Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

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.

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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.

Shrimp Arrabbiata

March 14, 2013

Got a late start on dinner tonight.  Part of the late start is because I went for a run in the sunny cold that brought on the need for a hot shower to clean up and warm up.  I decided to continue the warm up with dinner.  Frozen shrimp is a protein that thaws quickly so it’s an easy go to on nights like this.  An arrabiata is just a spicy tomato sauce so I pretty much always have the ingredients for that.  Jackpot.  I had all the stuff I needed for a yummy dinner.

Shrimp Arrabbiata

Believe it or not I made no substitutions tonight except for going the long way around when the recipe called for shortcuts.  The recipe called for pre-chopped onion and bottled minced garlic, but I chopped and minced myself.  It added about 5 minutes to the process.  Other than that I used dried basil from last summer’s garden; dried and ground hot peppers from the summer before; home canned tomatoes from two summers ago; and homemade fettuccine from two months ago.  I could hardly have asked for better ingredients, especially for such a simple dish where they really count.

This is so easy.  If you use shrimp that’s already peeled and deveined you’ll really cut down the prep time.  Next time I made this I’ll probably skip the step where you saute the shrimp first.  Since you boil this sauce until it thickens it seems to me that you could cook the shrimp in the boiling sauce.  It would add some nice flavor to the shrimp and save you a step.  Other than that your only adjustment is likely to be the amount of crushed hot peppers you add.  I added a little extra to continue my warming, but feel free to be conservative if you’re bothered by too much heat.

The next time you have guests unexpectedly or just want to have a few folks over on a week night keep this recipe handy.  It easy and so good and impressive enough to serve to company.  Enjoy!

Good?  Very good.
Easy? So, so easy.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Nope. Just start with good ingredients.

Shrimp Arrabbiata

Ingredients

6 ounces linguine
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
10 oz large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cupcchopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

Directions

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and keep warm.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with salt; add shrimp to pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done. Transfer shrimp to a bowl. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan. Add onion, minced garlic, basil, and crushed red pepper to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add tomato paste and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes or just until sauce begins to thicken. Return shrimp to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Serve over pasta.

Shrimp with Peppers

March 4, 2013

Happy Monday everyone.  It’s our last sunny day for a while so I wanted to make a dinner that seemed a little sunny.  Quick and easy seemed important too.  Cooking Light to the rescue – specifically the Quick & Easy section.  This wasn’t quite as quick and easy as I had anticipated,  but that’s my fault.  I’ll explain a little further down.  Suffice it to say that this is a sweet and sunny little dish.  A nice beginning to the evening.

Shrimp with Peppers

You wouldn’t think I could work in many substitutions to a ‘quick and easy’ recipe, but you’d be wrong.  I intended to buy a lime at the store yesterday, but they looked dreadful so I didn’t (completely forgetting that I needed one for this).  For Christmas last year some friends gave me a jar of lime powder.  It’s intended for use in baking, frostings, marinades, etc. so I figured I could use it in this sauce.  It worked fine, though honestly I could have used more.  I didn’t have fresh basil so I used some that I dried last summer.  The basil I dry from the garden has a better flavor than any I’ve bought at the store so it’s a better substitute for fresh in a recipe like this.  Finally, I was pretty far into making this when I went to the fridge for the hoisin sauce and realized I didn’t have any.  Yikes.  Thank the mighty interwebs for supplying a recipe to make my own.  Now you see why this wasn’t so quick and easy.  I had to stop in the middle to make hoisin sauce.  Kinda cool that you can do that though.  The recipe is absolutely easy though.  Chop, saute, mix, simmer, eat.  I used frozen, thawed shrimp because I despise peeling and deveining the fresh ones.  I’ll do it if I’m going to serve the shrimp in a salad or a ceviche, but if I’m just going to cover them in sauce I find that the frozen ones work just fine. 

The textures in this are nice.  The peppers and onions maintain a little crispness to balance the tender shrimp.  The flavors are good, not spectacular, but definitely good.  I used brown rice so there was a little nuttiness added.  I used pepper jelly I made and canned summer before last. I almost never get a chance to do that, so that was fun. The sauce is pretty darn sweet.  A touch too sweet for me, but that’s not too hard to fix.  The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of hoisin sauce.  That might be exactly right if you have a commercial jar (which I recommend), but not even close if you make your own.  I added 3 teaspoons to the pot and one more to my individual bowl.  It’s also possible that fresh lime juice would have cut the sweetness a little more.

