Like flip-flops days at the beach, creating coastal cuisine should be in a word FUN. My Knight in Shining Tin Foil, AKA Jim Baugh, celebrates cooking delicious meals for 2 or 10. Whether he is steaming up clams or brushing eggs whites on dough, he will flash me those dimples and ask; “Isn’t this fun?”
I thought it was the cooking sherry.
However, having grandparents from Naples, Italy the food-is-life passion isn’t lost on me –even if the cooking gene skipped a generation.
Dive into these coastal –inspired dishes, many are proven recipes from the popular JIM BAUGH OUTDOORS TV now going in its 25th year, some from restaurants we’ve enjoyed. Often they incorporate the bounty of bay and sea to serve up a romantic dinner, or help you feed the masses once the peeps discover you’re at the beach.
Time for some Coastin kitchen FUN!
Broiled Flounder for 2 with Tomato Garlic Compound Butter
No, I’m not talking about my old high school dates, but a delicious fuss-free way to appreciate flounder.
Jim and I recently enjoyed this dish at the historic Eastville Inn on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. It was love at first, fresh bite for me. How fresh was it? Well, a local waterman reeled it in that day, knocked at the Inn’s door and Chef Brent Schmidt served it up to us that night!
Thanks Chef Brent for the recipe! [Click here for our first mouth account on The Eastville Inn ]
Take it away Jim…
It is always a treat for both cook and dinner companion when you can prepare an excellent meal for two with ease. The trick with this dish is that the flounder MUST be fresh. Make some calls to your local seafood store, your fishing buddies, or go flounder fishing –always a good way to spend a day!
Take a broiling dish or cast iron skillet and coat with olive oil. Place the flounder fillet in the pan in a convection oven set at 375.
If you want to add a little white wine or butter patties to the filets, you can however; the only seasoning you really need is a little salt and pepper. Simple right, some of the best recipes are.
Chef Brent served it with a tomato-based, compound butter. Donna was all over it!
For a little wow factor this is not hard to do at home.
Take some grape tomatoes and simmer in a skillet with a wine and roasted garlic reduction. Allow to set at room temperature. Then add soft butter to a mixing bowl and fold in the tomatoes. Easy, and an excellent complement to the final dish.
Oyster Festival for 2
Much is made of the courage of the curious Native American who first braved the consumption of a raw oyster plucked from the waters. He got past the sharp jagged shell to reveal what looks like –let’s face it –a gelatinous glob. I could go on but the squeamish among us do not need any more adjectives.
Skipping the visual straight to the tongue, to taste an oyster on a half shell is to savor the sea itself. I love the way French poet Léon-Paul Fargue, described eating one “like kissing the sea on the lips.” What an apt way to describe this sensual experience.
I never had oysters uncooked until I moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It was love at first slurp. If you have yet to discover the raw lust of these mollusks, I highly recommend trying one under the hands of someone who knows what they are doing and even more importantly –knows where those suckers came from. This can be a reputable seafood restaurant or if you are lucky like us here in Coastal Virginia, a local oyster festival or oyster roast. Often the people who raised and/or harvested the oysters are the ones shucking them and popping a few in their own mouths. Always a good sign.
Around these parts, we celebrate our bountiful succulent bivalves with huge festivals like the Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival in October and the Urbanna Oyster Festival now in its 56th year. Also just about every weekend within a “r” spelled month there is some smart organization using our delicious oysters as human bait for their fundraisers. A clear formula for success!
It’s great that us oysters-lovers do not have to depend on wild harvests whose stocks plummeted over the decades due to overharvesting and diseases. Virginia, my coastal friends, is the largest producer of fresh, farm-raised oysters in the US of A. Forget the outdated rule that said oysters can only be eaten in the “r” months. Awesome aquaculture is rocking oyster harvests year round increasing the harvest 10-fold from 23,000 bushels in 2001, to 236,000 bushels in 2011 and continuing to climb. Yum.
