Thursday, August 26, 2010

NY Times Tuna Ceviche with Yellow Wax Beans


for the ceviche (serves four, altered very slightly from here)

1 pound very fresh raw albacore or yellowfin, cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 shallot or small red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 to 2 serrano or jalapeƱo chiles, spicy as you like it, seeded and minced
1 tbsp. capers, rinsed, drained, and minced
1 ripe medium avocado, cut in small dice
1 small ripe mango, cut in small dice
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or to taste
blue corn chips, to serve

1) Prepare the tuna and put it back in the fridge.
2) In a medium bowl, combine the onion, garlic, chile, capers, avocado, mango, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Toss together gently. Add the tuna to the bowl.
3) Stir together the remaining lime juice and the olive oil. Pour over the tuna, and toss the mixture together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4) Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes, stirring gently from time to time.
5) Just before serving, add the cilantro and toss together. Taste and adjust seasonings.
6) Serve with blue corn chips, because they're crunchy and delicious.

for the wax beans (this recipe's mine!)

1/2 pound yellow wax beans, trimmed as you like them
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping cup of chopped fresh tomatoes (I used mini Romas from my garden, but any will work)
2 tbsp leche de coco
4 scallions, minced fine, white and green parts divided
salt and fresh black pepper

1) Heat your oil in a skillet.
2) Add yellow wax beans, white parts of the scallion, tomatoes and some salt.
3) Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes (the beans should be crisp-tender, and the tomatoes should be forming a glaze). If your pan gets too dry, add a little white wine or chicken stock.
4) Add the leche de coco. (I have some just sitting in my freezer, and it is super useful. Importantly, we're not using coconut milk here--no, no. We're using that sugary stuff people make pina coladas out of, but this is way better.)
5) Salt and pepper to taste. All the acidity in the tomatoes should be tempered and heightened by the leche de coco, but if you want to adjust the amount of that too and make it sweeter, go right ahead.
6) Sprinkle with green parts of the scallions.
7) Eat it up. This is so simple and delicious, I can't even tell you.

for the beer

22 oz. of Pelican Brewery's India Pelican Ale

1) Open Pelican IPA. Serve with this food.


We went back to the Pacific Northwest on a very rushed but awesome-packed trip and spent two nights camping near Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast. And one of the rugged, majestic, wild, magnificent natural beauties of the Oregon Coast is its frickken awesome beer.

Sometimes it's worth it in life to take a detour. Gabe and I and Cousin Brad took one to Pacific City, in the opposite direction we were meant to be driving, to drink some beer. Now, this might have been construed as rather unforgivable on our part, but we're Red Commies deep down and picked up extra to take back to the campsite with us. It's impressive how fast people are willing to forgive you when you're handing them beer.

You're going to notice the fabulous frothy head on this brew right off the bat. Sniff it. Go on, put your nose right in there. It's like putting your head in a pine tree while smoking a marijuana cigarette. Citrus hops are present, also floral hops--basically, if you can think of a hop profile, you'll find it. Malts for this one are the silent partner, a quiet backbone leaning towards caramel. Essentially, if you are like me, and you like the idea of drinking a beer that tastes like pine resin and grapefruit juice shaken and poured from a jar, then buy a 22 of this beer INSTANTLY. Pair it with a strong, aggressive seafood, like this ceviche. Then cry when you've eaten it all up.


I used to work at TGI Friday's.

According to Wikipedia, "Friday's has a large menu with an emphasis on alcoholic beverages."

That's true.

Everything in Office Space is also true.

Anyway, anyone who ever worked for Friday's, and we walk among you, has a Best Friday's Story. I worked there for a long-ass time, so mine are epic. They generally involved pranks, pranks played on both people we liked and people we didn't like one bit, pranks perpetrated and conceived by myself, Gabe, and Luis Nunez, pranks which included but were not limited to:

1) Meticulously put clear plastic over the tops of martini glasses and then trim the edges with a razor so the plastic is invisible. Hang martini glass with the others. Wait.

(delight and surprise index rating: 6)

2) Tell your trainee that he needs to "empty out the old hot water" at the beverage station, and see how many pitchers he fills.

(delight and surprise index rating: 3)

3) Take a clean towel, get it damp, flour it thoroughly. Fry the towel. Make sure the towel is nicely browned. Put it on ciabatta bread with mayo and lettuce and tomato and such, and garnish with fries. Give someone you don't like a "free fried chicken sandwich." Wait.

(delight and surprise index rating: 8)

4) Tie all the beer bottles in the beer fridge together with clear fishing line. Wait.

(delight and surprise index rating: 6)

5) Take all the salad and all the shelves out of the little salad fridge. Put on a coat. Hide in the salad fridge (pick the smallest person--that happened to be me, in our case). Send your manager to make you an emergency salad. Come at him like a crazed spider monkey when he opens the door. Watch him land in the dish station.

(delight and surprise index rating: 9)


I went to meet up with my friend Melinda the other day, and by the time I got there, she had made new friends. We ended up all going for dessert. These new friends happened to be very cool restaurant people who will remain anonymous because this story is made of awesome with awesome killer fire sauce on top.


One of the gents, long ago, worked at Friday's. He came in to work one morning at around eleven to see the head line cook--big African American gent, very reliably steady and together--throwing up violently in the corner. The general manager, far from looking pissed because the guy was hung over, looked deeply concerned and was trying to comfort him. The cook, meanwhile, was inconsolable, even after his stomach was empty of breakfast.

Here's why.

It seems that he had opened a bag of flour and a rat had stowed away there. It was probably a young and small rat, not very noticeable, and the flour bag had been packaged by machine, and when the rat got hungry, it ate some flour and then took a nap. Problem solved. In any case, the cook had a rat jump out at him when he tore the top open, which would have ruined anyone's morning already.

