January 24, 2012

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

I love clam chowder. I've always loved this lovely soup. I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't enjoy this fabulous little creation. It is to me the epitome of comfort food.

Want to know the secret a really good clam chowder? Bacon drippings! Obviously you could skip this and just use olive oil, but the flavor of the bacon really enhances the soup. What's comfort food without a little naughty? And bacon drippings are definitely naughty. Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone! ;oP

Clam chowder can be made many different ways, and I've made various types over the years, but this version is hearty, chunky, and just perfect for a cold winter day! If soup is for dinner, and you like clams, this is the soup for you!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped (Note: I used a yellow onion this go around, but I usually use red onions instead.)
8 stalks of celery, chopped
4 potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes
2 large carrots, shredded
A generous pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 a teaspoon of dried thyme
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
4 cups of water
3 bay leaves
6 - 6.5 ounce cans of clams in juice, undrained
1 - 8 ounce bottle of clam juice
1/2 a quart of half and half (Note: I usually use the fat free variety, but regular will work as well. If you want to go really crazy you can use heavy cream!)

Add a little olive oil to the bottom of a very large stock pot and place chopped bacon in the pot and saute until crisp. Remove bacon, leave the bacon drippings.

Add onion, celery and potatoes and cook until the onions and celery are just tender.

Add carrots and stir to mix. Cook for about 2 minutes.

Next add flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook for another 2 minutes, but do not let the flour brown.

Next add thyme, salt, pepper and bay leafs, along with the water and stir to mix. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered until potatoes are fork tender, usually about 30 minutes.

Add clams, clam juice and half and half and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes until soup is heated through and slightly thickened.

Remove bay leafs and serve immediately.

You can also store this soup in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a year.

Notes: You could add in corn too if you liked, for an even chunkier chowder. Leeks would also be a good addition to this soup.

Posted by Dianne at 2:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 29, 2011

Pan Fried Soft Shelled Crabs

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab

I love soft shell crabs...If they're done right! It's very easy to mess up this relatively simple dish, but when they're done properly they are just fabulous! I've had my share of bad and good fried crabs. In fact in one case over on the Eastern Shore I had a fried soft shell crab that was so bad I couldn't even finish eating it because it was just that horrible. Most of the other "bad" ones were at least edible, but in that instance it wasn't the case.

For several years I've wanted to play around with soft shell crabs, but never found any that were live so I skipped the experience. I actually found some live, soft shelled crabs late last month and I was thrilled! I bought a couple, knowing I was the only one that would eat them. Jamison doesn't like seafood (or much of anything for that fact) and Alexis won't eat something that resembles the animal it came from. I have to agree with her on that point for the most part, given I can't stand to see a fish served that still has a head. I have this thing about my food staring back at me, but that is neither here nor there at the moment.

Anyway.....

I bought a couple of live soft shelled crabs and the fish monger actually cleaned them for me. If you buy them from somewhere that you can have them cleaned for you I highly recommend you take that route. It isn't hard to do, but I think it's easier to just have it done for you. If you'd rather do it yourself Cooking Light has a very nice little tutorial on how to clean a soft shell crab that should set you in the right direction.

In my opinion there are two main ways to go wrong with soft shelled crabs: 1)You don't season them properly or 2)They are either under or over fried. I remember once hearing Emeril quip that he wasn't sure where we got our beef, but where he got his it didn't come seasoned. This is true of most anything, including crabs. You have to season them properly for them to taste good!

I've been in Maryland now for 11 years and in that time I've steadily become more and more of a Maryland girl and in my mind crabs need Old Bay! This goes for soft shell crabs when you're frying them. Have you ever heard of a Maryland crab that didn't have a little Old Bay Seasoning thrown in for good measure? Crab soup, crab dip, crab cakes, more likely than not, if these dishes originated in Maryland you're going to find Old Bay in the components of the dish. Old Bay is as big a part of Maryland as the crab or oyster themselves. Some people don't care for Old Bay, but I'm a BIG fan!

As for frying it isn't hard, but it's essential that you do it right. I love sushi, but when it comes to crabs I want them cooked properly all the way done. This isn't sushi grade salmon or tuna we're talking about here. On the flip side if you cook them too long you're going to end up with a hard, rubbery bit of nothing that is extremely hard to eat and doesn't taste like much to boot. You want to look for a lightly browned outside that when touched still has a little bit of give to it over all. It takes roughly 2-3 minutes on the 1st side you fry and then 1-2 on the second. It's quick, but don't make it too quick!

Soft shelled crabs are a tradition around here. Everyone has their own spin on this little dish and this is mine. Eat them straight up, or make a sandwich with some lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce, but either way you're in for a treat!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
Soft shelled crabs, cleaned
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1-2 tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: Use less if spicy isn't your thing.)
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat heat olive oil until hot.

While oil is heating get started on your crabs.

Beat two eggs together in a dish and set aside.

Mix together flour and Old Bary seasoning on a plate. Set aside.

If your crabs aren't cleaned (see the link above) you want to do that first:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Soft Shell Crab, Cleaned and Ready to Cook

Sprinkle cleaned crab with sea salt and black pepper and then dip in to beaten egg:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Egg Bath

Take crab from the egg mixture and dip one side into the flour mixture:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Covering the Bottom Side

Flip crab over and place the other side in the flour mixture:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Covering the Other Side

Make sure both sides are covered well by picking it up and inspecting both sides:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Coated with Flour

Place on a plate and repeat until you've coated all of your crabs:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Ready to Fry

When oil is hot place crab bottom side down and fry for 2-3 minutes:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Frying the Bottoms

Once bottoms are lightly browned flip the crab over and fry the other side for 1-2 minutes:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Frying the Tops

Fry until both sides are lightly browned:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab

Just as when you steam crabs they'll turn red and you can see it through the cooked "batter" when they're done. Remove from the oil and let drain on a paper towel lined plate for a couple of minutes and then serve.

Notes: You can do this for shrimp too. I like to serve these with seared scallops along the side.

Posted by Dianne at 3:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2011

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Garnished

I've become obsessed with grilling. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I loved to grill! But once I met Jamison I didn't grill as much because he's very picky about how his food is prepared and hates being outside.

I know, I know! Have I mentioned lately my culinary skills are lost on him?

Anyway, I'm becoming snarky at my old age of 37 and I've decided by golly I'm going to grill more often and I have been! I like to grill in the spring, fall and winter, because I'm also not so keen on the heat during the summer. I don't want to stand over a scorching grill when it's 90+ degrees outside. But really that's neither here nor there in the grand scheme of this salad, so we'll move on.

I started thinking about making a grilled salad. The idea of warm salads intrigues me, but up until this point I had not had a warm salad that I actually cared for. I like potato salad warm occasionally, right after it's been made, but that isn't really what you think about when you think about a salad.

I've heard of people grilling lettuce chunks before, but that didn't really appeal to me. I might try it someday, but for this I wanted more hearty/sturdy vegetables and definitely bread. What's not to like about bread?

I also decided I wanted some sort of grilled seafood added to the mix. Alexis and I both love shrimp and lobster so I decided to go with one of those. I had some lobster tails in the freezer so that ended up being what I went with this night. Our local store puts them on sale occasionally for $3 to $5 for a nice sized tail, so when they do I buy a few and freeze them for later use.

The lobster is really a great grilling "fish" because of its shell. You don't have to worry about putting it on a cedar plank because it will flake away on the grill like you would with a fillet of fish. When it's a bright red color it's ready to go! This usually takes 15-20 minutes depending on the heat of your grill.

So after I had the idea I started chopping and this is what resulted. This is a perfect summer time dinner that doesn't take a lot of time, but you end up with a really fabulous result. My kind of dinner!

What You'll Need for the Salad:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tomatoes cut in half
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 small package of button or baby Portabella mushrooms
1-2 bell peppers, cut into big chunks
2 carrots, cut into thick sticks
1 large zucchini, cut into big chunks
1 large red onion, cut into thick strips
1/2 loaf of day old french or Callah bread, cut into cubes
1-2 lobster tails
Grated Parmesan

First mix up your dressing and set aside:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Dressing

See the recipe below for the dressing. Shake again really well before adding to the salad.

Then sprinkle your veggies with a little sea salt and pepper and then toss with some extra virgin olive oil to thinly coat:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Veggies Ready to Grill

Next sprinkle your cubes of bread with sea salt and toss with a little olive oil as well:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Bread Tossed with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Now we're ready for the fun part...Grilling!

