Saturday, March 2, 2013

Potatoes Anna with Sonoran Lox and Crème Fresh

Potatoes Anna
Are you looking for an easy way to eat America’s favorite vegetable?  That’s right the potato is America’s favorite vegetable, hence the name The King of Vegetables.  Potatoes are delicious, en-expensive and good for you.  We eat them, on average, at least five times a week.  So we’re always looking for a new potato recipe.   “Potatoes Anna” is a delicious thin potato pancake.  But, until now, they required a mandolin (French Kitchen tool for slicing), because the secret to “Potatoes Anna” is in cutting the potatoes paper-thin. If they are not this thin they don’t stick together. This slicing can be done with a knife if the cook is very talented.  Even food processors can cut the potatoes too thick.  There is an en-expensive new tool called a ceramic slicer that’s made by Kyocera.  They come in two variations adjustable and non-adjustable.  If using the adjustable slicer make sure to set it on the thinnest setting.  The non-adjustable slicer is set at the correct thickness.  This also works wonders on slicing paper-thin cucumbers. 
We serve the “Potatoes Anna” several different ways, including: plain with poached eggs for breakfast, with a slice of black forest ham in the center and a thin slice of baby Swiss cheese on top for lunch and we also use an iron skillet and make them on the grill with grilled meat, chicken or fish.
 Today’s recipe includes Crème fresh and thin sliced lox (recipe below) or smoked salmon. The Crème fresh can be substituted with sour cream.  But, if you’d like you can make your own Crème fresh at home by combining one part of fresh buttermilk with eight parts heavy whipping cream.  Just place the cream mixture in a glass bowl, covered with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 24 hours. It will become thick.  Give the mixture a stir and place it in the refrigerator.  It can be stored for up to 10 days and tastes much richer than commercially made sour cream.
This recipe is a big hit at Sunday Brunch.  Try serving it with a good sparkling wine and fresh fruit. 

2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, sliced paper-thin (Do not rinse after slicing)
1 Tbl. Corn or olive oil
1 Tbl. Sweet butter
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
A dollop of crème fresh or sour cream
A small thin slice of smoked salmon, rolled into a rosette
1/2  tsp. caviar
Sprig of fresh dill
1 tsp. finely chopped Italian parsley

Set a large skillet over medium heat.  Once it heats up fully, add the oil and butter.  Allow the oil and butter to melt and become hot.  Remove the skillet from the heat and set on a thick kitchen towel or heat resistant silicone kitchen pad.  Starting in the center of the skillet line the bottom with circles of potato slices that just barely overlap, until the skillet has one complete layer. *Salt and pepper to taste.  Then add the second layer.  Return the skillet to the heat and cover.  As soon as the bottom of the potatoes are deep brown, gently flip with a large spatula or if you are able flip the potatoes with a sauté motion.  Allow the other side to brown, uncovered.  Remove to dinner plate and top with a dollop of crème fresh, then place a smoked salmon rosette in the center of the crème fresh.  Gently place the caviar in the center of the rosette and garnish with a sprig of fresh dill.  Sprinkle a little of the chopped parsley over the potatoes and serve immediately. 

*The salt in the center of the potatoes both seasons and starts the maceration process which causes starch and moister to be released.  This helps the dish to hold together.
Sonoran Lox
Our lox is salmon that is cured for 6 days and then slow-smoked on ice for 6 hours. It's got a sweet, salty flavor with a just a hint of mesquite and apple woods. We're pretty sure this one will really impress those friends and relatives who drop by on the weekend.  And yes it's a long process, but the flavor is worth it!

2 Large Salmon Fillets

2 C Kosher salt

2 C Dark Brown Sugar

1/2 C Premium, Rum, vodka or tequila

2 TBL Mandarin Napoleon liqueur

1. Scale the fillets (this step is optional).  Remove any finger bones and cut at least six, one inch holes in the skin to allow penetration of the brine.

2. Place salmon in a baking dish, skin side down.  Mix sugar and salt well and spread over the salmon.  Drizzle rum and Mandarin Napoleon over salmon.

3. Place a second baking dish (same size as the dish the salmon is in) on top of the salmon and place approximately 6LBS of weight in the upper dish (I use the family dictionary.).