I enjoyed my dinner and I’ll definitely eat the leftovers, but I don’t know that I’ll make the recipe again.  If you do, and you follow the instructions more closely than I did let me know what you think of it!

Good? Yep.  Good.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? Not so much.
Special shopping? Nope.

Shrimp with Peppers

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 1/2 cups red bell pepper strips
1 cup vertically sliced sweet onion
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 1/2 T dried)
2 tablespoons jalapeño jelly
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (or 1 teaspoon lime powder)
1/2 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 C cooked brown rice

Directions

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; sauté 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove shrimp from pan with a slotted spoon; keep warm.

Add bell pepper and onion to pan, and sauté for 2 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the orange juice; reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture, basil, jelly, and lime juice to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add hoisin sauce; cook 1 minute. Stir in shrimp, salt, and black pepper.

Serve over rice.

Creole Oyster Stew

October 20, 2012

Today was the kind of day that reminds me how happy I am to be a Virginian.  I drove over Afton Mountain and through part of the Shenandoah Valley with a friend.  Bright sunshine, warm temperatures and beautiful Fall leaves.  Pretty hard to beat.  But there’s more.    A little antiquing/junking that resulted in the purchase of a gorgeous hand-beaded cashmere sweater for $17 – even better.  But wait, there’s more still.  Oysters from Urbanna made into a rich and creamy oyster stew.   Nothing more required.

Honestly there’s not a lot of Creole to this stew.  It’s very mild.  Too much spice and you’d lose the flavor of the oysters.  I made half a recipe of stew.  It’s just me so I try to make small batches of things that don’t keep very long.  I won’t have any trouble getting through this – assuming I don’t have a heart attack.  There’s nothing light about this.  It has bacon, bacon grease, butter and heavy cream.  Fortunately only small amounts of each.  A little indulgence from time to time is good for the soul.

This is pretty easy to make.  Only one pot.  I didn’t substitute much today. I used dried thyme instead of fresh because that’s what I had.  I left out the parsley because the parsley in my vegetable drawer was beyond saving.  The other change I made was that I made a half recipe of stew, but used the full amount of celery and onions to give it a little extra bulk.  Other than that I followed the instructions.  If you don’t want to use bacon I think you could leave it out.  I’d probably add just a touch of liquid smoke for the flavor though. There’s a wonderful mix of flavors here.  Creamy, buttery, briny and smoky.  If I’d had some parsley there would have been a nice bright green accent too.  And it’s pretty.  Using white pepper keeps the stew clean.  And the oysters have beautiful ruffles when they’re cooked.

I highly recommend oyster stew as the end to a beautiful Fall day.  Buy local oysters if you can. And only in months that end in “ber.”  Enjoy!

Good?  So good.
Easy? Yep. Minimal chopping. Just some stirring.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? No, but be picky about your oysters.

Creole Oyster Stew

Ingredients

3 slices bacon, crumbled
2 T unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch cayenne
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 pint oysters, picked over for shells, liquid drained and reserved
2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions

In a large pot, cook the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.

To the fat remaining in the pan, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook gently, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the green onions, garlic, salt, white pepper, cayenne, and thyme and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring, to make a light roux, about 3 minutes.

Add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the reserved oyster liquor and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid thickens, about 4 minutes. Add the oysters and simmer until the oysters start to curl, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the cream and reserved bacon and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Serve hot with French bread.

Smoked Turkey, Collard Green and Shrimp Gumbo

October 15, 2012

This post has been a while in coming.  That’s kind of fitting because this dish takes a while to make.  I ended up making it over two days.  That’s definitely a way to do it if you don’t have 4 hours to hang out fairly close to the stove. This is one of those times when reading the recipe carefully all the way through before I started would have saved me a little inconvenience.  Turns out it doesn’t work well to start this at 5:30 thinking that you’re going to have it for dinner that evening.

 This is a rich, dark, smoky, salty gumbo.  Good stuff.  It’s a traditional flour and fat roux cooked to a dark brown.  Add some Guinness and it gets darker still.  By the time you’ve let some smoked turkey cook for 3 hours you’ve got a dark and smoky gumbo that’s reduced by about half.  Because it reduces so much be careful about the salt.  Don’t add any until the very end.  It concentrates.  That’s all I got done the first night.  I had to have time to let it cool before I put it away.  The next night I heated the gumbo, added some water and made a little extra roux so it wouldn’t be runny.  Then I added some fresh chopped collards and some I’d already cooked in smoked turkey pot liquor.  It took about 40 minutes for the fresh collards to cook down.  Five more minutes for the shrimp and you’re done – a mere 1 day and 45 minutes after I started.

