Sunday, October 19, 2008


Fresh tarragon is the herb of the day for this seafood linguine. A little licorice flavor is perfect with the seafood and works especially well with the mussels and the cream sauce.

The tarragon is chopped and set aside until needed.

Tomato will be used as a garnish in the pasta...

...and one tomato is diced and set aside until needed.

One of the aromatics is leek...

...and a julienne is fitting for this pasta.

Shallot is another aromatic...

...and again, a julienne is perfect for this dish.

Minced garlic - another aromatic - is added to a little extra virgin olive oil until needed.

Flat leaf parsley... roughly chopped and will garnish the dish.

A carrot...

...and this mandolin...

...make julienne...


Here are all of the garnishes for the pasta.

The seafood for this pasta consists of salmon, scallops, shrimp and mussels.

There's a juicy little mama!

Ooooh! Looky, looky!

You can just see how impatient the mussels are to get into the pot!

A little butter sizzling in a hot pot. What a beautiful thing!

The garlic and shallots sacrifice themselves to flavor the dish and to fill the kitchen with a pleasing smell. Thanks guys!

A splash of Dr. Loosen Riesling to cool things down and to get things boiling at the same time. that an oxymoron?

Let's get this party started! The seafood is next into the pot for a quick steam before the cream is added to reduce.

It's a sauna in there!

The cream cools things down for a moment, but things will heat up again really soon!

The fish is half cooked and the cream will come to a simmer and will finish off the cooking process.

Time to season with a little lemon, salt and white pepper.


The garnish is all added to the pot.

Then the pasta. The pasta is added to the sauce and is reheated in the pan. This is the proper way to prepare pasta so please refer to the previous post entitled "SEAFOOD LINGUINE PART ONE - COOKING THE LINGUINE" for instructions on how to properly cook pasta.

Once the pasta is hot and the vegetable garnish has softened, add some really nice parmesan cheese. plate it up!

Action shot: A big toothy grin by one of the mussels!

Action shot: A piece of salmon looking a little overwhelmed. I recall her saying, "Oh my god...I can't believe I'm actually part of this!"

Action shot: A scallop looking rather conceited as though the entire success of the dish hinges on his being there or not. Ahhh...whatever!


Okay, this may seem a little basic but I never know who is looking in at my blog or what level of knowledge they have about cooking so I thought I would go through the process for cooking pasta properly. Is there a proper way to cook pasta? Well...if you want pasta that isn't sticky, chewy or mushy, yes there is.

"El dente" is the term given to pasta that is still slightly firm after it is cooked. It isn't chewy or hard at all, just a little firm. Pasta that is cooked past el dente is on the soft and mushy side. Not only that, it loses flavor when it is overcooked.

How do you know when your pasta is el dente? taste it periodically throughout the cooking process to "feel" the level of doneness. When it feels cooked and it had a nice bite, it's ready. After you do this a few times when you cook pasta you will gain a sense of when your pasta is ready.

Here's the process for cooking dried linguine:

Fill a large pot with cold water. Add some salt and a little oil to the water. The salt is to add flavor to the pasta as it cooks and the oil is to prevent the pot from boiling over. That last point is one of contention. The truth is that you really don't need oil in the water at all, but I still do it out of habit. How stupid is that?!

Turn the burner on high, cover the pot with a lid and bring the water to a hard boil.

Add the linguine to the water.

Be sure the linguine is totally submersed in the water and give it a stir to ensure that none of it is sticking together in clumps. After a few moments stir the pasts again to prevent clumping.

Here is how the pasta looks at about the half way mark. Notice that it is soft. Is it done yet? Let's take a closer look!

True, the pasta is softer than when it went into the pot, but that doesn't mean it's cooked. Notice the yellow color and the waxy appearance. This pasts is still way too firm to eat and it would taste starchy and chewy. Better leave it in for a while longer!

Now look at the pasta. It is softer, lighter in color and slick looking. It's ready!

Strain the pasta in a large colander. DO NOT RUN COLD WATER OVER IT!!! Allow the water to run off the pasta without washing with cold water. If you rinse the pasts you will wash away the surface starch and the sauce will not stick the it. The only time you rinse pasta as if you are making pasta salad.

Transfer the pasta to a shallow tray and spread it out evenly to air cool. Drizzle some olive oil over the top of it and toss lightly. Move the pasta around in the tray periodically to allow the hot pasta on the bottom to be cooled by the air as well.

Now the pasta is ready to be added to hot sauce or to be refrigerated for future use.


