Thursday, October 13, 2005

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sympathy for the Chef

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of creativity and taste,
I've been cooking for many long, long years
Can cook a nice bird, with the right baste

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the true nature of my game

Claro Walnut and The ChefI just want thank the Rolling Stones for the theme of my intro. You guys might know me as "The Chef," but that was not exactly the alias I would have chosen. Being that I always cook dinners for the CPMC b-day gatherings, and I have been in the restaurant biz, "The Chef" made sense. My thought for my alias was Jesus. Jesus? Why Jesus, you ask? Well, I do have other interests besides those of the culinary nature, and one of them is my furniture business -- I design and build custom wood furniture (Jesus was a carpenter...get it?).

I invite you to take a peek at Tulipwood Designs; this "blog" might not be of much interest to all, but Tulipwood Designs is truly a passion of mine and the blog is a great resource for current and future clients. So come on by, take a peek, and maybe, just maybe, you will walk away with a gorgeous, functional piece of art.

Would you buy a used piece of wood from this man?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Biscuits? Fuh shore! There's nothing better than a biscuit with Jambalaya or a Crawfish Étouffée. If you are from NOLA, I would bet your Mamere made these, so make a bill, and try 'em out.

Ingredients needed:

  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour (about 1 pound)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half


  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  • Lightly grease a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening.
  • Combine 4 cups of the flour, the baking powder, pepper, salt, jalapenos, and cheese in a large bowl.
  • Mix well.
  • Add shortening and work it into the dry ingredients, using your hands, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Fold in the half-and-half.
  • The dough will be sticky.
  • Dust your work surface with 1 tablespoon of the flour.
  • Turn the dough onto the floured surface.
  • Gently fold each side towards the center.
  • Pick up the dough and dust the work surface with the remaining tablespoon flour.
  • Return the dough to the floured surface and fold each side towards the center again. Turn the dough over and lightly press it out to 1-inch thickness.
  • Cut the biscuits using a 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter.
  • Place them on the baking sheet and bake until golden, 30 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

Yield: 16 biscuits

And for you Peeshwank Capon haters, Passe'

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Crawfish Étouffée

Gar ici, I have an envie for some Crawfish Étouffée, most y'all might get the fremeers from these bebettes but damn... they're good. The first thing you need to do is marinate the chef. So, in the spirit of Cajun Country, be sure to pour yourself a glass of beer before you get started!

Étouffée: (prononuced ā•too•fā') A spicy and delicious Cajun stew traditionally made with crawfish, vegetables and a dark roux. Étouffée is usually served over rice. The word comes from the French étouffer, which means to smother.


  • 1 pound crawfish tails*, with fat**
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 1 medium - large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons bell pepper, minced
  • 1/2 stalk celery, minced
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, tops only, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced parsley
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 - 2 cups water


  • Melt butter in pot, add flour and stir like hell.
  • Add onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic.
  • Cook until tender, and keep stirring.
  • Add crawfish fat*, if possible, and cook down 10-15 minutes.
  • Add tails and tomato paste, then add water.
  • Cook down for 20 minutes or so, but be careful not to overdo it.
  • Add salt and peppers to taste. Cook a little more, then add chopped green onion tops and parsley and cook till ready.
  • Serve over hot long grain rice.

Yield: Meal for 4 men or 6 pansies.

*Note: If fresh crawfish tails are impossible to find where you live, buy frozen tail meat and thaw it out completely.

**Note: The orange fat found in the heads of crawfish adds extra richness and flavor to dishes. Since its difficult to find crawfish fat outside of southern Louisiana, butter is a good substitute for the crawfish fat.

Various chefs prefer margarine over butter, and vice versa, when making an étouffée. Generally, butter imparts a richer flavor and creamier consistency. But étouffée sauces range from very rich to thinner, gumbo-like sauces, so experiment.

"Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

Saturday, September 03, 2005


All this week I will be paying tribute to The Big Easy the best way I know how: by every day posting a traditional Cajun/Creole menu item. I do not have direct relations in Louisiana but I am a descendant of the Acadians who came from Nova Scotia, as did the Cajun folk. So with no futher adieu, I bring you:

Jambalaya describes a variety of rice-based dishes common in Louisiana Cajun or Creole cooking. This dish, infamous in NOLA, is most likely a derivative of the Spanish dish paella and was probably brought to Louisiana when Spain controlled the territory comprising the future Louisiana Purchase.

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and julienne
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 pound cubed boiled ham
  • 1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed, retaining the can juices
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and cayenne to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
  • Hot sauce of your choice

  • In a large heavy pot, heat the butter over medium heat until butter is melted.
  • Add the onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic. Sauté for about five minutes, or until the onion is translucent and the peppers and celery are wilted.
  • Add the shrimp and ham. Cook for two to three minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.
  • Stir in the tomatoes (with the retained juice) and chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Season to taste with salt and cayenne.
  • Add the bay leaves and the rice.
  • Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring only occasionally.
  • Cook until the rice it is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaves and serve.
  • Pass around the hot sauce!
Makes about 4 servings.

As Justin Wilson would have said "I GARONTEE !!" this will be a good one.

A direct way for DC residents to help

OK, children it is now time for you to help the unfortunate. There will be 400 families arriving in DC on Monday, September 5th from areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina to receive shelter at the DC Armory.

The first District Police Station will be collecting care packages starting right away. Packages should not be sealed, so that police may inspect. Volunteers are welcome to go to the station to help. The greatest need at this time is for bottled water, toothbrushes, toothpaste, blankets, undergarments, soap, and any other item that would constitute a "care package"
Please call the station with any questions.

