Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Crispy Chili Salmon with Chunky Winter Salsa

This is a two part recipe, first making a red chili salsa and then using the water that hydrated the chili peppers as the poaching liquid for the salmon. The combination is lovely.

The salsa is one of my winter varieties with lots of chili to make up for lackluster tomatoes. I blend a paste of chili peppers and tomatoes, then add some finally chopped ones for texture.

The salmon is cooked using my favorite methods, poached on the bottom and broiled on top for a silky fillet and crusty skin.


For the Salsa:
  • Four tomatoes boiled until the skin cracks, then remove the skin
  • Two New Mexican chili peppers, two anchos, and two serranos
  • One onion cut into quarters
  • Bunch of cilantro
  • Lime
  • Salt
For the salmon
  • 1 1-1.5 lb fillet with skin on
  • Small onion diced
  • Cubano pepper diced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


To make the salsa, start by toasting the New Mexican and Ancho chili in a frying pan. When fragrant, add 1-2 cups of water and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the seeds from the chili peppers and add to a blender along with a few tablespoons of the liquid, the poached tomatoes, half the onion, squeezed lime, salt, and half of the cilantro. Blend until smooth, then pour into a bowl. Add finally chopped serranos, onion, and cilantro. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

To make the salmon, remove the chili water from the pan. Fry the onion and pepper in the olive oil for a few minutes. Meanwhile, scour the skin side of the salmon with a sharp knife. Rub the skin with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the chili water back to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add the salmon, skin side up. Place the whole pan under the broiler and cook for 10-15 minutes depending on thickness of the fillet and desired doneness. 

For Technologists 

As this is my last post of 2014, please have a look at my posts on Big Data and Self Service BI Programs and on IT/Marketing (CIO/CMO) relationships.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Spicy Turkey, Kale, and Potato Soup

Every year on Thanksgiving and after all the guests have departed I go into my yearly ritual of making a turkey stock. Smash the bones so that it fits into a stock pot, add onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf, salt, and pepper, bring to boil and simmer for two hours. Makes a great gelatinous broth that I use to make a variety of soups.

This soup is quick and easy to make. The potatoes and kale make it a hearty soup despite the lightness of the broth.

You'll notice that I am not including specific quantities of ingredients because it can be made for a single person or for a family. The quantity of ingredients used should be proportional to the volume of broth.


  • Cumin
  • Thai chili pepper (or any hot peppers will do)
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • Chopped Onion
  • Chopped celery and carrot, and fennel bulb
  • Chopped Kale
  • Turkey broth (can substitute chicken broth)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Baby potatoes cut in half
  • Chopped bok choy


Bring broth to room temperature. In a separate stock pot, toast the cumin and chili peppers until fragrant. Add oil and onion and saute for five minutes. Add the celery, carrot, and fennel bulb and saute for five more minutes. Add kale and several tablespoons of the broth and cook for five minutes with the lid on. Add the broth, salt, pepper, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer the soup for ten minutes. Add bok choy and adjust seasoning if needed. Cook and simmer for five more minutes.

Serve immediately in large bowls.

For Technologists

Good soups require balance of flavor and texture. Ingredients need to be added in stages so that they cook properly. A variety of spices and ingredients are needed to provide richness and depth.

Recently, I completed a different post on balance. In The Agile Data Organization - Balancing Responsibilities in Data Science Programs, I discuss the need to develop a balance of skills and responsibilities between data scientists, business managers, and IT personnel in developing data science programs.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Agile Thanksgiving

I always look for a mix of crowd pleasing recipes mixed with some fresh ideas. With the ovens going at 400F and the turkey done, I have about an hour to cook four trays while I carve the turkey and make the gravy. Agile or just multitasking, it works for me. Today's feast included:

Roasted root vegetables

With the ovens going, it's easy to slice up carrots and turnips, mix with olive oil, salt, some broth, and herbs and roast at 400F for about 45 minutes.

Chili Garlic Potatoes

Crush garlic, new Mexican chili peppers, Thai bird chili peppers, kosher salt, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, olive oil, and chili water (water from hydrating the chili) in a mortar and pestle to make a paste. Spoon onto boiled potatoes. Roast for 45 minutes. 

Crowd Pleasing Potatoes

For those that don't like the heat, just sprinkle herbs and salt on boiled potatoes. Drizzle on olive oil and roast for 45 minutes.

And finally, Awesome Green Beans


Saute garlic. Add French beans with the ends chopped off. Salt and saute about five minutes. Add slivered almonds and saute one more minute

What about the Turkey?

