Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

Fish Tacos!

July 7, 2018

The fresh corn salsa is also amazing on fish tacos!  Hard to beat fish tacos, and topped with this salsa they’re darn near perfect.  The only drawback I can think of is that your house temporarily smells like fish.  A sacrifice totally worth making!

There are a lot of ways to make fish tacos.  You can fry the fish.  You can blacken the fish.  You can grill it.  You can pan sear it.  I mostly go the easy route and pan sear.  Add some chopped cabbage for crunch, some salsa, and a little lime crema. Heaven.

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I cut the fish into pieces and coat them in Tony Chachere’s.  It’s a spice combo that works well on tacos and pretty much anything else.

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When you pan sear pretty much anything just make sure you leave enough room in the pan.  You want the pan to be super hot so you get a nice sear.  If the pan is too full the pieces will kind of steam each other.  Not what you’re going for.  Also resist the urge to move the pieces around.  The get a sear from the contact with the pan.  Just let them sit 2-3 minutes and turn them once.  2-3 more minutes and you’re minutes away from tacos!

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For the crema, just squeeze some lime juice into some plain yogurt and add a little salt.  Maybe a little cumin.  You want it to be just thin enough to spread easily on the tacos.

Choose your delivery vehicle and stuff!  I like corn tortillas best.  For beef tacos I like the crunchy shells, but for fish tacos I like the soft white corn ones.  Use yellow corn if you prefer, or even flour.

One final tip.  Before you shake the hot sauce, make sure the top is on good.  Just sayin’.

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Steamed Spiced Summer

June 16, 2018

Super busy day.  Hot and steamy out.  Lots of chores.  One of my pups has had an iffy stomach for a couple of days so I made some chicken for him today.  Enough to last a couple of weeks.  Bake, chop, wipe up, bake, chop, wipe up.  Six pounds worth.  Throw in some pumpkin and he’ll be right as rain in no time.

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When it came time for my dinner I had no interest in creating another disaster in the kitchen.  One pot and 2 bowls.  That I can handle.  Steamed spiced shrimp is a favorite of mine. Always reminds me of the beach.  And vacation.  I could use one of those for sure!  Until then, these take less than 10 minutes start to finish.

I know you can buy your shrimp pre-steamed and pre-spiced from the grocery store or the seafood shop.  It’s super easy to do at home though and will save you some money.  You need a pot with a lid and either a steamer or a colander.  If you’ve got a lemon, great.  If not, fine.  You’ve got your choice of spices, but Old Bay is my choice.  Throw in some cocktail sauce and you’ve got yourself some dinner!

Put a little water in the bottom of a pot or pan and bring it to a boil.  Add part of a lemon to the water if you like. Meanwhile, put your shrimp, shells on, in the steamer or colander.  Add some Old Bay and some more of the lemon.  Once the water boils, put the steamer basket in the pot and put the lid on.  That’s it.  Wait a few minutes and voila!  Roll up your sleeves and dig in!

Catfish with Olive Relish

April 2, 2018

I love catfish.  Truly.  Most of the time it comes fried with slaw and hush puppies and that makes me a happy girl!  I don’t love frying fish at home.  It’s a mess.  And I don’t always want my fish to be fried.  I found the idea for this recipe in a giant cookbook of recipes from Gourmet magazine.  It turns humble (and cheap) catfish into something almost elegant.  I’d serve it to guests in a minute, which is about how long it takes to pull it together.

Here’s what you need:

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  • 2-4 catfish filets
  • 1 C mixed, pitted olives
  • 1 handful fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 t lemon zest
  • olive oil
  • salt

Here’s what you do:

  • Salt the catfish
  • Finely chop the olives and parsley
  • Mix the olives and parsley with the lemon zest and a little olive oil

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  • Wipe a little olive oil in the bottom of a pan with a tightly fitting lid
  • Place the fish, skin side down, in the cold, oiled pan, with the thin ends tucked under
  • Spread the olive relish on the fish

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  • Cover with a piece of parchment

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  • Cover with the lid
  • Turn the burner on to medium heat and cook, covered, 7-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the filets

What else?

