Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer Vegetable Dressing

For dipping, dunking, and tossed salads. I made this with what was in the house the other day and it quickly became a favorite. It has a lot of fresh tang and wakes up vegetables wonderfully.

1/2 cup of crisp sauvignon blanc (Cakebread Cellars)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup of fresh grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 fresh tomato


Add one bunch of scallion and roughly chop. Stir in 1/2 cup olive oil and toss with greens. MMMMMM. This is a really delicous dressing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Duck in the style of Seville/Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach Delaware is working very hard to become a dreadful tourist trap. From the parking permit price increase to the Barney Fifes on their bikes riding around hoping your meter will expire; Rehoboth as a town is getting a very bad and well-deserved reputation.

Most of the restaurants have joined the fray determined to charge the highest prices for the least quality. It has reached the point that despite the glorious beaches, tourism is actually down and for the first time Hotels are offering discounts.

Maybe the city council will head towards the age of enlightenment and spend some of their ill-gotten gains on changing rooms and showers for the beach. We live in hope.

Fortunately with the help of S.O. who has been going for the last 15 years I was able to navigate away from some of the worst tourist traps and eat some pretty darn good food.

Can we say cheesesteak?
15 S Boardwalk
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
(302) 227-3329

While you really don't need the address to find this gem, I include it for the detail oriented. You merely have to follow your nose. Thinly shaved beef cooked with lots of onions and served on the soft bun with Provolone cheese, not that nasty American or even worse, cheese from a can but the real melty delicous thing. Hold this sandwich over napkins or paper because it will drip but the delicousness factor will astonish you. If you are not a big eater, split a sandwich. Half is enough.

As luck would have it right across the boardwalk divide is Thrashers fries. All they do are fries. Idaho potatoes freshly fried twice in peanut oil with salt and vinegar. NO KETCHUP is ever served and they have signs warning you not to ask for it.

Cheesesteak and fries are their own sort of heaven.

But wait, there's more...

Mariachi Restaurant.
14 Wilmington Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
(302) 227-0115

The salsa was thin but tasty, the guacamole was good with some nice onion to it, but the crown in their cap...Duck. If you can't get there, but want to make the duck the recipe has been shared.

Ingredients: 1 large duck
¼ pound of salt pork
1 finely chopped carrot
2 thinly sliced leeks
1 julliened onion
5 cloves of garlic
2 cups sherry
4 cups veal stock
½ cup V-8 juice
1 cup sliced green olives
Cayenne pepper

In a large cast iron skilled heat some oil with chunks of salt pork and the garlic. Cut the duck in half and brown it all over. Add the chopped vegetables and sherry. Place in a hot oven (400) with duck skin side up and roast for 90 minutes.

Remove the duck and strain the sauce. Either use a fat skimmer or chill the sauce and duck overnight to remove the fat.

Debone the by gently turning it skin side down and using a pair of scissors and your hands to remove bones doing your best not to tear the skin.

Add the V-8 and a dash of red pepper and reduce the sauce til thick and place the duck halves in the sauce, add the chopped olives and place in a hot oven til fully warm. Cut the duck in slices, skin intact and serve with rice.

This is a traditional Easter dish in Seville. Thank you Mariachi for this most delicous dish.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Best and Worst of the Pacific Northwest

You have to hand it to Seattle for the views.
The locals have a lot of them and they are
justifiably proud of the look of the beautiful
water and lush greenery. All that rain is good
for something. Everywhere your eye can see is
the dense growth of carefully manicured lawns,private
gardens, parks and open areas.

My arrival into Seattle was late, seriously late as weather delayed us on July 4Th. My disappointment at missing the fireworks was blown away as our plane lowered and slowed and we saw show after show as we approached. Every township,
waterfront, and private yard was putting on a show and trust me when I
tell you the BEST place to see them from is the window of an airplane.
As tired as I was it was magical.

We S.O. another couple and I had a house in which to stay and it was a little gem with a great kitchen, a gas BBQ and a beautiful deck with yard. 22 hours after leaving my house we went to bed.

