Monday, June 29, 2009

Mesa Steak Sauce

There are so many benefits to living in a college town. The fact that every September there's a new influx of excited, ernest young people gives the city a vibrancy that's hard to find in "regular" communities.

Mostly what it gives you though is an embarrassment of choices. The sheer variety of options is staggering. Whether it's sports, the arts or food, there is always something new and interesting to explore. And, because the city is filled with poor college students, a side benefit is that nothing is outrageously priced.

I've sat 20 rows from Wynton Marsalis and his band. I've seen the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform "Rhapsody in Blue" from the first row of the first balcony. I've seen Dee Dee Bridgewater, Arturo Sandoval and Elvis Costello. I've watched the Royal Shakespeare Company perform "Julius Caesar". Normally the cost is $50 - $75 for the best seats in the house, down to $10-$15 for the 2nd balcony (though I did once pay $150 a ticket, for the Shakespeare, but that was a fund raiser that included a dinner).

We get a lot of headliners in this town. They're only here for one night, but I've always been able to get a seat. Last Friday was no different; Diana Krall, aka Mrs. Elvis Costello, was in town, promoting her latest album "Quiet Nights".

Her performance was spectacular. The music alternated between swinging hot jazz, sultry bossa nova and smoky, spicy love songs. Anyone who writes off Krall as some middle of the road, pop-jazz creation is an idiot. Go see her live, there will be no doubt in your mind about her jazz "chops".

Now I'm sure you're thinking, oh cool he's going to transition into making chops. Sorry, wrong answer. Chops would be a good idea, but I thought something a little spicy, a little smoky was in order. Mesa Steak Sauce is a recipe from Food Network Chef Bobby Flay. Known for his use of hot spices, this recipe doesn't disappoint. The only problem with the recipe is the name; Steak Sauce is too limiting, this sauce would go well with grilled chicken, shrimp or pork. So crank up Diana Krall and enjoy...

Mesa Steak Sauce
by Bobby Flay

1 cup ketchup
2 TBSP freshly grated horseradish
1 TBSP honey
1 TBSP maple syrup
1 TBSP chile powder
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

Huh? You call that a recipe? Well crablings, things don't have to be complicated to be good. This sauce is smoky, sassy, spicy and faintly sweet. It's great with steak but try it with some other foods. I suspect a drop or two with good vodka could make for a great "Bloody Mary Shooter".

Well, I'm outta here. Until next time, remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Spiced Yogurt

Do as I say, not as I do!

Do as I say, not as I do!

"Don't cry for me I'm in Argentina." - adapted for Gov. Mark Sanford, (R-SC) from the play Evita.

Just when the dog days of summer were about to start, a gift from the political gods. Yesterday, after a 7-day "hiking trip", Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) admitted to the world that he was having an affair with an Argentine "friend". Now crablings, I've heard it called a lot of things, but never a "hiking trip”; and face it, Argentina is one long hike.

The conservative politician tearfully admitted the error of his ways. A staunch advocate of “family values”, he apparently got into trouble by valuing someone else’s family a little too much. But, believe it or not, I’m not here to pile on Mark Sanford. It's just that his transgression reminded me of one from many years ago.

No discussion of political affairs involving Argentines (yeah!, like you knew there was more than one), would be complete without at least a brief mention of Rep. Wilbur Mills (D-ARK) and the young Argentine (!) stripper Annabelle Battistella. Of course most of us remember her as "The Argentine Firecracker" Fanne Fox.

In October, 1974 the world was shocked when one-time Presidential candidate Mills was stopped for driving while intoxicated. The drunk, battered and scratched Mills was pulled over by Park Service Police. As he slowed his car, Ms. Fox jumped from the vehicle and dove into the Tidal Basin in an effort to escape.

While it probably seemed like a good idea at the time, Ms. Fox was quickly apprehended and the media frenzy was on. But unlike today’s politicians, Wilbur Mills didn’t shy away from being seen with his paramour, if anything he seemed to revel in being photographed with young Fanne. Ultimately Mills would be forced to resign, and Fox’s stripping career briefly “took off”.