I like to use natural charcoal. It gives the food such a wonder flavor and it doesn't have any of the weird chemicals in them that many other brands do. I like to use Stubb's. They don't have their charcoal listed on their website, but I've found it at Lowe's.

Now to use a charcoal chimney or not?

I really love the ease of use of a charcoal chimney. You don't need lighter fluid, which is again an accelerant and who wants to add that to your food, because if you're cooking over it your food is absorbing whatever is burning underneath it.

BUT

I don't think that a charcoal chimney holds enough charcoal to actually cook something well. I like a lot of coals going beneath my food. So lately I've been using brown craft paper spread throughout the coals to use as "wicks" if you will and splash a little PGA on top of the coals to get it going. Be careful if you're using the pure grain alcohol because that stuff ignites fast and big!

Once your coals are hot you're ready to start grilling!

I like to do the "sturdier" vegetables first. The softer the vegetable is the faster it will grill. You also want to get your lobster tails on first as well. The bread will come last.

So you grill and flip:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilling

And grill and flip:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilling

And grill and flip some more:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilling

As you can see some of my veggies "jumped" into the grill because I was careless when turning them. The bigger the chunk of vegetable, the less likely you are to lose it through the slits of the grill. Live and learn as they say. Or maybe in this case it would be do and learn.

When things become done you'll remove them to a plate or platter and set them aside until the other aspects of the salad become done:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilled Lobster and Bread

When you grill the bread be careful. Each side will literally grill in 30 seconds or less over direct coals!

Once everything is grilled it's time to assemble your salad!

First place the bread in the bottom of a bowl:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Bread

Next cut the grilled tomatoes into wedges and then add to the bread:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Tomatoes

And then the mushrooms:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Mushrooms

And the bell peppers:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Bell Pepper and Carrots

Zucchini:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Zucchini

Onions:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Onions

And then add the carrots and roughly chop the lobster meat and add to the bowl as well:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Lobster

Finally sprinkle the veggies with some Parmesan:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Parmesan

And some of the dressing (see recipe below):

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Ready Toss

And it's ready to toss!

Now dig in and enjoy!

Notes on the Salad: As I mentioned above you could use shrimp in place of the lobster or even a cedar grilled salmon would be great too. I sometimes like to serve this with extra grilled vegetables as you can see in the picture at the top of the entry. You could also use grilled squash or cherry tomatoes, or whatever you like in place of, or in addition to what I used.

What You'll Need for the Dressing:
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of balsamic or champagne vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
Black pepper
1 tablespoon of dried Italian Seasoning mix
~OR~
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried basil
2 teaspoons of dried oregano

Add all ingredients to a glass jar. Put on an air tight lid and shake until mixed. Use to toss the salad.

Notes on the Dressing: You can use either type of vinegar that you like. I like to use balsamic when I want a bigger flavor punch. I use champagne when I want it a more delicate flavor.

Posted by Dianne at 1:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 7, 2010

Crawfish Gumbo

Crawfish Gumbo

Alexis and I have been exploring a lot lately. I get in these modes when it feels like there is something out there just outside of my grasp that I'm supposed to be doing, or someone I'm supposed to know, but the universe hasn't decided to share yet. The other day we were out and about, having fun, laughing and just generally enjoying ourselves as we are prone to doing and I actually found crawfish at a local market! I was thrilled!

It's been years since I had crawfish, since before Lex was born in fact. When we lived in Anne Arundel county I used to pick it up at Whole Foods now and again, but I hadn't found any this area until the other day! The ones I found were already steamed, but hey, that works! A crawfish is a crawfish after all!

Alexis had a ball playing "helping me" with the crawfish. She had them "talk" to each other, have battles and even helped me in the process of cleaning/shelling them as you can see in the pictures below where she is my demo girl for the pictures. She amuses me, which is neither here nor there, but we really do have a lot of fun together!

Anyway...

I originally thought I might make etouffee, but ultimately decided I'd rather just make a big pot of gumbo! This turned out great! I was really pleased with the result. After all what's better than a big bowl of gumbo and rice?

What You'll Need:
5-6 pounds of whole crawfish or 2-4 cups of crawfish meat
1 cup of oil (Note: You can use olive or a clear oil. I've used both in the past.)
3/4 a cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1 large bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of celery, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 quarts of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of Creole or Cajun seasoning, preferably salt free
1 - 1 lb package of frozen okra or 2-3 cups of fresh okra sliced
Cooked rice

As I mentioned the crawfish I found were already steamed. I actually popped the bag in the freezer when I bought them a couple of weeks ago because I knew I wouldn't get to them right away.

Crawfish Gumbo: Out of the Freezer

I placed the frozen crawfish in a big pot:

Crawfish Gumbo: Ready for Water

Then I covered them in water:

Crawfish Gumbo: Ready for a Quick Boil

Bring them to a quick boil covered and remove from heat. In this case these are already cooked so you don't have to cook them again, you just want to knock the chill off of them.

After about 5 minutes drain and place in a bowl to cool:

Crawfish Gumbo: Steamed Crawfish

While the crawfish are cooling let's get busy with some other aspects of the gumbo!

Chop your trinity (aka your pepper, onion and celery) and set aside:

Crawfish Gumbo: Holy Trinity

Now get to work on your roux!

Roux isn't difficult, though it has a reputation for being so. You basically have oil and flour and you cook it until it's a nutty brown. It will look golden and smell nutty. I love that smell!

Crawfish Gumbo: Roux

How gorgeous is that?

Basically you add the oil to your stock pot, stir in the flour and your salt and pepper and cook on low to medium, stirring often until you achieve the nutty color/smell.

Many recipes call for you to stir roux constantly, but I'm not going to lie to you, that's not happening with me! There are very few things I'll stir constantly, custard being the only one I can think of right off the top of my head. I stir, then chop something, then come back and stir, and then do something else. Every two minutes or so I give it a good stir for 30 seconds or so, but not constantly.

When the roux is a nutty brown (this usually take 15-45 minutes depending on your stove top) add your trinity:

Crawfish Gumbo: Holy Trinity Added to Roux

Cook stirring often until onion, pepper and celery are just tender.

Next add broth, Creole or Cajun seasoning and okra:

Crawfish Gumbo: Broth, Creole Seasoning and Okra Added

Cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.

You will add the crawfish to the pot during the last five minutes of cooking or so. Now let's see how to "clean" them!

First look at your crawfish:

Crawfish Gumbo: Crawfish

The "big" piece of meat on a crawfish is its tail. 5-6 pounds of whole crawfish sounds like a lot, but they are little and there isn't a lot of meat there! Some people like to suck the head, but I can't say that appeals to me at all.

The first thing you want to do is remove its arms. If it has big claws you might be able to get a small piece of meat out of the claw itself, but in most cases there isn't anything in there to write home about so if it's little like the one pictured above I wouldn't even bother.

Flip the craw fish over and hold it with your fingers like so:

Crawfish Gumbo: Ready to Snap

Pull down on both ends and snap the crawfish in two:

Crawfish Gumbo: Snap

It should break in to head section and tail section. Dispose of the head, unless you're one of those who enjoys that part of the crawfish.

Next hold the piece of meat that is sticking out of the shell with one hand while holding the shell with the other:

Crawfish Gumbo: Ready to Pull the Tail

Tug gently and the meat should slip right out of the shell:

Crawfish Gumbo: Tail Free

Every once in a while you'll come across a stubborn tail and you might have to crack the shell a bit, which you can easily do with your fingers, but for the most part they just slide right out.

Along the back of the crawfish tail there is a membrane and if you remove it you'll discover the vein right underneath:

Crawfish Gumbo: Vein

Give the vein a little pull and it will slide right off to be disposed of:

Crawfish Gumbo: Deveined

Place the crawfish in a bowl or container and give them a little rinse to make sure they are good and clean:

Crawfish Gumbo: Tails Cleaned

Place cleaned tails in the fridge until five minutes before servings gumbo and then add to the pot just long enough to heat through.

Serve gumbo over rice with hot sauce, chopped onions or just all by itself!

Notes: You can do this process with shrimp too.

Posted by Dianne at 1:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 14, 2010

Grown Up Tuna Casserole

Grown Up Tuna Casserole

I have to admit I didn't grow up with tuna casserole. My mom wasn't a fan, so we skipped over that version of culinary "delight" but many of my friends complained about their mother's subjecting them to the horror that was tuna casserole.

