I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Showing posts with label Seafood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seafood. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Creamy Lobster Pasta and Lardo Bruschetta

Weeknight meals may seem overwhelming after a long days work. Hungry before even walking through your door, preparing something to eat can feel like an impossible task. Yet having quality ingredients on hand makes the job less daunting. They don't need your help to taste delicious. Well-made bread just needs a quick toast, a special olive oil drizzled on top will elevate almost anything, Parmesan cheese adds saltiness as well as umami. By understanding the basics of fresh, true flavors I feel like I spend much less time creating recipes and more time enjoying the results. 

Take a trip to your farmers' market and specialty foods store to pick up a few things to see for yourself. In-season veggies taste fuller than their shipped-in-from-other-countries-supermarket counterparts and need much less time in the kitchen to make tasty. Dropping a bit of extra money on high quality extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or sea salt can save you money in the long run since a little bit goes much farther than the cheap stuff in the flavor department. A special spice (such as fennel pollen or piment d'esplette) can take many dishes up a notch with just a pinch. Cured meats can be appetizers or can flavor salads or pastas. Canned anchovies surprisingly can do the same. Keeping a few of these things on hand ups your kitchen game while often cutting down on your effort.  

Creamy Lobster Pasta and Lardo Bruschetta 
An elegant dinner can be possible in no time at all if you let your ingredients work for you. A pre-steamed lobster picked up from the fish counter cuts out time, hassle, and a bit of the guilt (at least for me). The sauce mostly just needs measured and poured. Cured lardo? Just a few quick slices to a decadent appetizer. A fancy dinner ready from start to finish in about 30 minutes.

for the bruschetta
ciabatta or French bread, cut in half and cut into 3" pieces
extra virgin olive oil
clove of garlic
sea salt
cured lardo, very thinly sliced

Drizzle the bread with extra virgin olive oil. Toast until browned under the broiler. When cool enough to handle, rub each piece with the clove of garlic. Drizzle with just a bit more extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and then top with a slice or two of lardo. Place into just barely warm oven for a few minutes to help melt the lardo over the toast. Serve immediately.

for the pasta
1 (2 lb.) lobster, steamed
12 oz. strozzapreti pasta
3 TB butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 c. heavy cream
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
3 TB parsley, chopped

Crack open the lobster and pull the meat from the shell and coarsely chop. Reserve the tomalley. 
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook as directed.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and once melted, the garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, after about 30 seconds to 1 minute, add the heavy cream to the pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring often. Add the salt, pepper, and tomalley to the sauce. Continue to cook until the cream thickens, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce along with the lobster meat and parsley. Stir until well mixed and lobster meat is just warmed through and serve.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sauteed Giant Prawns

There are days when I head to the market with no real dinner direction in mind. I hope that something I come across will speak to me and help me to create a delicious, soulful meal. At times I am lucky and inspiration strikes: the meal comes together thanks to one gorgeous bunch of kale or a perfectly red cut of beef calling my name. Other days I am stuck--wandering back and forth between the aisles, pulling out items that could be tasty, but unsure of how to bring them cohesively together. Those times when I go to the store completely starving without a list are definitely the hardest: I crave almost every other thing I see and the hungry/foggy brain can't distinguish between real inspiration and just the need to eat something right away.

Luckily this particular trip to the store revealed to me these absolutely gorgeous, massive prawns. They were longer than my hand and so plump: I knew immediately they would be the star of the show.

Though these beauties didn't really need any accompaniment besides a bit of salt and pepper and a minute in a hot pan, I wanted to dress them up just a bit. I created a marinade with meyer lemons and garlic with fresh herbs that complimented without overpowering the shrimps' flavors.

I served these tapas style (a perfect fall-back when you aren't quite sure what to do for dinner), with a bit of bread and cheese, huevos rellenos, and sauteed mushrooms on the side. But they were so decadent that I think next time I'll just pair them with a simple salad and bread to sop up all the juices.

Sauteed Giant Prawns
serves 2

1 lb. extra large prawns
1 meyer lemon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 TB chopped fresh parsley
1 t. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper

Zest the meyer lemon into a small bowl, then mix in the garlic, parsley, oregano, paprika and extra virgin olive oil.
Clean the shrimp: Slice along the back of the shrimp about 1/8" thick and then rinse under running water to remove the black vein running along the back. I then like to remove part of the shell, leaving just the tail and the head part on.
Pour the marinade over the shrimp. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cover the shrimp with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once it is almost smoking add the shrimp in a single layer (you may need to work in batches to not overcrowd the pan). Sear on both sides until the shrimp is just barely cooked through, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove the cooked shrimp to a platter and squeeze the meyer lemon juice all over top. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Beer Braised Mussels

Ever since the husband and I booked our plane tickets to Paris I have been obsessed. All I want to do is read the guidebook, read blogs, study menus, study French, watch French films, and plan, plan, plan. My excitement for the trip has me in overdrive on this one particular focus, leaving other things (such as doing my taxes, or this blog) behind.

In trying not to completely OD on Paris info, I'm finally back here to post a simple recipe for moules, er, I mean mussels. Mussels make for an excellent weeknight meal since once they are cleaned they are so very fast to cook. If you want to save yourself some prep time in the evening go ahead and clean and debeard the mussels in the morning and then pop them back in the fridge so they are ready to go come evening. Here's a helpful little guide to cleaning them from The Kitchn.