That’s really it!  Seriously, it’s a 15 minute entree that you really can’t mess up.  That mini-chopper is a gift for small amounts of relishes like this.  I’ve had that since college, so 25 years or so.  Love it!  You can absolutely chop this with a knife, but it’s super fast with the tiny chopper.

If you’re reluctant to cook fish at home because you’re afraid of over or under cooking it, this is a great place to start. When the fish is done it will be opaque white and a fork will go through it easily.  It slices like butter with a hot knife.  Wonderfully soft, but not mushy.  The olive relish will warm, but keep it’s lovely color.

Here’s how it turned out:

So, so good.  I used a mixture of pimento stuffed green olives, kalamata olives and castelvetrano olives.  A nice combination of meaty, soft, salty, and briny.  The fish is buttery soft and mild.  I’m sure I’ll make this again and again.

Even if you’re not a fish person, I highly recommend this olive relish.  It’s a little chunkier and drier and not as salty as a store bought tapenade.  It would be fantastic on bread or crackers.

 

Super Bowl Sunday Shrimp: Etouffee

February 4, 2018

I’m in a disagreement with the NFL (I think Roger Goodell is a complete tool) and I have the hot hates for both of these teams so it’s unlikely I’ll watch much of the game tonight. Still, that shouldn’t preclude me from participating in the food extravaganza that is  Super Bowl Sunday.  I braved the grocery store yesterday and came home with shrimp etouffee and BBQ shrimp, or at least the components.

I have afternoon plans so I did all my prep when I got home from my volunteer gig at the SPCA.  Chopping done.  Shrimp peeled.  (Imagine my delight when I realized that they were already deveined!)  Shrimp stock on the stove.

Here’s what you need:

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1 Tbsp Creole seasoning (like Tony Chachere)
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Onion, Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Celery, Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Bell Pepper, Finely Chopped
1/8 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup fresh Tomatoes, diced
2 Cups Shrimp Stock
2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Hot Sauce (I like Frank’s)
3 Tbsp minced Italian Parsley
1 lb Good Quality Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined, Save shells for the stock
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

The stock almost makes itself here.  You’re already chopping celery, onion, pepper and garlic.  Put the ends and leftovers in a small pot as you go.  Add a couple of lemon slices, some salt and water.  Let it simmer, partially covered, for an hour or more.  Keep an eye on it so you don’t lose too much liquid.  Add water if you need to.  Easy peasy.  Drain it into a bowl or measuring cup.  You’ll need about 2 cups.

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Here’s what you do:

  • Melt the butter in a pan.  Add the onion, celery, pepper and garlic.  Saute until they begin to soften.
  • Add the flour.  Whisk the flour into the vegetables and stir constantly for 3-5 minutes, or longer to taste.

The key to etouffee is the roux.  The roux makes the gravy.  Etouffee means “smothered” so the gravy is everything. The longer you cook the roux, the darker it gets in color and in flavor.  This recipe calls for a blond roux, 3-5 minutes.  I cook mine 5-7 minutes for just a little extra brown.

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  • Whisk in a little stock, forming a paste
  • Add the stock a little at a time and keep whisking
  • Let the etouffee thicken as you add stock.  Use the stock to loosen and the heat to thicken as needed

When you add the first bit of stock the roux will form a paste.  It will ball up almost like a dough as you stir. See above. A whisk will help smooth this out.  You really do have to whisk the whole time.  If you walk away it will stick to the pan and likely seize up.  That’s how you end up with glumpy gravy.   It’s the bubbling temperature that makes the liquid thicken so once you’ve got the stock all in and the texture that you want, turn it way down.  You still need to stir as it simmers or you’ll get a skin on top, but not constantly.

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  • Simmer 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently

If the sauce gets too thick add a little stock to loosen it up.  If you run out of stock you can use water just as well.  Stir occasionally, but you can do other things at this point.   This simmers 20-30 minutes so this is your opportunity to put the rice on or make a salad or find yourself a beer.  Tonight, I cheated.  I used leftover rice.  Not even my rice.  Chinese takeout rice.  No joke.