I never actually encountered a tuna casserole until the last full year I lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, which would have been 1996. I worked at this really horrible, hole in the wall sort of preschool/daycare. It was a definite step down from the preschool/daycare I had worked at before, but this place actually had a cook on staff. Most of what she made was very good, but I dreaded, as did the children, the days that tuna casserole would make an appearance on the menu. It was a sloppy, icky mess, and even back then my mind went in to gear and I thought there had to be a better way to make a tuna casserole that was actually good.

Years passed, and that little thought was filed away into the "I'll do that someday!" file and I never got around to getting back to the idea. Recently I decided it might be time to pull out that little thought, dust it off and see if I couldn't come up with something a little more sophisticated than the standard tuna casserole fare. And you know what? It worked! If you want a tuna casserole that is a little more grown up and not a big old sloppy mess, this is the casserole for you!

What You'll Need:
4 cups of uncooked egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper
1 large tuna steak
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
6-8 Crimini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 - 16 ounce package of frozen peas
1/2 cup of half and half
1/3 cup of light sour cream
1 cup of Parmesan
Harvati cheese, shredded
Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cook egg noodles, drain and set aside:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Egg Noodles

In skillet add a little extra virgin olive oil and place your tuna steak in the heated pan sprinkling it with some sea salt and a little finely ground black pepper:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Tuna Steak Cooking

Cook tuna steak until it is browned on both sides and mostly done through:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Tuna Steak

Once tuna steak is cooked use a fork and flake the steak into pieces:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Flaked Tuna

In the same pan that you cooked your tuna steak add a little bit more olive oil and saute your mushrooms and onions with a little sea salt and some finely ground black pepper until tender:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Onions and Mushrooms

Next stir in peas and cook for 2-3 minutes until mostly thawed:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Veggies

Stir flaked tuna in to the vegetable mixture:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Tuna and Vegetables

Next mix tuna/vegetable mixture with noodles and stir to mix. Add sour cream, half and half and Parmesan and stir to incorporate:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Filling

Pour mixture into a baking dish that has been brushed with olive oil:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Ready for Cheese

Sprinkle with Harvati cheese:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Havrati

Then sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Ready to Bake

Bake for 25-30 minutes until slightly browned:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Baked

Serve immediately.

Note: You could add other vegetables if you liked. This method could be used with a salmon steak too, but I'd add in some dill if you were using salmon.

Posted by Dianne at 11:03 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 24, 2010

Not Your Mama's Tuna Salad

Not Your Mama's Tuna Salad

I'm a big fan of tuna. I don't eat it that often due to mercury concerns, and really I'm not going to get into bio-magnification or anything, no need to make you eyes glaze over on a food blog, but tuna is not something I'm going to eat everyday. When I do eat it though I like to shake things up a bit.

One of my favorite things to do with tuna is simply bake of pan fry a tuna steak, but I'm not adverse to tuna in the pouch either. Sure there is always a more traditional tuna salad, but why not take that to a whole new level! Who says you can't wow them with something really simple?

What You'll Need:
1 small cucumber, cut in half and sliced
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3/4 cup of green olives, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped (Note: I used a red bell pepper this go around, but any color will work.)
1 small red onion, chopped
1 large pouch of tuna
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Brown rice vinegar

In a large bowl toss together cucumbers, tomatoes, green olives, bell pepper and red onion until incorporated. Add tuna and stir to mix.

Sprinkle the top of the salad generously with sea salt and black pepper and then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and brown rice vinegar. Toss to coat.

Serve immediately.

Notes: This is really an eat it immediately sort of salad. The vinegar will start to break things down if you let it sit. Left overs aren't really that great. This really isn't a sandwich type of tuna salad either. It's better eaten as is.

Posted by Dianne at 12:33 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

August 31, 2009

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish

I love wild salmon. Growing up I wasn't so fond of salmon, because I had only been exposed to the canned variety and I was not impressed. Several years ago I decided to try a fresh fillet and I immediately fell in love!

Salmon is a very healthy option overall as long as you focus on wild salmon and not the farmed variety. It's also quick cooking and delicious! Both pluses in my opinion!

So what you should look for?

First follow your nose. If it smells fishy, then you don't want it! Next give it a poke. Is the flesh firm? You want it to be firm, with just a bit of give. And don't forget to read the label! Remember you're looking for a variety that was not farm raised!

This dish can be done year around, but it's especially nice in the summer when the vegetables are fresh. It takes about 4 minutes to throw together and 10-15 minutes to cook and assemble. How's that for quick? There is just nothing better than a quick, healthy, delicious meal!

bbdd2

What You'll Need for the Salmon:
A nice sized salmon fillet (Note: The one I used would feed roughly four people.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lime juice

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large skillet over medium heat a thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle a salmon fillet with sea salt and black pepper. Right before you put it in the skillet drizzle the top with freshly squeezed lime juice and place it skin up in the pan until brown nicely browned:

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Browning

This take about 1-2 minutes:

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Ready For Oven

Flip the fillet over, with the skin down and place in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until almost done through.

Remove from oven and place on a cutting board:

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Salmon Resting

Let sit for 5 minutes. It will continue cooking as it sits.

When ready to serve, cut into individual servings and top with relish. (See below.)

Now move on to your relish.

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Relish

What You'll Need for the Tomato Avocado Relish:
2 cups of cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters (Note: Any kind of tomatoes will work, but I like to use the smaller variety for this.)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/3 cup of fresh dill, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of freshly squeeze lime juice

In a large bowl toss together all ingredients to mix well. Place a nice sized scoop on top of the cooked salmon fillets.

Notes: This relish is good on most any fish or even grilled chicken. Don't add the avocado until the last minute. The salmon is also good by itself cooked this way.

Posted by Dianne at 11:09 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 10, 2009

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips

First up be sure and stop by over at the Greenists today. It's my day to post and this time I'm sharing some great ideas for what to do with your bounty of summer vegetables! Pop over and take a look and then let me know what your favorite things are to do with your summer veggies, because I love to see what others do and you may give me a new idea or two!

bbdd2

Now let's get started with Better Bites!

Fish and chips...What's not to like? This combo is one of my all time favorite comfort foods! I don't make it often though because although I don't have an issue with frying from time to time, it's a lot of work! It would be nice to have fish and chips more often so I started thinking about ways to take them and make them a little lighter, all while having a fabulous meal and not losing any of the taste! That's just what this oven version does!

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Chips

What You'll Need For the Chips:
2 pounds of potatoes, cut into wedges roughly the same size (Note: I used Yukon Gold, but you can use whatever you like.)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Wash potatoes and cut them into wedges. Make sure the wedges are roughly the same size so they'll cook evenly. Place them in a glass bowl.

Pour olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and some finely ground pepper over the potatoes and toss to coat:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Coated

Add potatoes to a 13 X 9 inch dish and spread out evenly:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Chips Ready to Bake

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until "chips" are golden brown and fork tender:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Chips

Let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Notes: These are fabulous sprinkled with a little malt vinegar just before eating.

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Baked Fish

What You'll Need For The Fish:
1 lb of cod, cut into 4-5 pieces (Note: Any firm fish will work.)
Sea salt
Hot sauce
1 1/4 cups of stone ground yellow corn meal, divided
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of fine ground black pepper
2 heaping teaspoons of Cajun seasoning (Note: If the Cajun seasoning you are using has salt, then omit the teaspoon of sea salt.)
1/2 to 3/4 ups of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 F. (Note: If you're making "chips" too then you can just add the fish toward the end of the baking time for the "chips".)

First rinse your fish and pat dry. Cut into 4-5 pieces:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Cod

The little one there is for Lex.

Place the pieces of fish on a plate and sprinkle generously with sea salt and hot sauce on both sides:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Hot Sauce

Set fish aside and prepare your batter. (Note: You can do this step the night before if you like and place the seasoned fillets in the fridge in an air tight container until ready to cook the next day.)

Mix one cup of corn meal with sea salt, black pepper and Cajun seasoning. Stir to mix. Add buttermilk slowly until a very thick batter forms. (Note: Depending on humidity you may need part of the buttermilk or all of it...Just keep an eye. Your batter should support the weight of your fish without sinking much.) Let sit for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the fish with the remaining 1/4 cup of corn meal on both sides of the fish:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Sprinkled with Corn Meal

Once the fish is sprinkled place one piece in the batter:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Ready to Coat

Next turn the fish over and make sure both sides are coated well with the batter:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Coated

Place coated fish in a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Ready to Bake

Repeat this process until all of your fillets are coated.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until fish is golden brown and done through.

Notes: Surprisingly the hot sauce and the Cajun seasoning doesn't make the fish "hot". It just gives it a nice over all flavor. You could really do this with any seasoning....Old Bay, Soul Food Seasoning, etc. Jamison's dad makes his fish this way and then fries it. We like the method so well that we do all of our breaded fish that way!