Now that's a scandal! No crocodile tears shed at staged press conferences. No pained expressions on suffering spouses. Sex and booze, booze and sex. Drunk Congressmen and swimming South American strippers, that's what I'm talking about! The new guys are amateurs.

Do as I say, not as I do!

Well, we obviously need something spicy to go with this story. This news story broke so quickly that I don't have an Argentine recipe ready, so here's the best I have in inventory. Grilled Chicken Breasts with Spiced Yogurt has a Indian/Middle Eastern feel to it. The original recipe produced a very spicy result so the recipe you see here has been toned down a bit. Please enjoy...

Grilled Chicken Breast with Spiced Yogurt

Inspired by CDKitchen with some major tweaks by Crabby

2 cups plain yogurt

4 TBSP Olive Oil

2 ½ TBSP fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons salt

½ TBSP chile powder

31/2 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, pounded flat

1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 ½ TBSP minced shallots

Whisk together 1 cup of the yogurt with the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, salt, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper and cinnamon.

Place the chicken in a re-sealable plastic bag. Pour the yogurt marinade on top and massage into the chicken breasts. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes and preferably 8 hours.

Thirty minutes before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Pre-heat your grill over medium-high heat.

Remove chicken from the re-sealable bag and discard the marinade.

In a small bowl mix the1 cup of plain yogurt with the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice. Set aside.

Grill the chicken breasts until cooked through, turning once. Depending on the thickness of the breasts, total cook time should be between 8 and 14 minutes.

While the chicken is grilling, toss together the chopped mint, shallots and remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil.

Remove the chicken from the grill, drizzle with the yogurt sauce and top with the mint-shallot salad.

Alrighty crablings, that's all for now. Remember to keep an eye on those politicians, you can tell they're lying whenever you see their lips moving. Until next time, remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Steak Fajitas with Pico De Gallo

Technology is a merciless mistress. With each new advance something tried and tested gets pushed to the wayside. One day you're using floppy discs the next you're at the gas station and they give you a 1 Gig flash drive with a fill-up.

One day you're listening to BTO on the 8-Track in your Duster, next your gettin' down to Boom, Boom, Pow on the MP3PodZune jacked into your Prius. Always things changing.

As you know by now, Crabby is no techno Luddite (go ahead, tell me there's no irony in linking to a Wiki about Luddites). Crabby embraces technology, Crabby is down with the latest in gizmos and gewgaws. After the moderate success of the Twitter-Palooza event last week I have decided to expand my reach into cyberworld.

Starting today, by clicking on that button with the crab picture on the left, you can now subscribe to have Crabby delivered directly to your Kindle!


Anybody out there?

You know what a Kindle is, right?

I mean Oprah loves 'em.

For those who don't know, The Kindle by Amazon is an e-reader. An e-reader lets you download e-books which are then "printed" using e-ink on your Kindle. You can store over 2,000 books on an 8-inch by 5-inch product that weighs just 10 ounces. Frankly the thing is amazing.

For a fee, you can download books, magazines, some daily newspapers (including the New York Times and Washington Post), and even some crustacean based cooking blogs anywhere you have a cell phone connection. The convenience, speed and portability are just staggering. Never one to overstate things, Crabby now predicts the death of the printed/hard copy word.

Oh I can hear you traditionalists out there...

Books will never die! I love the feel of the paper in my hands. I need to turn the pages.

Bah! Hogwash! Reel-to-reel tape players. Gone! VHS tapes. Gone! Newspapers. Going!

All media is going electronic. After all, you're reading this post on some sort of computational-email machine type of device. It's too late, the train has left the station. Now it's just a question of how far you have to run to catch up.

So if you own a Kindle and would like Crabby downloaded to your machine please sign-up for a subscription. If you don't have a Kindle, consider buying one (through the Crabby Amazon box of course). The future waits for no one. Don't be left even further behind.

I have absolutely no idea how to transition to the recipe today except to say, Steak Fajitas with Pico De Gallo is a great mid-week recipe. A little bit of work the night before provides you with a great weeknight meal. So, please enjoy...

