Posts Tagged ‘seafood’

I have had the best intentions with my blog, but somehow it has been two months since I last posted. I guess it’s true what they say – “parenthood is a time warp!” Our little baby is now four months old, which is hard to believe. At her four month check-up yesterday, our pediatrician recommended that we start introducing solid food now, which is something I thought we’d wait a couple more months for. My sister-in-law gave me an awesome baby food cookbook that I can’t wait to try out, as it introduces babies to all sorts of interesting flavors; the goal is to avoid having a picky eater. Before I know it, she’ll be in the kitchen with me, and I can’t wait for that!

The recipes in this post are sushi recipes. With being pregnant, this was the first sushi I had eaten in a good year! Alton recommends the following ingredients and tools to make up a basic home sushi kit:  soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, short grain rice, Nori, a rice spoon, a sushi mat, wasabi, and pickled ginger. With those basic tools and ingredients, you should be set to try making sushi.

Sushi Rice

The first step in making sushi is preparing the rice. Ideally, for sushi rice, you want to use short grain rice. Surprisingly, my grocery store did not have any short grain rice, so I had to settle for medium grain rice. Place 2 C of rice in a sieve and rinse it three times with water, or until the water runs clear.

Place the rice in a medium saucepan with 2 C of water, stirring. Bring the rice to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, place a cover on the pan, decrease the heat to low, and cook the rice for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, let the rice stand for 10 more minutes.

While the rice sits combine 2 T sugar, 1 T Kosher salt, and 2 T rice vinegar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the vinegar mixture for 30-45 seconds or until the salt is mostly dissolved.

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Sugar, Kosher salt, and rice vinegar microwaved until nearly dissolved.

Next, dump the rice into a large wooden or glass bowl (a wide wooden bowl is ideal). Drizzle the vinegar mixture over the rice, and gently mix the vinegar into the rice, using cutting motions with a spatula. Fan the rice with a paper plate as you cut the vinegar into the rice until the rice has cooled.

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Rice, placed in a large wooden bowl and the vinegar mixture being “cut” into the rice as it cools.

Cover the rice with a moist towel until use, but do not refrigerate the rice. I think this rice tastes pretty darn good on its own, as I love its subtle sweet and vinegary flavor. Alton recommends using this rice for any sushi preparation, such as his California roll, which is up next.

California Roll

If you are new to sushi making, as I am, Alton recommends his California roll recipe for a good place to start. For his California roll, you will need your prepared sushi rice from above, sheets of Nori, a bowl of water, sesame seeds, avocado, imitation crab sticks, cucumber, pickled ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi.

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Nori sheets, cut in half.

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Sliced avocado and cucumber matchsticks.

To begin, cover your sushi rolling mat with plastic wrap; I chose to place my mat into a large Ziplock bag. Tear your Nori in half crosswise, and place one half sheet on your pat, with the rough side up.

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A half sheet of Nori placed rough side up on a plastic-covered sushi mat.

Dampen your fingers slightly and evenly distribute rice on the sheet, leaving about 1/4″ uncovered at one long end. Sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds and flip the whole thing over so the Nori is facing up.

Place 4-5 thin slices of avocado so they overlap down the center of the smooth side of the Nori.

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Avocado placed down center of Nori.

Next, place pieces of imitation crab on top of the avocado, overlapping the pieces to form a solid layer.

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Imitation crab on top of avocado.

Finally, top the crab with cucumber matchsticks (you’ll need about 8 matchsticks).

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Cucumber matchsticks to finish off the roll ingredients.

To finish the roll, use the mat to roll it away from you with even pressure from your hands, trying to roll it as tightly as possible.

Dampen a sharp knife and slice the roll into six pieces, using a sawing motion with your knife. Serve the roll slices with pickled ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi as accompaniments.

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Sliced California rolls.

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A plate of Alton’s California rolls.

Oh, and when taking sushi from a communal platter, it is polite to always use the large ends of your chopsticks. I have to say that my sushi ended up extremely ugly. I obviously need some serious practice on my rolling technique! This roll recipe is a very easy way to practice, as you do not need many ingredients. You also do not have to worry about the freshness of your seafood, as imitation crab is already cooked. Of course, real crab would certainly be superior! I may make this again, just to try my hand at sushi again. I am determined to make prettier rolls, as mine were embarrassing!

In this episode, Alton also described how to make a tuna roll, though there is no link to this recipe online. To do this, place a half sheet of Nori with its rough side up on your plastic-covered sushi mat. Cut fresh tuna into narrow slices against the grain. Place/press prepared sushi rice to within 1/4″ of the edge of the Nori. Next, place wasabi down the center of the rice, followed by the fish slices. Roll the entire thing up and cut into slices.

Seeing as I am now between seasons eight and nine of Good Eats, I figured this was a good time to do one of the special episodes. It’s hard to believe that I last did a special episode over two years ago! This special was fun for me to do because it was an episode I had never seen before and all four of the recipes were super intriguing. I can say that I have definitely left this episode with some recipes that I will be bookmarking for long-term use/memory, so read on if you want to discover some great food.

Salt Roasted Shrimp

Shrimp are not my favorite protein, but I was still excited about trying this cooking method. The recipe begins with placing two pounds of rock salt in a 9×13″ metal pan. Place two more pounds of rock salt in a metal bowl.

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Four pounds of rock salt split between two vessels.

Place the two vessels of salt in a cold oven and set the oven to preheat to 400 degrees. When the oven hits 400, let it continue to heat for an additional 15 minutes.

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Four pounds of rock salt split between two vessels, and stuck in a cold oven to preheat to 400.

Once the 15 minutes are up, place a pound of jumbo shrimp on the surface of the salt in the 9×13″ pan and pour the hot salt from the bowl over the top of the shrimp. Smooth the salt over the top of the shrimp and place them back in the oven for 7-8 minutes, or until pink and opaque.

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Alton’s salt roasted shrimp.

To rinse off the salt, you can dip the shrimp quickly in white wine. First off, this is about the easiest method of cooking shrimp I’ve ever tried, and I thought the flavor of the shrimp was very positively accentuated by the salt. These shrimp had a sweetness that reminded me more of crab than shrimp, and I really liked it. For whatever reason, my shrimp were extremely difficult to peel, and I don’t know why that was. I really do want to try this method again because these were some of my favorite shrimp I have had, as far as flavor is concerned. The salt did season the shrimp, but not overly so, and I did not even try Alton’s wine rinse step post-cooking. If anyone has a theory as to why my shrimp were so difficult to peel, I’d love to hear it. Aside from the peeling difficulty, this was a fantastic recipe!

Perfect Fingerling Potatoes

I think we have all had potatoes cooked in myriad ways, but I have to say that Alton’s recipe here was a new one for me. For this recipe, place 1 1/4 pounds of Kosher or rock salt in a large pot with two quarts of water and two pounds of fingerling potatoes.

Bring the whole pot to a boil and cook the potatoes until they are tender enough to pierce with the tip of a sharp paring knife, which took about 20 minutes for my potatoes. Be aware that smaller potatoes will cook faster.

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Potatoes, brought to a boil and cooked until tender.

Transfer the cooked potatoes to a rack over a sheet pan. Once all of the potatoes have cooked, serve them with butter and chives.

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Cooked potatoes cooling on a rack and forming a salty crust.

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Alton’s fingerling potatoes with chives, pepper, and butter.

