Archive for ‘Shellfish’

November 14, 2011

Chipotle Quinoa and Shrimp

This was a surprisingly good dish that I made the other day for Margie, who had been wanting to incorporate more quinoa into our diet.  Quinoa is a very healthy grain-like seed and often times is treated a lot like rice in how it is prepared.  Having not been a huge fan of quinoa with my first few encounters with it, I was very skeptical.  With good seasoning and ingredients such as this recipe, this turned out really well and we both agreed that we should make this again soon.

I originally came across the recipe on another blog, Karma Cucina, and had to try it myself.


Chipotle Quinoa and Shrimp


Serves 4

 

For the shrimp and marinade:

16 peeled jumbo shrimp

1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. seeded jalapeno pepper, minced

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

For the quinoa:

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. seeded jalapeno pepper, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 – 4 canned chipotle chilies, minced, with some of their adobo sauce

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. cumin

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

Salt* and pepper to taste

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

3/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1 avocado, skin and pit removed, cubed

Lime wedges

Directions:

Combine the shrimp and marinade ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag.  Seal tightly and work the mixture around with your hands until well combined.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, pour olive oil into a medium sized pot over medium heat.  Add garlic, jalapeno, and onion and cook 5 minutes or until everything has softened.  Add chipotle chilies and adobo sauce, oregano, and cumin and cook for an additional minute.  Turn the heat up to medium high and add the quinoa, salt, and pepper.  Toss around and coat evenly for 3 – 5 minutes.

Add the beans, corn, and stock, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove the lid and test the quinoa for doneness. When the quinoa is fully cooked, it will be tender and look like a semi-transparent globule with a cream colored orbit or curly string hanging off.   If it’s not quite there yet in appearance and is still a little crunchy, add a bit more stock, cover, and simmer for another few minutes.

Once done, remove from heat, stir in cilantro leaves, cover and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add shrimp and sear for approximately 2 minutes on each side or until the flesh is completely opaque.

Place a mound of quinoa on each dish and top with shrimp and avocado.  Serve with lime wedges.

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October 9, 2011

Spinach Gnocchi with Alfredo Sauce, Roasted Tomatoes and Crab

In celebration of our 1-year wedding anniversary, we decided to re-create the first joint dinner we made together when we first started dating. We clearly selected the spinach gnocchi for its sentimental value rather than its heart health rating.

This dish is rich and will easily serve 6 hungry gnocchi lovers.

Decadence on a Platter

 

Gnocchi Ingredients

1   lb. package chopped frozen spinach

8   oz. ricotta cheese, drained

1   c. all purpose flour

2   eggs, beaten

2-3 pinches freshly grated nutmeg

Freshly ground salt and pepper

24  cherry tomatoes

16 oz lump crab meat (omit for vegetarian option) – canned is fine since Alfredo sauce will dominate

Parmesan cheese to garnish

Alfredo Sauce Ingredients

*I am trying to recall what I actually included in the Alfredo sauce. This is not exact nor what my cooking that night. If feeling risk averse, look up a recipe online.

5 tbsp butter

5 tbsp flour  – many recipes did not call for flour but I found that creating a good white sauce base with flour (like my mom used to make) worked really well

2 cloves minced garlic

2 c. Half & Half or heavy whipping cream

1-2 c. parmesan cheese (according to how thick you like the sauce)

Salt and white pepper, to taste

Directions

Cook spinach according to instructions. Cool, drain, and squeeze dry. Chop finely. In a bowl, mix together spinach, ricotta, flour, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. With generously floured hands (keep re-flouring), form mixture into small sausage shapes and place on cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Patience will dictate how reasonably sized your gnocchi turn out (we had two clearly distinct size patterns).  Refrigerate 1+ hour or until firm.

To roast the cherry tomatoes: Preheat oven to 400F. Oil a roasting pan. Cut tomatoes in half and arrange cut side up in pan. Season with salt and pepper and roast 20 minutes or until blistered.

To make the sauce: Make alfredo sauce while the tomatoes are roasting. Melt butter, mix in minced garlic, and mix in flour until pasty but blended well. I can’t recall for sure, but I think I mixed in a little white wine at this point. Add cream in increments, making sure you blend until smooth before adding more cream. Add parmesan cheese in a couple of batches, melting and blending until smooth. Add white pepper and salt to taste. Keep on low heat while you finish cooking the gnocchi, stirring on occasion to prevent burning. Mix some of the smaller crab pieces in with the sauce (reserve the largest lumps to top the dish).

To cook the gnocchi: Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Drop spinach gnocchi, a few at a time into water. When floating at top, removed with slotted spoon. Drain and keep warm while cooking remainder.

To finish: Serve the gnocchi, add tomatoes, and cover with sauce (you might want to use less enthusiastic quantities of alfredo sauce than we did). Top with the larger pieces of crab. Finally, sprinkle with parmesan cheese. This dish pairs well with a bottle of chardonnay.

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June 7, 2011

Parmesan Crusted Scallops…and the Honorable Sigrid

Some people design a room around a prized piece of art or furniture. Margie designed a basement room around her foos ball table.  Likewise, many people will design a meal around a key ingredient or bottle of wine. When Mike’s mom, Betty, was in town last week, her prized bottle of Bergstrom Sigrid Chardonnay was our inspiration. We like Chardonnay, but have never tasted a Chardonnay this heavenly. This wine is nimble and performs a waltz on your tongue.  Feel free to snicker at this description (I sometimes mistake wine reviews for the Sunday comics), but only after you’ve sampled it.

The Honorable Sigrid

With Sigrid as our inspiration, we decided to make Parmesan crusted scallops with a clam and bacon risotto. Sauteed spinach was thrown in to provide veggie balance and aesthetics.

