Monday, July 14, 2014


Recently, at one of my local restaurants I ordered a seafood dish that was served in a blue sauce.  A blue sauce?  Yes.  The sauce was made using Blue Curacao liqueur. Blue Curacao is a sweet and slightly bitter, vibrant blue colored liqueur originally made from dried orange peels found on Curacao, an island in the Caribbean. 

I know that Blue Curacao is used primarily for cocktails.  However, given that it was used in a savory dish, this certainly got my attention.  I wanted to try and recreate this mystic sauce, so I did some experimenting for a few days and came up with my own version of a savory blue sauce.

Blue Curacao Sauce
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 cup Blue Curacao Liquor
4 oz. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 1 inch pieces


Heat canola oil in a small pot.  Add shallots and garlic and cook for about two minutes.  Add bay leaf, lemon juice, lemon zest and Blue Curacao.  Cook over high heat until reduced to about one-half.  Remove from heat.  Strain the sauce.  Return strained sauce to heat.  Let sauce reduce another half to about 1/4 cup.  Whisk in butter, one piece at a time and continue to whisk together until sauce thickens slightly.  Season sauce with salt and pepper.    

Because it was the Fourth of July, what was a better time to make a dish utilizing the blue sauce?
I decided on pan seared scallops with chunks of flounder and blanched red peppers.

Scallops and Flounder
I seared both the scallops and flounder in butter and oil.  I purposely wanted to keep them moist, so I did not opt for a dark brown sear.
Pre-Foam Version
And since blue represents the ocean or sea, I wanted to add some foam, so I pulled out my MOLE' CULE R kit and created lemon foam as a garnish.

Lemon Foam
1 sachet (2 grams) soy lecithin
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup lemon juice

Combine the lemon juice, water and soy lecithin in a bowl.
Using a hand-held blender (or eggbeater), produce a good quantity of foam.
Spoon foam over finished dish as a garnish.

Although I was told there was "too much" foam on the dish, all the flavors were there and came together very nicely.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Grilled Shrimp on Lemongrass Skewers
Many years ago when I first started making this dish it was difficult in my town to get lemongrass.  But throughout the years as the supermarkets and more Asian markets expanded, lemongrass became another easy ingredient to get.  I like to make the shrimp skewers served alongside Asian Pesto With Rice Noodles.  Asian Pesto With Rice Noodles

3 stalks of lemongrass
12 shrimps (U15-20)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 Serrano chili pepper, finely minced
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of canola oil
Ground black pepper
Pink salt
Juice of 1 lime, about 1Tablespoon
2 teaspoons of fish sauce
Pinch of granulated sugar

Trim lemongrass of its outer sheath.  Bruise the stalks all over with a mallet or back of a knife.  Cut off about 3 inches of the bottoms and finely mince the tender inner core. Continue to peel lemongrass until the inner stalk resembles a "skewer".  Reserve all lemongrass trimmings.

Place 4 shrimps on each of the 3 intact stalks, leaving some space between each shrimp.
Combine the minced lemongrass, garlic, ginger, one-half of the minced chili, and 1 Tablespoon of the oil and roll the shrimps in the mixture.  Drizzle with more oil, salt and pepper.  Refrigerate the shrimps for several hours.

Chop all the lemongrass trimmings and measure them.  Combine with an equal amount of water in a small saucepan.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook until mixture is reduced to about 2 Tablespoons.  Strain the liquid then return it to the saucepan and reduce until it is about one Tablespoon. Combine the lemongrass reduction with the remaining minced chili, the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and 2 teaspoons of the oil.  Set aside.

Remove the skewers from the fridge and let sit for about 20 minutes, and then brush off the marinade. 

Grilled Shrimp
Grill the shrimp skewers for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until shrimp are just pink and slightly firm.  Serve shrimps with the dipping sauce.


