Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Korean Tapenade

No, your eyes do not deceive you. I am neither Korean, nor Spanish. However.

However.  I had one of those "clean out the fridge" moments and came up with this recipe. I just had it with some potato wedges I cooked in the halogen oven. It. Was. Yummy.

1/2 cup Kimchi (storebought or even better, homemade)
1/2 cup oil-cured olives
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tamari

Dump all of the above in the food processor. Pulse a few times until it's a rough paste.

Try to resist slathering this directly on your body.  I dare you.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


On paper, this stuff should be awful.  Rice. Hardboiled eggs. Smoked fish.  Really?

Best. Hangover Breakfast. Evar.

According to Wikipedia, Kedgeree is a Brit Bastardization of an Indian dish called Kichri. Brought home to Britain during the Raj and adjusted. Another version says that it's actually a Scottish dish that went to India with Scottish troops, then back home to England. I'm more inclined to believe this version of the story because of the use of smoked fish, which is very Scottish and not very Indian at all.

And it's pretty simple.

Get the rice cooker out from under the counter.  Cook 1 cup of rice with 2 cups water, plus add 1/2 tsp of curry powder and 1/2 tsp cumin.

Meanwhile, hardboil a couple of eggs.

In your trusty cast iron skillet, cook an onion in some olive oil. I used really thin half-moon slices of onion so they'd cook fast. Once they've started to brown, add your smoked fish.

Now, there's many different versions of this using many different kinds of fish. Most often it's smoked haddock.  I didn't have any, but I was able to find smoked herring fillets at the fish counter at my local supermarket. Super cheap.  They're quite salty, so you may want to soak the fillets in water for a bit to get rid of some of the salt. I didn't bother, I just made sure not to add any additional salt. Throw the fillets in on top of the onions, and once they're heated through so they're soft, shred the fillets into bite size pieces using a couple of forks.

Chuck the rice in on top of the whole mess and mix it up with the fish and onions.  Scrape the whole mess out into a serving bowl. Chop up the hardboiled eggs and plonk them on top of the dish.


(UPDATE) It's even better a day or 2 later. Obviously, you should keep it in the fridge. Obviously.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Salt & Vinegar Smashed Potatoes

So, as many of you know, I'm a confirmed Anglophile. I remember as a child, when the only voices I normally heard had very "New England" accents, listening to veddy English voices on shows that used to air on PBS, and thinking "I like those people".

 I was raised knowing that I was Irish on my mother's side. Very. My first exposure to Gaelic was listening to The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem records at my Nana's house. Of my dad's side of the family, I knew pretty much nothing. But for some reason, I knew I liked the sound of English english. 

Cut to 2010, when I scammed 30 days free on "". Found out most of my dad's family came here from England in the late 1600's, landing in Barnstable Mass. Imagine how freaked to the core I was when I found out that (again, according to and who can doubt a Mormon?) Elinor of Aquitaine is my 25th-great-grandmother. Less excited to find out that I descend from the 'idiot son' John. Hey, Plantagenet blood still counts if your 24th-great-grandfather was a mouth-breather, right? Being the queen that I am, I was convinced this meant I was somehow related to Katherine Hepburn, who played Elinor so brilliantly in the film version of "The Lion In Winter."

 Nobody said I was a rocket scientist.

 In any event, this is a roundabout way to introduce this recipe. You can't get much more Brit than fish 'n chips. The chips, of course, are what Americans call fries. And you can't have chips without vinegar. Malt vinegar, to be exact. It is nearly impossible to find proper chips in the US - even here in New England, which judging by the name, you would think would have a chippy on every corner. Not so much. So, here's a sort of kind of version of them that can be made with stuff you can find here in the States. As I said, this is a 'version', not meant to be the real thing. But they're pretty damned good.

1 1/2 pounds red bliss or new potatoes. You want them on the smallish side - like 1" x 2".
1 1/2 cups salt (a little more if you're using kosher or sea salt)
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup malt vinegar (don't even try to fake this part. Malt or nothing.)

 Preheat your oven to 400 and have the top rack one down from the highest it can go.

 Put about a half gallon of water in a medium pan. Add 1 1/2 cups salt. (I know. Trust me.) Wash the potatoes, remove eyes with a paring knife if necessary. When the water boils, dump the potatoes in. Boil until they're about halfway cooked (say, 8 minutes or so). Use a slotted spoon or a spider to pull the potatoes out of the water, set on a wire rack or towel to cool & dry.

