November 27, 2006
One thing for certain, the Pilgrims weren’t choking back a Butterball with their gracious, native hosts at Thanksgiving and they certainly weren’t gathered ’round the misletoe gumming pumpkin pie. No sir, David, they were wading waist deep in the freezing cold ocean grabbing fish and lobsters with their bare hands. They may have also enjoyed a partridge, a deer or a seal, but the star of the holiday feast was most certainly the ceviche. “Where did they get citrus?” you might ask. Well, in addition to assistance from the locals, the pilgrims also had a few pirate friends. A little known fact, but never the less a fact. They came to visit occasionally and brought the fruits of their travels — citrus, spices and sugars from asia, the middle east and the caribbean. And, just because the pilgrims escaped the northern isles for religious freedom doesn’t mean they didn’t enjoy a nip or two of rum. It’s the Holidays for God’s sake!
Ceviche of Striped Bass with Clementine, Coriander and Chiles
The secret ingredient of this delicious dish isn’t mentioned in the title because it wouldn’t be secret then, now would it. This was added at the suggestion of the lovely Jennifer Jones and she was well rewarded. See fig A. below.
2 pounds striped bass filets, trimmed and cut into 1/4 – 3/8 inch cubes
6 scallions, chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest and juice of 3 clementines, plus another 2 clementines for garnish
2 tart green apples
1/2 teaspoon habanero, minced and deseeded
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus another 1/4 cup for garnish
3/4 tsp coriander seed, toasted and finely crushed
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup crushed Virginia peanuts for garnish
First, zest the citrus into a large bowl, then juice them into the same bowl. Add the scallions, shallots, apples, habanero, coriander, turmeric, salt and mix well. Add the fish and cilantro and mix gently. Cover and store in the fridge over night. Taste and adjust salt and habanero. This should be spicy, but not particularly hot.
Sharpen your knife and slice the remaining 2 clementines paper thin. Intertwine and twist several together for garnish. Sprinkle a few crushed peanuts and finally a pinch of cilantro.
This recipe can be served as one of several appetizers to a small harem of 12.
November 18, 2006
If someone told you they were flying to the Bahamas on Friday to catch mahi mahi for Saturday’s dinner at 8, you’d be very impressed, David. As a matter of fact, you’d tell all your friends and whip yourself up into a foreplay frenzy. Even if you can’t afford the flight and the fishing trip you can lay low on Friday and pretend you took the trip. Spend the day doing some creative retouching with the photo above. Just replace his head with yours. You’ll look like a star next to the guy with the visor. You might have to spring for a tanning bed session to make it believable.
You know the drill, don’t touch your genitals. My friend Mike says he wears surgical gloves while he’s mincing chiles. I think this is a good idea in case you get to touch your date’s genitals later in the evening. Personally, I like to mince them with one hand on the knife, the other hand behind my back. Store in the refrigerator for at least a week or over the winter.
Steam the Corn for Salsa
Make sure you grab a fresh Papaya before you leave the Bahamas. The sad specimens you find here in the city are only good for green papaya chutney.
1 cup fresh papaya, cut into small cubes
2 ears of corn steamed or boiled
1/2 red onion, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
Juice of one lime
1 Tbs olive oil (not the habanero infused)
Steam the corn for about 12 minutes or boil for about 8. Let it cool and slice it from the cob. Combine all ingredients gently and refrigerate for 30 mins. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving.
Sear the Mahi Mahi
Cut the filets into 3.5 in. squares or rectangles. Dust both sides with sea salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Heat 1 TBS of canola or sunflower oil in the pan until almost smoking. Place the top side of the filets in the oil and sear for 2.5 minutes until nicely browned. Turn the fish over and add 1/2 cup dark rum. Here’s where the flame errupts from the sides of the pan and you look like a superstar as you slide the pan back and forth over the fire. Make sure you turn head slightly to the side as you add the rum so you don’t singe your eyelashes. That’s not sexy.
