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Learning to cook requires practice, patience

Posted On: 2/20/14
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Learning to cook requires practice, patience (Reprinted from Feb. 21, 2013 issue) Bram Stoker wrote that “we learn of great things by little experiences” and you would be hard pressed to find any aspect of life to which that philosophy doesn’t apply. In the kitchen, we often find ourselves overwhelmed by learning how to cook, a concept that is further removed from society than ever before due to the convenience products aplenty. All we have to do is go to the store, buy pre-made product, heat and serve. I know this to be true for three reasons. Firstly, as we walk down the freezer aisle of the largest supermarket we can find, we are presented with a dizzying array of colors and images designed and developed to lure us into their trap. Secondly, there simply isn’t enough time in many people’s lives to cook a fresh-scratch meal every day of the week. Thirdly, I do it myself. People regularly approach me to ask me the best manner in which to tackle the skills of cookery and nourishment. The only thin...
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Flat iron steak for a successful dinner

Posted On: 2/13/14
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Flat iron steak for a successful dinner Plans do not always come together; that is the way of it.  Eventually things always seem to get done.  Whether it’s getting the kids off to school or trying to knock out schoolwork, there’s always that one phone call.  That one friendly stop in the supermarket where you end up talking to an old friend for half an hour. Then the deadlines creep up on you. Sensing that this was going to be a busy year, I have tried to stay organized and well managed, but then I end up reverting to the ‘good lord, I need more time in my day’ routine. At the end of such a day, we need to sit down, take a breather, and enjoy a hearty and filling meal.  With my myriad projects, the aforementioned hearty meal end up being a fast food meal, truly a disgraceful meal when compared with what could be had at home. Luckily, I asked to be on the selection committee for the new club’s management hiring team.  As such, I get to sit in on the selection proces...
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Even with ravioli, it takes a little practice

Posted On: 2/7/14
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Even with ravioli, it takes a little practice One of the pleasures of teaching is watching a kitchen full of qualified students tackle something new and different.  The easiest and most accurate way to determine whether a competency is not in the students’ repertoires is by noting the condition of the kitchen at the end of class. Today happened to be such a day; our student aide made the comment that she was pretty sure that the class used every pot, pan and bowl in our inventory. When the smoke cleared and the ashes settled from the onslaught, what we found was a variety of ravioli, agnolotti, Cornish pasties and tri-color pasta; all from scratch. One student stuffed his artisanal pieces with lamb curry while another made a chicken-basil stuffing.  Since we had food in the walk-in that needed to be used after the nightmare of scheduling through the recent school days, I decided to let them have at it when it came to their fillings. Fresh pasta is one of the greatest foods to master in the ...
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Dip potatoes fried in duck fat in Remoulade

Posted On: 1/30/14
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Dip potatoes fried in duck fat in Remoulade Every now and then we see something in class that brings back vivid memories associated with food; memories rushing through our minds as images just seem to come together in our imagination.    Recently, as one of our students, Bob, made a fresh remoulade, I tasted it and was immediately transported to countless late nights of the Frenchiest French Fries I had the pleasure of enjoying.  I can’t even remember the name of the place in East Baltimore but it was always jumping and their fryers could not keep up with them. Fried in rendered duck fat (buy online from a variety of vendors) and then topped with fresh herbes de provence and truffle salt, they are only improved by the presence of a side of remoulade.  They go well paired with anything from Iced tea to beer to wine.  Of course, I would go with the beer with these but that is your call. Remoulade is a close cousin to tartar sauce and in many restaurants the name is used interchangeably.  Trut...
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Blackened tuna with mushroom-onion relish

Posted On: 1/23/14
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Blackened tuna with mushroom-onion relish The whirling of angle grinders and computer hard drives are matched by the raised voices of teenagers as they make, mend and tweak their robot during the third week of the six-week build.  Pencils and markers are always on hand as solutions to this year’s challenge are drawn, scribbled and tweaked; redrawn or thrown away in frustration and then finally realized. It is amazing what can happen when the power of collaboration is put into play.  With some amazing partners in this year’s robotics race, and the ability of our own sub-teams to work together, we are all of a sudden looking at a functional piece of machinery that didn’t exist three weeks ago. As the build days tend to be long, we keep snack foods on hand. On the busier days, DeNovo’s gives us a mountain of food to feed the brains as they exhaust themselves in the programming and machining processes. With other things in our lives, and beyond the days on which food comes from our sponsor, r...
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Grilled scallops with lemon-chervil gastrique

