Shrimps and Scallops

August 19, 2009

Several weeks ago, I got a craving for a lobster roll. Lobster being a little rich for my bank account, I cooked up a dinner party that would feature rolls stuffed with shrimp and scallop in lieu of lobster. Much credit goes to my friend Celia, who made a kick-ass aioli that we used to dress our fruits de mer.

Seafood Roll (1)

Serves 6


2 lbs. shrinp, cleaned and peeled

1 lb. scallops

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

Celia’s aioli

6 rolls (I used Portugese rolls)

chopped parsley for garnish


Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat, add half the garlic, sautée for 30 seconds, then add shrimp and cook until bright pink. Set shrimp aside in a large bowl.

Add remaining oil and garlic to the skillet and sauté the scallops until barely firm. Just a couple minutes, turning once.

I used sea scallops, so I quartered them. Bay scallops would probably be the right size whole. Toss scallops with the shrimp, then mix in the aioli—I didn’t measure, just use your best judgment.

‘BUT HOW DO I MAKE THE AIOLI?’ You must be asking. Celia was kind enough to share her recipe with us…

Let me first say that I have a long-standing aversion to mayonnaise, perhaps related to youthful summers spent in England consuming Marks & Spencer’s pre-fab sandwiches. Their isosceles bread-triangles inevitably emerge from the package soggy with white goop, which completely overwhelms the few wilted cucumbers suspended within. Luckily, this aioli is a completely different beast – fresh, garlicky, delicious.

To get started, pound one or two cloves of garlic together with some salt in a mortar and pestle. Separate two large, extremely fresh organic eggs, and put the yolks into a medium mixing bowl. Add the garlic paste, and give the mixture a quick turn with your whisk.

You will now begin to create your yolk-and-olive-oil emulsion. Slowly add the olive oil to the bowl while whisking continuously. Clearly, it’s best if you have a designated dribbler to assist you. But if you are alone, not to worry: you can alternate a small splash of oil with a burst of whisking energy. The mixture should begin to thicken immediately and lighten in color. Once you know the emulsion is off to a good start, you can let the oil flow more freely. The more oil you add, the thicker the mixture will become. I usually use about a cup, which yields a lovely, golden-yellow wobbly mass, perfect for spreading or dipping.

Finish off your aioli with a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper to taste, and a handful of chopped herbs if you like. Enjoy!

So, there you have it.

I also spread a little aioli on the rolls and put them under the broiler to toast them golden brown before filling with the seafood and topping with a little fresh parsley. As you can see in the photo, I served it with lettuce, avocado and tomato (dressed with a Dijon vinaigrette). A tomato from the salad landed in my roll. A happy accident.

We ate this dinner as a picnic on my roof, watching the subway roll by the Manhattan skyline, but it would be just as good at the beach or in the park. Just don’t forget the rosé!


Ethical Food

August 4, 2009

Since the last post included my farmed salmon rant, I might as well go all the way and share this New York magazine guide to ethical food with you. If you’re in New York City, they have tips for where to find ingredients that don’t harm the earth (too much).

Salmon Croquettes

July 27, 2009

Houseboy's Salmon Croquettes

Months ago, I stumbled across a little article on about William Faulkner’s family recipe for salmon croquettes, and I was intrigued for a few reasons. It’s always fun to eat food with a distinguished provenance, but going down the list of ingredients, I was thinking these could actually be tasty. They showed a salmon can with an old-timey label that conjured up a bygone era. I was barely aware that canned salmon even existed, and I decided to investigate.

I found that canned salmon is both made with wild caught Alaskan salmon and that it is dirt cheap. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, wild caught Alaskan is the best choice for sustainable salmon. The worst is farmed salmon, which is ubiquitous in supermarkets. I have come to avoid salmon altogether, because I never want to pay the exorbitant prices for Alaskan salmon in NYC supermarkets—often double the price of farmed salmon from Canada or Europe. Furthermore, I imagine getting fresh salmon from Alaska to Brooklyn leaves a pretty big carbon footprint. I don’t have data to back me up, but I assume that transporting canned salmon at room temperature in no particular hurry, while not ideal, is much better. It is also a small fraction of the price. Under $3 for a can that feeds 2 generously. For serious.

It’s not glamorous coming out of the can, but once broken apart, picked over, mixed with wonderful seasonings, formed into patties and fried, it’s almost fancy. I made Faulkner’s croquettes a couple times, but last week I made some of my own design, and they were a hit.

