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Enjoy beautiful bounty of produce stands

Posted On: 8/18/16
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Enjoy beautiful bounty of produce stands Chefs are a different breed of people. We are bizarre, and often try to convince others that there is a romance or mystique about our career. In fact, there is nothing more mysterious about us than the fact that when we’re done cooking, we still have to scrub the floor, wipe out the floor drains, scrape the goo from the inside of the reach-in refrigerator and scrape everything from the tabletop. It has been documented many times over, but it always seems like there’s that one container of food that gets away from you, and by the time you find it, sometimes it is better just to throw the entire thing out, but I digress. But, cooking does not need to be difficult. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that growing up, but as cooks, chefs and culinarians we are always trying to muddle the waters in an effort to bring our guests complicated dishes with subtle nuances of impossibility and the unlikelihood that it can be easily reproduced. Sure, there comes a time when...
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Reel in some Reel Inn-sourced shrimp tacos

Posted On: 8/11/16
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Reel in some Reel Inn-sourced shrimp tacos Damn it all. I just got home from a grueling, hot and sweaty day at the Reel Inn, as I’m working the White Marlin Open again, but fret not. I love working this event, but it does wear heavy on my old and weary bones. I’m simply not the man I used to be. I love working this singular week of mayhem, seeing old friends from as far away as Baltimore and Annapolis, such as the inimitable Sean Leahy and teachers and friends from down here, such as Chad, Misty et al, as well as the owners of the Reel Inn, Spunky and Angie. In reality I only see them once a year or so, so it’s always a great family reunion of sorts. But this is not my dilemma. No, I’m upset that at the end of the day I jumped into the pool to bighead for my 11-year-old, who was quite happy to see me. You see, the deepest part of my pool in a meager four-feet deep. Yes, I decided for some unknown reason that a pencil dive was appropriate to show off for a kid who was spraying me with ice-cold water a...
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For perfect sear, aim for just ‘short of hell’

Posted On: 8/4/16
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

For perfect sear, aim for just ‘short of hell’ It was difficult to watch the videos of flooding in Ellicott City last week. My wife, Julie, worked at a hospital there for a couple years, so we drove down Main Street every weekday as I would drive her to work. The picturesque scenery was always a soft spot in the terrible rush hour traffic. Flooding like that happens every 50 or 60 years or so, and that doesn’t surprise me with the manner in which Main Street was designed; everything flows down into the valley. Given a massive storm such as the one last week, the devastating effect can be seen the world over in our social media-filled lives. I think it was a day or two later that we had our storms down here, albeit nothing to the tune of Baltimore last week. Compounded with the sinkhole on Route 90, it was nigh impossible to make it onto the island and get home in one piece. Yes, the storm made a mess of things, but I’m glad that it’s mostly cosmetic and that we don’t have the massive cleanup and damage c...
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Going bananas over leaf-wrapped seafood

Posted On: 7/28/16
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Going bananas over leaf-wrapped seafood I think my buddy Jay wanted to smack me upside the head. He was helping me run some outlets at the new house, and specifically a primary one for my commercial smoker. As he is from Hawaii, he kept looking at our garden while saying “bro.” I would calmly and ignorantly say “what?” to which he just ran his hand down the banana leaves. “Bro, you do realize you get to cook with these, right?” I had been looking at these banana plants for weeks now, but quite honestly I saw them as nothing more than tropical, decorative plants. After a short lesson by Jay on Japanese-hybrid banana plants, I was even more excited to live in our new house. We use banana leaves quite a bit at school when I teach South and Central Americana cuisine, as well as Asian cuisine. Hawaiian Kalua pork, Filipino Suman, Salvadoran tamales et al all grace our tables throughout the school year, and yet I was staring down the business end of these magnificent plants for all of this ti...
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Bacon fry bread with fermented garlic

Posted On: 7/21/16
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Bacon fry bread with fermented garlic I hit the snooze button at 4:30 a.m. and it scratched me. I smacked it again 10 minutes later, hoping to get just another moment of respite, when it hissed and pounced off of my chest. Mayhap I wasn’t drumming the snooze button at all. There is nothing that will get you out of bed quicker than an irritable mouser reminding you exactly who is in charge of the den, especially when your own wits are dimmed by a poor night’s sleep. Today was a big day as it was time to go back to Baltimore for an important meeting, so I had to make sure not to fall back into slumber. As my feline timekeeper is more reliable than my phone – the latter being a tool that mysteriously renders itself to vibrate every night at midnight so that I can’t hear it – I was up and ready to go before the misses had a chance to turn the light on. Two points for the little bastard. After a successful, but tiring roundtrip to Mob Town, Julie and I ended up back in the hood, with her settled...
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Simple summer snack: chips and salsa

