Dinner at the Confluence

Dinner at the Confluence of Winter and Spring


the winter mountain, the spring blooming broom

And what a better setting than our house in Reno. And in a flick of time, the snow will be gone from the mountains, and the bloom will be gone from the broom.

And it is a good time to grill scallops in the now-lengthened evening. Big scallops, as fresh as can be, from Sierra Gold, the Reno seafood supplier for restaurants and resorts (er… casinos) and now selling to folks like us from their retail shop in Sparks.


Those scallops are marinating in mirin, lime juice, and soy sauce… there is pepper bacon which goes so well with scallops, asparagus and some red onion slices because anytime I light the grill, I put on some onion slices to use whenever.

scallop-on-1Here we are, cooking on the Big Green Egg at the first turn. As it turns out, these ingredients take “three minutes a side,” how convenient. Oh, the tomato… just because I have one. (I ate it for breakfast with cottage cheese.)


So this is the dinner plate. Carol made a pasta salad which made a swell starch component to dinner. I gotta say, everything was perfect. YUM.

The wine, a 2013 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc.

Le Cigare Blanc

Snow EGG

the snow egg

Yesterday morning, I sent pictures to my sons and sibs of the Big Green Egg covered with snow.

well begun is half done…

ready to rock and roll…

“Still, chances are we’ll be grilling by dinnertime…”

Eric challenged that big time. Perhaps he’s jealous… this year we got snow before they did in Maine.

In any case, we went shopping in the afternoon — sunny and high 30’s by then — and got a piece of swordfish for the grill. I wanted something simple and easy. So about 4pm, while still light, I readied and cleaned the Big Green Egg — I was afraid that the lid would freeze shut or the cast iron grate would freeze to its support. No and no. Everything’s cool, in a manner of speaking.

loaded while still daylight

I wouldn’t cook until six, or so, but I wanted to be prepared since it will be plenty dark by then. I got out my recipes for grilling fish steak. I have recipes for Grouper and Salmon, Swordfish will be much the same.

EZ to light, cold but no wind

fish done on one side, just turned

My steak, about an inch thick or less on December 11, under 30° outside and snow swept aside. EGG don’t care, but its uncomfortable for my own hands. Luckily, with swordfish, it’s a timing thing. The grill is only a step outside my kitchen door so I can step inside for most of the cooking time. A nice 350° fire, porcelain grate, seven minutes on the first side, check temps at about 4 minutes of the second side, not yet… temps at 6 minutes, perfect., coming past 140° Close down everything, get your warm platter from inside, plate the fish and take it in. Yum.

served with glazed carrots and a swell salad of endive, avocado and pear

I have other stuff stocked up to grill, but I think I’ll do it with twmps at least above 40.

the peavines

The next morning was lovely… albeit 20°. We’re looking at the Peavine mountain range to the north of us.


It all started with an innocent text message from Brian on Wednesday morning:
“Do you have binoculars?”
“Can we use ‘em?”
Yes. When are you coming?
“Dunno. When’s foie gras night?”
We can cook up good chow any time with notice. You want foie, you’ll have to bring it.
“How ‘bout Fri supper we grill a big fish, maybe on your salt lick.”

I responded by email:
Friday is good.
Fish is good.
SaltROX is good.
But cut fish is better than whole fish. Rock isn’t that big.
We’re going to the fish store on Thursday, so I’ll get some appropriate fish.


Salmon on SaltROX May 2013

Swordfish on SaltROX May 2013 on Weber Q gas grill.

SaltROX box

At Sierra Gold Seafood in Sparks, I couldn’t resist 10ct wild caught shrimp. Perfect for the SaltROX

I texted Brian from the fish store: We got 10ct wild caught shrimp for the grill tomorrow. Do you have a favorite marinade?

Of course, I have marinade recipes for fish and shrimp, but Brian is creative and inventive… I thought he’d come up with something unusual.

He gave me a dry rub (see recipe)

I hadn’t used the SaltROX on the Big Green Egg, only on the Weber Q gas grill, but I’ve retired that. On the gas grill, just put the cold SaltROX on the grill and light it. Can’t do that with the EGG. So I created a recipe to use the EGG and SaltROX for large dry rubbed shrimp.

for SaltROX with Brian inspiration for the Rub.
January 2015

Peel 16 10ct wild caught shrimp and rest at room temperature.

shrimp drying

Toss the shrimp in a mix of
(1 part = 1/2 tsp)
4 parts fine corn meal,
2 parts paprika,
2 parts turmeric,
1 part cayenne, and
1 part fines herbes
1 part dry mustard (optional)
and let that permeate for an hour or so in the fridge.

shrimp tossed with the rub

Brush your SaltROX.

