Sunday, July 31, 2011

Scallop Ceviche

Today I feel old and tired as I take a lone and quite walk at our local cemetery and gaze across the markers, wishing I was back in my home town, unable to attend my friends funeral.  I’m only comforted by my memories of times long ago, we single chefs, making road trip after road trip up and down the California coastline, eating and drinking our way from one place to the next.  I recall our laughter, tears and deep conversation over matters I no longer can remember. 

More now than ever I feel time in my life running short, knowing that I have lived more than half of it already.   I have outlived my Mother, Father, and Brother with most of my relatives gone on my mother’s side and only my sister and I survive on my Fathers side of the family.  My fathers side has seemed to only barley continue generation after generation since the Nazi’s thinned out our family tree (my Great Grandfather changed our family name “Stetzel” too Applegate when they came over on the boat in January 1939) but enough about that.

My fondest memories of my time traveling up and down the Coastline with my friends were the many types of places we ate and drank at.  We were always enamored by the many types of cultural foods you can find in a short distance.  The one place I recall more than any was ‘The Fat Cat Cafe”, were all our trips started.

After closing down the restaurant were we all worked together, usually at 2AM we would head out for Avila Breach which we made our first stop in the morning to have breakfast.  Our menu choice was always the same.  Eggs Benedict, Biscuits and Gravy, and Seafood Omelets with LOTS of avocado.  After breakfast we would then plan our route either north or south on Highway 1. 

 Now that my friend Eddie is gone, all I’m left with are those memories.  Good Memories.  Memories that for now make me weep and smile at the same time.   

 Scallop Ceviche

1 pound scallops, sliced into quarters
1 cup cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 green Serrano chilies, seeded and minced
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup finely diced red onion
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
Salt to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

2. Spoon the Ceviche into small (4-ounce) glasses and garnish with cilantro.

Here is the reason I picked this recipe.  When all the ingredients are fresh and handled with great care, it always brings me back to my memories of everything California.  The sea air, foggy mornings, the sound of the surf, the sound of seagulls in the background, and so many other items going on around me that never seemed to matter until they were missed.  This recipe represents those memories. 


Monday, July 25, 2011


I don’t dig cooking in my kitchen during the summer.  Well, that’s not totally the truth.  I don’t like using my stove in the kitchen or any device that generates heat.  I blame all those summers as a kid growing up in California with no central air.  All we had was a swamp cooler that my dad swore by.  If you ask me all it did was make our house smell and forced my dad to walk around the house naked.  
During these hot months finding something cool and refreshing sometimes takes creative thinking.  Cooking without heat can be a daunting task but not impossible.  You just need to think out of the box.  I often think to the Mediterranean for inspiration.  The food has always seemed refreshing and creative to me.  Now, I’m fully aware that the food goes back several thousand years and nothing really is new under the sun when it comes to that region.   The food always strikes me as cool, refreshing, and easy to make, and when it comes to a hot sweltering day, nothing beats easy and quick that won’t require heating the kitchen. 

When I have one of those days, which seems more often than not lately, this recipe comes to mind. So since I promise a co-work I would put this recipe to print and share it with her I thought I ought to stop procrastinating and do the deed and hammer at the keypad.  I might add I’m writing this sitting in front of our AC vent.   Ahhhhhhhhh!


4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
Two 1-pound 3-ounce cans chick-peas, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup well stirred Tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 cup olive oil, or to taste
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

In a pestle and mortar, mash the garlic to a paste with the salt.

In a food processor purée the chick-peas with the garlic paste, the Tahini, the lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the oil, and 1/2 cup water, scrape down the sides, until the hummus is smooth and add salt to taste. Add water, if necessary, to thin the hummus to the desired consistency and transfer the hummus to a bowl.

Clean out your food processor.  Next purée the remaining 1/4 cup oil with the parsley until the oil is bright green and the parsley is minced.  Transfer the parsley oil to a small jar. The hummus and the parsley oil may be made 3 days in advance and kept covered and chilled. Divide the hummus between shallow serving dishes and smooth the tops. Drizzle the hummus with the parsley oil. Serve the hummus with the pita.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Declaration of Independence

Happy Birthday America!

