By Chef Alan Zox
Seafood Reubens are becoming more and more popular on Cape Cod. Not to be confused with Corned Beef Reubens, the seafood version has a delicious range of options. But all of these seafood dishes have a common thread which involves the briny scent of the sea which means they are still fresh. If they smell too much like fish they are not fresh. When fish is fresh or frozen shortly after they are purchased or caught, they are delicious eaten roasted, grilled, fried or sautéed. Try these sandwiches with cod, tuna, soft shell crab or halibut. They are all wonderful.
Cooking a Seafood Reuben is easy if you simply coat your fish with crushed Ritz crackers, and then place 2 tablespoons of butter on top. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees for 20 minutes and remove. I used panko in the recipe below because it’s made of rice and is gluten-free, unlike Ritz crackers. I also enjoy using sauerkraut with seafood Reubens, but it may not work for you. Coleslaw seems to work better for many people. Just follow the instructions below and you may discover a new way to savor Father’s Days. Enjoy!
Recipe: Seafood Reuben with cod or soft-shell crab
Mayonnaise Recipe Yields 1 ½ cups ¾ cup canola oil
Q&A by Janice Randall Rohlf
MacGregor “Mac” Hay is the owner of the Wellfleet Harbor Seafood Company and Mac’s Seafood, which owns and operates fish markets in Eastham, Wellfleet and Provincetown. In addition to Mac's on the Pier, the company's signature seafood restaurant located at the municipal pier on Wellfleet Harbor, it also operates Mac's Shack and Mac's Fish House in Provincetown, as well as a catering business. In the last year, Mac’s Seafood purchased Chatham Fish & Lobster, adding a seafood restaurant, wholesale seafood company and two more retail seafood markets to its company.
Why did you choose this career?
I have always had a passion for food and loved the sound of a buzzing restaurant, plates clinking in the background. When I had the opportunity to open my own seafood market and restaurant, I felt confident because I grew up fishing with my grandfather. I knew how to filet fish, shuck clams and oysters, and the basics of seafood cooking. I had worked a number of summer restaurant jobs so I also had an idea of what it took to run a seasonal business. At least I thought I knew.
I don’t think it was a conscious choice to choose the restaurant business. I think it was more of a drive to do something that I truly enjoyed that didn’t feel like work.
What advice would you give someone wanting to follow a similar path?
Don’t. Just kidding. This business requires that you be “all in.” There are very few breaks and little time off, as it is all-consuming. There is so much advice I feel like I could share that it’s hard to narrow it down. I think having a five-year plan or goal is important. I often ask myself how I want things to be in five years and then make decisions based on those goals every day. Someone once said to me, “If you aren’t directing the ship where you want to go, don’t complain when you land in a port you don’t like.”
Other advice: Surround yourself with talented and driven people. Reinvest most of the profits from the business for a number of years if you want the business to grow. Don’t look at money as the “goal” but rather a tool to run a successful business. Don’t be afraid to borrow money.
The key to the restaurant business, and probably most businesses, is hospitality. If you want to go into this line of work, know what hospitality means and extend hospitality to co-workers, customers and the vendors you work with.
In your business, what has been your proudest moment?
It took me about 10 years, but I remember a moment when everything I had been working so hard to attain came together. It was a moment when everywhere I looked everyone and everything was actually working exactly as I had hoped. It was as though the perfect moment had been achieved. It was short-lived, but I felt a real sense of accomplishment.
How has the CCCI helped you get your business off the ground, or how would you have benefitted from a similar organization when you were starting out?
I haven’t tapped into the resources of CCCI but am happy to now make a connection!
What one thing/service in the food industry do you think the Cape is missing?
I think the Cape isn’t recognized enough on a national level for the quality of its food Cape- wide.
What keeps you busy outside work?
I love spending time with my family, fishing, doing some gardening and playing music.
Describe your perfect day of eating on Cape Cod?
I have chickens, and I start my day with fresh eggs, either poached or fried on toast. If it’s my day off, I’ll head out on my boat and hopefully catch a few fish, either bluefish or striped bass. (And if I don’t catch anything, I’ll stop by one of our markets and pick up some fish!)