These potatoes are like a fun science experiment because they transform during cooking, and form a sparkly salt crust as they cool. The insides of the potatoes are perfectly cooked, while the outsides provide the perfect amount of salty seasoning. These are fun, easy, and delicious!

Sauerkraut

I find fermented food fascinating, and the idea of making my own sauerkraut was super exciting to me. Keep in mind that this recipe takes a full month, including the fermentation time. This starts with chopping five pounds of green cabbage and placing the cabbage in a large bowl.

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Ready to chop 5 pounds of cabbage.

Add 3 T pickling salt to the cabbage, along with 1 T juniper berries and 2 t caraway seeds. Toss everything together with clean hands. Let the cabbage sit for 10 minutes.

Pack the cabbage and any accumulating liquid into a tall plastic container, packing it down.

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Cabbage packed into a plastic container.

Alton likes to use a tall plastic container designed for holding a loaf of bread. You want to keep the cabbage free from air, so place some type of lid on the surface of the cabbage. Next, place a weight on top of the lid (Alton uses a mason jar full of water). I read some of the online reviews of this recipe and used ziplock bags full of water, as they also help to form an airtight seal. A layer of plastic wrap also seems to help to keep air out.

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Weighing the sauerkraut down with bags of water.

Store the sauerkraut at 65-70 degrees for four weeks. Be sure to check the sauerkraut every couple days and discard any scum from the surface. Alton says you really only need to be concerned about dark-colored mold, and ammonia-like smell, or lots of active bubbling; if you see any of these things, it’s time to start over. Otherwise, your sauerkraut will gradually secrete more liquid, turn yellow, and start to smell sour.

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Sauerkraut gradually fermenting over time.

I was out of town for part of my sauerkraut’s fermentation, so I arrived home to sauerkraut that was ready to eat.

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Sauerkraut after four weeks of fermentation.

We opted to eat our sauerkraut on bratwursts with mustard, and I was highly impressed.

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Sauerkraut served on brats with mustard.

This homemade sauerkraut has much more texture than any you can buy in the store, which I really appreciate. I also really like the pops of spice you get from the caraway seeds and juniper berries, and it has just the right amount of tang. We still have some sauerkraut in our refrigerator right now, as this recipe makes a pretty large amount. Add this one to the list of fun things to try in your spare time, as it really requires almost no effort!

Beef Tenderloin in Salt Crust

Since it’s Father’s Day, it only seems appropriate that this next recipe is one I would love to be able to share with my dad. I’m pretty sure my dad never saw this Good Eats salt episode because he would have jumped all over trying Alton’s beef tenderloin recipe. My dad was always one to test a recipe before trying it for a holiday or occasion, and he likely would have invited me to his house for his test run. Beef tenderloin is always a special occasion meal for us, as it is a pricey cut of meat, but last week we had a delicious tenderloin simply for the sake of this project. For Alton’s tenderloin, you first need to make a salt-based dough. To do this, place 5 C flour, 3 C Kosher salt, 3 T pepper, 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley/thyme/sage, and a mixture of 5 egg whites with 1 1/2 C water in a bowl.

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Flour, Kosher salt, pepper, and fresh herbs.

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Flour, Kosher salt, pepper, fresh herbs, and a mixture of egg whites and water.

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Egg whites and water added to flour/salt mixture.

Use a potato masher to loosely combine the dough, and then mix the dough with your hands until it is smooth and uniform. Place the dough in a plastic bag and let it sit at room temperature for 4-24 hours; according to Alton, if you try to use the dough immediately, it will be a crumbly mess. I opted to make my dough a full 24 hours ahead of time.

After your dough has rested, roll the dough to a large rectangle that is 3/16″ thick. You can trim the edges with a pizza cutter to make the dough into a nice rectangle.

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Dough after 24 hours.

Next, coat a 6-7 pound beef tenderloin (my tenderloin was in the 3-4 pound range) with ~1 T olive oil and sear the meat until it is browned on all sides; Alton likes to use an electric griddle to sear, but I just used a large skillet.

Let the tenderloin rest until it is cool to the touch, which took about 20 minutes for my beef.

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Letting the seared meat rest until cool to the touch.

Sprinkle the center of your salt dough rectangle with an additional 1/4 C of chopped fresh parsley, thyme, and/or sage, and place your cooled tenderloin on top of the herbs.

Fold the dough up over the tenderloin crimping the edges together to create a sealed package. You do not want the dough to be super tight on the meat. Trim the ends of the dough and crimp them up also, and seal any holes with extra dough. Transfer the wrapped tenderloin to a sheet pan and insert a probe thermometer into the center of the beef. My dough stuck to my countertop a bit, so I had to do some mending.

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Wrapping the tenderloin in the salt dough.

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My wrapped beef tenderloin.

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Tenderloin in the oven until it reaches 125 degrees.

Put the beef in a 400 degree oven, letting it cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 125 degrees. Once at 125 degrees, remove the beef from the oven and let it rest for 30-60 minutes.

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Tenderloin removed from the oven at 125 degrees.

After resting, slice the meat with a serrated knife and pull the tenderloin out of the salt dough, discarding the dough. Serve the meat immediately.

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Tenderloin after resting for 15 minutes.

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Alton’s beef tenderloin.

In the episode, Alton appeared to let his tenderloin rest for a full hour, which will result in over-cooked meat. Since the meat is still in its dough envelope, its temperature continues to rise quite quickly after removal from the oven, so I cut my meat after a mere 15 minute rest, and it honestly would have been better a few minutes earlier. Next time, I will probably pull the meat from the oven at 120 degrees, and let it rest until its temperature hits 135-140. I did use a smaller tenderloin than what Alton used and my tenderloin was done after 45 minutes in the oven, so this is a pretty fast cooking method. Aside from those notes, this recipe is awesome. There is a reason Alton stated at the end of this episode that this was his favorite Good Eats beef recipe. I already hope/plan to make this for the next holiday we host, as it is easy, quick, and delicious. The meat comes out of the dough perfectly tender and seasoned to perfection. Seriously, if you want a special beef recipe, make this one. I only wish I could make this for my dad.

For one of my parents’ first dates, my dad took my mom out to dinner. My dad ordered oysters on the half shell as an appetizer for the two Marylanders to share. It turned out that my mom had never before eaten a raw oyster, but, wanting to impress her date, she feigned experience and got them down. If you think about it, perhaps, in a small way, oysters contributed to my very existence.

I never tried a raw oyster myself until 2015 when we took a trip to New Orleans between Ted’s chemo/radiation and subsequent surgery. We headed to a nice restaurant for happy hour and ordered a dozen oysters to go with our cocktails. Our waitress suggested that we try our first oysters on Saltine crackers, along with some cocktail or mignonette sauce, and her tips led to us ordering an additional dozen.

Horseradish Cream Sauce

Apparently, Alton likes to eat his oysters at home with a horseradish cream sauce. This sauce should be made several hours before you will be eating your oysters.

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Ingredients for horseradish sauce: horseradish root, Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, white wine vinegar, pepper, and sour cream.

When serving oysters at home, plan for six large, or eight to ten small, oysters per person as an appetizer. Store oysters flat in the refrigerator with damp cloths between layers, and do not keep them for any longer than a week (preferably only a day or two). Shucking oysters can be a bit tricky, so it’s helpful to watch some videos. Alton’s tips are to hold the round side of the oyster down, insert the knife at the hinge, and give the knife a little twist. Oh, and don’t forget to cut under the oyster once you have the shell open.