This version has a lot of great, classic flavors that I amped up a bit with the addition of Diesel Beer from Sixpoint. It's part IPA and part stout (delicious) and one of the husband's favorites so we've had it on hand a lot lately and will be sad when it's "season" is over. If you can get your hands on a few cans I'd highly recommend it, but otherwise just substitute a beer with a lot of flavor that you love.


Beer Braised Mussels
2 servings
2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded
2 slices thick cut bacon (or 4 slices regular bacon)
4 TB butter
1 TB rosemary, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 oz. beer

Heat a large stock pot or Dutch oven (a large pot with a lid) over medium heat. Chop the bacon into 1/2" pieces and add to the hot pan. Stir and saute until the bacon is cooked through and crispy. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate, leaving the grease in the pan.
Add the butter to the pan and allow to melt. Then add the rosemary and garlic and stir for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, until they are fragrant. Add the beer to the pan (careful as it will steam a lot). Scrape up any bits of bacon that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan as you stir and cook the beer down for about 2-3 minutes. The beer should be boiling and now you will add the cleaned mussels to the pan. Give them a quick stir and then put the lid on the pan. You will want to cook them somewhere between 3-8 minutes--basically until most of the mussels are just opened. You don't want to keep cooking them once they have opened because they will get tough.
Pour the mussels and the juices into a large, deep-sided serving platter. Sprinkle with the bacon. Serve immediately with crusty bread for dipping.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Latest Over at Pine Tar Press

With football season now is swing, it's the perfect opportunity to head on over and check out what I've been posting on "Batter Up and Fry: Tailgating Treats" for Pine Tar Press.

Panzanella Salad

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Baked Clams

Chicago Dog Spread

Baked Beans

"Beaver Nuggets"

Tailgating Gear

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Inspiration from around the Web

The world has been offering up some truly inspiring recipes these days, so I thought it was high time I passed on a few recipes from others that I've loved lately so you can get in on the delicious action. These are all foods that will find their way onto my table again and again.

April Bloomfield's Oyster Pan Roast (from John Dory Oyster Bar)--if I died today, I would be happy that at least I had gotten the chance to eat this. One of the best dishes I've had, perhaps ever. This recipe from the NYT gets you pretty close to the actual dish served at the restaurant. I'd add a bit of butter at the end to finish it off.
Honestly, though? Just buy A Girl and Her Pig already. There's not a bad thing I've tried from this one and it is all simple, lovely fare that you can't get enough of (yes, even the veal kidneys. No lie.).

While we are on the subject of cookbooks--please also pick up a copy of Plenty from London's Ottonlenghi. You won't ever struggle with eating vegetables ever again. One of the best cookbook purchases I've ever made.

Corn with Miso Butter and Bacon from Savour Fare. She takes a slightly complex David Chang recipe and simplifies it so it is a breeze to prepare and let me tell you--you will be buying every ear of corn you see from here on out to make this again and again.

So, so easy refrigerator pickles from A Way to Garden. For some reason the husband and I have been on a pickle binge and these may be the best ones yet.

Brown Butter Tomatoes from food52. Can you even call this a recipe? Somehow, though, the caramel notes of the cooked butter coating the fresh tomatoes will make this one of the greatest simple treats you've tasted all summer long.

What have you been loving lately?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Monkfish and Roasted Garlic Chickpea Fries


What a gorgeous, gorgeous spring we have been having. Today is especially beautiful. One of the best parts of this weather is the way it makes me feel inspired to be immensely productive. On cold, rainy, dreary days I want nothing more than to curl up on the couch with a book or a good movie, but the fresh, clean air and sunlight give me the energy and drive to get things done.

 My kitchen got a much needed spring cleaning. You don’t want to know how old some of the items in my cupboards were. How refreshing to finally have a bit more space and only usable, fresh products on the shelves.

The mild winter and lovely spring have made me stick with my running. I’ve been hitting 30 miles a week for most of the winter and closer to 35 the past few weeks. It’s been amazing coming into the spring fit and able to just work on bumping up the miles and the pace instead of having to regain lost fitness due to laziness or injury recovery as in years past.

I’ve also been consistently expanding my culinary horizons—cooking a lot, reading a ton, exploring cookbooks and blogs, constantly trying to create new meals and menus. And my New Year’s resolution to try something new in the kitchen every month led me in March to cooking up some monkfish fillets. The technique was nothing out of the ordinary or difficult, but it is an ingredient that I have never used and has always slightly scared me (I mean, have you seen those things whole? Terrifying. I just scared myself again looking at that picture).

However, one evening the husband and I were having a sushi dinner in our neighborhood and ordered the monkfish liver duo to try something different. It was delicious and led to a discussion about what the actual fish meat tasted like. The very next Saturday I discovered that the fishmonger at the greenmarket actually carries monkfish so decided it was time to find out.

The flavor is actually much milder than I expected—no overtly fishy tones. The meat is a heartier fish, much more like salmon or lobster. I think it would make a great gateway fish for those who don’t eat a lot of seafood.

