Monday, April 30, 2012

A Trip to the Indian Market

A trip to a local Indian market. These small international markets can be great places to shop for spices and produce--and they often have pretty good prices, too--if you're into that kinda thing. Check out some cooking vids on the Chef Buck playlist at

Friday, April 27, 2012

Shrimp Remoulade Recipe

Shrimp salad is one of my all-time favorites, especially if it’s tossed in a delicious remoulade sauce.  I used to eat this all the time when I lived in New Orleans—and I never go back without making a stop at the Gumbo Shop for a taste.  I don’t know exactly how the Gumbo Shop prepares shrimp remoulade, but this recipe is how I throw it together.   A lot of ingredients go into the sauce, but it’s worth the effort.  Give it a try, and for more recipes check out the Chef Buck playlist:

Shrimp Remoulade

sauce ingredients:
MUSTARD (¼ cup --creole, stone ground, or dijon)
HORSERADISH (2 tsp --prepared)
GREEN ONION (1 tsp, minced)
PARSLEY (1 Tbsp, finely chopped)
CELERY (1 Tbsp, minced)
GARLIC (1 clove, minced)
PAPRIKA (1 tsp, smoked)
SUGAR (1 tsp, optional
SALT (to taste)
HOT SAUCE (½ tsp)
OLIVE OIL (1 Tbsp)
VINEGAR (1 tsp)

salad ingredients:
SHRIMP (1 lb, boiled)
GREEN ONION (chopped, optional)

The sauce:
To make the sauce, just mix all the sauce ingredients together (really?!).  I’m using tomato puree in this version, but I’ve also made this dish using ketchup or tomato sauce; it will be thinner if you use those two, but that can be a good thing, especially if you want to toss the greens in the remoulade sauce.  Sugar is optional and definitely not needed if you’re using ketchup, which is usually sweet enough.  Sometimes I’ll add a teaspoon of onion powder.  This is a great recipe to play with, but be judicious with the mayonnaise!  Using fresh ingredients like parsley, garlic, green onion, and celery will really make this sauce shine.  You can definitely make and serve the sauce immediately, but making it hours ahead or even the day before will embolden the flavors.  Embolden the flavors?  I’m not sure if that’s the right way to say that, but you know what I mean.

The shrimp:
I’m using 1 pound of deveined shrimp in the shell.  For this salad, the bigger the shrimp the better, but I usually get whatever’s on sale—any kind of shrimp is gonna be delish in this dish.  Before boiling, prepare a bowl of ice water to cool the shrimp after cooking—this will keep the shrimp from becoming overdone (tough and rubbery).
Put a pot of water on the stove and add 2 bay leaves and a generous amount of salt.  Bring the pot to a boil and add the shrimp.  I find a pound of shrimp takes about 2 minutes, but this will vary depending on the size of the shrimp and the amount of water in the pot.  For sure, they will cook fast.  Do not ignore them—it’s not a good time to multi-task.  When the shrimp turn pink, they’re done.  Get ‘em out of the hot water and into the ice bath—this will halt the cooking process, and your shrimp will be perfecto (and easy to peel now that they're cooked!).

Toss the shrimp in the remoulade sauce and serve over a bed of fresh greens.  I like to garnish the salad with green onion and fresh tomato.  Serve with saltines or a loaf of French bread and soft butter.  Let the salivating begin.

And bon appétit! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chole Palak Recipe

Chole Palak is an Indian-style spinach and chickpea dish that’s super flavorful and a breeze to make.  With a few ingredients in the cabinet, this tasty dish is always just a few minutes away.  Thanks for watching and I hope you give it a try.  For more recipe ideas, check out the Chef Buck Playlist:

SPINACH  (13 oz can or frozen, or 3 cups chopped fresh)
CHICKPEAS  (15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
TOMATOES  (diced, 14 oz can—or 2 fresh tomatoes)
HOT PEPPER  (1 or 2, minced)
GINGER  (1 Tbsp, minced)
OLIVE OIL  (2-3 Tbsp)
CUMIN SEEDS  (1 tsp)
TURMERIC  (½ tsp)
SALT (to taste)

Heat olive oil on medium high heat and add cumin seeds and asafoetida.  The seeds should sizzle when they hit the pan and will brown and crack quickly.  Add the tomatoes, ginger, and peppers.  Mix well and then add the coriander, chili, and turmeric powder.  Mix and allow the tomatoes to cook down 3-4 minutes.  Add the spinach and salt and stir well.  Add ¼ - ½ cup water—I like less water, but add as desired throughout the recipe.  Cover and let cook 3-4 minutes.  Uncover and mix in chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans).  Add another ¼ cup of water, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 5-6 minutes.  At this point the chickpeas will be soft enough to smash easily with a fork, which you don’t have to do, but I prefer the consistency of the dish if I mush about half of them.  Add the garam masala and stir another minute or two, also adding more water if desired.  And then that’s that.  Finito.  When I prepare an Indian meal, I almost always serve this dish; it’s easy, healthy, and delicious, so why not?
Give it a try, let me know what you think, and bon appétit! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blackened Fish Recipe

Blackened fish is quick and easy: fish, spice, butter, skillet, and—boom—you’re done.

I’m using mahi mahi with this dish, but any fish will do.  A traditional blackened fish is dredged in melted butter before the spices are applied, which is yummy, but I think the fish does all right with just the spices—we’ll save the butter for the pan. Any combo of spices will do. I especially like ginger powder on my fish—give it a try. Use salt, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, etc. Coat each side of the fish with as little or as lot of spice as desired.

