Blue Crab Boil

August 20, 2007

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The first thing you’ll need to make this a successful dish is a dinner guest who becomes sexually excited by the primal nature of eating with your hands. One who’s not afraid to tear claw from carapace and suck the sweet meat from the shell. Optimally, you’ll invite a young lady—or lad if you prefer—who grew up on the shores of the Chesapeake and was schooled in Paris. A woman who can crack a claw with her teeth and appreciate a bottle of fine wine.

One dozen Chesapeake Bay clams
6 large Chesapeake Bay blue crabs
6 large day boat Atlantic Shrimp
2 ears of local sweet corn, trimmed and cut in half
4 local fingerling potatoes, cut in half diagonally
2 Tbs Old Bay Seasoning
3 cloves of garlic
10 pink peppercorns
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 fresh cayenne pepper, deseeded
Juice of one lemon
Lemon wedges for garnish
2 bottles of Albariño
Sea salt

Cover your table with several layers of the Financial Times. This isn’t to suggest you boast of your financial prowess, David. Everything will just look so delicious when served on pink newsprint.

Start with the clams
In a large enameled stock pot, add half a bottle of Albariño, rosemary, thyme, garlic, cayenne and sea salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and clams. Steam with the lid on until the clams just open, about 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately with glasses of Albariño and clarified rosemary butter.

The main course
Fill the pot about half way with cool well water, add 2 Tbs Old Bay and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, the corn and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the corn and check the potatoes. They may need a minute or two more.

Detangle the live crabs and bring them to a swift end by submerging them in boiling water. Cook for 8 minutes and remove immediately. Toss the shrimp and the par boiled corn in the pot and boil for 2 to 3 minutes.

Season the crabs with more Old Bay and arrange whole lot on the pretty pink newsprint. Garnish with parsely and serve with clarified rosemary butter and red wine vinegar.

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Seared Day Boat Scallops with Lemon Basil Pasta

I awoke the morning before our 14th anniversary to a whispered request. “How about Danny Kaye’s Lemon Pasta,” Jennifer said in morning voice. In my half woken state I heard, “Baby, are you gay?” We had been celebrating all week and thrown back quite a few negronis the night before, but for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything that would make Jennifer ask me such a question.

This recipe was adapted from Ruth Reichl’s recipe. From the looks of her recent editor’s photo, she’s enjoyed many bowls full. I do love her hair.

6 fresh day boat sea scallops
1 pound fresh fettucine
3 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup lemon basil leaves
Sea Salt
Freshly ground pink peppercorns
Freshly grated Parmigiano

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add a pinch of salt. If you have fish stock in your fridge, add 2 cups. If not, don’t sweat it because you’re still going to have the best sex of your life tonight.

Remove the tab from the side of the scallops and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

Heat butter in a large saute pan over low heat. Add the cream, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Remove from heat and cover.

Add a teaspoon of olive oil to a cast iron skillet or your favorite searing pan. Heat the oil over a medium flame until almost smoking. Sear the scallops for 2 minutes per side until not quite opaque. They will continue to cook after you take them off the heat.

At the same time, boil the pasta for 2 minutes until al dente. Ladle 1/4 to 1/2 cup pasta water into the cream and drain pasta in colander.

Toss the pasta with the cream, lemon zest and basil leaves and a little Parmigiano. Mound a large twirl of pasta on your finest china. Top with the seared scallops and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with more Champagne and be gay!

Happy Anniversary

August 9, 2007

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It all started in 1989. I seduced my lovely and occasionaly still blushing bride to be with Roasted Salmon, Watercress Beurre Blanc, Haricovert, 2 mediocre bottles of white and Sade on my new CD player. After the raspberry tarts it was backrubs by candlelight. That’s right, David, I had moves before you were a peanut in the womb.

Yesterday, we dusted off Love Delux and celebrated our 14th anniversary.

first course
Bruschetta of Chanterelles and Fresh Red Currants on Sullivan Street Bakery’s Pane Integrale for 2

1/2 pint Yellow Foot Chanterelles
A handful of fresh red currants
1 shallot, minced
2 Tbs butter
Pinch of fresh cayenne pepper, minced and deseeded
1/2 cup Champagne
4 slices of stale bread
1 clove of garlic
4 sprigs of tarragon for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Rinse and remove the stems from the currants. Place the bread on a baking sheet and toast 10 minutes per side or until crisp. Remove from the oven, rub with the clove of garlic and toast for a few minutes more.