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Oysters, ready to be shucked.

Now, back to the sauce. Grate 1/4 C of peeled horseradish root into a bowl, using a microplane. Add 1 t white wine vinegar, 1/4 t pepper, 1/2 t Kosher salt, 1 T Dijon mustard, and 1 C sour cream.

Whisk the sauce until combined, and refrigerate until use.

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Horseradish cream sauce.

The sauce will get less intense with time. I served this sauce with some fresh oysters on the half shell, and I really liked its subtle heat.

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Horseradish cream sauce served with shucked oysters.

If you are looking for a horseradish sauce that really burns your nose, this isn’t it. Of course, you could always add some additional horseradish to make it spicier. This sauce would also pair beautifully with red meat, as it would not overpower the flavor of the meat. This is a really well-balanced, delicious sauce.

Baked Oysters Brownefeller

If you are an oyster newbie, you may find a baked preparation like Alton’s version of Oysters Rockefeller to be less intimidating. Still, though, you will need to get some raw oysters and shuck them. The oysters I ended up with were Pacific oysters, I believe, and they were humongous! I would opt for smaller oysters next time. For Alton’s baked oysters, melt 6 T of unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium-low.

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Unsalted butter in a large skillet.

Once melted, add 3/4 C chopped onion, 3/4 C chopped celery, and 1/2 t Kosher salt. Increase the heat to medium and cook the vegetables for about five minutes.

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Celery, onion, and Kosher salt added to butter.

Add 1 T minced garlic and cook for about a minute.

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Garlic mixed in.

Next, add a 14 oz can of artichoke hearts drained/chopped, 1 C Panko breadcrumbs, 2 t lemon zest, 1/2 t pepper, 1 t dry oregano, and a pinch of Kosher salt. Stir this mixture until the butter has been absorbed by the breadcrumbs, and then cook for another minute.

Spread 4 C of rock salt on a rimmed baking sheet, and nest 24 shucked oysters in the salt (I did fewer oysters since there were only two of us). Evenly distribute the Panko mixture to cover the oysters.

Bake the oysters at 425 for 10-12 minutes, or until the topping is golden.

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Oysters into the oven.

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Oysters Brownefeller.

I wanted to like this more than I did, but I don’t think I can blame all of that on Alton’s recipe. The biggest problem I had with this recipe came down to my oysters themselves. My market ordered oysters for me, and said they would get what was available, which meant I had no choice in what they received. My oysters were honestly just too big, which made them very difficult to eat along with all of the topping. Oysters are supposed to be a one-bite experience, which was just impossible with mine. The flavor of the topping was nice, but the topping did not crisp up as much as I hoped it would. Again, though, I wonder if this was  because my oysters were so large that they contributed a lot of moisture to the topping. I imagine that this recipe could be quite successful with small oysters, so I would encourage oyster lovers to give this a try with better oysters.

Oyster Soup

Alton’s final oyster recipe is for an oyster soup. This recipe is a little easier because you can use pre-shucked oysters in a jar. When buying them, be sure they are in clear liquid, as cloudy liquid can be a red flag.

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Jarred oysters.

There really are only a few ingredients in this simple soup, which begins by draining the liquid from a pint of jarred oysters into a saucepan containing a quart of heavy cream.

Heat the cream and oyster liquor, avoiding bringing it above a simmer. Meanwhile, melt 1 T unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and add two ribs of chopped celery and a large pinch of Kosher salt.

Add a chopped onion to the skillet and cook for a few minutes.

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Onion added to the pan.

Next, add the drained oysters to the pan, along with 1 t celery seed and 1 1/2 t hot sauce. Cook the oysters just until they plump up and curl at the edges.

Place the oyster mixture in the carafe of a blender, along with enough of the warm cream to cover the oysters. Blend the oysters until smooth.

Return the remaining cream to medium heat and add the oyster puree, stirring to combine.

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Oyster puree added back to remaining warm cream.

Serve the soup with a squeeze of lemon and some parsley, chives, or chervil.

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Bowl of oyster soup with lemon and parsley.

This soup had subtle briny flavor of the ocean balanced with the richness of cream, and if it had been placed in front of me I probably would have guessed it was a smooth clam chowder. I don’t think I would have ever been able to identify that oysters were the main ingredient in this soup. With the heavy cream base of this soup, I was afraid the soup would be super rich, but it was light enough that I had no trouble eating a whole bowl of it. This is a good recipe for those who like clam chowder but want to try something a little bit different.

From herbs in the last episode, the Good Eats trail takes us to spices in episode 98. So, what is the difference between a spice and an herb? An herb is a leaf, while a spice is a different part of a plant. If you want to keep your spices fresh longer, it is ideal to purchase spices in their whole forms, grinding them in a spice-only coffee grinder just prior to use. I remember that my dad began grinding his spices after watching this episode when it aired in 2004. Read on for Alton’s spice-friendly recipes.

Dried Pear and Fig Compote

A fruit compote is the first thing Alton made in this episode.

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Ingredients for fruit compote: white wine, dried figs, dried pears, vanilla bean, lemon zest, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves, Kosher salt, lemon juice, and honey.

To make his compote, place 4 ounces dried figs, 4 ounces dried pears, 2 T honey (Alton used orange blossom), 1/2 a vanilla bean, 1 C apple cider, 1 C white wine, a 1-inch strip of lemon zest, 1 T lemon juice, 6 whole cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise pod, and 1/2 t Kosher salt in a medium saucepan.

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All of the compote ingredients placed in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, decrease the heat to low, and continue to simmer the compote for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. I found that it took the full 1 1/2 hours of simmering for my compote to thicken as Alton’s had.

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The compote, brought to a simmer and left for 1 1/2 hours.

After simmering, remove the cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and lemon zest; good luck finding the cloves – we didn’t find some of them until we ate the compote!

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The compote after simmering.

Serve the compote warm over ice cream or you can refrigerate it for later use. We ate the compote over vanilla ice cream and it was very flavorful and spicy.IMG_6930

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Compote over ice cream.

All of the spices seemed to be well-balanced, though clove was perhaps the most dominant spice. The compote was pretty sticky in texture and had little pops of crunch from the dried fig seeds, which were quite prevalent. Due to the rich color of the compote, and its spices, the compote seems to me like a good dish to make in the fall. This would also be great over a pork tenderloin. This is a recipe that truly shows how spices can contribute to a sweet dish.

Vegetable Curry

For a weeknight vegetarian dinner, consider giving Alton’s vegetable curry a try.

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Spices for Alton’s vegetable curry: coriander, onion powder, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin seed, mustard seed, and fennel seed.

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Spices, divided for their addition in the recipe. Yellow bowl has cumin seed, fennel seed, and mustard seed. Red bowl has coriander, onion powder, cinnamon, and turmeric. Green bowl has Kosher salt, sugar, and pepper.

The recipe begins with poking holes in a frozen bag of mixed vegetables. Microwave the veggies on high for 2-3 minutes, or until thawed.

Next, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, adding 2 T vegetable oil to coat the pan. To the oil, add 1 t cumin seed, 1/2 t mustard seed, and 1/2 t fennel seed. If you have a splatter guard, Alton recommends that you use it now.