Posted by Dianne at 9:03 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 16, 2009

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage

I've never been a big fan of cooked cabbage, though I do like raw cabbage. Recently I've had the desire to play around with the cooked variety so when I was at the market the other day I picked up a small head of Chinese Cabbage.

Most of the time cooked cabbage is cooked in a way that just becomes this big, mushy, sort of sulfuric tasting mess, thus why I didn't like it. I have had cooked cabbage in Asian dishes before that didn't turn out that way and actually tasted good, so I knew it was possible. I decided to play around with pan "frying" in a little bit of olive oil to see what would happen and I have to say I was very pleased! Paired with some cooked shrimp it made the perfect meal!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small Chines cabbage, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Brown rice vinegar
1 pound of shrimp, shelled and deveined

Chop cabbage and place in a medium sized pan or pot with some extra virgin olive oil, garlic, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Cabbage Ready to Cook

Sprinkle with a few shakes of brown rice vinegar and cook until cabbage is slightly soft and browned, stirring often:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Cooked Cabbage

Be careful and don't let it get mushy. No one wants mushy cabbage! ;oP

While the cabbage is cooking you will also begin cooking your shrimp. The last time I made shrimp someone asked me how to actually devein them so I'm including a little "how to" on that. Excuse my green fingernail polish...Miss G wanted to paint our fingernails and she picked the colors. She got "Blu" and I got "Emerald City". The things I do for her! ;oP

Now shrimp...You can buy them already deveined if you can find them that way, if not see below.

First rinse your shrimp well and remove the shells. Next you want to locate the vein:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Vein

Now here's the tricky part...Sometimes the vein is on the underneath of the shrimp and other times it is along the back. I guess it depends on the type of shrimp. I've bought shrimp that had them in either location. The removing process is the same despite of where it is located. As you can see the vein is running just below the surface of the under side of the shrimp in this variety.

Take a paring knife and run it along the meat of the shrimp just above the vein:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Cutting

This will open up the shrimp and expose the vein.

Take your knife and run it under the edge of the vein:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Removing Vein

Gently remove the vein and throw away.

Once you've done that your shrimp will look like this:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Deveined

See the vein is gone!

Repeat that process until the shrimp are all deveined.

Next you want to generously salt and pepper your shrimp:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Ready to Cook

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add some olive oil and then place the shrimp in the pan. Cook shrimp on each side roughly 30 seconds to 1 minute until pink on both sides:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Cooked Shrimp

Be careful when cooking shrimp...They literally cook within a minute or two. If you take them too far you'll end up with rubbery, tough shrimp and that's no fun.

Place a bed of cabbage on a plate and top with cooked shrimp.

Notes: You could do this with scallops instead if you preferred.

Update: The next day I still had some left over shrimp and cabbage in the fridge so I thought I'd make a salad with them. Turned out great! I tossed in some mushroom, avocado and cucumber with the cooked shrimp and cabbage and it made a great lunch!

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage Becomes Salad

It's fun to take left overs and add to them! Who knew this would be good chilled too? But it was!

Posted by Dianne at 8:43 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 19, 2009

Spicy Black Beans and Shrimp

Spicy Black Beans and Shrimp

I love shrimp. I've always been fond of the tender little morsels. I also love spicy, and as I get older the more spicy I like things! A few weeks ago I made some steamed shrimp for dinner for Alexis and me and I had some left overs so I decided it would be fun to take the left overs, pair them with some rice and beans and make a healthy spicy shrimp/bean/rice dish and I did just that.

This dish definitely was spicy, but it was a nice heat. This makes for a hearty, yet healthy dinner that really hits the spot if spicy is your thing too. Paired with a tossed salad it makes the perfect meal.

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-4 ribs of celery, chopped
1 cup of wild rice
2 1/2 cups of broth or water
1 - 15.5 ounce can of black beans, undrained
2 tablespoons of Creole seasoning (Note: I used Tony Chachere's)
2-3 cups of steamed shrimp

Spicy Black Beans and Shrimp: Veggies and Rice

In a medium sized pot sauté onion, bell pepper and celery in extra virgin olive oil until tender. Add rice and Creole seasoning stirring to mix then cook for two or three minutes to toast the rice.

Add beans and broth or water then bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes covered stirring occasionally. Remove lid and cook 10 more minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is tender.

Once rice is tender and liquid is absorbed add shrimp and stir to mix. Cook for 3 minutes to heat shrimp through and serve.

Spicy Black Beans and Shrimp: Shrimp

Notes: You could use chicken if you aren't a fan of shrimp, or leave out the meat all together for a vegetarian/vegan option. Also let me stress again this is very spicy so if spicy isn't your thing you could leave out the Creole seasoning and add chili powder or just salt and pepper instead. It changes the dish fundamentally though.

Posted by Dianne at 8:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 23, 2009

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crab Cakes

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes

With the Chesapeake Bay right in our backyard, Maryland is sort of the home of the crabcake. Sometimes though those crabcakes get really heavy because they are either pan or deep fried. A few years ago I decided to try my hand at making a baked version and this is what resulted. Everyone I've ever served them to that is a crab cake fan has loved them!

Overall I have to say that I like my crab cakes a little lighter. You still have all the flavors that meld so perfectly together, but they are a little less heavy and a whole lot less greasy! Who says you can't have your "crab" and eat it too...(Yes I went there! ;oP)

bbdd2

What You'll Need:
1 small red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (Note: I usually use 1/2 a red and 1/2 a yellow bell pepper. You can use one pepper of any color or mix it up. It's your choice.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of whole grain bread crumbs (Note: You want unseasoned for this dish. If you can't find whole grain then regular bread crumbs will work too or even panko.)
2 tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: I prefer Old Bay, but any seafood seasoning will work.)
16 ounces of crab meat, rinsed and picked over for shells (Note: You can use lump, backfin, claw, whatever you can find. Artificial crab will not work for this.)
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Peppers and Onions

In a large skillet over medium heat sauté onion and bell pepper with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Peppers and Onions Cooking

In a large bowl mix bread crumbs and Old Bay Seasoning until completely mixed. Stir in cooked onions/peppers and crab meat and mix until incorporated. Add eggs to bind together the mixture and then it's time to form the cakes.

I like to use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to make the cakes. Spray the cup with non-stick spray and then dip it into the bowl with the crab cake filling. Mash the mixture into the cup to give it good shape:

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Ready to Put In the Baking Dish

Then turn the cup over and dump the cake into a large baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Ready to Bake

Repeat this process until you run out of the crab mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Makes about a dozen crab cakes.

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: The Inside

Notes: These crab cakes freeze beautifully. Freeze them fully cooked and then thaw and reheat and you are set to go! You can serve them all by themselves or pair them with some dill tartar sauce.

Posted by Dianne at 9:38 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 31, 2008

Maryland Crab Soup A La Dianne

Maryland Crab Soup

I had intended to do a Halloween themed recipe for today, but it just didn't come together. So you'll have to settle for Maryland Crab Soup instead. Happy Halloween to all you out there that celebrate the spooky day and especially to my best friend Darlene, since it's her favorite holiday!

Now let's talk some soup!

I love crab. I'll readily admit though when I think of eating crab I think of crab cakes or crab legs or a crab boil or even deviled crabs, well before I think of Maryland Crab Soup. In fact since I moved to Maryland in 1999 I've had Maryland Crab Soup exactly once at a restaurant out on Tilghman Island called Harrison's Chesapeake House and I instantly fell in love. Despite that fact I still hadn't had it since then, even though I've been back to the Chesapeake House itself several times since then. That however was about to change.

A while back I picked up some fresh Maryland crab meat and I knew I wanted to make some soup this go around and the result was fabulous! This soup is tomomatoey, spicy and oh so lovely! If you like Maryland Crab Soup, then give my version a try. I think you'll be glad you did!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: More if you prefer spicy, less if you don't.)
2 - 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained
1- 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1/2 of a 16 ounce package of frozen peas (Note: Normally lima beans are used for MCS, but I didn't have any on hand since Miss G tends to adore them and go through them quickly, so I went with peas instead.)
1/2 of a 16 ounce package of frozen corn kernels
2 cups of water
1 pound of crab meat, rinsed and picked over for shells (Note: No matter how well you do this, inevitably some shells might make it into the soup.)

In a large stock pot sauté onions and potatoes with a little sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until onions are tender and both onions and potatoes are slightly browned.

Next add Old Bay Seasoning and stir to coat. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, frozen peas and frozen corn, along with water and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.

