Cousin Jeff’s Bermudian Lobster Risotto

Cousin Jeff’s backyard view.

So, a few months ago my cousin Jeff moved to Bermuda. I know, right? He keeps posting all these ridiculous photographs on Facebook (see above), and talking about all the delicious, fresh seafood. Apparently, Bermuda also has avocados the size of eggplants.

Since I’ve been on a bit of hiatus here since starting grad school, I asked Jeff if I could post his lobster with pesto and risotto recipe. The lobsters show below were from his local fish truck, and went straight home and into the pot. The result sounds amazing. Test it yourself, and tell me what you think in the comments! I’ll pass them on to the cook, if he’s not too busy soaking up the Caribbean sun and being a gourmand.

The very same lobster. Well, one of ’em.

Here are Cousin Jeff’s instructions:

Take a whole lobster (mine was a spiny, so I broke it down out of the shell and cut it into cubes), poach it in olive oil and Irish salted butter. [Here’s an overview of how to boil a lobster, if you’re not experienced.] I used the whole shell for the lobster stock, boiling it for about 2 hours with the lobster water and additional water. Meanwhile, Dice a small onion (tangerine size), 3 cloves of garlic (minced), 3 cups of finely chopped kale. Sweat these vegetables in about a table spoon of olive oil. Mix in about a cup of white wine (I drank the rest of the bottle), then added 2 cups of risotto and covered it with the stock. Cooked it down 3 times, adding more water each time, along with some cayenne and grated parmesan to taste. Finally, whip up a fresh basil pesto with chopped onions, olive oil, and garlic butter. Put the pesto into a baggie and chill it, then cut the corner and use it as a pastry bag to garnish.

Cousin Jeff’s Bermudian Lobster Risotto

Images courtesy Cousin Jeff.


The Great British Food Series: Part Two, York

Second in the Great British Food Series. Read Part One, London and Brighton or Part Three, Edinburgh.


York Minster, the heart of the medieval city, historic capital of Northern England, and final destination of this post.

But first…


Eric at King’s Cross.


On day four, we rode the train from London to Doncaster, where we stopped to see friends, then on to York (my favorite place in the UK, and where I was lucky enough to go to graduate school). The onslaught of English comfort food was amazing. And the cool weather didn’t hurt, either.



Our stop in Doncaster included a private tour of the Mansion House, which was fascinating. Since the Doncaster City Council built a new chamber in the aughties, the Mansion House has become a historical property and event venue. They keep the rooms set up for banquets, to give you an idea of what it would be like to host your wedding or party there.



Our next stop: York Brewery. (That’s Eric. And he’s not wearing a Yorkshire costume; he always wears that hat!)


Operational since 1996, this local brewery produces a fine line of real ales.  We went on an afternoon tour—and tried them all in their cozy tap room!


Yorkshire maltsters!


My hands smelled like hops for two days.




Our favorite was the Centurion’s Ghost Ale.  Mmm.  I loved this little half pint glass, too.


After the tour, we saved a few quid by popping into the nearby Wetherspoons pub (a chain) for a quick afternoon “dinner.”  I had the £7.00 bangers and mash; though this dish is no doubt from frozen, it still tasted prettttty good.  I have to admit here, I’m a sucker for potatoes-from-a-box.  Don’t get me wrong, I prefer freshly-mashed, homemade potatoes with real butter and cream; but I do love me some instant potatoes.



In York, we stayed at the Acer Guest House, just south of the city wall, a lovely, five-minute stroll from Mickelgate Bar. I highly recommend it.  Not only was our host, Karen, extremely helpful and gracious, but the place is immaculately clean and beautifully decorated, as well as quiet and relaxing.  Plus, the breakfast was excellent.  I could’ve stayed here for weeks.


Requisite half-timbering photo.  Stonegate.


Shop window in Stonegate.  Look at all those Yorkshire ales!  Pretty much heaven.


Next stop: the Guy Fawkes Inn.  And this isn’t just a gimmick, folks.  It’s where the notorious Catholic plotter was born!  A stone’s throw from York Minster, his house is now an inn and tavern.  It’s super atmospheric, and the beer selection is great.  The food is good, too, though we didn’t eat here on this trip.