Course there is something about the chill of winter that makes diving into these delicacies just more of a treat be them steamed, fried, roasted, in stew, or of course raw.
Blessed with an oyster reef on our bayside property we’ve been spoiled with our own private oyster festivals the last few months. Nevertheless, thanks to plentiful seafood markets throughout the Mid-Atlantic you too can kiss the sea.
For an oyster festival for 2 half a bushel is plenty considering most agree that a bushel will make 6-10 folks happy. If like me Italians have raised you, you know our innate fear is letting one person leave the dinner table with stomach room to spare. In that case go for it and get a bushel. You can always have back-to-back oyster nights.
We enjoy oysters steamed. Mainly because it’s easier on Jim’s hands –a jazz pianist shouldn’t be a oyster shucker. We leave that to the experts at our next local oyster event.
How to Steam Oysters
- First wash off your oysters, always using protective gloves when handling the shells.
- Get a large steamer pot, like a crab steamer. If you don’t have one use a large pot with an upside down spring form pan in the bottom of the pot.(or anything that will simulate a steamer set-up.) Fill the pot with water close to the top of the pan.
- Bring water to a boil and add oysters. Steam until they just begin to open. (Maybe 5 to 10 minutes)
- Remove from heat, then take a flat knife and easily open the oysters. Set them on a large serving tray filled with ice.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. And have chilled chardonnay handy!
Jim’s Bodacious Butter Sauce
Melt one stick of butter in a saucepan. Add four cloves fresh-chopped garlic, [elephant garlic if you can find it.] Add 1\2 cup of wine and juice of two freshly squeezed lemons, dash of black pepper and salt to taste. Serve hot. Also great with steam clams.
Jim’s Tangy Cocktail Sauce
Combine: One cup fancy ketchup, three tablespoons fresh horseradish, one shot of Worchester sauce, juice of one lemon. Stir and serve room temperature. Super for oysters on the half shell too.
Calzones: Cozy food for 2… & Stromboli too
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was a college student. A poor college student, who along with my cohorts stretched our meager summer job wages for priorities like beer at the Trenton State College pub and tickets to see “The Boss” in concert.
Luckily, we lived in the land of good, cheap eats. Top of the list for curing the late night munchies was Pizza City. I guess they served pizza but for most of us, Calzone City would have been a more fitting name. The calzones were Italian made and made by the Italian owners, accents still intact. Like being in South Philly with my Italian side of the family!
No matter the hour, nor the headcount, they always answered with an automatic “15 minutes” when we asked how long it would be before we could stuff ourselves with the fresh bread brimming with sweet ricotta cheese, and mellow mozzarella melted around salty ham. I got my made from scratch sauce on the side not on top, for dunking purposes.
But I really do love an authentic calzone which must start with homemade dough.[Tell that “Dough Boy” to hit the road] It’s a cozy, peasant -like meal to cocoon with your honey. Following is Jim’s take on Calzones.
And since you, like him, are taking the time to make the dough from scratch Jim suggests baking up a Stromboli too! Stromboli is related to a calzone but originated in America not Italy. Common ingredients that comprise the fillings are various types of cheese, Italian meats, like salami and capicola, and sometimes vegetables. It is rolled into a loaf, not folded before baking. You can feed the masses!
PREPARING the DOUGH
I use my own sourdough starter about two cups and add to a mixer or food processor. Add five cups bread flour, one cup of water, three teaspoons salt and one teaspoon of sugar. Then proof and add one packet of yeast. Knead for four minutes then autolyse [rest] for 30 minutes. Knead for another few minutes and then hand knead with bench flour to form a nice ball.
Put in large olive oiled greased bowl and let rise. Punch down three times, this will span over maybe four hours. Lastly put in large Tupperware bowl with a little olive oil brushed over the dough and seal. Put in fridge for at least two days, three is better.
On Calzone Day get your ingredients ready. Our traditional is ham, mozzarella ricotta, and a few sliced cherry tomatoes for the stuffing.
YUMMY TIP! Use whole milk ricotta and mozzarella. Makes a HUGE difference –forget the part skim for these babies.
