Dude Food Archives

Dude Food: How to Cook Extreme Backpacking Cuisine

We started our Dude Food series this spring in order to mix up the usual BGSK offerings with interviews and submissions for and by dudes. We like to think of this section as the man cave below the BGSK kitchen. If you have ideas, become a dude food contributor!

You might remember our friend Keith from the early days of the blog as co-founder of Phoebe’s epic chili and stew cook-offs. Though Keith’s victory is debatable in the version we tell in our book (see page 116, the section opening for the Dating & Food section, for a picture!), he does make a mean pot of spiked, meaty chili. Over the years, as he’ll explain, Keith has become head chef of his group of friends’ extreme camping trips. Today, we’ve asked him to share his wisdom for cooking haute cuisine at 12,000 feet, as well as menus from his most recent trip to Yosemite.

Keith’s adventure cooking began several years ago in Mongolia when he caught a 26″ rainbow trout with a baby sapling for a rod and cooked it up over an open fire with herbs from a nearby meadow. Since then, he’s been trying to push the boundaries of gourmet food in extreme circumstances.



I lead a fairly typical life for a young college grad. I have a white collar job. I spend anywhere from 40-70 hours a week in an office, and when I do leave, for most of the year, it’s dark outside. I also live in a city where most of my exposure to wildlife comes in the form of mice or cockroaches. And it seems that despite my best efforts, I never do get away into the countryside as many weekends as I’d like. This is a bleak picture that I imagine all too many of you are familiar with. A temporary solution does exist though.

Three years ago my friends and I came up with this brilliant plan called the ECA (Extreme Camping Adventure). Pick a famous national park in the summer months, and there’s a good chance you’ll run into a crew of pasty white young men trying to feel all manly and in touch with nature. That could very easily be my friends and me. What’s makes our trips “extreme” though is a) the crazy amount of miles we fit into each day b) the awesome routes we take c) the sweet activities, such as white water kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc. d) the partying that goes on once we’re off the trail, and e) last but not least, the FOOD.

Camping is meant to be hardcore (i.e. manly). I’m not talking about what you do out of the back of your car or RV near some national forest. I’m talking about what you do on top of a 12,000-foot mountain after an 18-mile day on the trail with a heavy-ass pack on your back. You do it to get away from the comforts of the chair you spend most of your days sitting in and the couch where you spend many of your nights vegging out. All of this does not mean, however, that you can’t eat well.

There’s a perception that eating on the trail should purely be about fuel. It’s fine if that’s what you think. And it’s fine to buy those pre-packaged camping meals. But with a tad bit of effort and some creativity, you can enjoy haute-cuisine while gazing out at Half-Dome in Yosemite.

**Menus, Tips and Tricks**

Preparation: The key to gourmet meals on the trail isn’t the actual cooking. It’s all in the prep. Get ready to use A LOT of Ziploc bags. Once out in the wild, you don’t have the convenience of a spice rack two steps to the left, or a pantry full of boxes three steps to the right, so the key is to combine all ingredients possible beforehand and get rid of bulky packaging. Here’s an example:

Let’s say you want to make… oh, I don’t know… Ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes, sage and parmesan. Before you left your home, boarded a plane and hit the trail, you would combine oregano, sage, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and sun dried tomatoes in one bag. So that when you arrive all you have to do is buy some ravioli. Dump it out of its square, bulky packaging and into a freezer bag. Hike on up the trail. Make camp. Boil the ravioli. Drain the water. Mix in some olive oil and dump in your home-made package of spices. Voila! Grandma Buitoni has descended from heaven to grace you with the best national park cooking there is.

Now that you know how simple it really is, let me share with you two of the best hikes Yosemite has to offer and the meals you could cook while soaking in the great outdoors.

Disclaimer: I can’t claim credit for all these meals. I have to thank the people of Backpacker Magazine and the book Lipsmackin’ Backpackin’ for a lot of inspiration.

Note: All servings are for 6

Day 1

We settled into Yosemite this first night and hung out in the valley. Drinking whiskey and beer and getting everything finalized for an early start the next morning.

