Bill’s Own Tartar Sauce

I’ve been asked several times now for a ‘good’ recipe for tartar sauce. The sauce itself derived from the French sauce tartare, named after the Tatars from the Eurasian Steppe, who once occupied parts of Ukraine and Russia. The French probably stumbled upon this during the Napoleonic occupation. A recipe from Boston in the late 1800’s called for whole eggs, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce and butter.

Today, most home-cook recipes skip the while egg and vinegar step and start right off with mayonnaise. So, I start with mayo too.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup low fat mayo
  • 1 table spoon minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced sweet gherkins
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • A pinch of fresh lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Before I use the minced red onion, I rinse it with water and a touch of white vinegar to reduce its bite. Then, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Once its all well mixed together I put it in a sealing jar and put it in the fridge.

For me, tartar sauce is a slightly sweet/ slightly tart, fresh tasting sauce to be used sparingly to highlight the taste of wonderfully cooked fish. It’s not a cover-up excuse used to bomb the lack of flavor and rubbery texture of poorly cooked chunks of seafood flesh!

I think that people like my tartar sauce because I don’t go putting a bunch of spices or seasonings in it. Too often I see these mile long recipes that add cumin, paprika, old bay seasoning, celery salt, garlic powder… you name it, there’s a tartar sauce recipe that has you adding it to the mix.

The recipe above should carry you and a guest through a week of fish.

Squid Week – Mexican Style

Sustainable squid, squid-week continues… Mexican style. Today it’s a simple squid cerviche. Ceviche is a seafood dish marinated in a citrus-based mixture, usually with lemons and limes providing the acid. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, cooked essentially, but not cooked with heat. This makes it a perfect picnic dish.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 to 8 whole squid, cleaned and sliced into ¼-inch rings
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced small
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice (about 16 – 20 limes)
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed (not minced, not pressed)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Tortilla chips and lime wedges, for serving

Start by juicing one lime into a large glass or ceramic bowl. Smash a clove of garlic and add it to the juice we want to infuse this juice with the garlic so I often use a garlic press here to smash the clove. Leave the garlic in the juice while you clean and slice the shrimp and chop the vegetables and cilantro. As your chopping all these ingredients, keep them off to the side, and don’t add then to the bowl yet.

After chopping all the ingredients, remove the garlic from the bowl and then add all of your ingredients except for the salt and pepper to the bowl.

Now, juice the limes over the ceviche, making sure there is enough to nearly cover the squid. Stir well, cover, and refrigerate for one hour. Remove, stir again, and return to the refrigerator. Marinate for another 2-3 hours, season to taste with salt and black pepper and serve with tortilla chips and lime wedges.

Squid Week – Portuguese Style

Squid week continues… Portuguese style. This is a squid stew recipe from the Madeira Islands. It’s a bit spicy with the curry and hot pepper, and it incorporates ginger and tomatoes brought to the islands through their extensive trading networks. Fragrant and hearty, it makes a wonderful addition to your collection of coastal recipes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs. squid, cleaned and sliced into 1/4″ slices, leaving the tentacles in one piece if they’re small enough
  • 2 fresh tomatoes (or 4-6 canned), peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine like Duck Walk
  • 2 cups fish stock (and if your on Long Island you should really be making your own here)
  • 2 large long island potatoes, peeled and cut into a julienne
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bell peppers (red, green, yellow, or any combination), cut in fine strips
  • 2 little hot peppers, chopped (I use the jalapeno)
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and saute the onions, garlic, and peppers for about 5 minutes. Blend in the curry powder and ginger and stir for a minute or two. Add the bay leaves, salt, and tomatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce to lowest heat and steam for 5 or more minutes. Add the squid, wine, and stock. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to low heat, cover, and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Only by very slow cooking will the squid be really tender and not rubbery. Add the potatoes, keeping the heat at a bare simmer, and cook until the potatoes are fork tender–about 30 more minutes.

