Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Finally Caught a Fish in Naples!

Sheapshead with a live shrimp at the end of Shell Island Road in the Rookery Preserve, Naples, FL. This was Monday morning btw.

It wasn't very big so I threw it back. It was nice to get out there during good conditions. Going back Saturday morning when my Dad is here. Really want to obtain a kayak or small boat of some type.

If this trip fails, I'm buying grouper at the Farmer's Market.

The Value of a Good DBA

A great database guy is a boon for a development team. Don't take one for granted. When he is gone, you will feel the pain. I've worked on big projects with a good one and with lackluster talent. Let me tell you, developer productivity goes down hill fast in the latter situation.

I suspect it is a matter of specialization. There isn't much a DBA can do that I can't do; however, there is very little a DBA does that I want todo. And it is a total break in mindset to go from solving problems via Object Oriented constructs to solving them with set theory and the less then impressive tools available for integrating with transactional databases.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Outlook sucks. Gmail is better!

Gmail has completely spoiled me.

Being forced to use Outlook at work is like a punch in the nuts. I need to find an email from November but the insane archiving system in Outlook is making this seem impossible. I have these backups of the Outlook Archive file (.pst) but it appears to be empty. What the hell was the point of archiving! Why don't I have everything available to me? I have a 300 GB harddrive, why is anything gone?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wild and Crazy Florida Fruit

Always on the lookout for something different to try, my interest was piqued by a guy at the Naples Farmer's Market selling an assortment of strange fruites. I picked up some Myers Lemons and Sour Oranges, which aren't wierd but they aren't easy to find either.

Then I got a Chocolate Pudding Fruit. Also known as a Black Sapote. He said to let it get soft before eating, which I did. Apparently, not soft enough. Mine tasted like nothing with a stringy spongy texture. From the picture's it appears it needs be very ripe, browning on the outside even, and the middle will become almost black. The middle of mine was pretty brown.

The next fruit was more successful, but I'm not certain what it is called. Best guess, is a yellow sapote or egg fruit which are similar to one another. The Wikipedia page for the egg fruit says it has a maple/sweet potato flavor with the consistency of a a cooked egg yolk. This is close to what I ate, but I likened it more a mild butterscotch flavor although not very sweet. Like the Chocolate Pudding Fruit, it may need to be even softer then I thought before fully ripe. My wife and I liked this one much better.

Fresh Pasta and a Weird Herb

I asked the hippie selling organic leafy things if he had some parsley. He did not but offered me a bite of this odd leaf. It has a powerful bitter citrus finish, almost like the leaf if full of lemon zest.

Wide egg noodels, fresh from the pasta lady at the farmers market tossed with a white wine creme fraise sauce using the weird bitter citrus herb:

Diced carrot, onion, celery
1 garlic chopped

Sweat them. It's Mirepoix!

2 cups stock (I have homemade lamb/chicken)
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc
Handful of chopped weird herb. Use parsley otherwise.
Half cup creme fraise

Add stock and wine. Reduce by half, approximately.

Add herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Whisk in creme fresh let it simmer until pasta is ready.

Boil pasta for 3 minutes, then drain and transfer to sauce. Its fine, probably even good, if some pasta water comes along with it. Toss and enjoy.

This came out really well. Fresh pasta is like a million times better then the dried stuff. Maybe for spaghetti and doesn't matter so much, but I think this would not work with the bag of egg noodles.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Carnitas vs. Pulled Pork

Carnitas wins hands down. And its easier to make. Thank you Rick Bayless.

Be careful with the salt. Liberal yes, but it can get to salty.

I sautéed some brussel sprouts, garlic, and bacon to go with it. Kinda like this. So fatty delicious.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Recipe: Bucatini with Chorizo Sauce and Shrimp

We went to Italy in October, including 3 days in Rome. I've been making various pasta all'amatriciana variations ever since. Today, I planned on a pretty simple variation using the fresh bucatini pasta from the farmer's market. It was to be bacon (i don't have any pancetta on hand), basil tomato sauce, served with sauteed gulf shrimp fresh from the farmers market.