Dinner: Couscous with Chicken and Chickpeas
Ingredients: 3 pound chicken (hike it up from cooler or buy cans or pouches of it. Pouch chicken is way tastier than you think), 1 package couscous, 1 can chickpeas, 1/2 cup dried tomatoes,  1/4 cup dried carrots, garlic powder, salt and pepper
Preparation: Combine everything except the chicken in a ziplock plastic bag. Remember to rinse the chickpeas first. Carry the chicken separately.
In camp: Add enough water to cover. Stir. Set aside until couscous is cooked and chicken and veggies are rehydrated. Add the chickpeas (do not drain) just before serving.

Day 2
We started off with the next morning on a 31-mile shuttle hike around the north rim of Yosemite Valley. You simply cannot get better views. We wanted to break camp early so we had a quick, yet tasty breakfast. Our afternoon hike started with a 3-mile trek to the trailhead followed by 100+ switchbacks up the 2,500 feet of Tenaya Canyon (right part of the map). By that point we needed lunch. We ended our day with “oh my god” views of Half Dome.

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Banana Wraps
Ingredients: 6 tortillas, peanut butter, 6 bananas
Preparation: Take a tortilla. Spread peanut butter on it. Wrap banana inside. Eat.

Lunch: Avocado Chicken Wraps
Ingredients: 6 avocados, leftover chicken from the night before or 6 more pouches of chicken, 12 large tortillas. Mayo packets, if you so choose.
Preparation: Similar to breakfast, just take a tortilla and spread chicken, avocado and mayo all over. Wrap it up and enjoy.

Dinner: Basil Parmesan Ravioli
Ingredients: 3 packages of fresh mini cheese
 ravioli (or other fresh pasta; freeze and eat within two days – we kept ours in a cooler in our car on the way up to the park), margarine (can last in the open, unlike butter), 1 cup crumbled sun-dried tomatoes, 3 tablespoon oregano, fresh basil leaves, 2/3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated. Salt and pepper to taste.
Preparation: Pack the margarine in a zip-top bag with oregano, salt, and pepper. Place cheese, tomatoes, and fresh basil in three additional zip-top bags.
In camp: Bring water to a boil; add pasta and tomatoes. Cook according to package directions (usually three minutes). While pasta is cooking, chop basil leaves. Drain most of the water, then add butter and all herbs. Return to heat and stir until butter melts. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Day 3
We had a solid 12-mile day planned so we needed a solid breakfast to get us going. What’s better than bagels and eggs? We spent the day following the rim of the valley. We watched the sun climb over Yosemite Point. Climbed Eagle Peak. Walked along the face of North Dome. Hung our heads over Yosemite Falls, and peered over the edge of El Cap. Lunch happened at the summit of Eagle Peak. We ended the day bathing in a river and having dinner over a bluff that looked out onto the valley and back north towards El Cap, the most famous rock climbing face in the US.

Breakfast: Eggs and Bagels
Ingredients: 6 bagels, cream cheese (don’t worry, it lasts), margarine spray, 8 eggs, parmesan cheese
Preparation: Crack eggs the day before you begin your hike and put them in a Nalgene. If you want them to last even longer, buy a hard plastic egg carrying case. Eggs and cheese can make it for quite some time on the trail.
In camp: Scramble your eggs in a pan. Add parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, find some reasonably clean sticks and toast your bagels over the stove.

Lunch: White Mountain Tortillas
Ingredients: Hummus, 10 slices provolone cheese, olive oil/butter for pan, 10 tortillas
Preparation: For each tortilla, place 1 tbsp of oil on pan. Smear hummus on tortilla, place cheese on top and heat in pan. Delicious.

Dinner: Cashew chicken
Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups instant rice, one and a half 7-ounce pouch chickens, 2 pearl onion, 1 bell pepper, 1 cup dried mushrooms, 1 1/2 cups unsalted cashews, 3 teaspoons garlic powder, 3 teaspoons powdered ginger, 6 takeout packets soy sauce.
Preparation: Combine rice and mushrooms in a zip-top bag. Place cashews, garlic, and ginger in a second zip-top bag.
In camp: Bring two cups of water to a boil. Chop onions and pepper. Add rice, mushrooms, and chicken to the pot and boil for two minutes, or until all water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and add onion, pepper, cashews, and spices. Stir in soy sauce.