Tip If you know you have a week with a couple of rice dishes in a given week stop by your local Chinese takeout place and buy a quart of rice.  It reheats just fine in the microwave if you add a little water and cover it.

At the end up the simmering time you’ll have a beautiful caramel colored etouffee.

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  • Add the shrimp and parsley.  Simmer 7-8 minutes until shrimp is cooked through
  • Add butter
  • Serve with rice

If you’ve cut the temperature back for the simmer, turn it back up some when you add the shrimp.  You need a pretty decent simmer to cook the shrimp quickly enough that they don’t get rubbery.  Be sure to give large shrimp 7-8 minutes.  Don’t go by color.  When you cook them this way they’ll turn pink on the outside before they’re cooked all the way through.

Adding the butter at the end gives the sauce a nice shine.  Doesn’t hurt the flavor any either.  If you’ve added a lot of stock or water to make the consistency right, you may need to add extra Creole seasoning and/or hot sauce.  You can always make that available for each person to add to taste as well.

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Tip  If you’re making this for guests do everything up through simmering the etouffee before folks arrive.  You can let that sit until you’re ready for it.  You may have to skim it, but probably you can just bring it back to a simmer and add a little water to get it ready for the shrimp.

Here’s what I thought:

It’s shrimp in spicy gravy.  Of course it’s good!  I actually prefer the roux a little darker.  I just got impatient tonight.  The recipe I started with called for homemade Worcestershire sauce and homemade Creole seasoning.  I’m all about doing things from scratch, but this seemed like overkill to me.  And I left out the thyme because I don’t have any.  I didn’t miss it.

This is darn good Super Bowl food.  Easy to make for a crowd.  Good with beer.  Eat with a spoon.  A very nice step up from chili.  Enjoy!

 

Super Bowl Sunday Shrimp: BBQ Shrimp

February 4, 2018

No chips and dip for this girl this Super Bowl Sunday!  Don’t get me wrong, I love chips and dip.  Tonight I decided to up my game.  Shrimp and more shrimp.  Let’s start with BBQ Shrimp.  This really, really couldn’t be easier.  Easy to do for a few or a crowd.  Messy for sure.  And totally worth it!

This is so easy you don’t even have to shell the shrimp!  Most New Orleans recipes use head-on shrimp.  I got my shrimp at the grocery store and they come without the heads.   I’m okay with that.  They also came shell-on, but de-veined.  Perfection!  I only made 1/2 a pound of these because I’ve got etouffee coming later, but I could eat a whole pound of these, or more, without batting an eyelash.

All it takes is Worchestershire, lemon juice, pepper, creole seasoning and butter.  That’s it.  Now, my sauce separated tonight so the butter didn’t integrate into everything else to make a unified sauce.  Know what?  Still good.  Doesn’t look nice.  Tastes great.  And it’s football food so I’m going to go with taste!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb large raw shrimp , unpeeled
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon, reamed)
  • 3 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning (I use Tony Chachere)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cups (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • Crusty bread as accompaniment

Here’s what you do:

In a large skillet combine shrimp, Worcestershire, lemon juice, black peppers, Creole seasoning, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute on each side. Reduce heat to moderate and stir in butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly and adding more only when butter is melted. Remove skillet from heat. Place shrimp in a bowl and pour sauce over top. Serve with French bread for dipping.

The constant stirring matters.  It’s what keeps the sauce from breaking.  I was slicing bread and looking for leftover containers, etc while I made these so the stirring didn’t really happen.  Thus the ugly sauce.  Served with local Billy Bread from Lecker Baking.

10 minutes start to finish.  Can’t beat that!  Grab some napkins and gather round!

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Shrimp and Grits

January 28, 2018

After running with some dogs at the Richmond SPCA, I spent my day cleaning the house.  I’ve had a sick pup so the rugs needed some serious attention.  I knew that after a day with the carpet shampooer I’d need a nice dinner.  Shrimp and grits is the best way to combine comfort food with treating yourself a little fancy.  And there are a million ways to make it.  Some people feel very strongly that there’s one “real” way to make shrimp and grits.  I can be happy with them just about any way they come.