Heat a skillet on medium high heat and add a little butter. Add a little oil, too. When it’s hot, toss in your fish—but not before—the fish should sizzle and cook when it hits the pan. Brown one side with spice and butter and turn halfway through cooking. Light fish will turn opaque when it’s done, but don’t wait for the fish to be cooked entirely through before removing it from the heat—it will continue to cook even after you’ve removed it from the heat. Shoot for almost flaky more than flaky.

Bon appétit!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cauliflower Masala

Cauliflower is good. If you say it often enough, it will be true (and this cauliflower masala recipe will help).

1 med CAULIFLOWER (cut into florets)
1 15oz can DICED TOMATOES (or 2 med tomatoes)
1 8oz can GREEN PEAS
1/8 tsp ASAFOETIDA (optional, also called Hing)
1 large ONION (chopped)
1 HOT PEPPER (finely chopped)
1 tsp GINGER (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp GARLIC (finely chopped)
1 tsp CHILI POWDER (sub cumin powder for less heat)
2-3 Tbsp OLIVE OIL
¼ cup WATER
SALT (to taste)

In a skillet, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida. Seeds will brown and crack quickly. Add onion and stir. Cook 1 minute and then add ginger, garlic, and hot pepper. Continue cooking until onions are soft. Add turmeric, chili, and coriander powder and mix well. Stir in tomatoes and continue cooking 4-5 minutes. Add salt to taste. As the tomatoes cook down I like to crush them with a spoon. Stir in cauliflower florets. Add water and bring dish to a bubble, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook 4-5 minutes. I say 4-5 minutes, but cook it however long you like…I should say 1-10 minutes. I don’t want to cook all the nutrients out of the cauliflower, and I like my florets to still have a bit of crunch to them, so I simmer my cauliflower for only a few minutes. When the cauliflower is almost cooked to your liking, add garam masala and green peas. Mix and continue cooking until peas are heated through. And that’s it—your cauliflower and peas will be transformed into something delicious (I know it’s hard to believe, but trust me).
And bon appétit!

More Buck Redbuck:

Samba Sting by Kevin MacLeod at Music track used with permission Creative Commons: By Attribution and found at this link:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spicy Couscous Recipe

Couscous is a quick and simple dish, so naturally I love it. It makes a great pairing with fish and both can be whipped up lickety-split. I usually start with plain couscous and spice it up myself—give it a try—it’s eezey-peezey and vastly yummier than any overpriced couscous mix you’ll find at the market. Check out the recipe below, and for more video recipes visit the Chef Buck Playlist at


1 medium ONION (chopped)
3 cloves GARLIC (finely chopped)
1 HOT PEPPER (finely chopped)
1 ½ cup WATER (or broth)
SALT (to taste)

Heat olive oil on medium high heat and then add onions. Stir for 1 minute and add mustard seeds, hot pepper, and garlic. Continue sautéing for a couple more minutes. Stir in chili powder, paprika, and turmeric. Add salt and tomato paste and mix well. Pour in 1 ½ cups of water, stir, cover pot and turn up the heat and bring the pot to a boil. After ingredients come to a boil, stir in the couscous and mix well. Cover and remove from heat and allow pot to sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes the couscous will have completely absorbed all the water. Uncover and immediately fluff with a fork—this will keep the couscous for overcooking and becoming a sticky, starchy mess; couscous should be light and fluffy, and in this case, nice and spicy, too.

Bon appétit!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chana Masala Recipe

Chana masala is a kick-ass Indian chick pea dish. It’s super easy to make and a great introduction to Indian cooking. There are literally one zillion billion versions of this dish, and 99% of them are probably awesome. Many chana masala recipes include onion, but I think it’s fine without (I make so many Indian dishes with onions, it’s nice to have a few that are onion-free). I do include asafoetida (hing) and besan (chick pea flour). These ingredients are great in this dish, but not necessary. If not using besan, just add ½ cup of water instead of 1 cup. The asafoetida is wonderful. It stinks. Man, it stinks. It’s also called “devil’s dung”. But that’s just when it’s raw, once you toss it into a simmering skillet, it transforms into a sharp, oniony weirdness that will pleasantly remind you of your favorite Indian restaurant. I’ve only been able to find asafoetida at international food markets, but it’s worth acquiring—especially if you want to make a habit of cooking great Indian dishes at home. If foregoing the asafoetida, try adding 1 finely chopped medium-sized onion between the cumin seeds and the tomatoes. Coriander powder is great in this dish, too. But the way I usually prepare it is like this:

1 15 oz can CHICK PEAS (or 2 cups)
1 15 oz can DICED TOMATOES (or 2 fresh diced)
1 tsp GARLIC (minced)
1 tsp GINGER (minced)
1 HOT PEPPER (minced)
1-2 Tbsp OLIVE OIL
1 Tbsp CHICK PEA FLOUR (also called besan)
1/8 tsp ASAFOETIDA (optional, also called hing)
SALT (to taste)


In a skillet, heat oil on medium high heat. When the oil is heated, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Stir and allow to simmer for just a few moments. Once the seeds begin to crack, add the chick pea flour and continue stirring. The flour will absorb the oil. Stir for approx. 1 minute and then add the diced tomatoes. Mix well and allow the tomatoes to bubble. As the tomatoes cook down, you can crush them with your stirrer for a smoother chana massala. Add the minced ginger and garlic and hot pepper. Add the chili powder and turmeric. After the tomatoes have cooked 4-5 minutes, add the chick peas, garam masala, and salt to taste. Mix well and add 1 cup of water. Bring the dish to a bubble, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow cooking for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, the chick peas will be soft. Use a fork or potato masher to smash some of the chick peas, this will help thicken the chana masala along with the chick pea flour added earlier. Simmer uncovered to the desired consistency, remove and serve. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve with rice or on its own, it’s great either way.

Bon appétit!