Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Poached Skate with Celery

I remember when I was a kid that we used to throw skates back when we went fishing off the coast of Cape Cod or Rhode Island. They were barbed and weird and God knows, who in the hell would eat that? 

Well, I would.
Skate is a great fish. 
Normally, I just do skate in brown butter with capers, but my wife's been on a non-dairy diet, so this time we're sticking with oil.  I did throw some animal fat in there to keep the olive oil from full-on burning, but I did keep to the non-dairy beyond that.


  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 2 Tb duck fat (or clarified butter)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor powder
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced; reserve celery leaves
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 2 skate wings
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 c. picpoul de pinet or other white wine with good acidity
  • 6 large capers
  • 12 olives (green or black)
  • 3/4 c. spinach leaves
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 c. parsley, halved


  • In a large saute pan, heat the oils over moderate heat until just aromatic.
  • Add the garlic, red pepper, celery seed and amchoor powder and saute 1 minute.

  • Add the celery stalk and leek and continue to saute for 3 minutes until the leeks and celery are on their way to softness.

  • Add the skate on top of the leeks and celery, sprinkle the celery seed, and saute for 1 minute - just so it starts to cook and change its texture.
  • Add the cup of wine, capers, olives, and bring to a simmer.  Continue to cook for 2 minutes.  If you dare, you may flip the fairly fragile skate at this point.

  • Add the spinach and cherry tomatoes, and lightly stir until the greens are wilted and the skate is poached nicely - perhaps another minute or two.
  • Add the parsley and reserved celery leaves and stir into poaching liquid.  Crack some pepper and sprinkle some salt over the mixture.  Turn off the heat and serve.
Lat time, I served this with some home made hash browns, sauted in olive oil, and sprinkled with herbes de Provence.  Works and it's quick.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shellfish Stew - Good any time of year

It's good anytime of year, as long as the shellfish are in season. 
Honestly, this is barely a stew, rather it's just a nice way of eating a bunch of shellfish and having some broth left over to dunk your crusty bread.  I end up making this a bunch in the summer, but it's very refreshing in the winter as well - let alone the shellfish are more in season.


  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 4 oz bacon, chopped into 1/4" dice
  • 1/2 # of cooked linquica, andouille or another smoked sausage, cut into 1/4" rounds
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tb fennel seed
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored, sliced thin
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced thin, reserve any celery leaves
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 red pepper, flattened, sliced thin
  • 1 c. white wine, picpoul de pinet or something similar
  • 1 c. fish stock
  • 24 manila clams
  • 10 large shrimp, heads-on preferred
  • 2 # mussels
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4" Italian parsley, chopped


  • Get a big pot and put over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and when aromatic, put in the bacon.  Saute the bacon, periodically stirring, until the bacon is crisp.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve for later.
  • Saute the linquica in the bacon fat and olive oil for a couple minutes until slightly browned on the edges,  Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and reserve for later.

  • Add the garlic, red pepper and fennel seed to the fat in the pot and briefly saute for a minute or two, making sure the garlic and fennel seed do not brown too much.

  • Add the onions, fennel,  and red pepper and saute for 4 minutes, until the fennel is starting to soften.
  • Add the white wine and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until it's boiled down a bit.
  • Add the fish stock and bring to a simmer. 
  • Return the linquica to the pot and mix well.
  • Add the clams and shrimp and cover the pot.  Steam for 4 minutes.

  • Add the mussels and cover the pot.  Steam for 4 minutes more.

  • Add the cherry tomatoes, parsely, celery leaves, bacon and stir for a 30 seconds.
  • Turn off heat and ladle the mixture into bowls.  Serve with tasty crusty bread.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lazy Man's Moo Shoo Pork

I like the whole wrapped food dish concept whether it's Chinese or Mexican or whatever.  It may be hard at times to find a good tortilla that's not overly thick and flavorless, but it can be done.  However, it's tough to find in a supermarket a good Chinese pancake, therfore imposing the duty of making it on yourself.  I have made them and they turn out fine, but like many dough oriented processes, it takes a bit of extra time to get the dough right before usage.  That being said, I need to be lazy at times.  I already cooked a bunch this week so I needed some version that was quick - meaning Good Bye Pancakes.