Let's talk about the BEST of the area first. My birthday dinner (yes it was the big one) was delicious from the first sip of wine to the last bite. I have mentioned the restaurant Wild Ginger from
the first bite of succulent FRESH crab cake to the last bite of crispy
duck with a chilled halibut salad in the middle I was delighted. The
waitress was wonderful allowing us to order course by course and taste
many things. This was the best seafood we had in the entire area. I
highlyrecommend it if you find yourself in Seattle.

We took a Ferry to Victoria B.C. and the ride was a delight, again beautiful
views. We brought breakfast and had a picnic arriving near lunch time.
Our plan was to go to the Fairmont for their fiercely expensive afternoon tea but when we got there and saw those sad little petit four trays with rather nasty food that looked at best pre-fabbed and not fresh we opted out. If you check the website their is a pastry chef named, quite franly I would be ashamed to take credit for the stuff, but if it is indeed made on the premises and not defrosted pre-fab from Sysco
then that chef should be hiding and not putting their name out there. One can argue that we didn't taste it and you feel free to spend your 60 dollars for that sad little trio and write me if it is anamazement I missed. I read on another site that the Fairmont is riding a reputation they no longer deserve and it is the worst tourist trap in town. I will not disagree. However the building and
grounds are beautiful.

Now back to thebest.Butchart Gardens are so worth the time it takes to stop and smell the roses. They are quite beautiful, well laid out and very much a worthy
attraction. I did stick my nose in their tea room and the spread looked
much more appealing than that at theFairmont and it was about one third
of the price. Tea on a porch overlooking a garden, I could do that and
if ever back in that area I shall.

We drove down to the State Theatre and saw a wonderfully professional production of The Rocky Horror Show, another best. Check what's on when you are there.

I have saved for last the tourist trap of tourist traps. The
viewing deck might be worthy although Seattle is more attractive from
one of it's many natural heights than from here, but to go to a world
fair relic can be fun.

The restaurant deserves it's own category of shame. It has windows and it revolves, but so quickly it made me dizzy. It is like being on the turntable of an LP. I just
wanted it to slow down. We chose brunch because it was the more cost efficient meal and daylight offers better views. The one in our bunch who had the 45 dollar eggs Benedict
was the most satisfied. Let's talk about the crab cakes, two of our
party chose them and if indeed they were made from fresh crab we must
get the chef to share his secret; for making them taste tinned. Oh but
an attempt was made to mask the tinny flavor by covering the crab with
cheddar cheese. I bet that's what the gourmets are eating these days,
delicate crab topped with overwhelming cheddar. I had the halibut
sandwich covered in so much stuff I had to excavate the tiny portion of
fish. It had a strong and unpleasantly dressed Cole slaw dumped upon it,
and then an arugula salad dressed with tarter sauce. What creativity
arugula and tarter sauce. Additional vegetation and a huge bun served
to further hide my tiny bit of fish. I ate the fish, the tarter sauced
arugula did not agree with me. I did eat most of the crisp but cold
fries it was served with.

Oh but how could I forget the starters, mushy fruit salad, and my clam chowder made from slightly thinned library paste and potatoes. With 3 actual bits of what purported to be razor clam.

When filling out the survey card I wrote..."Your reputation for mediocrity
will not go unchallenged by me." I was feeling overly polite. I would
now like to correct that. Space Needle restaurant you are one of the
WOST tourist traps in the world and your chef belongs in the hall of

What further can you say about a restaurant that
charges almost 30 bucks for a bottle of white zinfandel that can be
purchased retail fo4 3.99 except...white zinfandel is what your food

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Patty Pan for Dave...Smoked Oyster Sandwich

I want to thank Dave for getting me on my Patty Pan kick. The local farmers have an abundance of it and it looks so beautiful on the plate. Patty Pan makes you enjoy summer more, it is just one of those vegetables.

This is Patty Pan as an appetizer and man is it good.