And to all those who serve and protect these words and our way of life and the freedom that it affords, may God watch over you, protect you, and keep you. May God's grace smile upon you.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches

As the Subway door slams shut on my Camera backpack I have to force in on the crowd of people crammed in the Subway car to make room for the door behind me to close. Anxiety has begun to set in. I can feel the stares of people looking at me while I’m holding up the car with my backpack, they knowing fully well that I’m not from around here. Sweat begins to beads up on my forehead and I realize I’m face to face to an African American woman. Not just standing next too, but close too in a way that if a wrong movement or gesture is made, could have resulted in a lawsuit or an assault. Not being accustomed to being so close to a stranger in this way and feeling my anxiety and sweat increasing by the moment, I offered up a comment to the lovely lady to ease the moment. “So, you come here often?”

I suppose when you visit a city, its just not complete until you get those kinds of experiences. In retrospect, I have a fond memory of those moments with total stranger and being able to produce a smile and laughter. Many of my food experiences would not be what they are without the journey. Sometimes the trip and the anticipation to that event make the overall memory.

I promised myself that of the dozen or so things I wanted to try in Chicago this time; Italian Beef was one of them. I could kick myself for never trying it during the half dozen times I’ve been back east. So this time I hit pay dirt. I had a simple but yet delicious Italian Beef Sandwich. We ate at a friends restaurant called “Smokin Will’s” that he had just opened. Since I have no reference to compare the Italian beef to in past experiences, I can only tell you that is was juicy, tender and full of flavor. The bread was awesome and wonderfully appropriate. I can’t recall the type of bread my friend Will said he used, but suffice to say, it was a good match for his Italian Beef.


Origins of the sandwich are disputed, but one early vendor, Al's No. 1 Italian Beef, Chicago, opened its first stand in 1938.

One story has it that the Italian Beef sandwich was started by Italian immigrants who worked for the old Union Stock Yards. They often would bring home some of the tougher, less desirable cuts of beef sold by the company. To make the meat more palatable, it was slow-roasted to make it more tender, then slow-simmered in a spicy broth for flavor. Both the roasting and the broth used Italian-style spices and herbs. The meat was then thinly sliced across the grain and stuffed into fresh Italian bread.

Italian beef became popular at Italian weddings, where it was an inexpensive meal for the guests. The women would make large quantities, and then make individual sandwiches which they wrapped in paper and served.

By 1954 a local restaurant was advertising its "Pizza, Spaghetti, Ravioli, [and] Italian Beef Sandwiches" in the Chicago Tribune.

So with that little cliff note history lesson here is my take on the Italian Beef Sandwich. I think it is an easy and delicious meal that can be duplicated in your own kitchen.

Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches


The beef:
1 boneless beef roast, about 3 pounds with most of the fat trimmed off

Cooking time: Allow 2 hours to cook and another 3 hours to firm the meat for slicing in the refrigerator if you don't have a meat slicer. You need 90 minutes to cook a 3 pound roast, or about 30 minutes per pound. You can cook this well in advance and refrigerate the meat and juice and heat it up as needed.

About the beef. Top sirloin, top round, or bottom rounds are preferred in that order. For tenderness, especially if you cannot cut paper thin slices.

You may also use chuck, a fattier cut, so the meat will be more tender and flavorful. Problem is that you'll have to chill the pan drippings after cooking in order to skim off the fat.

The rub
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder. If you wish, omit the garlic powder and stud the roast with fresh garlic.
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

6 cups of hot water
4 cubes of beef bouillon

I have encountered lively debate on the makeup of the juice. Some insist you must use bouillon to be authentic, while others use beef stock, veal stock, or a soup base, and simmer real onions and garlic in it.

The sandwich
high gluten rolls sliced lengthwise but hinged on one side or Italian bread loaves cut widthwise into 10 portions

3 medium sized green bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil

The How’s and Why’s:

1) cut small slits in the surface of the meat every inch or so and stick slivers of fresh garlic into the meat. If you do this, leave the garlic out of the rub. Otherwise, mix the rub in a bowl. Sprinkle it generously on the meat and massage it in. There will be some left over. Do not discard it; you will use it in your Bouillon. Let the meat sit at room temp for about 60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the grill or oven to 400°F.

