When you mix an athlete, a nerd, beer, and good ingredients this is what you get.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cedar Smoked Salmon with Paprika Brussels Slaw

Last Labor Day we spent the weekend with some friends down in Old Saybrook, CT, where we were introduced to the concept of cedar-smoked salmon. It was delicious to say the least, but since it was the last weekend of summer and near the end of grilling season, we didn't get a chance to try it ourselves until now. A couple weeks ago I saw cedar planks at the grocery store and just had to grab some to give this a try.

The first step is to get the cedar planks soaking in water, submerged and weighted down, for about 30 minutes. The planks need to be soaked all the way through, or they run the risk of catching on fire when you put them on the grill.

While the plank soaked I prepared the salmon and slaw. The salmon was from the grocery store; a cut called "chef's choice cut". I didn't realize until I got it home, but the skin had already been removed. Ordinarily, this would make the salmon virtually un-grillable, but since we were using the plank we figured they'd be fine, and they were. I dressed both sides of the fillets with olive oil, minced garlic, fresh dill, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon and let them sit for about 20 minutes while the plank continued to soak.

Anthony and I planted Brussels sprouts in our garden, so we thought we should come up with some creative uses for them before we have Brussels sprouts coming out our ears in a couple months. We almost simultaneously thought of a Brussels slaw, using shaved Brussels sprouts in place of cabbage. I whisked together a dressing of 1/2 cup mayo, 2 T apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp celery salt, and 1/2 tsp onion powder. I shaved down about 20 Brussels sprouts using the slicing attachment on my food processor to get nice thin slivers and diced up some white onion. I tossed it all together, added salt and pepper and let it sit while we grilled the fish.

When the plank was completely soaked, we carefully placed the prepared salmon on the plank and placed it directly on the hot charcoal grill. We put the cover on, sat on the patio with a cocktail and took in the aroma of the smoking cedar. The salmon just cooked on one side, about 15 minutes. (Make sure you stay nearby and keep an eye on it just in case the cedar catches fire!) We plated the salmon over a bed of the slaw and dug in. The smokiness balanced really well with the brightness of the lemon and dill and the slaw was better than we could have hoped. Anthony went back for seconds of a VEGETABLE. yeah, seriously.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


     My brother graduated from BC yesterday (congrats, L!). There's a great spot near his school called Eagle Deli that makes great burgers (from what I hear) so being at his graduation made me crave some red meat. Today after work I got home and opened the fridge and decided to see what I could do as far as a burger went.

  I decided I'd cook the beef in a garlic and butter oil so I got that going in a skillet and threw the bun in. Once I had a nice toasted garlic bread bun, I spread some of Katie's famous baked potato dip on it (sour cream, scallions, bacon bits, cheddar). Like I said, my brother graduated this weekend so we had some leftover from when the family came up. Once the burger was a medium rare in the garlic/butter/oil I threw two slices of American cheese on it and let it melt under the broiler. 

  Next I made the salad that topped the burger. Sauteed onions, a tiny cherry pepper, some shredded Brussels sprouts, a few drops of Sriracha and some raspberry agave that we had on the bar. Topped it off with some ketchup and it was a meal and a half on a bun. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Check out my new food/tech project on Kickstarter! Contribute a few bucks, if we reach the goal funding amount by the given date you'll be charged for the amount you pledged, if not, you don't get charged.


BONUS: There's a video montage of Katie and I performing bad infomercial acting and a montage of me cooking a Chopped@Home style dish after I describe the project. Check it out!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sausage and Peppers

   Katie had rehearsal (she's a dancer in case I haven't mentioned that before) so I was home alone for the night. I cracked a beer and sunk into the couch. Chopped was on. I think you know where this is going... I got hungry and opened the fridge. I saw a red pepper that needed to be cooked, some sausage, leftover homemade sauce from the pizza we made last night, and some almost stale bread. Immediately, I thought, sausage and peppers sandwich. But Ted Allen got the best of me so I had to reinvent it.

   I fried the sausage in a cast iron skillet for some caramelization then popped it in the oven to finish. When that was finished, I fried up some toast in the sausage grease. So far, pretty simple.

   Sausage and pepper risotto came next. Not so simple. Arborio rice, sauteed onions and garlic with oil. Once that starts drying up (which is very quickly) I started adding a mixture of the leftover sauce, milk and water, with a splash of vinegar. Keep stirring the rice on medium while adding the liquid as needed (often). I added salt, black pepper and red pepper. It takes a very long time to start getting tender, be patient. When the crunch was starting to fade from the rice, I added some of the sausage (chopped), red pepper, and parm. Once the rice tasted al dente, I pulled it and cooled it down quickly.
   Once cooled, I separated out enough to fill two ramekins and mixed this amount with one egg. I sprayed and filled two ramekins and popped them in the oven at about 400F. Next, I got to the sausage gravy. I used what we had. Made a roux, added skim milk, a ton of black pepper, the rest of the sausage, and some parm. Once thick, I killed the heat and turned my attention to the oven, praying that the risotto molds would hold their shape with the addition of the egg.

   As you can see it ended up holding shape. I took a dish that I enjoy and reinvented it. I approached this thinking that I would love cooking this because it would be fun to try a bunch of different things but didn't really think it would taste that great to me. As much as I love to eat, this is often the case when I get creative in the kitchen, the journey is much more fun than the destination. This one, however, broke the mold and I can honestly say that it was one of my favorite things to eat that I've ever cooked.

Steak Cakes Benedict

   Last weekend, we had the pleasure of having my old roommate and good friend, Tim Delp, stay with us - stay with us is said loosely, I'm not sure he made it back a single night but his luggage was surely in our place. We decided to do a Sunday brunch and get a few of the guys together before he left. Tim, Kyle, and Jack joined Katie and I for brunch. We had made steak tip skewers the night before and we had some leftovers. I've been on this "cakes" fit ever since the crab Chopped@Home so I decided to make basically the same recipe as the crab cakes but with steak, cheddar more onions in place of the crab and the grapefruit. Other than that it was basically the same (plus a splash or two of the Budweiser I was drinking to get the consistency right).

   Instead of just pan frying them, I decided to step it up a bit and slice hollow rings of red bell pepper and stuff the cakes inside, then flour and fry them. If you look closely at the picture, you can see the edge of the pepper poking out under the egg. The rest is a simple Benedict as described earlier on the blog. Katie said, "I think we need to start a restaurant called 'Cakes' and serve only things like this." I had made a bbq chicken cake with a bleu cheese tartar earlier in the week. I guess they came out pretty well. More cakes to come I'm sure...