Another Day in Poe's Kitchen at The Rattlesnake

Chef Brian Poe shows you the world in the back of the house.

Archive for July, 2009

S’mores Unleashed

If the s’mores won’t go to the campfire, bring some heat to the s’mores! That was the thinking behind the marshmallow “salsa” that tops one of the dessert specials on this week’s Unleashed menu: s’mores-style ice cream sandwiches.

Okay, it doesn’t actually contain chile peppers (although you wouldn’t put it past me, right?). But it still adds extra spice to this sandwich of graham crackers and vanilla bean ice cream blended with summer berries and marshmallows, which is also topped with tres leches and chocolate.

Photo taken by the light of a campfire!
Photo taken by the light of a campfire!

Seared Marshmallow-White Chocolate Salsa

1 c. mini-marshmallows
½ c. whole fresh red currants
¼ c.chopped fresh mint leaves
3 t. vanilla sugar (recipe below)
½ c.white chocolate chips
3-4 t. agave nectar
juice of ½ lime

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and enjoy. If you have a crème brulee torch, light a small mound of the marshmallows just before serving.

Vanilla Sugar

Split one vanilla bean into 1 c. sugar. Make in advance.


Aw, shucks, Stuff Magazine

Stuff Magazine‘s Anya Kanevsky gives Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake some love; if you can’t quite make out the screenshot below, read all about it right here, then come on in and have what she’s having!


Think Drinks: Southern Baptist Brazilian Sweet T

While hashing out this week’s Unleashed menu on the Rattlesnake roof deck, my crew and I came up with just the sort of super-refreshing quaff we could have all used in this heat—one I bet you could use right now. In fact, I’m so sure you need a Southern Baptist Brazilian Sweet T (how’s that for a handle?), I’m going to give you the recipe just in case you can’t make it in to Poe’s Kitchen tonight.

Back home in Georgia when I was growing up, we garnished our sun tea like a cocktail—after making it by setting large glass jars filled with water and tea bags outdoors to steep in the sunshine, we would pour it over ice with a squeeze of lemon, some fresh mint, and a few sliced peaches. Like a good Southern Baptist, I can’t tell you whether any alcohol ever made its way into the mix.

I’m a good Brazilian too—not by birth but by nature; I enjoy  the culture and cuisine of Brazil as much as any Brazilian you’ll ever meet, not to mention the cachaça. So when I combine a glass of the sugarcane goodness that is Beija with Southern sweet-tea vodka, I’ve got the best of both worlds in a beverage. One vodka brand I recommend is Firefly—in fact, I recommend you click on its website and turn up your speakers before you start bartending; the soundtrack sets the mood for the mixology. (Then again, so does a little Stan Getz.)

Dan Sweet T 2
Dan is in the mood to make you a Sweet T.

The Sweet T will be featured on the Unleashed menu this week, and I sense it may make its way onto the regular menu soon—along with many of the other Unleashed specials you’ve been eating up lately!
Southern Baptist Brazilian Sweet T

1 oz. Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea-and-Peach Vodka
1/2 oz. Firefly Vodka
1 oz. Beija cachaça
2 oz. lemonade
1 oz. iced tea
Splash of sprite
5 mint leaves, broken in half
1 slice fresh peach and mint sprig to garnish

Combine in a martini shaker with ice, shake then pour into a pint glass full of ice and garnish with a sprig of mint and slice of peach. Serves 1.

Old Poe & the Sea: My Fish Tales (+ a recipe)

fishing off the coast of South Carolina

fishing off the coast of South Carolina

Fishing keeps me true to the person that I am. In Arizona, I hit the rivers and streams every week and developed a rhythm around trout, honing my catch-and-release skills. I got to know the catfish on the family farm in Alabama. I’ve fished almost everywhere I’ve traveled.

In other words, I’ve long considered myself a passable fisherman.

But that all changed when I moved to coastal Massachusetts and took up saltwater fishing.