This recipe has a short cook time so it was important for us to employ a ‘mise en place’ strategy.

Terminology Time-outmise en place
 [MEEZ ahn plahs] is a French term used to describe the approach of getting ingredients assembled and prep work completed before launching headfirst into cooking. The key objectives are to ensure you have all the ingredients necessary and have them ready to go so that you can execute the recipe properly at the proper times. This prevents

With three cooks in the kitchen, we divided, conquered and had all of our ingredients prepped before starting in on the risotto.

  • Bacon was cooked and vegetables were chopped for the risotto.
  • Lemon Thyme Beurre blanc was started.
  • Scallops were prepped: they were washed, the legs were removed, and they were coated in the flour mixture. The parmesan mixture was assembled and egg was beaten (we held off on coating in the parmesan mixture until right before cooking the scallops).  

flouring the scallops

  • The butter used to fry the scallops was clarified.

Terminology Time-out: Clarified butter allows you to cook using butter (with all the yummy flavor that only butter can provide) at high temperatures without burning the food. To clarify butter, melt unsalted butter until it bubbles and spoon the foamy fat off the top. Pour off the clear liquid into a container (leaving behind any thick, milky residue at the bottom).  You can even freeze clarified butter if you seal it tightly.

Clarifying Butter

We had to open a bottle of dry, white wine to use in our risotto so we enjoyed an aperitif of Anne Amie vineyard’s Pinot Blanc after starting the risotto but before beginning to cook the scallops.

Clam and Bacon Risotto


Parmesan Crusted Scallops with Lemon Thyme Beurre Blanc

Makes 4 portions

8 each        large sea scallops with foot removed

to taste       salt & pepper

½ cup         flour

1 each         egg, whisked

1 cup           Japanese bread crumbs (Panko)

¼ cup         Parmesan cheese, shredded

½ cup         clarified butter  (can use olive oil, if need be)

1                   recipe Lemon Thyme Beurre Blanc

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season each scallop with salt and pepper and toss with flour. Mix bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese. Dip each scallop in egg, then press into bread crumb mixture, coating on all sides.

Preheat clarified butter in a large sauté pan.  Fry each scallop on both sides until golden brown.

Scallops before browning

Scallops after Browning

Place scallops on a baking sheet and bake for 3-4 minutes, until done. Serve with Lemon Thyme Beurre Blanc.

Lemon Thyme Beurre Blanc

20 each             lemon thyme sprigs

½ cup               Marsala wine

1 T.                  chopped onion

¼ cup               water

1 T.                  heavy cream

¼ lb.                whole butter, cut in cubes

as needed        salt and pepper

Directions:

Pull 1 tsp. lemon thyme off the sprigs and chop finely.  Reserve.  Save the rest of the sprigs for steeping in the wine.

Bring Marsala wine and onions to a boil in a small sauce pan.  Cook until it has reduced in volume by half. Add water and return to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add lemon thyme sprigs and steep for 20 minutes. Strain the wine mixture and return to sauce pan.  Add cream and chopped lemon thyme.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove pan from heat.  Whisk in butter cubes one at a time.  Let the butter melt and be incorporated before adding the next cube. Season as needed with salt and pepper.

As planned, we finished cooking the scallops last. We assembled a generous portion of risotto before planting the mammoth scallops and token greenery around it. The scallops were outstanding and extremely decadent. And did I mention the Sigrid???

The Final Dish


May 9, 2011

and we’re off…

Welcome to the blog!!!  This is our first attempt at joining the blogging world, so this may start out a bit rough, but hopefully will improve over time.  We really wanted to be able to document our fun, culinary expeditions in the kitchen, around town, and on our travels.  Cooking and good food is a passion of ours that we thought we could share.  We hope you enjoy riding along with us on our expeditions.

First up…

Linguine with clams

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb           littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
  • A few tablespoons flour
  • 2               tablespoons olive oil
  • 3               cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 3               slices on bacon, chopped (or pancetta)
  • 1/2 t.        chili flake
  • 1               lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup        white wine
  • 2 T.           parsley, finely chopped
  • 8 oz          linguine, cooked al dente
It is important that you find fresh clams for this recipe.  We are firm believers in fresh, high quality ingredients, not only for how they taste, but for our health.
You want to purge the clams first, which just means you’re making them spit out whatever sand they have left in them. Put the clams in a large bowl, cover them with cold water, and add a few tablespoons of flour. Let them sit for 30 minutes.
Change the water once or twice more.
Rinse them off, drain them, and set them back in the fridge.  (I had never done this before, but I didn’t taste any grit in the meal, so I guess it worked!)

ingredients are ready for cooking (clams are purging in the fridge)

Mmmm, bacon.

In a large pan over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until almost crisp.Add the garlic and chili, and lightly toast them.  Make sure not to burn the garlic, as it will take on a bitter taste.
Add the lemon zest and clams, followed by the lemon juice and white wine.

Cover the pan, and cook until clams open. It should only take a couple of minutes for clams to open, so watch carefully.  Discard any unopened clams.

Clams are ready! Only a couple didn't open...throw those out.

Add the linguine to the pan and mix it in with the clams.

Drizzle with olive oil, add parsley, and season with salt and pepper.

Everything is ready to go.

After everything is assembled in the pan, it is time to plate.  I used some new, large bowls that Margie got for us recently and their large sized really helped.  Time to eat!

Dinner is served!

Overall, I think this is a really simple recipe to make and it is a nice, refreshing choice.  It can be made on a weeknight and not take up too much of your evening and really looks fancy for the time you spent on it.  The chili flakes really bring a nice heat to the dish that was surprising.  Make sure not to over-do them, as I think it can get too spicy very quickly.

I paired the meal with a nice NW Pinot Gris From Sass Vineyards.