This busker is leaning up against St. Michael le Belfrey Church, where Guy Fawkes was baptised!








One Yorkshire Blonde; one Dark Force Treason.


Our corner table at Guy Fawkes’ house.


Another view of the Minster, just down the street from Guy Fawkes’ house.

We had a trip-highlight of a lunch at the Black Swan, one of York’s must-see pubs.  Built in 1417 (you read that right), this historic spot has authentic half-timbering, fireplaces of medieval brick, wood-paneled walls, portraits of stern Tudors peering at you as you eat your meal, and very, very good food.




Oh, and did I mention that the best thing about the Black Swan is that they serve Theakston’s?  Meaning I could have a big, imperial pint of Old Peculier (one of my top five favorite beers; probably top two) with my giant Yorkshire pudding.


Seriously, this thing was nine by thirteen inches!  And so delicious.  I can’t even explain.  Well—I’ll try.

It’s a giant Yorkshire pudding, made in a casserole dish (often they are round, just a larger version of a regular pudding; but this one, as you can see, was rectangular!).  Then it’s filled with a Sunday lunch: roast beef, onions, carrots, peas, and beef gravy.  You eat it with a knife and fork, sopping up the leaking gravy with pieces of pudding.  It is so good.


Eric’s BLT and pint of Old Peculier.  Also freaking delicious.

Read the history of the Black Swan here.

Next on our pub crawl was the first of two stops at the King’s Arms, conveniently located on the east quayside of the River Ouse, nestled right next to the Ouse Bridge.  This is a Samuel Smith’s pub (makers of the other of my top-two favorite beers, Taddy Porter), so there’s really nothing not to like.  Situated as it is right on the Ouse, it floods every year—sometimes more than once—and there’s a handy flood chart on the wall right inside the door.


Unfortunately, due to said flooding, the conditions in the cellars are quite unpredictable, and, therefore, the King’s Arms is unable to serve real ale (from casks).  They do, however, have an impressive selection of the aforementioned Samuel Smith’s served up from kegs.  When we were there, we counted no less than 12 brews available.  As Samuel Smith’s fans, this was amazing.  And there are other pubs in York, several of which we visited, that do serve cask Samuel Smith’s.  Here’s a map of all the Samuel Smith’s pubs in the UK.  Wowza.


The King’s Arms has lovely outdoor seating right on the River Ouse, but we chose to stay inside and soak up the atmosphere while writing postcards.




The campus lake at the University of York.  If you’re not already following the Duck of the Day because of me, YOU ARE NOW!


Because HA HA HA.


Another pint, another pub.  I don’t even remember which one this was, though it was inside the historic medieval center.  We went to about ten pubs in York over two days.  And there are still several I want to take Eric back to visit!


Also highly recommended is the Lamb and Lion Inn (above right), a 17th century building tucked right next to Bootham Bar and in the shadow of the Minster.  They also have great food.


Late night Sainsbury’s run.  (We didn’t buy this.  We were there for the cheese and onion sandwiches.)


The Minster Inn is a neighborhood Marston’s pub in an Edwardian building on Marygate, just outside the city wall, where we enjoyed a couple of pints in a tiny, secluded back garden.  This is a great choice to get away from the throngs of tourists, and they serve real ale, to boot.  I had the Marston’s Oyster Stout.  Mmm.  Ale.

So, maybe we spent more time sampling local ales than eating food while in York…  Priorities.


Me and e. on the River Ouse at sunset. ❤

Those are just the food and beer pics.  To see how beautiful York really is, check out my Flickr set.


Sunset on the River Ouse.


This is the second post in the Great British Food Series.  Read Part One, London and Brighton.

The Great British Food Series: Part One, London and Brighton

I finally finished editing all the photographs from our recent trip to the United Kingdom (2,000 photos!), so here’s that belated UK food post I’ve been promising. I’m going to split it up into a few posts, because there are just too many pictures!

