Seafood

Steamed Mussels with Andouille and White Wine

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Wow.  It is definitely weird how much having a new full-time job affects your life.  There’s a whole new schedule to figure out, there are weeks of intense training, there’s tests, new policies and procedures, new people, new office. . . well, you get the point.  So my mind has been preoccupied lately, which explains the dearth of postings lately.  Sometimes you just have to make a paid gig a priority!  But I am sad that I’m probably gonna have to close up the bakery at this point.  Just a sign o’ the times!  Maybe I’ll just go super-super small-scale, although there is a limit to the amount of downsizing that you can do, especially if your workforce consists of one.

I could eat this everyday!

So this is my attempt at achieving some sense of normalcy — a return to blogging, a return to working out, a return to volleyball (that is, if my injuries would stop lingering).  I would like to stress the word “attempt”.  It may take me some time to really figure out how to balance everything.  What makes it more challenging is that my work schedule isn’t exactly always set in stone.  Eh, it’s a work in progress, much like everything else in life.

Anyhoo. . . on to the recipe!  Now mussels are one of my most favorite things to eat.  Just throw them into a pan with some white wine and dinner is ready in like 5 minutes!  Really.  It’s not the most user-friendly, mainly because you have a whole bunch of shells to deal with when your done.  Which is why I try to schedule meals like this the day before trash day.  I don’t need bits of shellfish lingering in the trash for several days.

Now that I’ve gotten that lovely image out of the way we can get back to the recipe.  It’s relatively simple and it’s easily changed to fit whatever ingredients you have around.  This time around I had some onions, garlic, celery, Roma tomatoes, and some basil.  Throw in the little bit of Andouille that I had bought specifically for this and you get one of my most favoritest dishes.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs mussels, cleaned and beards removed
  • 1/4 lb. andouille sausage
  • 1 rib of celery, 1/4 in. diagonal slice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 c. basil, chopped
  • 1-2 c. white wine
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1.  In a large pan, sauté the Andouille for about 3 minutes.  Add the celery and onion and sauté for about 2 minutes.

2.  Add the tomatoes, garlic, and half of the basil.  Cook for another 2 minutes.

3.  Throw in the mussels and white wine and cover.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Then remove the cover, stir the mussels, and return the lid.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

4.  Top with remaining basil.  Serve over pasta, or rice, or with crackers, or with a straw (or just slurp it out of the bowl).

Notes — If some of the mussels don’t open, throw those out and don’t eat them.  Bad things might happen if you don’t!. . .  Don’t forget to visit Jereme’s Kitchen and Daisy Cakes on Facebook. . .

Quick cocktail party appetizers #1 — Tartlets and Bourbon

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So I’ve been a little preoccupied lately (and that’s why, but that’s because I’ve been busy planning a cocktail party).  But I’m back now and these are some of the things that I came up with.  I wasn’t sure what to serve even got some suggestions from other bloggers like The Breakfast Bachelor (I ran out of time to make his suggestion of Rosemary Sweet Potato Fries).  Since it was a cocktail party I wanted to do things that were easy to eat — finger foods, really.  Here’s what I had decided on serving (in addition to 2 big main course type things [pulled pork sandwiches and tater tot casserole] which I hope to discuss soon) — smoked salmon tartlets, leek and artichoke tartlets, double cheese napoleons, salami crisps, endive with herbed goat cheese, chocolate dream cake — black forest variation, Deviled Eggs, gougère, and Kale – radish – fennel salad.  Unfortunately I don’t have pictures for everything, but I do for most things.

Alright so it wasn't a cocktail party -- it was a bourbon tasting. This is what we had. And I am aware that Rye is not Bourbon.

Here, I’ll focus on the tartlets.  These are easy and quick to make.  If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll already know how to make the shells (so visit me on Facebook).  But since that includes only 13 of you, I will go over it here.  This idea I adapted from Martha, but she used mini cupcake pans and cut the wrappers into small circles.  I don’t bother with cutting and I use a standard cupcake / muffin pan.