Day 4
Camping on the side of a cliff face – not the brightest move. We had no shielding from the wind and no residual heat from the trees. Needless to say, it was not a restful night, and we woke up frozen! We needed a hot meal to start the day off. After breakfast, we cruised through the end of the hike, with only a little uphill as we walked down the now defunct roadbed of Old Big Oak Flat Road. We stopped for lunch in a meadow that had recently been through a wildfire, but was now growing back.

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Pancakes
Ingredients: Margarine spray, 3 cups pancake mix, peanut butter, syrup (steal some packets from McDonalds)
Preparation: Combine all of the dry ingredients in a zip locking plastic bag. Carry the peanut butter and oil separately.
In camp: Add 2 1/2 cups water to the bag. Squish well to combine, then add the peanut butter. Squish until there are no more large lumps of peanut butter in the bag. Heat a little oil in your pan. Snip off one end of the plastic bag and pour out enough batter to make 3 inch pancakes. When bubbles form on the top, flip. Serve hot.

Lunch: Salami and Cheese
Ingredients: 2 salamis, hard cheese (cheddar or parmesan), wheat thins

Day 5
After a night spent in the valley gorging on wings, pizza and beer, we spent a day white water rafting. Then the following morning found us up at the crack of dawn to get up to the northern part of Yosemite, to Tuolumne Meadows, for half a day of rock climbing then an overnight hike to Mt. Conness, the third highest mountain in the park. Lunch was a speedy affair as we had to get to our next trail head for a 6.5 mile hike in from Tuolumne valley to a pair of alpine lakes (Young lakes) at 10,000 ft. After breaking out some old orienteering skills and scrambling our way through a forest and around some ridges, we finally found the lakes and made camp just as the sun was setting. We really, really needed some food to warm us up since we were sleeping on snow.

Breakfast: Chocolate, Banana Oatmeal
Ingredients: 6 packets instant oatmeal, 1 packet hot chocolate mix, brown sugar, 1 can parmalat, 2 bananas, chocolate cookies crumbled (optional)
Preparation: Combine everything except the cookies in a zip locking plastic bag. If you are bringing the cookies, package them separately.
In camp: bring 6 cups of water to a boil, add the oatmeal and stir. Simmer until the oatmeal is cooked through. Serve topped with the cookies.

Dinner: Chicken Sunday Dinner
Ingredients: 2 packets of Stove Top brand stuffing, 2 7-ounce pouch chicken, 2 cup dried cranberries, 1-2 packages Yukon gold instant potatoes and 1-2 packages instant gravy
Preparation: Boil 3 cups water, then stir in stuffing. Add chicken and cranberries. Boil 2 cups of water and cook instant potatoes separately. In 3rd pan cook instant gravy with water. Mix all together and enjoy.

Day 6
We woke up cold and hungry despite our big dinner and got the day going with some hot food. Now I don’t want it to seem as if we weren’t enjoying this second, side-trip, but the going stayed tough. We left our packs in camp and followed swampy marsh area up to the second of the Young Lakes and past that onto a snow field. We never quite made it to the summit of Mt. Conness, but we felt real tough for even getting as far as we did without snow shoes. We eventually turned around and reversed our route, finding our way back to the car after an exhausting 12+ miler home.

Breakfast: Blue Mango Oatmeal
Ingredients: 5 packets instant oatmeal, 6 tablespoons dried blueberries, 3 tablespoons dried mangos, parmalat, brown sugar
Preparation: Combine all of the dry ingredients in a zip locking plastic bag.
In camp: Add 4 cups boiling water to oatmeal (or more if you like a thinner cereal.)

Day 7
Our second annual Extreme Camping Adventure ended with 24 miles of mountain biking and an epic 4th of July in Tahoe. It is an extreme trip, and an extreme menu, I highly recommend re-creating.

Dude Food: 11 Ways Men Differ From Women in the Kitchen

We started our Dude Food series this spring in order to mix up the usual BGSK offerings with interviews and submissions for and by dudes. As you can image, having “big girls” in our name has been a bit of a deterrent for the male population. We like to think of this section as the man cave below the BGSK kitchen. If you have ideas, become a dude food contributor!