Steak Fajitas with Pico De Gallo
inspired by Williams-Sonoma Grilling, tweaked by Crabby

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined and minced
1 TBSP chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro
1 TBSP tequila
1 teaspoon salt
1 2-pound skirt steak

Pico De Gallo

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small sweet onion diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper seeded, deveined and minced
Juice of 1 Lime

Flour Tortillas for Serving

In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, onion, garlic, jalapeno pepper, oregano, cumin, chile powder, cilantro, tequila and salt. Stir well to combine.

Place the skirt steak in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Pour in the marinade, seal the bag and refrigerate at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.

Remove the steak from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to grilling.

Pico De Gallo

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

Pre-heat grill over high heat.

Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry. Discard marinade.

Grill the steak over high heat 4 - 5 minutes per side. Steaks should be grilled to medium-rare.

Transfer the steak to a platter and allow to rest 10 minutes.


Grill the tortillas turning once until soft.

Just prior to serving, thinly slice the steak across the grain. The more thinly sliced the more tender the meat will be. REMEMBER, SLICE ACROSS THE GRAIN.

Portion meat onto the grilled tortillas along with a spoon of Pico De Gallo, store bought guacamole and sour cream (optional). Serve basmati rice on the side and you've got a meal.

That's all crablings. So if you have a Kindle try the 14-day free trial of Crabby, after all I'm not opposed to makings a little e-money from the e-readers out there..

Until next, time, remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kalbi BBQ Ribs

So last Monday morning I'm reading the USA Today. Normally I read the sports section with breakfast and save the rest for lunch, but Monday I dove right into the front page. The "big" article, the one that requires an attention span and is continued on another page, wasn't about post-election riots in Iran. It was about car sales in China.

Her are the main points: a) the Chinese like American cars, especially Buicks, b) there are a lot of Chinese people in China, c) cars pollute, ergo d) all those Chinese driving Buicks will pollute a lot.

Wow, didn't see that one coming.

But I'm not here to complain about a news article overstating the obvious. No, it was one sentence that caught my eye that I want to talk about. See, China, being a long-standing Communist country, there are some people who feel that the general population buying all these cars is somehow contrary to political philosophy. The reporter, interviewing a policeman, wrote the following:

"Chinese society is unfair now, as some can afford cars and some cannot," says Liu Dong-ming, 41, a police officer who still wears a pin in honor of Chairman Mao Zedong, a former hard-line Chinese ruler.

Did you see it? Did you catch it?

"...a pin in honor of Chairman Mao Zedong, a former hard-line Chinese ruler."

"A" former hard-line ruler? "A"?

No, no, no. Mao wasn't "A" former hard-line ruler, he was "THE" former Chinese hard-line ruler. When your "Great Leap Forward" and "Cultural Revolution" whack millions of your own peeps you are the "A" Number One-NumeroUno-Master of Disaster-El Jeffe of all former hard-line Chinese rulers!

Saying Mao is A former hard-line ruler is like saying Julius Caesar was some Roman guy with a George Clooney haircut. It's like saying Atilla was A Hun. Nope, don't short change the man, he earned his propers. Puh-leeeze!

Sheesh, next someone will tell me that The Beatles was some group McCartney was in before his solo career took off.

So long as I'm talking about THE biggest and best, here's a recipe Saveur Magazine designated "The World's Best Ribs". Now, I tried this recipe and the ribs are good, but they don't rise to "THE" status; they are strictly "A" good recipe for ribs. Regardless, the recipe is easy and good for a summer barbecue. Enjoy...

Hawaiian-Style Kalbi Baby Bay Pork Ribs
from Saveur Magazine, March, 2009

1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1 TBSP Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup water
3 pounds pork baby back ribs
3 scallions thinly sliced

Whisk together the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Add the ribs and toss to coat.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to marinate at least 1 hour, though preferably overnight. Turn occasionally.

If oven cooking: Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Place the ribs, curved side up, on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.

If grilling: Pre-heat grill over high heat. Turn down the heat to medium. Using an aluminum foil sheet to separate the ribs from the rack, grill the ribs for 30 - 45 minutes, basting and turning frequently.