Posted On: 7/14/16
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Simple summer snack: chips and salsa This column originally ran on July 17, 2014 As voices echo through our little street, a feeling of summer, fun and family runs through me like an electric current.  It’s a wonderful thing as a parent to have a flash of memory back to the days of my own childhood; a prevailing feeling of worth as I remember the emotions that I attached to certain events in my life and that I now share with my children. Years ago as we played at the water’s edge, I was teaching my kids how to dig deep enough to reach the tide line, in essence making your own pool at the ocean.  Something that my father taught me in the early 1970s, it was a laughable concept to my friend who was visiting from out of town.  He brushed it off as nonsense, but as I taught my kids, you could see bewilderment in his eyes as the bottom of the hole began to fill with water. Move forward a few years and our next scene is our home.  I took my kids outside at dusk to teach them how to summon the ...
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Grilled chicken skewers simple to prepare

Posted On: 7/7/16
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Grilled chicken skewers simple to prepare (July 7, 2016) With the whirlwind of moving comes the onslaught of discoveries – some good and some downright frightening. Despite the fact that we’ve only moved seven miles away, it is almost as though we are traversing continents, as we are moving into a house that has been empty for two years. Allow me to explain. Two years – an admirable stretch in time in which animals can and have roamed free, growing at will. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we have found a secret portal to Australia. I’ve never seen bigger wolf spiders, and in fact the only larger spiders I’ve seen in person were the tarantulas in Southern California. Furry little bastards. The snakes have moved on as we disturbed their home around the pool’s edge. The two largest snakes, an Eastern Racer and a King Snake, were easily six feet long. Luckily, most of us in the family like snakes (the same cannot be said about spiders), so we were a little sad once we realized tha...
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Don’t cut out mayonnaise on cold cut sub

Posted On: 6/30/16
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Don’t cut out mayonnaise on cold cut sub Sometimes it just takes a good, swift kick in the arse to remind us that we may not be purging our belongings on a regular enough basis. I will admit it; I inherited my father’s garage. Needless to say, the man did not keep a clean carriage house. Quite the contrary, on most occasions it was a booby-trapped minefield that only prepared my brother and me for the obstacle courses and myriad adventures that we would encounter in the military. Piles of magazines that had not been read for years in one corner, and mountains of tools dated to the antebellum era in the other. It was not unusual to have to climb over things to get to the 7/8 inch socket wrench that you needed to fix a very specific part of your bike. It was just another day on Bayberry Drive. As I look upon the mess that is our new house, I realize that I have a deep case of the Moving Blues. We are no longer residents of Ocean Pines, and have moved up to Bishopville since we found a house for us and my mother-in-law....
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Do-it-yourself pickling primer, revisited

Posted On: 6/23/16
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Do-it-yourself pickling primer, revisited This column originally ran in the June 25, 2015 issue of the Gazette. It’s nice to see that most stores are carrying pickling cucumbers in the produce section. That part of the culinary world has picked up nicely.  Every site and book out there would be remiss if they were to leave out this old and venerable practice.  I teach pickling at school and it is an important part of the restaurant industry, as are smoking and curing.  They’re all the rage, as the kids like to say. Making your own pickles is a lot easier than most of us chefs will let on, but I’m not going to write about that necessarily, as I just wrote about pickled mustard seeds and pickled onions recently.   But do yourself the favor of practicing on some easy items such as pickled mustard, pickled onions et al. OK, break my arm; I’ll talk about pickling again.  Pickling can be as easy as pouring boiling vinegar, sugar, salt and garlic on sliced cucumbers letting the...
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Please, leave out dye in your Key lime pie

Posted On: 6/16/16
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Please, leave out dye in your Key lime pie The first time that I ever ate Key lime pie was at a restaurant in Annapolis where I worked in 1984-5, a beautiful spot replete with wood-stoked fireboxes and a smoker large enough to cook 500 pounds of product with the single flip of a switch. I learned a great deal while working here. Although I already knew how to build a fire, I learned how to keep it stoked for 12 hours, how to find the hot spots on the grill, and how to prep huge sides of marlin for the smoker. Countless pounds of baby back ribs and brisket also went through that beast, and then of course there were the buffalo burgers (a marvel in 1984) and conch fritters. The menu was exciting and I enjoyed it to no end. It was a great job, but there was one problem, and that was a questionable lack of management. I was only 16 years old, and there were days on which I was the opening cook. In fact, there were days when my buddy Joe and I were the only cooks, a bold move that I never repeated as a scheduling manager later in...
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