Food Republic is not too old but already it’s become the go-to food site for guys on the net. Its daily articles, recipes, and news pieces explore the new culture of food through stories, interviews, global conversations, and experiences. It is the site for men who want to eat and drink well, and to live smart. We’re lucky today to have Richard of Food Republic give us his take on how men plus food is a totally different equation than women plus food. How so? Read on!


**Tips and Tricks**

As editorial director of Food Republic, the food and drink lifestyle site for men, I spend a lot of time finding recipes and cooking techniques that apply specifically to guys. Are guys much different than women when it comes to food, drink and especially cooking? Um, yeah. Are the following 11 ways men interact with food differently than women gross generalizations? Yes, ma’am.

1.  More beer. Men think about beer. A lot. So when we’re cooking and we need a liquid, the first thing that comes to mind is not chicken stock or vegetable stock or even white wine. It’s beer. Beer to baste turkeys, beer to steam mussels, even a beer can in a chicken.

2.  We really do care that much about our sandwiches. There’s a famous episode of The Simpsons where Homer refuses to give up a beloved hoagie, even after if it gives him food poisoning. We often develop psychological and emotional bonds with certain sandwiches that, sadly, aren’t that different from the ones we develop with sexual partners.

3.  Did somebody say burgers? Look, I know that a lot of women like burgers, and that women who say they eat like men can get just as opinionated about a city’s best burger spot as a man can. But men are obsessed with burgers. If you say the word burger within earshot of your average male, then follow him for an hour, chances are you will see him go into a restaurant and order a burger. Or go to a market and buy ground beef (probably agonizing about the fat ratio), then make a burger.

4.  We’re messy cooks. Adam Perry Lang told me recently that we should embrace the outdoor grill area because it’s the one place that our women can’t complain about us making a mess —
“because you can take a hose to it after you’re done,” he said. I get in trouble for making a mess in the kitchen all the time, but it doesn’t stop me. A garlic clove drops on the floor, a sauce splatters, some wine spills. I just keep on cookin’.

5.  We cook to win. I’m sure that there is a similar competitive spirit in suburban and semi-rural communities across the US — I have heard about Midwestern cheesy potato recipe pride that can lead to bloody disputes between women at neighborhood potlucks. But with guys, we’re usually just trying to prove that we’re the best at making stupidly simple things like potato chips or ketchup or meatballs. Lots of people make these things and make them well, but men want bragging rights.

6.  We like to follow recipes as much as we like to ask for directions. I remember my mom browsing recipes in her cookbooks, and I even learned to cook myself by using cookbooks like Jamie Oliver’s The Iron Chef and Jean Georges’ From Simple To Spectacular. But now that I’m a man, like other men, I like to wing it. Is what I make better when I follow a recipe, using a few ad libs to hue to my personality? Yup. Does this mean that I do this instead of winging it? Nope.

7.  If there’s something that can be made on the grill, it will be made on the grill. This goes for things that up until recently weren’t usually made on the grill, like pizza. Guys have become obsessed with making their pizzas outdoors. Why? Because we can make a mess. Why else? Because there are all sorts of gadgets on the market now for guys who like to make their pizzas on the grill. Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet even has a super-expensive outdoor pizza grill (starting at around $6,500). Which reminds me….

8.  Guys like gadgets, which is part of the reason we like cooking. A big part, actually. This is also a generational thing. My dad likes to cook but doesn’t have a garlic press. That’s like the most basic gadget to have if you ask me. Ice cream makers, food processors, electric thermometers — guys need these in their kitchens. Espresso makers, coffee makers, sous vide machines — guys need these in their kitchens. Even if there’s no more counter space, guys will stack machines and gadgets if it means that they will be able to make the best veal parmigiano or moules-frites or martini.

9.  Men collect. We collected baseball cards and comic books as kids. We collect wines, liquors and cookbooks (which we don’t use) as adults. We like to know intricacies about things that most women don’t care that much about. We will often have eight different kinds of hot sauce in our fridge. Why? Is there much difference between the eight? No. Would a woman own eight types of hot sauce? I don’t think so.