For lunch I’ll stop by the restaurant and have some sushi, oysters and clams, then get ready to cook dinner. I like using the grill for everything. I’ll do a number of different sauces and marinades for the fish, but I like to keep it simple for the most part and let the freshness and flavor of the fish shine through. I’ll grill potatoes, onions, peppers, corn and anything else in season. While things are on the grill, I’ll shuck some oysters and clams and serve them with lemon and cocktail sauce or a mignonette. I also like doing lobster on the grill with some tarragon butter. A nice meal with some potato salad, fresh grilled fish and veggies, a salad made from garden greens and finished off with a homemade strawberry pie is a fantastic end to a perfect day of eating on Cape Cod.
And if I don’t want to cook, I’ll head to one of the restaurants and order off the menu!
Q&A by Janice Randall Rohlf
Richard Peal is manager of Leroux Kitchen in Falmouth, one of six locations, all in New England. He recently celebrated his third year at this cook’s paradise on Main Street, filled with everything you might need or want to make magic happen in your kitchen and have fun doing it.
1. Why did you choose to manage a cookware store?
After working 20 years in the publishing industry, helping authors realize their creative dreams, I jumped at the chance to the help home cooks find creative success in their kitchens.
2. What advice would you give someone wanting to follow a similar path?
Take the time to think about what type of people will help you reach your goal. Then go out and find them. Also, trust your gut.
3. In your business, what has been your most proud moment?
Finding quality locally produced food, buying it and selling out before I thought we would.
4. What one thing/service in the food industry do you think the Cape is missing?
A culinary incubator is needed on the Cape. As a retail manager, I am always looking for locally made shelf-stable food products. On the Cape, it's difficult to find those little niche food makers. If there were a central location where they could get guidance in both business and production, it might encourage more people to venture into this area.
6. What keeps you busy outside work?
Cooking at home and sailing.
7. Describe your perfect day of eating on Cape Cod.
It would be a fall day, with a nice 15 to 18 mph southwest breeze. Start the day on Chappaquoit Beach in West Falmouth with a cup of coffee and an egg bagel with cream cheese from Cape Cod Bagel, followed by a morning session of sailing. At around 1 p.m., break for lunch at the Pickle Jar in Falmouth. Maybe some more sailing in the afternoon, and finish the day with dinner at Water Street Kitchen in Woods Hole.
(Adapted from Ina Garten)
By: Alan Zox
Mother’s Day is a time to remember and to celebrate the mothers in our lives. It’s always fun to make a special meal or to eat at a delicious restaurant when the weather is starting to turn warm and temperate.
Mother’s Day in the United States was given birth by Anna Jarvis of West Virginia in the early 1900s. It was conceived in collaboration with the department store owner John Wanamaker who held a special Mother’s Day event. Jarvis started a letter-writing campaign promoting a unique day for mothers. By 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Ironically, however, as time passed, Ms. Jarvis became disenchanted with the commercialization of the holiday. In fact, by 1920 she had become the holiday’s biggest critic. Rather than giving candy, flowers and greeting cards to their mom, Ms. Jarvis worked diligently to see Mother’s Day removed from the calendar.
Here’s one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes, which is always popular on Mother’s Day. For me the holiday has become one of my most enjoyable.
Mother’s Day Chocolate Cake
(Adapted from the celebrated cook Ina Garten)
2 Tbsp butter
1¾ cups all purpose flour or gluten free flour 2 cups sugar
¾ cups cocoa powder
2 tsp gluten free baking soda
1 tsp baking powder or gluten free baking flour 1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup brewed coffee
Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:
6 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter – room temperature
1 extra large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1½ tsp water
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans. Using parchment paper, trace two outlines of the cake pans.
2. Spray pans with cooking spray and then place a sheet of parchment into each of the cake pans. Butter and flour the pans again with parchment in the bottom. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using paddle attachment, mix on low speed until combined.
3. In a separate bowl or large cup, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
4.Slowly add the brewed coffee. Mix just to combine. The resulting batter will be thin.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Check to see if done with a toothpick. If no crumbs stick to toothpick the cakes are done. Cool in pans for 30 minutes. Turn them out on a rack to cool and carefully remove parchment paper.
6. Measure your chocolate for the frosting, and place in a heat-proof bowl set over a small pot of simmering water. Stir until melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
7. To bowl of stand mixer or using hand-held mixer, beat 2 sticks of butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, the dissolved instant coffee and vanilla, and continue beating. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar. Beat the frosting to remove clumps. Continue beating at medium speed until frosting is smooth and creamy. Then add melted chocolate and beat until combined.
