, Wal-mart, or a local photo lab to have them printed. Tangibility is paramount here -- there is no replacement for what you have in the physical world. Make it REAL, you will be glad you did!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Easy Great Guacamole

Aren't avocados great?

Here is a simple recipe you can use to make your own. While there are a few pre-made varieties that get the job done, there is nothing quite like being able to whip up your own.

Let's do this thing ...


- Two ripe avocados (ripeness is determined by gently squeezing the fruit -- if they are soft to the touch, they are ready. If you feel you could practically put your thumb through the skin, then they are REALLY ready)
- One clove garlic (more if you love it)
- A few shakes of your favorite hot sauce
- A few freshly-cut lime or lemon wedges
- A dash of kosher salt

First, peel and core the avocado. Using a sharp knife, make a cut lengthwise around the circumference of the fruit. Twist to separate the halves, and stick the knife's blade lengthwise into the pit. Twist to remove. TO DISPOSE OF PIT: use the edge of a bowl, counter, trash can, etc., to separate it from the knife's blade. DO NOT use your hands, as you may well give yourself a fine cut.

Next, peel avocados and place in a medium-sized bowl. Mince garlic and add to bowl. Then, squeeze in the citrus juice, add hot sauce and the salt. Using a fork or spoon, mash ingredients together until proper consistency is achieved. Transfer to a more presentable receptacle if desired, and enjoy with plantain chips, tortilla chips, on a taco, in a burrito, on a sandwich, etc. :)

More technology tips SOON ...

Fried Plantain Chips

Try this instead of potato or tortilla chips! It's easy too.

As some of you probably know, plantains are a type of banana indigenous to southeast Asia, Oceania and northern Australia. They are larger, firmer and contain less sugar than their better-known, smaller counterparts that some of us eat at breakfast. The plantain is, however, a versatile food that can be prepared a variety of different ways and for a variety of different meals, from breakfast to lunch to dinner to dessert.

While it is fairly exotic here in north America, it is a common food many other places in the world.


- 1 plantain (more if you're cooking for a group). Many modern grocery stores stock them, though you can likely find them in many different world market stores. Ripeness is important -- if a plantain is soft and malleable to the touch, then it is very ripe and best used for something sweet. Find one that is firm to the touch (indicating the early stages of ripeness).
- 1/2 cup cooking oil - I suggest peanut oil, but vegetable works as well. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to tweak the oil amount. Use your best judgement, just remember that too much oil can make things overly greasy, and too little will result in burning the fruit.
- Kosher salt (to taste)

First, place oil in skillet and begin to heat. Ultimately it should heat to medium-high, or until you can flick a few drops of water at it and hear it crack. DO NOT turn the burner up too high, else you may have an oil fire on your hands.

Next, skin the plantain. This is easily done by first taking a sharp knife and cutting the fruit in half (pictured below):

Next, make a shallow cut lengthwise down the side of the skin. You should then be able to use your hands to slowly pull it off the fruit. Take care not to damage the fruit. Repeat process for the other half. When you're finished, thinly slice the plantain as pictured:

Take your time, you don't want the slices to be too thick. Making them thin ensures crispness when fried.

When the oil is ready, gently place the sliced plantains in it (take care not to get splashed with hot oil), using a metal spatula to make sure they don't stick together. Work them in batches (a single plantain usually fries in two batches), turning as needed and removing them when they are golden brown. Try one to make sure they are getting nice and crisp:

As they get done, transfer to a plate covered with a paper towel to soak up excess oil. When they are all cooked, turn off the burner. Transfer plantain chips to a bowl or plate. Add a light coating of kosher salt and toss to coat. If you're keen to add some different spices, go for it! OR, they make a great accompaniment to guacamole:

Check out this month's recipe for Easy Great Guacamole for a great, simple recipe.

Since this is such a quick recipe, I'll save music and technology for the next larger one!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bloody Mary

Happy New Year!

For the beginning of a new year, let me present a simple and brilliant cocktail: Bloody Mary :)

If you order this out, then you'll get whatever the barkeep makes up ... it could be good or it could just be acceptable. And that is all good -- but if you're at home, why not make your own? It's actually easy, whether or not you start with a mix.

So, I'll offer a recipe for those who have a favorite mix as well as those who would rather make their own.

Let's do this thing ...


- Bloody Mary Mix (your fave, if you're not making your own)
- Vodka (your fave -- and don't waste time with cheap liquor ... make it count, because you don't want to feel bad later ... quality stuff will make you feel GOOD in the proper proportions)
- Tabasco sauce (or whatever you prefer)
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Celery to garnish

If you're making your own mix from scratch (this makes enough for a double drink):

- 1 and 1/2 cups tomato juice
- A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground horseradish

... mix it up ...

Let's make a double: fill a pint glass (English or American) with ice, then the mix. Add two shots of vodka, a few dashes of Tabasco (to your taste, don't overdo it because the salt content could get overwhelming), a couple quick grinds from the pepper mill, and a rinsed celery stalk. Stir it up, additionally garnish with a green olive if you're inclined, and enjoy ... :)

Happy New Year