Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cataplana Leftovers

Earlier in the week I made Octopus Cataplana.
Since it was huge, there were some leftovers.  I simply tossed them with some pasta, olives, capers and chopped parsley and then topped it all off with a few too many chili flakes.
If you ever take the "Octopus Cataplana" leap, remember this for your plan B; it's very good stuff.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Octopus Cataplana

I love octopus, so when I saw a nice one in a frozen block the other day I had to grab it.  I was turnin' my wheels in hopes of some seasonal-seaming application and then it hit me, like a big copper pac-man.
Hammered Iberian Copper Cataplana - 10.5 inch/27 cmDuring a brief stint in Portugal a few years back I had a very unique combination that has stuck with me. Octopus and sweet potato, stewed together slowly in a "cataplana"- which is one of those terms that acts as both the name of the vessel it's cooked in and the name of the dish itself.   I'm sure the memory was made more outstanding by the fact that is was at a cute little spot right on the beach . . . during sunset,  but the flavors stood out in my memory as being very harmonious. 

I know this recipe might not be for everybody, but if you're feeling adventurous, believe me when I tell you this will be worth your while. 

Octopus and Sweet Potato Cataplana
4-6 lb Octopus, cut into large chunks and seasoned well with salt
6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 Sweet potatoes, cut into half inch slices
1 green pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
1 large onion, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
2 cups stock (lobster, shrimp or fish if you can, otherwise use veggie stock)
1 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 red wine vinegar
1/2 cup of white wine (what ever your drinking with dinner)
1 bunch of parsley

1. In a small stock pot, combine the stock, crushed tomatoes, vinegar and wine. Bring it all to a simmer.
2. Heat an 8 quart pot (with a lid) over medium heat.  Add enough oil to just put a film on the pan and lightly cook the garlic.  Little or no browning should occur.
3.  Add 1 cup of the tomato/stock liquid to the pot and layer a few slices of onion and pepper, followed by half of the sweet potato slices, followed half of the octopus chunks.
The layering process
4. Add another cup of the tomato/stock liquid and repeat the layer process.
5. To finish, top with a final layer of onions and pepper, and distribute the remaining liquid or the top.
6. Bring the whole thing to a simmer,  cover and place in a 350 degree oven for two hours.

Print this recipe!! 

The finished product is a rich flavor stew.  Allow it to cool down just a bit and be careful when you go to serve it,  everything in there is nice and soft, so you don't want to break it up too much. 

See what I did with the leftovers!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Red Jacket Orchard Winter CSA

Several days back I went out and answered questions for Red Jacket Orchards CSA in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn at The Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain.  Definitely worth checking out if you're ever in the 'hood.

I'm impressed with the quality of stuff this CSA peddles and they're going to extend for a winter run through December.  Here's the info:

Interested in getting farm fresh fruit at an affordable price? Would you like to support a local, family farm? These are two great reasons to sign up for a CSA! Through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), members pay a farm up front for share of produce that they can pick up from a distribution location once a week. The price they pay for this share is cheaper than purchasing the same quality of produce at a grocery store or farmers' market. At the same time, a CSA ensures a certain amount of revenue for the farm. By joining a CSA, members can also familiarize themselves with their farmer and the seasonality of local fruit.

Red Jacket Orchards is proud to announce a CSA for the winter season.  The winter fruit CSA will provide members with weekly shares of farm-fresh fruit from November til December.  Throughout the CSA winter season, Red Jacket Orchards harvests over 25 varieties of apples.  Winter shares will also feature our fresh pressed juices and our pantry items, such as Apple Butter, Apple Sauce, and various flavors of jams.

The Red Jacket Orchards CSA will have three distribution locations, which are listed below. Full and half shares are available. Full shares are priced at $17 per week and half shares are $10 per week.  To see a sample share list and for more information on how to sign up, visit or e-mail

1.  The Urban Assembly Academy of Arts & Letters
 - 225 Adelphi Street, Brooklyn (Fort Greene)

Wednesdays, November 3 to December 22 from 4:30pm – 7:00pm
Applications are due October 23, 2010

2.  Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain
 - 513 Henry Street, Brooklyn (Carroll Gardens)

Tuesdays, November 16 – December 28 from 4:00pm – 7:30pm
Applications are due November 5, 2010

3.  92 Y Tribeca - 
200 Hudson Street, Manhattan (Tribeca)
Wednesdays, November 24 – December 29 from 4:00pm – 7:00pm
Applications are due November 12, 2010

A Full Share, how can you resist.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm always on the hunt for a simple meal, do you have any suggestions?