When ready to serve, ladle into flat soup plates, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve with lots of bread, and a bold red wine like Nautique from Peconic Bay Winery

Squid Week – Spicy Thai Squid w/ Chili

It’s squid week, a little less dangerous sounding than shark week, but squid is an often overlooked ingredient, and good on our sustainability index. So, what do you say we add a little danger and whip up a quick spicy Thai squid stir-fry.

Here’s what you’ll need:

• 1/2 lb squid, cleaned, cut in rings & tentacles
• a big handful of basil leaves
• 1 small white onion, cut into chunks
• 2 scallions, cut into threads
• 1 or 2 fresh plumb tomatos, cut in eighths
• 3 fresh chiles cut into strips
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon fish sauce
• 1 tablespoon thai chile sauce
• 2 tablespoon cooking oil

Heat a wok over high heat, add oil and garlic, cook until the garlic
Just begins to brown, then add onion, and scallion, cook till the onions are translucent. Add the tomato, squid, fish sauce, chili sauce,
chiles slices & basil. Stir with a flourish. Add about 2 tablespoons
of water, to make a bit of sauce and deglaze the wok. Stir
again and cook until everything’s hot but do not overcook.
Remove & serve over rice noodles.

Sustainable Squid – Stuffed

Squid… I know, everyone’s tried fried calamari, and a lot of people don’t like unhealthy fried foods. But today is not a calamari day. Its stuffed squid day! Squid is healthy and nutritious seafood that rates favorable on our sustainability scale. There are several ways to work with this often overlooked delicacy, but today is stuffed squid day.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 8 to 10 whole squid (about 3 to 5 inches each)
  • 2 ounces raw shrimp
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped tomato
  • 2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups pasta sauce

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and salt and sweat until the onions turn translucent, about 1 to 2 minutes. Do not brown them, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Transfer this mixture to a medium mixing bowl and let cool.

Clean the squid thoroughly and remove the heads from the tentacles and discard the heads. Turn the tubes inside out as the outside skin tends to curl outward, it’ll curl better inside out, put them into a bowl with some ice and set in the refrigerator until ready to use. Place the tentacles and the shrimp into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 6 to 8 times or until there are no large pieces visible. Do not process until smooth. Now, if you don’t have shrimp, a reasonable alternative here would be crab meat, or even left over lobster, but who would have any lobster left-over.

Now, transfer this to the mixing bowl along with the onions and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, tomato, lemon zest, ginger, parsley and pepper. Stir to combine well. This is the stuffing mixture.

Now, here’s a handy trick that I saw on “Good Eats”, place the mixture into a re-sealable freezer bag and snip a corner.  Pipe the stuffing into the tubes. Do not over-stuff.

Place the tubes into an 8 by 11-inch glass baking dish and cover with the pasta sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve immediately. I like to serve it over pasta.

for more on sustainable squid:

Now for Something Completely Different

Let me start this by saying that I’m not really a baker, but I play one on TV… not really. There is however a love of trying new things. I remember watching Good Eats, and Alton Brown was showing how to make a blueberry buckle. Well, I’ve come across this peach buckle recipe that looks so good I’m going to try to make this.

That being said… here’s what I’ll need:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 4 cups diced pitted peaches (about 1 ½ pounds)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter up a 10 inch cast skillet.

In a large bowl cream the butter and 1/3 cup of sugar. Until fluffy, then add eggs and vanilla, beat to combine.

Assemble your dry team; whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt. Then with a mixer on low speed, gradually mix this dry team into the fluffy creamed butter mixture. Then, fold in your peaches.

Spread this batter into the buttered skillet. In a small bowl combine the cinnamon, almonds, and the remaining sugar. Sprinkle this over the batter and pop it in the oven.

Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes… then let it cool for about 20 minutes.. then enjoy the whole thing in one big sitting! Or not really…

Steamed Haddock w/ Pablano Corn Salsa

Haddock is a popular, plentiful, meaty, tasty, fish that is a good choice on our sustainability scale. Grill it, broil it, fry it, poach it, bake it, but we will make it steamed so that we highlight the mildness of the fish in comparision to the bold flavor of the salsa. So, don’t use too much salsa, a little goes a long way as far a flovoring the fish is concerned.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 lbs local haddock fillets

steam the fillets. I use a bamboo steamer rack in my wok to lay out the fillets. Keep an eye on them they steam quick.