Sorry folks. Forgot to take the photo. But I always follow Alton Brown's Good Eats Turkey Recipe and it always comes out awesome.

 For Technologists

Check out my post from last year, A CIO Top Ten Guide To Preparing a Thanksgiving Feast.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Late Night: Sauteed Broccoli Rabe and Chicken

This is one of my favorite weekday meals because it is healthy, easy to make, and can be made with a variety of ingredients. The star is the broccoli rabe which holds up well to the garlic and chili flakes.

I prefer doing this with chicken, but you'll see Italian restaurants follow a similar recipe without protein, with chopped up sausage, with potatoes, or with a combination of ingredients.

Many recipes call for dunking the broccoli rabe in an ice bath after blanching in order to stop the cooking. Personally, I find this step unnecessary so long as you are going from blanching to sauteing right away.


  • Bunch of broccoli rabe, cut into one inch chunks
  • Chicken breast chopped up into bite sized pieces
  • Olive oil
  • 5-10 cloves of garlic sliced thin
  • Chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper


Boil water for blanching the brocolli rabe. Saute chicken in olive oil until brown and cooked. Remove from the pan.

Add the broccoli to the boiling water. Meanwhile, saute the garlic. Let it brown, but not burn and remove the pan from the heat if it is burning. Blanch the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for about two minutes, then strain. Shake out as much water as you can before.

Add chili flakes and broccoli rabe to the pan and saute 2-3 minutes. Add back in the chicken. Add salt, pepper and saute 2-3 more minutes. Serve hot.

For Technologists

This is a back to basics recipe with few ingredients, easy preparation, and quick cleanup. Sometimes you just have to go back to the basics, which is what I was reminded of when I visited my daughter's first grade classroom. Afterward, I wrote about What Agile Teams Can Learn From a First Graders.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Grilled Chili Spiced Pork Loin

I usually don't like making a large cut of meat and prefer grilling an array of vegetables such as grilled cauliflower or kale. But sometimes, you can't beat the convenience of cooking a large cut and using it in multiple ways during the week.

I'm not a big fan of beef roast and find them somewhat limiting in terms of the flavor profiles that you can use in a marinade or spice rub. Instead, I prefer a turkey breast or a pork loin.

I tend to use a basic barbecue rub. The meat stands up on its own and with this rub, can be used in tacos, a dirty rice, or a sandwich later in the week.


  • 3-4 lb Pork Loin
  • 4 tablespoons of ancho chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon each of salt, chipotle pepper powder, and coriander
  • Soaked wood chips


Mix together the spice rub and spread generously over the meat. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. I like doing this last thing in the evening so that it is ready to bbq anytime then next day.

I use a gas grill and set it up for indirect cooking with one site heated for the wood chips and the other side for the meat. I put the soaked wood chips in a low aluminum pan, cover it with foil, and puncture holes it. I place this on the heated side of the grill. I fill a second pan with water and place it underneath the grill on the non-heated side. Use a remote meat thermometer and insert the probe into the center of the meat. The grill burner should be on low and once I start seeing smoke, I put in the pork.

Every 30-45 minutes add wood chips to the pan and rotate the meat.

Don't ask me how long to cook it. On the grill, it will depend on the grill temperature, the size of the meat, and the location of the meat relative to the flame. Guidelines now require pork to cook to 145F, so I just monitor the thermometer and wait till the meat is ready.

Let the meat settle in a covered pan for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

For Technologists

As I said a BBQ pork roast can be used in a lot of different ways. It is an "agile platform" for many other recipes that require a spicy protein.

Technologists also need agile platforms to develop new products and applications. What is an agile platform? It is fast and easy to learn, built on standards, has an open and extendable architecture and other features that you can read about in Top Ten Attributes of Agile Platforms.

Other great recipes:

Check this one out for Aromatic Pork Belly Lo Mein

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Late Night Roasted Cauliflower

One of my favorite, easy to make, flavorful, and healthy late night dinners. You can do this in a toaster oven, your main convention oven, and even on the grill if you have a grill basket.

There are two keys to doing this well. First, make best attempt to have the cauliflower pieces cut to uniform size so that they cook evenly. Second, make best attempt to evenly coat the florets with the olive oil and spices.