But the rat freaked out and leaped and ran across the grill.


The rat didn't like the grill. So the rat leaped again.

Into the fryer.

Rats, apparently, have a great deal of moisture in their bodies. So in the hot fry oil, it...'ploded, as it were. Inside-out fried crispy rat within seconds.

And a sad, sad cook for the rest of the day.

LYNDSAY: So did you guys change the fry oil?
MAN WHO WILL REMAIN ANONYMOUS: I honestly don't know.

Best. Friday's Story. EVER.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Garden Herb and Tomato Israeli Couscous


1 cup Israeli couscous
1 tsp butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cumin
a couple dashes of red pepper flake
3-5 dried curry leaves
1 2/3 cups vegetable stock

as many garden tomatoes as you like
dash of extra virgin olive oil
dash of tarragon vinegar
1 can of pink beans or roman/kidney beans or chickpeas
1 cup minced Italian flat leaf parsley
1 sprig fresh oregano, minced
2/3 cup diced chives
salt and fresh pepper to taste

1 bottle Green Flash Hop Head Red

1) Melt the butter over medium heat until foaming subsides.
2) Add couscous with the chopped garlic and stir to toast, about three or four minutes--you want the pasta beginning to be golden and fragrant, and the garlic to be cooked. When the couscous smells nice and browned, add all the dry spices including the curry leaves. Toast these as well, 30 seconds or so.
3) Add the vegetable stock. Bring to a steady boil. Cover lid. Turn heat to low.
4) After about eight minutes, remove lid, stir, and turn off heat. Then replace lid and let it sit for another 5 minutes or so. You don't want mushy couscous, just cooked through couscous.
5) Meanwhile, chop your garden tomatoes, mince your parsley, rinse your beans, la la la. Put it all in a bowl with your fresh herbs. Sprinkle this with olive oil, tarragon vinegar, salt, and black pepper.
6) Fluff your couscous again. Stir it in the mix. Season again, to taste.
7) Open bottle of Green Flash Hop Head Red.
8) Enjoy together.


I drank Green Flash Hop Head Red for my birthday. (Photo by Melinda Caric. I'm such a turd, only the couscous photo above is actually mine this time round.)

I turned 30, kids. WHEEE! More on the later, MUCH more on that in a sec here, settle yourselves. Ok, so--Green Flash Hop Head Red. I had it at 4th Avenue Pub in Brooklyn, owned by the gentleman scholar Kirk Struble, and it's some pretty divine sh**.

It's a tough business making a good red style. (Maybe that's why Green Flash claims this beer is, alternatively, an American amber/IPA hybrid. But boy, is it ever red. And this is a grand red. It's resinous, it's bright copper, it's sticky, it's red-grapefruit-tastic, it's bright, it's sweet, it's balanced, it's wonderful. You're going to get a vague note of cinnamon within the slightly burnt-sugar sweetness, and the bitterness continues all the way through to a very pleasant landing so far as mouthfeel goes. A delightful brew. And I drank it on my birthday.


Beer is practically a stranger to food at this point. I'm very sorry for this. It's my fault. I've been writing this new book, see. And a Sherlock Holmes comic series for Moonstone Books. So beer forgot about food and wandered off to be alone for a while, take a little "me" time. Not to mention, Gabe has been working two jobs with one day off. And the day Gabriel turns to me--with one day off per week--and says, "You know what I really feel like doing today, Lynds? Let's blog." That will be the day...nope. That day doesn't seem too close on the horizon line.


It was my thirtieth birthday the other day. We played in the city the night before, and then went up the Hudson to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and the next day reveled at 4th Pub in Brooklyn. It was epic.

Meanwhile, I have carpal tunnel pretty bad. It's getting better with the wrist braces, but I'm writing too much for it not to flare up quite often. It's slightly embarrassing, actually. This...impediment. Also my hair turned white, and I have the gout, and lost all my teeth. I'm gonna fall out of bed and break my hip tomorrow, maybe, for variety. Nothing like nerve injuries to really ring in a new decade.

I had a great time with my friends, though. They're swell people, all of them absolutely top notch, and I had a pretty birthday dress. Pretty birthday dresses are very important to me, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Also I was wearing my nicely-wrapped-package-necklace. Shown above. Les Klinger says it makes me look like a birthday gift. APPROPRIATE.


Blue Hill at Stone Barns

We had, for my birthday, in the company of the ever-wonderful Luis and Allison:


fried baby corn "corn dogs"
individual mini roasted tomato and goat cheese burgers
fresh garden produce on little pins dressed in a vinaigrette (tomato version pictured above, from their website, that's not mine)
fried yellow wax beans
sesame crusted squash
3 charcuterie meats with a liver mousse sandwiched in dark salted chocolate


bluefin crudo with caviar, green tomato, and pig's ear vinaigrette


18-hour charcoal barbecued heirloom onion with olive tapenade, onion creme fraiche, vegetable puree, and preserved blueberry


baked curried egg with fresh beans under herbed rice paper


gnocchi with chicken mushrooms


fresh baked sourdough with three infused salts: shittake salt, tomato salt, red pepper salt


pork chin, snout, jowl, and loin with avocado and heirloom grains


ribeye with smoked eggplant and purslane


apricot in elderflower tapioca with yogurt sorbet
cornbread with raspberries and peaches
flax brownie with preserved fruit
wild strawberries
chocolate dusted almonds
meringue with raspberries

What a way to turn 30, kids. I am one lucky little skunk. The picture below isn't mine either, but I wanted to show you Blue Hill. It's breathtaking.