First District Police Station
415 4th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024
Phone: 202.698.0555

Thank you anything will be appreciated.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Stuffed Shrimp

Ah, crabmeat stuffed shrimp... a great Maryland Eastern Shore staple, and a big favorite of mine. This is a very simple dish to prepare as either an appetizer or entree, and your friends will keep coming back for more.

When buying shrimp for this dish, get a larger size: large 21-25, or jumbo u-12. (The numbers are reflective to how many shrimp there are in a pound.) The next question is, how many do I buy? For an appetizer I would get 2 per person of the 21-25's and for an entree, 4 of the 21-25's or 3 of the u-12's. I think the u-12's are more impressive but they can be expensive. Next comes the crabmeat; jumbo lump is my preference but backfin will work (it comes down how much money you want to spend, the lump being more expensive). I would buy a pound, don't worry if you don't use it all, as I have posted at the end a couple of suggestions for using any leftovers.

First you have to clean the shrimp, which consists of taking off the shell (down to the tail leaving the tail on), then you must devein the shrimp, which consists of taking a knife and lightly running down the back, pulling out its poopie. (Doing this under running water makes it a little less unpleasant.)

Next, put the shrimp on its side and cut into it, slicing a slit from the tail to the head (like the middle shrimp in my photo) .

Then take the crab stuffing (recipe on my site) and delicately put it in the shrimp (third shrimp in the photo).

Now we have to flour the stuffed shrimp for cooking: You will need two prep bowls; in one put an egg wash (one or two eggs beaten with a fork), in the other put flour and salt & pepper to taste. Take the shrimp and dust them in the flour mixture, then into the wash and back into the flour mixture. Allow the shrimp to set up in the fridge for an hour or so.

OK, now its time to cook 'em up. Get your pan heated up on med-high with a tablespoon of olive oil. Make sure the oil is hot before placing the shrimp in the pan. Bring the temp back to a medium heat and allow the shrimp to cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden on each side. If you like, add chopped shallots to the pan before flipping, just make sure they don't burn. Now just serve them up. Damn good !!

Now, if you have some of the crabmeat mixture left over, form it into crabcakes to use now or later (you can cook them the same way as the shrimp). You can also make quesadillas by taking a tortilla, placing the crab mixture on it, and adding cheese, sauted vegs (onions, peppers, corn), and placing another tortilla on top. Bring a pan up to med heat with a Tbl of olive oil and saute on each side 5 mins, until golden brown. Cut into quarters and serve... Easy!

Crabmeat Mixture for Stuffed Shrimp

For any of you that have had crabcakes or crabmeat stuffed shrimp, this is the traditional way of making a Maryland Eastern Shore mix.

2 slices white bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 egg, beaten
1 pound fresh lump crabmeat*

1. Break bread into small pieces. Mix in mayonnaise, Old Bay, shallots, mustard and egg. Fold in crabmeat.
2. Now stuff shrimp. (recipe for stuffed shrimp)

If making the mixture for crabcakes, form into patties and store in refrigerator for three hours or more before cooking.

*Enjoy Blue Crab in moderation, as they are overfished. Consider Dungeness Crab or Stone Crab as alternatives.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Well hello children, the weekend is upon us again, and what better way to spend it than having a barbecue? (also spelled barbeque, or abbreviated BBQ) Now when I say barbecue, I am referring to the true way of BBQ'n. To slow-cook meat at a low temperature for a long time over wood or charcoal.

We're going to cook us some baby-back ribs, which are my favorite pork rib. There are six different types of pork ribs and the baby backs, I think have the have the best flavor. This is because of a slightly higher fat content, always remember, fat = flavor.

First thing we want to do is get a good dry rub, you can make your own (which I suggest) or you can get one off the shelve. Emeril makes a decent one but the recipe were going to use is my favorite.

1Tbl White pepper
2Tbl Black Pepper
3Tbl Salt
2Tbl Sugar
2Tbl Brown Sugar
3Tbl Paprika
1Tbl Garlic Powder
2Tbl Onion Powder
1 1/2tsp Coriander
1Tbl Cumin
1Tbl Chile Powder
1 1/2 Sage

Ok, this can be a little messy, so be prepared. First you want to baste the ribs in mustard (my suggestion, Dijon) then take your dry rub and sprinkle it on the ribs. Now when I say sprinkle I mean evenly Cover them! Refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

Now comes the time consuming task of cooking the ribs, my preference is the smoke-grilling process, this is for cooks who like just a little smoke to their meats, and the technique is easily duplicated in both charcoal and gas grills. In a charcoal grill, simply add soaked hardwood chips to the coals and close the lid for a few minutes in the early stages of cooking. When you coals are ready, move your pile of coal/wood toward the end of the grill farthest away from your grills top air escape vent, and also open the bottom vent to encourage cross air flow. This way, you can adjust the internal heat and smoke by reducing or enlarging the intake and escape air vents. Close up to increase heat, open wider to cool down the grill. You want to cook your ribs at 200 -225 for 3 hours, and 45 mins, flip the ribs every 30 mins. This technique is a little trickier with a gas grill, some have special boxes where you can add wood chips. If lacking those, place the dry wood chips in a metal pan and place it on the grill next to the meat. Remember, that this is not true smoking over low heat but it does work, and I defy any grill or smoke proponent to produce a better pork rib.

Well there you go, everything you wanted to know about cooking a great baby-back rib. Now all yaw need are my Grits, Heirloom Tomato Salad, and a couple of chilly's. Enjoy...