Archive for June, 2010
Welfleet, just north of Eastham where my family has their house, is famous for its oysters. For a buck apiece you can get fresh whole oysters from any fish market in town. They’re $2 each shucked at the Beachcomber, Welfleet’s famous beachfront concert bar where just last weekend I saw Peter Tosh’s son perform. Shucking oysters is a bit of a chore, but once you get the hang of it they’re not all that bad. You’ll need a clam knife to open your oysters, and I recommend wearing a glove or using a towel to protect the hand holding the oyster while you do it. Slide the clam knife into the seam on the front of the shell, run it around the edges of the oyster, and open it up. Detach the muscle that holds the oyster to the shell, and serve on the half shell with horseradish, cocktail sauce, and lemon.
It’s summertime, so grilling season is upon us. This recipe harkens back to my days as my fraternity’s “Grillmeister”. It was handed down to me by the presiding Grillmeister, a Southern gentleman named Ben Patch. Ben taught me many things, including how to make my own barbecue sauce from scratch. Being appointed as Grillmeister gave me the perfect opportunity to elevate the fraternity barbecue from burgers and dogs to something more interesting. During the two years of my tenure, I cooked whole sides of marinated swordfish, grilled New Zealand mussels, smoked pork shoulders cooked in pits dug in the front yard (with considerable help and inspiration provided by Mr. David Weiss, who is a frequent reader of this blog, and a great cook himself), roasted Thanksgiving turkey on a tripod, and every manner of side dish we could think of. These grilled stuffed tomatoes have become a favorite, because they are so incredibly easy, and the “wow” factor is a great bang for your buck in terms of prep time. Over the years I’ve realized that if you have an oven at your disposal (which I did not in college) it’s easier to make these in muffin tins and bake them. If you’re grilling them it can be tricky to keep them from falling over, so you need to make little tinfoil “life preservers” to keep them standing upright. Roll a 1-ft long piece of tinfoil into a cylinder and form a ring. Place the ring on the grill and the tomato on the ring, and proceed from there.
Today and tomorrow, Saturday June 12th, Citarella on the Upper West Side is celebrating National Lobster Day with an amazing deal: live lobsters for $4.99/lb! Though I’m a bit spoiled, and I eat a lot of lobster in the summertime since I have my own traps out in Long Island Sound (and let me tell you…Long Island Sound lobsters are SUPERB. I’d eat them over a Maine lobster any day, but I digress) I had to take advantage of the sale for dinner tonight.
One of my favorite ways to eat lobster is to bisect them and cook them in a pan with butter, white wine, shallots, garlic, rosemary, and crushed red pepper. The lobster juices infuse with the sauce, which is served along with the lobster for dipping. A little squeeze of lemon at the end, and you’ve got the best lobster you’ve had in your life. But don’t take my word for it…go out and get some lobsters and give it a try!
As I mentioned, this is the final week of the Food52 year-long recipe competition. Cucumbers are the theme here, and I have simply modified my cold avocado soup to incorporate cucumbers, since it was such a big hit at the Food52 potluck picnic. By the time I added it to the site there were already five other cold cucumber soups in the competition! Oh well…may the best dish win, as always!
This week marks week 52 of the Food52 competition. I’ve only been a part of it for about 20 weeks, but it’s been an incredible experience. I’ve had a lot of fun, cooked some great food that I never would have cooked otherwise, and met a lot of wonderful people through the site (not to mention, of course, winning two competitions…?!) Congratulations to all the winners, and also to Amanda and Merrill for a job well done! I look forward to year two of Food52!
Yesterday for a neighborhood BBQ I decided to incorporate both Food52 themes into the dinner: your best cucumber, and your best use of lemon, thyme, and the grill. Luckily I am up on the Cape and I actually have access to a grill, so I had to give it a shot. This chicken dish was born out of my fear and loathing of dry chicken cooked on the grill, so I pounded it thin, stuffed it with spinach that I had previously sauteed with garlic, pancetta, and lemon juice, marinated it in oil, thyme, lemon, and pepper, and grilled it quickly on both sides until cooked through. The dish is finished with a summery gremolata of…what else? Lemon zest and thyme! It was a big hit with the neighbors.
This is a recipe that I grew up making after finding a recipe card for “Dicky’s Clams Casino” in my Grandmother’s recipe box. I asked my Dad to show me how to do it, and I’ve added a few touches of my own. Over the years my version of the recipe has been refined and solidified, and I make it the same way each summer. It’s very close to my Dad’s recipe, but I’ve modified a few things. I think they’re the best baked stuffed clams I’ve ever eaten. You can try making them and be the judge. The stuffing proportions are approximations, since I just eyeball it every time, but I think they should be pretty close.
This is the type of dish that I love cooking on the Cape. One fresh local seafood ingredient, paired with the most straightforward flavors and cooking methods, cooked up after a day at the beach. You can feed a hungry group of people in 20 minutes, start to finish. Serve it with some crusty bread and a good white wine, and you’re in business.
You can’t come to Cape Cod and leave without having some fried clams. You can get fried clam strips, or you can go for the whole-belly clams, which are fried steamers. They have much more flavor than clam strips, so I always go for whole-belly. This past weekend I went out and dug 2 dozen steamers, and figured I’d put together a beer batter and fry them up.
Those of you who know me well knew that this post was going to happen at some point. It’s June on Cape Cod, which means one thing: june bugs. Big, noisy, and attracted to light at night, these guys congregate on our porch screens by the dozens. It’s a snack that comes straight to you! A quick saute in olive oil with a sprinkling of salt and chili powder, and they are ready to eat. Once you get over the fact that you’re eating a bug, you will notice that they have a nice, smooth, nutty flavor and a great crunch.
Cape Cod got its name from the incredibly abundant codfish that lived offshore, which were fished from the 1600′s all through the turn of the century in traditional wooden boats, back when men were men and the sea was God. The history of Cape Cod is steeped in this fish, which when salted and dried provided long-lasting food for the trans-Atlantic voyages that eventually resulted in the formation of the colonies, and thus our country. Salted cod stew fed many a sailor on those long and lonely passages, I’m sure. In keeping with tradition, you can’t come to Cape Cod and not have a traditional broiled codfish dinner. Simple ingredients, simple preparation, and a wonderful meal.