Tonight I went a little fancy with grits cakes.  I made the grits this morning so they’d have time to cool and firm up.  I like my grits stiff enough to eat with a fork so the texture is right.  Use quick cooking grits for this. Not instant.  Never instant.  For savory dinner grits like this I often use some kind of stock instead of water and/or milk.  I had some chicken soup base in the freezer so I diluted that and added some salt.  At the end a little Parmesan and some butter.

Tip Have you ever had grits at a restaurant that tasted like nothing?  And no matter how much butter or salt you add, they still taste like nothing?  It’s because whoever made them, they didn’t salt the water.  You have to salt the water.  The salt has to cook into the grits.  If it doesn’t, you can never put enough salt on top of them to make them good.

Ok, if you want to make grits cakes your grits should be thick enough in the pot that they stick to a spoon.  Then you spread them in a jelly roll pan that has parchment paper lining the bottom.  Let them chill in the fridge for a few hours.  Then you can cut them in whatever shapes you like.  Tonight I used a biscuit cutter to make pretty rounds.  You could just as easily use a knife to cut squares or triangles.  With rounds you’ll have some edges leftover.  I’m all set for breakfast for a few days!

For the shrimp: peel them, remove the tails; devein them.  Please remove the tails.  It’s messy to remove the tails with a knife and fork and weird to have them left in your bowl at the end of the meal.  Besides, you end up leaving the tail meat behind.  Leave the tails on for cocktail shrimp or peel and eat, but if you need utensils to eat the dish, do yourself and your guests the courtesy of removing them.  Then run the tip of your knife down the back of each shrimp to remove the vein. You can use the flat of your knife to scrape the vein out.  Or, you can buy them already peeled and deveined.  Just don’t buy them already cooked!

For this version of shrimp and grits, there’s bacon.  Can’t go wrong there.  And again, I have plenty leftover for breakfast!  The only other ingredients are peppers, onions, garlic, more stock, white wine and lemon juice.  I added a little flour as well to thicken the sauce, but you could easily cook the sauce down instead.

Reheat your grit cakes in the oven and serve the shrimp and sauce over them.  Yum!  I even did one as a beautiful appetizer.  Perfect for an elegant dinner party or dinner for two or as the start to a lovely dinner for one!

 

Here’s what you need:

For the grits

 

  • 4 C stock
  • salt
  • 1 C quick grits
  • 1/2 C Parmesan
  • 1 T butter

For the shrimp

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Tip  I keep a few of those little wine bottles around for occasions like this.  If you need a little wine for cooking, but don’t plan to open a bottle for drinking, they’re just the right thing.  It’s not the best wine you’ll ever have, but it’s absolutely drinkable.  And if you’d drink it you can cook with it.  For me, this is a great way to have 1/2 C for a recipe and one glass with dinner.

  • 3 slices bacon, cooked crisp, 1 T bacon grease reserved
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T flour
  • 1/2 C stock
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt, pepper, Tabasco to taste
  • sliced green onions for garnish

Here’s what you do:

For the grits

  1. Bring the stock to a boil.  Add salt to taste.
  2. Stir in the grits and cover.
  3. Stir often to keep them from sticking to the bottom.
  4. Cook 15 minutes or so until the grits are cooked, but still slightly toothy.

For the grit cakes

  1. Spread the cooked grits into a jelly roll pan lined with parchment.
  2. Chill in the refrigerator 2-3 hours or up to overnight.
  3. Cut into shapes.
  4. Place on a baking sheet.
  5. Heat in a 300 degree oven 8-10 minutes, until warm through.
  6. Keep warm for serving.

For the shrimp

  1. Fry the bacon, drain and set aside.  Pour off the grease, leaving 1 T in the pan.
  2. Add the pepper, onion and garlic.  Stir until they soften.
  3. Stir in flour until it disappears.
  4. Add stock and wine.  Stir until the sauce begins to thicken.
  5. Add the shrimp.  Cook 3-4 minutes, flipping 1/2 way through.
  6. Squeeze the lemon over the shrimp.  Add salt and Tabasco to taste.
  7. Serve over the warmed grits cakes, topped with the green onions.