In my research on how to cook the monkfish I found that Jamie Oliver suggests salting the fish and letting it sit in the fridge for an hour or so to leech out some of the milky liquid, which will help it to get a good sear on the outside (as opposed to essentially steaming in its own juices that would be released into the pan otherwise). Am not sure how big of a difference this makes, but the fish was flavorful all the way through, so it couldn’t hurt to do so yourself if for no other reason than to allow the salt to absorb. For an added burst of flavor I topped off our fillets with tart and garlicky mojo sauce, but it would be equally as delicious with a lemon-butter sauce as well. The chickpea fries were a creamy, pleasing accompaniment. 


Seared Monkfish with Mojo
2 servings

2 monkfish fillets
celery salt
salt and pepper
1 TB olive oil 
mojo recipe

Sprinkle the monkfish fillets with a bit of celery salt, salt and pepper. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about an hour to help draw out some of the moisture to help the fillets get a better sear.
Preheat oven to 425.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a cast iron skillet. Once hot, add the monkfish fillets, skin side down. Sear for a couple of minutes until browned and crispy on the skin side, then carefully flip over. Immediately turn off the heat on the stovetop and place the cast iron pan with fillets inside in the oven. Cook for about 6-8 minutes, or until the fish is completely cooked through. Serve topped with the mojo.

Roasted Garlic Chickpea Fries
serves 4
1 head roasted garlic*
1 c. chickpea flour
2 c. water
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained; optional
salt and pepper
cooking oil

*To make the roasted garlic: Cut the top 1/4" or so off of a whole head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Rub with a bit of olive oil and then wrap the whole head in foil. Cook in a 400 degree oven until tender, about 30-35 minutes.

Place the  chickpea flour, water, extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt into a medium saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Stir until just a little thick, but not dry, about 3-4 minutes and then remove from the heat. Squeeze in the roasted garlic cloves and add salt and pepper as necessary to season. If desired, add the 1/4 c. of whole chickpeas (crushed a bit with a fork) to the chickpea flour mixture if you would like a bit of added texture.
Spread this mixture into a 9X9" pan. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least an hour or up to overnight.
Cut the chickpea mixture into smaller shapes--rectangles, squares, triangles--whatever suits your fancy. Heat about 1" of cooking oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering and add a layer of the chickpea fries (do not overcrowd the pan. You will probably need to work in 2-3 batches). Cook until nicely browned and crispy on all sides, taking care when turning them as they are delicate. Once browned all over remove to a paper towel lined plate. Serve immediately.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Italian Feast: Mushroom Bruschetta, Orecchiette, Sardines, Panna Cotta

Sometimes I desperately wish that I had that woman in my life who taught me how to make gorgeous bread or pasta from scratch as a very young child. Don't get me wrong--my mom made so many things homemade--egg noodles for chicken soup, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, and always let me help and learn, but she isn't descended from a long line of Italians who passed down the tradition of beautiful ravioli or thin tagliatelle that is made without even having to measure out the ingredients onto the counter top. And I never moved to Italy and found an "adopted grandmother" who would show me her trade, patiently guiding my clumsy hands through the work over and over again until they finally found the pasta rhythm.

Therefore my homemade pasta tends to turn out thick and oh-so-indelicate. You can't see the filling through the ravioli because I haven't had the patience to let it rest so it actually rolls out thinly (instead of just shrinking back to its thicker self as I roll it out too soon). My hot hands make the orecchiette stick to my fingers instead of rolling smoothly off, making every shape in the world besides the ear shape they should be.

But these downfalls don't keep me from trying. I figure eventually practice will have to win out and someday I won't feel ashamed to host a dinner party featuring a pile of my own handmade pasta as the centerpiece. Someday.

Unfortunately that day is not today. After reading Gabrielle Hamilton's raw, honest Blood, Bones and Butter I wanted nothing more than to prepare an Italian feast--complete with homemade pasta. Since we had no dinner parties to speak of coming up, it was a special weeknight dinner prepared for just two.

The farmer's market gave me the initial inspiration with all of the flavorful sausages available at this time of year and the mounds of kale. Traditional orrechiette it was. The mushroom stall also called my name and I couldn't resist the oyster and maitakes, which would become a simple bruschetta appetizer. In my search for lobster the other week, I noticed Whole Foods had some really nice looking fresh sardines, so they went onto the list as well, with my plans to top them with the pesto I had made and frozen this summer. The whole meal was finished off by a simple and clean panna cotta topped with a freezer strawberry jam I also packed away during the warmer months.

The orrechiette making ended up being a bit of a disaster. I used an all-purpose flour from the farmer's market, which I thought would be nice, but it has more whole wheat which actually made the pasta dough too thick and not as smooth. As I said before, my hot hands also make shaping the little ears very difficult. I ended up with a lot of very thick, just barely concave disks but went through with the pasta course anyways. Despite it not being quite right and too chewy, the dish still tasted incredible--spicy from the sausage and just enough crispy bite from the kale.

The rest of the meal though was just right. Not too much (I actually somehow made small enough quantities that we had very few leftovers) and the flavors were harmonious in their simplicicty. The sardines were even delicious--we don't eat a lot of oily, fishy fish and I am trying to break us in. Topped off with this spiced pesto is the way to go if you are trying sardines for the first time! And panna cotta is always a wonderful way to end a big meal as it is light and never too filling.