A few tips.  The next time you’re going to make collards make 3-4 cups more pot liquor than you need to cook the collards and save it for making this gumbo.  You can freeze it until you need it.  Then cook enough collards that you have some for this recipe.  Freeze them until you need them.  Then chop the smoked turkey legs or wings from your collard pot and freeze it until you need it. (Are you getting the idea here?  Use your freezer!)  This way you’ve got most of the components done.  You just need to make the roux, chop the vegetables and add the elements you made ahead of time plus the shrimp.  I’m guessing you could do the whole thing in about 45 minutes that way.   

The truth is that this is worth the trouble.  I love the dark and smoky flavor.  The rice keeps it from being almost too rich to eat.  But it is rich, so start with small portions.  I made a half recipe and got 6 servings out of it.  Next time I’ll make a whole recipe and, you guessed it, freeze it!

Good? So, so good.
Easy? Not at all.
Good for company? My company enjoyed dinner and the leftovers I sent home.
Special shopping? Nope.

Smoked Turkey, Collard Green and Shrimp Gumbo

Usually I give you the recipe the way I made it, but since I messed up the timing I had to make some adjustments you won’t need now that you know what the timing is. What you see below is the original recipe from foodnetwork.com.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups small diced onions
3/4 cup small diced celery
3/4 cup small diced green, red, and/or yellow bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 (12-ounce) bottle stout beer (recommended: Abita Turbo Dog)
8 cups dark chicken stock, chicken stock, or water
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
4 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 pounds smoked turkey legs
1 pound collard greens, stemmed and rough chopped
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Steamed white rice, for serving

Directions

Heat a large, 6-quart, wide-mouthed Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the flour and oil to the pan and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, until the flour mixture is a deep chocolate brown color, about 20 minutes. Add the onions, celery and peppers to the roux and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, stir, and cook the garlic for 1 minute. Add the beer to the roux, stir, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock, thyme, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons of Essence, salt, and cayenne to the pan. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the turkey legs to the pan. Cook until the turkey legs are falling-from-the-bone-tender, about 3 hours.

Remove the turkey from the pot and transfer to a plate to cool. Add the collard greens to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. When the turkey is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and tear into bite-size pieces. Discard the skin and bones. Return the turkey meat to the gumbo. Season the shrimp with the remaining 2 teaspoons of Essence and add them to the gumbo during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Taste the gumbo, re-season if necessary. Serve with steamed white rice.

Tuna with Green Beans, Lemon and Wasabi

August 18, 2012

Another Saturday. More farmers’ market shopping; more weeding of the garden; more harvesting of the garden; more assorted household chores.  It was a full day that started pretty early so an easy dinner was the only option.  This is really easy.  It’s also fantastically good.  Really.  Fantastic.  And easy.  And fantastic.  Got it?

 

I got my tuna from Barham’s Seafood this morning and it is just beautiful.  A single piece that was nearly a pound and beautifully dark red.  I cut it into 3 pieces and cooked them all.  I picked the beans out of my garden this morning.  Hard to beat that.  In spite of a little skepticism I followed the recipe nearly exactly.  I used white sesame seeds because I didn’t have black ones, but other than that I put my trust in Rocco DiSpirito.

At first I was concerned that without any soy sauce or sesame oil the flavor would be flat and uninteresting.  I was so, so wrong.  Then, after smelling the dressing I was concerned that the wasabi would overpower every other flavor.  Wrong again.  This is really, really good.  The dressing is very bright and citrusy and very sharp, but somehow not at all too much.  It’s an amazing contrast.  The small touch of salt makes the other flavors really stand out.  What makes this work is the subtle, but distinct flavors of the tuna and the green beans.  They’re the perfect vehicle for a dressing this strong.  Then the buttery texture of tuna next to the crisp green beans really puts it over the top.

This is some kind of good, folks.  And it’s easy.  And it’s quick.  And it has an elegant presentation.  And it cost me about $5 per serving.  Not sure what else you could ask of a dinner.  I’m already looking forward to having the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Good? So, so, so good.
Easy? So easy.
Good for company? Elegant and wonderful, yes.
Special shopping? Nope, just get good tuna.