2) Pour the water into a 9 x 13" baking pan and heat it to a boil on the stove top. Dissolve the bouillon in the water. It may look thin, but it will cook down and concentrate during the roasting. Pour the remaining rub into the pan. Place a rack on top of the pan. Place the roast on top of the rack above the juice. Roast at 400°F until interior temperature is 140°F for medium rare, about 30 minutes per pound. This may seem long, but you are cooking over water and that slows things down. The temp will rise about 5°F more as it rests.

Be Warned:. This recipe is designed for a 9 x 13" baking pan. If you use a larger pan, the water may evaporate and the juice will burn. If you have to use a larger pan, add more water. Regardless of pan size, keep an eye on the pan to make sure it doesn't dry out during cooking. Add more water if necessary.

3) While the meat is roasting, cut the bell peppers in half and remove the stems and seeds. Rinse, and cut into 1/4" strips. Cook the peppers in a frying pan over a medium high heat with enough olive oil to coat the bottom, about 1 tablespoon. When they are getting limp and the skins begin to brown, about 15 minutes, they are done. Set aside at room temp.

4) Remove the roast and the juice pan. Let the meat rest for about 30, and then place it in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Let it cool for about 3 hours, long enough for the meat to firm up. This will make slicing easier. Slice the meat against the grain as thin as humanly possible, preferably with a meat slicer. If you don't have a slicer, use a thin blade and draw it along the red part of the meat. If you try to cut down through the crust you will be cutting it too thick.

5) Taste the Bouillon. If you want you can thin it with more water, or make it richer by cooking it down on top of the stove. After Slicing, soak the meat in the juice for about 1 minute at a low simmer. That warms the meat and makes it very wet. You can't leave the meat in the juice for more than 10 minutes or else it starts to curl up, squeezes out its natural moisture, and toughens.

6) To assemble the sandwich, start by spooning some juice directly onto the bun. Get it wet. Then lay on the beef generously at which point spoon on more juice. Top it with the bell pepper. If you want it "wet", dip the whole sandwich in juice. Be warned, you wont be clean once you finish eating it that way.

I hope you have fun with this and you experience a little bit of what Chicago Culinary Industry has to offer. I am of the strong opinion that Chicago is very much overlooked when it comes to delicious foods and creations that they offer up at both ends of the food spectrum. In my previous post I said Chicago is my second favorite city, my first being San Francisco. That being said, I have yet to hit New York. In the next few years I will let you know the outcome and if San Francisco and Chicago still stand out on the top of my lists.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Chicago, My Second Favorite City

Chicago, IL
Trotter's To Go
Giordano’s Pizza

As my vacation time draws to a close here in Chicago, I’m beginning to reflect on many of the sights, sounds, and tasting experiences. I have had the opportunity to sample some of the Windy Cities finest. When I write “finest” I’m also not meaning there “known finest.” I’m not talking about those places that you will see on the Food channel or the Cook network, nor will you read about them in the food review of the Chicago tribune or a blurb in Bon Appétit. Though, there was a few I had to stop in and try out, like Trotters To Go, Giordano’s Pizza to name a few, but there were also a few that have a soft spot in my hart like, Lucky Dog and Oberweis Ice Cream. I have also discovered a few new places that I will most definitely add to my “I Will Return” list, like Smokin’ Will’s Restaurant, Sur La Table, and Floriole Bakery.
Lucky Dog

I’m half sad that I’m leaving Chicago tomorrow mostly because I enjoy the time with my family whom I don’t get to spend time with as much as I would like, but also because the fresh food and available ingredients that are everywhere.
Oberweis Ice Cream

Sur La Table

So after 1200 miles of driving and children in the back seat asking “Are we there yet?” were beginning the sad journey back to our glorious Wyoming 8 days later. Even though I will miss this great city of Chicago, I yearn for our humble and quite digs and the background of the Wind River Mountains above our sleepy little town.