It was a meal I feel my imaginary Italian nonna would be proud of. And one day, I know my orecchiette will roll off my fingers as easily as they do hers.

Mushroom Ricotta Bruschetta

French bread
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
zest from 1 lemon
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper

1/2 lb mushrooms (mixture of oyster and maitake), chopped
4 TB butter
1 clove garlic
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 t. fresh rosemary, chopped

Slice the French bread into slices about 1/2-3/4" thick and lightly toast. Set aside.
In a small bowl mix together the ricotta, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add the chopped mushrooms. Saute, stirring occasionally until they are nicely browned. Then add the butter and garlic to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes until the butter is melted and the garlic is fragrant. Then add the salt, pepper and rosemary to the pan and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Spread the toasted French bread with a bit of  the ricotta mixture and top off with a good heap of the sauteed mushrooms and serve.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale

Homemade Orecchiette Recipe Here
Here's a video of a woman making beautiful orecchiette
(I doubled the Orecchiette recipe above to make enough for leftovers)
4 hot Italian sausage links, meat removed from casing
4 c. chopped kale
1 clove garlic
1/2 stick of butter
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Boil the orecchiette according to directions.
Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meat and saute until cooked through, breaking the meat up into small pieces as it cooks.
Add the chopped kale to the pan and cook until slightly crispy, about 4 minutes (before adding the kale you may need to add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the pan if the sausage did not release a lot of its own fat).
Add the garlic and butter to the pan and cook until the butter melts and the garlic is fragrant. Then toss the whole mess with the cooked orecchiette. Top off with a bit of Parmesan cheese if desired and serve.

Fresh Sardines in a Spicy Pesto
serves 2

4 fresh sardines, cleaned
salt and pepper
1/4 c. pesto
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 t. paprika
1/4 t. red chili flakes
1 TB fresh lemon juice

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Pat the sardines dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside while making the sauce and allowing the skillet to heat up.
In a small bowl mix together the pesto, extra virgin olive oil, paprika, chili flakes and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
Once the skillet is hot, add the sardines in a single layer. Sear and cook for about 3 minutes or so per side, until the skin is charred and the flesh is just cooked through. Then carefully remove the sardines to a platter and top off with the pesto sauce to serve.

Panna Cotta
For easy, fast, simply delicious panna cotta use David Lebovitz's recipe Here

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Carbonara with Bottarga

It is hot. Like, grab a book and go lie on the floor of the supermarket in the freezer section hot. Almost too hot to type. So I'll keep this short.

Don't turn on the oven. Don't stand over the stove for long periods of time stirring a pot. Put some water on to boil, throw in some spaghetti, cook for a few minutes. Turn off the stove ASAP. Then toss that pasta with some eggs, cheese, butter and some of that pasta cooking water. Eat. Lock yourself in your bedroom with the door shut and your window unit blasting until you need the blanket to keep warm. Avoid going out into the blazing sun at all costs.

Carbonara is one of my favorite fast meals on the nights where I haven't planned dinner or don't have a lot of time but still want something satisfying and rich. I've made it many times, but think this particular version was the best yet. Top it off with grated mullet bottarga (cured fish roe) for a unique flavor punch.

Spaghetti Carbonara with Bottarga
4-5 servings

9 oz. spaghetti
6 TB butter
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 large eggs
1 1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
3/4 c. grated parmesan
juice of 1 lemon
grated bottarga

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and a little extra virgin olive oil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package directions. Before draining, reserve around 1/2 c. of the pasta cooking water.

In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat with the sliced garlic. Once melted and the garlic is fragrant, remove from the heat.

In a small bowl beat together the eggs and fresh ground pepper.

After the pasta has finished cooking and is drained, return to the pan and add about 1/8 c. of the pasta cooking water. Then add the garlic butter and toss together. Next turn on the heat to low and add the egg  mixture and lemon juice and toss until the pasta is well coated, stirring quickly and constantly. If the "sauce" needs to be thinned out a little add a touch more of the pasta cooking water. Finally toss in the Parmesan cheese and then remove from the heat. Serve topped with the grated bottarga.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chickpeas with Chorizo and Squid

I often dream of living right on the beach. I feel so at home there with the sand between my toes, the salty breeze, and the constant sound of the waves crashing. Perhaps odd for a girl raised smack in the middle of the country with no ocean in sight, but I think there is something reminiscent of the wind rolling through the tall prairie grasses and the huge open sky that just calls to me. I always feel a sense of calm wash over me whenever I find myself near the coast. In my dreams of my beach-side home I imagine a chill day, starting with a run along the water, and where later even if I am working it is at a relaxed pace. There would be the promise of an evening listening to the water on the back porch with wine in hand or of a bonfire in the sand with many friends. I think I would make something like this for dinner. So quick to put together (15 minutes tops) and delicious with uber-fresh seafood and a kick of heat from the chorizo. Because who wants to spend all night cooking when you could be enjoying your beach??