1 dozen Patty Pan split
1 can of 12 smoked oysters
6 anchovies cut into tiny pieces
1 clove garlic finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Flour and salt for dusting
Olive oil

Open your can of oysters and drain them of all the oil. We don't want them greasy. Split your patty pan into halves and dust the cut half in the flour and salt mixture. Warm some olive oil in a non stick pan and saute the patty pan until the cut side is golden and they are soft/crisp, cooked but not mush. Remover from the pan and toss in the butter, when melted the garlic, when soft the anchovy. Place one smoked oyster on the bottom half of the patty pan, drizzle with garlic and anchovy sauce, put the top half on and spear with a toothpick.

Server with a crisp Rose' as a pre-dinner treat.

Of course if you are just experimenting with recipes and make a dozen and you are all by yourself you are quite welcome to eat them all and call it a night. I did.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Asian Chicken Thighs with Filthy Rice

I got an e mail from a reader in Washington State who has a husband and two growing boys and wanted something 'different' to do with chicken legs and thighs. They go on sale often and are inexpensive and she is incredibly tired of baked and barbecued. bored no more. As far as I am concerned this is the tastiest part of the chicken and I am delighted to share preparation methods. I grew up in a large family and I understand the needs of hearty eaters.

6 chicken thighs
Soy sauce
Ground Anise

2 cups rice
1/2 cup lentils (any color)
1 Italian sausage link
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 and 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Olive oil

1 head of bok choy
1 lime

The night before, take your 4 chicken thigh/drum pieces and dredge heavily in ground anise. Place skin side down in a shallow pan filled 1/2 inch with soy sauce. Refrigerate uncovered.

The next morning turn the chicken over so it is skin side up, sprinkle with some more anise and leave until dinner time. You want the skin of the chicken to dry.

Take 1/2 cup dry lentils and one cup water and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and set the time for 20 minutes. When done, drain.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place thighs skin side down in a wok or pan with some hot peanut oil and sear for about 5 minutes on each side. Place in hot oven.

Remove the sausage from the casing (If you don't have Italian use an equivalent amount of Jimmy Dean or some other type), Brown in the pan you will be using for your rice and set aside. Remove the browned sausage and add a touch of olive oil and saute the chopped onion. When the onion is beginning to brown throw in the garlic, a minute the later the rice, followed by the chicken stock and the lentils. While it is coming to a boil finely chop your now cooled sausage to tiny bits. When boiling add sausage, turmeric, red pepper and a little salt if your stock was not well salted. Cover and set the timer for 20 minutes.

Wash and chop your bok choy into one inch pieces.

When the rice is done check the chicken, about 40 minutes should have passed and the juices should run clear, when chicken is done turn off the oven and set your plates in to warm.

Toss the bok choy in a hot wok or skilled with a little olive oil and salt. When it is hot, but not mushy turn off the heat and toss with the lime juice.

Arrange the food on warm plates and serve.

This is an ample meal for 4 ( I am assuming two pieces of chicken per growing boy) and the lentils up the nutrition and fiber content significantly. If you make it for two (as I did) all the leftovers make a great fried rice the following day.

A meal that is budget conscious enough to qualify as a food for the New Depression.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fancy Food Show Hall of SHAME!

The #1 Hall of Shame Winner is...Emeril Lagasse, a man for whom I have a lot of respect in many ways, but his sauces are sugar based. You never see an Italian grandmother standing over her pot of tomatoes in Italy with a cup of sugar or a container of corn syrup but unfortunately even Emeril instead of using nice ripe tomatoes and great seasonings resorts to this trick of sweetening the sauce. It's plain bad cooking and from a man who SHOULD know better. Go stand in the corner Emeril, along with Rachel Ray and The ladies from the Silver Palate who get a shameful mention for hiding the sugar in the form of evaporated grape and pear juice.

#2. Mustard Bread Crumbs...what a great idea.Coating the fish with mustard can make the bread crumbs soggy and the fish less crisp. I was very exciting to try this new product from the Iron Chef...until I tasted it. Mustard for dessert is not so appealing. I checked the bread crumbs. Bad idea, bad taste, SHAME on you Iron Chef.