Take your dough out of the fridge the morning of baking day. Be sure the dough rises again and is at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 450.
Divide the dough into four balls and start kneading each dough ball out into a nice oval shape, much like making a pizza. On the bottom half of the dough first place the mozzarella, followed by ham, then more mozzarella. Place ricotta on top along with a few sliced cherry tomatoes. Be careful not to over-stuff!
Fold top half over and seal edges with a fork. Brush dough with a nice egg wash and score the dough with two slices.
Bake for thirty minutes. Crust should be golden brown and cheese melted.
Serve with homemade tomato sauce
Do the same recipe as above except for the final dough prep.
You want to make sort of a square with your dough much like a square cookie sheet. Roll out the dough then cut slits around the dough every two inches about an inch and a half deep.
Then stuff your Stromboli with whatever fillings you like. Here’s what we used:
Braid the dough. This is done by simply starting at one end and braiding each strand that you cut in the dough that is on opposing sides.
Once done simply egg wash and bake for 30 minutes.
Simply green salad with Calzone and Stromboli is a nice side.
Rosemary Cordon Bleu
In my former life, I had to attend many political functions. For those who have shared this misery you know that meant many rubber-chicken dinners. That explains my less that ecstatic reaction to Jim’s announcement that he had planned a chicken dinner for us. Checking my wine supply, I surmised I would survive.
When fork hit mouth, imagine my delightful shock that bland had been replaced by exceptional! The key, says my Knight in Shining Tin Foil, is to use the tasty chicken thigh rather than the blah breast. It also helps to be heavy-handed with the rosemary as it makes for a flavorful and fragrant meal. [Since an Attila the Hun rosemary bush has conquered my Coastal Virginia backyard, we are never in short supply no matter the season.]
Join us in making the rubber chicken extinct with this easy dinner recipe. Chow!
4 skinless chicken thighs—we use readily available organic
8 Thinly, sliced prosciutto [2 per thigh]
4 slices Swiss Cheese
Extra Virginia Olive Oil
Caribbean Jerk Seasoning, or your favorite chicken seasoning
If necessary, skin and debone four chicken thighs. Wash and pat dry with paper towel. Rub meat with olive oil and Caribbean Jerk Seasoning [or your chicken seasoning],and fresh rosemary*. Next take 2 slices of prosciutto and lay on top of the thigh. Place one slice of Swiss cheese on top of the ham. Roll thigh and seal with two toothpicks.
Heat cast iron skillet and bring a shallow amount of vegetable oil up to a hot enough temperature to pan sear. Place prepared thighs in skillet and nicely brown. After browning place thighs in a deep pan along with two cups of white wine and fresh rosemary. Bake in oven at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove the toothpicks!
Use some liquid in pan for gravy drippings/seasoning. *Jim says to gather up the now crunchy rosemary to sprinkle over chicken as well for an increased yum factor.
Beating the “Cupboards are Bare” Panic
It struck fear in the hearts of many of us: “Hey, Mom what’s for dinner?!” Tortuous when you don’t hit the threshold till after 6 or with a home office like me your gray matter has been wrapped around a computer screen for the last 8-10 hours. Dinner sneaks up on you like the shower scene in Psycho.
Jim licked this supper panic long ago when his in-house production studio was literally at home and he was chief cook and sippy cup washer. Keeping a pantry that holds more than spider webs, AKA Cooking Staples saves time and tempers when stomachs are growling. It also prevents relying too much on takeout meals that add $$ and groans when we hit the scale.
And most important to Jim & me, it fuels our Go-Green, environmentally sound, coastal lifestyle with less trips to the supermarket.
After a day derriere deep in our writing and production work, it’s amazing the menu flexibility and freshness Jim’s short list of staples provide when the dinner bell rings at Mermaid Bay. [Course add what you personally use frequently.]
