October 30, 2006
I know what you’re thinking, David. What person in their right mind has hyphenated line breaks on the cover of their cookbook? Don’t be put off. You’ll need something to do with all the crabs you pulled up from the Rt 50 bridge on the Chesapeake Bay. Yes, Myra is a little heavy handed with her flour in the roux, but you can adjust and add crisp Sicilian olives to contrast the sweet crab meat.
Individual Crab Soufflés
“The key to perfect soufflé is the preparation of the eggwhites” Myra waxes on thickly. My guess is that Myra was not sufficiently satisfied in her sleeping quarters. It’s true the eggs should be at room temperature before you separate and beat the whites. We need not write paragraphs on how to beat the whites, David, because I know you are ambidextrously skilled at stroking beast and fowl. I will, however, give you this one piece of advice: fold in the egg whites for no more than 1 minute and do not be concerned with remaining white patches. “Incorporate as many air bubbles as possible” so your soufflé will rise to it’s fullest.
1/2 lb fresh Chesapeake Bay crab meat
1 jigger cognac
4 TBS butter
1 1/2 TBS sifted flour
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
3 eggs yolks, separated
3 egg whites
6 gigante Sicilian olives
squeeze of lemon juice
coupla pinches of salt
Smash and chop the olives. Pour yourself a large portion of frozen vodka as you suck on the pits. Remove any remaining shell from the crabmeat. Add the cognac, a pinch of salt and marinate for 30 minutes. Melt the butter in a saucepan, whisk in the flour. Whisk in the milk slowly. Add the crab meat, olives and salt. Cook for 5 minutes, then let the mixture cool while you pour more frozen vodka. Beat the egg yolks and stir in.
“Beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry.” says Myra. Ok, what the fuck does that mean? I like to whip them until they make soft peaks. If you use a whisk, you can play grab ass as you work through this procedure. Kind of like Bill Murray with the spatula. It’s a good trick.
Fold the egg whites into the crab mixture. Remember, it’s all about the bubbles, so don’t stir too much. Spoon the batter into four 1 cup, straight sided, ramekins . Sprinkle with smoked Spanish Paprika and bake for 12 minutes at 350. Serve with greens dressed lightly with olive oil and lemon juice.
October 27, 2006
This dish is going to take some advance preparation, David. If you decide to cut corners and buy a pound of fresh picked back fin, you can use the travel story and she’ll feel like she’s the most special girl in the world.
First things first, head to the bait and tackle store for a crab net. Next, set your alarm for midnight and hop in your hot rod packed with the crab net, a couple of 5 gallon pickle buckets and a spool of string or two. I would also consider a couple gallons of the most toxic bug repellant you can find. The Chesapeake Bay is loaded with biting flies which can render an adult human completely bloodless within minutes. Head South on the New Jersey Turnpike towards the Cheasapeake Bay. Make sure you check the fishing reports before you leave to get the inside scoop on the best spots. According to Eastern Shore locals, the best crabbing is before dawn, so you’ll need to high-tail it. You’ll also need a good radar detector. The Delaware State Troopers are bored at that hour.
When you’re getting close to your selected spot, pull over at the local Food Lion or a 24 hour Safeway for a pack of chicken legs. That’s right, you heard, chicken legs. Tie a chicken leg on the string and plop it in the water. When you feel a critter having a snack, swoop down with your swift net and nab that sucker. Keep at it. It takes quite a few crabs to make this dish.
Here’s where we break traditions with the Eastern Shore. Steam the crabs in white wine and cayenne pepper for 20-30 minutes until they turn bright red. Allow the crabs to cool so you don’t burn your hands. You’ll have a hard time pawing your date with blistered mits. Open up the crabs and remove the back fin meat. Separate this from the other meat which you can use for avocado crab soup.
1 pound of back fin crab meat
half of a cayenne pepper, deseeded and minced
2 cloves minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
zest of one lime
4 tablespoons heavy cream
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 pinchs of salt to taste
Put the crab meat in a bowl and do a final pick through to make sure you’ve removed all traces of shell. Nothing puts the brakes on a romantic meal than crab shell between the teeth. In a separate bowl, combine the parsley, cilantro, garlic, lemon and lime zest and lemon juice. Add this mixture to the crab meat then add the butter, cream, salt and cayenne. Mound the crab on 4 sea scallop shells and dust the tops with Hungarian hot paprika. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes. Top with a small mound of crisp oven baked frites (recipe below) and serve with Viognier.