Chickpeas with Chorizo and Squid
4 servings

1 lb. cleaned squid
4 links chorizo
1 28 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 t. coarse sea salt
1 lemon

Rinse the squid in cold water and then pat dry with paper towels. Score one side of each of the squid bodies with a couple of slashes of your knife.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the squid in a single layer (doing multiple batches if necessary). The squid will cook very quickly, about 45 seconds-1 minute per side. Once cooked through (hopefully with a little char), remove the squid to a plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Squeeze the chorizo out of the casing into the hot skillet (discard the casings). Saute until cooked through and then add the chickpeas. Stir quickly and cook until the chickpeas are heated through and then remove the skillet from the heat.
Plate the chorizo/chickpea mixture and then drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Top off with the squid and squeeze the juice of the lemon over top just before serving.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Apple Smoked Scallops

Sometimes not having a clue what to make for dinner can turn in happy results. Yesterday I went by the grocery store after my run to pick up something to make for supper but had no clue what I would be making. I decided the seafood was looking pretty good and so picked up some scallops. As I was waiting for the fishmonger, I noticed that they had different types of wood chips for sale in front of the fish counter. Hmm. Smoked scallops? Could I pull it off inside my kitchen? Why not try it out?

I decided to take advantage of the broiler pan that I have (that hasn't ever actually left the broiler of my oven). I pulled it out and washed it off, then laid the scallops in a single layer on the top slotted piece. I placed soaked applewood chips in the bottom, topped it off with aluminum foil to keep the smoke inside without getting out and placed it on the burners on my stove top. I have to say it worked pretty darn well. The scallops ended up with a lovely smoky flavor and were still wonderfully tender.And my house still smells like smoky scallops today (although is this a good thing or a bad thing? Everytime I walk in the door I am craving more...). I think I'll be using this method for a few different types of fish (oysters?, shrimp?, fish fillets?), but I doubt it would work too well for anything that needs hours of slow-smoking time like beef or pork.

I made a simple sauce of apple cider and oregano to drizzle over and add to the slightly sweet notes already present in the scallops and served them alongside bacon-sauteed ramps and teeny-tiny roasted patty pan squash. A pretty nice homage to spring if you ask me.

Apple Smoked Scallops with Cider Glaze
serves 2
1 lb. diver scallops, cleaned
2 c. applewood chips
salt and pepper
1 c. apple cider
1 t. dried oregano
1 TB butter

Place the applewood chips in a large bowl and cover with water. Allow to sit for at least one hour.
Bring the scallops out of the fridge about 15 minutes before cooking.

Drain the wood chips and place them into the base of a broiler pan. Grease the top piece of a broiler pan and lay out the scallops on the top. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place the top back onto the bottom of the broiler pan and then cover tightly with aluminum foil, leaving some space above the top of the scallops and the aluminum foil (try to make sure the smoke will stay inside the foil and not escape through any holes). Place the broiler pan over two burners on a gas stove and turn them both on to medium high heat. Cook the scallops until cooked through but not too tough, about 20 minutes (probably closer to 25 minutes for large scallops and 15 minutes for small ones).

While the scallops are smoking prepare the cider sauce. Heat the apple cider in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook until it has reduced by half. Stir in the oregano and some salt and pepper, then stir in the butter until it is melted. Serve the sauce drizzled over top of the smoked scallops.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Whole Roasted Branzino

I always have had a fear of cooking seafood. I don't really know why. Maybe growing up so far from the ocean and never having it fresh made it seem difficult and scary. But it is seriously one of the easiest things to do, it looks impressive when you do it, and it is hard to make it taste bad unless you overcook it.
I had it in my head that I was ready to cook a whole fish. I got out of bed early one morning after a late night at work and walked to the greenmarket in temps that felt around 0 degrees to pick something up from the regular fishmonger. Who wasn't there. I was sad (and freezing) but still determined to cook a whole fish so decided this time around I'd go to a local market that carries really fresh, nice looking seafood and give it a go. They had a beautiful branzino (sea bass) that was just over 1 pound, perfect for a nice entree for Joe and I. I took it home and within half an hour had the dish ready to go. Simple and fast. And yummy. I can't wait for the fishmonger to come back to the market so I can try this again, maybe with some different stuffings and different fish.

Whole Roasted Branzino
2 servings
3 TB olive oil, divided
1 1-1 1/2 lb. whole branzino, cleaned and scaled
salt
fresh ground pepper
3-4 thin slices of lemon
3 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat a large skillet over high heat with 1 TB of the olive oil. Prepare a sheet pan by topping with a sheet of parchment paper. Rub the branzino all over, inside and out, with the remaining olive oil. Then sprinkle generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the inside of the branzino with the lemon, rosemary, thyme and garlic cloves.
Once the skillet is hot but the oil is not quite smoking, sear the branzino on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Carefully transfer the fish to the prepared sheet pan and place in the preheated oven. Roast until the fish is cooked through and the flesh is flaky, about 10 minutes. Fillet the fish and serve half to each person, or serve the fish whole at the table and pick it apart together.

Optional: Serve lemon wedges alongside to squeeze over top of the finished fish. Or drizzle the fish fillets with high quality extra virgin olive oil.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Celeriac Soup with Scallops

I miss blogging.
Honestly though, the break has been nice. Being able to just make dinner and not have to worry about writing down every ingredient's measurements and not worrying about trying to take photos. Just cooking, pouring a glass of wine and sitting down to savor the meal with my husband. I've enjoyed it.