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Cumin seed, mustard seed, and fennel seed added to hot oil in skillet.

Meanwhile, whisk together in a bowl 2/3 C plain yogurt and 1 t cornstarch, setting the bowl aside.

When the mustard seeds begin to pop in your skillet, add 1/2 t freshly ground coriander, 1/2 t onion powder, 1/8 t ground cinnamon, and 1 t ground turmeric.

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Coriander, onion powder, cinnamon, and turmeric added to skillet once mustard seeds began to pop.

It is also time now to add two crushed cloves of garlic and three dried red chilies with their stems and seeds removed.

Cook this mixture until the garlic begins to turn golden, but watch it very carefully as the spices could easily burn. When the garlic begins to brown, add the thawed bag of vegetables to the pan, along with 1/2 t Kosher salt, 1/4 t sugar, and black pepper to taste.

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Thawed frozen veggies, stirred in, along with Kosher salt, sugar, and pepper.

Stir the vegetables until they are heated through and coated with the spice mixture. Finally, quickly stir the vegetables into the bowl of yogurt.

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Spiced vegetables added to yogurt.

In the episode, Alton appeared to serve his vegetable curry as a side dish, but I opted to serve his curry over rice for a main course.

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Vegetable curry served over rice.

We thought this curry was pretty impressive, though the chilies really didn’t make it very hot. I would prefer to have more heat in my curry, but that is just personal preference. Otherwise, this curry had a nice combination of spices and came together in a matter of minutes. To get some protein, you could always add some tofu or meat. I would not say this recipe wowed me, but it is good for what it is – an easy weeknight vegetable dinner. And, it does have lots of spice flavor.

Broiled Salmon with AB’s Spice Pomade

Alton’s third spice recipe features salmon. It begins by placing an oven rack in the top third of the oven and preheating the broiler. Brush a sheet pan with canola oil, placing a skinless three-pound side of salmon on the pan; I opted for a smaller piece, or really two pieces, of salmon since there were only two of us eating.

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My salmon.

Sprinkle the fish all over with 1 to 1 1/2 t Kosher salt and with 1 t black pepper.

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My salmon, sprinkled with Kosher salt and pepper.

In a blender combine 2 t onion powder, 1 t garlic powder, 1/2 t cayenne pepper, 1 t whole cumin seed, 1 T whole fennel seed, 1 T whole coriander seed, and 1 star anise pod.

Blend all of the spices and pour in 1/3 C canola oil while the blender is running.

Brush this spice “pomade” all over the fish and let the fish sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

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Salmon, brushed with pomade and left to sit for 30 minutes.

After resting, broil the fish for 15 minutes and check it for doneness. To check fish for doneness, look for three things:  1- the fish should be firm and bounce back when touched, 2 – the fish should flake easily when scraped with a fork, and 3 – the fish should be at 131 degrees in its thickest part.

IMG_6921Keep in mind that Alton’s cooking time is for three pounds of fish, so you will need to modify cooking time for a smaller piece of fish. My salmon was honestly overdone on the edges. To me, a good salmon recipe is one that does not overpower the fish, yet enhances it. I think this recipe does that. The fish is flavorful and moist, but has the added flavor pop from the combination of spices.

Curry Powder Blend

The last recipe in this episode is for Alton’s curry powder. I have a lidded tin in my basement that contains nothing but curry powders. For as long as I can remember, my parents used this tin to house their curry powders, and I inherited it a couple years ago. We have sweet curry powder, Thai curry powder, hot curry powder, and maharaja curry powder. Never, though, had I made my own curry powder… until now.

For Alton’s curry powder, in a lidded container combine 2 T cumin seed, 2 T cardamom seed (I had to use ground), 2 T coriander seed, 1/4 C ground turmeric, 1 T dry mustard, and 1 t cayenne pepper.

Shake the mixture to combine. Since Alton’s curry powder contains lots of whole spices, you can grind the curry powder just prior to use.

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Alton’s curry powder.

I never knew my paternal grandmother, but my dad began serving me her curry recipe when I was very young, and it has always been one of my favorite things. It is fun to alter the curry by mixing different curry powders each time. To really test Alton’s curry powder, I used it exclusively in Grandma’s curry and it passed the test very well.

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A bowl of my grandma’s curry made with Alton’s curry powder.

Alton’s curry powder is a mixture of sweetness, nuttiness, citrus, bitterness, and moderate heat. I would call this a very good all-around curry powder, and it has been added to the tin for future batches of curry goodness.

As I type, my beloved Coonhound, Hitcher, lies next to me. He was diagnosed with inoperable cancer a few weeks ago. He has been my constant sidekick since we found him, as an abandoned puppy, on a roadside 10+ years ago. This news has been tough – very, very tough. Once again, I will use this Good Eats project to distract myself.

As the daughter and granddaughter of Marylanders, I have had my share of crab over the years. Growing up, a trip to Grandma and Granddaddy’s was not complete without a crab dinner (or 3!). Whether it was a trip to a local seafood restaurant, a family crab picking session around Grandma’s table, or a plate of Grandma’s amazing homemade crab cakes, crab was something we ate early and often. Yes, this was an episode I eagerly anticipated.

Steamed Alaskan King Crab Legs

Alton’s preparation of crab legs was first in this episode. When purchasing crab legs, it is best to buy frozen legs (frozen crab has already been cooked), thawing them overnight in the refrigerator at home; just be sure to allow the moisture to drain away from them as they thaw, and consume any thawed crab within 24 hours. Alaskan king crab legs are large, so you can allot two per person.

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Alaskan king crab legs.

Working with three legs at a time, break/cut each leg into sections at the joints. Wrap the segments in two layers of damp paper towels, along with a sprig of fresh dill.

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Alaskan king crab legs, broken into segments and topped with fresh dill.

Wrap the entire bundle tightly in plastic wrap, and microwave it for two minutes on high power; the goal here is to re-heat, rather than re-cook the crab.

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Alaskan king crab legs, broken into segments, and topped with fresh dill. Wrapped in damp paper towels and plastic wrap, the whole bundle heads into the microwave.

Let the heated crab legs rest in their bundles while you microwave any remaining packages of crab. Serve the legs with ghee, which just happens to be the next recipe in this episode.

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Steamed crab legs, served with ghee.

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Alton’s crab leg method is outstanding. It takes almost no time to prepare an amazing meal, using this method. If you want to have crab legs at home, this is the way to do it.

Ghee

What goes better with crab than butter? As mentioned above, Alton recommends serving his crab legs with ghee. To make Alton’s ghee, melt a pound (I did 1/2 pound) of unsalted butter over low heat.

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Melting unsalted butter over low heat.

As soon as the butter has liquefied, increase the heat to medium.

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Liquefied butter. Increasing the heat to medium.

Continue to cook the butter over medium heat until it finishes foaming.

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Butter, foaming for the first time.

When the foaming has ceased, increase the heat to high and wait for the butter to foam a second time. Watch the pan carefully, as the butter can easily burn.

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Butter, foaming for the second time.

When your ghee is ready, the pan will have brown bits on the bottom and the butter will have darkened slightly. Strain the ghee into a clean container and serve.

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Strained ghee.

Ghee is a perfect accompaniment for crab legs, and Alton’s explanation of how to make ghee is super easy. If you prep crab legs at home, be sure to make some ghee also!