The above recipe was inspired and adapted from Shirley King’s Saucing the Fish.
Oven Baked Frites
These frites should be crunchy through and through with no soft potato on the inside.
2 large russet potatoes
2 TBS olive oil
2 pinches of salt to taste
2 turns of the peppermill
Pre-heat the oven to 450. Dust off your mandoline and cut the potatoes into matchsticks. Soak them in a bath of salted water for at least an hour. Just before cooking, remove from the water and place on a towel to dry. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place them in a single layer on an lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them over. Bake for 10 minutes more or until crisp and dark golden.
October 15, 2006
Uncle Nick used to date a dock worker in Southern Maine. In September, my mom would drive us up to spend some time by the water and enjoy the briny air. Nick’s girlfriend Lydia was a tiny little woman, but working the boats and the docks had made her a salty dog. She beat Nick and every one of his friends in arm wrestling matches and when they were all passed out on the bar, she was still throwing quarters in the juke box. She chain smoked and cursed incessantly. I think she was Scottish. Even though she always smelled of day old fish, I thought she was the coolest. The summer I turned 12, I also thought she was the sexiest. If I stared hard enough, I could almost see the outline of her breasts through her thick Woolrich. To top it off, she would cook the day’s catch into the most delectable soups and stews, then bake crispy loaves of bread to dunk in the broth.
That was the last summer we visited Uncle Nick. He didn’t talk to my mom much after his car crash. Lydia moved North and opened a lobster pound in Jonesport. I went to visit her when I nailed my driving test. The hole in her throat through which she smoked and the buzzbox with which she spoke didn’t have quite the same amorous effect until I tasted her clams. The broth was piquant with fresh herbs, tasted delicately of the sea and was bright with lemon juice and basil.
2 pounds live clams
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves rocambole garlic, smashed
peels of 1 lemon
10 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs sage
4 sprigs rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 bottle of French chardonnay or any dry white wine you’re not afraid to drink.
1 cayenne pepper, deseeded
1 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
juice of 1 lemon
3 TBS olive oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
several crisp baguettes
Soak the clams in cold water for 20 mins, then scrub with a man brush. Sautee the onion, olive oil and cayenne for 3 mins. Add the garlic and lemon peel. Saute for 5 mins more. Add the bottle of white wine, thyme, sage, rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the clams, parsley, lemon juice and 1/2 the basil. If you need additional liquid add a cup of vegetable stock. Put the lid on the pot and simmer for 6-8 minutes. Discard any clams that don’t open. Serve the clams in large bowls ladled with broth. Garnish with the remainder of the basil and cherry tomatoes. Serve with a wedge of lemon and wear a Woolrich.
October 8, 2006
In the Miyazaki region of Southern Japan they take their squid seriously. It was in a remote fishing village that we first encountered this treat. The chef, an elder buddhist monk, walked to the table carrying a squid the size of my arm in his left hand and the largest knife I’ve ever seen in his right. As the squid writhed on the platter he sliced it into strips with lightening speed. We picked up the quivering slices with chopsticks, dipped them in tiny dishes of soy sauce and popped them in our mouths. It was firm, tender and tasted of the earth and the sea. The soy sauce left a faint smoky flavor on the palatte. After the second squid and as many bottles of unfiltered sake Jennifer and I felt both vital and potent.
Well, you’re not in Japan, David and you don’t have access to a sharp knife toting chef wearing orange and white robes. This dish will do in a pinch and is perfect for those warm, sunny days in October. Eat this dish on the veranda overlooking the park while you sip dry Spanish muscat.
Calamari, Cherry Tomato and Olive Salad
1 lb fresh squid
1/2 pint yellow or orange cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup picholine or lucque olives
1 cayenne pepper, deseeded and minced
1/2 cup sliced basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, smashed
8 green peppercorns
1/2 red onion shaved on the madoline.
Juice of 1 lime
Put the shaved onions and the lime juice in bowl and cover. Store in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Clean and cut the squid. In a sautee pan, bring 1 cup of white wine to a simmer with the salt, garlic and peppercorns. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the squid. Cook 1 1/2 to 2 minutes max until opaque. Remove the squid, cool and reserve the liquid for poaching cod tomorrow night.
Combine all ingredients except the onions and toss with the dressing. Serve over red oak leaf or mesclun. Mound the shaved onions on top.
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon taragon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
pinch of salt
Combine the mustard lemon juice and garlic. Whisk in the olive oil, add the salt. Cover and store in the refriderator for at least 30 mins