  • 1# pork butt, trimmed and sliced thinly, and cut to bite sized pieces
  • Pork Marinating Sauce
    • 4 Tb rice wine vinegar
    • 2 Tb light sodium soy sauce
    • 2 Tb cornstarch
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 c. of rice and appropriate water for that type of rice
  • More Mushroomy Taste
    • 1/2 oz. dried wild mushrooms
    • 1/2 c. water
  • Simmering Sauce
    • 2 Tb kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
    • 2 Tb Hoisin sauce
    • 1 Tb light sodium soy sauce
    • 2 Tb rice wine vinegar
    • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Egg Component
    • 2 tsp sesame oil
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Main Saute Components
    • 1/4 c. peanut oil
    • 2 Tb ginger paste
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 6 scallions, trimmed, sliced into 1/4" sections, both green and white sections
    • 8 oz. green or Napa cabbage, cut into 1" chunks/slices/etc.
    • 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
    • 1/2 seedless cucumber, sliced
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten


  • Marinate the Pork:  Mix the cornstarch with the liquid ingredients in the Pork Marinating Sauce prior to adding to the pork.   Make sure there are no cornstarch clumps.  Put the pork in a smallish baking dish and cover with the well-mixed marinating sauce.  Let marinate while you cut up the cabbage and mushrooms and take care of some of the other stuff.
  • Laziness:This is about the point when I start the rice.  I pretty much use Basmati for all stir fry dishes regardless of ethnic background.  Why?  Because I like it.  Anyhow.  1 c. of basmati and 2.5 c. of water in a sauce pan.  Cover and heat on high.  When you see steam escaping from the pot, turn heat to low.  When steam just about stops coming out of the pan, turn the heat off.  Keep covered until it's eatin' time.
  • More Shroomy: Heat the 1/2c. of water in a microwave for 1.5 minutes or so. Put the dried mushrooms in a non-reactive bowl and pour the water over the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms reconstitute for 10 minutes and drain.
  • Prepare the Simmering Sauce:  Combine the ingredients for the Simmering Sauce in a non-reactive bowl.  Make sure the kecap manis and hoisin are mixed and as integrated as possible.

  • Eggy Weggs:  Heat a small saute pan over moderate heat.  Add the sesame oil and when aromatic, add the lightly beaten eggs.  Scramble the eggs for about 1 minute and remove to a bowl.
  • Cooking Time!: Heat the peanut oil in a wok or chef's pan over medium-high heat.  When aromatic, put in the garlic and ginger and stir for 30 sec. to combine.

  • Add the pork, marinade, and 1/2 of the scallions.  Stir fry for 5 minutes until cooked through.
  • Add the drained reconstituted dried mushrooms, normal mushrooms, cabbage and cucumbers to the wok and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until cabbage is not quite wilting.
  • Add simmering sauce to wok and bring to a simmer. 
  • Add the previously cooked scrambled eggs.  Cook for 1 more minute.
  • Pour the lightly beaten egg into the mixture and stir for 1 minute and take off the heat.
  • Add the other 1/2 of the cut scallions and serve!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Gai Kaprow-vence

So I got home a bit late and it was determined we had nothing set up to eat.  I wasn't planning on cooking, but what the hell.  I like to cook, I might as well.
Kim suggested chicken with basil (meaning Gai Bai Kaprow) - classic Thai basil, chili pepper and chicken.  That sounded good, but I wasn't sure how the basil in the fridge looked.  In fact, it looked a bit tired.  Peering around the fridge, however, I did see some surpluses.
Dill, leeks, fennel, bacon.
I can do something with those, I'm sure of that.
Anyhow, I decided to combine some of both of the ideas.

Now, in the summer, when we have basil growing all mad-cap around the yard, I have a pretty standard master recipe for Gai Bai Kaprow that I cook about once per week.  You start by marinating the small dice chicken thighs in a mixture of rice wine vinegar and fish sauce - maybe toss some shallots in.  Then you take a pot and heat the fat, flavor the fat with garlic.  Then add the onions and whatever veggie to get them started, then the chicken to cook through.  Then you add additional flavoring, bring to a boil and add the finishing ingredients, meaning basil.

Well, tonight's recipe follows a similar yet different cadence.   I had fennel, which I knew would go fine with fish sauce.  But I wasn't going to use soy sauce or kecap manis for other elements of the sauce.  Instead, I went all Provencal on the dish.  And instead of having the dish accompanied by rice, I decided to dice some hash browns to provide a nice starchy accompaniment.

Anyhow, it came out quite nice and rich and didn't take long at all.