Marinated Crab Salad

Alton’s third crab recipe is for a marinated crab salad. I suppose you could just purchase crab meat for this, which is how the online recipe is written, but what fun would that be? Instead, in the episode, Alton hand picked the meat from two Dungeness crabs. Thankfully, I was able to find whole Dungeness crabs at a new local store.

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Whole Dungeness crab.

If you have never picked a crab before, here are Alton’s instructions:

  1. Flip the crab upside down.
  2. Use a screwdriver to pry off the apron.
  3. Holding the crab over a sink, pry off the back of the crab.
  4. Rinse the inside of the crab.
  5. Pull off any gray gills, discarding them.
  6. Twist off the legs.
  7. Break the remaining central core in half and pull out as much meat as you can from the tiny compartments.
  8. Crack each leg and scoop out the meat.

My crabs had already been prepped through step 5, so I just had to get the meat out.

Once you have your crab meat, it is time to make the marinade for the salad. Combine in a large Ziplock bag:  1 C olive oil, 1 C red wine vinegar, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 C chopped parsley, 1/4 C fresh tarragon, 1 1/2 t Kosher salt, and 1/2 t pepper.

Use an immersion blender to thoroughly emulsify the marinade. Add your crab meat to the marinade, pushing any excess air out of the bag. Refrigerate the crab for 4-8 hours.

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Marinade and crab in plastic bag.

Serve the crab mixture over mixed greens with lemon wedges.

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Marinated crab salad, served over greens.

This was a light summer entrée that we enjoyed on our deck. While tasty, I did feel that the delicate flavor of the crab was a little overpowered by the marinade. To me, crab is so good on its own (see the crab leg recipe above) that I would tend toward recipes that allow the crab to shine more.

Crab Fritters

Crab fritters were Alton’s last recipe in this episode, and he did use purchased crabmeat for this one. In the episode, he used a 50/50 combination of lump and special crabmeat. Since I was only feeding two of us, I used one 8-ounce container of jumbo crabmeat.

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8 ounces of crab meat.

To begin, place a rack on a sheet pan for draining and heat 2 1/2 quarts of canola oil to 375 degrees over medium heat.

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Canola oil, heating to 375.

Meanwhile, combine 1 C lump crab meat, 1 C special crab meat, 1/2 C mayo, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 1/2 t pepper.

Scoop the crab mixture with a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, rolling the balls in Panko breadcrumbs.

Alton tells you to fry the balls for 5-7 minutes, or until they are golden, but I found that my fritters were done in 3-4 minutes.

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Fritters, added to hot oil.

I served my fritters with lemon wedges.

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Crab fritters.

Alton’s crab fritters were pretty darn delicious, as they had little “filler” and loads of crab. The Panko breadcrumbs gave a crispy, crunchy shell to the creamy crab/mayo filling. These are a definite great alternative to the classic crab cake.

Braciole

When I married into Ted’s family I became privy to his family’s spaghetti recipe, a meal that epitomizes “comfort food.” Their family recipe is for a rich red sauce, flavored with meat and spices, that is served over spaghetti. Included in the red sauce are bracioles, which are miniature rolls of seasoned meat that become incredibly tender as they simmer in the red sauce. When I saw that the final Good Eats episode of the sixth season would involve making a braciole, I was incredibly curious to see how Alton’s version would compare with Ted’s family’s recipe.

For his braciole, Alton recommends using flank steak, purchasing the thinnest one you can find.

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Flank steak.

Laying the steak on a counter, spritz its surface with water and cover it with plastic wrap. Spritz the surface of the plastic wrap with water also; the water will allow the meat tenderizer to slide as it hits the meat. Using a meat tenderizer (Alton recommends one with a large, flat surface), pound the steak until it is thin.

Next, it is time to make the braciole filling by combining in a food processor 1 clove of garlic, 1 T chopped parsley, 1 T chopped fresh oregano, 1 t chopped rosemary, 1 t chopped thyme, 1/3 C grated Parmesan, 1 1/4 C flavored croutons, and 2 eggs.

Using a spatula (I found that my hands worked better), spread the filling over the surface of the flank steak, with the wide edge of the steak facing you. Do not go all the way to the edge of the meat, or the roll will not seal well.

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Flank steak topped with braciole filling.

Roll the meat toward you until you have a nice log, and turn the meat 90 degrees, so it is perpendicular to you.

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Flank steak rolled into a log.

Running cotton butcher’s twine under the far end of the meat, tie a surgeon’s knot near the top of the log by passing the string twice under itself, followed by two more passes the other direction. Be sure to leave at least eight inches of excess twine on the loose end.

Working toward you, twist the twine to form a large loop and wiggle it up the meat.

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A loop formed by twisting the twine and wiggling the loop up the meat.

Continue forming loops, sliding them up the meat until you have a ladder of twine running up the length of the meat.

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Continuous loops formed and wiggled up the meat to form a network of loops.

Flip the log over and bring the twine to the top of the log, crossing it once under the center loop of twine.

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The meat, flipped to its back side. Bringing the string up to the top, crossing it once under the center loop.

Bringing the two ends of twine together, cross them on the back side of the log and flip the meat back to its front, tying another surgeon’s knot and a slip knot to secure. Let the meat sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. When ready to cook, coat the surface of the meat with canola or peanut oil and a sprinkle of Kosher salt.

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A surgeon’s knot tied on the front of the meat, bringing both ends of the twine together to secure. The meat is oiled and sprinkled with Kosher salt.

Heat a cast iron skillet (I used a large non-stick skillet because we have a glass cook top) on the stove until it is hot enough to sear the meat, and sear the meat on all sides until browned. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, placing a 9×13″ pan inside with 3 C of tomato sauce (I used the Good Eats tomato sauce here).

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Three cups of tomato sauce to be heated in the oven.

Once the braciole is seared on all sides, place it in the hot tomato sauce, spooning the sauce over the meat.

Tenting the pan with foil, return it to the oven for at least 45 minutes. Alton says you really can cook this all day, if you choose, but my braciole seemed to be perfect after about two hours.

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Pan tented with foil and placed in the oven.

Slice the braciole and serve it over the tomato sauce.

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Alton’s finished braciole with tomato sauce.

I was happy with how this braciole turned out, though it was a bit different from the ones I am used to. Ted and I both really liked the flavor of the filling and how it paired with the meat, but I think it would have been even better if my steak had been thinner. This was really very easy to prepare and it makes for a nice presentation on the plate.

Fish Roll with Compound Butter

In addition to rolling meat, Alton used this episode to show that you can also make a seafood roll. For this seafood roll, you will need three types of seafood:  salmon fillets, flounder fillets, and sea scallops. Depending on where you live, you may need to do some substituting. I could not find flounder where I live, so I had to substitute sole. You will also want to get the thinnest fish fillets you can find. Note that Alton’s recipe makes quite a large roll, so you also may want to modify this if you are only serving a few people because leftover fish=yuck! I was only making this roll for two of us, so I downsized by cutting my fillets. To begin, place a sheet of parchment on your counter, topped with plastic wrap. For the full-sized roll, lay two salmon fillets on the plastic wrap, nearest you, with their tails away from you, and so they are slightly overlapping each other. Next, place three flounder fillets on top of the salmon with their tails facing toward you. The flounder fillets should overlap the salmon about midway.

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Salmon fillet with tail facing away. Sole fillet placed on top with tail facing toward me.

