Habanero Pepper Soup

What’s your most unrelenting food addiction?

Mine is over-the-top spicy food. Dangerously hot. I cannot adequately emphasize the level of spice that I like in my food.

I’ve let myself go, totally. Maybe in some other ways too. Especially since I adopted a 4-month-old rescue dog – Jesus, you should see my apartment. Hot sauce bottles and torn furniture everywhere.

I take swigs of Tabasco straight from the bottle. Red pepper flakes don’t do it for me anymore. It pretty much has to be a habanero-based sauce, or something that purportedly sets a normal person’s mouth on fire.

A spicy soup can be anything you want it to be. You just need broth and spice. When the mood hits me, I’ll dig in my pantry & fridge in an attempt to alleviate this craving.

I bet this might cure up a nasty sinus infection bout or a low-grade cold. In rummaging through my fridge & using what I had on hand, this turned out to be the best combination of lingering spicy heat, garlicky flavors, a teeny bit of sweet & animal-based fats that will satisfy that “itch.” Put a poached egg on top if you need a bit more substance.

Keep a box of Kleenex nearby, because your nose is going to run like crazy. But the burn will feel good, so good. And it will be worth it.

I N G R E D I E N T S

This dish serves 2 spicy-food lovers. 

  • 1 liter high-quality chicken or seafood stock (College Inn is a good brand)
  • 1 / 2 habanero pepper, sliced
  • 1 / 2 habanero pepper, minced
  • 1 / 2 jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 8 tablespoons coconut milk (or 6 tablespoons heavy cream)
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 1 / 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar (if using heavy cream instead of coconut milk, add 4 tablespoons of sugar)

O p t i o n a l

  • 1 egg, lightly poached
  • 1 teaspoon hot sesame oil, for finishing

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Saute the garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium-low heat for 3 – 4 minutes. Add the stock, sliced habanero and jalapeno peppers, Sriracha, fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Allow to come to a boil.
  2. Once heated through, add the coconut milk or heavy cream. Simmer for 15 minutes uncovered.
  3. After 15 minutes, plate in shallow bowls, garnish with sliced scallions, minced habanero peppers, and a poached egg, if desired.
  4. Serve hot, drizzling with spicy sesame oil for garnish, if desired.

Hack-&-Eat Crabs (Done the Maryland Way)

The state of Maryland should open a crab-themed theme park, funded by taxpayers. That’s how much we like crabs. I’m thinking a crab rollercoaster where riders sit sideways. Crab-flavored cotton candy.  A ball pit filled with live crabs for children.

My sister’s boyfriend’s family has a bay house where they pig out on crabs as often as possible, with obligatory pitchers of Bud Light.

For my birthday he gave me a big freezer bag full of crabs with…

Happy Bday

-Billy

…written in pen on the bag. My boyfriend and I sat there destroying these guys with mallets, eating them ice cold from the fridge, doused with copious amounts of Old Bay-seasoned melted butter. We were also probably a little drunk at that point.

In my all white, pristine apartment. Don’t do what I did.

Summer is coming up. And to that end, here are some recommendations for a crabby extravaganza!

That yellow bile you get when you break the crab in half is godly. Suck the juice out every claw (leg?) you pull off at the joint. You can eat the shell of some of these softer appendages, if you’re also a fan of eating the tails off of shrimp (a-la shrimp cocktail).

Here’s a short video showing how to correctly dismantle the body.

Serve these with beers poured from pitchers into pre-chilled beer mugs. List of Maryland-based brews here.

Eat outside because, please. If you live in a city like I do, I would probably find a wooden table at a nearby park.

You only really need mallets and tiny forks for meat retrieval. I never end up using the shellfish crackers. Put newspaper or some kind of durable paper down before you heave them across the table steaming hot out of the pot.

Put lots of melted butter, lemon wedges (for masking post-crab eating finger smells), malt vinegar, hot sauce, cocktail sauce and old bay on the table. Don’t forget the paper towel rolls either, or the big bowl for shells and carcasses.

And then, prepare to get flecks of crab shell in your hair, folks.

