Monday, January 28, 2013

Quick Scrambled Eggs

This is such a quick, easy, tasty, and healthy way to start the morning, especially during the week, that I just had to add it here. It's high on protein (which I understand to be a great nutritional asset in the morning as it alleviates hunger efficiently through the rest of the day), takes more time to clean up after than even to make, and goes great with toast and butter.

Eggs with milk and seasoning


butter and oil in the skillet



Total Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 1
Tools: non-stick skillet, bowl, fork, plastic (or wooden) spatula

2 eggs
1-2 teaspoons milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
kosher salt
fresh-cracked black pepper

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Crack the eggs into a small bowl (I follow Jacques Pépin who advises to not crack eggs on the side of a bowl but on the counter). Add the milk and seasonings to the bowl then whisk well with a fork to combine the ingredients.
Add the butter and oil to the skillet. Once the butter has melted, pick up the pan and swirl the oil and butter to coat its entire surface. Bring the flame under the skillet down to low and pour in the egg. Allow to set for about 30 seconds then use the spatula to pull back what of the egg has firmed allowing the liquid still on the coagulating egg to fall out to the far side of the pan. Do this a few times over the following minute or so until no liquid remains. Insert the spatula under the eggs a couple times while they cook to guarantee that they don't stick. Flip the egg over to heat but remove quickly before cooking for too long. The entirety of the cooking should take about 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
Empty the egg onto a plate and serve.

This took me a few times to get it right - to not over- or under-cook the egg but the general technique works fine. The combination of the milk, grapeseed oil, and butter seems to impart a fluffy sweetness to the eggs. The main idea is to get the seasoning correct and not to do too much - the skillet, heat, and egg seem to know how to do this more or less on their own.

Sautéed Sole with Red Pepper-Garlic Sauce

While checking out the fish at our local monger this past weekend, my initial thought was to go with the Loch Duart salmon again - it's always reliable - but then I thought perhaps I should try something a bit different this time. I'm noticing that the petrale sole in the display was wild, from Washington state, and at a good price so I picked up a couple of fillets. I had cooked sand dabs from Siren SeaSA recently; this was similar but I wanted to work the sole with a new recipe.
I purchased a cookbook by Jay Harlow last year, West Coast Seafood, from which I'd yet to try anything so this was as good a time as any. Looking through the book, my eye was drawn immediately to this recipe. It also employed a different technique in sauce that looked interesting, so I went with it.

petrale sole fillets

sliced pepper strips with clove of garlic

how to soften butter instantly right from the frig?

put between wax paper and apply a rolling pin

gently sautéing the pepper and garlic in peanut oil

food mill with the finest disc

contents remaining after the milling

pepper-garlic sauce with the butter

after the whisking

floured fillets

sautéing the fillets



2 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 large red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 large clove garlic, peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons peanut (or vegetable) oil

2 fillets of petrale sole
all-purpose flour - enough to coat the fillets
kosher salt
fresh-cracked black pepper

Heat a skillet over a low flame then add the peanut oil. Sauté the pepper strips and garlic gently until very soft (this took about 10-15 minutes for me). Remove the skillet from heat and remove the pepper and garlic with a slotted spoon to put into a food mill with the finest disc, leaving the oil in the skillet for later. Process into a medium-sized bowl until all of the juices have been milled. You'll also want to make sure to skim anything remaining under the food mill disc into the bowl as well. Once the juices have cooled, whisk in the softened butter until it all combines into a sauce. Put aside.

Dredge the fillets in flour shaking off any excess then season with the salt and pepper. Heat up the skillet again over a medium-high flame, adding a bit more oil if necessary. Once hot add the fillets and cook on one side for about 5 minutes to a good color. Turn over and finish the other side until the meat starts to flake - about 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and serve with the butter sauce.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Crab Rolls

Another great drop from Siren SeaSA this week, this time it was a couple of ginormous cooked Dungeness crabs. Although I prefer to work with live ones for many crab recipes, this was perfect for repurposing New England lobster rolls. I based this on a Jacques Pépin recipe from an old cookbook he made with Julia Child back in the 90's, Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home. Although Jacques is a god of French cuisine (and one of my personal culinary heroes), he's lived in Connecticut long enough to make him an authentic New Englander. And they came out wicked tasty - that good enuff fer ya, pally?

I think even they were looking forward to the dinner!

Neither easy nor quick to clean two massive crabs but a good pair of kitchen shears helps

Dressing with the peppers and pimentón

Lettuce and crab meat

Final mix

Baguettes on the grill top

Who needs a panini maker? We gots iron skillets!


2 cups cleaned Dungeness crab meat
3 large butter lettuce leaves, cleaned then chiffonade-ed
1/2 cup crab butter (the brownish-yellow liquid in the body)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used homemade)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 stalk celery, finely minced
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Fresh-cracked black pepper
good shaking of pimentón
1/2 pickled padron pepper, finely minced (optional - and only because I had some)
2 baguettes sliced width-wise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

To make the dressing, add the mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, celery, shallot, and lemon juice (and padron if using) to a mixing bowl. Mix and season with the salt, pepper, and pimentón.
In another bowl, combine the chiffonade lettuce with the crab meat. Drop the dressing into the bowl with the crab and lettuce and mix well.
Spread the butter over the open baguettes then place buttered-side down on a preheated stovetop grill pan or a hot iron skillet that can hold them. Cook until the baguettes are browned, about 5 minutes.