As the ribs start roasting, transfer the remaining marinade to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the marinade becomes thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes.

If using an oven, turn the ribs after 20 minutes and baste with the glaze. Roast for an additional 15 - 20 minutes, or until tender.

Transfer to a platter and allow to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Garnish with scallions and serve.

OK crablings, a good rib recipe, not the best. If you're grilling, as I was, you'll run into burning issues if you aren't vigilant. Serve these ribs with some cole slaw and cold beer and life is fine.

Until next time, remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Peach-Lime Salsa

Well, the Crabby Twitter-palooza experiment is over with mixed results. I Twittered for 2 hours yesterday and while I got no direct feedback from the crablings, my follower count jumped from 10 to 18.

Now it's entirely possible that I did something that impeded everyone's ability to tweet me back, so I'm not going to get upset about that. The 80% increase in followers is pretty interesting though. According to a PureWire survey of Twitter statistics, 80% of Twitterers have fewer than 10 followers. So your support has catapulted Crabby into the top 20% along with such luminaries as Ashton & Demi.

Equally interesting is that, with my 38 tweets, I am now in the top 22% of tweeters! WOW! The view from the top of this techno-wave is amazing; of course it's the view of a barren wasteland of pointless nattering, but hey, it's still a view. I'll probably have another "palooza" in the near future since there seemed to be a few of you who really enjoyed it.

"Ahh, Crabby? This last 'palooza' only brought in 8 new people. Hardly seems worth the effort."

"Bah! How dare you pee on my technology parade?! The Emperor of Twitter does too have new clothes!"

While the Twitter experiment went OK, the same can't be said for the recipe underpinning all the tweets. Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Peach-Lime Salsa seemed innocuous enough, but the resultant salsa was AWFUL! I still haven't completely figured out what went so terribly wrong. In fact, this is one of the worst salsa recipes I've ever prepared. The pork was fine, but I'll warn you, it's going to be hard to enjoy...

Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Peach-Lime Salsa
from Grilling by Williams-Sonoma


2 TBSP Chile Powder
1 TBSP Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 Pork Tenderloins

Mix the five rub ingredients in a large zip-top bag. Add the pork tenderloins and shake to coat. Refrigerate 2 hours or up to overnight if possible.


2 diced fresh peaches
1 diced seeded tomato, diced
1 diced sweet onion
1 minced jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined
2 TBSP fresh chopped mint
1 TBSP honey
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons salt

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl at least two hours prior to serving. Refrigerate.

Remove pork tenderloins from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to grilling. Bring to room temperature.

Prepare your grill over medium-high heat.

Grill the pork, turning every 3 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Total cooking time, depending upon the tenderloin thickness will be approximately 12 minutes.

Alternatively, you can butterfly the tenderloins to equal thickness prior to coating with the spice rub. This will shorten the grilling time.

Remove from the grill, allow to rest 10 minutes. Serve with a spoonful of the salsa.

OK, how much easier can it get? The only problem was that the salsa was inedible. I was worried about adding the honey, I was concerned about 2 teaspoons of salt, but W-S usually does a pretty good job, so I went by the book. Boy was that a mistake. The salsa was salty and inexplicably bitter. Here's your homework crablings: figure out where this recipe went wrong!

Alrighty, I'm outta here, though with this Twitter business on my cell phone, I'm never really far away. Until next time, remember, you can do it, you can cook!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Grilled Chicken with Pepper Jelly & Honey

A man's IQ drops at least 20 points the second he puts on a baseball cap.

I forget who made that observation but I won't argue with the sentiment. I have a similar reaction when someone asks me: "Do you Twitter?"

Twitter is the Internet rage of the moment. How do I know it's hot? Easy. Twitter has joined Facebook, MySpace and Google as internet nouns that have achieved the status of verbs.

"I Twittered for an hour last night."

"I Googled myself!"

"I Facedbooked you yesterday."