Noodle Friday!

January 12, 2018

8 mile run in the morning means noodles the night before!  I told you last week that you’d see a lot of carb-loading Fridays, but I’m determined that they won’t all have an Italian theme.  Tonight’s noodles are Asian, but by all accounts not from Singapore as the name would suggest.  They’re called Singapore Noodles.

I travel to London for work quite a bit.  There are a couple of Asian chains that we don’t have in my part of the world that have become my comfort spots when I’m too tired or jet lagged to adventure some place new.  It doesn’t hurt that both are within a few blocks of my regular hotel.  I order Singapore Noodles at one of them nearly every trip.  There’s also a place close to my house that has a Curried Chicken and Rice Noodles dish that’s kind of similar and I love it as well. So, I’ve been looking forward to making this dish for a long time.

Here’s the thing.  These suck.  They just don’t taste like anything except curry powder and heat.  I’ll admit that I didn’t use the pork.  Believe me when I tell you that isn’t the problem.  I also didn’t have the shaoxing wine and I didn’t have time to go to an Asian market today, but I looked carefully and used some mirin as a substitute.  Still not the problem unless someone can tell me that shaoxing wine is a flavor bomb.

And they’re a fair amount of work.  There are a lot of ingredients and a lot of chopping here, not to mention peeling and de-veining the shrimp.

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Wok cooking, as this is intended to be, requires very high heat.  I don’t have a wok at the moment so I chose the biggest pan I have.  I needed something with a broad surface area so I could leave the gas up high without having flames on the outside of the pan.  The good thing about working with heat this high is that as long as you keep everything moving you don’t need a lot of oil or liquid.  Good thing.  The splatter at this heat would really hurt.  Because you have to keep everything moving it’s super important to do all your chopping and measuring before you start.

How does it work?

In this recipe you scramble the egg first and remove it from the pan.  Then you wipe out the pan so you don’t end up with burned bits in your food in the end.  Be careful about that too.  I have a new burn mark on my arm because I didn’t pay attention to the edge of the pan.  Have a mentioned that the heat is super high?  Ouch.

Then put in the shrimp.  10 seconds.  Add onions, carrots, peppers.  30 seconds.  Keep everything moving!  Add cabbage, red pepper, curry powder.  Add the mushrooms.

Stir in softened rice noodles.

Add 1 T shaoxing wine, 1/2 T soy sauce, 1/2 T sesame oil.  Add green onions.

I should tell you that never in my life have I met with success soaking rice noodles in cold water.  Maybe I don’t start them soaking early enough, but I do follow the instructions on the package.  It doesn’t matter if it’s flat noodles for pad thai or these vermicelli sticks, I always end up putting them in a pot on the stove and heating the water until the noodles are soft enough.

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SOOOOO disappointed.  They look basically like the picture from the recipe.  I just can’t believe they’re supposed to taste (or not taste) like this.  You’ll note from the photos below that I made a LOT of this stuff.  I tried to doctor up the bowl I ate.  I met with enough success that I managed to avoid throwing them in the trash and ordering a pizza.  I’m not sure I can make it happen for the leftovers.

Here’s the recipe I used in case you want to give it a try.  And if you have success, please let me know!

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Maybe I should have realized that with all these noodles and vegetables and 1 1/2 tablespoons of Madras curry powder, 2 tablespoons total of wine, sesame oil and soy sauce wasn’t going to cut it for flavoring.  I didn’t have much mirin, so in the doctoring process I moved on to dry sherry.  And then to rice wine vinegar.  And more soy sauce.  And then more of everything.  I really tried.

It’s a good lesson.  It doesn’t work every time.  Part of being an adventurous cook is failing.  This was a failure. This may be one of those things that just falls for me on the “Buy” side of the “Make or Buy” consideration.

So, here’s the finished product that I actually ate for dinner.  It looks pretty good, right?  Sigh.