10. Bacon. I know women like bacon too (what’s up, April Bloomfield?), but they spend far less time than men working bacon into whatever dish they think bacon will work with — like a BLT pizza. What’s that, you say, you are what you eat? Well then that’s that: When it comes to eating and cooking, men are pigs. And proud of it.

11. Men will cook for sex. “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” thing may have served women well for a century or so. Now it’s men’s turn. And let’s be honest, men cook for a date with one thing in mind: Sex. Do we want to impress our date with the best pasta primavera they’ve ever tasted? Hell yes. Will it matter one bit if said date is not naked in bed in the morning waiting for an “impromptu” French toast (we just happened to have all the ingredients) breakfast? Nope. For men who cook, the way to a woman’s body is through her stomach. Pass the syrup!

–Richard, Editorial Director of Food Republic

Dude Food: Tales from the NYC Nomad’s Traveling Kitchen

Photo By: Tim Atkinson

We started our Dude Food series this spring in order to mix up the usual BGSK offerings with interviews and submissions for and by dudes. As you can image, having “big girls” in our name has been a bit of a deterrent for the male population. We like to think of this section as the man cave below the BGSK kitchen. If you have ideas, become a dude food contributor!

You might know Ed Casabian as “The NYC Nomad.” A year ago (officially!), Ed moved out of the apartment he was sharing with his then-girlfriend and set out to be a traveler in one of the greatest cities in the world (NYC), living one week at a time in as many different neighborhoods as possible, all the while holding down a full time job. Thirty-two neighborhoods and five boroughs later, we got to pick the Nomad’s brain on the food side of his social experiment. Read on for some of Ed’s best local food finds, and advice on how to snack in someone else’s cupboards.



BGSK. I know you offer your cooking services in return for crash pads. What’s your favorite thing to make for your hosts?

Nomad. I’m half Italian so I like to make various pasta dishes, but I’ve also been known to make a good Chicken Tikka Masala. If I lived more of a life of leisure, I’d make labor-intensive Armenian (my other half) things like baklava and yalanci (stuffed grape leaves).

BGSK. We’re very protective of our kitchens. Ever run into hosts who don’t want you to set foot in theirs?

Nomad. Yes, I offered to help in Staten Island and was told to stay out of the kitchen. Similar vibe in Brooklyn Heights. I have good knife skills from cooking in kitchens during the summers on Cape Cod, but some people don’t want anyone in that space. I get it.

BGSK. What have you learned from having to cook in a new kitchen every week? Any equipment that’s commonly missing? Any tool that you can’t live without?

Nomad. Well the truth comes out. I haven’t cooked in a few months because its just too hard to figure out where everything is. But since you asked, I can’t live without a solid chef’s knife. Other things I miss from my old kitchen are an immersion blender, mortar and pestle for fresh spices, a dutch oven, a microplane grater, and a garlic press (even though Anthony Bourdain wouldn’t approve). I miss my old kitchen.

BGSK. Describe the tiniest kitchen you’ve encountered along the way. Did you cook in it?

Nomad. Nothing stands out as the tiniest kitchen because most are pretty tiny. One of the nicest and largest kitchens I’ve encountered didn’t even have any pots, plates or silverware. I brought home pie one night and we ate it with plastic forks he had left over from Chinese take out. I used to cook a lot so it’s interesting to see how infrequently many New Yorkers cook.

BGSK. How do you deal with the issue of snacking in this transitory lifestyle? Anyone ever yell at you for finishing all their Goldfish?

Nomad. Hah, I’ve become less of a snacker for sure. I was carrying around beef jerky from Slant Shack for a while. That stuff is delicious. I love food, but my sister describes me as a “food camel” and I can go for really long periods without eating. I will admit I’ve snuck a few snacks after being out late. I ate a noticeable amount of Nilla Wafers when I stayed in NoHo, but I’m not sure my host noticed. Most people are very generous with the food, but I try not to snack too much. I think I eat healthier as a result.

BGSK. If you happened to be nomad-ing at the apartment of a very cute single girl you were interested in, what would you make her? (Has this happened??)