Monday, June 30, 2014


Asian Pesto

Asian Pesto With Rice Noodles

Blue Ginger Circa 1999

This is an adaptation of Chef Ming Tsai's Asian Pesto that was originally published in his book Blue Ginger in 1999.
It is another one of my favorite recipes that I have been making for many years; particularly, when I visit the Asian market and get a beautiful bunch of Thai basil. 
The end result is that the pesto makes a tempting spicy flavoring for pasta dishes and much more.  I like to prepare it tossed with rice noodles. 


Thai Basil

Mint, Garlic, Limes, Chilies, Ginger and Thai Basil
Asian Pesto:
2 Serrano chilies, stemmed and seeded
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts

2 oz. fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1/2 cup peanut oil
3 cups fresh Thai basil leaves
1 1/2 cups fresh mint leaves

Combine the chilies, garlic, ginger, peanuts, lime juice, nam pla and peanut oil in a food processor and process to a smooth puree.  Add the Thai basil and mint and puree again.  Avoid over processing because this will "cook" the basil and turn the mixture dark.  This happened the first time that I made it.  At the time, I thought it was because I was using a stainless steel blender but later I learned how to avoid the over processing method and that a food processor gives a better result.  The pesto stays vibrant in color and flavor for about one week.   This recipe makes about 2 cups of pesto.

Rice Noodles:
Soak 3 oz. of rice noodles in cold water for about 30 minutes; drain and discard water.
Place softened noodles in boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes.  Drain.  Sprinkle with a few drops of Canola oil to prevent sticking.

Rice Noodles

Rice Noodles Done

To Finish:
Toss about 1 cup of the Asian pesto with the warm rice noodles.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


This recipe is an adaptation from The Union Square Cafe Cookbook.  It has been on the menu at the Union Square Cafe since the acclaimed New York City restaurant opened in 1985.  I have made this dish in the past, so the other day I decided to revisit it and pulled out the cookbook from my library.
Then next day the announcement was made that the Union Square Cafe will be shutting its doors next year.  And although the plans are to relocate the restaurant, for almost 35 years it has been one of New York City's highly praised and much-admired venues in Union Square.  Needless to say, I am deeply saddened to hear this news.

For this recipe, I didn't cut the tuna steaks into three-inch cubes to mimic a fillet mignon; I simply cut a tuna loin (about 15 oz) into two pieces.  It is an adaptation. And using the ingredients that I had on hand, I put together an Asian-influenced marinade--similar to the original recipe--and then grilled the tuna on an indoor grill.   The end result was a tuna that remained moist and very flavorful and tasted like steak. 
For the Marinade:
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup Mirin
1/2 cup Drysack sherry
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1/2 cup chopped scallions
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 oz fresh lemon juice

For the Tuna:
1 tuna steak, weighing about 15-16 oz, cut in half
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon Bourbon Smoked Pepper
1/4 cup pickled ginger

To Prepare:
Combine all marinade ingredients in a glass bowl and place the tuna steaks in the marinade. Refrigerate for 2 hours, turning the tuna every 30 minutes.

About 20 minutes before cooking, remove the tuna from the marinade and drain.  Place tuna on a plate until it reaches room temperature.  Preheat a grill to very hot.

Drizzle olive oil into the grill pan.  Place tuna stakes in pan and grill on one side for about 2 1/2 minutes.  Turn fish over, sprinkle the Bourbon Smoked Pepper and grill for another minute. The outside should be well seared, and the center should be just warm and pink.

 To Finish:
Garnish each tuna steak with pickled ginger.  Serves 2


Thursday, June 12, 2014


Carabinero With Linguini and Baked Tiger Prawn
During a recent visit to Lobster Place in Chelsea Market, we noticed a display of jumbo size shrimp with a striking bright red color.  The sign indicated that they were harvested from the deep-sea Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Spain and have a high fat content making them tender and sweet. Since this was the first time that I saw Carabineros, I was anxious to try them.  .

Carabineros at Lobster Place
Next to the Carabineros were beautiful jumbo (U-2) Tiger Prawns, weighing at least 8-9 ounces each.  I thought that they were perfect for a lobster stuffing and purchased two of them.