SALT ROX has rules:

Start cold on a cold grill or in a cold oven.

Let the rock cool completely before moving.

Do not wash with anything, including water.

Scrape “clean.”

Stains are okay.

For the Big Green Egg, prepare the EGG as usual and light the fire. When all of the charcoal is engaged,  put the cast iron grate on and the ROX on that and close the lid with all vents wide open.
— watch it and see what happens. It got up to about 400° Left the vents wide open.

Wash and trim greens. Reserve the stems to use in another dish sometime. Tear the greens and reserve in water.
When the ROX is hot, toss the greens on the ROX until cooked. Keep warm in the Counter Oven.

Take out of the fridge 1/2 hour before grilling.
When the ROX is ready again, lay the shrimp on in a single layer. Grill until just cooked through, about 2 minutes each side. (With this size shrimp, it took a bit over 3 minutes a side.)

shrimp cooked. lovely

Serve on a bed of the greens.

Dang All.
I didn’t take a picture of the plate, but it looked great! Three big shrimp over greens, with Rosemary Garlic Potato Gratin alongside.

thresher shark

I saw Thresher Shark steaks in the fish case at Raley’s: pure white, about half the size of swordfish steaks (and about half the price); about 1/4 pound each at an inch thick. I have grilled shark steaks in the past — probably in San Francisco — but don’t remember much about them except they weren’t memorably bad. And I don’t recall they had a name.

I wondered what a Thresher Shark might look like. From the size of the steak, not overly large, the way one thinks of a Jaws-variety shark.
I found a picture on the website of the Florida Museum of Natural History

thresher shark in its habitat

thresher shark sizewise

thresher shark on my plate — along with Dijon roasted cauliflower and roasted tomato

Well, they look odd. But they taste gooood. I cribbed a Swordfish with Dill Vinaigrette recipe from the days of Siren Sea SA and adapted it to the EGG for Thresher Shark.

Thresher Shark with Lemon Dill Vinaigrette
Adapted for Big Green Egg from recipe By Anna, Nov 12, 2011

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons table salt
a pinch of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper — lots

Marinate your inch-thick, 4 ounce Thresher Shark steaks in some of the vinaigrette.
Grill the steaks at about 350 and set the timer for about 4 minutes per side until the temperature approaches 130°F. Transfer the steaks to a platter and poke several holes with a fork so that the vinaigrette can seep in. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the fish. Reserve some vinaigrette to dress you salad or vegetables.

I grilled tomatoes alongside the shark and C made Dijon Roasted Cauliflower. Perfect.

Grilled Whole Salmon

A few days ago, Brian brought over a whole salmon, wild caught he said, sans head and tail. I didn’t weigh it, but I’d say about 2 pounds.

My recipe for Grilled Whole Fish — gleaned from Cook’s Illustrated and the Big Green Egg Cookbook is pretty simple and straightforward.

Set the EGG for direct cooking with the porcelain coated grid and preheat to 350°F.

Rinse the fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Slash the skin on both sides of the fish, coat the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Stuff the cavity with something flavorful. I had a leek cleaned and split lengthwise and 3 tender stalks of celery. If I had fresh herbs I’d stuff those in there.

Place the salmon on the grill so it can easily be rolled over its back to the other side.

fish on grill, placed to be easy to roll over

here’s the salmon rolled over

This fish is pretty thick, so grill for 8 minutes on the first side, roll over. Grill for another 8 minutes, roll over. Take its temperature… you want 135-140°F. Roll over at 8 more minutes if necessary. Grill until the internal temperature is proper.

Remove to a cutting board or platter and rest.

here’s that salmon on a platter


And then, and then… we were in Raley’s on Sunday and saw a bunch of pretty big whole fish in the fish case. “Are those salmon?” I asked.

The fish lady said, “Wild caught Sockeye Salmon.”

“How much,” I asked, “they look like about 3 pounds each.”

“That’s about right,” she said. “They’re $16 a pound today… but come back tomorrow on Five-Dollar-Monday and they’ll be $5 a pound.” I promised her I would do just that.
Our week looked pretty crowded around dinnertime, so I grilled it Monday evening.

my 3 pound salmon fresh home from the store

my wild caught sockeye salmon cut into two pieces… I’ll freeze the short piece for another time, cook the long piece

our salmon on the EGG with accouterment

Any time I light the EGG, I look around and think about whatever else might cook at the same time. Some summer favorites: Romano Beans steamed for 4 or 5 minutes before going on the grill; a peach, split in half and seed removed — this can be eaten with ice cream or creme fraiche for dessert, eaten with the meal or saved for breakfast; a smallish Haas Avocado, cut in half and seed removed.

here’s our Monday dinner. the avocado — the skin slipped off — is nestled into a corn and tomato stew

and here is my Tuesday morning breakfast — Carol eats more conventional things

There is that peach half, a couple hunks of salmon and half of a roasted beet atop a roasted red bell pepper (from a jar). That’s just a good way to start the day.