Frost the cake:
Place the first cake on a flat plate. With an offset spatula, spread with frosting more than a ¼-inch thick. Place the second layer on top, and spread frosting evenly on top and sides of the cake. So good…
Contact Chef Alan with any questions or comments about the cake. Look forward to hearing from you.
By: Chef Alan Zox
March 27, 2019
Grilling and smoking fish are two cooking methods that create wonderful flavors and delicious meals. But they are distinct and unique from one another. Knowing the differences will enhance your cooking skills and delight your families and friends.
Lightly smoking your fish for no more than 5-10 minutes will at a low temperature of 200F- 225°F will yield delicious results. Using a piece of tin foil or a special grill smoking box containing alder or apple wood chips placed on top of white coals will do the trick. You can shorten the cooking time even more by poaching or braising your fish beforehand in a Court Bouillon flavored with fresh herbs and then following up with a few minutes of smoking. Alas, there is no set recipe to follow. The flavor you are after will depend upon the time your fish is in your covered smoker, the type of fruitwood chips used, and the variations you experiment with in your bouillon.
Grilling or steaming your fish are more familiar techniques than smoking for many cooks since grilling and steaming take less time than cooking at a lower temperature. And that may be why salt-water fish, like burgers and beef steaks, are normally grilled.
Several facts about cooking fish are essential to enhancing seafood cooking prowess. For example, only selecting fresh fish that have firm flesh and a moist appearance is certainly the most important factor. Avoid fish that smells too “fishy”. Fresh fish should smell briny like salt water.
Several saltwater fish are ideal for grilling including Halibut, Salmon, Stripped Bass, Swordfish and Tuna among others. Derrick Riches, the grilling and BBQ consultant, recommends oiling your cooking grate to avoid sticking before you start grilling -- especially when cooking fish fillets. Using a grilling or fish basket makes the task of grilling fillets easier and prevents them from falling apart when turned. Thick cuts such as fish steaks hold together better and make grilling much easier. Seasoning seafood is not really necessary. I enjoy adding very few spices or herbs since the fish alone is so delicious. A pat of butter and a squeeze of lemon at the end of the cooking process are usually sufficient.
The length of time you grill your fish varies by taste but 10 minutes per inch is a good guideline. You can also tell when the fish is done by using a fork to flake the fish apart or use a thermometer – fish should reach a temperature of 145° F.
Here’s a recipe that children and adults enjoyed at a recent family reunion in Florida. I fed 17 cousins— all healthy eaters— a version of Paella that was simple to cook when using Southern Grouper. In more northern waters you can achieve a similar outcome with fish such as Halibut, Striper, Swordfish or Cod, among others. If you experiment with other kinds of fish please advise. I will post it on my blog!
Paella with Saltwater Flat Fish
For the Vegetable stock:
9 cups water
1 roughly chopped carrot
2 celery stalks chopped
1 onion chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Paella:
2 cups Arborio (also called Risotto) Rice
1 medium sweet onion diced fine
1 large carrot, diced
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pinches of Saffron, dissolved in ½ cup water
1.5 lb flat fish fillets, cut into 3 x 2 inch slices
1 15 oz. jar of roasted red pepper, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup frozen green peas
½ cup chopped parsley
Lemon wedges for serving
Optional: 8 oz. fresh shrimp, or cleaned squid cut into rings
1- Make the stock by simmering the water with the vegetables, bay leaf and salt and pepper for 45 minutes. Strain, return to the pot, and cover to stay warm.
2- To a 12” frying pan or paella pan add the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter and melt over medium heat. Sauté the diced onion and carrot until translucent before adding the saffron and rice and sauté until the rice is coated with oil and slightly crispy.
3- Add the heated broth to the rice a ladle at a time stirring well and simmering until the rice is al dente – firm to the tooth – about 20 minutes.
4- Submerge the slices of fish and (if using) shellfish into the rice along with the peas and roasted red pepper. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, parsley and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes to warm up the vegetables and cook the fish. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Enjoy!