For one solid year, I fished. I tried every type of bait imaginable—squid, shrimp, rubber fish, eels, spinners, and, finally, clams. I stood chest-deep in the waters off the North Shore with the freezing cold taking my breath away. I stood on the rocks, allowing the bait to dangle just where the little guys might feed. I went under bridges. I went chumming—I mean really chumming—in Narragansett with a run on Block Island. All to no avail. I began to curse the gods of the water with every cast. I did this weekly for an entire summer. I would not let these waters beat me.

cleaning a catch in Chile

cleaning a catch in Chile

One particular sunny afternoon I found myself back at my favorite sanctuary, Plum Island. I had packed a nice chardonnay, some incredible cheese from Joppa Fine Foods in Newburyport, and a selection of cigars. I set up shop. I scanned the waters. I was calm but determined. Today I was going to to catch a fish. 

I fished all afternoon. I cast every imaginable type of bait. It was only after about 8 hours spent casting into high tides and low that I knew I’d reached my last cast—but it would, I swore, be my best. I marched through the waves until my feet could barely touch the sand. I held my rod and, in the pause between waves, I reached back and cast as hard as I could. The topneck clam went spinning through the air for what seemed like a mile. I was going to catch that fish! I could feel it.

Just then, I heard a plunk about ten feet away from me. It was my hook and weight. The clam went flying and my line stayed put. I let out every curse I knew and some I didn’t. I sounded like Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump. I was so furious that I waded shoreward just enough that I could rebait and immediately marched back in, this time deeper. I focused on the same spot that the clam had landed. I reached back and cast my best one ever. The line ran. I began walking backward toward the coast, newly calm and focused. The sun was setting. I took a deep breath and relished the beauty of the Parker Refuge at dusk.

Then I felt a tug.

I yanked back, but the line went slack again. I wondered if I’d run into a bit of seaweed. Then suddenly I was being pulled left and right. I reeled. It stopped. For 20 minutes, the fish and I played tug of war—and then suddenly, there she was in the clear shallows. Easily 36 inches long, the very picture of summer in New England, she was the famous striper that I had heard the locals speak of. And she was staring right at me.

A few passersby stopped to eye my catch, wondering aloud what a chef would do with such a beauty. I already knew. We had worked too hard this summer to meet, this fish and I, to say goodbye. As I held her in the water until she had her rhythm back, I looked up at the sky, thanked the sea gods, and watched her swim off. After a moment of silence I packed my kit and headed home, at peace. I had become a New England fisherman.

My trusty fish purveyors provide me the best of the best. Some are old-school, some new, but they all spare my conscience when it comes to the actual kill. They stand for everything chefs believe in—in the moment. The fish and shellfish they bring into my kitchen is as fresh and good as it gets—and the still-thrilling memory of my own catch has taught me how important it is that I prepare theirs to the best of my ability. In fact, seafood may be my favorite thing to cook. Unlike beef and chicken that need to marinate for hours, fish are a snap. Buy them right—fresh, from the right purveyor—and you can prepare the perfect meal in no time.

Here’s a great example.

Pancetta-Wrapped Cod in Chambord, Sundried Strawberry & Balsamic Reduction with Acorn Squash Puree

For the cod
10 thin slices pancetta
10 1-oz. square portions of cod (about 1 in. x 1 in.)
20 toothpicks
1 c. flour
salt and pepper to taste
whole basil leaves
3 c. grapeseed oil
chopped chives for garnish

On a clean surface, lay out each slice of pancetta, then place a basil leaf in the center and a cod square on top. Fold the pancetta around the cod and secure with 2 toothpicks in the form of an X. Gently toss in flour to lightly coat.

Fry for about 2 minutes, or until pancetta is crisp. Remove toothpicks and reserve.

For the reduction

1 c. Chambord
1 c. champagne
1/2 c. sundried strawberries
1 c. cleaned, sliced fresh strawberries
1 c. brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. veal stock
1/4 c. fresh basil, chiffonade

Combine berries in a pan and allow to plump for 1 hour in Chambord and champagne. Then place on stove and bring to a boil with 1 cup of balsamic vinegar. Add brown sugar, bay leaf, and veal stock. Remove from heat. Puree in food processor and return back to pan. Allow to cool to room temperature; then add basil. If sauce is too vinegary, add more sugar. Reserve.