Tuna with Green Beans, Lemon and Wasabi

Ingredients

4 sushi-grade tuna steaks (3 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
12 ounces haricots verts or slim green beans, trimmed
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons wasabi paste
4 scallions (white and green parts), sliced thin on the diagonal
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat.

Season the tuna steaks with salt and pepper to taste, and spray them lightly with cooking spray. When the grill is hot, add the tuna and cook for 1 1/2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the tuna to a platter and allow it to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the haricots verts in the boiling water until they are just tender, about 3 minutes; drain.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and zest, garlic, and wasabi paste. Add the haricots verts, scallions, and sesame seeds. Toss to coat, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Thinly slice the tuna. Fan each portion onto each of 4 plates. Pile a mound of dressed haricots verts on top of the tuna, and serve.

Grilled Shrimp and Scallops

July 13, 2012

This is the picture of Summer!  I worked really hard today and decided to treat myself to a nice dinner.  Part of the treat was that it didn’t take much effort.  A quick stop by the seafood market; corn from the farmer’s market a few days ago; zucchini from the front yard.  Doesn’t get a lot easier than that.

The terrific thing about seafood is that you can use a light marinade, a creamy sauce or a spicy rub – seafood can take it all.  I was working with limited ingredients so I put the scallops in the last of the collard and olive pesto and the shrimp in some olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.  A couple of tips on marinating and grilling seafood.  One, if you’re using a citrus marinade don’t leave the seafood in too long.  The acid will ‘cook’ the seafood and then when you really cook it it will be rubbery.  Two, if you’re planning to cook small seafood like shrimp and scallops on the grill use skewers.  One skewer will keep it from falling through the grate.  Two skewers will make it much easier to turn so you can grill both sides.

That’s pretty much it for tonight’s dinner.  Some corn, that I must confess I did in the microwave, and some zucchini and onions that I did in my best cast iron skillet with a Vidalia onion.  So, so good.  When you’ve got food this good to start with simple is usually the best.

Good? What’s not to like about grilled seafood?
Easy? Yep. 5 minutes prep, 4 minutes on the grill.
Good for company? If you’re willing to share! But also easy to do for one or as a weeknight family dinner.
Special shopping? Start with the best seafood you can find. There isn’t much to cover up mediocre ingredients.

Spicy Braised Clams with Sausage and Corn

June 24, 2012

Welcome Summer!!!  It’s felt like Summer for a few weeks.  It’s been Summer (officially) for a few days.  It’s not Summer for me until the first of the local tomatoes and local white corn appear at the farmers’ market.  Hothouse vegetables don’t count.  So, now it’s Summer!  This first dish with the early produce is some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.  Ever.  Anywhere.  A. Maz. Ing.

This is so good I don’t even know where to start.  It’s just a few simple ingredients, but they’re all local.  The tomatoes and corn were picked on Friday so barely more than 48 hours off the plant.  The herbs and jalapeno (the first of the season!) came out of my garden.  The sausage was made by the pork geniuses at SausageCraft.  Tonight’s selection was the San Miniato.  It’s probably the simplest sausage they make – just garlic, salt and pepper – which made it exactly right for this dish.  The clams came from the good folks at Barham Seafood.  I have to say, I got 25 clams and you know how many opened?  25.  Every single one.  I don’t think that’s ever happened before.  I usually have to throw out one or two.  So, everything in this dish (except the wine) either came from the farmers’ market or my own yard.  You just can’t beat it.

The flavors in this are so clean and so well balanced that I wouldn’t change a thing.  Honestly it’s not really spicy at all.  You might consider using a couple of jalapenos or a little crushed red pepper, but don’t add too much.  You don’t want to overwhelm the lovely tomato, sweet corn and briny clams with a lot of pepper.  I did add some onion.  I just don’t understand dishes that have garlic and peppers, but no onion.  I have only one other recommendation.  Once the sausage is mostly cooked take it out of the pot and drain all but 1 tablespoon of the grease. You just don’t need more than that.   I also had to steam the clams 7-8 minutes instead of the 5 in the directions so don’t panic if you check after 5 and they aren’t all open.