Our tour was June 22 through July 7, and included London, Brighton, Doncaster, York, Edinburgh, Bamburgh, Lindisfarne, Liverpool, and Chelmsford. I’ll explain why we went to each of these places as we explore their foods. I lived in England from September 2001 until June 2005, and only came back against my will. It’s a long story involving a terrible relationship, youthful stupidity, and lots of heartache; but my four years there were also filled with adventure, atmosphere, learning, and joy. I love the UK—especially England, and particularly York—and going back for the first time in eight years, after an abrupt departure, proved to be both a blast for me and Eric as tourists, and some much-needed (if expensive) closure for my 25-year-old self. Someday I’ll write more about that.

But right now, let’s talk about some mouth-watering British food!

People are wrong about British food. I already wrote a post about that a couple of years ago. British food is delicious, healthy, diverse, and filled with history. Did you know, for instance, that fish and chips originated with 17th-century Sephardic Jewish immigrants? Or, check out the history of kedgeree. Or, consider the many historic and delectable varieties of British cheese. I could go on.

Since it was Eric’s first trip to the UK, I made sure we hit all the high spots: fish and chips, giant Yorkshire pudding with roast beef, curry take-away, bangers and mash, real ale, hog roast, Mr Whippy… And, despite the fact that we walked six to eight miles per day, and drank mostly half pints, I actually gained six pounds. Oh, well!

A few quick thoughts before the photo essay: British food was as I remembered it, but more diverse and more consciously foodie. The farmers markets I remember from my time in London and York, for instance, now boast stalls selling kielbasa and injera, in addition to sausage rolls and cloudy cider (indeed, the Saturday market at Royal Festival Hall in Southwark was weirdly similar to the Mueller Farmer’s Market here in Austin, with its artisanal salumi and handmade soaps and stall holders with ironic tattoos of anthropomorphic foodstuffs). The Brits seem finally to have caught on to the quasi-religious experience that is Mexican food—there are now burrito chains everywhere, including Chipotle—but good luck finding a corn tortilla. Local breweries are experiencing a welcome resurgence, much like in the United States. We didn’t find the prices to be that ridiculous, which was a surprise. The bulk of the expense was airfare (especially because we could only go at the peak travel time of late June-early July). For me, the highlights of the trip were: Wimbledon (I’ve been watching for 30 years, and had never gone, despite living 20 miles away for three years); Lindisfarne (though we were only allotted one hour by our tour!); and taking Eric on a pub crawl in York. It was also wonderful to see so many old friends, including the fine folks with whom I used to work at Ottakar’s book store in Chelmsford, Essex.

Okay, grab a snack and get comfortable. Here goes.

Upon arrival: espresso and Pan di Stelle. It should be noted that our hosts, Tess and Alex, lived in Bologna, Italy, for a while in the late 1990s. Lucky us.

We wandered through the Saturday market at the Southbank Centre, stopping to grab some Polish sausage and sauerkraut sandwiches and beers. You can’t tell from this picture, but this sandwich was huge. Eric and I could barely finish it between the two of us.

Southbank market pierogi stand. Eric tried one of these and reported favorably on its flavor profile. Ha ha.

First stop: the Royal Festival Hall’s Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden, where we enjoyed some Curious Brew English lager and a view of the Thames, Westminster, and London Eye.

After that “snack,” we walked across Waterloo Bridge, down the Strand, and into Soho. Guess where we went first? It was kind of an accident. But maybe not really.


Eric and Tess having some beer at the Dog and Duck Pub, Soho.

Alex and me, being silly.

Tess waiting for her tai yaki.

Cream-filled fried dough in the shape of a fish. Yeah. Ha.

Tess made us this warm and hearty baked sausage dish, with pork, caramelized onions, tomatoes, and herbs, baked in a tomato sauce. I’ve gotta try this!

Served with green beans and a buttered jacket (baked) potato. Mmm.

A proper fish and chip shop on the seafront, Brighton.

Your friendly local fish and chip seller.

Eric gets his first (hot) taste of authentic fish and chips. “Dog and Duck is just as good.”


While in Brighton, we met up with my friend Andrea, whom I used to work with at Ottakar’s, in her native Essex. She moved to Brighton, but she’s still making movies! Bill’s is a small chain, and a pretty hip place. This is their own beer. We liked it.