Not to be left out, and as part of my ceaseless search for increased traffic, I Crabby, will attempt to Twitter with my legion of fans. Never mind that Twitter is a monumental time suck; never mind that the vast majority of information shared is trivial and pointless, I will do it for you, my loyal visitors.

For those of you who don't know, Twitter, is a running online "conversation" site, spreading information and insight - 140 characters at a time. On Twitter, you sign-up for an account, and then find people you want to "follow". Maybe you start out with a list of your friends and throw in a celebrity or two and then you get to share in their daily existence, gems like: "will I ever get my latte? line sooo long.", or "boy, new Star Trek was great". Compelling stuff I agree.

To date, I only tweet to tell my peeps when there is a new update available. But now I have decided to conduct an experiment; I have decided to embrace the beast. On Monday, June 15, 2009, your fearless leader will make himself available to the masses with live tweet updates. Yes! From 3PM - 5PM (Eastern Time), prime cooking prep time, I will share the glory that is Crabby, realtime.

You will need to have a twitter account (they're free) and you will need to "follow" me. This is accomplished by going to and clicking on the "Follow" button in the upper right corner. Then whenever I tweet, you'll see it real-time. Not only that, you'll be able to send me direct messages, and we'll be able to have a conversation without all that tedious physical interaction.

Twitter's logo is a bird. If I cooked it, it would probably taste like chicken. So let's jump right to it; Grilled Chicken with Pepper Jelly & Honey, is a perfect mid-week meal, as long as you remember to start the chicken marinating the night before. Enjoy...

Grilled Chicken with Pepper Jelly & Honey
by Crabby

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup jalapeno pepper jelly (or other sweet-hot jelly)
1 TBSP honey
1 TBSP dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 ounces sherry vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a kitchen mallet, flatten the breast to about a 1/2" thickness. The key here is not how thick, but that all the pieces are roughly equivalent in size.

In a medium bowl whisk together the pepper jelly, honey, mustard, paprika, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper.

Place the chicken breasts into a zip top bag, add the marinade and refrigerate overnight if possible.

Remove chicken from the refrigerator. Preheat your grill to medium-high.

Grill the chicken until done, depending on the thickness, anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes total grilling time.

Allow the breast to rest 10 minutes then serve.

There you have it. Simple and fast. All the real work happens the night before.

OK crablings, remember, Monday June 15th I'll be on Twitter. Think of some questions or complaints and we'll give it a go. Personally I can see only 2 possible outcomes from this experiment, either my followers list will grow into the hundreds, or this will prove to me that no one actually uses this stuff and I can go back to ignoring it.

Tweet you Monday, until then, remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Broccoli Rabe with Almonds & Raisins

Pomp & Circumstance.


Speech. Speech. Speech.


Applause. Tears.


March from Carmen.


It was graduation day at CrabCake2's high school. For the third year in a row he has been part of the orchestra for the ceremony. Given the timing and parking constraints, it's just easier for SSSal or me to drive him over and stay for the event.

As CC2 has gotten older we've come to know more and more of the graduates. There was the senior girl who helped with his middle school cross-country team, she the last of the family to attend this school. Her mom, alternately ecstatic and perplexed by the fact that for the first time in twenty-six Septembers, she won't be commuting there.

There was the fellow orchestra pit musician. A friend of two years now heading off to Chicago but offering an all too tenuous promise to return for next year's musical.

There was another senior girl, a friend for the last five years, one of his first friends at the school, walking across the track, to the stage and onto college in Illinois. There was her sun-glassed father, standing off to the side, hearing the applause while staring into the thunderous silence of an empty nest.

I tried to find a bittersweet recipe to commemorate the occasion. Broccoli Rabe with Almonds & Raisins was the best I could do. Broccoli Rabe is a sporadic visitor in these parts, so I jump on it every time I find some. The original Giada recipe called for pine nuts, but what we thought were pine nuts at the back of the pantry were actually blanched almonds. No problem. Please enjoy...