Sometimes pursuing your passions in life takes a long time to put into action. Over twenty-five years ago I decided to take a leap of faith and expand my love of cooking by entering the Professional Culinary Certificate Program at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (CSCA). My goal was to gain professional experience and pursue a career that merged my love of cooking and my marketing background. After finishing the year-long intensive program I worked in a restaurant where I did prep and created some new desserts for the menu. I also briefly worked on Restaurant PR where I worked to translate recipes written for professional chefs into instructions that a home cook could utilize. And although I wasn’t able to create a permanent new career path, my passion for the culinary arts never left and several years later I was able to assist in the recreational cooking classes at CSCA.
Using my experiences with CSCA as a model, I’ve developed an interactive teaching approach which I’ve put to use giving cooking lessons in community recreational programs. For the past 10 years I’ve taught cooking classes to adults and children in Westford, Chelmsford, Marlboro and now in Harwich. In addition, I’ve also been able to conduct private classes for friends in their own homes. My classes have ranged from menus that feature ethnic recipes to lessons on appetizers and baking.
Two years ago, my husband and I retired and moved to Harwich. Since I wanted to offering the public cooking classes, I approached the Harwich Council on Aging about using their kitchen and I’ve been conducting classes on a regular basis. I’ve found that attending a cooking class is something many people enjoy during retirement years when they have time to experiment without the pressure of getting dinner on the table after a long day at work. Because culinary education can be intimidating for folks with its own language and set of skills, I decided to call my business Kitchen Confidence. My goal is to give people of all ages the knowledge they need to successfully produce delicious meals in their own kitchen while also having fun.
Recent classes have included appetizers and menus designed for one or two people. Classes are limited to eight people and are interactive in nature where I assist students with hands-on instruction including demonstrations on knife skills and helpful tips on using unfamiliar ingredients. As written recipes are often imprecise, I make sure to test each recipe before using it in class to be sure the instructions and ingredient measurements are accurate and easy to follow. Best of all after the cooking is done we get to taste the results! Starting in May I will be offering some new classes at the Harwich COA kitchen. For more information, be on the look-out for listings in the bi-monthly the COA bulletin or check out my Facebook page.
By Alan Zox
Visiting family in Chicago during St. Patrick’s Day shocked me when I saw the Chicago River, which winds along Wacker Drive, to be as green as a four-leaf clover. Other cities across America celebrate the holiday with the color green as well. Parades, hats, banners and clothing of all types are green as the Emerald Isle in tribute to St. Patrick’s Day.
Joining friends at local pubs on this special day is a time to enjoy a beer and a sandwich that are also bright green. I am generally OK with these menu choices but find myself less enchanted with artificial green food. So, I began searching for culinary options that more naturally reflect a green hue.
I have experimented with green risotto or pasta, or a side of asparagus or broccoli with mixed results even though I personally adore green vegetables any time of year. But one “green dish” stands out for me and everyone who eats it more than any other. This involves the joy of making a green laced breakfast or lunch with roasted poblano chili peppers that evoke warm, delicious memories.
The flavor of the pepper is not particularly hot in taste (about a 4 or 5 on a Scoville scale of 1-10) and everyone appreciates the flavor when roasted, peeled and added to something wonderful. So, I decided on poblanos and scrambled eggs that I had seen eaten in Oaxaca, Mexico. There is a simplicity to the dish and a natural flavor and appearance that is wonderful and filling. Also, the range of meals in which you can serve the scrambled eggs as an entree or a side dish is remarkable. Hope you enjoy it too.
Recipe: Roasted Poblano and Eggs-
(Note: Poblano chilis are available in most markets)
2 large roasted poblano chili peppers, peeled, deveined, stemmed and deseeded
8 large eggs, beaten to mix with a dash of milk
2 oz unsalted butter (4 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to taste
Come join the Cape Cod Culinary Incubator for a tasty, entertaining and educational cooking class with Chef/Instructor Kay Benaroch at the KAM Appliance store in Hyannis on Tuesday, April 9th from 2-4pm.
In this interactive class you will be making 4 different vegetable dishes to try and to take home:
Please bring a 7-9 inch chef’s knife, container for left-overs and we will supply the rest.
Students will learn to make 4 vegetable dishes that celebrate the arrival of Spring using fresh seasonal vegetables. The Frittata will feature Asian flavorings, the Potatoes pair the flavors of India with new potatoes, the flatbread pizzas are inspired by French cuisine and the Pasta Primavera is a new twist on a classic.