I liked this lemon drizzle cake that Alex ordered even better. That’s sour cream on top. If you know me, you know how I love sour cream. Delish!

With some time to kill before our 5:00pm train back to London, we decided to pop into a pub. The corner where we stood provided a view of no less than three pubs, all traditional in appearance.

“Hey, let’s go to that pub!”

Since Eric and I are suckers for anything with a whiff of history, we decided to check out the Battle of Trafalgar.

Turned out, the Battle of Trafalgar was on the CAMRA 2013 Sussex Downs Ale Trail, and had a nice selection of real ales. Jackpot!

This one was especially good.

Back in London, I went full Essex and enjoyed a tall Stella, bag of cheese and onion crisps, and a Gavin and Stacey marathon. British television programming is still a thousand times better than ours, despite the infiltration of “reality” programming.

I stayed up late into the night to make a batch of midnight sandwiches for our trip to Wimbledon. We knew we’d have to “queue up” for hours (we didn’t anticipate five and a half hours), and we wanted tasty but cheap food. So Alex bought some fixins, and I made a variety of sandwiches, cut into halves for easy grabbing and sharing: salami and provolone; cheese, onion, and chutney; ham and cheese; turkey and mayo. I made ten sandwiches and we ended up eating every single one! Sadly, we weren’t aware that both The Queue and Wimbledon itself were BYOB. You can take a six-pack or bottle of wine/champagne per person! People around us were popping open bottles of bubbly, and we only had blackcurrant squash and water.

I made up for this oversight immediately upon entering the venue, by getting a Pimm’s! Believe it or not, I had never had Pimm’s before.

And, of course, we also had to have strawberries and cream on Henman Hill.



Well, that covers the foods of days one through three. Check out the second post: York. And then read the third post: Edinburgh.

Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

Check out this habanero-infused olive oil we threw together after our recent, massive chile harvest. Spicy! I’m hooked!

~2 cups extra virgin olive oil
4-6 fresh habanero chiles, washed

1. Wear latex gloves.

2. Choose a cutting board that is not super-absorbent (such as glass), or, even better, have a dedicated chile-cutting board. You could also line your cutting board with a plastic bag, being careful not to pierce the bag when cutting. Slice habaneros as desired and set cutting board aside.

3. Fill a glass container (Mason jar, recycled and washed olive oil or salad dressing bottle) half full (or so) with olive oil. Add the peppers to the olive oil, leaving some room for air at the top.

4. Wrap a paper towel or cheesecloth around the mouth of the jar and secure with twine (don’t use a rubber band!). Microwave the oil on high for a few seconds, watching closely, or until it comes just to a near-boil—just bubbling. Do not let the olive oil boil, or you will have a huge mess on your hands.

5. If you used a paper towel for the cover, remove it and replace with a fresh one. Turn the bottle or jar upside down and drain the oil into another container (any material will do—I used a Martha Steward plastic fridge containers!). Place in the refrigerator upside-down and allow the oil to cool until it’s solid. Discard chile hulls and seeds; we use ours for compost.

6. Remove the container and pour off any water that has separated. Allow the olive oil to return to liquid form at room temperature. Pour the infused oil back into the glass container and put the lid on. Eccola! Habanero-infused olive oil!


Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

I added a couple more slices to this, for extra kick and pretty presentation!

Eric’s Curry Hummus Devilled Eggs


12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cooled
1 cup Baby Zach’s Smoked Thai Curry Hummus*
2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
2 Tbsp paprika, halved
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
a few dashes of Cholula sauce, to taste

1. On a clean surface, cut the eggs in half lengthwise.

2.Gently scoop out the yolks with a spoon and place in a medium sized mixing bowl.

3. Add all of the dry ingredients and the Cholula, reserving 1 tablespoon of paprika. Mix thoroughly but gently with a fork.

4. Refill the sliced eggs with the mixture and dust with paprika to garnish.

5. Refrigerate for at least half an hour, then serve.

As you can see, Eric likes to over-stuff his eggs. And they’re delicious. Try it!

*We pick ours up on Sunday mornings at the Mueller Farmers Market.