  • One head of cauliflower cut into uniform chunks
  • Olive oil - 3-4 tablespoons to coat the cauliflower
  • Spice mixture: A couple of options here
    • Spicy - Mix of ancho chile powder, pinch of cayenne, cumin, salt
    • Curry - Curry powder, garlic powder, coriander, salt
    • Herb - Herb de Provence works great mixed with salt


Mix cauliflower with olive oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle on the selected spice mixture evenly. If cooking in an oven, spread on a cookie sheet in one layer and roast at 400F. If cooking on the grill, cook on medium-high heat shaking the basket every 10 minutes. Cook until florets are brown and charred in some places, 20-25 minutes.

For Technologists

Sometimes you just have to go back to the basics, like learning data science principals from fourth grade class rules or what agile teams can learn from first graders.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pork Bourguignon with Roasted Potatoes and Cauliflower

I love beef bourguignon and thought to give it a try with pork. In this case, I bought a pork shoulder, half that I used to smoke and half that I used for this dish. I made the classic dish, then added roasted cauliflower and potatoes as a bonus add on.

My only issue with the approach was the rendered fat from the pork made for a greasy sauce. You can see it on the rim of the plate in the attached photo. If I used a leaner cut of meat then I doubt it would stand up to the cooking time. Suggested improvements welcome!


  • Four slices of bacon diced up
  • Pork shoulder - about 2-3 pounds, cut into 1 inch cubes.
  • Flour (whole wheat works fine)
  • Large onion and three large carrots diced
  • Tomato paste
  • Cup of beef broth
  • Bottle of pinot noir 
  • Bouquet Garni of thyme, basil, and oregano
  • Small red potatoes cut in half
  • Cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Package of mushrooms
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, more basil, thyme and oregano


Put oven on 350F. Mixed the pork with flour, salt, and pepper until pieces are well covered. Warm up the dutch oven on low-medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp and fat rendered, about 15 minutes. Remove the bacon and save for later. Remove all but one table spoon of the rendered bacon fat and save the rest for later.

Add the pork to the dutch oven and brown in small batches so that each batch has sufficient space to brown. About 5 minutes per batch, and add a tablespoon of bacon fat to fry up each batch.

Add a table spoon of bacon fat and render the onion and carrots for about 10 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and allow to brown. Deglaze the pan with the broth, then add the full bottle of pinot noir and the bouquet garni. Bring to a simmer, cover, and move to a middle rack in the oven. 

While the pork is cooking, slice potatoes in half and cut the cauliflower into small pieces. Mix with olive oil, bacon fat, salt, pepper, and herbs and spread one layer on 1-2 baking sheets. Bake on the top rack for forty minutes.

Saute mushrooms. About 75 minutes into the cooking pour into the dutch oven and mix. Cook for fifteen more minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to settle for 10-15 minutes. Remove the Bouquet Garni. Ladle into bowls and add potatoes, cauliflower, and bacon.

For Technologists

This recipe requires a little bit of planning to have things ready at certain times so that the dish can be completed efficiently. Have the pork ready to add to the oven after the bacon completes. Get the pork baking in the oven and leave you enough time to get the potatoes and cauliflower prepped and cooking.

My post, Defining the Agile Planning Sprint attempts to lay out a similar structure for developing and estimating stories in time for a development sprint. It is a defined, 5-day process starting with gathering business requirements and ending with a structured breakdown of story stubs (not fully defined stories) that can be reviewed and analyzed for software architecture and other considerations.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Simple Grilled Kale With Plums

Here's another approach to grilled kale - call it the fifteen minute, two ingredient version. Ronan's grilled kale is a better recipe if you ate preparing this dish for guests and this is the version I do when I just need something quick.

Chop the kale into large bite-sized pieces. Toss with about a quarter cup of olive oil and plenty of salt. Place chopped kale in a deep grill basket and grill on medium heat with top closed. Shake and turn every five minutes until the leaves are wilted, about 10-15 minutes in total. Place kale on platter and add olive oil if the kale looks dry. Serve with sliced plums.

Also works well with peaches, nectarines and strawberries.

For Technologists

I wrote a post about three years ago stating, "I firmly believe the best products are simple." It was a plea to agile product owners to stop over complicating their products and features with too many bells and whistles and other nuances that add to complexity. MVP - minimal viable product - also works well in cooking with good ingredients and simple techniques.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Grilled Salmon and Kale Chips

Sweet and salty kale chips are a unique and healthy accompaniment to rich salmon fillets.  Perfect any time of the year, but especially good now as the summer wanes and the fall approaches.  Sit on the deck or patio and enjoy a nice glass of wine while you dine.  This recipe is a family favorite – and you can never make enough kale chips.