When they're dry, they'll look a bit frosted from the shitload of salt you put in the water. This is what we want. This is good.

Get a rimmed baking sheet. Pour about half of the oil in the bottom of the pan and spread it around. Place the potatoes on the baking sheet. Now, if you've got another baking sheet or casserole pan, use this. Otherwise you can use the base of a pint glass.

Smash the potatoes until they're about 1/4 inch thick. Take a brush and brush the top of each of the smashed spuds with the malt vinegar. Be generous.

 Put the potatoes in the oven and cook for 20 minutes or so, until they look good. Take out the pan, flip the potatoes and repeat the vinegar treatment. Then put the rest of the oil over everything. Back in the oven, for another 10 to 15 minutes.

 If you have it, and you really want to gild the lily, you can put a final, sparing sprinkle of Maldon salt over the whole batch when you pull it out of the oven to get that extra crunch. Yes, this will be your entire day's RDA of sodium. It'll also be the best feckin' potatoes you've ever et.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gougères - little puffs of magic

OK, I think I mentioned before that I'm addicted to the "Create" channel. It's a secondary cable channel produced by PBS, and it contains mainly cooking, craft, travel and DIY shows.

I'm about to invoke a name that has many connotations, both good and bad:

Martha Stewart.

I know. I KNOW! But back in 2009 she produced a series of shows called "Martha Bakes". It goes over several basic, classic recipes. One episode is entirely devoted to "pate a choux", which is a very versatile basic batter that can be used for sweet or savory baked treats.

Here's the recipe from her website:

I, of course, made a couple of changes. First, Gruyere or Comte is a bit expensive. Being a Yankee, I substituted Cabot Sharp Cheddar. Because it has a stronger taste, you can cut down on the amount used. I went with a cup of the grated cheddar rather than 1 1/2 cups. Second, I don't happen to own a pastry bag, so I used a 1-gallon ZipLock bag and just cut a corner off the bottom of it. Presto: instant pastry bag. Other than that I followed the recipe to the letter.  The results were tasty.  They were not as puffy as they're supposed to be, so next time I might add another egg.

Monday, September 9, 2013

And so it begins...

So, here's the deal. I'm a middle-aged guy, single, gay, and for lack of something better to do with my time (curing cancer or solving the ongoing problem of poverty being beyond my particular skill-set) I decided to start cooking.

 It's a selfish pursuit, one could say. I prefer to cook alone. I don't work well with other people in my kitchen. I actually don't work well with other people in my house, period. (See: 'single', above). What I do have is an upbringing informed by my very hard working Mom who, as much as I love her, was not the world's best cook. She's absolutely OK with this and will tell anyone and everyone that she's always hated cooking and never wanted to be good at it. I admire her for that. But as a result, I was always the "eat to live" rather than the "live to eat" type. I could get through mealtime at the college cafeteria in less than 6 minutes, including the time it took to clear my tray.

 Sometime in the last 2 or 3 years, though, I started thinking about what I was putting into my body, food-wise. In 2009 I suffered a (very thankfully) minor heart attack, quickly followed by a bypass. Heart disease is rampant in both sides of my family (neither of my grandfathers ever saw age 60) and it quickly became apparent that continuing my usual diet (most of which was restaurant and/or fast food because I just couldn't be arsed to cook for myself) would have to have a major overhaul.

 I'll admit, immediately following the health scare, I went off the deep end. I bought a rice steamer and for about 6 months all I ate was rice, steamed salmon and brussels sprouts. The less said about that period of my life the better.

 I've since come to my senses. I've also started taking lots of medications to control blood pressure and cholesterol. So you will not see any recipes for steamed millet or edamame fritters.

 What I like to do is take recipes as I find them - whether they're in cookbooks, food magazines, or (my current obsession) cooking shows on the "Create" PBS channel, and tweak them so that they're 1) something I'd be willing to eat and 2) Not completely in the "coronary-on-a-plate" category.

 I'm not a nutritionist, I'm not trained in food science and I certainly wouldn't set myself up as a food expert. I'm just a cranky guy who found out rather late in life that he likes to cook. So. With that said, what I'll be posting here are recipes, links to recipes I like, general information, probably some bitching and moaning and general assholery. You're welcome to join me for the ride.