4. Set both dishes on a baking sheet to catch drippings and let cure in the refrigerator for 6 days, turning the fish every 24 hours.

5. In a two-chamber smoker, light 2-3 pieces of pure Mesquite charcoal in the firebox and start soaking alder wood chips.  In upper chamber place large plastic tub or baking dish full of ice, as far away from fire box as possible.

6. Place salmon on sheet pan and set the pan on top of the ice. Use small butter dishes, or bowls as spacers and place second sheet pan on top of first.  Do not allow top pan to touch salmon. Fill second sheet pan with ice.

7. The idea is that you allow a very thin corridor for the salmon to lie in with ice both above and below.  It is important that the salmon stays very cold.  It is also important that just a few coals are used at a time.

8. Add a few alder wood chips at a time and smoke for 4-6 hours. Check on your ice and drain off excess water.  Add more ice as necessary. Do not allow salmon to get wet.

9. When salmon has finished smoking, lightly brush with olive oil.  Slice paper thin to serve.

10. If you have access to a food sealer, seal the salmon and refrigerate.  Date sealed salmon; it will remain fresh for about 2-1/2 weeks.

New Mexioc Green Chile

New Mexico Green Chile

2 LBS Lean pork roast cut into 1/2" cubes
Lard or cooking oil
1 White onion, chopped
4 Medium white potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
4 Medium zucchini, chopped into 1/2" cubes
1 14-oz. CAN Diced tomatoes, drained
1-1/2 LBS Green chile (I prefer fresh roasted), chopped
1 CLOVE Fresh garlic, minced
1 48-oz. CAN Chicken broth
Salt to taste

1. In a large, heavy, lightly oiled skillet, brown the pork, onions and potatoes.  When brown, drain off any excess grease.  Add tomato, zucchini, green chile, garlic and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 hour.
2. If stew gets too thick add a little water. If the stew is too thin add a little masa flour made into a paste.  Stir often to prevent sticking.  Serve in big soup bowls, like a hearty stew.


"Never trust a man in a blue trenchcoat,
 never drive a car when you're dead"    -Tom Waits

Friday, March 1, 2013

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Cajun Rice

I thought I shoud also give you my recipe for Cajun Rice to go with the last post!

It is a welcome addition to any Southwestern or Mexican main course.  And yes you need to use the Converted Rice (Think Uncle Ben's Brand)

2 C Converted rice
2-1/2 C Chicken broth
1-1/2 TBL Unsalted butter, melted
1-1/2 TBL Celery, chopped fine
1-1/2 TBL Red bell pepper, chopped fine
1-1/2 TBL White onion, chopped fine
1/2 TSP Salt
1/8 TSP Cayenne
1/8 TSP Onion powder
1/8 TSP Granulated garlic
1/8 TSP White pepper
1/8 TSP Black pepper

1. In a small covered baking dish, combine all ingredients.  Mix well and cover with lid.  Bake at 350º for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until rice is tender.
2. Serve immediately.

Filé Gumbo with Grill-roasted Chicken and Andouille Sausage

Filé Gumbo with Grill-roasted Chicken and Andouille Sausage
1/2 C Hungarian paprika or Mild New Mexico Red Chile Powder
2 TBL Kosher salt
1 TBL Brown sugar
2 TSP Cayenne pepper
1 TSP Thyme
1 TSP Granulated garlic
4 Chicken legs
2 Chicken thighs
2 Chicken wings
1/4 C Sweet butter
2 TBL Filé powder
1-1/2 C White onion, minced
1-1/2 C Red bell pepper, minced
1-1/2 C Celery, minced
1 TBL TRAPPEY'S® RED HOT hot sauce
1/2 TSP White pepper
1/2 TSP Greek oregano
1/2 TSP Cayenne pepper
1/2 TSP Kosher salt
1/2 TSP Granulated garlic
6 C Chicken broth
1 C Tomato sauce
1 C Tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 LB Okra, sliced into 1/2" rings
1/2 LB Andouille sausage, sliced

1. Mix the rub together, rub on outside of chicken and indirectly grill-roast, with a medium fire, until fully cooked. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add Filé powder, onion, bell pepper, celery, hot sauce, white pepper, oregano, cayenne, salt, and granulated garlic. Sauté until soft. Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, chicken broth, and okra. Bring to a boil, reduce heat add sausage and chicken, simmer for at least 1 hour.
3. Serve with Cajun Rice.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Basic Italian Red Sauce

I came home tonight and made Kathy's favorite meal Spaghetti with meat sauce.  I added 1 pound of ground beef and 1/2 pound of ground pork, browned and simmered with the basic red sauce recipe.

