Lobster, Cooked Correctly (Nice And Simple)

An eight-pound lobster, boiled for 18 minutes, and then iced for about an hour. I had to use my old framing hammer to crack the claws. The legs were enough for a thirteen-year-old’s dinner! No butter, no mayonnaise, just a little fresh cocktail sauce for one of our guests. The meat was incredibly sweet and tender, no doubt because of the cooking time. Check some cookbooks and you will discover that most people overcook lobster by a factor of two or three.

We served this beast with some oven roasted potatoes and Caesar Salad.

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P.S.  I posted about cooking lobsters awhile ago, but I wanted to show off this nice big one, and prove that I can actually insert a photo without massive help-desk intervention.

The Dumbing Down Of Cooking: Celebrity Chefs

Years ago the only chefs on TV were people like Julia Child, James Beard, and a few other professional chefs. Nowadays of course, there are what seem to be hundreds of people, cooking sometimes nasty looking stuff, on dozens of networks. There is even a network devoted entirely to food.  But the problem is that many of them aren’t real chefs. When Jacques Pepin says something about cooking, you can take it to the bank. But when some moron spouts off about food on her own cooking show, when her last gig was as an extra on a sitcom, and her only claim to fame is a lovely body, you can safely ignore it.*

Maybe I am being harsh, but cooking shows without the benefit of professionals are just silly. Here is an article in SmartMoney magazine I found through the website of a local media company’s food blog (they used to be called newspapers): 10 Things Celebrity Chefs Won’t Tell You. There is nothing shocking in the piece, but it skewers most of the shows, and that is just fine with me.

*In the interest of full disclosure, if some “media company” offers me a cooking show or a book deal, I will smile, say “thank you very much,” and run all the way to the bank to cash the check before they realize what fools they are.

Elysian Cafe (Hoboken)

What to do on a Thursday night in Hoboken when I am not trying to “hook-up” or get falling-down drunk? That’s easy. Ask Tommy:eats for a recommendation. And he came through like a champ!

My wife met some friends for early drinks and I drove down later to meet her for dinner. The only restaurant I know in Hoboken is Arthur’s Tavern, a fun place to go with a group, or with kids, but I can make a mediocre steak any time, so that was out. And of course Vito’s Deli (click for the music!) for the best Italian heroes on the planet. But Vito’s doesn’t serve martinis (if they did I would move to Hoboken).

Tommy pointed us towards a bistro just a few blocks from Vito’s, called Elysian Cafe. Continue reading “Elysian Cafe (Hoboken)”

Weird Looking Blog

I’ll be playing around a bit with the look of the blog, so don’t be shocked and nauseated by the way it looks. It will probably change several times,  hopefully for the better!

Ego, And Changing Recipes

I have worked on my barbecue dry-rub recipe for several years, and finally arrived at a mixture of the usual suspects (sugar, paprika, cayenne, and uh, some other stuff) that was pleasing to my palate and that of most of my guests. So what did I do? Screwed around with it! Pretty clever, huh? I didn’t even change the recipe that much, but I also changed the amount of the rub that I put on what I call the “knuckles,” — those chunks of meat and gristle and cartilage connected to the ribs. I have learned how to trim the pork racks so that they look great (and that will be the subject of another post), but obviously don’t want to discard perfectly good food, so I barbecue these knuckles separately, and toss them to any stray children and dogs who may be wandering around. Actually, they taste pretty damned good, so I’ll usually munch on them too. Part of the allure is the pungent taste of the rub. The pieces are small, so they get a big dose of the stuff in comparison to the ribs. And because the rub has lots of sugar, it’s an appealing combination of caramel from the cooked sugar, and the zing of the other spices. Good stuff, unless you are stupid and arrogant and don’t follow your own recipe.

Lesson learned. I promise never to short-change my palate or my guests. A full dose of rub is now guaranteed.

How Did We Ever Live Without This?

Ignoring the unarguable fact that this stuff is ugly, why would you want to eat your plate after a meal? And notice what it is made of — hardtack. I remember reading stories of sailing ships and the awful food they had after the fresh food was eaten. Hardtack played an important role in the hatred of shipboard life.

I’m Moving!

After struggling with a pretty pathetic blogging system I have decided to upgrade to WordPress. Wish me luck! Hopefully the change will occur seamlessly, but based on pretty much everything I know about the internet and computers, my hope is misplaced. I will eventually return to blogging, or just toss my computer out the window. Whatever does happen will happen in the next few days.

Sliders!

If you don’t know what a slider is, please, just go away. This post is for real eaters, and besides, a life without sliders is a life not worth living.

Here is an interesting blog about…well, you’ll have to guess from the name. But the guy has obviously made a careful study of how to make sliders, and he uses as his inspiration the best on the planet: White Manna.

Moules Frites

Ah, diet food! Well, not actually low in calories, but it is a relatively light meal, at least in comparison to a large bone-in rib steak. I went to the store with the expectation of returning with some large chunk of gilled (no, I have never tried whale) pelagic predator, otherwise known as tuna or swordfish. But the mussels looked so damned good and fresh, I received special dispensation from my wife to deviate from the plan. But what are mussels without French fries? Nothing! And quite conveniently, I had several great looking russet potatoes.* So, for no other reason than to be respectful of the history of the relationship between mussels and potatoes, I had to make fries. I won’t bore you with the details; just fry them twice, once at low temperature and once at high temperature. Continue reading “Moules Frites”

Steak, and that damned salt again!

A simple meal: pan seared rib steak with Tommy’s Potatoes. Nice and easy. But once again I was blindsided by pomposity (my own). It’s that damned salt again. Instead of using my standard Kosher salt, I ground a bit of Hiwa kai Black Hawaiian Sea Salt on both sides of the steak, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for good measure. I would love to take credit for cooking the steak perfectly*, and while it was cooked nicely, the kicker for the dish was that stupid, pompous, expensive salt. I love good quality ingredients in my cooking. But salt? Every time this happens I have less moral authority to poke fun at all of the jerks in the food world who pontificate about free-range tomatoes (at five bucks a pop!) and sustainable agriculture and happy, carefree, heirloom pigs.

The stuff is really good, and you should try it. Just don’t tell them that I sent you.

* 2 inch bone-in rib steak. Blazing hot cast-iron pan for about 3 minutes on each side, just enough for a good char, then into a hot oven for another 3 or 4 minutes. Let it rest for several minutes, and you’re done.