Such a quick step. These can last on the counter in an airtight container for about 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months or so.

Here’s what you need:

  • one package wonton wrappers (square or round), mine had 4 dozen in it
  • vegetable oil

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Brush both sides of the wrapper with oil and stuff it into the cups of a muffin tin.

2.  Bake for between 8 – 10 minutes until golden.  If you use a darker pan, it will darken faster.  Allow to cool on a rack before filling.

Artichoke and Leek Tartlets.

For the artichoke and leek tartlets:

This is a quick and easy version of an artichoke and leek lasagna that I make.  Here’s what you need:

  • 4 leeks
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts; chopped, drained, and rinsed
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 – 3 T. olive oil

1.  Cut leeks in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/4 in slices.  Soak those in water to make sure that you clean out any sediment and then spin it dry.

2.  Heat the olive oil in the pan and add the dried leeks.  Stir to coat; add salt and pepper.

3.  Cover and cook for five minutes on medium heat.  Uncover and raise the heat to medium high and sauté for about 10 minutes or until tender.  Add the artichokes off the heat and allow mixture to cool.

4.  Spoon into prepared wonton cups.

Smoked Salmon Tartlets. I probably could've sliced to pickle thinner but they still tasted good.

For the smoked salmon tartlets:

No real recipe here.  I just made a batch of my smoked fish spread #1, but omitted the capers.  Instead I put slivers of pickle on top.  It would have been better if I used cornichons, but I don’t normally have those in my fridge.  Besides, those are just small pickles anyway.

The tartlets went quick. Good thing I had lots of extra shells.

Smoked Fish Dip #1

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I know I did this a little bit backward, but here is my Smoked Fish Dip #1.  Sure, I posted to #2 recipe first, but like I said before, that one isn’t as strong with the “tang”.  This one is my favorite of the two just because the flavors are bigger — the ratio of smoked fish:cream cheese is higher, there’s some tang from the sour cream, lemon juice, and capers; and there’s some heat from the horseradish.  The instructions are pretty much the same as the other recipe.

What's that? Can I have some?

Here’s what you need:

  • 6 oz. smoked fish
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 t. horseradish
  • 1 T. capers
  • fresh dill, to taste

Coarsely chop the fish; if you like a smoother dip, chop the fish into smaller bits.  In a bowl, beat the cheese until nice and creamy.  Mix in the sour cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Add the horseradish, capers, dill and mix well.  Fold in the fish.  You can let this sit for an hour or so if you like, but it is ready to serve.

I can help you finish that!

Smoked Fish Dip #2

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Here is one use of all that smoke fish I got in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan, if you haven’t been following my most recent posts).  Now this is called “Smoked Fish Dip #2” because it is my second favorite.  But it’s the one that we made and it’s still very good.  This recipe is a lot milder than my #1, which may appeal to more folks, especially if you don’t eat a lot of smoked fish.  The flavor can be a little intense, but I love that smokey goodness.  And what’s nice is that this is quick and easy to make, although you may want to let the dip sit for a little bit so that the flavors can marry a little bit.

Here’s what you need:

  • 8 oz. smoked fish (this recipe used whitefish, but use what you like)
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • a couple of dashes of hot sauce, to taste
  • 2 T. chopped chives

Coarsely chop the fish; if you like a smoother dip, chop the fish into smaller bits.  In a bowl, beat the cheese until nice and creamy.  Add the fish, salt, pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire and mix well.  Fold in the chives.  You can let this sit for an hour if you like, but it is ready to serve!

I thought using my fishing-themed salt and pepper shakers was appropriate.