Floriole Bakery
In the upcoming months I will share my experiences with you and also some of the ingredients that I was lucky to obtain. I will tease you with some items that you can duplicate at home but still be sophisticated if the mood strikes. So until then, Cheers!!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

To My Nephew

Isn’t it enough that time plays “River Dance” all up and down our bodies and stomps the living daylights out of us? My Nephew is graduating today and even though he’s my sister’s kid, I’m feeling age mentally kicking the crap out of me. I blame my memories for being so vivid. I can replay the time when my Mom, Sister, and I were making a trip back from Riverton, Wyo. with my Nephew in his car seat sucking his thumb with his pointer finger and bird finger stuck up both his nostrils. We had to pull the car over because all 3 of us were laughing so hard we had tears rolling down our cheeks at such an innocent sight.

That was 18 years ago. For my memory, it seems just this year. But time is funny that way. Something they don’t teach you growing up is growing old, how memories will be so valuable but again so painful. My mother tried to explain that to me, but it was hard to understand. It’s something you can be aware of, but you won’t understand it until you are there.

As I’m sitting here staring at his graduation card, I struggle for something profound and useful to write, Something that might stay with him in the back of his mind, Something that might impact a fraction of his life when I’m long gone and forgotten. I could write a great quote from some great writer or thinker, but that’s clique and corny and that is so not my personality. So, I will give you this story that I listen too once and I will try and not screw it up in repeating it. I always found it full of truth. With the way my brain works it was one of those things that stuck with me for the past 27 years. I have applied it to almost every aspect of my life sometimes successfully sometimes with great failure, but I always returned to this philosophy in its simplistic terms

“When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar........and the beer.

“A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents of the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed. "Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided,” I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends, your favorite passions--things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

"The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else--the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house, and fix the disposal.

"Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand." One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.

The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers."

To all the Graduates this year and years too come, I wish you happiness in all you will do, whether its prestigious or not, whether it makes you rich or not, whether you become a Doctor or Janitor, regardless, I wish you happiness in what you do and become.

Fanito! (But really, is just the beginning of a great wonderious adventure)

Friday, May 20, 2011


My father spent quite a bit of time living in Japan and Korea when he was younger. Living in Korea wasn’t so great seeing how it was during the Korean War and he was a communications specialist for the US Army. Dad never talked much about the war itself but often talked about time spent with his closest and dearest friend right up to his death. Dad lived in Korea from 1950 till 1953 when the armistice was signed on July 27th between North and South Korea. Shortly after that he was transferred to Japan and there he stayed until 1961.

Like his time in Korea, Dad never talked much about his service in Japan. The culture did, however, have a huge impact on him when it came to food, drink, and cleanliness. I became familiar with Saki, Hot Pots, Asian Noodles (Soba, Udon, and Ramen) and many other items growing up because Dad had his favorites that he craved. I think this might account for my Sisters and mine affinity to many different and exotic foods.

A month or so ago I saw an episode of Food Jammers making a hot tub with a built in Hot Pot and they made Shabu-Shabu. It brought me back to when my Dad first introduced me to this dish. I was pretty young and I remember my Father kept saying you have to dip the meat in the broth and say “Swish Swish” which later in life I found out was literally the translation of Shabu-Shabu. Go figure!

Shabu Shabu Hot Pot, Electric Mongolian Hot PotShabu-Shabu

For the broth and vegetables:
7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
One 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of your knife
8 scallions, white and 1 inch of the green parts, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Max Burton Mr. Max Table Top Burner (Black)1 tablespoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil
1 small Napa cabbage, cored and thinly shredded
6 carrots, thinly sliced
2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced
1 1/2 pounds boneless shell or sirloin steak
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds, drained, and shocked in ice water

For the sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon prepared wasabi*
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ready! Set! Cook!
To make the broth, combine the stock, ginger, garlic, scallions, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Strain, discard the solids, and return the stock to the saucepan. Keeping the heat at medium to medium-low, maintain a slow, steady simmer while preparing the dish. Add the cabbage and simmer for 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large platter. Do the same for the carrots, peppers, and mushrooms, cooking the carrots and peppers for 3 minutes and the mushrooms for 2 minutes. Arrange each in a separate mound on the platter as they are cooked.