Broccoli Rabe with Almonds & Raisins
adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada DeLaurentiis

2 TBSP pine nuts or blanched almonds
1 bunch, approximately 12 to 16 ounces, broccoli rabe (rapini)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/3 cup golden raisins

In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, toast the blanched almonds until golden brown and fragrant. It's important to toss the almonds frequently once they start browning in order to stop them burning. Approximate cooking time: 7 minutes.

While the almonds are toasting, prepare an ice bath for the blanched broccoli rabe. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. When boiling, add the broccoli rabe, working in batches if necessary. Blanche for 1 minute. Remove from the boiling water and plunge into the ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.

Drain the rabe and set aside.

Using a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute until golden, about 2 minutes.

Add the rabe, raisins, a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and toss to coat.

Add the reserved liquid and cook until the stems of the rabe are tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Season with salt to taste. Just prior to serving, toss with the toasted almonds.

There you go crablings. This dish has a somewhat bitter flavor, offset perfectly by the sweetness of the golden raisins. It's more of a refined, adult taste, but since you just graduated, you can handle it.

Until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Red Sox - Yankees.

Hutu - Tutsi.

Michigan - Ohio State.

Jew - Muslim.

Shaken - Stirred.

The world is full of conflict. No matter where you turn, someone hates someone else, because...?

Well, just because.

Why can't we all just get along?

Of course, I'm no better. I have my biases, my prejudices. For me it's vegan - real person, eggplant - good vegetable, tofu - flavor. Most of the time I can overlook the failings of the other side and simply chalk up their bad decisions to a presumed abusive childhood. But there is one argument that just seems insurmountable. I speak of course of, chewy - crunchy. 

Cookies, my friends. Cookies are only cookies if they are crunchy. If they aren't crunchy, then they are mushy.  If they are mushy, then they are cake. If they are cake, then they are not cookies. Quod Erat Demonstrandum, Cogito Ergo Sum, Moe Larry Curly. The logic is flawless.

Alas, not everyone can see the oatmeal raisin on their own face. I've been repeatedly assaulted by those of you who think the only good cookie is a chewy cookie. The worst thing about this argument is that it exists in my own kitchen. The wolf is clearly in the hen house!

Shockingly, I am the only resident of Chez Crabby who likes his cookies crunchy. I am surrounded by Philistines. Like all intractable problems, we needed a mediator. We needed an envoy, an all-purpose Albright, a Kookie Kissinger. 

Enter SSSal. She has taken the Alton Brown Chewy cookie recipe and crunched it up a bit. Dark brown sugar made the cookies too crunchy, light brown made them just crunchy enough. Besides, if I stash a few and let them stale slightly, I'm happy. Peace in the Land! Huzzah! Huzzah! So please enjoy...

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Alton Brown saved by SSSal

Makes 36

4 sticks unsalted butter
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1 pound light brown sugar 
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
4 TBSP milk
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups chocolate chips (use a mix of various chips - milk, white, semisweet, bittersweet)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (or 360 degrees if convection).

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. 

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Pour the melted butter into a heavy duty mixing bowl. 

Add the sugars.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed.

Stir together the eggs, yolks, milk and vanilla extract and add to the butter/sugar mix. Blend until well combined.

Slowly add the the flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips. 

Chill the dough. I repeat, chill the dough at least 30 minutes.

Using an ice cream scooper, portion out 9 cookies per baking sheet. These are giant cookies! Bake for 14 minutes (12 minutes if using a convection oven) or until golden brown (start checking cookies after 10 minutes of baking).

NOTES: Since you melt the butter instead of softening it, this is an easy recipe to assemble. Chilling the dough for an hour or two is best. Any shorter and the dough is still warm while any longer makes it really difficult to scoop out the cookies. The amounts shows are a double recipe - these cookies freeze easily and keep the CrabCakes happy at all hours of the night and day. 

OK crablings, that was pretty easy.  This recipe results in a chewy, slightly crunchy cookie.  For a slightly crispier, (i.e., better), cookie use dark brown sugar. In truth I like these cookies straight out of the freezer, no thawing, no nuking. Warning: Overly aggressive chomping of a frozen cookie could result in a trip to the dentist. Take your time, savor the moment.

Remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pasta with Grilled Vegetables & Shrimp

Sometimes you have to spice things up.

Last Saturday night SSSal and I took a yacht cruise along the Detroit waterfront. This is an annual event for an organization SSSal is a board member of. It's also one of the few events to include spouses. 

These sort of events are always somewhat difficult. The members know each other, but the spouses invariably feel lost, indifferent or, worst case, resentful. It's all well and good to go on a yacht cruise, but face it, under normal circumstances you wouldn't go with 60 other people that only half of you knew.

But Crabby is nothing if not resourceful when creating his own good time. As an added bonus, SSSal was one of the organizers of the event and she arranged for the evenings entertainment: music and Salsa dancing lessons courtesy of Detroit's own, Mambo Marci & Jimmy Barrios.

Award-winning, short-skirted, high-heeled, pneumatic-hipped Mambo Marci was as bubbly and outgoing as you'd expect. The dance lessons also went just how you'd expect, 10 women and 2 men participating, with 25 eagle-eyed husbands and 17 sullen wives, watching. 

Yours truly did finally jump in, I love Salsa music but I just can't dance. I always end up looking like one of those slow-motion outer space explosions you see in science fiction movies, parts hurtling off in painful and improbable directions, destroying anything unfortunate enough to be in my path. No matter how hard I try, ultimately it just looks like I'm having some sort of seizure.

Mambo Marci tried, she said I'm a very good leader; I think she might have been trying to sell dance lessons. Ah well, sometimes you just have to spice things up. That brings me to today's recipe: Pasta with Grilled Vegetables & Shrimp originally didn't include the shrimp, but after reading the recipe I knew it needed a little something. Adding grilled shrimp with a spicy rub turns this light appetizer into a light dinner. So turn on some Tito Puente, mix up some mojitos and enjoy...

Pasta with Grilled Vegetables & Shrimp
from Gourmet Magazine, June 2009 and of course a Crabby tweak

3/4 pound raw, shelled shrimp
2 TBSP dry rub of choice 

1 1/2 TBSP minced garlic, about 6 small cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
6 plum (roma) tomatoes (about 2 pounds) halved lengthwise
1 large red onion, cut into 6 wedges, stem intact
3/4 pound spaghetti
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil

You need a cool side of the grill to prepare this dish, so if you have a two burner grill only pre-heat half over medium high heat. Leave the other side cold.

As the grill is heating, toss the cleaned and deveined shrimp in a large bowl with the 2 tablespoons of spice rub. I use whatever rub I have leftover from previous meals.

Place the shrimp on the hot grill and cook until done, turning once halfway through cooking, (total cooking time approximately 3 - 4 minutes). Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Place the cut onions and tomatoes in a large bowl and toss with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper the vegetables. 

Take a sheet of aluminum foil and fold into a small bowl shape. Add the minced garlic and remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Place this bowl on he cold side of the grill as far away from the heat as possible.

Place another sheet of aluminum foil on the hot side of the grill. Transfer the vegetables to the foil and grill for 4 minutes per side, or until the vegetables develop nice grill marks and have softened slightly. 

Remove the vegetables and garlic from the grill and allow to cool slightly.

While the vegetables are cooling, boil the spaghetti according to box instructions.

Roughly chop the onions and tomatoes. You may wish to discard the skins of the tomatoes and any excess seeds. Put the vegetables in a large serving bowl and add the garlic and oil.

Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Add the pasta to the serving bowl and toss with the vegetables. Immediately add the grated parmesan and toss again. If the dish is too dry, add the retained pasta water as needed. 

Check for seasoning, you may need additional salt and a touch of oil.

Serve the pasta in bowls, garnishing with the chopped basil and 3 or 4 grilled shrimp.

I'll admit it crablings, this meal is a little fussy.  It didn't seem that way when I started, but at the end of dinner there was this pile of wreckage in the kitchen that I was amazed by. It had to do with all that chopping and tossing and setting aside. Make sure and have a lot of helping hands around when you prepare this dish.

OK, I'm out of here for now. Remember, you can do it , you can cook and if you try, you can dance.