Labor Day with the family

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Batten down the hatches!!!  My parents and my brother are driving up from Florida to visit me for Labor Day.  Plus I got some other cousins and aunts and uncles coming in from about an hour away.  Lord help!  It’s not that I don’t want them to visit — it’s the planning that can be tricky.  And figuring out a menu isn’t going to be easy.  Maybe I can talk my cousin into bringing something to help with the menu.  What would be nice is having a whole roast pig, but since that ain’t gonna happen I’m going to have to improvise.  And too bad my grill just busted.  Good thing there’s still the trusty Smokey Joe. . . and as a side note, here’s what the Department of Labor says about Labor Day.

Luckily, another aunt and uncle (also from Florida) came in for a visit a few weeks ago so the meal they had here was essentially a trial run.  But since there’s gonna be more people, I’m going to need to expand a bit.  I do want to make some stuff focused on local goods and made in Michigan things, but I also want to make some things that I know they’ll like.  I did find some Labor Day ideas at Grilling.com, Martha, and Yum Sugar.  So here’s what I might end up doing (which I hope to post on these new ones soon):

Roast pork shoulder

Sautéed green beans with mushrooms

Ratatouille

Grilled corn

Fresh Lumpia

Bibingka

Zucchini Ribbons with Garlic Confit

Empanadas

Steamed Mussels with Glass noodle

Koegel’s viennas

Something with Rhubarb (probably a Raspberry and Rhubarb tart)

San Miguel

Oberon

_______________

Of course all this planning might just go out the window, so I’m going to wait until the last minute to do any shopping.  There’ll probably be a trip to Windsor in the making.  Or maybe a quick jaunt to Toronto (if I’m lucky)!

Tuna Ceviche with Avocado and Watermelon

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It’s still summer (although the weather up here the past couple of days would make you think otherwise) and one of the things that I love on a hot summer’s day / night/ or whatever is Ceviche.  This is a different take than my usual recipe in that it’s a more on the sweet side of things.  I had some nice watermelon in the fridge so I thought it might be nice to incorporate everything together.  And I use some orange juice in the marinade in addition to the lime.  Plus there’s a new take on a traditional ceviche because I hate cilantro.  So I thought that I could maybe get around this by using some whole coriander seed.  Two completely different tastes, but at least they come from the same plant (in case you didn’t know that).  So I can kinda say that there’s cilantro in it, it just hasn’t grown yet.

You can use other kinds of seafood in this one.  Scallops work nice, squid is good too, haven’t used octopus though.  Since it is National Catfish Month, you could totally use that!  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb. Ahi Tuna, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
  • 1/2 t. whole coriander
  • 1/4 t. whole fennel
  • 6-8 limes, juiced & zested 4 of them
  • 1 1/2 c. orange juice
  • pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 -2 c. diced watermelon
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. sambal oelek (chili paste), or add however much you like
  • 1 T. toasted coconut
  • salt & pepper, to taste

1.  In a container, combine the tuna, coriander, fennel, zest, lime juice, orange juice, and pepper.  Marinate the mixture for about 2-3 hours, turning every half hour with a wooden spoon.

2.  Strain out the fish and transfer to a large serving dish.  Add the tomato, avocado, onion, garlic and olive oil.  Toss to combine and let sit for another 30 minutes.

3.  Spoon out a serving into a dish or martini glass.  Sprinkle with some of the toasted coconut and you’re ready to serve!

Notes — I’d probably replace all the tomato with watermelon next time, but I had to use up those romas quick. . . If you wanted to add some finely diced jalapeno instead of the sambal that would be fine.  You could just omit it completely. . . One thing to try is maybe toasting the coriander and fennel before adding to the marinade. . .  You can chop everything finer if you want to maybe serve this with some tortilla chips.  This recipe is more of a salad.

Grilled Whole Trout with Chive Butter and Grilled Lemons

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One fact about me — I am a sucker for a sale or some kind of perceived value.  I am terrible with gift-with-purchase offers.  All I have to do is spend $75, and I get a free $2 tote bag?  How can I pass that up?  Buy one get one free? — I’ll take 3 gross!  But I digress.  My circuitous point is that inspiration for meals can be taken from what is fresh at the market, or (in this case) what is on sale!  And what did I find that was on sale?  Why some nice whole trout at Whole Foods, that’s what!