Houseboy’s Salmon Croquettes:

Serves 2 as entrée, 4 as appetizer


1 14.75 oz. can pink salmon, drained and picked over, removing skin and bones

2 eggs

1/4 cup minced red onion

1 tablespoon dill pickle relish

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

8 saltine crackers, smashed into crumbs

salt and pepper to taste (about 3/4 tsp each)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon oil


Combine all ingredients except flour and oil in a medium bowl. Shape into patties, and refrigerate for about an hour, or up to one day. I formed them into four hulking patties, but it might be more elegant to make eight daintier servings. That way, the portions are also more flexible.

When you are ready to cook and serve, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dust the patties with the flour, add the oil to the pan, then fry the croquettes, turning once, until brown on both sides: about 6-8 minutes total. Drain on paper towels and serve.

I served them over greens and red bell pepper dressed with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, but you could also eat them like burgers or with fries and tartar sauce.

The end product has rich salmon flavor, but is relatively light considering it’s a fried food. I now keep canned salmon around, making this an easy thing to throw together at the last minute, as all the ingredients are usually on hand. And if they’re not, it’s a malleable recipe. So long as you have the salmon, eggs, saltines, flour and oil, you can try any combination of seasonings.

I am so proud of this meal. It’s healthy, attractive, cost-effective, environmentally-sustainable, and most importantly, delicious. Everything the houseboy strives for!

A Finger Lickin’ Good Time

June 29, 2009


Two weekends ago, my friend Michael was visiting from LA, and I invited a bunch of friends over for ribs. I’ve never made ribs, and I don’t have a grill, so I was taking a bit of a chance, but I saw this recipe in Gourmet that seemed oven-friendly.

Sticky Balsamic Ribs

I’m on a budget and invited lots of people, so I got spareribs rather than baby back ribs. This turned out to be just fine, but I did cut them into smaller chunks before cooking. We started the ribs marinating the night before. The recipe is simple: garlic, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and cayenne. What’s genius about this recipe, however, is the technique. The end result of roasting the ribs with water, then broiling them delivered ribs that looked, felt and tasted like they were fresh off the barbie. The meat was succulent and falling off the bone; the sauce was sticky and sweet: everything you could want from ribs.

I was so enthusiastic about the ribs that I immediately told a coworker with whom I talk food that she needed to try them. She did last weekend, and said it was one of the best things ever to come out of her kitchen. Her guests broke into spontaneous applause. Need I say more?

Of course, you see more than just ribs in the photo. I also made slaw and potato salad.

The Rainbow Slaw, which I got from Bon Appétit was very good, but I had to make some changes to the recipe. They call for way too much cabbage. Half a head of red and green cabbage each is plenty. I also left out the yams. It’s an interesting idea, but I just didn’t want yams in my slaw. The apples are what attracted me to the recipe, and I loved them, but next time, I’m trying Asian pear.

Then the Potato Salad with Buttermilk Dressing. I had made this before. It’s a great recipe and the mustard-heavy buttermilk dressing is crisp and light, but I have a strong suggestion: make it one day ahead. Time made a huge difference. The day we made it, it was good, but the next day, it was irresistible.


That's right, there's a fourth item on the plate

At the last minute, we decided to add another dish: macaroni and cheese. This was a late addition, and we were already overextended, so we didn’t want to start from scratch. What we did, I must say, was ingenious. We got several boxes of Annie’s white cheddar mac and cheese and jazzed up the sauce with mustard and cayenne (to taste). Then we grated a generous amount of real cheddar cheese into it, gave it a stir and baked it for 30 minutes at 350˚ to melt the cheese. It brought the Annie’s to a whole new level, and it took almost no time to prepare. It’s a good shortcut to great macaroni and cheese.

Our guests brought beer and other potent potables. Michael played some Diana Ross. The soirée was a raging success.

Lime Marmalade: Labor of Love

June 12, 2009
Beware tough rinds

Beware tough rinds

On my recent trip to the British Virgin Islands, I discovered lime marmalade. I’d only ever had the orange variety, and frankly, it’s not one of my favorites. Lime marmalade, however, was an instant hit with me and my travel buddies. I was resolved to look up recipes and make it upon my return.

Basic lime marmalade has only three ingredients: lime, water and sugar. I read several recipes and landed on the following formula for about 1 liter of marmalade.

  • 8 limes
  • 3.5 cups water
  • 4-5 cups sugar

Start by slicing the limes as thinly as possible. Make an effort not to squeeze out too much juice. A sharp knife helps. Soak the limes in the 3.5 cups of water overnight to remove bitterness.

