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Archive for the ‘seafood’ Category

It starts for real today. The architect for the new building met with us today to go over some of our requirements for the new place. Up until this point it was all up in the air, serious, but not super serious.

The economy is in the tank, the stock market fell 500 points today and we are talking about building a new restaurant from the ground up and we don’t even have the money secured yet. No risk, no reward!

We figured out today that the restaurant will be approximately 1,800 square feet with almost half being devoted to the kitchen and storage. Current kitchen = 87 square feet, new kitchen = 900 square feet. I think we will be able to stop turning down business soon.

So tonight I told myself I need to kick it into gear. I need to start working much more on the business planning and complete all of the projects that are out there. I need to engage and reinvent myself for the upcoming 9 to 12 months. Here are my priorities starting right now.

1) Spend more time with my wife, whom I love dearly, away from work so when we are working our ass off and arguing (her words) and debating (my words) in the next year we can realize that it’s only about work. We are going to San Francisco in a few weeks to kick this off.

2) Spend more time with my stepson Randy because he is in the thick of it at the University of Nevada at Reno and needs all the support he can get. Spend more time with my parents in California since they are the reason I’m successful and able to do any of this.

3) Make a new to do list with deadline dates for all of the projects I want to work on and actually do them. Don’t play paintball if I’m not on schedule. Don’t buy any new books or hobby stuff unless I’m on schedule.

4) Get up one hour earlier each day, thank GOD for everything I have, drink a cup of coffee and read something for pleasure so I’m not pissed off that I don’t have as much leisure time.

5) Work out every night regardless of whatever the hell happens, even if I have to stay up until 11:00 to do it.

6) Come up with a comprehensive blueprint for what is working and what is not in the current location so as not to make the same mistakes again.

7) Increase baked good sales by 50% within a three month period! Yeah Joannie is going to like this one. Much of the business plan for the new place calls for a huge increase in baked goods. Why wait?

8) Cook dinner at least 2 times each week and blog about it! Continue to improve my photography skills. The photography part really needs to wait until paintball season is over for the winter and then I can trade out the time.

9) Eat less than 2,000 calories per day, at least 6 days per week. Lose 20 pounds in the next 5 months.

10) Increase the traffic to my blog from the current 500 to 800 visits per day to more than 1,200 per day.

Okay there it is. I think it covers everything that is really, really important for the next 6 months. Let’s see how it goes. How many do you think I can achieve out of the 10 things? Damn, there are so many more important things I need to do as well.

Oh, here is the first pic of the empty lot where the building is going! This corner is the 4th busiest in Reno, there are businesses on all corners with the exception ours. The daytime population in a 5-mile radius is 140,000 people. I only need .00107 of them to come in each day. Should be a cakewalk. Which we will be selling a lot of. Cake. See Nancy’s blog this week!

So what about the recipe? Well, here it is. Of all places I found it in Real Simple Magazine and I would have passed on it, but it had curry in it, which I love right now, and it was also easy. The perfect food for after work.

I made a few adjustments to the original recipe with Nancy’s help to spice it up a bit.

Curried Rice with Shrimp (serves four)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped – I didn’t have any, the dog ate them
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder
  • Pinch red pepper flakes – adjust to your level
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil

Heat the oil in a large skillet, with available lid, over medium heat. Add onion and carrot, cook stirring occasionally until soft, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the garlic and curry, cook, stirring until fragrant about 2 minutes. If it starts to burn, turn down the heat. Cooking the curry activates the spice.

Add rice, 2 1/2 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper,  and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Season the shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Nestle the shrimp in the partially cooked rice. Cover and cook until the shrimp are opaque throughtout, 5 to 6 minutes. Fold in the basil, this is the best part, and serve right away.

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I’m a bit behind on writing this post because I’ve been pretty busy the last few days. Monday night my refrigeration guy was able to come by and I didn’t get home until 7:30, which was a 13 hour day for me. I’m not complaining though because he is always fun to talk with. Tuesday night I ended up getting home late as well and once I was done working out I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I did sit in front of the TV and watched Tori and Dean with Nancy, don’t tell anyone thought! It’s a pretty funny show. Dean cracks me up.

We’ve had a bit of a reprieve at work this week after the large caterings over the weekend. We usually do two to four lunch caterings each day, but for the past two days we’ve only had a few. It’s fortunate in one way as we all needed the rest after last week. Unfortunately the catering business is fifty percent of our revenue so all-in-all it’s bitter sweet! Nice to have a slow few days, but not so nice when you run the totals at the end of the day.

On the positive side I just booked a 200-person lunch for next week which will go a long way in making up any shortfall from this week. Part of the menu will include 80 grilled pieces of lemon-herb chicken. I will definitely have to give Megan the “Chicken Mastery” certificate after this. Hahaha.

So before I get to the recipe I did want to post a few pictures of our place. The first one is from this past weekend when we were putting together boxed lunches. I think we literally had every table in the restaurant and most of the chairs, covered with the boxes.

This one covers a little larger area. If you look to the back left you can see a storage room and the mixer. If you can believe it, I almost can’t, this is where our baker Joannie stands most of the day, in that very tiny spot and makes hundreds of cookies, dessert bars, cupcakes, crisps, pies etc.

So getting back to the reason for this post… a few weeks ago Nancy picked up some cedar planks for me because I wanted to try them out for grilling salmon. Seemed pretty easy. Nancy was going to make corn chowder and I would make the salmon. I stopped at my new favorite place, Whole Foods, and picked up a pound and a half of wild salmon and headed home.

On the back of the plank package there was a recipe for a rub that I changed because I knew it would be too salty. The recipe was super easy and it tasted great. The smoke from the plank was awesome, not overpowering at all. You can find the corn chowder recipe (it was excellent) at Nancy’s blog http://dishingup.wordpress.com.