Chef Baugh’s: Coastal Cuisine Staples
- Fresh: basil, oregano, tomatoes, garlic, parmesan cheese
- Sea salt, black pepper, flour, olive oil, whole wheat pasta
- Ground beef and sausage, vacuum sealed and frozen
- Canned tomatoes [Jim swears by San Marzano], jar of alfredo/cream sauce [used as a base for some of Jim’s creative sauces]
- White & red wine for cooking*
*White Wine Not for Cooking [Keeps waiting dining companion happy.]
Morning Tide Omelet with Avocado
Most of my life avocado was a term used for that shade of retro kitchen appliances. A few years back I discovered the yum factor of using this nutrient-dense fruit in salads. Then tossing it in my go-to food when Chef Jim is MIA; sautéd tomatoes with garlic, fresh basil, olive oil, fresh mozzarella over pasta. I even tried it as a friend suggested just spread over fresh bread.
You can’t beat a fruit that has 60 percent more potassium than a banana, is filled with healthy fats [no wonder it taste so good!] that provide protection against heart diseases, and is considered the alphabet fruit because of all the vitamins it contains A, C, E, K and B6.
So serving up an omelet with avocado is deliciously healthy. Its natural creaminess negates the need to add less healthy fats. Jim’s Morning Tide Omelet with Avocado celebrates the freshness of a new day –enjoy! Serves 2.
- 1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
- 1 chopped avocado
- Fresh basil
- Quarter cup fat-free “Happy Cow” milk. AKA organic milk.
- 6 eggs, cage –free, organic [Again the “Happy” factor we believe provides yummier, more sustainable food]
- 1 slice provolone cheese
- White pepper
- ¾ cup fresh country sausage, cooked, drained, and crumbled [*Optional]
*I like it strictly veggie but Southern Boy likes that country sausage and he is the one cooking. [And damn it is good!]
Take six eggs, crack and place in bowl. Add in one slice of provolone cheese and white pepper to taste. Pour in milk and stir.
Heat a non stick pan on the stove and spray a little non-stick cooking olive oil on the pan. Pour in egg wash mixture and let cook until bottom of the egg is half way done. Then place basil, all veggies and sausage if using, on one half of the omelet. Cheese goes last on top.
Let cook for an additional three minutes then fold over the other half of the omelet on top of the veggies and sausage. Cook for additional three minutes or until cheese and egg are done.
Jim’s Linguine and Clam Sauce
When I was in Match.com Dating Hell, mine was a pretty darn honest profile. Not because I’m Mother Teresa but with my bum deep in middle age I knew I had to get real. [A sentiment I soon discovered was not often shared on dating sites.] I let would-be suitors know upfront I was not a cross between Julia Child and a Victoria’s Secret model. The first was my creed that I could not, would not cook up a storm and well, the second was obvious. However, I did say I would so appreciate a partner who rattled those pots and pans, and I’d be happy to put them in the dishwasher.I never found him Boy Shopping online but low and behold along came Jim. Not only can the man cook, he insists on it!
Early on he wowed me with his Linguini and Clam Sauce, an inexpensive, easy and D-LISH dish!
Slice elephant garlic into medium slices and place in saute pan, add teaspoon of butter and a splash of white wine. Cook garlic until tender. Then add two sticks butter, two cups white wine, fresh cracked pepper, one cup fresh chopped parsley, and the juice of four lemons. Sea salt to taste. Heat the sauce up on stove top, cover and let sit on warm.
THE CLAMS: The stars of this show must be fresh! [We used our “Clam Connection” on Virginia’s Eastern Shore –American Shellfish Company, owner Joe Pierson]
Steam the clams in one cup wine and one cup water with fresh lemon rinds. Once done shell out 1\2 the clams and set aside, let the rest remain in the shell.
Simply cook your pasta al dente then drain. In a large saute skillet pour the pasta in and top off with the sauce. There should be a lot of liquid in the pan. Add in the clams as well as the ones in the shells, plus two sliced lemons.
Sprinkle fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese over top and place in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve family style with garlic bread & tossed salad.*
* If you’re cooking tell your mate -flowers not optional.