Non-stick is NOT evil…

… especially when it comes to flipping omelets. And when I say flipping, I mean the entire omelet. As in, get a little bit of air. I am a person that likes to do things the “right” way, so, after watching a chef flip an omelet at a recent trip to a hotel, I was determined to duplicate the feat upon my return home. Never mind that the gentleman had most likely spent years learning the art. I was bound to get it right…that night.

So I learned, the hard way:

  • Non-stick is NOT evil;
  • Butter is not evil (but olive oil might be);
  • You must brown your ingredients first;
  • Think frisbee when you click your wrist;
  • Keep your spatula close;
  • Give. Yourself. Time!

You can do it!

Fresh vs. Dried, World Series of Herbs…

As far as I am concerned, fresh wins every time! And that feeling was brought forcefully home when I spent some time recently in a kitchen, watching a brother blend FRESH green herbs (examples: rosemary, thyme, parsley) and olive oil into a marinade for the best ribs I have had in a long time. Even better than mine, I am forced to admit. Due to NDA, I am unable to give you the remaining ingredients, but I will say this: Fresh is always best!

“Usually I don’t do this…but…”

Even though I no longer endorse R. Kelly…I have to borrow his phrase for this post. Usually I do NOT throw out product endorsements in my blog but…I have to say this…Dalstrong Knives has made a winner with their Gladiator series 10″ chef knife! It’s balanced such that it feels like an extension of your hand. Makes food look like it’s falling away from the blade. Now, you’re not going to use this work of art to chop through bone, but I can tell you it ran through the joint of a chicken leg quarter like a knife through butter. (Gosh-awful play on words, I know, don’t shoot me.) It’s light enough to chop onions, garlic, scallions, mushrooms, and still split lemons like the aforementioned butter. (Chuckles) And most important for you- no fatigue! Equally important- it’s relatively inexpensive. I fully endorse this knife as the first one you can use to start your collection. More to come as I get my money up and check out more of their collection- but first, some video on the results:

What moves me about cooking…

So, I was recently asked by a follower, what moves me about cooking. Naturally, I couldn’t nail it down to one thing, or feeling, so…here you are:

The blood boil and rush of adrenaline when anyone suggests that there is any barbecue superior to that of North Carolina (shots fired, if you feel strongly, come get some);

The warm glow of affection that I get when I pull a chocolate cake out of the oven and my daughter says, “Good work, Daddy!”;

The Zen peace of slicing onions paper-thin so that they will melt into a caramelized hot tub of gravy;

The chuckle that comes from watching someone cut your roast chicken with nothing but the fork (You thought you would need a knife, didn’t you?);

The twinge of sadness at missing my grandmothers balanced by the knowledge that they put the cast iron skillet in my hands and that they are smiling at each other as they look down and see that I finally got the biscuits fluffy and golden…

The feeling of power you get when you clutch a razor-edged 10-inch chef’s knife and break a chicken into pieces that look better than the ones processed at the grocery store;

The never-ending enlightening of learning something new, in the kitchen, every single day;

Last but NEVER LEAST, the pride I feel in knowing that you guys are there to share with me!

Uncle Bert’s Lobster Fettucine with Buttery Scampi Sauce

LOBSTER:

3 lobster tails (roughly 4 ounces per tail), as fresh as you can possibly get them

Melted butter for brushing

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Pinch of dried basil

BUTTERY SCAMPI SAUCE:

½ cup of butter (4 fl. oz)

3 cloves of garlic

½ tablespoon of dried tarragon (0.25 oz)

1 teaspoon of dried oregano (0.5 oz)

⅓ cup of dry white wine (2.7 fl. oz)

1 tablespoon of lemon juice (0.5 fl. oz)

FETTUCINE:

Prepare as directed on the box.

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the fettucine as directed on the package, then drain and set aside. Please note that you should keep the water that the pasta was cooked in, as you will need it to moisten the pasta before you toss it into the sauce.

For the sauce:

Finely mince the garlic and set aside.

On a pan with medium heat, melt the butter and watch for bubbling. DO NOT allow your butter to brown, just bubble!

Drop the minced garlic into the pan and saute until just fragrant, for 15-20 seconds.

Drop the spices in and saute very quickly, for roughly 20 seconds.

Add the wine and lemon juice and simmer until just steamed.

Add pasta to the pan and toss with pasta fork, ensuring that all the pasta is covered.

Cover and maintain heat.

For the lobster:

Preheat your oven to broiling temperature.

Ensure that your lobster tails are clean.

With kitchen shears (for ease of use), cut a slit in the lobster shells to expose the meat beneath.

Separate the meat from the shells, and remove the veins from the meat.

Lift the meat above the shells, and pinch the shells together to provide a resting place.

Brush the lobster tails thoroughly with butter to prevent burning under the broiler.

Place lobster tails in a sturdy pan (cast-iron usually works best, if you have it) and broil in the oven for 5-6 minutes, until meat is just opaque.

Remove lobster tails and allow to cool, then chop roughly into ¼ inch chunks.

Plate the pasta and distribute the chopped lobster meat over the slightly steaming pasta.

Please note that the lobster was cooked last in the dish, as it takes the least amount of preparation. You can also prepare it simultaneously with the pasta, if you time it just right.

Serves 2

Enjoy!

UPDATE, HOT AND FRESH: Lobster and cooking expert John Brownlie (all the way from Shelter Island, New York) notes that adding sparkling wine or champagne to the butter sauce, yields spectacular results. Sometimes, it’s good to have the heavy hitters to chime in!

Recovering…thoughts on gadgets…

Hello all!

Apologies that we missed last week, but it’s hard to cook while you’re coughing up a lung. I feel a lot better now, and I missed y’all!

While sleeping and staring at the ceiling in bed, I thought about things that I use to make things easier for me in the kitchen, and I specifically thought about my Smoking Gun. The Smoking Gun (yes, this is a ringing endorsement) from PolyScience is one of the greatest things ever created for the kitchen – and I’ll tell you why, in one word – INFUSION! For those of us that live in apartment complexes that don’t allow you to have grills on your patios, this tool gives you access to controlled smoke without the risk of burning down your domicile. It also keeps you from having to buy liquid smoke from the store. (Not that I have anything against liquid smoke- okay, I’m lying. I detest the stuff and I refuse to use it. Just my opinion!) And you can use the Smoking Gun to infuse drinks! You want your brandy or whisky to truly have that smoky flavor they talk about in all the spirits publications? Well….smoke it! And if you really want to wow your friends, pour them a shot before the smoke has totally infused. Nothing cooler than the smoke floating out of the bottle while you pour!

You can also, of course, use the Smoking Gun to give dishes like pulled pork the necessary smoky flavor that it requires, even if you’re forced to cook the pork shoulder in a Crock-Pot. Purists, don’t hate. I’m not going to be without pork barbecue simply because I can’t get to a grill or a smoker! I’m from North Carolina and that’s against the rules! Okay, I digressed. But you understand!