  • 1# chicken things, cut into 3/4" chunks
  • 1 shot of fish sauce
  • 1 shot of Noilly Prat (vermouth)
  • 1 shot of white wine (picpoul de pinet or un-oaked chardonnay)
  • 1 shot of champagne vinegar
  • 1 shot of Pernod
  • 1.5 oz of small dice bacon
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1 russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2" dice
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 leeks, white parts sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, large julienned
  • 1/4 c. minced dill


  • First off, start marinating the chicken.  Put the chicken in a bowl and add 1/2 shot of the fish sauce, 1 shot of Noilly Prat, 1/2 shot of champagne vinegar.  Mix well and let sit at room temperature.
  • Next heat a pot or wok over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter.  When the butter is melted, add the bacon.  Continue to cook the bacon, stirring periodically until browned.  Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon, and reserve to be added later, when the dish is done.

  • Next add the diced potatoes.  Cook and stir the potatoes until browned and tasty.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve the potatoes in a bowl. Lightly salt and pepper the potatoes.  They, too, will be added at the end.

  • Next, add the fennel and leeks.  Saute and stir until the leeks are soft.  The fennel will still be fairly firm, but that's fine.  They can stay in the pot.

  • Next, add the chicken.  It's important that the chicken has been cut small because we're not going to cook it that long.  The other point about the small cut chicken is that it will have more surface area which means more of the chicken will come in contact with the sauce in which it is cooking.  Nom nom.  Anyhow, just add the chicken and its marinade and continue to cook.  Stir and cook until the chicken is cooked on each side.  We are not cooking this until it is browned and the marinade is gone.  We are cooking the chicken until it is just about done.

  •  Next, it's time for the rest of the sauce.  Pour in the other 1/2 shot of Fish Sauce, 1 shot of white wine, and the 1/2 shot of champagne vinegar [NOTE: not the Pernod yet].  Bring this liquid to a simmer and then add the julienned carrots.  The carrots shouldn't cook much.  They're just adding some color and a bit of crunchy texture to the mix.  Cook the carrots for a 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the dill and Pernod and cook for no more than 1 minute.  Then turn off the heat.
  • Finally (off-heat), add the reserved potatoes and bacon.  Mix well and serve.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Warming Veggie Curry for the New Year

After a massive eating fest during the holidays, I felt as though I should really stop eating.  Or at least stop eating what I had been.  The two grand daubes were lovely, but heavy.  The multiple potato gratins were delicious sides, but sleep inducing.  The cookies...oh the many cookies. Something has to be done.  Must eat a bit better.  Must stay away from the beastly food.
Yet, it's still winter so I need something rich and warm as well.

A nice Madras style vegetarian curry fits that bill quite nicely.

This recipe is an adaptation from a recipe on Epicurious (read: draws heavily from), but it has been altered due to my need to increase certain flavor profiles in the dish.  I needed a bit more heat, a bit more acidity, a bit more bite, a bit more garlic and so on.  The original Epicurious recipe is decent but I thought a few modifications were useful.


The ingredients are divided into different sections based on when they are added to the pot
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 Tb ground ginger, or 2 Tb ginger paste, or 2" segment of ginger root
  • 4 Tb peanut or sunflower oil
  • 1 Tb garam masala
  • 1 Tb ground cumin
  • 1 Tb Amchoor powder (dried mango powder)
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded, chopped
  • 2 Tb tomato paste
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tb brown sugar
  • 2 makrut/kaffir lime leaves
  • 6 whole green cardamom pods
  • 1 # sweet potatoes / yams, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 # potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 tomatoes, cored, chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz spinach leaves
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped


Build the Curry

  •  Combine the first 8 ingredients into a food processor and blend to a paste.  Stop periodically and use a spatula to push down escapees into the bottom of the processor to make sure everything is nice and smooth.
  • Heat a large enameled pot over medium heat.  Add the curry paste.  Spread the paste across the bottom of the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes until fairly aromatic, stirring fairly frequently to make sure the paste does not burn. 
  • Add the tomato paste and mix thoroughly.  Continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes until the curry paste is fairly brown.
  • Add the next 4 ingredients and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate any of the bits of curry paste which had stuck to the bottom.

Cook the Veggies

  • Add sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, salt, and pepper to mixture in pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.
  • Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve some lovely basmati rice.

 Couple Notes

  • One of the things that I added to the Epicurious recipe is Amchoor Powder.  It has a nice little citrousy bite from the dried mango that I felt the curry paste was lacking on previous attempts.  
  • One thing I have added but didn't was curry leaves.  You can definitely add them during the stewing period (like the makrut lime leaves), but I didn't in this case.  Experiment away if you'd like.
  • Speaking of which...Makrut lime leaves.  When you find fresh ones and you use them and you have some left over, freeze them.  They hold up to freezing quite well.  Much better than if you leave them in your fridge and forget about them.  They will be pretty dried and nasty if you just refrigerate instead of freeze.