Once potatoes are tender add crab and cook for 5 minutes to heat through. Serve immediately.

Notes: This soup is extremely easy to make and has a bit of a wow factor to it too. It is also very healthy, so that is always an added plus. You could use lima beans in place of the peas as I mentioned above.

Posted by Dianne at 8:52 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

August 14, 2008

Fish, Chips, Hush Puppies and Double Dill Tartar Sauce

Fish & Chips: French Fries, Hushpuppy and Fish

One of Jamison's all time favorites has always been fish and fries. Luckily he can still have these since there was no gluten in the process. The method of cooking fish is adapted from Jamison's dad, who is an avid fisherman and likes to have fish fries, and I have to say it's really fabulous! Of course for me I like to throw in some hush puppies and tartar sauce and you've got the perfect meal! Had this been onion rings instead of "chips" and I would have been in complete heaven! Maybe next time! But since I would be the only one eating them this go round I didn't want to go to the trouble. Anyway, this is a quick and easy way to make fish and trust me you'll love it!

Fish & Chips: Fish

What You'll Need for the Fish:
1 to 1 1/2 pounds of a firm fish (Note: This is a fabulous way to cook catfish and that is usually what I use, but this go round I used grouper.)
Hot sauce
1 cup of corn meal
A generous pinch of sea salt
Black pepper
Cajun or Soul Food Seasoning (Note: I used Cajun Seasoning this go round and the version I used is salt free. If you use something that has salt added then omit the sea salt.)
Oil for frying (Note: I have a fryer, but you can use oil in a large pot with a thermometer on the stove top if you don't.)

The first thing you want to do is make the fish. Since you're going to be frying things in batches preheat your oven to 225 F to keep things warm. Also preheat your oil to 375 F.

Fish & Chips: Fish and Hot Sauce

Cut your fish into small pieces and sprinkle generously with hot sauce. Set aside.

Fish & Chips: Ready for Fish

While your oil is heating mix together corn meal, salt, black pepper and Cajun seasoning until well mixed. Once oil is heated take fish fillets that have been sitting with hot sauce and place them in the corn meal mixture to coat:

Fish & Chips: "Breading"

Once the oil is heated completely drop fish into the fryer in a single layer, but do not over crowd. My fryer will hold 2-3 pieces of fish at a time, depending on the size. Fry for 5-8 minutes until golden brown on both sides. Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet and paper towels to drain:

Fish & Chips: Fish Draining

Once you are finished frying the fish put the baking sheet into the preheated oven to stay warm until you finish the hush puppies and "chips".

Next up...Hush Puppies!

Fish & Chips: Hushpuppies

(Note: This makes a small batch of hush puppies...Roughly 8-12 depending on what size you drop into the oil.)

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 cups of cornmeal (Note: This is real cornmeal...Not cornmeal mix or whatever that has flour and leavening agents added to it.)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 egg
1/2 cup of milk or buttermilk
2/3 cup of sour cream (Note: I like to add this in when I'm out of buttermilk, but it is still fabulous even if you are using buttermilk.)
1/2 of a bell pepper, chopped fine
1/2 of a small red onion, chopped fine

Preheat oil to 375 F.

Fish & Chips: Hushpuppy Batter

In a large bowl mix cornmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda until well incorporated. Add egg, milk and sour cream and stir to mix. (Note: You want a very thick batter that is not quite a dough. If you need to add a bit more milk do. Corn meal, much like flour sometimes needs a bit more or a bit less.) Stir in bell pepper and onion until completely incorporated into the batter. Let sit for at least 10 minutes and then drop by the rounded tablespoonfuls into the hot oil. Flip the hush puppies a few times while frying to ensure that they do not brown only on one side. Remove when golden brown and place in the preheated oven to stay warm.

Now you want to do the "chips"! Basically you want to do these with the same method as the Bacon Cheese Curly Fries that I made for Jamison's birthday, minus the bacon and cheese. If you've never made homemade fries before take the link and you'll be set!

And last but not least (or you can make this well ahead of time and have on hand in the fridge) you want to make the Double Dill Tartar Sauce!

Fish & Chips: Double Dill Tartar Sauce

What You'll Need:
1 cup of light mayonnaise
1/2 cup of dill pickle relish (Note: If you can't find dill pickle relish then you can simply chop some dill pickles or dill pickle chips.)
1/3 cup of fresh dill, chopped fine or 1-2 tablespoons of dried dill
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix together in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

And there you have it...Your own Fish, Chips and Hush Puppy dinner!

Fish & Chips: Leftovers!

Notes: The left over fish makes fabulous leftover sandwiches! Toast a couple of slices of bread, reheat the fish and place on the bread, top with a slice of cheese and some of the Double Dill Tartar Sauce, pair it with a salad and you've got a fabulous meal in no time!

Posted by Dianne at 7:10 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

August 1, 2008

Pan Grilled Lemon Pepper Tilapia with Avocado Salsa

Pan Grilled Lemon Pepper Tilapia with Avocado Salsa

I love grilled fish. Usually when I "grill" it though I forget about tilapia and "grill" tuna or salmon instead. The other day when Alexis and I were at the market I was in a fish mood and they had Tilapia on sale so I grabbed some and as always it turned out perfectly!

After pan "grilling" the fish I topped it with some Avocado Salsa because I had always wanted to make something like that, but never had and I must say it was the perfect meal! Alexis even liked it minus the salsa and I left the black pepper off of her fillet since she's "not a fan" of black pepper. This is a bit adventurous for Jamison overall though! He got steak instead. ;o)

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 tilapia filet
Extra virgin olive oil
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 an avocado, cut into chunks
6-8 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 a red onion, finely chopped

Heat a grill pan over medium heat until very hot.

Pan Grilled Lemon Pepper Tilapia with Avocado Salsa: Tilapia Ready to Grill

While the pan is heating drizzle both side of each fillet with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Then sprinkle each fillet with sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Set aside until pan heats thoroughly.

Pan Grilled Lemon Pepper Tilapia with Avocado Salsa: Avocado Salsa

In a medium sized bowl toss together avocado, tomatoes, red onion, a little extra virgin olive oil, a small pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper to coat and incorporate. Set aside.

Pan Grilled Lemon Pepper Tilapia with Avocado Salsa: Grilled Tilapia

Brush the grill pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and grill each fillet for 1-2 minutes on each side until done through. This process goes very fast and literally takes minutes. Pay close attention so as not to burn.

Once fillets are done place fillet on plate and top with avocado mixture. Serve immediately.

Note: This process will work for most any type of fish. If you prefer something else then by all means substitute away.

Posted by Dianne at 7:20 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

July 28, 2008

Pan Seared Scallops

Pan Seared Scallops

I love seafood, but I often forget scallops. I don't know why...I really enjoy them, but for some reason when I go to make seafood scallops are regularly not the seafood I go to. Once in a while though I get a craving and off to find scallops I go!

The other day Alexis and I had to run Jamison's lunch to him at his office and we stopped by the store on the way home. This is the store in the past were I have found lovely, fresh seafood on sale and let's face it on sale is always a good thing and fresh is even better and it just so happened that they had fresh scallops on sale! Alexis and I grabbed a pound and made our way home.

In my opinion scallops are best done simple. They have such a lovely flavor that it is a shame to cover it up with a lot of unnecessary culinary frills. What you have here is simple, basic, easy and delicious...And as it turns out that is just perfect when you're talking about lovely scallops.

P.S. On a totally unrelated note...If you didn't see my question yesterday about themed weeks take this link and let me know what you think! I've gotten some really great ideas and feedback so far...Keep is coming! :o)

Now on to the scallops!

Pan Seared Scallops: Fresh Scallops

What You'll Need:
1 pound of fresh scallops, rinsed and drained
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt

First off you want to start with fresh scallops. How can you tell they are fresh you ask? There are two simple ways...First the scallops should not have an overpowering fishy smell. If they smell strong then you do not want them, they have been sitting around to long! Second the scallops should be firm to the touch and not feel overly squishy. If you touch it (and you can do it through the packaging) and the scallop falls apart or crumbles that is another sign it's not fresh.

Once you've chosen your scallops, rinse and drain them.

Next drizzle the scallops with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and sea salt:

Pan Seared Scallops: Ready to Marinate

At this point I like to let the scallops sit for 5-10 minutes and just rest/marinate.

While the scallops are sitting preheat a large skillet over medium heat until it is very hot. Brush the bottom of the pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and place the scallops in a single layer on the bottom of the skillet to sear:

Pan Seared Scallops: Searing

Scallops cook quickly. It only takes 3 or 4 minutes on each side to cook completely. Turn them once and then leave them alone until you remove them from the skillet.