The flavor isn’t the only fabulous thing about this dinner.  It takes about 30 minutes start to finish so it’s completely do-able for a weeknight dinner.  And the price is pretty decent.  All total it’s less than $10 a serving.  In a restaurant you’d easily pay $25.  You could bring the price down by skimping on the ingredients, but I don’t recommend it.  Make this a special occasion meal if the price is too high for every day.  The only thing that could have made this dinner any better would be eating it in my favorite cutoffs sitting on a dock.

Good? I can’t even describe how good.
Easy? Absolutely. And only one pot to wash.
Good for company? You bet, but you might not want to share.
Special shopping? Get good ingredients from nearby if you can. It’s Summer! You barely need the grocery store at all if you’ve got a good farmers’ market within a reasonable distance.

Spicy Braised Clams with Sausage and Corn

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil
8 ounces Italian sausage
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 chopped, seeded jalapeño pepper
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups chopped fresh tomato (about 4 tomatoes)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 1/2 pounds littleneck clams (about 2 dozen)

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add garlic, onion and jalapeño; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid reduces by 1/3 to 1/2, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in tomato, oregano, 1 tablespoon basil, salt, and black pepper; bring mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in corn; cover and cook 2 minutes.

2. Increase heat to medium-high; stir in clams. Cover and cook 7-8 minutes or until clams open; discard any unopened shells. Divide mixture evenly among 4 bowls; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon basil.

Grilled Tuna Skewers with Tomato-Olive Relish

June 8, 2012

Back from a week on the road and no food in the house.  My original plan was to eat some pasta with leftover marinara, roast some brussels sprouts I had left in the drawer and call it a day.  I didn’t want to do much in the way of grocery shopping since tomorrow is farmers’ market day.  I decided to go to Kroger for grapes, bananas, lemons and white beans (I wanted to make white bean hummus).  Rookie mistake – I went to the store hungry.  I came home with fruit, white beans, onions, olives, free-range chicken thighs and a lovely piece of fresh tuna.  Can’t let fresh tuna sit so I changed the dinner plan.

This is super easy, super healthy and super good.  No substitutions this time.  There are hardly enough ingredients to warrant any substitutions.   The spice rub for the tuna is light and fresh and has just a little kick.   The only thing that’s slightly tedious about this is making up the skewers.  I’d say that if making up the skewers is too much just keep the tuna whole; keep the onions and lemons in slices; and grill them that way.  It only takes about 2 minutes to cook the skewers, slightly longer if you’re grilling tuna steaks instead.  If you overcook the tuna it will be dry and chalky and you’ll have wasted your money.  Clearly 2 minutes isn’t long enough for the onions to do much more than warm up so if you’re not a fan of raw onions you’ll want to cook them longer.  You could put the onions on they’re own skewers and start them first.  Or you could divide the onion so the pieces are very small so they’ll cook a little faster.

The relish is a nice balance of sweet, salty and citrusy.  I used a mini-chopper to make the relish so that took about 2 minutes.  The only change I made here is that you don’t need all the olive oil that the recipe calls for.  The recipe is full of olives and they’re plenty oily once you chop them up fine.  I added just a drizzle of olive oil at the finish.  This is a relish that would be good on any kind of fish or chicken.  I’d bet it would also be good on a salad in place of dressing.  Make it in small batches though.  Fresh tomatoes aren’t as good after they’ve been refrigerated so just make what you think you’ll use in a meal or two.

This was a much better meal than the one I originally planned.  The great thing about making kabobs is that they’re quick to cook and easy to serve.  You can do them ahead.  They’re perfect for dinner parties!  So break out the grill; put some stuff on skewers; and invite the neighbors over.  Welcome Summer!

Good? Very good.
Easy? So, so easy.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Just be sure it’s very fresh tuna.

Grilled Tuna Skewers with Tomato-Olive Relish

Ingredients

1/3 cup chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds tuna steaks (about 1 inch thick), cut into 1-inch pieces
3 small red onions, each cut into 8 (1-inch) pieces
3 lemons, each cut into 8 wedges

Directions

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal, and shake well. Remove tuna from bag; thread 4 tuna pieces, 3 red onion pieces, and 3 lemon wedges onto each of 8 (12-inch) skewers. Set tuna skewers aside.
Prepare grill. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill 4 minutes on each side or until tuna is medium-rare or desired degree of doneness. Serve with Tomato-Black Olive Relish.

Tomato-Olive Relish

2 cups finely diced tomatoes
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped ripe olives
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 large garlic cloves, minced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes to an hour.