There is something, I was just futzing with a recipe this week.  It's very easy.
It's a take on a Middle eastern way to prepare rice and chicken.  The result is a crispy flavorful rice with aromatic chicken to boot.  The method alone should broaden your horizons.  I use chicken thighs, but breasts could be substituted, or even a fat piece of fish. 
Chicken with Crispy Dill Rice

6 chicken thighs, (skin on and bone in)
1 1/2 cups of long grain rice (Basmati, Jasmine, or American long grain)
1 bunch of dill, rinsed well and chopped roughly
2-3 tbsps butter

1. Boil the Rice for ten minutes in 3 qts. of rolling boiling water.  Strain it well, return it to the pot, and mix in the chopped dill. 
2. While the rice in cooking,  brown the chicken thighs well in a ten inch skillet (that has a lid) over medium high heat.  I did this in two batches.
3.  Remove the brown chicken thighs and dump out the excess oil.  Reduce the heat to medium and drop in the butter.
4.  Once completely melted, add the dill and rice mixture to the skillet and spread it out evenly (no packing down) Lay the chicken on skin side up.
5. Using a non-terry cloth tea towel, wrap the lid and place it snugly over the skillet.  Reduce the heat to medium low and set your timer for 25 minutes.

6.  Once the thing is cooked, remove the thighs, and use a skinny edged metal spatula to loosen the rice.   You can turn it out onto a platter and serve the chicken right on top. 

Print this recipe!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Is there a big difference between sea salt and regular salt?

 Sea salt usually comes with a lot more minerals, and sometimes even remnants of seaweed.  (japanese sea salt) and so has a little more character.  This character doesn't come through as much in a longer cooking process like a soup or stew, but is better savored sprinkled over sliced steak or maybe to finish a piece of fish. 
Some people suggest it's saltier, but I don't know if it actually is.  A big part of what can affect salt's "saltiness" is the granule size - If you imagine difference between filling a bulldozer scoop with boulders or with gravel, the difference is considerable. 
This holds true on a smaller scale,  so there is a huge difference between a tablespoon of kosher, table and fine sea salt. For this reason a lot of recipes call for weights of salt, or at least specify the type of salt to be measured. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Video Sessions This Week

You might have noticed a "video sessions" page I added to my site a couple of weeks back. 
I haven't yet had a spare second to try it out, but I'm going to set up a regular time so those of your who aren't in NYC can ask me questions in person - kind of.
It's going to happen this Wednesday night from 8:30pm to 10:30 Eastern Standard Time.
Stop by and ask me a questions.  All you have to do is come to the site and participate.
This is going to be my trial run, so there might be a few technical kinks to work out, otherwise it should be a gas.
I hope to see you there.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pig Island Affair

Hey everybody, I've been off the radar for a little while now. 
I was slammed with a few big events and a move, but I'm back now and it's Fall.  As we brace ourselves for months of root vegetables, we should take full advantage of all of the fall brassica (cabbage stuff) while it's still here to make us gassy.  Expect some recipes soon.
In the meantime, Pig Island happened, a benefit for Food Systems NYC.  I was given four whole pigs to do with as I saw fit.  It was a big event for Grill-a-Chef to take on, but I think the whole thing went down pretty well.  I owe big thanks to all of the people that pitched in to help out.  Those that volunteered were amazing and they all went above and beyond.  Here are some pics from the whole shebang.

 (extra special thanks to Deborah- who helped out the day before when I didn't have my camera. so there's no photo of her pretty face)

Jimmy Carbone - the crazy mofo who organized the whole thing.

Thanks to Brooke from Red Table Catering for donating his kitchen and helping cut up pigs.

A cooler full of salted root beer, were the pork soaked over night.

The Grill-a-Chef Kiosk

Special thanks to this guy for like pork so much. (note the tattoo)
Me and the "Carls".  (each shirt had a Carl name tag)
The assembly line.

Some Carl's slinging pig.  (aka Jorge and Megan of the A Mouse Bouche blog)

Some other Carl's, saucing and garnishing. (aka Jeff and Emily)

A by product of all the labor- root beer head cheese.
The final product of all the work - Root Beer Glazed Pig with Crushed Kabocha and Sage Cracklin's

You could make some yourself, here's the recipe.
Root Beer Glazed Pork Shoulder

2 bottles good root beer
6 cups of water
1 ½ cups Salt
1 Pork Shoulder 7-9 lbs (bone-in)
3 bottles of good root beer
1 ½ tbsps Chinese Five Spice
2 1/2 tbsps mustard powder

1. For the brine, dissolve the salt in 3 cups of water.  In a storage vessel big enough to hold your pork, mix in the salted water with the remaining three cups of water and the root beer and allow to cool. Completely submerge the pork and soak for at least 12 hours and up to 36. (If you have a small or cramped fridge, this can be done in a cooler by substituting some of the water for ice)
2. For the cooking part, place the pork shoulder in a roasting pan, tent with tin foil, and roast @ 325 degrees until it pulls apart easily.  (Approx. 6 hrs, but it’s not done until it’s soft.) 
3. Set aside the pork to rest. In the meantime reduce the remaining liquids over medium high heat until thick and gooey.  Whisk in the five-spice and mustard and season to taste.  Simmer for 5 more minutes and brush onto the pork. Serve more root beer goo for a sauce.
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