Authors note: Buy the DOP certified, San Marzano tomatoes, Yes they're $6 a can or more and it's the best $6 you can spend in your kitchen! 

Basic Italian Red Sauce
Use this wonderful sauce on pizza, pasta, or meat.
6 C San Marzano tomatoes DOP certified (not American tomatoes)
3 TBL Extra virgin olive oil
4 CLOVES Garlic, whole
3/4 C Finely chopped white onion
1/4 C Red table wine
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped fine
1/4 C Fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
2 TSP Greek oregano, dried
1 TSP Italian seasoning
1 TSP Brown sugar
1 TSP Crushed red chile
1 TSP Salt

Italian parsley, chopped fine
Fresh, grated Romano cheese

1. Put the tomatoes and their juices in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

2. In a large saucepan, simmer the onions and garlic in the olive oil over a medium-high heat until onions get soft and start to brown; stir occasionally.

3. Add the tomatoes and wine, Raise heat to a light boil for 7 minutes. Hold the lid above the pan, to stop spattering with one hand and stir with the other.

4. Reduce heat to low. Add parsley, basil, spices, sugar, chili and salt and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Garnish with Italian parsley and fresh grated Romano cheese.

6. Makes about 8C sauce.

Grandma Rose's Blackberry Cobbler

Grandma Rose's Blackberry Cobbler

This is my Grandma Rose's famous recipe. Our family loves this mouth-watering dessert so much that when Kathy and had our baby girl we named her after Katie Rose after my Grandmother Margret Rose.  If this recipe gets around there may be many more Rosies in the world!

Fresh Berries at The Pike Street Farmer's Market, in Seattle.  I had my first bite of this wonderful Cobbler a few miles north of this location, in Mukilteo Washington.  You can use this versatile recipe with any fresh berries or fruit.  Thanks Grandma!

24 OZ Fresh blackberries
3/4 C Sugar
1-1/2 TBL Corn starch
Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 C Flour
3/4 C Sugar
1/2 TSP Salt
1/2 TSP Baking powder
1 Large egg
1 Stick sweet butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375∫.

2. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a low boil. Place 6 ounces of blackberries and lemon juice in a blender and puree. Add to the saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Put remaining berries in a bowl and carefully mix in cornstarch and sugar, trying not to break up berries. Carefully fold in the warm berry mixture. Spoon mixture into an 8x8-inch baking dish or pie pan.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add egg and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle topping over blackberry mixture and drizzle with melted butter.

5. Bake for at 375∫. for 45 minutes or until topping is a deep, golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream and good coffee.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Bacon, Black Olive, Potato Salad

This is our world famous Potato salad.  We've been making it for 30 years and it is among the most requested recipes we make.  Enjoy!

Bacon, Black Olive, Potato Salad

8 Lbs. Russet potatoes
4 sticks celery, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
1 Lb. bacon fried crisp, drain and crumble
2 - 2 1/4 oz can sliced black olives, drained
2 cups heavy mayonnaise
2 tsp. yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes, with skin on, until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove
potatoes from water and let cool overnight in the refrigerator.  Peel
potatoes and cut into 3/4 inch cubes.

In a large mixing bowl combine mayonnaise, mustard, olives, bacon, bell
pepper, scallions, and celery.  Mix well and then fold in potatoes.  If
needed add a little more mayonnaise.  Salt and pepper to taste. 
Serves 12 to 15.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"The Life" a chapter from my novel "Willie"

My school ID photo when I was studying writing!