Heat the butter in a large saute pan over low heat. Increase the heat to medium, add shallots, a pinch of cayenne and for 2 minutes until transluscent and soft. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat. Saute for 2 minutes and add the Champagne and the currants. Reduce the liquid by half about, 3 minutes more. You want the currants to wilt, but not turn to jam.

Top the bread with the sauteed mushrooms and garnish with sprigs of tarragon. Refill the glasses of Champagne and toast to 14 years more.

Soft Shells

August 5, 2007

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The first softshell crab I encountered was not a culinary gem. The chef de cuisine also happened to be the driver for the Delmar Volunteer Fire Department. Both his cooking and his driving were involved in many accidents.

Ashes from the cigarette that dangled from his lip fell into the same vat of bubbling oil that he dumped buckets of bird parts and on top of that, soft shell crabs. When the crabs were saturated with oil, they were removed, slapped between two slices of white bread and tossed on a paper plate. If I put enough ketchup on it, I could choke it back.

Since then, I’ve enjoyed the most delightful soft shell crabs from more refined chefs and they have come to mark a highlight in the Spring and Summer Seasons. More importantly David, soft shells are quite the aphrodisiac.

This particular soft shell recipe was inspired by the chefs at Union Square Cafe.

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Softshell Crab with Cucumber Peach Salad and Crispy Old Bay Frites
Serves 2

The Frites
2 large white potatoes
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

Preheat the oven to 425. Using your mandoline, julienne the potatoes. Toss them with the olive oil and the Old Bay. Place them in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until crisp.

The Peach Salad
1 ripe yellow peach, diced
1 english cucumber, deseeded and diced
1 yellow summer straighneck squash, diced
2 spring onions or scallions, thinly sliced
A handful mint leaves, chopped finely
A smaller handful of basil leaves, chopped finely
Juice of half a lemon
1 Tbs olive oil
Sea Salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 15 – 30 minutes.

The Soft Shells
I prefer to store the crabs live and clean them just before I’m ready to saute. I know you’re not squeamish, David, but others may be. If that’s the case you can always have your fishmonger clean them for you, but make sure you put them in a hot pan shortly afterwards.

2 shoft shell crabs
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 cayenne pepper, deseeded and cut in half
OR 1 teaspoon chile infused olive oil

Clean the crabs by snipping off their faces with a pair of scissors and removing the skirt.
If you’re using fresh cayenne, heat the oil with the cayenne. If you’re using the chile oil, heat the oil until almost smoking, then add the chile oil. Sautee the crabs for 2 minutes per side without stirring. They should be red and firm.

The Plate
Cut the tops of small kraft brown paper gift bags with pinking shears. Fill with frites. Mound the peach salad on the plate and top with the soft shell like a tilted chapeau. Serve with an Albariño or a glass of dry rosé. If your dinner guest is down home, pop a crisp ale.


Don’t be wasteful, David. People are starving in your backyard and they’ve emptied the cooler of full of Belgian white. Reserve the trimmings from the New Sashimi and whip up this delightful number on the grill or on your stove top.

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This recipe serves you and three other bikini clad backyard beauties or one very large man in a thong.


1 and 1/2 lbs fresh yellowfin tuna, including trimmings from New Sashimi, finely chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp soy s
auce
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup cilantro, finely cut
2 smoked chiles (ancho or jalapeño, depending on how spicy your ladies like it)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pink peppercorns

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Shape the mixture firmly into 4 round patties about 1 and 1/2-inches thick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until the moment you are ready throw them on the fire. Meanwhile, make the olive salsa.

Green Olive Salsa

1/2 cup green arbequina olives
1 brandywine tomato
1 teaspoon capers
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
1 serrano pepper, deseeded and minced
Squeeze of lemon juice
Lemon Zest
Sea Salt
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate for 15 – 30 minutes.

Open another Blanche de Bruges and stoke the coals. Grill the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes per side until medium rare. Serve on whole grain bread or ciabatta with homemade kettle chips.