For the kale chips:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (we use the minimum or less to make it less spicy)
1 medium bunch kale (12 oz.), washed, stemmed and chopped into 1” pieces

* We always double the kale chips – as I said for our family there can never be enough

For the salmon:
Salmon fillets (6-8 oz. each)
Olive oil
Fresh parsley, washed and finely chopped
Sea salt
Fresh cracked black pepper, if desired

* There endless recipes for grilling salmon, pick your favorite or use this simple but fresh one

For the kale chips:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place rack(s) in center of oven
  • Whisk all ingredients except kale in a small bowl
  • Place kale in a large bowl and toss with dressing to coat
  • Spread kale onto baking sheet in a single layer (you may have to do this in batches)
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes
  • Toss chips with a wooden spatula and return to oven for another 7-8 minutes, until crispy throughout
For the salmon:
  • Preheat grill for medium heat and lightly oil grill grate
  • Brush salmon fillets with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt (and black pepper if desired) and parsley
  • Cook salmon 6-8 minutes per side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork

For Technologists

Salmon…they swim upstream…which makes me think of the struggles we sometime experience in growing and maturing our Agile practice.  Not all areas of an organization come along for the swim and partnering and collaborating is not always easy.  But as the saying goes, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” and in the end everything will be delicious.  See more on this topic at Isaac’s post on driving an agile culture.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hot Garlic Grilled Shrimp

Need a quick recipe to try out the mortar and pestle? Try this one. It's a relatively quick recipe plus marinade time and is very flavorful.

This recipe should come our flavorful and spicy. If you like it hotter, consider balancing the recipe with more chili and less garlic. You can also double up the ingredients and coat the shrimp more.

I serve this as an appetizer. It's gone by the time I reach the table.


  • About a lb of large 12-16 count shrimp
  • Kosher salt (tsp)
  • Garlic (3-4 cloves)
  • Thai chili peppers (2, or use serrano peppers)
  • Cumin seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Lime
  • Cilantro


Peel and clean the shrimp and put into a bowl. Add salt, garlic, peppers, and seeds to the mortar and pestle. Crush, then add olive oil to form a paste. Pour on the shrimp and mix evenly. Cover and let it marinade for about an hour.

Turn grill on high and allow to warm up at least fifteen minutes. Spread shrimp out evenly and cook about 1-2 minutes per side.

Pull from grill onto a plate. Squeeze in a lime and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

For Technologists

Like I said, this is a very basic recipe and you can find versions and variants of it on many web sites. There is still a lot you can learn from the basics, like what data scientists can learn from fourth graders or my post on what agile teams can learn from first graders.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Octoberfest Poached Salmon

I have several variants of this recipe, but this one is great for the early fall. It has the hearty flavors from the beer, beans, and spices inspired by German beer and sausage, but is light and easy to cooking on a hot day.

This recipe is better done with a thin filet of salmon left with the skin on.


  • Handful of cumin seeds and fennel seeds
  • About a teaspoon of ancho chili powder and a pinch of chipotle pepper powder, but use what you have
  • Olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons
  • Half a large yellow onion sliced thin
  • Two garlic cloves, sliced
  • Thai chili pepper or substitute a serrano or jalapeno pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Half a bottle of Octoberfest beer
  • Salmon fillet, skin on, not longer than the width of your frying pan
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • Half can of kidney beans
  • Optional, butter 2 tablespoons of butter


Put a frying pan on a low-medium burner and toast the cumin seeds, fennel seeds and chili powder for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add olive oil and saute the onion, garlic and chili pepper for 5-6 minutes. Pour in enough beer to cover the bottom of the pan and 1/3 of the thickness of the fillet but not too much where the salmon skin will be submerged - about a half bottle. Bring to a simmer and lower the heat. Sprinkle the salmon skin with salt and pepper and add to the pan skin side up. Cover and simmer 5-6 minutes.

Remove the salmon from the pan. Add the beans and butter if you want that restaurant glaze. Cook and stir 1-2 more minutes. Place beans and some of the onions on top of the salmon and pour the sauce on the side.

For Technologists

I'm providing a recipe in September to prep you for October. It's a little like how I run a tight agile shop and have developed practices around agile planning. For example, I ask my teams to have at least two sprints of backlog fully defined (stories written and sized) along with a deeper backlog of estimated stories. It's one of the practices I recommend for improving agile team velocity.

Monday, September 1, 2014

End of Summer Salsa

I love making salsas, especially at the end of summer when there is an abundance of ripe delicious vegetables. This recipe was inspire by my neighbor, who has us come over every year to pick vegetables from her garden. What should I do with all the Thai chili peppers that we picked? Here's one suggestion, but be careful! They are super hot!