Remove from skillet and serve immediately.

Makes two servings.

Notes: You don't really need any sauce for these. They are prefect as is.

Posted by Dianne at 7:09 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

June 19, 2008

Grilled Dill Shrimp With Asparagus

Grilled Dill Shrimp With Asparagus

I love shrimp and Alexis does too. In fact shrimp is one of those things she asked to try recently, though she had had it when she was younger and liked it then too, but had forgotten about it and I'm all about the "If you want to try it, we'll try it!" thing because one of my biggest pet peeves is saying you don't like something you've never tasted! So when she wants to try something we get it for her to try. She wanted to try raspberries, though I'll admit I'm not a fan of those, but if she wants to eat them then fine! She wanted to try lobster so we got a lobster and steamed it and she loved it!

See there I go getting side tracked again...The point is if she wants to try something I'll make it happen, but back to what we were really talking about.

Where was I? Oh yes...shrimp!

I rarely buy shrimp because even with Maryland being a water state it's hard to find truly fresh shrimp! Maryland is proud to be more of a blue crab/oyster state. Sometimes even if you buy frozen shrimp it is old! But every once in a while I'll stumble on to some that is actually fresh and in the case it was fresh AND on sale! Now what is better than that? So of course I grabbed some and we headed home.

There are so many things you can do with shrimp and all sorts of ideas popped through my mind. I thought about making some kabobs with thyme (which by the way you should try because they are to die for!), I thought about boiling some with some Old Bay Seasoning, I thought about making a white shrimp pizza, but my inspiration finally came from Alexis.

Alexis and I love to spend time on the front porch. We have a swing, her sand box, chairs and plenty of room to move around and play. It's just perfect because it's completely shaded in the afternoon. We were out on the front porch enjoying a lovely summer day and she decided to taste my dill plant. She knows that she can eat anything out of my herb box. It's all organic and she can munch to her heart's delight. She hadn't tried the dill before, but that day she decided to give it a munch and low and behold she liked it! So that made me think about possibly adding some chopped dill to the shrimp and thus the idea for dinner was born!

This dish is quick, easy and healthy. Throw in some grilled asparagus and a side salad and you've got a wonderful meal!

What You'll Need:
A pound of shrimp
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Asparagus to grill

Grilled Dill Shrimp: Shrimp

In a bowl toss cleaned and deveined shrimp together with the olive oil, dill, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper and put covered in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.

Grilled Dill Shrimp: Ready to Grill

Heat your grill or grill pan (which is what I used) until hot.

Brush the grill pan/grill with a little extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle the asparagus with a little sea salt and place it on the grill first and grill for about 5-6 minutes until it is just starting to soften.

Grilled Dill Shrimp: Grilling

Next add the shrimp turning and cook until just pink. This will happen quickly, approximately 2-3 minutes. Don't cook them too long or they will turn rubbery.

Grilled Dill Shrimp: Grilling

(The burger was for Jamison! ;oP)

When the shrimp are cooked remove them from heat and serve immediately or you can serve them chilled. They are good either way!

Notes: If you don't like dill you could do this with rosemary or thyme. You could also do this with scallops instead of shrimp.

Posted by Dianne at 8:56 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

April 24, 2008

Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto...Otherwise Known As I've Got Leftovers Now What Do I Do With Them?

What to do with Those Leftovers...Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto

Tuesday evening Alexis and I had Baked Salmon with Dill and Alexis also wanted some green peas. We happened to have both left over and I'm all about taking leftovers and making them into something new and this is what evolved.

The salmon and dill go well together and paired with the goat cheese it's just an amazing flavor combination. This is a good way to use up leftovers and it's a delicious main course or you could even us it as small portion side dish. There are lovely flecks of dill throughout and the cheese gives it just the right punch.

Who says leftovers have to be boring?

Leftover Peas for Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
4 button mushrooms, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons of dried dill
1 cup of arborio rice
Broth and/or water (Note: Any kind of broth will do. I used chicken broth.)
2 cups of green peas
1 1/2-2 cups of baked salmon (Note: If you want to make this and don't have left over salmon you can bake a salmon fillet with a little olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and some dried dill for 8-10 minutes at 350 F until it's done through and then flake the fillet with a fork.)
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of goat cheese crubmles

Leftover Salmon to Use in the Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto

In a large skillet sauté onion and mushrooms until tender with a little sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and dried dill. (Note: I like to add more dill, but if you want you can add less.) Add arborio rice and stir into the onions and mushrooms to mix.

Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto: Mushrooms, Onion and Risotto Rice

Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring once or twice, to toast the rice a bit.

Next add enough broth or water to cover the arborio rice. (Note: Usually this about 2-3 cups of liquid.) Bring to a quick boil and them reduce to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. (Note: You may need to add more liquid as the risotto cooks. I usually start out with broth and then add 1 cup of water as needed as the process goes along. On this dish I ended up only adding 1 additional cup of water, but sometimes it may take two or three more additions of water or broth until the rice is tender.) When the rice is tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed and looks a little like this:

Goat Cheese and Salmon Risotto Pre Cheese

Add the peas and salmon and stir to mix and the continue to cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Remove risotto from the heat and stir in Parmesan and goat cheese until melted and let risotto sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: Risotto is very much the mix and match dish. You could use thyme, rosemary or any other herb that strikes your fancy instead of dill. You could use chicken, scallops or shrimp instead of salmon. You could even make a completely vegetarian option using other veggies in place of meat. The possibilities are endless!

Posted by Dianne at 12:38 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 11, 2008

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder is one of my all time favorites. I've loved Clam Chowder since I was a child and a few years ago I tried my hand at making my own. My first attempts involved me adapting a recipe from Cooking Light that used canned clams and clam juice. From there it evolved even more.

While making chowder I had never actually made it with fresh clams. I had always wanted to try, but for some reason the thought was a bit daunting to me. The other day when Alexis and I were at the market they had some very nice, very fresh clams and I decided it was time to try my hand at chowder completely from scratch. My version is still on the light side as far as chowders go and is chunky with vegetables and clams. It's a lovely, creamy, chunky version that's also not as heavy as other chowders sometimes are.

Chowders made with canned clams and juice are great, but nothing compares to one made with fresh clams. Clams in and of themselves aren't overly expensive seafood either, so you won't break the bank. I readily find them here priced about $1 a pound, but that might not be the case in other areas of the country. If you're interested in making some chowder from scratch start watching your seafood counter and see how clams run in your area.


Clam Chowder: Clams Ready to be Cooked

What You'll Need:
3-6 pounds of clams (Note: Use more if you like a lot of clams, less if you don't. Remember when you are buying your clams that the majority of the weight is in the shell, so while 3-6 pounds might seem like a lot for a small batch of chowder, in reality you aren't really putting that many clams into your pot.)
Water
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
4 ribs of celery, chopped
6 potatoes, 3 peeled and chopped, 3 peeled and left whole
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2-4 cups of clam juice reserved from cooking the clams
3-4 bay leaves
1 cup of fat free half and half

When you buy your clams you want to use them immediately. The fresher the better. This is a recipe you'll want to purchase your clams and make the same day. Place clams in a large glass bowl and cover with water and ice. Let them sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This helps rinse them and let the sand settle out of them. You will see air bubbles rising to the top of the water. Don't worry...This is a good sign!

In a large stock pot cover rinsed clams with water, bring to a boil and cook until clams open. Usually about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and take clams out of the clam water, reserving clam juice for the soup. (Note: A rule of thumb to always remember with clams...Clams that are opened before they are cooked are bad so toss them!...Clams that don't open when they are cooked are bad too so toss any of those that might arise! In this batch I lost 4 clams. 3 before cooking and 1 after.)

Once the clams are cool enough to touch remove them from their shells, remove their beards (Note: You'll be able to tell which part is the clam and which part is the beard...The beard is a flowery little projections that looks like, well a beard! Alexis had a ball doing this step and was disappointed when there were no more clams to separate.) and place the clams in a large glass bowl. Cover the clams after they are separated with some cooled clam juice and set aside. I like to do this step while the soup is cooking.


Clam Chowder: Cooked Clams

In a large stock pot sauté onion, celery and cubed potatoes, with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper, until onion and celery are slightly tender, but not mushy and still have a bit of a bite to them. Cover the veggies with clam juice and add the three whole potatoes and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender.