To quote a scene from Wedding Crashers, a ground-breaking motion picture that forever redefined film in America –

*bro catches touchdown pass*

Crabcakes and football, that’s what Maryland DOES!

I N G R E D I E N T S

The recommended amount of crabs to serve per person is anywhere from 8 to 12. A bushel is 7 to 8 dozen blue crabs. The recipe below would serve 4 people, so adjust accordingly when you order the crabs.

  • 1 / 2 bushel live Maryland blue crabs (approximately 48 crabs)
  • 3 lemons, halved
  • 4 -7 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning, plus additional for sprinkling after being boiled
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 sticks melted, clarified butter*
  • Enough water to fill the pot 2 / 3 of the way full

*To clarify butter, put the desired amount of butter in a shallow saucepan and melt until the solids separate from the golden liquid beneath, and with a large shallow spoon, remove the fat solids from the top. Reserve the remaining liquid.

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Fill a 6 quart pot with water 2 / 3 of the way full. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, the lemon halves, and 4 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning to the pot, adding an additional 1 tablespoon with each new batch of 12 crabs that’s added.
  2. Submerge the 12 live crabs in the water, one by one, making sure to keep the claws intact.
  3. Cook each batch for 10 minutes.
  4. Once cooked, carefully remove the crabs with tongs to a very big bowl or several large bowls (whatever you have on hand), sprinkling with additional Old Bay seasoning as you finish each batch.
  5. Serve immediately with the clarified butter and optional Old Bay seasoning, malt vinegar, hot sauce and cocktail sauce, as desired.

O P T I O N A L

  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Malt vinegar
  • Tabasco Hot Sauce
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • Bottled cocktail sauce*

*If you prefer to make your own cocktail sauce, mix 2 parts ketchup to 1 part prepared horseradish. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or Tabasco sauce for an extra kick.

 

 

 

Norwegian Breakfast Bagel

If you’re like me, over the course of your life you’ll cycle between getting queasy at the thought of eating anything before 3 PM, and waking up so hungry you shun all life responsibilities (I mean you, office job) until you have eaten.

This recipe is for those of you in the latter camp.

Since I’m a sweet food hater, my go-to in the morning is a super-savory bagel that’s way too heavy on cream cheese and piled high with something like $17 worth of smoked salmon.

To give you a sense of “too heavy,” I have unabashedly piled on a solid three vertical inches of cream cheese on a bagel before.

Smoked salmon and fish in general, being a big diet staple in the Nordic region, tends to go best with the flavors that have been mingled in dishes together there, well, since forever. What’s the saying? What grows (and lives) together, goes together.

I think of the characteristic lemon, dill & red onion combo, pickled everything, seafood, eggs, gamey meats, shellfish and lots of dairy. All the best foods, all the time.

This is how much the Swedes like seafood: they sell fish roe from a tube. I, obviously, will end up buying this.

With this being a bagel and all, there’s not much cooking involved, but it doesn’t make the outcome any less delicious. Get yourself as good a quality of bagel as you can. Do rye bagels exist? If so, they’d be perfect here.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes 1 sandwich.

  • 1 bagel, flavor of your choosing (I went for poppyseed, onion or a grainy whole wheat)
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 oz. high-quality Nordic pickled herring from a can OR smoked & peppered Norwegian salmon
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (or double that amount, if you’d like 😉)
  • 1 / 4 medium red onion, minced
  • 1 / 4  lemon, squeezed
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

O p t i o n a l

If you want to up the fishiness factor, spread a tablespoon of salmon roe on the bagel in addition to the other ingredients, before you press the two halves together.

D I R E C T I O N S

1. Cut the bagel in half. Toast, if desired, to your preference.
2. To make the cream cheese spread, combine the cream cheese, whole grain mustard, horseradish, dill and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a small bowl.
3.  Layer half of the cream cheese on both sides of the bagel. On one half, place the smoked salmon, then the minced red onion.
4. On the other half, place the pickled herring or the smoked & peppered Norwegian salmon, and top with a squeeze of lemon. Press sandwich together.