3-4 ripe, off the vine tomatoes
1/2 a large yellow onion
1-2 Thai chili peppers (any hot pepper is fine)
2 scallions
2 handfuls of chopped cilantro
1/2 lime


Dice tomato. I find it easy to do this with tomatoes off the vine by slicing them, then dicing each slice. Cut the onion into a super fine dice and add both to a bowl. Chop the chili pepper into very small bits and add. Add chopped scallions and cilantro. Squeeze in mix lime juice and add salt. Mix well together and add salt to taste.

For Technologists

Simple ingredients used in simple recipes often yield amazing results. It reminds me of my post, Trying to Develop a Death Star or a Flux Capacitor and on developing minimal viable products. Amazing how many product owners working with agile teams don't "get" this, and over-engineer their products.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Simple Diner Potatoes

Diners are often a big disappointment. Flat omelets, greasy potatoes, weak coffee, or slow service are common with many Diners, and the gems are not in my local area. So every once and awhile I will make diner food at home.

For breakfast, that means potatoes with omelets. I can make the potatoes easily if I start when the kids are still asleep. This is also a great recipe if you have potatoes that are starting to go bad.


  • 4-5 medium sized red or white potatoes cleaned and dry
  • 1 large onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Herb de Provence or a mix of basil, oregano, and thyme
  • Granulated garlic


Slice onion into strips and saute in a large frying pan. Cut potatoes into medium sized cubes (see photo) and add to the pan. Saute for 15 minutes flipping every couple of minutes and adding salt every  five minutes. Add garlic and herbs until well covered and saute another 5 minute.

Serve with omelet or scrambled eggs. 

For Technologists

This is a good example of when doing something yourself may be better than buying or leveraging something from a third party. Specifically, you may not need to leverage an entire javascript or java library if all you need is a simple algorithm that you can develop rather quickly and also not be concerned over performance, security, maintainability or other issues. If you are in an early stage startup, some of my old and not entirely outdated advice on choosing a development platform is worth reviewing.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ronan's Grilled Kale

Here is a very versatile kale recipes. This one marries sweet and a little spice and was a hit at my department's summer picnic.





  • Bunch of kale, the bigger the better. Washed, ideally dry
  • Olive oil
  • Red pepper
  • 1-2 plums
  • Honey
  • Lime
  • Chili pepper flakes
  • Salt


Get the charcoal or gas grill going medium or even low. Leave the kale whole and spread about a quarter cup of olive oil on the kale leaves. Then put on the grill along with the red pepper. Turn the kale and pepper every couple of minutes. The red pepper is done when there is good char on all sides, then take off the grill and put into a sealed plastic bag to steam. When the kale looks wet green, is wilted in most areas and charred at the ends, about 10 minutes take off and let sit on the cutting board.

Make the dressing with the olive oil, honey, lime, chili flakes, and salt. Don't ask me quantities, I wing it and hope you have some skill in making a dressing.

Slice off the ends of the kale and discard. Chop the remaining kale leaves and stem finely and put on a serving platter. Remove the red pepper and pull off the skin. Remove the seeds, slide into strips about half the length of the pepper and place on top of the kale. Pour the dressing on top and mix with the kale and pepper. Slice the plum into quarters and place on top like a garnish


For Technologists

This recipe is about balance - sweet from the honey, spice from the chili flakes, and sour from the lime. Color balance from the green kale, red peppers, and purple/yellow plums.

Reminds me of my post on how to get teams to think agile. It requires diversity - both in skills, thinking, and ethnicity to achieve collaboration and drive innovation.

Why CIO Recipes

I already have a blog, Social, Agile, and Transformation. Why another blog?

I was one of the founders of TripConnect, a social network for people who wanted to share travel advice with friends and people with similar interests. It was a great site and a lot of fun. I enjoyed sharing reviews with other family and foodie travelers.

I miss that business and sharing some of my experiences on travel, cooking, and life in general. So today, about a year after we shut down the site and sold off some of the assets, I've decided to start a new blog where I can share my experiences.

Ahh, but not just experiences... Since this is CIO recipes, I promise to include in each post some advice to technologists.

And not just my experiences. If you want to contribute to the site, let me know by connecting with me, nyike on Twitter and letting me know. All I ask is that you share either a food, travel, or life experience, that you include some advice to technologists, that you post a photo, and that you agree to make several contributions over a three month period.