Once the whole potatoes are tender remove them from the pot and mash them with the half and half. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Then return this mashed mixture to the pot to help thicken the soup. Drain the clams and then stir them into the soup. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes to heat clams through. Serve immediately. (Note: Don't cook for too long after you add the clams. They get tough if cooked too long.)

Notes: Fat free half and half is great in that it gives you that creamy aspect of heavy cream without the extra fat. You could use corn starch or flour to help thicken the soup, but the potatoes give the soup a very creamy thickness that is a bit healthier than the other alternatives. Some people like to add thyme to their chowder, and while I'm a fan of thyme, I don't care for it in chowder. Ditto for nutmeg, which is also sometimes added. If I add anything to chowder other than your basic sea salt and black pepper I go for Old Bay Seasoning to give it a kick.


Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids in the Kitchen!

P.S. Don't forget Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids In The Kitchen for your chance to win one Pampered Chef "My Safe Cutter" along with one Pampered Chef "Kid's Apron and Chef's Hat Set"! Just leave a comment on this thread with a valid e-mail address (and don't worry, no one will see your e-mail address but me!) before 5:00 PM EST, Thursday, February 14, 2008. I'll print out the participants and my little sous chef will pull a name out of the hat. I'll e-mail that person for their address and announce the winner on Friday, February 15, 2008! Anyone anywhere on our little planet earth is eligible to enter so what are you waiting for?

Good luck! Oh and tell your friends! ;o)

P.S.S. Oh and go check out the winner of Culinate's Death by Chocolate contest!

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February 7, 2008

Shrimp and Artichoke Whole Wheat Fettuccine

Shrimp and Artichoke Whole Wheat Fettuccine

Fettuccine. What's not to like? But in reality it's laden with fat and calories. You can easily lighten up this dish by using whole wheat pasta and leaving off the cheese. With the garlic and the healthy fat in the olive oil, you won't miss the cheese at all!

What You'll Need Per Person: Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 of a red onion, chopped
1-2 large mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup of artichoke (Note: You can cook the artichoke yourself, or get it from a can. I cooked a couple of artichokes with a little lime. sea salt and pepper and used it for this dish, but either method will work.)
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6-8 shrimp
2 ounces of dry whole wheat fettuccine noodles, cooked according to package directions (Note: Reserve pasta cooking water.)
1/3 cup of pasta water

In a large skillet sauté onion, mushrooms, artichoke and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper, until vegetables are tender.

Shrimp and Artichoke Whole Wheat Fettuccine: Artichokes Cooking

Add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes until shrimp are pink. Add cooked pasta and pasta water and toss to coat. Cook for an additional minute or two until pasta water evaporates. Serve immediately.

Notes: You could add in other vegetables if you like and if you just have to have cheese you could add in some Parmesan, but remember with the cheese you are also adding fat and calories.

P.S. Don't forget the Death by Chocolate contest over at Culinate! The voting ends tomorrow at noon, so if you haven't voted already, then hop on over and do so! You could win a trip for two to Napa's Chocolate festival at the end of February! My entry is my take on my Mom's Hot Fudge Cake.

Chocolate...What's not to like? ;o)

P.S.S. I'm finally figuring out this new version of MovableType (or more honestly I'm putting in my own html to make the entries look more like they did before the move and more like I'm accustomed to)! I'm still working out kinks here and there and there are still a few blips on the main page, but it's slowly coming together. Moving to a new server can be a pain, but I highly reccomend LivingDot if you're looking for a new server youself! They've been awesome!

Posted by Dianne at 1:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 4, 2007

Shrimp and Veggie Kabobs with Thyme

Shrimp and Veggie Kabobs

These kabobs are so versatile! You can add the veggies you like and/or meat of your choice. You can bake them, pan fry them or even cook them on the grill. It's a perfect way to utilize fresh veggies from the garden for a quick, easy dinner. Pair with some wild rice and you've got the perfect, healthy, summer meal!

What You'll Need For Two People:
1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
1 small yellow squash, cut into chunks
4 small tomatoes, your choice of type
4 whole mushrooms, your choice
2 small chunks of onion, your choice of type
8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Kabob sticks (Note: If you choose to grill the kabobs it is wise to soak the kabob sticks in water for at least 20 minutes so that they won't catch on fire.)

Preheat oven to 425 F, heat frying pan over medium heat or ready grill.

Arrange veggies on kabob stick. Brush each kabob with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme leaves, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Veggie Kabobs

Repeat process with shrimp by placing 4 large shrimp per kabob.

Shrimp Kabobs

Bake vegetable kabobs for 25-30 minutes, pan fry with a little non-stick spray for 20-25 minutes or grill for 10-15 minutes until veggies are tender. Bake, pan fry or grill shrimp kabobs for 3-5 minutes until pink. Serve immediately.

Notes: I used both red and yellow tomatoes. I also used button and baby portabella mushrooms. I also chose red onion. Asparagus would be a nice addition. Leeks would be good too. Any veggies that you like works. Mix it up! You could also use chicken or beef in place of the shrimp. Beef and chicken would take longer to cook than the shrimp so they could be placed on the same kabob as the veggies.

Posted by Dianne at 7:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 6, 2007

Shrimp Salad

Shrimp Salad

What better to do with left over Salt and Pepper Shrimp than make some shrimp salad! It's cool, delicious and not so bad on the waist line either. You can't go wrong with that.

What You'll Need:
2 cups of shrimp, cooked and chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 teaspoon of celery seed
1-2 teaspoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: More if you like it with a zing, less if you don't. If you're not a fan of Old Bay you can leave out the seasoning and add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper instead.)
2 tablespoons of Hellmann's Light mayonnaise (Note: I use light mayo because it has 1/2 the calories and fat of regular mayo, but it still tastes like real mayo, unlike the fat free stuff that to me is too sweet! Also apparently they're known as "Best Foods" west of the Rockies, but are known as "Hellmann's" to the east...There's your useless fact for the day! ;o))

Dump ingredients into a bowl and stir to mix. Let set in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve on lettuce leaves, a split tomato or on bread as a sandwich.

Shrimp Salad Sandwich

This makes four generous sized servings at about 170 calories a serving without the bread. You can't beat that!

Posted by Dianne at 7:45 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 4, 2007

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Shrimp are a quick, simple and delicious addition to a healthy meal! They are perfect along with a few steamed or baked veggies. They are even good the next day right out of the fridge! What's not to like?

What You'll Need:
Shrimp
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Rinse and dry shrimp. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. (2 pounds to 1 tablespoon ratio.) Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Bake for 3-5 minutes just until shrimp turn pink. (Note: Don't overcook or the shrimp will become rubbery. Keep an eye on them and as soon as they turn pink bring them out!)

How is that for fast, easy and delicious?

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Notes: Jumbo shrimp work the best. Don't want to heat up the oven? You could easily do this in a steamer as well. Just steam for 4-5 minutes until pink. You could also put them on a skewer and do them outside on the grill. The guy at the fish counter said you should figure one pound of shrimp per persons served so I bought a pound for Alexis and I, but it could have easily fed 3 or 4 grown people along with the steamed veggies.

Posted by Dianne at 9:03 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 23, 2007

Crab Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Crab Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

This recipe is a cross between deviled crabs and crab cakes, nested on a portabella mushroom cap. I initially got the idea a few years ago when watching Rachel Ray (Note: This was a LONG time ago given now I can't even see her without immediately flinching. Good God, that woman is annoying!) and I tweaked majorly, because her recipes often don't turn out the way they are supposed to. It's hearty enough to easily be a main dish.

What You'll Need:
1 cup of lump crabmeat (Note: NOT imitation crab.)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 a bell pepper, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 slice of whole grain bread, toasted and crumbled into bread crumbs
1-2 teaspoons of Old Bay Seasoning (In my opinion the more the better, but it's a little spicy so if you're not into that then go with less)
A pinch of sea salt
2 large portabella mushroom caps
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a baking dish place two portabella mushroom caps gill side up and set aside.

In a bowl mix all ingredients except for olive oil and mushrooms. Stir to incorporate thoroughly and spoon mixture evenly between the two mushrooms to form a mound. Sprinkle with some extra virgin olive oil and bake for 15-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes two servings.