I will definitely use the planks again with salmon. I didn’t have to worry about flipping the salmon or putting the filets in tinfoil. The flavor was great, cleanup was simple and all in all it was a keeper. I will continue to experiment with rubs and marinades though.

If you have any experience cooking with planks please share them!

Spiced Rubbed Salmon on a Cedar Plank (serves four)

Ingredients

Rub

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salmon

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh salmon filets with skin on
  • 2 cedar planks
  • Honey for drizzling

Soak the planks in water for one to two hours before starting.

Preheat your grill to 350 to 375 degrees, medium-low heat. In a small bowl combine all the rub ingredients. Rub the salmon with a moderate amount of the prepared rub and set aside.

Place the planks on the grill and heat for a few minutes. Using tongs turn over the planks and place one piece of salmon on each plank. Close the lid and cook for 13 to 18 minutes depending on thickness of the salmon. You are looking for an internal temp of 135 degrees. You can also judge by touch and sight. It will be flaky, opaque and fairly firm to the touch.

Drizzle with honey and devour immediately.

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I love shrimp. Especially with red chili flakes. They are low in calories, low in fat and taste great. They do have a good amount of cholesterol though. We make shrimp with rice or pasta once every few weeks in the summer. Sometimes we grill them and other times we saute them on the stove.

Recently I purchased Lynne Rosetto Kasper & Sally Swift’s book “The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper” for Nancy because she always listens to the Splendid Table podcast and really likes Lynne. Friday night I decided that I would give the shrimp recipe in the book a try.

We had a great week at the restaurant. Three days this week we had a line out the front door with people lining up in the parking lot. At one point we had 15 people in line waiting to order and every seat was filled in the restaurant, we were running out of clean glasses, we had 12 or 13 tickets hanging and everyone in the restaurant was having a great time. I love days like this when the lunch rush starts at 11:45 and doesn’t end until 2:00.

The hardest part is trying to get the food out in a timely fashion with our very small kitchen. After we get 10 or so tickets hanging we start telling everyone that there will be a 15 or so minute wait to make sure they have the time. Inevitably, on these days, there is always at least one person or group that tells us that everything is cool, but five minutes after they sit down we start getting dirty looks. After another five minutes pass they will come up to the counter to inquire about their order and inform us that they are running out of time and have to be back to the office or to an appointment. We then get the order out to them and 99.9% of the time they forget the wait after they start eating the food and start to enjoy themselves. It would be great if we had a bigger kitchen so we could have more people working on orders, but there is just no space to expand so we continue on.

Today was a bit slow early on, but it finished strong. After work I headed out pretty early and met Nancy at the new Whole Foods store.

Our first stop was the produce area where I picked up some fresh ginger. We then headed over to the cheese area because Nancy wanted to pick up cheese and ciabatta for a small snack before dinner. I picked up some Gorgonzola from Italy, the stuff I used for the polenta and the gnocchi, then we headed over to the seafood section and picked up some 26/30, fresh, deveined shrimp.

Now we were on a roll, so I picked up some sweet dessert wine, I love dessert wine! Then I realized I wanted to make a strata on the weekend to continue my egg cooking quest, so I picked up some heavy cream, bread and some spicy italian sausage to go with the 2 dozen farm eggs we received yesterday in our CSA basket.

Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed a former employee of ours working in the bakery area so we headed over to talk to him and ended up buying a tart and 4 other small pastries. $100 later and after eating the pastries in the parking lot (bad start to eating smart tonight) and sharing notes about what we liked and didn’t we headed home to cook.

The shrimp were super easy to make and we really enjoyed them. Not a match for the gnocchi though, haha. We paired them with some jasmine rice we threw in the rice cooker while the shrimp was marinating and had a light quick meal.The recipe is definitely worth making and may very well be repeated for quests as an appetizer.

Quick note on shrimp before I share the recipe. If you purchase fresh shrimp eat it within 24 hours. Shrimp purchased frozen will maintain it’s quality for several weeks. Don’t purchase shrimp that smell of anything other than salt water. The numbers you hear thrown about like “26/30” mean that there will be 26 to 30 shrimp per pound. The lower the number the bigger the shrimp. For the below recipe I would go with 26/30, which are considered “Extra Large”.

As for deveining, it’s not hard. I prefer to devein any shrimp larger than medium size or just purchase them already deveined.

Ginger Caramel Shrimp (serves 4)

(adapted from The Splendid Table)

Ingredients

BRINE

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup medium-hot chile powder
  • 2 quarts warm water
  • 1 1/2 pounds large frozen or fresh shrimp (see note)

SAUTE

  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • One 4-inch piece of fresh peeled ginger
  • 4 tablespoons canola or other mild oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • 4 teaspoons sugar

In a medium stainless or glass bowl, blend the salt, sugar and chile powder in the warm water. Add the shrimp and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

After shrimp have marinated, drain the shrimp, peel off the shells if you used shelled shrimp and then pat the shrimp dry.

Chop the garlic and ginger together into a small dice, about 1/8 inch. Heat the oil in a 12″ saute pan, straight-sided, over medium heat. Stir in the garlic-ginger mixture, the pepper and a sprinkle of salt. Cook for 1 minute stirring with a wooden spatula. Blend in the sugar and keep stirring until the garlic is pale golden in color. Make sure you don’t burn the garlic… do not let the garlic get dark brown.

Add the shrimp and stir for another 2 or 3 minutes, or until the shrimp are turning pink and starting to get firm. Transfer the shrimp to a serving bowl and season to taste. You can serve them hot or warm.

Note: If you are not using frozen shrimp then use cold water instead of warm and place in the refrigerator for the brining step.

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