Turn the flame down and poach the fish in the rum for about 3 minutes until the flesh is just opaque. You can test an extra piece of filet on the cutting board.
Mound the corn salsa on plate and top with 2 pieces of the filet. Drizzle the top of the fish with a few drops of the habanero infused olive oil. You may want to check the heat on that concoction first and use it sparingly.
Pair with a Rioja and tell fishing tales about how you eluded the bite of a 6 foot baracuda with 4 inch teeth. You’re a star, David.
November 14, 2006
Olive Oil always came around in the end and you won’t need to fend off scraggly bearded brutes to get the attention you deserve. This dish makes a fine amuse-bouche while you sip cilantro and white pepper acquavit.
6 live oysters from Nova Scotia
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon finely minced shallot
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated horseradish
Pinch of seeded, finely minced Scotch Bonnet pepper (not too much and whatever you do, don’t touch your genitals)
Drop of olive oil
Add the shallot, Scotch Bonnet and drop of oil to the lime juice. Cover and refrigerate for 20 – 30 minutes. Divide lime juice mixture between 2 coupe Champagne glasses. Grate and add the horseradish. Shuck the oysters and reserve the liquor. Add 3 oysters to each glass and a teaspoon of the liquor. Pour the aquavit in 2 separate glasses and serve immediately.
This soup is so tasty, David, I’m taking my pants off as I type. As a matter of fact, all the dinner guests removed their pants when the soup arrived at the table. Nancy and Daniel slipped away silently after a few spoonfuls, Michele was riding her chair like a thoroughbred and Waimuk refused to come out of the bathroom even when we told him Paris had arrived with her Sony handheld.
Practice a few times before you tell your date what’s on the menu. You don’t want to stumble on “madagascar bourbon vanilla”. She’ll be in awe as the words roll off your tongue. If you say it twice, she may remove her pants on the spot.
Roast the squash
1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds
1 tsp non transfat vegetable oil
Cut the butternut in half and scrape out all the seeds and stringy materials. Set this aside for the stock. Preheat the oven to 400. Brush the squash with oil. Bake the squash halves, cut side down, until the skin is wrinkled and they are soft to the touch, about an hour. Allow them to cool and scoop out the flesh, reserving any carmelized juices for the soup.
Simmer the Stock
2 stalks of celery cut into large chunks
3 carrots cut into large chunks
1 bulb of garlic separated, but not peeled
12 cups of water, plus more as needed
3 medium potatoes cut into 1/4s
3 onions cut into 1/8ths
1/2 bunch of parsley, stems and all
10 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1 tsp coarse sea salt
10 green peppercorns
1 bay leaf
scrapings from the squash
Sautee the onions in 2 Tbs olive oil until translucent. Add the white wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add the water, turn up the heat to high and add all the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Strain the stock, transfer to a smaller pot and simmer for 10 minutes more.
Make Love to the Soup
2 pounds roasted squash flesh
3Tbs clarified butter
3 large shallots, coarsely chopped
6 cups stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 madagascar bourbon vanilla bean
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
4 ounces aged gruyere, grated finely
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
Sautee the shallots in butter until translucent. Add the cooked pumpkin, reserved juices, a small piece of deseede cayenne and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the stock, the herbs, bring to a boil and simmer covered for 25 minutes. Allow the soup to cool for 15 minutes
Meanwhile, slice the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape the sticky gooey seeds from the bean and place them, along with the pod and the cream in a double boiler. Heat gently for about 20 minutes.
When the soup is cool enough to taste without burning your tongue, remove the herb stems and puree in the blender. (Tip: Don’t fill the blender to the top with hot liquid and press LIQUIFY. This could have severe consequences to your hands, arms, face and man parts. The scars are unsightly, but, once healed, could add to her pleasure, if you’re adventurous.) Return the soup to the pot and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down, add the vanilla cream, the cheese and more stock if necessary to thin it.
Taste for salt, add a bit of cracked white pepper and garnish with thyme leaves. Watch the pants drop.