The life            
            With a quick poke, the needle pierces the big, pulsing vein on Willie’s right arm just below a three and a half inch line of tracks that follow the vein to his current injection site, revealing several years of intravenous drug use.  He pushes a small amount of the dark brown liquid into his arm.  It is still warm from cooking it up in the spoon, with the burned bottom, that is laying on the table next him.  He pops loose the rubber surgical hose, tying his arm off, and starts to feel the warm rush. Drawing blood back into the syringe it mixes with the sweet brown nectar, a swirling cloud of narcotic heaven that Willie is now shooting three or four times a day.  He slowly pushes the plunger down.  As the syringe empties he feels the opiates ooze into every pore in his body; like warm honey.  Fading into a tranquil dream and then nodding out, he is floating in the arms of his one true love… Heroin.
            After about twenty minutes, Willie slowly opens one lazy eye; with a sleepy smile he thinks to himself, “well… time to earn.” 
            He unbuttons his fly and picks up a second syringe, filled with smack that is lying on the table next to the burnt spoon.  Checking to make sure the plastic cap covering the needle is secure he then tapes the syringe, point down, to the inside of his thigh, just below his crotch, with a wide strip of surgical tape, and then pulls his pants back up.
            Driving over to the job, Hank Williams is on the crackling old radio in his 1965, piece of shit, Plymouth Valiant.
            Even though it’s the middle of the night and snowing outside, he’s warm and toasty, partially from the heater but mostly from the heroin.  With a dreamy smile on his face he follows along, “Hear that lonesome whippoorwill, he sounds too blue to fly…”
            His mind wonders over to thinking about her… hotter then doughnut grease, that one.  It’s not his fault, if her old man doesn’t know what she really needs. Most straight johns have no idea how to treat women.  He snickers to himself, ”It’s okay honey we can try again next month.”  She couldn’t get enough of him, then he turned her on to the shit and that was the end of her Betty Crocker days.  By now he’s singing at the top of his lungs with the old car radio, “And as I wonder where you are, I’m so lonesome I could cry!”
“Man oh man is this some great shit,” he thinks s to himself.
            She told Willie about her boss, the middle-aged lawyer, with thinning hair and a huge paunch.  He was always standing too close, with his perpetual bad breath and those eyes that were always peaking down her blouse.  Then one afternoon, as Willie was leaving her house, before her husband got home, she mentioned the safe in his office.
            “Does he keep cash in it?”  Willie asked.
            “Not usually, but he’s been meeting with a client that owns topless bars all over town and he always pays in cash.  My boss keeps bitching about it,”
She tells Willie “I’m pretty sure he’s holding the cash in the safe, so he won’t have to claim it.” 
            Twenty minutes later, Willie drives into the parking space in back of the law office.  He wonders around to the trunk of his car to get his tool bag.  Checking his pocket to make sure he brought the key, he heads into the empty office.  Once inside he waits a few minutes with his eyes closed, to adjust to the darkness. While he waits he hums the Hank William’s tune he had been singing earlier enjoying the warm narcotic haze. 
            Opening his eyes, there is enough light to proceed with out a flashlight.  First he throws furniture and the contents of desk drawers around the room knowing full well that the safe is upstairs.  If he goes directly to the safe the cops will know it was an inside job.  He then goes upstairs and ransacks the other offices, saving her bosses office for last.
            Once at the safe, he points a small flashlight at the dial and puts on the stethoscope.  Three full turns to the left to clear the tumblers.
            Hank starts singing in his head “I’ve never seen a night so low.”
            Concentrate, he firmly tells himself. 
            “When tears get in your eyes”
            The dial starts to look a little fuzzy.
            Willie quickly realizes, he’s way to high to open the safe.  Plan b… He’ll have to take it back home and crack it after he comes down.  A quick nudge and he can tell it’s been bolted to the concrete floor… no problem.
            Willie gets out his pocketknife and walks over to a beautiful dark brown leather couch in the center of the office.  He cuts out a 20-inch square of the leather from the seat cushion.  Looking through his tools he takes out a splitting wedge and a 12-pound sledgehammer.  He wraps the wedge in the soft leather and tucks the edge under the front of the safe.  He adjusts the light to shine on the wedge and stands up.  Holding the sledgehammer like a golf club, he pretends to look down a fairway and quietly says, “four” to himself and takes a full swing at the splitting wedge.  The leather muffles the sound, but the safe doesn’t budge.  For the next 10 minutes, Willie constantly beats on the wedge, occasionally taking out his frustrations by smashing the expensive walnut furniture, lamps and assorted decorations that are scattered about the room.
            The safe finally gives; a few more whacks and it breaks free. He lifts the safe, checking the weight.  It’s heavy, maybe 125 pounds.  Lifting it all the way up he thinks, “I’ll need a shortcut.” Willie drops the safe on a coffee table just for fun, and looks around the room.  He walks on over to the huge picture window that has the words Law Office painted backwards in black and gold old English letters.  Looking up and down the street, the coast is clear.  Willie walks back, picks up the safe and runs at the window, raising it up as high as he can, as he gets closer.  One last heft and the safe sails through the second story window.  As it breaks through the glass the silence is shattered with the screaming clang of an alarm.
            “Shit” he says out loud…”Time to go!”
            Not wanting to waste second Willie steps out through the broken window on to the ledge.  The safe is lying down on the sidewalk surrounded by the shattered glass, about 12 feet below.  He leaps down, but what he doesn’t see is the ice covering the sidewalk.  When he hits the ground his feet fly out from underneath him and the back his head smashes into the corner of the safe.  Lying in broken glass he feels the warm blood dripping down his neck and back.  The police cars sirens are now drowning out the clang of the alarm.  Several squad cars screech to a stop a few feet away. The cops jump out and surround Willie, guns drawn. 
            He blurts out, “Man, am I glad to see you guys!  I was walking down the street, minding my own business when that safe came flying out the window and hit me right here on the back of my head.  I’m lucky to be alive. Just wait tell my lawyer gets a hold of these guys.”
            The cops, less than convinced, spend the next five minutes cuffing and kicking the shit out of Willie, followed by a quick search.  They empty his pockets and overlook the dope hidden in his pants.  At the jail, Willie gives a call to his lawyer and they toss him in a cell with a few drunks and assorted Nair-do-wells.  The guard leaves, Willie reaches inside his pants and pulls out the syringe. 
            “Anybody want to party?” he asks the other men.  They all decline.  Willie tears off a piece of his shirtsleeve and ties off his arm.  He shoots the dope as the other men look on in horror.  His eyes roll back in his head and the world is once again right.  After about 10 minutes he comes to and bums a smoke off of one of the other men.  Leaning back with a big smile, he takes a slow drag off the cigarette, blows a few rings and starts singing, “And as I wonder where you are, I’m so lonesome I could cry!”