I had a reader ask me about knives the other day and I decided that it might be a good idea to go over what knives belong in the kitchen of a serious cook. When I say "serious" I'm not referring to the chef, the amateur chef, the gourmet or anyone as serious as that. I am referring to anyone who is passionate about cooking and who wants to learn how to cook serious food. And when you have that mindset, you need the tools to do the job. Knives are the most basic of kitchen tools.

Below is a paring knife. The term "paring" refers to cleaning and preparing, or reducing in size. When it comes to cooking, this usually refers to fruits and vegetables, right? Yes it does. We clean, peel and cut fruits and vegetables into various shapes and sizes in order to either cook them or to eat them raw. This is when a small knife comes in handy, so a paring knife is definitely an essential knife in the kitchen.

Below is a turning knife. It is also known as a bird's beak paring knife. This is the type of paring knife I prefer personally because I like the action of the curved blade over the action of the straight one on a regular paring knife. And considering that most fruits and vegetables are either round or tubular in shape, the hooked blade works better. Just imagine peeling a small round beet with a straight blade and then imagine doing the same with a curved blade. I think it's obvious which task would be easier.

If you ever plan on cooking fish in your kitchen then a fillet knife will be on the essential list. It is irreplaceable when it comes time to remove the skin from a fish fillet or when you fillet a fish. Its value is in the thin, flexible blade which makes it easier to perform these tasks.

This is a boning knife. A boning knife is used for removing bones from various cuts of meat. A boning knife is larger than a paring knife, shorter than a fillet knife and much smaller than a French knife. The boning knife has a stiff blade with a curved tip which makes it easier to make the tiny cuts necessary to remove the flesh from bone. Imagine removing the rib and wing joints of a bone-in breast of chicken if you wanted to prepare a stuffed, boneless breast of chicken. What kind of knife would you use to get into those tiny nooks and crannys? Well...this is the one.

Here is a bread knife. If you ever buy or make fresh bread you need a bread knife. But a bread knife (otherwise known as a saw knife) has uses other than cutting bread. This knife is valuable for sawing thin slices of bread, cake, pastry and large fruits like melon. Personally I prefer a very long blade and I prefer the cheaper ones to the shorter, more expensive one in this picture.

Now we have the workhorse of the kitchen. This is the French knife. The French knife is a stiff, 10" knife that is used for pretty much all cutting after the paring process in completed. It is used for cutting meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables into all sizes and shapes. Large dice, medium dice, small dice, paysenne, brunoise, julienne; whatever the cut, the French knife is the right tool for the job!

The blade of all French knives are slightly curved as you can see. This allows for the rocking action when a proper slicing motion is employed. The proper motion for cutting with a French knife is that of the drive shafts on an old steam engine. It is a rocking forward and back while lifting and dropping the back of the knife to make your cut. Actually, the tip of the knife doesn't ever have to leave the cutting board to cut properly.

Is a French knife used to chop? You bet it is! Chopping rough cut vegetables as for a stock or chopping down herbs before finely cutting them are jobs for the French knife.

Every kitchen must have a French knife!

The knife above is a good knife because it is made of good steel. That is what you look for in a knife. The steel must be hard and it must hold an edge. The Victoria Knox above is fairly inexpensive and will last the average cook a lifetime. It is comfortable in the hand and the plastic handle is sanitary and dishwasher safe.

You will notice the heel of the blade ends cleanly at the handle. I like this feature in a knife and I will explain this further below.

This knife I prefer to the Victoria Knox above. The brand I am unfamiliar with but the shape of the blade is excellent. It is nicely rounded for proper cutting action and the blade ends cleanly at the handle. Notice where the blade eases into the handle. It is nicely curved at the heel and that gives more comfort to the hand when cutting. The handle is molded nylon and is riveted to the steel tang inside. The "tang" is the part of the blade that forms the handle. A full tang runs the full length of the handle rather than ending part way through. This feature provides strength and balance. Your grandchildren will be using this knife long after you are gone.

This is a Henckle French Knife. We have all seen these. I have one and I hate it. It's a great knife, but I find it heavy and clunky. It has all of the features of the knife above except the shape of the blade isn't as rounded and the blade ends in a big lump at the heel. I personally dislike this feature in the design of the knife. Over time a hollow is formed in the blade from sharpening and the heel must be ground down to take it out. A blade with a hollow will not cut properly as part of the blade does not make contact with the cutting board. That is a tool that cannot do its job.