It's also been great to step back and take a look at what I'm doing here on the blog. Is it something that I want to continue with? What purpose does it serve? Does anyone even read it? (and even if they don't, do I care?)

I haven't come to any grand conclusions but I know that this blog serves a purpose, even if it is just for me. It makes me put thought into what I'm cooking and inspires me to try new things. And by putting down recipes I have a record for when I want to try them again, which I love. In the past I would just try to remember and guess what went into my recipes and the results weren't always stellar! And, perhaps, someone else out there will find something useful among the mess. Really, isn't the best part of cooking and food is how it can bring people together? The joy of sharing it with one another? Learning from one another? So I will plod on. The posts may stay few and far between for a bit, but I will continue to return because food and its community are my passion.

This celeriac soup is basic and straightforward yet completely satisfying. It reminds one that with great ingredients, simplicity in cooking is rewarded. Joe and I had this dish at Eleven Madison Park for our anniversary dinner and it was so beautiful there that I had to try to recreate it at home. It may not have lived up quite to the restaurant's standards, but was delicious nonetheless. The addition of scallops is unnecessary, but lends a luxurious touch and makes the dish hearty enough to be an entree. Next time I prepare this I will add sauteed shallots and garlic for extra flavor, but for a simpler approach it is not necessary.

Celeriac Soup with Scallops
(serves 5-6)
3 small bulbs celeriac, peeled and chopped
2-3 c. chicken stock
1-2 c. water
salt and pepper
1 t. celery salt
1 t. season salt
1 c. heavy cream
2 TB butter
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
6 large diver scallops, cooked
2 TB Olive oil

Place the celeriac, stock, and water in a large pot. You want enough liquid to cover the celeriac. Bring to a boil and simmer until celeriac is tender, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat. Push the celeriac through a ricer back into the stock and water or use an immersion blender to blend all of the ingredients together. If the soup is very thick, add water to bring to consistency of your liking (remembering that you will be adding cream as well). Add celery salt, season salt, and pepper. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a simmer. Stir in the heavy cream. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in the butter and serve over the cooked scallops with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What I ate today...(and Baked Clams)

...at the internship:

Peanut butter cookies
6 different types of cheese
Meat Pies
Potica
Homemade Oreos
(plus some snacks I brought from home)
I also brought home some Indian seasoning packets, Cajun seasoning, hickory oil, and a garlic grating plate.

How I'm still hungry now, I'll never guess. This new job rocks. I am, however, going to turn into a rolly-polly. I always feel like I'm going to miss out if I don't try one of the samples/test kitchen trials that come in. I better learn some self-restraint.

Last night I made the most amazing baked clams. So good, in fact, that Joe and I decided we wanted to eat them every day for the next two weeks. There are no photos because I'm lazy, but I guarantee you that you will love these (and they are pretty when they are all toasted up!). Please, please use fresh breadcrumbs! I know that I have always ignored this note myself, but I promise it makes a huge difference in the flavor of these guys.

Baked Clams
3 dozen clams
1 1/2 c. FRESH breadcrumbs
1/4 c. chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
6 TB butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Clean the clams thoroughly. Open the clams and leave the meat on one shell, discarding the other. (NOTE: It is difficult to open the clams this way. If you prefer, steam them just until they open--no longer--and then discard the top shell. Cook the clams as little as possible when doing this because they get another chance to cook in the oven).
Mix together the breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and Parmesan. Melt the butter and stir into the breadcrumb mixture, it should just be barely damp. Top each clam with about a teaspoon or two of the breadcrumb mixture and press into the clam shell. Place in a baking dish and continue with each clam.
Bake the clams for about 5 minutes, then turn on the broil and cook until the breadcrumb mixture begins to darken and brown. Serve immediately.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Seared Scallops with Herb Drizzle and Broccolini

In our new apartment (can I still call it that after almost 3 months??) we live very close to the beautiful, large Brooklyn Public Library. While wandering around it one day I stumbled across dvds of "The French Chef". So, let's just say I've been watching a lot of old school cooking television lately.

The great thing about watching Julia Child cooking these recipes is that it really seems to take away the fear and complication of cooking these French recipes. I know that is what she was going for when writing "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" but sometimes the length and detail that goes into those written recipes is a little intimidating. When you watch her, though, you understand that many of the recipes are just cooking basics and there is so much room for substitution if necessary or different ways of doing just about everything. Despite the fact that most people consider French cooking "fancy" or "complicated", watching these episodes are making me more and more confident in going back to basics and sticking with simplicity. Because, really, most of the best meals are the most elemental.

So that brings me to this meal. Not French, but inspired by a woman who taught us to not be afraid in the kitchen and to try new things. The scallops are simply (but perfectly--seriously: crispy layer and creamy interior) seared and served with a refreshing herb drizzle and the broccolini is sauteed with some simple flavoring. Who needs to go out to a restaurant when you can eat like this at home?