Tiger Prawns (U-2)
I wanted to make the Carabineros using another new product that I also bought at the market:  Colavita Limonolio Oil, a lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil imported from Italy.  I thought the Carabineros should be sautéed in the oil with some butter, fresh garlic, capers, and a touch of freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest and parsley and served over linguini. 

Colavita Limonolio Oil
Later I learned that Carabineros translates as "police" reportedly because the color of their shells matched the red uniforms that the Spanish Customs Police once wore. The Carabineros distinctive red color does not change when cooked (as does a lobster shell changes from blue to red).  Their flavor was more robust than any other shrimps or langoustines that I ever had and literally melted in my mouth.  Although I removed the heads and shells of the Carabineros before cooking them, many Europeans consider the heads a delicacy, so next time I'll make them whole.
Tiger Prawns
Prepped Carabineros and Tiger Prawns

For the giant Tiger Prawns, I opted to make a lobster stuffing since I had lobster meat left over from my Lobster Newburg dish.  Many recipes for stuffed prawns suggest broiling them, but I baked them in a 350 degree oven using unsalted butter and the Limonolio Oil.  The prawns were very sweet and tender and the stuffing was extremely moist.  This was a perfect accompaniment to the sautéed Carabineros.

Serves 2

2 Carabineros (U-10), about 1/3 pound, peeled and deveined*
2 Tablespoons Colavita Limonolio Oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
1 Tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
8 oz. cooked linguini

In a heated sauté pan, add Limonolio oil and butter.  After the butter melts, add the garlic and capers and sauté being careful not to brown.  Add lemon juice and stir. Add Carabineros and sauté for about five minutes, turning over as necessary.  When Carabineros are done, place each one on a separate plate of cooked linguini.  Sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest and serve.

*or whole including head and shells

Serves 2

3/4 cup lobster meat, cooked
1 stick unsalted butter (divided)
2 Tablespoons minced shallots
2 Tablespoons chopped green onions
1 stalk celery, finely minced
1 Tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup unflavored bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt, to taste
1/3 egg, well beaten (about 2 oz.)

Limonolio Oil

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan. Sauté the minced shallots, green onions, and minced celery in the butter. When the mixture becomes translucent, add the minced garlic. Sauté an additional minute or two.  Add a second tablespoon of butter and the breadcrumbs; stir to melt and incorporate the butter into the breadcrumbs, adding more butter, as needed. Stir in paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme leaves and salt. Stir in the beaten egg. When mixture is cooked (5-10 minutes) fold in the lobster meat.   

Meanwhile, have the prepared split prawns ready on a baking sheet that has been lightly coated with the oil.  Stuff the pawns with the lobster mixture. Sprinkle the tops lightly with paprika and dot with pats of butter.  Drizzle with more oil.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, or until top of mixture is nicely browned.  Use accumulated pan juices for a topping.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Belmont Jewel

Waldorf Salad

Lobster Newburg

Unfortunately, California Chrome did not win the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.  We were rooting for him since the Derby and continued with our own interpretation of the drinks and foods associated with each race.

Horse Racing and the Triple Crown are all about traditional drinks and foods. We all know that the Kentucky Derby is famous for its Mint Juleps and Hot Browns while the Preakness Stakes is known for its Black Eyed Susans and Maryland Crab Cakes.  The official drink of the Belmont Stakes kept getting replaced over the years and there are many dishes associated with New York.
The Belmont Jewel became the official drink of the Belmont Stakes in 2012.  It replaced the Belmont Breeze which became the official drink in 1978.  That one replaced the White Carnation which was another official drink.  Since there were three official drinks that kept replacing each other, we tried all of them.  Our favorite was the Belmont Jewel which we modified by using Cherry Pomegranate Juice and Woodford Reserve bourbon marinated cherries.