Place a metal skewer through eight sea scallops, being sure to go through their flat sides. Place this skewer at the far end of the flounder fillets. Season all of the fish with Kosher salt, pepper, fresh dill, and fresh parsley.

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Skewered scallops placed on far end of flounder. Fish seasoned with Kosher salt, pepper, fresh dill, and fresh parsley.

Grab the far end of the plastic and roll toward you keeping the skewer in the center of the roll, and avoiding rolling the plastic wrap into the fish roll.

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Pulling the plastic toward me to roll the fish around the scallops.

Once your fish is starting to roll, place the edge of a sheet pan against the fish (on top of the plastic), pressing with the pan as you pull the plastic toward you.

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Using the edge of a sheet pan to press on on the fish roll as I pull the plastic toward me.

Once your roll is complete, you should be able to just slip the plastic off, leaving the roll on the parchment.

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Fish after rolling.

Next, rolling away from you, roll the fish in the parchment, twisting the ends. Refrigerate the fish roll for two hours.

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Plastic removed and fish rolled in parchment. Into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Once your fish roll has chilled, preheat your broiler and remove the skewer from the fish roll, keeping the fish rolled in parchment. Use a serrated knife to slice the roll into 3/4-1″ rounds. Place the rounds on a sprayed broiler pan and remove their parchment. Brush the fish rounds with canola oil and sprinkle them with Kosher salt.

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Sliced fish roll brushed with canola oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt.

Broil the fish six inches from the heat, checking after three minutes. Alton served his fish with herb butter, which he did not make in the show. I threw an herb butter together by mixing softened butter with the leftover dill and parsley from the fish roll, along with lemon zest and pepper.

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Broiled fish roll served with herb butter.

We thought this fish roll was great. The salmon, white fish, and scallops went very well together and the roll was really pretty. Herb butter is a great accompaniment to the seafood here too. Unfortunately, my fish roll got cold when I realized there was a fire behind our house, so I will have to make this again on a less stressful evening! This is a great recipe to make for an impressive presentation that takes very little effort.

Chimney Tuna Loin

After I watched episode 68, I realized I was going to have to do some serious hunting to find high-quality tuna loin to sear. We live inland, so it can be challenging (and sometimes expensive) to find certain ingredients. I decided to ask the resident ceviche expert of my town where I could purchase sushi grade tuna; his expression told me all I needed to know, and I realized I would have to give in and order some fish online. A few days later, a cooler arrived at my door with a pound of fresh tuna from California.

I was struck by one thing when I first looked at this recipe online – this recipe gets great reviews. Ideally, when preparing tuna, you want to eat it the day it is purchased, but you can store it for a day or so by wrapping it in plastic and placing it on crushed ice in a perforated tub; place the perforated tub inside a second tub to catch any draining liquid, and change the ice 1-2x per day.

To sear your tuna, you will need natural chunk hardwood charcoal and a chimney starter. Fill your chimney starter to the brim with charcoal and spritz some newspaper with canola oil, placing the newspaper under the chimney starter; the oil will slow the burning of the paper. Light the newspaper with a lighter and let the fire build until it is very hot and the coals have gone down about 50%.

While your fire is heating up, trim your tuna into blocks that are about 4x4x2 inches, removing any bloodline.

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My tuna, cut into two blocks for searing.

For a marinade, combine 1/2 C soy sauce, 1/2 C honey, and 1/4 C wasabi powder, reserving 4 ounces of the marinade for a dipping sauce later.

Place the fish into the marinade for 1-4 hours. Alton marinated his fish for an hour in the show, so that is what I did. When ready to cook, drain the marinade from the fish and roll the fish in sesame seeds, coating four sides.

Place an oiled grill grate over the top of your chimney starter and add your fish. You will want to sear your fish for approximately 30 seconds per side, scraping any burnt sesame seeds off the grate each time you turn the fish.

Place the fish on a clean plate and tightly cover it with plastic wrap for 3 minutes. You can serve the fish immediately, or you can wrap it in fresh plastic and refrigerate for up to three days.

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Seared tuna, covered in plastic for 3 minutes.

Slice the fish thinly just prior to serving, and eat with the reserved marinade as a dipping sauce.

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Seared tuna, thinly sliced.

This was kind of a special dinner for us since we paid more than we normally would for fish. My fish appeared to be cut as more of a steak, rather than as a center cut of loin, so it was tricky to cut the fish into a uniform block for even cooking. If anything, my fire was possibly a little too hot, as my sesame seeds were really burning, so I would maybe let my fire go a little longer next time before commencing cooking. The marinade/dipping sauce was really zippy, packing quite a punch of heat from the wasabi.

I was happy with the quality of the fish I purchased, as it had zero fishy flavor and a nice red interior. This is one I would really like to try again, but it would probably be reserved for special occasions since the main ingredient is expensive and difficult to find where I live. However, if you happen to live where you can easily find fresh tuna, I would definitely suggest trying Alton’s seared tuna. No matter what, it was fun to try!

Clams on the Half Shell with Fresh Mayonnaise

Once again, with this episode, my Good Eats project has led me to prepare a food item at home that I have never before prepared. This, to me, is the best part of this project, as I am learning to cook things I potentially would never have otherwise attempted. Clams, this time, were the subject of my exploration.

Though I have eaten other shellfish on the half shell (namely oysters), clams on the half shell were new to me. Really, this isn’t so much a recipe, but rather more of a method. Here’s a link to Alton’s recipe. All you really need for this preparation are fresh, live clams and a batch of Alton’s mayo, which I made previously. When eating raw clams, you want small clams (like littlenecks), as they are more tender than larger clams. When purchasing clams, you want to go to reputable seller and you want to purchase clams that are closed, very hard, and that sound like rocks when you tap them. My grocer had to special order littleneck clams for me and they seemed to be pretty fresh. Clams do sometimes open a little bit, even when they are alive, but they should close if you tap them; discard any clams that do not close when tapped. Also, it really is ideal to purchase clams the day you plan to serve them. Store them in your refrigerator before use in an open container that has been topped with a wet paper towel. When ready to serve your clams, dump them in a colander and give them a good rinse.

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Littleneck clams after being rinsed off.

Wipe off any additional grit in a clean tea towel. Next, set them in the freezer for 30 minutes before shucking, as this will make the process easier.

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Littlenecks, ready to be wiped dry in a tea towel before going in the freezer for 30 minutes.

To shuck, insert a butter knife into the groove at a “corner” of the shell, working the knife between the sides of the shell and prying it open.

Detach the meat from the shell by scraping it off of both sides of the shell with the knife, leaving the meat in the bottom side of the shell. Set your clams on a serving plate, topping each clam with some of Alton’s mayo.

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Not the greatest photo, but a shucked littleneck with Alton’s mayo.

My shells were really lopsided and toppled a bit, so setting them on a bed of greens may make a more attractive presentation. We ate our raw clams as an appetizer one evening, having just a handful or so each. When I eat raw shellfish, I prefer to have condiments, so I liked the addition of Alton’s mayo, which I love anyway. Since I’m a newbie to prepping raw shellfish, I get a little nervous when I am eating them at home, so I think I would have enjoyed raw clams more if I were eating them in a restaurant. Overall, I’ll say that we thought they were good, but not fantastic, and I don’t know that I’ll be jumping to prepare them again anytime soon.