Nomad. I’d probably go to a pasta dish with some nice wine. Penne alle vodka, perhaps. I like simple dishes with excellent ingredients where you can really taste the food. But I like to keep the nomadding and romance separate.

BGSK. Are there any eating-at-home alone habits you can’t indulge in now that you are a nomad? Any kitchen or eating practices you miss from sedentary life?

Nomad. Hmmm. It’s been so long. I used to like eating Haagen Dazes out of the container on occasion.

BGSK. What’s your favorite neighborhood food find so far?

Nomad. So many good questions! The best food block for restaurants in NYC is 7th between 1st and A. Luke’s Lobster, Caracas, Pylos, that oyster place. I also really enjoyed being in Prospect Heights near the farmers’ market.

BGSK. Do you ever bring your hosts food-related gifts as a thank you? If so, what are some of your go-to’s?

Nomad. I’m generally at capacity with all my stuff when I’m actually moving, but I’ve brought things from different places including from as far as Peru ! When I’m actually in the neighborhood I like to pick up little splurges like nice cheese or chocolate or something that people might not otherwise buy for themselves.

BGSK. Go-to man meal?

Nomad. A burger at JG Melon’s. I need to explore the steakhouses of NYC. Any dudes out there who are willing to host, we can get a meal at Strip House. Dudes are less into hosting the nomad for some reason.

BGSK. Any food quirks?

Nomad. I can’t believe I’m going to share this, but I can’t stand the sound of someone biting into an apple. It gives me the chills just thinking about it. I try to get over it every six months or so by eating an apple, but I think it just makes it worse.

For more tales of neighborhoods travels, visit The NYC Nomad. For more on the project and how it all got started, click here.

Dude Food: Dad’s Fish-Friendly Grill

For a fish-friendly Father’s Day Meal, check out this Formal Pescatarian Dinner!

In preparation for Father’s Day last year, I had my dad teach me how to make his favorite morning oatmeal. In addition to announcing that my dad is an oatmeal man, I also revealed that he is not a grill guy. A year later, this has changed.

Last summer, my dad went on a grill kick, learning how to fire up his chimney, manipulate a flame, and create a perfect crosshatch on beautiful pieces of seafood. So this year, I can proudly say that my dad is an oatmeal man and a grill man. But a meat man, he still is not.

I was hard=pressed to find a grilling cookbook for him that featured seafood and vegetables in equally weighted sections as meat (if anyone has any recommendations, let me know in the comments section!!). But he managed to do just fine on his own. His best creation was a lemon and rosemary halibut grilled to perfection. The recipe was courtesy of Alex Witchel, and a perfect match for a fledgling cook like my dad.

All last summer, my mom and I would clear out a of corner of the kitchen and let my dad ream lemons, de-leaf fresh rosemary from the garden, and press garlic through a press. By the end of the summer, his web printouts were covered in lemon juice splatter marks, and oily thumb prints. And all of us were convinced of his grill masterdom.

After minimal googling, I was unable to happen upon the recipe that inspired his successful conquering of the grill. I’ve reinvented it below using the basic combination of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and herbs. It’s pretty versatile in terms of the fish you use, but if you can afford to do so—and Father’s Day in particular, is the right time to splurge—I would recommend using halibut. Its flesh is firm enough to withstand the grill’s grates (and a spatula-happy hand that insists on frequent flipping), but, unlike other firm-fleshed varieties like swordfish, the result is so light, fluffy, and moist you’ll never believe the fish was subjected to such a harsh cooking method as an open flame.

If your dad happens to be a grill guy but not a meat dude, skip the un-fish friendly cookbooks, and give him the gift of this recipe for Father’s Day. It will keep him busy, happy, and well-fed all summer long. Better yet, you’ll get to benefit from the fruits of his labor, as my mother and I did.