That's it. I'm done. I have more than 200 additional potential entrants for this category. There was so much (S.O. told me not to say crap, or shit), bad food at the food show, that I just can't pick. I find the top two the most offensive because they are big names and widely available. Most of the other entrants were just crap food that likely won't get far and it does not deserve too. Just a general warning to the consumer, read the label, if you see corn syrup, put it back, if you see hydrogenated fat, put it back. If you see sugar, this a product that needs or should have sugar? If so, great, but if it's a chip, or a pretzel, or a salsa, put it back. Use your dollars to tell the manufacturers to work on flavor, not covering up the lack thereof with sugar.

Let me give you a few more GOOD products to send you off. Blue Smoke Salsas have a natural sweetness from good onions The Extra Hot is not so hot, but it is delicious. Check out

Oogies makes really good flavored popcorn. It's not low calorie but it tastes really good. Check out

Two rotten, two good, and a reminder to read your food labels.

Now we go back to our regular programming. I think we need some recipes for all the amazing vegetables that are hitting the Farmer's markets these days. When you support your local farmers you are supporting your own health. Eat your vegetables.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Crab Cakes Maya

My apologies for being such a negligent host. S.O. took me to Seattle for my birthday (yes the big one) and the moment I got back I began to work on a 50 person wedding feast. Yesterday my hands looked like crab claws so swollen were they from chopping and stirring. The Hall of Shame is coming (I have 200 entries that were truly awful to consider) and I will write more about Seattle and the area including a bit about Wild Ginger, a very creative and completely delicious Seattle restaurant where I spent my birthday

But for now...we have Crab Cakes Maya. Shelled crab is quite expensive now and would have been too much for the wedding party's budget but the bride had a lovely daughter who wanted two things, chocolate fondue for fruit and crab cakes. I always come to any event with a small supply of emergency food and a pound of dried pasta for the "I can't eat ______ wedding guest. None were present at this event so I had to do a crab cake with...whatever.

Crab Cakes Maya

8 ounces of crab meat

1 duck egg beaten

1/4 red onion grated

a couple of party crackers crushed

Salt and pepper

Chives, lots of chives

Truffle butter and fresh lime

I took the egg and beat it adding in a few crushed crackers, the onion and the crab. I hit it with seasoning and the chives and formed the cakes. NO way were they going to stay together in the pan so I tucked them in the freezer for about 30 minutes to set. Hot olive oil and a good sear on both sides until they were heated through. I topped with a little melted truffle butter and a squeeze of lime and served on a bed of onion with additional lime.

A little chunk just happened to fall off in the pan...and these were good. The egg added a nice richness to the mix and the chives with the lime woke up the flavor. Maya, you now have a dish of your own.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wine and Food

As an astute reader pointed out I forgot to mention the wine that we paired with the Joy Behar Pasta. I chose a Centine by Banfi. The Banfi Centine is a fine blend of Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The Banfi Centine is a blend of Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I would describe it as both soft and strong, which actually makes it sound a bit like Charmin, but it's accurate. It pairs equally well with a nice chicken or a very mellow lamb dish. With a pesto you can choose either a strong peppery wine to stand up and shake hands with the sauce or a mellow contrast. This is a wine I buy by the case because it pairs well with many foods, and because I am a sentimental person. I first had it with S.O. on New Year's Even in Florida and each sip takes me to the beach at a Moroccan restaurant on a beautiful night. I'm good with that.

Another of my favorite food wines are the Fitous. Among my favorites are the Domaine Gautier Fitou 2005. It is one of those wonderful Rhone blends that gets the best out of every grape they press. Great fruit, full mellow flavor and a hint of earthiness makes this a wonderful choice with cheese at a cocktail party or beef at the dinner table. It pairs beautifully with food or conversation with a couple of olives.

Terra Rosa Malbec is a Cabernet Malbec blend that defies it's price range and it's unfortunate bottle. It's rich, dense, fruity, lush and delicious. Kick ass with tomato sauces, lamb, and pork. I did not want to try this wine, I did not want to like this wine. It has a screw cap. Say what you want about screw caps being a good preservation method but the fact remains that they remind one of very bad jug wines. Screw caps should be limited to White Zinfandel and Yellowtail and any other undrinkable wines. (To even refer to Yellowtail as wine is a compliment to the swill they bottle) Nonetheless I love this wine and buy it by the case.