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Catfish Curry

January 2, 2018

Yep, catfish curry, Thai style.  It’s really flipping cold in Virginia this week and I wanted something warm.  I also had a drawer full a vegetables that I bought with a plan I have long since forgotten.  And also some catfish that needed a plan ASAP.  Curries are pretty flexible about what you put in them and I adore anything in coconut broth, so here we are.

You’ll need a few pantry staples if you want to be able to throw a curry together on the fly.  All of this is readily available in the Asian foods section of a standard grocery store.  Curry paste – red, green, yellow, all of the above.  Coconut milk, the canned kind, not the refrigerator kind.  Lite is fine.  I only use regular coconut milk if a recipe specifically says that Lite won’t work.  Fish sauce.  It’ll be in a bottle, not a jar.  And it’s funky, but adds a lot of depth.

Pretty much every fish curry recipe you’ll find calls for “firm, white fish.”  Something like haddock or cod or sea bass.  If you’re worked with catfish you know there’s nothing firm about it.  It dang near falls apart when you cut it in pieces.  Still, it’s what I had and mild enough that I figured it would work.  I actually started with a Chicken and Vegetable Curry recipe from my Cherry Bombe cookbook.  That’s how flexible Thai curries are.  Fish instead of chicken.  Cauliflower instead of bok choi.  No jalapeno.  Add brown sugar.

You really can kind of wing it as long as you pay attention to your substitutions and their cooking time.  It takes fish much less time to cook than chicken and cauliflower much longer than bok choi so I adjusted accordingly.

What do you need?

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2 T oil (canola, safflower, something plain)

1/2 an onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 inch peeled fresh ginger – all chopped fine

2 bell peppers, sliced

2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced or diced

1/2 small head of cauliflower, cut small and pre-roasted

2 T green curry paste

1 can lite coconut milk

1 T fish sauce

2 catfish fillets, cut into 1 inch chunks

1 diced jalapeno (optional, and not included above)

1 pinch brown sugar (optional)

How do you do it?

It looks like kind of a long list of ingredients, but it’s really easy to make.  Do all your chopping ahead of time.  Keep items that go in the pot together, together on the cutting board.  Then you can just scrape them right off the board into the pot.

I recommend dicing your own onion, garlic and ginger.  The flavor is just nicer.  But if you have to choose between ordering a pizza or using frozen diced onions and garlic and ginger from a jar, do what you have to do.  Be aware that there’s water in the pre-chopped things so when they hit that hot oil they splatter!  Be prepared!

Heat the oil in a medium stock pot or large pan.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger.  Saute 3-4 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, peppers, and cauliflower.  Saute 5 more minutes.

Stir in the curry paste.  Cook 2 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and fish sauce.  Bring to a low boil.

Add the catfish.  Make sure it’s covered by the liquid.  Reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 10-15 minutes until the fish is cooked through and the sauce thickens a little.

Stir in a pinch of brown sugar.

Serve as a soup or over rice.

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How did it turn out?

It’s ugly, but it’s good.  Not my favorite curry, but good.  I think it needs another vegetable.  I’ve got some carrots that I can roast tomorrow and add in to the leftovers.  They’ll add some sweetness and some texture.

 

Grilled Mahi Tacos

April 14, 2013

It’s been a busy weekend.  Yesterday I ran my first 10K (yay!).  Today I finished the mowing, tilling and edging in the yard.  Then a very successful shopping trip.  I rounded out the day with a Harpoon Summer Ale and a little grilling.  This month’s Cooking Light has a feature on tacos so it’s taco week at my house.  Fish tacos are my favorite so I started with those.  Easy, light, awesome!

Grilled Mahi Grilled Mahi Tacos

You don’t really need a recipe for fish tacos though there are some good ones out there.  If you start with good fish (and you should) I recommend doing as little as possible to it.  I had a 1.5 pound mahi filet that I dressed with a little olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper and lime juice.  No need for anything else.  Just don’t leave the lime juice on too long.  It “cooks” the fish as it sits.  Heat the grill until it’s very hot then grill the fish 4-5 minutes on each side.  Much less if your fish is thin.  That’s it for the fish.