As far as the food goes, there are many dishes associated with New York.  The list is quite extensive including several classic old-style authentic New York City dishes such as the Waldorf Salad, Lobster Newburg and NY strip steaks.  There is also NY style pastrami, corned beef, hot dogs, Italian sausage, NY Style cheesecake, bagels and soft pretzels.  But we kept it simple and stayed with the old-style authentic Waldorf Salad and Lobster Newburg for our Belmont Stakes food. We also prepared a NY strip steak smothered in gorgonzola cheese with oyster mushrooms that were braised in butter and fresh thyme for someone who wanted a "steak".  And to start off the season, we enjoyed freshly shucked Kumomotos from Humboldt Bay, CA, and Shigokus from Wilapa Bay in Oregon.  At first, I thought about making Oysters Rockefeller, but the oysters were too beautiful to smother and bake, so raw was fine and delicious.

In 2012, the Belmont Jewel became the official drink of the Belmont Stakes. It was created by mixologist Drew Revella.  It is made with bourbon, lemonade and pomegranate juice.  We modified the drink by using cherry pomegranate juice, since cherries go well with bourbon, and the Woodford Reserve Bourbon marinated cherries just completed the drink to our liking.

1.5 oz Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon
2 oz lemonade
1 oz Cherry Pomegranate Juice
Woodford Reserve Bourbon marinated cherry and lemon twist for garnish

Shake first three ingredients vigorously with ice and serve on the rocks. Garnish with cherry and lemon twist

This lobster dish was created at Delmonico's, the well-known New York City restaurant, in the latter part of the last century.  The dish is made with seafood, cream, and egg yolks.
This is a modified version of the original.  We purchased steamed lobsters so all we needed to do was retrieve the lobster meat.   Two 2-pound lobsters yielded about 2 cups of lobster meat. 

Lobster Place NYC

2 two-pound steamed lobsters
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons shallots
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Dry Sack Sherry
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon brandy
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 large egg yolk, beaten
Toasted brioche

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Break claws off of lobster bodies and crack them. Remove the claw meat and cut it into 1/2-inch pieces. Halve the lobsters length-wise along the undersides, remove the meat from the tails, discarding the bodies, and cut it into 1/2-inch pieces.

Heat butter in a medium saute pan over medium-low heat.  Add the shallots and season with cayenne and nutmeg.  Cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, until the seasonings have colored and are fragrant.  Add the lobster meat and saute for 1 minute.  Add 2 tablespoons of the sherry and 3 tablespoons of the brandy and cook mixture stirring for 2 minutes.  Remove lobster meat with a slotted spoon to a bowl.  Add the cream to the Sherry mixture and boil the mixture until it is reduced to about 1 cup. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon Sherry, and the remaining 1 teaspoon brandy.

Separately, in a small bowl, whisk egg yolk.  Add a ladleful of hot sauce to temper the yolk; whisk to combine.  Return reserved lobster meat mixture to saucepan over low heat; stir to combine. 

Set 4 6-ounce ramekins into a large roasting pan. Divide the Lobster Newburg evenly among the ramekins. Transfer the roasting pan to oven, and pour 1 inch boiling water into the roasting pan. Cook until the Newburg bubbles, about 15-20 minutes. Remove roasting pan from the oven, and transfer ramekins to serving plates. Serve immediately with brioche.

This apple salad got its name from the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York where it was created in 1896 by the maître d'hôtel Oscar Tschirky.  There have been many variations of this salad since then.  
For Walnuts:
1cup raw walnut halves
1 egg white
1/2 tablespoon spice mixture (sweet paprika, cayenne, ground fennel seed, and ground coriander)
1/4cup sugar
For Dressing:
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup creme fraiche
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
1/4 cup hazelnut oil

For salad:
2 large granny smith/red delicious apples
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 dozen red grapes, halved lengthwise
Romaine lettuce leaves

Make candied walnuts: Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, combine walnuts and egg white; add spice mixture and sugar and mix until evenly coated. Spread walnuts into an even layer on a nonstick sheet lined with parchment paper; roast in the oven until browned, about 20 minutes.