Radonsky for the New Millennium 

For the second recipe in this episode, Alton used cherrystone clams, which are larger than littlenecks. I could not find cherrystone clams where I live, so I ended up using manila clams for this one.

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My manila clams.

As with the recipe above for clams on the half shell, you will want to shuck your clams, but for this preparation you will only want to detach the clam meat from one side of the shell. You will also want to discard the empty half of the shell from each clam.

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Shucked clams.

Mix together 1/4 C flour, 1/4 C breadcrumbs, 1 T freshly grated Parmesan, black pepper, and Kosher salt. Sprinkle the flour mixture liberallly over the shucked clams.

Melt 3 T bacon fat in a skillet over medium-high heat; we keep bacon fat in the refrigerator for occasions such as this.

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Bacon fat in the pan.

When the bacon fat has melted, fry the clams, shell side up, until they are golden brown and their shells have lightened in color.

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Clams frying in bacon fat.

Serve the clams with malt vinegar and parsley.

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My fried clams.

So, I really thought I would like these better than the clams on the half shell, but it turned out that we both found the clams to be too strong in flavor. I liked the crispy coating on the clams and the tang from the malt vinegar, but the clams I used were extremely briny in flavor and had a strong aftertaste that lingered. Perhaps this recipe would have been better with littlenecks? If I were to make this again, I would try it with littlenecks, or cherrystones if I could find them.

Clam Chowder

A clam episode would not be complete without a recipe for clam chowder. We always seem to eat more soup in the fall, so clam chowder seemed like a perfect thing to eat on a fall evening, though I am still clinging to the idea of summer. This recipe begins by rendering the fat from 3 ounces of salt pork or bacon over medium heat; I used Alton’s bacon that I made previously.

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Bacon fat rendering.

Once the fat is rendered, remove the meat pieces from the pan and save for another use. Add 1 1/2 C chopped onion to the pork fat and cook until translucent.

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Onion added to bacon fat.

Next, add 6 C of cubed russet potatoes, peeled (this is about 4 medium or 3 large russets). Add whole milk to the pan, just to cover the potatoes.

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Potatoes and whole milk added to pot.

Meanwhile, drain and reserve the juice from 14 ounces of canned clams, and chop the clam meat. You will want to have at least 1 C of clam juice; if you do not, add water to make 1 C of liquid.

Pour the clam juice into the bottom of a steamer and steam 12 clams over the clam juice, checking on them after 5 minutes.

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My clams, steaming over canned clam juice.

Remove the clams as soon as they open, as they will become tough if overcooked. Save the steaming liquid!

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Steamed clams.

When the clams are steamed, use an immersion blender to blend the potato mixture to your desired consistency – I left some lumps in mine.

To your blended soup, add ~1/2 of the steaming liquid and taste it. Alton cautioned that the steaming liquid can be quite salty, so you want to add it gradually. I wound up adding all of my steaming liquid, as it did not make my soup overly salty. Fold in your chopped canned clam meat.

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Canned clams and steaming liquid added to soup.

Top the soup with black pepper, sour cream, parsley, and grape tomatoes, and serve with steamed clams on the side.

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Clam chowder with parsley, pepper, tomatoes, sour cream, and steamed clams.

We both thought this chowder was great. It had lots of clam flavor and pieces, along with plenty of potatoes. Ted even declared this one of the best clam chowders he has had. I don’t know if serving the steamed clams on the side is even necessary, though it does make for a nice presentation. I was not sure about serving the soup with sour cream and tomatoes, but I actually quite liked the garnishes. I will make this one again. It makes for an easy weeknight meal.

If you’re like me, you haven’t had a lot of experience with eating squid. Sure, I’ve had fried calamari numerous times, but that’s about the extent of my squid exploration. Really, if you think about it, squid is not something you see regularly on restaurant menus. It also is not the easiest ingredient to find, but Ted finally found some for me at an Asian market.

Squid typically come frozen and in two sizes:  10/20 squid (which means you get 10-20 squid per pound) or smaller ones. Ideally, the 10/20 squid are the ones to get because they have a larger tube, but their tentacles are about the same length as those on the smaller ones. One Asian market we went to had a single frozen squid that weighed nearly two pounds; I opted not to get that one. You can thaw frozen squid in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours, or in a tub of cool water with a constant slow stream of cold water.

Squid Vicious

Alton’s squid recipe in this episode is for a squid stir-fry, and you will need 1/2 pound of thawed, prepared squid.

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My package of frozen squid.

To prepare your squid, reach into the tube of the squid on the head end of the squid. Pull the head/tentacle piece to separate it from the tube portion of the squid. Next, cut between the tentacles and the head, discarding the head. The tentacles can be cooked, though Alton really never showed them being used in this recipe; for this reason, I discarded the tentacles also. My squid came already cleaned, so I just had to prep the tubes of the squid.

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My squid were already cleaned, so they just had the tubes and tentacles.

For the tube pieces, pull the rudder fins off and discard them, as they are extremely chewy. Next, split the tubes open with a sharp knife and scrape the thin membrane off of the inside of the tube, holding your knife at an angle. Using a utility knife on the shallowest setting (I just used a knife), score the surface of each tube in a crosshatch pattern; this will keep the squid from curling when cooked.

Finally, cut each tube into four equal pieces.

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Each squid tube was then cut into four pieces.

In addition to the prepped squid, for this recipe you will need 2 t sesame oil, 1 t garlic, 1 t ginger, 2 dried chilies, 1/3 c diced onion, 1/3 c diced red bell pepper, and 1/4 c oyster mushroom strips. For a sauce, combine 1 t balsamic vinegar, 1 t cornstarch, and 1/2 c miso broth.

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Ingredients for Alton’s squid recipe: sesame oil, garlic, ginger, dried chilies, squid, onion, red bell pepper, and oyster mushrooms. Also, a combination of balsamic vinegar, cornstarch, and miso broth.

When ready to cook, heat your wok over high heat and add the sesame oil. Add the garlic, ginger, and chilies to the wok and stir to cook. Next, add your prepared squid.

Follow this with the onion, bell pepper, and oyster mushrooms.

Finally, add the sauce to the wok and toss to coat everything, allowing the cornstarch to thicken the sauce.

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Finally, the liquid mixture was added.

As Alton said in the episode, squid cook on a bell curve – they are tender when cooked 1-3 minutes, tough when cooked for 5-6 minutes, and tender again once cooked for 10 minutes. As with any stir-fry, this recipe should come together extremely quickly, so your squid should only be in the pan for a couple minutes. Serve the squid mixture over rice.

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Alton’s squid stir-fry served over rice.

We weren’t sure what to expect from this recipe, but it was pretty underwhelming. Really, this was just a very under-seasoned recipe and it was very bland. Once we added some salt and soy sauce to this, it was significantly better, but I still would not make this one again. I am sort of bummed that I did not like this better because I wanted the recipe to showcase squid for me. Instead, it was just OK. Ted makes really good stir-fries, so maybe we’ll have to add squid to one of his. Still, I am happy to have gotten to play with a new-to-me ingredient!

 

 

I have not forgotten about my Good Eats blog project. Rather, I was waiting for Ted to feel good enough, after finishing chemo and radiation, to truly be able to enjoy Alton’s recipe for lobster. Exactly two weeks after completing treatment, he felt up to sitting down to a lobster dinner. This was to be my first time eating lobster… and it was to be prepared by me. Yep, I had waited 34 years to try lobster. How? I don’t know. I had eaten lobster macaroni and cheese, but never had I tried a whole lobster, or even a tail. The opportunity had just never really presented itself.