Place the beef in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until slightly stiff. This makes it easier to slice thinly. Cut the beef against the grain into paper-thin slices and arrange decoratively on a different platter. Add the peas to the platter.

To make the sauce, combine the sour cream, wasabi, chives, and mustard in a small bowl. Thin with water as desired. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.

Almost Done!
Set the fondue pot in the middle of the table, fill it with the broth, and bring to a simmer. It is up to each of your guests, in turn, to finish cooking this dish. Diners choose the vegetables they want and place them in their empty soup bowls. Then they take as much of the raw beef as they want and cook it in the fondue pot for 2 to 3 seconds (Hence the Swish Swish term). Next they add the vegetables selected, which should warm up in about 1 minute. Finally, using a slotted spoon, diners transfer their beef and vegetables from the fondue pot to their bowls and then ladle on some hot broth and a spoonful of the sauce.

Gekkeikan Sake

Takara Sake

This is a lot of fun and makes for good conversation around a table. I will recommend a good Saki such as Gekkeikan or Takara to go with your meal. Keep in mind traditionally if you have rice with your Shabu-Shabu you will not serve Sake with it as Sake is looked at as being a part of the meal and should not be served with rice. If you have rice then a Japanese beer would be more appropriate. Of course, in the end it’s up too you what you want, but that’s just a bit of Japanese dinning cultural faux pas.

Oh yeah, don’t forget your toast at the start of the meal “Kampi!”


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kobe Beef Steak and Main Lobster Tails

42 years ago and 9ish months (September 1968), a 16 year old Surfer girl and boy went to go see Planet of the Apes at a drive-in after a day of Surfing in the California Sun. May 3rd 1969 along came me! Go figure! That’s pretty much all I know about my real birth parents. Would have loved to know more but California Law’s and culture at those times didn’t allow for a lot of information exchange as is the case now days. 42 years later I wonder how I’m half way across the country living in a very remote state, happily married for 13 years and rising 2 children, already retired from one profession and working on my second. Life has taken so many strange and unexpected directions.

Now, I don’t typically celebrate my Birthdays anymore, mainly because it lost some appeal for me when I lost both my Mother and Father. I mean really, it Mom’s and Dad’s that make that day special. So, now it’s more of an opportunity for me to justify buying something I normally would not. My wife also thought it would not be right if I also didn’t add the fact that I milk it for 3 months prior to my Birthday for gifts (That’s her story but I don’t think it would hold water in court). I am blessed to have great people in my life, two of which gave us for Christmas this year some gift cards from an outfit called Lobster Gram. So with Gift cards in hand I sought out the Lobster Gram web site to place a Birthday dinner order.

I won’t go into a lot of needless detail about the website, but I really think I couldn’t do it justice with its wide range of selections. I highly recommend you check it out for yourself. After about an hour of back and forth I settle for the following items; Main Lobster tails 6-7 oz., Kobe Beef steaks, and a 1Lb. of Shrimp.

And here my friends is the results of one of the best meals I have had in maybe two years!!

Kobe Beef steak
*Look at that fat marbling*

6-7oz Main Lobster Tails

Tail in Hand
The steaks are just simply seasoned with Kosher Salt and Black pepper.  I wanted to experience the flavor of these items in there natural state.  The Lobster was not seasoned at all.
I allowed the steaks to to rest with the seasoning for about 20 minutes all the while I prepped the Lobster and the Shrimp.

Just in case you were scared I blew my diet (laugh) the cocktail Sauce was Fat FREE!
And off to the grill we went

FYI Children don't give a rip about Lobster or Steak.  Even if the things were coated in chocolate and peanut butter they would still want hot dogs, so they got Hot Dogs and Mom and I ate like Lotto winners! 
Getting close to Dinner time, colors looking good!

Off the Grill and Heading back into the house to serve up Dinner.

Dinner table set and gearing up for quality family time.  Part of a Great dinner experience is spending those moments with family and friends.
Perfection in its simplest form.
I just don't think it gets much better.
And at the end of the meal all my children were concerned with is if they could have the shell to play with.  I figured since all they wanted was Hot Dogs at lest they could play with the bloody things!  
Last few bites and I wish it would have lasted forever.