As much as I love the reds there is a place for whites. On an Italian cliff side overlooking the beach a glass of Greco will do just fine. I don't have many of the whites in my house because so much of my cooking needs the red.

However I am a huge fan of Rose'. I love the additional complexity and subtle flashes of flavor so many Rose' wines posses. 2006 Lafond, Claude Rose, Tavel is a big favorite. With nice fruit and mineral flavors it is a favorite wine to pair with seafood.

The great thing about all these wines is that they are available for around ten bucks a bottle.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Hummus is a house staple. I make it often to snack on and for meals served to friends. It takes minutes and is very open to improvisation.

1 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas
1 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of Tahini
8 cloves of raw garlic
Juice of two lemons
1 tablespoon Turmeric
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Coriander
1/2 tsp. white pepper

Put the whole mess in a food processor and mix until it has the texture you like. Use as a dip, a sandwich spread, or for the hardcore, eat with a spoon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fancy Food Show Hall of Fame!

I put the link to the developers of the two top Hall of fame products in the title. These products are not currently on their web site (Hey, they are new) but the deliciousness factor so trumps much of what was at the food show I rate them number one.

1. Aux Delices mini sausages and truffle butter. A tie between these two products. The truffle butter is an excellent quality butter with the perfect balance of truffle and salt. It is so good it could be melted and tossed with pasta and no more sauce would be needed. Sure, you could finish with cream or top with Romano but I am not sure I would want to interfere with the truffle goodness in any way. Spread on bread and have a salad for dinner and you would feel like Royalty. I should mention that it won a best of show award, so it seems I am not the only one impressed by this delicacy. I spoke with Zabars this morning and for those of you in NY it is already in stock.

They have also JUST developed mini sausages. With just the right toothy chewiness and spice balance I can honestly say they match their french counterparts in flavor and texture. They are too good to mass produce so you will never see them in the local Piggly Wiggly but check when you are in New York, some smart retailer like Zabars is sure to grab them up. They will be one of the most popular snackable delicious products ever sold. Note to food stores...STOP RELYING ON D'ARTGAN, they are just not that good. They don't belong in the Hall of Shame (for business practices they do, but that's another article) but small purveyors beat them all to Hell when it comes to flavor.

2. Cherry and Pomegranate reduction from of these reductions are so beyond words amazing that my mouth waters at the thought. No sugar is added so they have a pure fruit taste that is astonishing. The man behind these creations is working on a chocolate tart cherry sauce that when it is ready I will be first in line for. From vegetable dressings to meat glazes to dessert my mind reels with the possible uses.

3. Better than "Better than Bouillon" are Savory creations broths. Rachel Ray (lazy slag that she is in the kitchen, I know she runs an empire but please...stock from a can ALL the time) needs to discover these and throw away the crap she uses. The Turkey actually tastes like Turkey and being that modern turkey can have so little flavor they would make an ideal gravy base. Not salty, no canned taste. They are what they claim to be...broth. What a concept.

4.The Beharry group imports a lot of crap but their Indi line of spices is excellent. The Star in the Indi family is the curry powder. Just add to oil sizzle and add in your onion and garlic (I threw in a touch of hot pepper) and whatever you like. I chose lamb and cauliflower and put the mass in a crock pot to slow roast. My gosh, Can I tell you how good my dinner was tonight. Granted there are as many curries as there are grandmothers but if you don't want to hand blend the spices and you want something MILES ahead of the grocery store curry powder this is worth seeking out.

5. Epicurean butter makes our list for the Tomato Chipotle Butter. They make several good ones but this tops the list for creativity and flavor. This is strongly infused with flavor without being too salty. Tasty and creative puts this little company on the list.

6. Chocolate Grove For the Raspberries and Cherries in Dark Chocolate. The fruit is freeze dried, not sugared or oiled and the candy is among the simplest and best. Pure fruit deliciousness wrapped in a good dark chocolate, so simple so good.