Seared Scallops with Fresh Herb Drizzle
8 diver scallops
salt and pepper
2-3 TB Olive oil
1-2 TB good quality extra virgin olive oil

juice from 2 limes
1/4 c. cilantro, finely minced
2 TB mint, finely minced
1 TB finely minced shallots
salt and pepper
1/3 c. olive oil

In a small bowl mix together the lime juice, cilantro, mint, shallots and salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Set sauce aside.
Heat 2-3 TB olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot (but not smoking), salt and pepper each side of the scallops and add 4 to the saute pan. Allow to cook until crispy on each side, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside and cook the other 4 scallops in the same manor.
Drizzle the scallops with the good-quality extra virgin olive oil and then serve with the cilantro-mint sauce.

Sauteed Broccolini
2 bundles of broccolini
2 TB butter
2 TB olive oil
1 t. fennel seed powder
1 t. celery salt
salt and pepper
1-2 TB good quality extra virgin olive oil

Heat the butter and regular olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the broccolini. Sprinkle with fennel seed powder and celery salt and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chicken Bacon Ranch Wraps, Tuna and Shrimp Ceviche

I've been rocking the NYC road racing scene lately. In the last week I ran a PR in both a 10K in Central Park and a 3 mile race through Wall Street. Don't get the wrong idea--I'm not in the front of the pack by a long stretch--but I am getting better and racing faster each time! It's all about beating myself. :) And next weekend I'll be racing in the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I'm always excited when I get to race in the borough I call home--especially when the race ends at Coney Island (do I hear Nathan's Famous calling my name as a post-race snack??).

Usually after a race we'll get a bagel and an apple. I am always starving after a race, regardless of how long it is and I'll devour that bagel right away, then get home, eat some more, take a nap and then eat again. I feel like I deserve eating about 5 or 6 meals a day after running early in the morning. The Wall Street 3 mile race last week, however, was an evening race. We got a roll instead of a bagel (one of those really sweet rolls that I remember eating at the cafeteria in grade school) and a choice of a banana or an apple. As we were passing through the food line I saw that they were handing us something else as well--a package of whole grain tortillas. Yeah, they handed us a package of tortillas after the race. I don't know why, but at least I had an idea for dinner later on in the week!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Wraps
3 chicken breast supremes, cooked and shredded
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 c. chopped lettuce
1 tomato, diced
1/2 c. shredded cheddar
1/2 c. ranch dressing
salt and pepper
4 whole grain tortillas

In a large bowl mix together the chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, ranch dressing and salt and pepper to taste. Right before serving spread 1/4 of the mixture into each tortilla, wrap up, and serve.

Tuna and Shrimp Ceviche
20 small cooked shrimp
.5 lb sashimi grade tuna
1/2 cucumber
1 avocado
1 mango
1/2 c. papaya
4 green onions, minced
2 TB chopped cilantro
1 t. soy sauce
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/2 c. lime juice

Remove the tails from the shrimp and cut each shrimp in half. Place in a large bowl. Chop the tuna, cucumber, avocado, mango and papaya into 1/2" cubes. Place into the bowl with the shrimp. Toss together with the green onions, cilantro, soy sauce, lemon juice and lime juice. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter Menu, Part 1: Appetizers

So, as promised, the Easter menu spread will be unfolding a little slowly. I made a lot and to put it all into one post would just be overwhelming!


Can I just say that I love planning dinner parties like this? I sit for weeks beforehand drawing up menus, printing off recipes, making lists for shopping trips, preparing a detailed step-by-step guide to when to start what. I would do this every weekend if I had the money for it.

Here is the menu I used for this gathering:
Appetizers
Endive Spears with ricotta and arugula pesto
Huevos Rellenos
Main Course
Milk braised pork shoulder
Fennel, citrus, blue cheese salad with sherry vinaigrette
Focaccia
Dessert
Mini Mojito Dump Cakes
"Tiger's Blood" Ice Cream

A couple of notes: I don't have pictures of everything I made (I'm bad about doing that when there are people around and we are all talking/drinking/having a good time). And I made a TON of food, so depending on how many people you have you probably want to cut back on portions a little. I'm also really bad about actually measuring things, so play around with quantity a bit because these measurements are probably not quite accurate.

Endive Spears with Ricotta and Arugula pesto
6 heads of endive
lemon juice
salt and pepper
1 large container ricotta cheese (32oz?)
1/3 c. fresh fennel fronds, finely chopped
1 c. of arugula pesto (recipe below)

Separate each individual leaf from the heads of endive until you get down to the very small leaves in the center. Wash and dry the leaves, then arrange on a large platter. Sprinkle with a little bit of lemon juice and salt and pepper.
In a bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, chopped fennel fronds, and some salt and pepper to taste. Spread each of the endive spears with some ricotta mixture and then spread on top some of the arugula pesto.
You can prep the ingredients in advance for this dish, but do not assemble until it is close to serving time as the endive will wilt slightly.

Arugula Pesto
1 bag arugula (about 2 1/2 c.)
1 c. chopped or shredded pecorino cheese
1 c. walnuts
4 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
1-1 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until finely chopped and mixed together well. Start off with the smallest amount of olive oil and add more as needed to bring the pesto together and to desired consistency.