From my kitchen, kicking off summer with my father’s fish-friendly grill, to yours,



Grilled Halibut with Fennel & Green Olive Tapenade
Makes 2 servings

You can use any sturdy white fish for this recipe that takes well to the grill–talk to your fishmonger, as many thin white fish will crumble completely on the grill. If you can’t find lemon thyme, you can use regular, but you might want to reduce the amount, as regular thyme tends to be stronger.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
zest of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, minced or pushed through a press
2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme leaves (you can use regular)
1 pound halibut, cut into two filets
1/2 cup olive tapenade (recipe follows)

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and thyme in a Ziplock bag. Place the fish filets in the bag and swish around until covered in the marinade. Seal the bag and place in the fridge for 1 hour. (Do not marinate any longer or the fish will begin to cook in the lemon juice and become a ceviche.)

Preheat the grill (indoor or outdoor) and brush it with olive oil. Remove the fish from the marinade and season with salt and pepper on both sides. When the grill is hot, place the fish flesh-side down. Cook until the fish is opaque halfway up the side, about 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filet. Carefully flip the fish and cook skin-side down until cooked through, about 4 more minutes.

Remove the fish and top with the fennel and green olive tapenade. Serve immediately alongside grilled veggies or Mediterranean Hash.

Fennel & Green Olive Tapenade
Makes 1 cup

If you don’t have a food processor, simply finely chop the veggies by hand. If you can’t find lemon thyme, you can use regular, but you might want to reduce the amount. Regular thyme tends to be stronger.

1 small fennel bulb, tough outer layer removed, roughly chopped
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme (regular thyme works too, see note)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup green olives (kalamata or picholine)
1/2 lime, juiced

In a small food processor, pulse the fennel and shallot until finely chopped. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a small non-stick skillet and place it over medium heat. Saute the shallot and fennel until tender but not mushy, about 5-8 minutes. Add the lemon thyme, red pepper flakes and salt, and saute for another minute, until fragrant. Meanwhile, pulse the olives until finely chopped. Add to the olives to the pan along with the additional olive oil and lime juice. Stir until incorporated, then remove from the heat. The tapenade can keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. Serve it on top of grilled fish, or as a spread for crackers or baguette.

Dude Food: Photographer Josh’s Giant Salty Chicken

Josh Shaub is the guy behind most of the photographs in our book. Introduced to us as a food photography expert by a friend, he thought he was just getting a cup of coffee at the newly opened Ace Hotel last March. Little did he know he’d find himself spending several days at several locations, shooting most of the images you see in In the Small Kitchen and some of the ones you see around this site. We owe him big time, not just for his photos, but also for his insights on food styling, lighting, internet business, and more.

Josh is a great cook in his own right, and he and his wife, Tara, have developed a system for feeding themselves and their two adorable blond children (one pictured above) without sacrificing either flavor or time. Their trick is to use flavorful mainstays as ingredients in order to cut down on some of the prep time. Even cooler, Josh and Tara will be coming out with a cookbook, Scoop It! Chop It! Cook It!, next fall.

“GS Chicken (aka Giant Salty Chicken) continues to amaze me with its appeal. So simple, really, a handful of steps, and a constant favorite. We’ve worked this one for about ten years now and it always delivers.”

–Josh Shaub, BGSK contributor, photographer, and dude about town


Giant Salty Chicken
Serves 4

1 whole chicken
Olive oil
Sea salt
Lemons or limes

Start with a whole, plump chicken. Rinse, then place the chicken in a bowl.

Coat the chicken entirely with olive oil, so it has a nice, glowing sheen. Next, add a hearty amount of large flake sea salt. Feel free to improvise here, with herbs de provence, espelette, or any other favored dry rub.

If you prefer, slice two lemons into large chunks, and place within the cavity.

Cooking GS Chicken: Here’s where it gets technical.

Fire up your grill to around 350°F. (I typically cook GS Chicken on a Weber gas grill, with three heating zones).

When at temperature, turn the back zone to high, and the middle zone to medium. Turn the closest zone underneath the chicken off completely (so there’s no direct flame under the chicken. This is key — without a direct flame, we eliminate flare ups).

Place the bird breast down in the corner of the grill, with the legs pointing diagonally towards the center.

After 35 minutes, rotate the bird 180˙ — do not turn it over!

Keep the bird covered, then check again at 50 minutes. If needed, let it ride for up to another 15 minutes.