Come join the Cape Cod Culinary Incubator for a tasty, entertaining and educational cooking class with Chef Alan Zox at the KAM Appliance store in Hyannis on Sunday, March 10th from 2-4pm.
You will be making 3 different soups to try and to take home:
$35. Class limit is 10 people.
Please bring a 7-9 inch chef’s knife and we will supply the rest.
Students will learn to make 3 international soups plus they will learn the health, flavor and financial advantages of making home-made chicken broth and Vegetarian broth. Mexican soup will be made with roasted vegetable & roasted tortilla strips; spicy French soup will be made with puréed butternut Squash & Chipotles; and Italian vegetable Bean soup will be made with Spinach & fresh oregano.
By: Chef Alan Zox
Adapted from Mark Miller’s Coyote Cafe cookbook
Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate friendship. Some of us do this routinely by eating a meal together. Thanksgiving is another time when we do this nationwide. When the food you are experiencing with others includes chocolate that is sweet and joyful, we are memorializing a holiday that features kindness, generosity and caring for others. We need not wait for Valentine’s Day to express these feelings but it reminds us of this special occasion. And Chocolate symbolizes this time when we express our joy of being together.
Some of us claim our yen for chocolate is infrequent. Too many calories we are told. But I don’t know many of these folks. Chocolate and vanilla or caramel are usually enjoyed by all. In fact, caramel seems to have experienced a renaissance of late.
Valentine’s Day reminds us of all these favorites. It is a sweet time to remember those who are special in our lives. For me chocolate pies and cakes or soufflés bring out the best in me. Sometimes I just can’t get enough. They make me feel happy all day long.
It’s said that women love sweetness more than savory delights. And that women are said to enjoy the sweeter tastes in life more than men. I have no idea if this is true or fantasy. And frankly I don’t care. It’s all a wonderful and happy time for everyone. Today I am introducing a unique chocolate cake that is made even more special with a Mexican Chocolate Glaze. I have adapted this treat from a Mexican recipe I adore. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Recipe for Mexican Chocolate Cake:
Yields: one 8- or 9-inch cake
4 tbsp bittersweet chocolate, grated or finely chopped in food processor - 2 ounces
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) unblanched almonds, —toasted and ground or chopped very finely in a food processor
4 eggs separated
1/2 cup sugar – separated into two ¼ cups
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp Grand Marnier (or other Orange) Liquor
Steps to Follow for Cake
1- Preheat oven to 325°F
2- Grease, flour, and line with wax or parchment paper an 8 or 9 inch cake pan.
3 -Combine cinnamon, orange zest, grated chocolate and ground almonds in a mixing bowl andset aside.
4-Using an electric mixter, beat egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until pale yellow and sugar crystals have dissolved. Stir in orange juice and set aside.
5-In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks while gradually add remaining1/4 cup sugar. Stir egg yolks
and orange juice into the chocolate almond mixture, then
fold in half the beaten egg whites. Blend well and gently
fold in remaining egg whites.
6- Spread mixture evenly in prepared cake pan and bake for
35-to 45 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides of pan.
Let cool for 10 minutes, and invert onto cake rack. When cool use a pastry brush to coat with Grand Marnier and set cake rack on top of a flat pan before covering with Chocolate glaze.
Recipe for Chocolate Glaze
10 Tbsp bittersweet chocolate- about 5 ounces, chopped coarsely
1 Tbsp unsweetened chopped chocolate (about ½ ounce)
3/4 cup softened butter – 1 ½ sticks
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 Tbsp water
1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel (Optional)
Place both chocolates, 1/2 cup (one stick) of the soft butter, corn syrup, and water in a double boiler or in a small metal or pyrex bowl set over a pan filled with 1” of gently simmering (not rapidly boiling) water.
Stir gently until just melted. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining 1/4 cup soft butter. The glaze is ready to pour when it reaches the consistency
of maple syrup — between 86F- 96F and easily runs off of a spatula.
Place cake on rack set over a pan or wax paper and slowly pour glaze over cake, tilting to coat evenly. (If entire cake isn’t coated, remove cake from pan, collect extra chocolate, reheat gently if needed and coat again.) Decorate with candied orange peel if desired.