Pandy and Mike's open mic!

I stopped by The Horny Toad tonight fro Pandy and Mike's open mic.  The room was full of great players and everybody was having a good time!  So now they have two open mics Wed night 7-10 and Sunday afternoon 1-5.  Come on out!

Simple Smushy Summer Salad

Simple Smushy Summer Salad

3 C Assorted Tomatoes ( you know little ones, big ones, in as many colors as possible)
3/4 C Kalamata Olives, with pits (yes you can use pitted, but you'll miss the fun and some of the texture)
1/2- 3/4 C Fresh Arugula Or Basil
    For the Dressing
2 TBL Red Wine Vinegar
1/3 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  Fresh Ground Black Pepper

1. If using salad tomatoes cut them up first.
2. If using only the little baby tomatoes no need to cut them.
3. Smash the tomatoes, in a large mixing bowl, until broken up but not pulp, with a mallet, large fork or potato masher.
4. Smash the olives on a cutting board with a rolling pin and remove the pits.  Toss in the mixing bowl.
5. Toss in arugula or basil.
6. Whisk together dressing and stir in just before serving.
7. Also great on cold angel hair pasta.
   Serves 4-6 as a salad

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spicy Asian Slaw

Spicy Asian Slaw
You too can be ahead of the culinary curve with this spicy Asian slaw.  Just the thing to amaze friends and family when that next pool party or barbecue rolls around!

1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated fine
1/2-cup creamy style peanut butter
1/2-cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbl. soy sauce
2 key limes, juiced
2 Tbl. sesame oil
1 head Napa cabbage, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, julienne fine
1 red bell pepper, julienne fine
 2 Serrano chiles, minced fine
1 large carrot, grated fine with a peeler
3 green onions, cut on the bias, all of white part and half of the green
2 Tbl. chopped cilantro
2 Tbl. chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Black Sesame seeds

In a small bowl, or food processor whisk together the ginger, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, limejuice, and the sesame oil. In a large salad serving bowl, combine all other ingredients except sesame seeds and then toss in the dressing. Sprinkle sesame seeds over salad.
Reserve a little of the dressing for rice noodles and fried pork and you’ve got a spicy Asian feast on your hands!