Stuffed Lobster

This past Friday, Fed Ex arrived at our door with two live hard shell lobsters from Maine; our lobsters were 1.5 pounds each. Living in the Inland Northwest, live lobsters are not particularly abundant, so having them shipped to our door was the easiest way to get them. In the episode, Alton explains that you really want to get hard shell lobsters, rather than soft shell lobsters, because they contain more meat and have a firmer texture. Soft shell lobsters have shells that are partially full of water, which you end up paying for. Our lobsters spent the day in the crisper drawer of our spare refrigerator, covered with damp newspaper. I was tempted to name them, but Ted said we shouldn’t name critters that we were later going to consume.

Ingredients for stuffed lobster:  Ritz crackers, onion, lemon, thyme, rosemary, parsley, scallions, and butter.

Ingredients for stuffed lobster: Ritz crackers, onion, lemon, thyme, rosemary, parsley, scallions, and butter.

When you are ready to cook your lobsters, stick them in your freezer for 15-20 minutes. An uncovered roasting pan works fine for containing them.

Live lobsters heading into the freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Live lobsters heading into the freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Our live lobsters.

Our live lobsters.

Putting them in the freezer serves to numb them sufficiently before they are cooked. If you feel up to it, the other way to kill your lobsters is to cut their heads in half with a knife. I opted for the less gruesome former method. While the lobsters are numbing in the freezer, fill the bottom of a large, wide, lidded pot with a layer of river rocks and an inch of water.

Pan with rocks and water.

Pan with rocks and water.

I used rocks from the front landscaped area of our yard. Bring this water to a boil over high heat. The rocks help to evenly distribute steam and also can prevent the lobsters tails from curling under. You want your pot to be ready to go when you pull your lobsters from the freezer.

Steaming pan, ready to go.

Steaming pot, ready to go.

When your pot is ready, throw some sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, and parsley on the rocks, and carefully/quickly place your lobsters on top.

Numbed lobsters, ready to go in the pot to steam.

Numbed lobsters, ready to go in the pot to steam.

Place the lid on the pot and set your timer for two minutes. Alton says your lobsters will be dead within ten seconds.

Lobsters in the pot.

Lobsters in the pot.

I forgot to throw my fresh herbs in, so I tossed them on top of the lobsters and let them steam for an additional minute. When your two (or three, in my case) minutes are up, place your lobsters immediately in an ice water bath to halt cooking. I used my kitchen sink for this.

Ice bath to halt cooking.

Ice bath to halt cooking.

Par cooked lobster in the ice bath.

Par cooked lobster in the ice bath.

Both lobsters in the ice bath, along with the claws that broke off of the one lobster.

Both lobsters in the ice bath, along with the claws that broke off of the one lobster.

You want to let them sit in the ice water for 10-15 minutes. Essentially, you are par cooking your lobsters, as they are not fully cooked at this point. Somehow, one of my lobsters lost its claws in the steaming pot, but that turned out to be no big deal, and I just threw them in the ice water too. After their chilly dip, it is time for the gross part of the preparation. Placing a lobster on your cutting board, and using a large chef’s knife, you want to cut the lobster in half lengthwise, from the midpoint to the head.

Lobster ready to be cut in half and prepped. This one's claws fell off during steaming.

Lobster ready to be cut in half and prepped. This one’s claws fell off during steaming.

Next, flip the lobster onto its back and cut again from the midpoint to the tail. Use your hands to pull the lobster apart at the midline. The tail portion of the shell will still be intact on the back side of the lobster, so you will sort of have a lobster bowl, with all of the meat exposed in the center. There will be some very obvious organs and such in the cavity that you want to scoop out with your hands and discard. Essentially, the top half of the lobster will be an empty cavity after you remove the organs. Next, pull off the lobster’s legs, and roll over each leg with a rolling pin to push the meat out. I was skeptical of how well this would work, but it worked like a charm. Set the leg meat aside.

Legs pulled off of lobster.

Legs pulled off of lobster.

Meat from legs using a rolling pin.

Meat from legs using a rolling pin.

In a saute pan, melt 1 T butter per lobster and sweat 2 T of onion per lobster. Add 1/4 t lemon zest (I added a bit more) and 1 T scallions.

Melted butter.

Melted butter.

Onion, scallions, and lemon zest added to butter.

Onion, scallions, and lemon zest added to butter.

When the onions are translucent, add the lobster leg meat, breaking it up with your hands, and toss the mixture over low heat for about a minute.

Leg meat added to onion mixture.

Leg meat added to onion mixture.

Add some grinds of black pepper and five Ritz crackers, crumbling them with your hands. Turn the heat off and toss this mixture until all of the liquid is absorbed by the crackers and the mixture looks dry. You may need to add more crackers, which I did.

Ritz crackers and pepper added to filling mixture.

Ritz crackers and pepper added to filling mixture.

Set this mixture aside. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and cut the claws off of your lobsters, also cutting the bands off of the claws. Place the claws on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 4 minutes; the claws need a bit of additional cooking time over the rest of the lobster.

Claws into the oven to roast for 4 minutes.

Claws into the oven to roast for 4 minutes.

While your claws are roasting, place your lobsters on a sheet of foil, scrunching it up to make a level platform for them to nest in.

Cleaned lobsters, ready to be stuffed.

Cleaned lobsters, ready to be stuffed.

Loosely spoon the cracker/onion/leg meat mixture into the open cavities of the lobsters, avoiding packing it in, and brush the tail meat with some olive oil.

Stuffed lobsters.

Stuffed lobsters.

Lobsters, ready for the oven. Tails brushed with olive oil.

Lobsters, ready for the oven. Tails brushed with olive oil.

When the four minute head start for your claws is done, add the lobsters to the pan with the claws. Depending on the weight of your lobsters, you will need to adjust the roasting time. For 1.5 lb lobsters, roast them for 14 minutes. In the episode, Alton has a chart of roasting times for respective lobster weights.

Claws after 4 minutes in the oven.

Claws after 4 minutes in the oven.

Lobsters added to claws.

Lobsters added to claws.

When your lobsters are done cooking, remove them from the oven and crack the claws.

Lobsters after 14 minutes in the oven.

Lobsters after 14 minutes in the oven.

You first want to crack the pincher and wiggle it from side to side until you can slide the shell off. Then, crack the other portion of the claw and push the meat out of the joint with your finger. This is easier said than done, but it can be done with some fiddling. Serve your lobsters on a bed of greens with the claw meat placed on top, and melted butter and lemon on the side.

Final stuffed lobster with claw meat on top and lemon on the side.

Final stuffed lobster with claw meat on top and lemon on the side.

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So, how was Alton’s stuffed lobster? Ted and I both thought this was delicious. It was rich and sweet, and the meat was cooked perfectly. The buttery flavor of the Ritz crackers paired perfectly with the lobster meat and the lemon zest cut the richness. We had our lobster with a Chardonnay and that pairing worked nicely. I would definitely make this again, and I already have it on my list for potential holiday meals. For lobster purists who like to pick the meat out of the shells yourselves, this preparation is probably not for you. However, if you want to enjoy the flavor of lobster with minimal work at the table, this is the way to go. It is definitely safe to say that I am a lobster fan after this one.