Serve the baguettes and the crab mix at the table for diners to put together for themselves.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Easy Roast Beef

I came across this recipe in the NY Times this past weekend (under the title Louisville Slugger) and it immediately appealed to me as a great idea for leftover sandwiches during the week. In fact, that was pretty much the point of the article that came with the recipe so seemed like a good fit. The idea behind the roasting of the beef is that most of the cooking time is spent with a very hot oven turned off early in the cooking with the heat slowly dissipating over the 2+ hour cooking time. It's important that you leave the door to the oven shut the entire time as it is the constant gradually slowing temperature of the oven that cooks the meat.
As with most directions for recipes that I'd never used before, I more or less followed the directions to the letter but did use my famous Thai granite mortar and pestle for the marinade paste that was put on the beef prior to cooking.
The accompanying sauce was a tad too sweet for my taste, the next time I plan to play that down a bit.
The recipe is my take on the dish.

Top round

Preparing the roast for the oven

Cleaning the watercress



Someone looks mighty interested in the aroma coming from the oven

Pretty nice color, I'd say


Roast Beef:
3 pound bottom round roast
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Red-pepper flakes to taste


1/3 cup Indian mango chutney
4 tablespoons of a good steak sauce
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons chili sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Hot sauce, to taste
4 tablespoons chopped watercress (optional)


Roast Beef:
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
In a mortar, pound the peeled garlic cloves with the salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes. Add the olive oil and pound into a paste. Rub the paste all over and into the roast.
Put the roast into a small iron skillet (10 inch) fat side up then into the preheated oven. Allow it to cook undisturbed for about 15 minutes (5 minutes a pound) then turn off the oven keeping the oven door closed. Let the roast sit in the closed oven for 2 hours making sure to NOT OPEN it until the roast is cooked.
After two hours, remove roast from oven. The internal temperature should be about 120F.
The article noted it would be a good idea to use one of those remote meat thermometers if you can snake it out through the closed oven door to its remote indicator so as to stop the cooking when the internal temperature reaches what you're looking for. I found the time to be right for a good medium rare color though. YMMV.

In a small pot set over medium heat, stir all the ingredients except the watercress. Heat until slightly thickened, then remove from the heat. Allow to cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
If you are adding the watercress, just before serving stir it into the sauce.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Steamed Black Cod

OK, first SirenSeaSA delivery since I've been back on my feet as well as the first one of the year. There was some hope for crab this time but no complaints at all regarding the black cod we got this week. The Facebook page highly recommended this steamed version from Bon Appetit so it saved me the trouble of coming up with something on my own with the usual limited time allotted to use the fish. Of course I threw my own spin on this pitch as I love to keep the batter off balance whenever possible.

Halved garlic, scallions, ginger root

Boiling in the wok

Have you ever seen such beautiful fillets?

Mise en place, or however it's said in Chinese. (落實到位 perhaps?)

Garlic slices

Fish in the basket


Steaming completed ...

and dressed with the sauce - now doesn't that just look scrumptious?

1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
4 scallions thinly sliced
2 scallions cut into pieces, 2" each
1 medium-size piece of fresh ginger root, cut into matchstick-size pieces
1/2 lemon
3 black cod fillets, 6 ounces each, skin on
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the halved head of garlic, the 2" pieces of scallions, 1 tablespoon ginger, and 4 cups water into a wok large enough to fit a steamer basket. Squeeze the juice from the lemon half into the pot. Add the lemon to the pot and bring to a boil, allowing it to simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer 1/4 cup of the liquid from the pot to a small bowl to set aside for the sauce. Add 2 cups water to the pot and return to a boil.

Set aside 1/4 cup sliced scallions and 1 tablespoon of the sliced ginger. Line the steamer basket with parchment paper. Scatter half of the garlic slices, half of remaining sliced scallions, and half of remaining ginger on top of parchment, spreading evenly.

Coat fish with oil, season with salt, and place skin side down in steamer. Scatter the remaining garlic, scallions, and ginger over fish.

Set the steamer on top of the wok, cover it and steam until fish is just cooked through and starting to flake. I found this to take about 10 minutes in all.
Meanwhile, stir the reserved scallions, reserved ginger, soy sauce, sliced chiles, and chopped cilantro into the reserved liquid from the pot to make the sauce.

Transfer fish to a platter. Drizzle with sauce. Serve.

Wife was so delighted with the outcome of the meal she graciously decided to make an artistic layout of her dish for me to photograph for this blog post

Butternut Squash Pasta

This is my take on a recipe from Mario Batali that I watched him make on Good Morning America a couple of years ago. It was simple sauce of butternut squash with red onion. This is the perfect time of year for something to celebrate the wonderful taste of this delicious vegetable without too much trouble.

Red onion meets the butternut squash

It pays to have a good quality peeler to handle the squash preparation

Cutting the raw squash into cubes - a Chinese cleaver is up to the task

Slicing the red onion

Mise en place

Red garlic still left from the summer's harvest

A little more mise for the place

Sauteing the onion and garlic

Now with the squash cubes added

Just about ready for the pasta

Finally with the orecchiette 

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 large red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound orecchiette
kosher salt

Place a large skillet over medium heat. When hot add the sliced garlic and cook until almost brown. Add the onion slices and cook until translucent. Add the cubed squash and mix into the onion and oil. This dish takes a while as you want to caramelize the squash and onion over time but not burn them. If you keep an eye on them and stir regularly they should be good in about 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare a large pot with salted water to bring to a boil in which to cook the pasta about a minute short of what is recommended on the box. Just before it's done scoop about a cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside.
When the pasta is done, drain then add to the skillet to finish cooking with the squash and onion, adding a little of the saved pasta water to coalesce the flavors. The squash should be really soft kind of falling apart as that is what makes it a good dressing for the pasta.