For the squash puree

5 acorn squashes, split, seeds removed
1/4 cup Chambord
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 piece star anise
1/2 c. maple syrup
3 c. white wine

Place acorn squash, skin side down, in a roasting pan; add all remaining ingredients except wine. Cover with foil and roast in oven at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until the flesh of the squash is easily removed from the skin with a spoon. Scoop out the flesh. Add wine and puree the mixture until very smooth. (Add extra wine and sugar if necessary to achieve texture.) 

For the presentation

In the center of each plate, spoon a circle of squash puree, then place a cod-pancetta purse in the center. Drizzle the reduction around and on the purse.  Garnish with chopped chives, if desired, and enjoy. Serves 5.

Independence Day Lessons I Learned in My Backyard

Here’s how I roll: After going on a crazy grocery spree, I invite 30 of my closest friends over for a cookout. I supply the beer; if they want to bring more, I won’t argue.

We pull up a large table next to the grill. Pile it high with the groceries, knives, cutting boards, crazy spices—Mexican smoked sea salt, jalapeno powder (made with dried jalapeños, prosciutto powder and cilantro-citrus dust—and lots and lots of chili peppers. Crank the stereo and stand back—we’re about to mix it up.

Chilean BBQ

(Some of us mix it up more than others.) 

Right now on the table there are habañeros, jalapeños, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, three different kinds of mushrooms, red onions, white onions, countless other veggies and every garden herb imaginable—plus a duck, a chicken, a beef tenderloin, pork loin, pork ribs, lamb racks, a leg of lamb, salmon kabobs, and a heap of shrimp. (The greatest part of private catering? The leftover supplies!)

I scan the crowd. It’s the United Nations of cookouts, filled with CouchSurfers—a social network of people, young and not so young, who love to travel and manage to do it in a beautifully karmic kind of way: by sharing their homes with one another on globetrotting jaunts. The rest are industry colleagues who share the same philosophy of life: travel light and eat well!

First course: grilled tomato salad with basil, onion, and cucumber, gently drizzled with tomato vinegar (a super-concentrated vinegar I get from a company in Parma)  and Chilean olive oil. While the gang’s chowing down on that, I’m working on the next round—grilling oyster mushrooms and mixing a truffle-basil dressing into a portobello-crimini slaw. Then I toss the shrimp in garlic and habañero oil, grill it up and serve it with a habañero puree. It’s gone in a matter of seconds—which is why it’s also on the Unleashed menu. Some lessons are best learned in the backyard!

Next come the duck, the ribs, the salmon kabobs, the tenderloin, and then my citrus-and-serrano beer can chicken (which you can watch me whip up right here at How2Heroes).

My musician friend Jose Moreno brings his guitar and plays for hours on end—and I just keep cooking. The barbecue’s looking just like so many I experienced in South America: a bunch of hippies from all over the world—Argentina, Brazil, Britain, India, and, yes, the U.S.—sitting in the moonlight around a smoky firepit in the ground, passing around a leg of lamb and a giant bottle of Peruvian bar. Just as the lamb racks come off and the salmon goes on, one guest—a kind and sincere young lady—whispers, “Brian, I just want a hot dog. Do you think you could grill a few for me?” I chuckle. Even the world’s greatest adventurers sometimes just want the comfort of home. Food takes people to places they’ve never been—but it also takes them back to places, people, and times they will never forget.


Dining al fresco Chilean-style, 2008

Dining al fresco Chilean-style, 2008

We call the 4th of July an American holiday, but that diverse group reminded me that America is more than 50 states. America the Beautiful stretches across two continents, and there is a bit of every country in our country. This weekend, as we celebrate Independence Day at Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake, you’ll be able to relish it all on our Unleashed Menu: think bacon-wrapped Cornish game hens with feijoada puree, grilled watermelon salad, blueberry cobbler à la mode, and chocolate-chip-cookie ice cream sandwiches. Come Saturday, I may even cook up a hot dog or two. Join us on the roof deck to watch—and taste—the fireworks!