Bread from the Wood Fired Oven

Oven is lit and warming up.  Bread tomorrow for those lucky enough to live in Cave Creek!

Soy & Wasabi Basted, Spiny Lobster Tacos with a Crunchy Pear and Avocado Salsa

Soy & Wasabi Basted, Spiny Lobster Tacos with a Crunchy Pear and Avocado Salsa
The greenish blue waters off of Baja California are home to a delicious species of lobster found in warmer waters the world over.  Although not as famous as it’s cousin from New England, the meat of this clawless lobster is as light and delicious as any that the North East has to offer and grill roasted the flavor is simply out of this world.  The first time my wife Chef Kathy and I made these easy tacos, we could not believe the flavor, of the fire, grilled, lobster combined with the soothing, crunchy, fruit salsa wrapped up in a corn tortilla.  If you cannot find the spiny lobster any good quality lobster tails will do.  Likewise, this baste works well with any light, grilled fish.  But make sure, to serve it with the Crunchy Pear and Avocado Salsa.
3-8 to 10 oz Spiny Lobster tails

Crunchy Pear and Avocado Salsa:

2 Medium pears, ripe but firm, chopped
2 Red Fresno chiles, with seeds, chopped
1/3 cup chopped white onion
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tbl. Fresh mint, chopped fine
Juice of 2 Key limes
1 tsp. Sugar
1 avocado, chopped

Soy and Wasabi Baste:

Soy and Wasabi Baste:
1 Stick of sweet butter (1/4 cup)
1 Clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbl. Soy sauce
2 Tbl. Wasabi powder
1 ½ Tbl. Brown sugar
 Juice of 1 key lime

12 fresh corn tortillas
1 bunch spinach, julienne

Drop the lobster tails into lightly salted, boiling water for exactly 3 minutes and then, immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Split the tails lengthwise with a French knife or heavy cleaver.  (They will still be a little raw at the center)  Remove the dark vein running down the center of the tail.  This first step can be done in advance, but keep the tails refrigerated until grill time.
Mix together all salsa ingredients except the avocado.  Then gently fold in the avocado.  Set aside in the refrigerator, allowing flavors to blend.
Sauté the garlic in the butter until golden. Remove from heat for a minute.  Whisk in all other ingredients and then simmer on low for two minutes whisking constantly. 
Lightly spray the flesh side of the lobster tails with non-stick vegetable oil spray.  Spoon the warm baste over the flesh side of the lobster tails and then grill flesh side down over a medium hot grill for two and a half minutes.   Turn the tails and baste again grilling the shell side for two and a half minutes.  Remove from grill; pull the lobster meat free from the shell and then place back in the shell.  (This saves your guest a messy task) spoon a little more of the baste over the lobster meat.  Serve on a big plate with a healthy dollop of the Crunchy Pear and Avocado Salsa, a few warm corn tortillas and some julienne spinach.  Allow your guest to put the tacos together themselves.
Serves 6

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tex Mex Style Pico de Gallo

While I'm talking about Texas and Tex-Mex cooking I should mention, Pico de Gallo. 
Tex Mex Style Pico de Gallo
“Pico de Gallo” means ‘beak of a rooster’ which refers to the biting sharp heat that this salsa often has.  This is basic Tex- Mex salsa for nachos, tacos, or hot corn chips!

2 whole Jalapeno chiles, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
3 large ripe roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch, fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp. corn oil
½ tsp. salt
Juice of 1/2 key lime

Mix all ingredients together and let stand 1 hour to blend. 
Makes 2 1/2 cups

Texas Armadillo Chili with Two Beans

I'm thinking about dusting off the tune, The London Homesick Blues, with the famous chorus "I wanna go home with the Armadillos, great country music from Amarillo and Abilene!" Which makes me think of Texas in general.  So I thought I'd do a historic recipe from Texas! 

Mmmmm Armadillo!

Texas Armadillo Chili with Two Beans

If you find yourself thinking what the heck can I do with that leftover Armadillo this delicious, spicy red chili is just what you’ve been looking for.  If you’re fresh out of armadillo you can always substitute ground beef or pork!   I think people stopped eating Armadillo for some sort of health reason… perhaps its unhealthy to tangle with one.  Anyway I’d check with my local health department or at least the Fish and Game folks where you live.