The next day, put the limes and their water in a pot or large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until rinds are tender, about 30-45 minutes. I tested my rinds with a fork, and it got me into trouble down the line. Make sure to remove a rind and chew on it. They’re not done until you bite through it easily.

Preheat the oven to 250˚F

Remove from heat and transfer the limes to a bowl using a measuring cup. Measure out one cup of sugar for every cup of lime-water mixture and place the sugar in a baking dish (I used a cake pan). Stick the pan in the oven to heat the sugar. Meanwhile, bring the limes back to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, remove the sugar from the oven and add to the limes. Stir in the sugar with as few strokes as possible, and do not stir again until it has returned to a boil.

At this point, put a couple saucers in the freezer. Let the limes and sugar boil, uncovered, for about ten minutes, then put a spoonful on one of the frozen saucers. Once cooled, the marmalade should be thick. Keep testing every 5 minutes until it has fully jelled (it took me about 20 mins.). At this point you can put the marmalade in sterilized jars. You’re done!

That is, unless you undercooked the rinds, as I did. After 40 minutes of simmering the lime rinds, they were easily pierced with a fork, and I called it a day. When I spread some marmalade on toast later that night, they were too tough to chew. I was not happy.

This evening, I found a lovely solution. I placed the open jar of marmalade in a small saucepan of boiling water to melt the jelly. I then forced the marmalade through a sieve with a rubber spatula. The result, a lime sauce that was AMAZING over ice cream. Also good on toast.  So, all is not lost, but next time I will simmer those rinds more thoroughly!

This recipe is for straight up lime marmalade, but you could blend different citrus fruits or even add mint. Does anyone have other ideas for lime marmalade?

Stanky Legg Sliders

June 5, 2009

Even on vacation the Houseboy does not rest. We’ve been to several restaurants here in the British Virgin Islands, and on the whole, they are overpriced and mediocre. We have a kitchen and have been putting it to good use. Most of the food here is imported and expensive, but there are a few things that are abundant and cheap in the BVI, plantains, avocados and rum among them.

We were riding in the car and listening to the radio… we heard there is a Stanky Legg Party somewhere in the islands this weekend. This inspired our dinner creation, the Stanky Legg Slider.


Do the Stanky Legg!

Do the Stanky Legg!

That’s a beef patty topped with Jack cheese, plantains (sautéed in butter), avocado and a squeeze of lime. As we are in the BRITISH Virgin Islands, the only thing that could hold the Stanky Leggz together is an English  muffin.

It was an experiment, but we LOVED them. And that’s not just the Dark and Stormy talking.

Julix Bakes Brownies

May 28, 2009

I am headed to the beach next week, so this guest post from Julia Doctoroff is super timely

Since my blog is on hiatus, I decided to contribute to the lovely housebunny’s blog.

Many of you know that I’ve traded Joya greasy noodles for the goodness of Weight Watchers. Since I love to bake, I decided to try out a strange-sounding recipe I found on the WW website:

Low-fat Brownies

1/2 cup lentils
2 cup(s) water
1 cup(s) fat-free egg substitute
1 3/4 cup(s) sugar
1 cup(s) unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup(s) whole-grain wheat flour, or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp table salt
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips


Rinse lentils and combine with water in a pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender, 40 minutes. Remove from heat and drain any excess liquid.

In a bowl, beat together egg substitute and sugar. Add applesauce, vanilla, flour, both cocoas and salt to egg substitute mixture. Stir in cooked lentils and chocolate chips.

Press mixture into a 9 X 13-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes. Cool and cut into 24 pieces.

It turns out kind of like a lentily fudge. You can’t really taste the lentils and it is VERY chocolatey. I give it high marks, especially if you are trying to get into beach body shape.

Chicago: Kuma’s Corner, Swine Flu

May 25, 2009

Over the long weekend, I went to Chicago, land of Wayne Campbell, to visit my friend Yasi. She took me to a metal bar called Kuma’s Corner, where they have amazing burgers, each with a heavy metal inspired name. There were many tempting options, but on the assumption that I would visit again and get another crack at the menu, I opted for the special:

Who could resist?

Who could resist?

So, we did have to wait an hour for a table, then another ninety minutes for our burgers to come, but we had drinks in hand, and the weather was nice, so we enjoyed the outdoor seating

We submit for the approval of the Midnight Society...

We submit for the approval of the Midnight Society...

90 minutes later…



Extreme Closeup! Aaaahhhhhhhhh!

Extreme Closeup! Aaaahhhhhhhhh!

We’re not worthy…