Salmon Tartare

Not to mention Salmon with a Hot Mustard Glaze

On this day, I stood in front of Scolari’s fish counter, a locally owned and operated supermarket with 10 locations, mostly in Reno and Sparks. They tend to have beautiful produce, a nice meat and fish counter and an extensive deli counter featuring local and regional brands.

How could I miss the Verlasso Salmon with its rich salmon color and plump fillets?

Verlasso is the first and only ocean raised, farmed, Atlantic Salmon to receive the “good alternative buy” ranking from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Farmed off the coast of Patagonia Chile, it is filleted on location, packed in ice and shipped fresh.

I have never bought and cooked it before, but Carol has. This is my big chance. Two half-pound fillets, a little over an inch thick. Beautiful.

Verlasso Salmon fillets

It was still too cold and windy to grill, so I launched a recipe search for such a lovely fish. I settled on a NY Times recipe from February, 2006; Salmon With Hot Mustard Glaze adapted from David Kinch, then 44 and who remains the chef and a partner at Manresa, Los Gatos, California. Cooking Time: 30 minutes or less. Quick, EZ and lookin’ good.

While noodling around on the internet, I happened — by pure chance — onto a web site called thekitchn.com. I had never heard of it, but suddenly I was staring at a picture of a Hasselback Potato. It was striking in its purity and presentation.

from the web site: slice, slather with butter or bacon grease and bake at 425

Like the salmon recipe, the instructions couldn’t be simpler, but the potato took an hour or so to cook, so I started with that. Continue reading

Grilled Whole Fish

Love fish.

Have cooked whole fish, usually poached.

We go to Whole Food about once a month to get Newman’s Own Thin Pretzel Sticks. As far as we know, no other store in Reno carries them. When passing the display of whole fish on ice, we often remarked, “Can’t wait till we get the EGG, we’ll grill a whole fish.”

We now have the Big Green Egg and Thursday we bought a 1 1/2 pound Snapper at Whole Food. (We also got two bags of those pretzels, coffee filters, and a cantaloupe on sale.)

The fish lady helped us pick out the fish and cleaned and scaled it. She also gave us a bag of ice. We put the fish and ice in its own bag and put it on the floor of the back seat of our car, figuring it wouldn’t get too hot down there. When we got home, we put the whole shebang — bag, ice and fish — on a plate in the refrigerator.

Snapper waits for the fire.

I went recipe hunting. Weber’s Big Book of Grilling has a few recipes for whole fish — snapper, trout — but they depend on stuffing, or marinating or foil packets — no straightforward grilling. I looked on…

Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue has a number of recipes and tips for grilling whole fish.

“Fish weighing more than 2 pounds will be hard to maneuver on the grill and should be avoided.”
“Rub the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on the outside as well as the inside.”

“Use a sharp knife to make shallow diagonal slashes every 2 inches along both sides of the fish from top to bottom, beginning just behind the dorsal fin. This helps to ensure even cooking and also allows the cook to peek into the flesh to see if it is done.”

The Big Green Egg Cookbook has a recipe for Whole Snapper with Lemon and Rosemary. Just what I need, except they call for a 4 to 5 pound fish.

“Rinse the fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.”

They, too, call for slashing the skin on both sides of the fish, coating the fish with olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper.

As the recipe title implies, they stuff the cavity of the fish with thin slices of garlic, thin slices of lemon and sprigs of fresh rosemary. (We didn’t have fresh rosemary, so we used fresh dill weed.)

They then go into the grilling method with the EGG:

Set the EGG for direct cooking with the porcelain coated grid and preheat to 350°F.

Snapper over the fire.

The fish was positioned on the grid,  so that it easily could be rolled from one side to the other.

I cooked the snapper 6 minutes per side starting at 400°F and second side at 350°F

It came out juicy and lovely, here served with chard and a bean salad.

Yum !

Scallops: Marvelous: EZ

Scallop Pan Roast

I am a lover of scallops, and am always up for a way to prepare them other than the “sear and dress” methods.

Back in ought-eight Melissa Clark wrote about the way the Oyster Bar in New York prepares scallops. I made the recipe, filed it as Scallop Pan Roast and didn’t open it again until now. How silly of me. This time, I opened the recipe and re-read the story and prepared those wonderful scallops.