3 Tbl. Butter
2 white onions, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 lbs. Ground armadillo
3 Tbl. Mild Chili powder
1 Tbl. Ground cumin
½  tsp. Cayenne pepper
½ tsp Mexican oregano
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14 1/2-ounce can beef broth
2 Medium white potatoes, peeled, diced
2 large Carrots, peeled, diced
1 Poblano chile , diced
3/4 cup Chili sauce
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained

Sauté onions and garlic in butter over medium heat until lightly golden in heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add armadillo and cook until brown, breaking meat up with a spatula. Stir in chili powder, cumin, cayenne and oregano.  Continue cooking 3 minutes, then mix in tomatoes, beef broth, potatoes, carrots, Poblano chile and chili sauce. Bring to a hard boil and then reduce heat to a simmer until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Stir in beans. Simmer about 30 minutes longer, until beans are heated through and vegetables are very tender.
Serves 6

Open Mic!

We had a full room and a great list of Singer Songwriters this Sunday at The HornyTaod in Cave Creek!

I’ve been doing Open Mic for the past 16 years, more or less.  To those of you that picture amateur night, well there can be some of that, but… what a good open mic offers is a chance for aspiring singer/ songwriters, to work on their act.  Over the years, time and again, I’ve witnessed a transformation of regular folks into artist.  This takes work and heart.  There’s nothing like the first time a new singer (young or old) connects with their audience. 

The guy that taught me how to properly run an Open Mic, David Grossman, said when you’re a musician there’s not a lot of refuge out there.  You can find refuge in religion, relationships, drugs, the mental institution… but the Open Mic is a true refuge for musicians.  They are among their own kind and find a place that they can get real answers about working a room.
As with all Open Mics a group of player develops that drives a direction.  This in turn causes players to take some risks, maybe play a tune that they love but is not in their genre. 
As the players grow so the entire group grows.  And the audience is the real benefactor!  A few years ago I had another room that I had worked to develop.   I saw about 40 people sit quietly and listen to a 15 minute Bass solo by local talent, Omar.  He absolutely had them mesmerized.  When he stopped playing there was that crystal moment where you could hear a pin drop before the room exploded in applause.  Moments like that, are usually the purview of big cities… or great bars in the Texas panhandle!
There’s great music,humor, fun, talent, good food and cold drinks, (special thanks to Tim Brady for the whisky).  It’s a great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. 
So weather you’re a player or just love good music, come on out to the Horny Toad in Cave Creek next Sunday and do a little toe tapping while you relax and have a cold one!

Sunday, February 24, 2013



If you've never tried menudo I recommend it.  The flavor is wonderful and, in this part of the world, it's the only cure for a hangover!  It can be found in good Mexican restaurants every Sunday morning.  What?  Oh that… well yes it's tripe… get over it, this is one of the true wonders of Mexican cooking!

3 LBS Tripe, well washed
3 White onions, chopped
3 CLOVES Garlic, minced
1 TBL Salt
1 TSP Whole Mexican Oregano
1 28-OZ CAN White hominy
1 BUNCH Cilantro, cleaned and finely chopped
Fresh limes, cut into wedges
3 LBS Tripe, well washed
3 White onions, chopped
3 CLOVES Garlic, minced
1 TBL Salt
1 TSP Whole Mexican Oregano
1 28-OZ CAN White hominy
1 BUNCH Cilantro, cleaned and finely chopped
Fresh limes, cut into wedges
1. In a large stockpot add the tripe, 2 onions, water, oregano, garlic and salt and bring to a boil.  Simmer on low all day (at least 6 hours).  Add a little water now and then as needed.
2. When the tripe is tender remove it from the pot. Cut into 1/2" cubes and return  it to the pot.  Add hominy and cook for 1 hour more.
3. Serve in large soup bowls with a little cilantro, a little onion and lime wedge on side.

Open mic at the Horny Toad in Cave Creek

The fun starts at 1:00 and we keep going till 5:00.  It's a great afternoon of local talent, good food, cold drinks and toe tapping!  Cone on out!