Posted On: 1/16/14
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Grilled scallops with lemon-chervil gastrique There is simply nothing in this world that can’t be fixed by listening to the theme of “The Benny Hill Show” sans video.  Having run across it this week for the first time in eons, I giggled - chortled even - as the saxophone blurted out the ridiculous and inspirational melodies known to so many, reminding us of simpler times in a long gone age. Without the nonsensical visual stop-motion of Benny et al running amok in the intro of the show, it is easy to imagine the silliest of scenes in one’s own mind as the song blurts through its short lifespan. The man himself, Benny Hill that is, was a genius in his heyday.  From his eponymous sketch comedy to “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” he entertained as few did in the business. Sometimes it is the light and playful that brings us down to earth.  When we realize that we have been taking ourselves a little too seriously, a small touch of humor, or something just a little afar from the norm, goes ...
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Cook your dinner from scratch, Suplee says

Posted On: 1/9/14
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Cook your dinner from scratch, Suplee says We were watching television the other day as my wife and I had a little kid-free down time to enjoy some random shows.  Truth be told, we didn’t have the remote, weren’t in any hurry to get up and weren’t really paying attention to the telly since we were talking. I made the comment that digital cameras have seemed to make every kid a photographer.  Phones with 40 megapixel cameras do most of the average teenager’s pictographic grunt work that would have taken Ansel Adams days to accomplish.  Most don’t understand the composition and lighting that makes for truly artistic photography (No, I do not consider myself in this category so settle down), but how many photography pages have you seen crop up online overnight?  Come on, be honest.    I then mused that software suites have made it possible for anyone to be a web designer (albeit not a formidable one, but you get the point).  Other applications made it easy for peop...
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Want to eat healthy? Great, let’s fry cheese

Posted On: 1/2/14
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Want to eat healthy? Great, let’s fry cheese Among many New Year’s resolutions floating in space right now is the desire by many to eat healthy.  We all know that we can do better than we did in 2013.  We are well aware of the conventional wisdom that warns of fat content, sugar levels and fried foods. We listen to the TV ads until we’ve had it up to here, being lectured about how a life of lettuce and nuts will set us free.  Then the next guy pops up and tells us that a few pounds of protein every day will take us back to our primal selves.  With just a little more self-control you can learn to lick that lackluster waistline and replace it with a meaner, leaner you. So go and grab that celery stalk.  Set out, dear friend, to throw some carrots, spinach and ginger in the juicer as you work your way through Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. I’ll just be right over here turning on the deep fryer.  I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like fried cheese? T...
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Holiday time perfect for Porterhouse steak

Posted On: 12/19/13
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Holiday time perfect for Porterhouse steak Sometimes all I need is a stroll through our cool little town of Berlin to realize what a quaint and wonderful place it is.  Not having been able to snap into the holiday spirit yet, I decided with the kids to do a 12 Days of Christmas gift giving crusade for my wife, and Berlin seemed like the perfect place for ideas. Heading downtown to pick up said gift as well as gift cards for bus drivers, teachers et al, I stopped in to see Pete at SiCuli, the latter one of our favorite Italian eateries.  After eating a Fiery Soppressata pizza in three bites, a record if memory serves, I went to Ta-Da and then to JJ Fish where I found the perfect gift for Day 3.   On the wall was a shelf of knitted socks that were mismatched with the slogan Life’s too short to wear matching socks!  I chortled inwardly as I recalled my exhausted wife exclaiming earlier in the day as she sorted the kids’ socks, “Grrr.  Two damn mismatched socks.  Every load!”...
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Beef flautas bring back memories for chef

Posted On: 12/12/13
Written By: Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Beef flautas bring back memories for chef I can’t help but to wax nostalgic during the holidays.  Like any family, we have seen the best of times and some of the not so very best of times.  I remember fondly the adventures of life in a large family and  reminisce the first time I was able to win a fight with my older brother. Then there was the time that we launched bottle rockets at our neighbors’ deck party.  The revelers relished the uninvited missiles and cheered as they were bombarded.  Luckily they were high school kids (older than we at the time) with no parents at home so I guess the activities made their rebellious event even more exciting. As it is football season, I start thinking about the games seen and arenas visited over the years; RFK, Memorial, Jack Murphy, Astrodome, Cardinals Stadium, M&T et al.  While I’ve never been an out-of-control football fan, I enjoy the sport and when I find tickets I take them; there is nothing like a live game. This morning an ...
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