Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Valentine’s Day Massacre




On Valentine’s Day, most couples will make reservations, eat at a fancy restaurant with a pricey pre-fixe menu, exchange a few gifts, and eat some chocolates.

But Jeremy and I are not most couples. 

This Valentine’s Day, we were assassins.


Lobster assassins that is!

Every year for Valentine’s Day, Jeremy and I opt to stay in and cook dinner together.  We plan to cook something special that we wouldn’t normally eat.  In past years, we’ve made steaks, another year it was shrimp scampi and chocolate-covered strawberries. This year, I wanted to do something a little different. As I’ve mentioned before, I am was afraid of cooking live lobster, but wanted to one day get over my fear and try it.  And what better activity to do with your significant other on Valentine’s Day?


After all, nothing says “I love you” like murdering a crustacean together. 

We actually cooked two lobsters.  I bought two lobsters, in case one did not work out, we would have a spare.  And if it turned out to be success for both, I anticipated I would not be inclined to have to share a lobster. 

So after work last Friday, I stopped at a Shop-Rite by my office to purchase said crustaceans. When the clerk pulled the first one out of the tank, it didn’t move much, which made me a little worried, but he assured me  that it was alive and plopped it on the scale.  I watched it crawl around on the scale, which confirmed to me it was still alive.  The second one put up a fight coming out of the tank, which gave me a good feeling that it would be nice and tasty.  (I read that according to lobstermen, the feisty ones are tastier).

Now, Jeremy and I had both thoroughly researched did a google search on the preparation and cooking process of lobsters.  We had some disagreements on how to kill them.  He wanted to kill them just before dropping them in the pot of boiling water – supposedly this is more humane and reduces the chance of getting splashed with boiling hot water.  But the idea of stabbing a lobster in the head with a knife skeeved me out a little.  So we opted for steaming instead because it only involves boiling an inch or two of water, and less likely to splash.  But we both agreed that we should put them in the freezer for 20 minutes before cooking them because that will cause their body temperature to drop, and they will essentially go to sleep and be easier to handle before dropping them in the pot.

So into the freezer they went.  Jeremy also had prepared a wet cloth that was soaked in salt water to use to handle the lobsters for when we took them out of the freezer. 

While the lobsters were taking their last nap, we took our biggest pot and filled it with about two inches of water, added a generous amount of sea salt, and set it to boil. 

After about 20 minutes, we took out the first lobster from the freezer. 


Hello, my pretty.

The lobster was pretty sluggish (I think this was the first lobster that came out of the tank, which was more docile to begin with).  So Jeremy held it down with the wet cloth while I snipped off the rubber bands from the claws with scissors.  I was expecting the lobster to fight back, but it actually didn’t really move much.

So into the pot it went. And 8-10 minutes later, it was done!


Once it was done, we put it on ice to stop the cooking process.

While the first lobster was cooking, we moved the second lobster into the fridge.  I was worried that, if we kept the second one in the freezer for too long, it would die in the freezer.  In retrospect, this was probably unnecessary, and only meant that the lobster had a chance to thaw before we put it into the pot, and this was the feisty one!

For the second lobster, I added to the cooking water a few sprigs of fresh thyme, two bay leaves, juice from half a lemon, and the lemon rind. We also cooked this one for about a minute less.  The second one turned out to be the tastier of the two. I think the herbs and lemon helped, as well as the shorter cooking time.  (The first one was a little overcooked).  Also, if what they say is true, the feistier ones really do taste better.


The feisty lobster is ready for its close up… and to be eaten!

For the sauce, I melted a stick of unsalted butter, with some sea salt, a few sprigs of thyme and juice from about half a lemon.  It went well with the lobster, but next time I would add less lemon since it was a bit overpowering.  We also had a lot of sauce leftover, so the entire stick of butter was probably too much.

On the side, we had steamed broccoli, which I stirred in some of the lemon butter sauce.

Overall, this was a fun couples cooking adventure to do on Valentine’s Day! We both admitted that it is a little weird to see something moving, and then later cook it and eat it.  I imagine fishers and hunters must be used to that, but it was a first for both of us.  On the plus side, the lobsters were about a pound a half each, and ended up costing about $16 each.  I recognize that they would be much cheaper in the summer time, but still $16 per person for a lobster dinner + plus sharing a fun cooking adventure = one great Valentine’s Day!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mahi Mahi with Corn and Black Bean Salsa



This was a completely improvised, but healthy and delicious meal I made tonight! When I came home tonight, I already had frozen mahi mahi filets defrosting in the fridge, but I wanted to do something a little different with it.  We also had half a can of black soy beans in the fridge, so I rummaged around the fridge and freezer to see what else I could do with this.  I had seen restaurants serve fish with corn and beans before (like at Chandler’s Crabhouse during our trip Seattle), so I whipped together this mild salsa with odds and ends I had in the fridge and steamed some broccoli to go on the side. The result is what you see here, a colorful, tasty dish!


For the fish:

  • 4 mahi mahi filets
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the salsa:

  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup corn (I used frozen which I defrosted in the microwave, but if it’s in season, fresh would be best)
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, finely chopped
  • handful of grape tomatoes, chopped (or a whole plum tomato would work nicely here too)
  • 1 Tbs grated onion
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
  • seasoning salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • juice from half a lime (or more to taste)


  • Substitute parsley with cilantro, if you are not cilantro-averse like me
  • Substitute bell pepper with a finely chopped jalapeno for a spicy kick
  • Some cubed avocado would be an excellent addition, but my avocado was not ripe yet


Preheat oven at 450 degrees

Prepare the fish: lightly oil a roasting pan with olive oil.  Place filets in pan.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle a little more olive oil on the fish.  Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

While the fish is cooking, prepare the salsa by combining ingredients into a bowl.  Set aside.

When fish is cooked, plate it and top with salsa, and an extra drizzle of lime juice.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Recipe Ideas



Happy Groundhog’s Day/Super Bowl Sunday! For those of you who are coming to Jersey City for the big game, there’s still time to check out the guide Jeremy and I put together to watch the game here in town.

Since I’m actually not a huge football fan, my favorite part about the Super Bowl is the excuse to eat yummy party food and enjoy a few drinks with friends.  Here are some of my Super Bowl party-friendly recipes:

And here are some fun Super Bowl party recipes from around the web:

No matter which team you are rooting for tonight, I hope you all have a happy and safe Super Bowl Sunday!