Posted by Dianne at 9:03 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 21, 2007

Manhattan Seafood Chowder

Manhattan Seafood Chowder

I was in the mood for a tomatoey seafood soup the other night, instead of a cream based one, and I came up with this little gem. It's warm, hearty and delicious!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a large yellow onion, chopped
1 large rib of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 medium sized potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 cup of frozen corn
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 -15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 - 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup of crab meat (Note: NOT imitation crab. Real crabmeat. I used claw meat.)
10-15 cherrystone clams, rinsed and debearded
1-2 cups of small bay scallops
1-2 cups of small shrimp

Sauté onion and celery in extra virgin olive oil until tender. Add potatoes through vegetable broth and cook for at least 1 hour. Add crab and stir to mix. Add clams and cook until clams open. Once open remove the clams from the soup and take them out of their shell and put back into the soup. If a clam doesn't open then toss it, it's not good. Stir in scallops and shrimp and cook until done. (It usually takes about 3-5 minutes for shrimp and scallops to cook.) Serve warm.

Posted by Dianne at 12:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 19, 2007

Dublin Lawyer

Dublin Lawyer

And last but not least of our Saint Patrick's Day feast was the Dublin Lawyer! I would guess that it is named thusly since lobster is a bit pricey and lawyers usually make good money, but I'm completely guessing on that front! It's creamy, rich and oh so delicious! A little most definitely goes a long way!

But truly the most fun part about this dish is you get the set it on fire! I've never made a dish you had to do that with before, but I've always wanted to! And on Saturday I finally got to give it a whirl! ;o)

What You'll Need:
1- 1/2 to 1 pound lobster, steamed and meat removed
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2-3/4 cup of Jameson Irish Whiskey
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of unbleached all purpose flour

Melt butter and stir in lobster meat into a skillet. Add whiskey and flame the dish:

Dublin Lawyer Flame

Yes, my friends you're going to light it on fire! (Jamison actually lit it...I think he was afraid I would blow up the kitchen! ;oP Alexis thought it was a hoot that there was a fire burning on the stove top!) Let the flame burn until the alcohol is burned off and the fire extinguishes itself. Add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Mix heavy cream with flour until smooth and pour into the skillet. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened. Serve warm.

Posted by Dianne at 9:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 23, 2007

Baked Salmon Dip

Baked Salmon Dip

I LOVE salmon! But I don't like it smoked and I don't like the stuff they put into a can. It's a waste of perfectly good salmon! Over the years most of the salmon dip recipes that I came across called for either smoked or canned salmon and that just wouldn't work. So I came up with this little recipe. I play with it from time to time, but it's delicious none the less!

What You'll Need:
1 - 8 ounce package of light cream cheese, softened
1/2 a red onion, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon of dried dill (at least)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 baked salmon filet, skin removed and flaked

In a bowl cream cream cheese until smooth and set aside.

Chop red onions and microwave for 1-2 minutes until tender, but the onions retain their color. (This helps take a little of the bite out of them.) Add chopped scallions to the bowl with red onions and microwave for 30 seconds to a minute. Stir cooked onions into the cream cheese mixture until mixed. Stir in seasonings and mix well. Last add flaked salmon and stir until just mixed so as not to completely tear apart the salmon pieces. Serve with crudités and/or bread and crackers.

Baked Salmon Dip

Note: Baking salmon is easy. Just take a salmon steak, drizzle it with a little olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and dill (optional) and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 F or until done.

Posted by Dianne at 9:15 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 20, 2007

Garlic Shrimp Pasta With Homemade Spaghetti Noodles

Garlic Shrimp Pasta

A few years ago Jamison got me a pasta maker for Christmas. I got it out one day to use it and found out that the first batch can't be eaten because you have to use the dough to clean the oil out of the machine and I hadn't gotten back to it given life is just sometimes crazy. Yesterday I finally had time to get it back out and make some pasta! Alexis "helped" me so the noodles didn't turn out nice and long because they were just play dough to her, but they were delicious none the less! I HIGHLY recommend fresh pasta! It was easy, cooked up in no time and was delicious to boot!

What You'll Need For the Pasta:

I used the recipe off the back of the Bob's Red Mill Semolina Flour package, minus the salt, but I did things a little differently from the instructions.

Homemade Spaghetti Noodles

1 1/2 cups of Semolina flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of water

Process ingredients in a food processor until a ball forms. Remove and knead for 5 minutes. Roll into a ball and put into a bowl oiled with olive oil and let sit covered for 1 hour.

Pasta Dough

After at least and hour remove pasta ball from bowl and cut in half. Cut each half into half again. Press pasta flat and run through your pasta maker a few times to make a long flat noodle.

Flat Pasta Noodle

Once the noodle is flat run through the pasta cutter of your choice. My machine has spaghetti and fettuccini on the attachment I currently have. I chose the spaghetti setting.

Lay noodles flat as you cut them to prevent them from sticking together and cook in boiling water with a little salt for 2-4 minutes. Fresh noodles cook MUCH faster than the dried equivalent, so keep an eye on them!

Once cooked top with the pasta sauce of your choice.

What You'll Need For the Garlic Shrimp Per Person:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 gloves of garlic
2 scallions
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6-8 shrimp
1 1/2 cups of cooked pasta
2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of chopped parsley

Sauté garlic and scallions in a little olive oil until just tender. Add a pinch of sea salt, ground pepper and the shrimp and cook until shrimp are just pink. Add noodles, cheese and parsley and cook until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

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February 11, 2007

Mushroom Lobster Risotto

Mushroom Lobster Risotto

While surfing the food blogs the other day I came across this Lobster Risotto recipe and I was immediately intrigued! My brain immediately started working and I came up with my own little twist of the recipe! It's warm, satisfying and oh so good!

What You'll Need:
2 large lobster tails
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 large button mushrooms, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 - 16 ounce package of risotto rice (Usually labeled Arborio if it doesn't say risotto on the package)
1 1/2 cups of warm water, plus more as you cook the risotto (we'll discuss this in the recipe itself)
1 1/2 cups of frozen peas
5 ounces of Parmesan cheese
Flat leaf parsley, chopped

Steam lobster tails until done and cool. Remove shells and chop meat into bite sized pieces.

In a large pot over medium heat sauté onion, mushroom and garlic with sea salt and black pepper in olive oil until tender. Stir in risotto and let cook for 5 minutes or so to toast the grains. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of warm water and cook stirring occasionally until water evaporates. Add another cup of water and repeat. Keep doing this until the rice is almost tender (about 35-40 minutes).

Stir in peas and lobster and cook for 5 minutes or until rice is completely tender. Stir in Parmesan cheese and parsley and let sit for about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Notes: The original recipe called for beer, but I didn't have any on hand and forgot to pick some up while I was out. You could also do this with the broth of your choice for the 1 1/2 cups of initial liquid and add water there after. You could also add in shrimp or any other seafood along with the lobster or in place of the lobster.

Posted by Dianne at 11:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 4, 2007

Dianne's Kicked Up Clam Chowder

Dianne's Kicked Up Clam Chowder

I love New England clam chowder. I mean I LOVE it! I have loved New England clam chowder since I was a child and for years I have ordered it at restaurants whenever I had the chance. A few years ago I set out to make some myself. I'll admit at first I was a bit intimidated, because it's yet another one of those recipes that have a "hard" mystique about it, though it's a mystique that is unfounded as I've found with many recipes over the years that have that aura about them . So I developed a basic clam chowder that was creamy and good!

A year or so ago I happened to try the clam chowder at Outback Steakhouse and it had a zing to it. It took me about two seconds to realize their "zing" was Old Bay Seasoning or something like it and I decided to take my basic clam chowder recipe and add a little Old Bay and see what happened. The results were delicious!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 large celery ribs or 4 small ribs, chopped
1 potato, unpeeled and cut into small cubes
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning (Add the amount of Old Bay in preference to your own tastes. If you want it a bit zingier go for the tablespoon, less so go for the teaspoons instead.)
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
2 - 8 ounce bottles of clam juice
1/2 a quart of half and half
3 bay leaves
1 -15 ounce cans of steamer or baby clams, drained and rinsed(If you're in the mood for bigger clams go for the steamers. If you've in the mood for small bits of clams then go for the baby clams. Last night I chose the steamer clams.)

In a large stock pot over medium heat sauté onion, celery and potato with salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning until tender, but celery and onion still retain some of their color. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add clam juice, half and half and bay leaves and bring to a quick boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook covered stirring occasionally for 30-40 minutes. Add clams and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes and serve immediately.

Notes: I drain and rinse my clams because sometimes there is some residual sand and it's always better to wash that away.

You add the clams at the last minure because you just want them to heat through since they are already cooked. You don't want them to get too tough.

You can also serve this with chopped parsley if you like.

If you leave out the Old Bay seasoning you have just basic New England clam chowder.

One day I'm going to make it starting with fresh clams, but I haven't gotten that brave yet.

Posted by Dianne at 1:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack