Dungeness Crab Report November 2012

Dungeness Crabs


Commercial crab season opened yesterday in California. Live Dungeness crabs were $3.99/lb at Lucky Seafood Market #2 in Oakland, CA.

Price on December 11, 2012: $5.99/lb
Price on December 14, 2012: $4.99/lb
Price on December 16, 2012: $4.69/lb
Price on December 22, 2012: $8.69/lb
Price on January 6, 2013: $4.99/lb
Price on January 7, 2013: $3.99/lb
Price on January 18, 2013: $3.99/lb
Price on February 9, 2013: $4.69/lb
Price on February 23, 2013: $4.99/lb
Price on March 26, 2013: $4.99/lb

Super Bowl Mac and Cheese with Chorizo

Mac and Cheese


Recipe: Super Bowl Mac and Cheese with Chorizo


  • 1 lb pasta (I used Barilla rigatoni)
  • 4 chorizo
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Half & half
  • 1 medium onion
  • Bread crumbs

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 8

Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)

Calories: A lot

Fat: A lot

Protein: some, from the chorizo, I guess. Do you really care about nutrition if you’re making this?

Have a two pound block of sharp cheddar cheese you bought from Smart and Final that had a use by date three months from when you bought it but started getting moldy a week later. Scrape the mold off and try to wrap it tightly with Saran wrap. Put it back in the refrigerator. Look at it two weeks later when it starts to get moldy again and start thinking you’d better use it. Fortunately, the Superbowl is coming up so mac and cheese isn’t a bad idea.

Live a block from Taylor’s Sausage (that’s my photo of the chorizo) and think chorizo would be good in mac and cheese. Buy four pieces of chorizo and wonder how many pounds that is. I think I paid them a little over $6 but I forget the cost per pound. Dice a medium onion. Heat your cast iron Dutch oven (because that’s what you use for a frying pan) for two minutes on high. Add some oil to the Dutch oven and the onion. Slice open the chorizo casings and add the sausage to the Dutch oven. Crumble the chorizo with a sharp spoon. Curse Taylor’s for making the chorizo so lean it doesn’t brown. Pour some more oil in. Remove from heat when it’s not going to caramelize anymore.

Boil some water for the pasta in a four quart saucepan and wonder if there’s enough water or too much water because one pound of pasta is going to displace a certain amount of water. (This is because you are too lazy to get the 8 quart stockpot out). When the water boils, add some salt and the pasta and start timing. Do people really start timing once the water starts to boil again? I just cook a minute less than the instructions from when I dump the pasta in the water.

While the pasta is cooking, unwrap the cheese, scrape the mold off and wash the block of cheese under warm running water and watch your sink strainer clog up. Cut thin slices of cheese off each side of the block of cheese (there are six sides). This accomplishes two things. First, instead of having to take the food processor out to grate the cheese, these thin slices of cheese will easily melt in the béchamel. That saves having to clean the food processor or a grater. Second, slicing off the outer part of the block of cheese might keep the inner part of the block of cheese (which is now the outside) from getting moldy. I shaved my two pound block to a final size of 3 3/4″ x 2 9/16″ x 1 15/16″. I don’t think these measurements are critical. Wrap the remaining cheese in a NEW piece of Saran wrap and refrigerate and hope it doesn’t get moldy as fast.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Make a béchamel sauce by melting a half of stick of butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Throw in some flour and then wonder where your whisk is. Use a spoon to stir the roux until it looks like the right consistency. You were supposed to add equal amounts of butter and flour. Maybe add some more flour. Maybe add some more butter. Keep stirring. Don’t worry about using scalded milk to add to the roux because you only have half & half and 1% low fat milk anyway. Pour in some of each and until you think, “that’s like regular milk.” Keep stirring because the roux is going to continue to thicken the mixture. Gradually add the slices of cheese, stirring continuously so they melt in the sauce. Now really wish you had your whisk.

Drain the pasta and put it in your Corning Ware 9″ Blue Cornflower casserole that was your mom’s because that’s the only casserole you have because you were too cheap to buy a nice Le Creuset gratin dish when they were on sale and now they’re twice as much. Stir in the chorizo and onions into the pasta. Pour the sauce over the pasta and hope it doesn’t overflow the sides. Use the leftover sauce on some Tostitos Restaurant Style tortilla chips to make nachos. Maybe you should have bought some andouille you could have sliced up and put on top of the nachos and skipped this whole thing.

Sprinkle some bread crumbs on top. Put the casserole on a baking sheet for when it overflows. Bake at 325 F. for a while. Realize the racks aren’t setup to brown the top of the mac and cheese under the broiler. Screw it, the sausage never really carmelized either.