I dress my fish tacos with slaw, avocado, cilantro and lime juice.  Yum!  Many recipes you’ll find for fish tacos call for cabbage and some kind of cream.  Since my slaw is just cabbage, Duke’s mayo, salt and pepper I use that rather than making a crema.  (That way I have slaw left for hot dogs too).  I use corn tortillas because I prefer them.  I heat them slightly in a dry cast iron skillet.  You could do the same by putting them on the hot grill for a few seconds.  It makes them soft enough to make them pliable.  If you leave them too long they’ll start to crisp.  That’s fine if you’re making fish tostados, but not so great for tacos.

This is one of my favorite meals.  It’s everything that’s wonderful about Summer.  Light and yummy and bright and creamy and filling.  Put a beer on the side and it’s pretty hard to beat!

Good? So good.
Easy? So easy you don’t need a recipe.
Good for company? Not many folks will turn down fish tacos.
Special shopping? Nope, just get good fish.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers with Spicy Red Clam Sauce

March 18, 2013

Yet another cold and rainy Central Virginia day.  Seriously tired of this weather.  Since the weather was the same old, same old I decided that dinner needed to be something new and exciting.  I took a package of uncooked sausage stuffed banana peppers out of the storage freezer a couple of days ago and they were exactly the right thing to start with.  A little reminder of Summer as the peppers came out of my very own garden.  I needed something more interesting than marinara for these.  I decided to try them with red clam sauce, a new sauce for me as I prefer the white, which would have been awesome on these too.  You might be interested to know that “sausage stuffed peppers” is the most searched phrase on this blog.  I’m hoping you’ll like this one as much as I did!

Red Clam Sauce Stuffed Peppers and Clam Sauce

There’s nothing to the peppers except to halve them (or not); take the veins and seeds out and pack them with raw sausage.  This is a mild italian sausage from Faith Farm.  Banana peppers are so mild that you’d lose them completely with anything stronger.  I used my Food Saver to vacuum seal these and they’ve been in the freezer since August 2011.  I’ll say this for the Food Saver – it really works!  Not a  bit of freezer burn on these.

The sauce is easy too.  Since the real focus of this dish is the peppers I didn’t bother to use fresh clams.  The canned ones work just fine here.  I sliced the garlic instead of mincing it.  Bigger pieces seemed better.   I added some chopped onion, not called for in the recipe, because I don’t understand tomato sauces without onion.  If you’re like me and often burn the garlic (which then you have to throw out and start over because it’s so bitter), adding the onion helps prevent that too.  I used about four times the amount of fresh parsley.  With the salt in the clams and the sausage combined I thought some extra sweet, green-ness was in order.  Finally I added some extra crushed hot peppers because I like the heat.

So, how did it turn out?  It’s fantastic!  It’s bright and briny and green and wonderfully warm.  The flavors really balance each other nicely.  A tiny squeeze of lemon juice might be a nice addition.  I served it over a little orzo.  Nice time I might forego the pasta in favor of some crusty bread.  I also look forward to making these when I have fresh peppers on hand.  Having a little crunch left in the peppers will be a nice addition to an already yummy dish.  Bring on the Summer!

Good? So very good.  A perfect combination.
Easy? Absolutely.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Not at all.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers with Spicy Red Clam Sauce

Ingredients

6 large banana peppers, halved, seeds and veins removed
1/3-1/2 lb mild italian sausage

Two 10 oz cans whole clams
One 6 oz can chopped clams
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot peppers or more to taste
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes packed in juice, drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
<h3<Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peppers:
Stuff each pepper half with enough sausage to just fill it. Place the peppers in an 8×8 glass baking dish. Set the peppers aside.

Sauce:
Drain the clams reserving 1/2 cup of their juice and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the reserved clam juice and tomatoes, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Cover, and lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cook for 15 minutes.  Stir the clams and parsley into the sauce.  Heat back to a simmer.

Pour half of the sauce over the peppers. Cover the dish lightly with foil. Bake 30-35 minutes. Serve over orzo or with crusty bread.

Freeze the remaining sauce for a future use.