Then I opened the fridge rediscovering the chorizo sausage. Pancetta or bacon...orrrrrr...chorizo? Why not, its fatty and flavorful. Totally different set of flavors, but I think the basic mechanics of all'amatriciana will work. Hopefully the taste pans out.

Normally, I base my recipe on Batali's version from Babbo restaurant. This one is totally different.

  • Chorizo sausage - casing removed
  • Red onion - halved, sliced
  • 3 tomatoes - chopped
  • 2 red peppers - julienne
  • 3 cloves garlic - sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive Oil
Toss the chorizo in a pan, fire up to medium low. Break it up with a wooden spoon. Let it cook until it releases a good deal of fat.

Add garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes.

Add peppers and onions. And some olive oil if there isn't enough chorizo fat to coast. Toss it around.

Let it saute for 10 minutes or so, tossing occasionally.

Add the chopped tomato. And a shot of salt. This will deglaze the pan. Fire it up to high until it gets to a boil then back off to a hardy simmer. It will take 15 or 20 minutes to get the tomatoes down to a good enough sauce.

Fresh pasta goes into salted boiling water for 3 minutes, drain, toss with the sauce.


I'm not a fan of cooking really good fresh seafood into a tomato sauce because you really lose the value of getting the good shrimp. So I'm going to sauté them separately with a little garlic, parmesan, and white wine. Also, I think the flavor holds up better when cooked shell on. I'd keep the heads on if they hadn't been removed already.
  • Shrimp - 1 pound medium gulf, cleaned, shell on
  • 2 shallot - sliced thin
  • 1/2 Cup of cheap Chardonnay (any white will do)
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Bunch of roughly chopped cilantro
  • Olive Oil
Butter and olive oil go in a medium heat sauce pan. Let the water cook out of the butter then add the shallots until they start to brown. Deglaze with the wine. Reduce until there is almost no wine left.

Add shrimp, salt and pepper, and a little more olive oil. Toss. It will take about 5 minutes to finish them.

Serve on top of the pasta with some grated parmesan.

An Italian, Mexican, Gulf Coast classic. Is this fusion? Probably not.

A Month in Naples: Fishing, Farmer's Market, and Sunshine

I am spending February in Naples, FL while my wife is on her Pharmacy rotation at a local hospital. For all you northerns digging out of winter, I'll be fishing and cooking. Today was fishing in a canal on Isle of Capri near Marco Island where I failed to catch the Spanish Mackerel feeding on the incoming tide. The red and white top water crankbait I found in the garage was to big for them to hold on to, but I'll get them soon enough. Ceviche, here we come.

At lunch, I went to the Macro Island Farmers Market which is open on Wednesday's until 2:00 all winter long. Important note, it is NOT at Mackle Park as listed on Google Maps. It is where the website claims it to be at Veterans Community Park at Park Ave. & Elkcam Circle. This is confusing because this place does not exist on Google Maps. Turn on Bald Eagle Drive (south) then right at Elkcam, the first light. Can't miss it.

I got a bunch of fresh herds, most of them in planters which are now resting in the Lania, which is Floridian for porch (I'm calling it porch from now on). It's 80 F for all of you suffering from Snopacalypse 2011. Looks like a Class 3 Killstorm to me.

Also, got some fresh Bucatini, shrimp, fresh tomatoes, along with some other veggies. I'm surprised nobody had live shrimp or at least ones with the heads on. But I appeared to be buying them from the guy who caught them the night before, so its a minor complaint.

Plan is to do the shrimp and pasta tonight. I'll make use of the sweet basil and peppers for this. I also have a nice looking lamb bone-in lamb shank. Not sure what I'll do with that yet. Could be a two course meal tonight but most likely i'll be braising it tomorrow.

My plan for the herbs centers around catching fish. I really like to roast my fish whole with a rub of seasonings. I'm looking at the lemongrass, thai basil, and cilantro for this one. Coconut milk and lime should finish it off. Now I just to need to catch some snapper or pompano.