Remove from oven and photograph. Eat a bite and think, I really enjoyed those tater tots that I cooked in the oil left over from the Buffalo chicken wings more than the mac and cheese. Edit the photo in Photoshop and keep thinking the saturation is too high. Turn down the saturation and think it looks too flat. Wonder about the color balance. I did a manual color balance with a white sheet of paper for the kitchen light and stored it as a preset in the camera. Give up trying to adjust the color. It looks different on the other monitor anyway.

Upload the photo to Facebook and think, screw the color.

See The Android’s Luncheon.

Maybe next time start drinking Scotch Whiskey after you make the mac and cheese.

Future Chili

Some Ingredients for Chili

I became interested in making chili when I read an article in the then new food section of the New York Times, maybe 25 or 35 years ago. It was about Francis X. Tolbert, Wick Fowler and the World Championship Chili Cook-Off in Terlingua, Texas.

Accompanying the article was Wick Fowler’s 2 Alarm Chili recipe. I have the clipping somewhere, but the gist of it was that he marinated the meat in beer (and in Lapland or somewhere he successfully used reindeer) and seared the meat in suet. He used a little cumin because it gave the chili a faint odor of sweat and he used oregano, but not too much, because, he said, you didn’t want to have too much of a spaghetti flavor. I think he also said that people who cooked their beans in their chili flunked chemistry.

Wick Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chili Kit is still available, though if you need a kit, you are still probably buying your 100 grams of chili pepper flakes for $9 from Whole Foods (and maybe you flunked chemistry too).

In addition to those ingredients, I throw in some mild chili powder for color, salt, chopped onions, fresh garlic and a can of crushed tomatoes.

The last thing I put in is the “heat” source – for me that is a hot chili pepper. I learned about the unit for measuring the heat in a chili pepper – Scoville units – from the gift subscription to Chili Pepper Magazine my friend Regina gave me 25 years ago. The type of chili pepper I use depends on how self-destructive I’m feeling (or, according to some people, how much of an endorphin rush you want – I think it’s just the fear of the heat). I used to start with about 10 generic dried hot chili peppers ground up in a blender with some water for two or three pounds of meat. When I saw fresh habanero chilis in the local grocery store, those went into the pot.

Some Ingredients for Chili

Lately, I found an African, Caribbean and Latin American grocer that has fresh Naga Jolokia peppers. The next stop after this is to borrow some pepper spray from the police (see Everett McGill in the Steven Seagal classic, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory).

I think the reality of making chili is it’s not some arcane process that the TV chili cook-offs show would have you think. You’re just throwing some meat in a pot. To me, the preferences for a particular winning chili recipe comes down to what you like; sort of like New York pizza – the best one is from the pizzeria where you always eat.

Ice Cream Scoop

Ice Cream Scoop

I have a peripheral interest in design and aesthetics. Who doesn’t like functional devices that look nice?

My sister gave me a membership to the Museum of Modern Art when I first moved to New York in the 70’s. Later, when I worked at ABC, I had the benefit of their corporate membership for admission. I used to walk to MOMA on 54th Street just to wonder at the things in the Architecture and Design Collection on the third floor.

The collection has a cast aluminum ice cream scoop that was designed by Sherman L. Kelly (American, 1869-1952) in 1935. The manufacturer, Zeroll, describes Kelly’s thinking:

… As the story goes, Kelly was vacationing in West Palm Beach, Florida, when he observed a young woman dipping ice cream. Noticing the blisters on her hand from the constant use of the disher in the hard ice cream, he thought to himself, “there must be a better way to serve ice cream.” Kelly resolved to find it. In 1933, Sherman Kelly developed the design for the Zeroll® Ice Cream Dipper and received a patent. The dipper was a non-mechanical ice cream scoop, made of cast aluminum, with fluid inside the handle. Its unique design transferred heat from the user’s hand, warming the fluid, which in turn defrosted the ice cream dipper…”

I’ve wanted one of these since I saw it at MOMA. After the head broke off our last scoop, I bought a slightly updated version of the Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop for $18.

Spot Prawns

Spot Prawns

Spot Prawns are the largest shrimp on the west coast of North America. I stuck a ruler in the photograph at the left so you can see that these shrimp are no shrimps. They are over 8 inches (20 cm) long.

The Spot Prawn (Pandalus platyceros) have four white spots on the abdominal segments – you can see one of them in the photo near the top of the first segment. A few of these happen to have roe, also.

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, “Spot prawns change sex as they grow. They spend the first part of their lives as males, then change into females.”

As with many of the aquatic species at the aquarium, they also make good eatin’.