Prepare dressing: In a medium bowl, combine yogurt with creme fraiche; whisk in lemon juice and white pepper. Add in hazelnut oil, whisking briskly to emulsify. Set aside.

Make salad: Peel, core and medium dice the apples. Place in a mixing bowl and mix wit lemon juice to prevent the apples from discoloring.  Before dicing the celery, blanch it in boiling water for 60 seconds and cool it with cold water.  This helps release its flavor and extend the shelf life of the salad.

Assemble salad:  On individual plates, place mixture atop Romaine lettuce leaves.  Top with grape halves and candied walnuts.

Nothing unique about a New York Strip Steak for the Belmont Stakes.  The steak was simply seasoned with Kosher salt, pepper, sweet paprika and cooked in a cast iron pan for about 3-4 minutes per side and then placed in the oven for about six minutes. We then topped it with fresh gorgonzola cheese.  The oyster mushrooms were braised in butter and fresh thyme with Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper. 

New York Strip with Oyster Mushrooms
On our way to the market, I thought about preparing another NYC dish:  Oysters Rockefeller.  But since the market had such beautiful Kumomoto and Shigoku oysters--two of my favorites--I did not want to smother them with spinach, etc., and bake them in the oven, so we enjoyed them raw while watching the pre-race show.

Kumomoto and Shigoku Oysters

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Black-Eyed Susan

Crab Cakes

Congratulations again to California Chrome, winner of 2014's Preakness.  And best of luck for the final race at the Belmont Stakes in New York for a chance to win the Triple Crown!  We enjoyed watching the Preakness Stakes and making Black-Eyed Susan* Cocktails and Maryland Crab Cakes, two of the traditional fares of the Preakness.
The Black-Eyed Susan Cocktail was first introduced at the 1973 Preakness.  It was created by the Harry M. Stevens Company who was the caterer at Pimlico.  And there have been numerous variations of the drink over the years.  It has been made with vodka, rum, whiskey, bourbon, peach schnapps, orange juice, pineapple juice, sour mix, orange-flavored liqueur, elderflower-flavored liquor, to name a few.
We first tried the recipe that is listed on the Preakness website.  We served it in a martini glass.  The drink was frothy and looked different than the versions we've seen, but it has had numerous variations.   It was very sweet. And since we had pineapple and orange juice left over, we tried making it with rum instead of the St. Germain.  It was not as sweet.

Black-Eyed Susan Cocktails via the Preakness:
1 1/2 oz Finlandia Vodka
1/2 oz St. Germain
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Orange Juice
Garnish with fresh Orange Slice

The Maryland Crab Cakes also have many variations.  And although I have my own version of crab cakes, I wanted to try something a little closer to the Maryland delights. I added other herbs (tarragon) and used unflavored breadcrumbs in lieu of crackers.  Also, I added several ingredients which are typically used in Bloody Mary's.

 "Maryland" Crab Cakes:
1 lb Crab meat
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons fresh Parsley, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh Tarragon, minced
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 cup unflavored bread crumbs (plus about 1/4 cup more for dusting pan and cakes)
2 Eggs, beaten
5 dashes of Tabasco Sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Horseradish
1 Stick of Butter, cut into 1" pieces

Line a sheet pan with waxed paper and dust lightly with reserved bread crumbs.  Set aside.

Combine all ingredients, except butter, and mix together lightly. Form into desired size cakes and then pat lightly with additional bread crumbs. Place crab cakes on sheet pan and refrigerate for about 1-2 hours.

Heat butter in a large skillet and fry cakes until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels.

Serve with Tartar Sauce and Cocktail Sauce on the side.

*The Black-Eyed Susan was designated the state flower of Maryland in 1918. Actually, a blanket of chrysanthemums, decorated to look like black-eyed Susans, is traditionally placed around the winner's neck because Black-Eyed Susans are not in season during the Preakness.