7. Salsa, from New Jersey and it takes best in show. Don't be afraid to get the hot, it is not hot which could be a strike against it, but the flavor makes up for it. Nicely seasoned with a good cilantro kick and get this; NO SUGAR. While this may seem to make sense I gotta tell you that to find salsas that did not taste like dessert was a challenge. They are using every form of sugar known to man to hide the fact on the label, but when you taste them and they seem like a dessert topping you KNOW it is not Salsa. This stuff is wonderful and they are local so for me, when I don't make my own there will be no other choice.

8. Fabrique Delices for their duck gizzard confit. If you don't live in New York and have connections you may have to order it. Order it. Hall of Fame all the way...crisp them up and serve with salad and bread and try to tell me you are not bliss filled.

9. Domingo Caffe for their espresso. Nothing like those burned Starbucks excuse for coffee. This is the real deal, rich, sweet, frothy espresso. It needs no sugar, just sip and be in coffee bliss.

10. IzzeEsque for the low calorie sparkling Limon drink. Yes I have a soda on my list. I am not a soda drinker, but I tasted a number of them, many promising to be organic and natural and they tasted like fruit flavored syrup from Mrs. Butterworth. Nasty, vile. S.O. can tell you I spit some of them out and insulted the creators by pronouncing the products as vile before leaving the tasting table. Izzeesque is light, both lemon and limey and not overly sweet. They do what the others promise and earn their place in the hall of fame.

I may or may not have time to put the Hall of Shame together before I leave town for a bit, so check these products out and soon I will out the worst of the worst, yes Emeril I am talking about you.

Questions from E-Mail

I get a lot of questions from you folks via e-mail and today I am going to provide some answers to some of those I get repeatedly. I will again encourage you to use the comments section. I appreciate some of the recipes and tips you send but feel free to share them with others.

1.Which jarred tomato sauce is best? I usually cook for one and am not going to make some huge pot of sauce that takes forever to cook. None of them. Most add sugar or corn syrup and they are more ketchup than pommodoro. In the time it takes you to boil water and cook pasta you can make a sauce superior to the crap in jars.

1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic minced
Olive oil
2 Ripe Roma tomatoes chopped
Basil if you have it, parsley is nice too
A little cheese if you like that

Chop the onion, put your water on to boil, salt the water. Use a large skillet and at a high heat push the onion around in some olive oil til it is soft and a little caramelized. Toss in the chopped garlic and just let it soften, not toast. Toss in the chopped tomato, turn to simmer. If you are drinking wine you can throw in a splash. Salt, pepper, your water is boiling now. Put the pasta in. I happen to love spaghetti and tiny penne with tomato, but you cook whatever you like. You now have about 7 minutes of simmer, if the tomatoes are chunky you can mush with a spoon, or you can leave chunky. Taste it. If it needs more salt add it, a touch more oil, go for it. Add a touch of cayenne if you want some spice. If the sauce thickens too much throw a little more wine in, or some water from the cooking pasta.

If you have basil or parsley chop 'em now. Check the pasta and drain a moment before it is done.

Toss pasta in sauce on high heat and throw in the basil/parsley/cheese til it just wilts or melts.

Eat and don't tell me it's not better than Ragu.

2. Why don't you print more recipes from your catering jobs? Because the quantities tend to be so large. Do you really want the recipe for beef stew that serves 50? White chili for 20? I have and will continue to downsize some of them and share them. Parties are not much different than the way I cook for myself and my friends. Last week I did roast suckling pig for 6 and when I get the photos I will post the prep.

3. Are you the same guy who used to write the fitness column? Yes, I had a syndicated column for 6 years called Fitness Guru. It was fun, but when giving nutrition advise I also often included recipes and as a result of that ended up as the 'Dude Food' columnist for Gym magazine. Gym ceased publication around the same time my syndicate was bought out by a large company. I ended up leaving that world for a few years and now do some nutritional counseling just to keep my hand in.

4. Are you going to write more about the new products at the Fancy Food Show? Am I ever. Watch for the Hall of FAME and the Hall of SHAME the best and the WORST. There are several makers of what we refer to as food who really ought to be ashamed of themselves.