For the salsa:

  • 2 cups Corn
  • 2 Poblano Chilies
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 2 Jalapenos
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Cilantro
  • ½ Lime’s Juice
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to Taste

Take two cups of cooked corn and add finely dice Poblano peppers, onion, and jalapeños. Toss in the cilantro, and squeeze the juice of half a lime and then add some sea salt and a little pepper to taste.

Save the other half of the lime for tequila shots!

Sustainable Mussels w/ Fennel and Chorizo

Speaking of sustainable food from the sea, mussels are a plentiful and renewable resource. At least I think they are renewable.. Mr Mussel meeting Mrs Mussel and lots of little mussels appear…  Here’s a spicy way to prepare these little jewels.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded and patted dry (discard any that won’t close)
  • 3/4 cup white wine like Duck Walk Windmill White
  • 4 ounces dried Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika – hungarian
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Toasted crusty bread


Grind the fennel seeds ( I use a spice mill) and place in a food processor. Add the oil, shallot, garlic, paprika and coriander. Process until the mixture is ground and paste-like.

Transfer the spice mixture to a heavy large pot. Cook over medium-low heat until the garlic and shallots no long smell raw, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add the mussels and cook without stirring until the shells on the bottom begin to open, about 3 minutes. Add the wine. Cover the pan, increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the mussels open, about 4 minutes.

Add the chorizo and butter, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the butter is incorporated. Season the sauce with salt if desired. Toss the mussels in the sauce. Divide the mussels and sauce among 4 shallow bowls, discarding any that did not open. Serve with the toasted bread.

Sustainable Sardine Sauce

Getting back to basics…. making stuff from cans! But here’s a quick sauce that geos well with pasta and can be made from a can of sardines, and a shake or two of hot sauce.
Here’s what you’ll need:
  • 1/2 c. chopped green peppers
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 bunch chopped scallions
  • 1 c. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 sm. yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 cans sardines
  • Hot Sauce!
Saute the above vegetables in a medium saucepan or wok using oil or butter until it browns slightly. Afterwards remove from pan and let sit in bowl.

Heat 1 can of tomato sauce  in the same saucepan. Add to sauce 2 cans of sardines. (Spread gently across pan without breaking.) Allow to simmer. Add sauteed vegetables back into saucepan. Season with oregano to taste. Simmer 6-10 minutes. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Valentine’s Day 1 Day To Go

One more day.. just one more day.. then Valentine’s Day! So.. here is the last of the valentine’s ideas… after this you’re on your own!

Here’s what you’ll need:


  • 3/4 oz Captain Morgan’s coconut rum
  • 3/4 oz Godiva Chocolate liqueur
  • 1/4 oz Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
  • 1 splash half-and-half

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Shake and strain over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with whipped


  • 1 cup unsalted butter or unsalted margarine
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, or bars, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 teaspoons flour
  • 8 extra-large paper muffin cups (or use regular paper muffin cups, which will make 12 cakes)
  • Garnish:
  • 1 (6 ounce) container raspberries, barely moistened and rolled in about
  • 1/2 cup sugar right before serving

Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; remove from heat. Beat eggs, sugar and salt with a hand mixer in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture into chocolate until smooth. Beat in flour or matzo meal until just combined. (Batter can be made a day ahead; return to room temperature an hour or so before baking.)

Before serving dinner, adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a standard-size muffin tin (1/2 cup capacity) with 8 extra-large muffin papers (papers should extend above cups to facilitate removal). Spray muffin papers with vegetable cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups.

Bake until batter puffs but center is not set, 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully lift cakes from tin and set on a work surface. Pull papers away from cakes and transfer cakes to dessert plates.

Top each with sugared raspberries and serve immediately.