At this point, all of the fat that started in your GS Chicken should render out completely, leaving crispy skin and moist meat. Once you see the skin start to crackle a bit, you are ready to feast.

Let your GS Chicken sit for about 10 minutes. Hack up with a large cleaver, sprinkle with fresh lemon or lime, then enjoy.

Josh Shaub is a food and lifestyle photographer. Look for his book, Scoop It! Chop It! Cook It! next fall, and enjoy more of his work at verynaturalphoto.com.

Dude Food: The First Date Formula, Creamy Chicken & Pasta

Check out our other Top 5 Meat and Potato Combos

EVENT: Valentine’s Weekend Dinner
VENUE: Phoebe’s Parents’ Barn, Westchester
TYPE: Romantic Food Memory Recreation
MENU: Chicken Fricassée with Artichokes, Gnocchi, and Crème Fraîche; Roasted Cauliflower; Phoebe’s Classic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

When it came time to write the dating section of our book, we decided to do a little anthropological research. And being the precise and scientific people we are, we did so by sending a 3-page survey to some of our friends. Keith, who is no stranger to the blog, applied the fervor usually reserved for stew-making and good beer, to our questions.

His comments were exactly what we wanted to hear—meaning, they echoed our hypothesis: girls don’t want to be served girl foods on a first at-home date, and they made their way into the book. Here’s what Keith made for one memorable date:

“I started with some gnocchi, which is my favorite pasta. Grilled a couple of chicken breasts. Chopped some garlic, onions, and veggies. Sautéed them in some white wine and mixed the components together with copious quantities of cream and freshly grated parmesan cheese. The concoction, while unquestionably heavy, is also too simple to mess up and quite pleasing to the taste buds. As expected, the lady in question ate daintily, drank copiously, and we had a great time.”

I was happy to hear Keith’s success story, as I had no real evidence of what made a dish seductive. That is, until my first food date with Josh, when he cooked me nearly the exact dish that Keith described above. I was convinced that the boys had secretly conferred beforehand, until I realized that they didn’t know each other. The person I do have to thank for the creamy chicken and pasta dish is Josh’s mother, Jeannie, who unknowingly passed on the recipe for wooing.

I may have had to avoid thyme stems, and bite into a few lemon seeds, but I couldn’t have asked for a better meal, or a better person with which to share all the creamy chicken and pasta dishes to come. For Valentine’s Day weekend, Josh and I escaped to my parents’ barn in Westchester, and I attempted to recreate the dish that he had cooked for me. I ended up taking the nod from Keith and using gnocchi as my “pasta” of choice, and making a chicken fricassée to go on top.

My own version of the dish fell a little flat for me, in the way that food can without the original sentiment that made the food memory so delicious in the first place. One day, perhaps Josh will make me his creamy chicken and pasta again, thyme stems, lemon seeds and all. In the meantime, I offer up my version to all the dudes out there looking for the perfect first food formula: cream, carbs, and plenty of surprises.

From my kitchen, where romance is born from carbs, to yours,



Chicken Fricassée with Artichokes, Gnocchi, and Crème Fraîche
Makes 2-4 servings

Inspired by this recipe.

2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
4 drumsticks
4 chicken thighs
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup crème fraîche
One 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts
1 pound gnocchi
1 tablespoon dill (optional)

In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, place the flour in a shallow plate, and dredge the seasoned chicken on both sides, shaking off any excess.

Add the chicken to the pan in batches, making sure not to crowd the pot, and brown on both sides, adjusting the heat if the drippings start to burn. Set aside to a plate.

Add the onions, and turn the heat down to medium. Saute until translucent, scraping up any of the brown bits in the pan, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Bring to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the pot in one layer. Pour the stock over the top, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken, cover, and cook for another 15 minutes. Carefully remove the chicken from the pot, and set aside on the plate. Whisk in the crème fraîche until fulling incorporated. Add the artichokes and bring to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi, submerging them in the sauce, and return the lid to the pot. Cook until the gnocchi are tender, about 3 minutes.

To serve, spoon the gnocchi and artichokes onto a serving platter (or individual plates), and top with the chicken. Sprinkle with fresh dill and serve immediately.