She starts:

A PAN roast at the Oyster Bar, like cheesecake at Junior’s and frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3, is one of those dishes New Yorkers love to champion, even if we haven’t tasted it in decades.

She goes on to write about those scallops and how she might bring the recipe up to date. Her story is so lyrical and charming that I’ll include the whole thing at the end, but first, the recipe, which I rewrote for the way I cook.

Scallop Pan Roast
based on a recipe by Melissa Clark in The New York Times, January 2, 2008.
Yield: 2 servings.

Put out 3 Tbsp butter, milk, cream, scallops to come to room temperature.
Make toast.

1. In a heavy saucepan [chicken fryer] over low heat, combine 1/3 cup bottled clam juice, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 Tbsp Heinz chili sauce, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 4 tsp gin, 1/2 tsp sweet paprika, 2 dashes celery salt and 1 dash <strong>Tabasco; bring just to a simmer.

Add 1/2 pound scallops and let cook for 30 seconds without simmering (if you see a bubble, pull pan off heat for a few seconds). Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and 3/4 cup whole milk and continue to heat without simmering until mixture is steaming hot and scallops are opaque, about 2 minutes longer.

pan stew cooking

Place a piece of toast in each of two bowls and then add pan roast, dividing scallops evenly. Float 1/2 Tbsp butter on top of each bowl. Eat immediately. Continue reading

Sea Scallops Jacques

… And what does FAS (Frozen At Sea) mean to me?

So often, I write up a fabulous and easy recipe and then file it away and forget about it. (On the other hand, I discover new things in the meantime.)

At the Friday Farmers Market at Garden Shop Nursery on Mayberry Drive in Reno, I found a fish guy. He had a nice selection of FAS (Frozen At Sea) fish, as well as FAS scallops. He claimed that they were frozen within hours of being caught and were virtually fresh. And if you’re living more than 200 miles from the sea, as we are, chances are, any fish you buy has been frozen at some point.

OK, I bought the scallops. I know a little bit about what fresh scallops look, feel and taste like, so this will be a good test.

what’s left of the frozen scallops

I got out THAT RECIPE, but planned to grill the scallops on my swell grill pan, rather that sear in oil. Hmmm, when thawed and opened, I found that they were not the large whole, round scallops that I’m used to, but rather, thicker, smaller scallops. But they looked wonderful and fresh.

red bell pepper oil (except I used a yellow pepper), pimento and black olive relish, scallops

I cooked them in oil for about 1 1/2 minutes a side, served them as I had those real fresh scallops, and dang-all, they were GOOD. To my mind, they would have stood up in a blind tasting.

scallops and baked potato

The recipe is at the end of this piece, and in the linked “Scallops” on eats… Continue reading

my pasta for we two

to make Spaghettini with Crab and Jalapeno


I have made egg noodle pasta many times over 40 years, probably with the same Atlas pasta machine. The recipes have varied as my influences have varied, but now — as a septuagenerian — I’ve settled on a go-to recipe and call it, “my pasta for we two.” After all, its just eggs, flour and a bit of water, but oh, the proportions, quality of ingredients and methods of mixing and kneading can dramatically affect the resulting noodles.

Going back, James Beard, my mentor for most things cooking, taught me to mix with a food processor, to have the eggs at room temperature and the importance of resting the dough. Most of my early pastas are his, using AP flour.

Time passes…

Bill Buford, the author of HEAT and disciple of Mario Batali taught me the mantra, “one egg, one etto.” He explained that one etto is 100 grams of flour, and later modified his mantra to, “one GOOD egg, one etto.”

I start buying eggs from pastured hens; buy me a kitchen scale and time passes…

Thomas McNaughton of flour + water taught a pasta making class at CUESA, and taught me to use “00” flour and a Kitchen Aid mixer.

I buy me a Kitchen Aid mixer, give my food processor away, and time passes.

The Kitchen Aid manual taught me the paddles and hooks and speeds to use in dough-making. Armed with information and dangerous, I got my flour and eggs together and made me some noodles.

For we Two:my_eggs_flour

4 etto (400g) 00 flour or sifted AP flour
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon water

Place eggs, water and flour in the mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix for 30 seconds.
Remove flat beater and attach dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and knead 2 minutes. Scrape down sides with a spatula as you see fit. After a few sprays of water, the dough should all came up onto the hook. Hand knead dough for 30 seconds to one minute. Cover with a dry towel and let rest 15 minutes before running through Pasta Maker. *Roll through to 7 for fettuccine… 6 is too thick and a bit tough. Continue reading