Huevos Rellenos
(Spanish Deviled Eggs)
18 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
6 oz. tomato sauce
2 cans of tuna
1/4-1/3 c. of mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Cut each of the eggs in half and remove the yolks to a mixing bowl. To the mixing bowl and the remainder of the ingredients. Mix together well, adding salt and pepper or more mayo as needed. Refill the hole of each egg white with the yolk mixture.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Taramasalata

I promise I have not fallen off the face of the earth. If you are still out there, please don't give up on me! I will get back into this blogging thing soon. I have a lot of posts built up that I need to get down, I just haven't had the time. We did a reading of one of Joe's plays last weekend (and it went really well!), and we are getting ready to move. Spent a lot of time apartment hunting and now that we've found a place I am spending a lot of time getting things prepped for the actual move. I can't wait to start blogging from the new kitchen! It's actually smaller than my current kitchen (if that is possible), but it is open and so much less claustrophobic. And we'll be buying an island to give me some more counter space. Can't wait.
I made this taramasalata for an Oscar party (just to tell you how far behind I am). It is a creamy mixture made almost in the style of mayonnaise and it is perfect paired with some pita bread. In all the versions I've seen the roe is completely broken up. But I wanted some whole roe in there, too, so I made sure to leave some out to add at the end. I was really looking forward to making this with a really smoky salmon roe. When I bought it at Russ and Daughters, they told me it is smoked, but it doesn't have the flavor I was hoping for. I was hoping for the smoky, amazing roe like I had on top of a fish at the wedding I went to in Mendocino last October. When I find that flavorful salmon roe someday I will make this again.

Taramasalata
(adapted from "The Joy of Cooking")
1 c. riced potatoes*
2 TB olive oil
1/2 c. salmon roe
(+ 1/4 c. more salmon roe for stirring in at end)
1 garlic clove
1 TB chopped onion
3 TB lemon juice
1/2 cl olive oil
1 TB finely chopped parsley

(*for riced potatoes, peel and boil potatoes until tender and push through a ricer)
Toss the hot riced potatoes with 2 TB olive oil.
Beat 1/2 c. salmon roe with onion and garlic and then beat in the potatoes along with lemon juice. Drop by drop beat in the 1/2 c. olive oil until mixture is the consistency of a heavy cream sauce. Add 1/4 c. whole salmon roe and parsley. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Herb and Prosciutto Scallops

First up, I would like to commend all of you bloggers that have been able to update your blogs over the holidays. I just don't know how you have the time. I, however, just continue to slack off on my poor blog. Maybe I should make a New Years Resolution for how often to update this thing...but I'd never keep it.

One resolution I've had, and will continue to have, is to try new things in the kitchen. For the coming year I've decided to choose a bunch of traditional/classic recipes to focus on in order to better understand some basic cooking methods. And I'll continue to make up new recipes. These resolutions are easy to keep. I've always got a lot of new things bouncing around in my head--and there's always inspiration to be had by just wandering around the grocery store when I have no clear idea of what to make. That's where these Herb and Prosciutto Scallops came from.

These are so easy to make but feel fancy--especially with the balsamic reduction drizzled over top. And they feel a little more so when served next to this Bagna Cauda with artichokes and Belgian endive:


Herb and Prosciutto Scallops
(with Balsamic Reduction)
3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 TB butter

6 TB butter
1 t. thyme
1 t. sage
1 t. rosemary
14 U10 scallops
7 slices prosciutto

Heat the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the vinegar heats up turn down the heat to just keep the vinegar from bubbling. Stir occasionally. Cook until the balsamic has reduced and is a good drizzling consistency, about 40 minutes. Stir in the cold butter right at the end of cooking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the thyme, sage and rosemary and mix together with the butter. Rub the herb butter all over the scallops. Take 1/2 of each slice of prosciutto and wrap around the outside of each scallop. Place scallops in a baking dish and bake about 12-15 minutes. Turn the oven up to broil and broil the scallops for about 5 minutes, or until the prosciutto is crispy. Serve drizzled with the balsamic reduction.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Aromatic White Trout Fillets

My husband isn't a huge seafood fan (at least he didn't used to be--I'm slowly training him ;-) ) so I don't cook a lot of it in our house. But occasionally I get a big craving for it and have to make it anyways. On this particular night I made the fish for myself and made the hubster a big steak so I could indulge in my seafood craving.

This recipe is light and simple, but full of flavor and very fresh tasting. The oil and leftover veggies/aromatics are great on top of the fish and would also be good on top of a light pasta or rice.

Aromatic White Trout Fillets
2 white trout fillets
3/4 c. good quality olive oil
1/2 of a lemon, sliced into thin slices
1/4 of a large head of fennel, sliced thinly
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 cloves of garlic, sliced

Heat the oil over low heat in a skillet. Add the lemon, fennel, rosemary and garlic. Allow to cook slowly until the lemons have cooked through and tender, but do not cook until the lemons completely fall apart (this should take around 12-15 minutes). Remove the lemons, fennel, rosemary and garlic from the oil and turn the heat up to medium, medium-high.
Salt and pepper the trout fillets and add to the oil when hot. Cook, turning once, until fillets are cooked through. This will not take very long, about 3-4 minutes per side (maybe less, depending on how hot your stove is--don't cook too long!).
Serve trout fillets topped with the aromatics.