Whole fish can be a little intimidating.  Ever see that commercial where a woman is shopping for dinner and there’s “doubt” shadowing her every decision when she settles on the whole fish?  It was snapper, I think.  Lo and behold she’s able to accomplish her task thanks to her wonderful kitchen appliances.  Of course, you don’t need a fancy double range like hers to make a nice fish dinner, although I would love to have that range in my kitchen, even if it did mean losing a whole wall of cabinetry!  Which makes me wonder, why would someone who is afraid to cook need that kind of a kitchen?  I can get by with my measly $100 range.  I did splurge on a nice, gigantic, stainless refrigerator though.  Well, not gigantic, but bigger than anything I’ve known in decades and decades of apartment living.  But again I digress. . .

This recipe was done out on our humble grill (a free grill, BTW. . . thanx again Jeremy-with-a-Y) and not a big fancy oven.  Pretty much, most of the cooking these days will be done on the grill because, hey! it’s summertime!  Plus, it’s hot and A/C is expensive, so the oven in this kitchen will be off most of the time.  And, to make matters easier, the fish was already cleaned and butterflied, so that saved like an hour of labor!  FYI — I am a charcoal guy.  In my opinion, you just cannot get the same flavor from a gas grill, but there are some nice smoking boxes out there that you can get to put on the flame so you can get a smoky flavor.  Or you could just put some liquid smoke in everything.

This recipe is very simple and easy.  I’d say the hardest thing is making the compound butter (which is just taking some chives and mixing it into some soft butter).  Sure grilling fish ain’t for everybody, but something this simple is definitely worth a shot, right?  Plus, since this cooks so fast, you can always just put on some hot dogs or burgers or pineapple or peaches, etc. afterward so you don’t waste the nice hot coals.

Here’s what you need:

For the chive butter:

  • 4 T. butter, room temperature
  • 1 T. chopped chives
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Mix together the ingredients in a small bowl to combine.  Let sit for about an hour to let the flavors marry.  If it will sit for longer than an hour, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.  Can last about a week in the fridge.  You can form the butter into a log, chill it in the fridge, and slice it into rounds if you like.

For the trout and lemons:

  • 2 lemons, cut in half.
  • 2 whole trout, about 1 1/2 lbs total (mine were already cleaned and de-boned)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste

1.  Light your coals (charcoal chimneys are nice for this).  With the fish skin-side down, brush with the olive oil.  Season with the cayenne, salt, and pepper to your liking.  Set aside

2.  While the coals are getting ready, line the grill with some non-stick foil.  When the coals are nice and red hot, dump them onto the grate and return the cooking surface to the grill.  Place the fish skin-side down onto the foil and let it cook for 5-6 minutes without moving it (cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish).  About halfway through, put the lemons cut-side down onto the hot grill and cook for the remaining 3 minutes (you could brush the lemons with olive oil or spray them with cooking spray).

3.  When done cooking, transfer to a serving plate.  Wrap with foil and let it rest for a couple of minutes.  Remove foil and top with a dollop of the chive butter and a nice squeeze of the lemon.

Putting the lemons on the grill impart a nice smokiness.  I’m not sure what a lemonade made using these lemons would taste like, but I think that would be an interesting experiment.  Maybe for a bloody mary?

Cinco de Mayo Menu — Guacamole, Ceviche, and Margaritas

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!  You know what that means — time to get your drink on!  But what it really commemorates is the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 (the Mexican Day of Independence is September 16, 1810).  Napoleon was looking to get some money back that Mexico owed France and this invasion was a way of doing that.  But things on this day didn’t turn out the way he had planned and Mexico defeated the superior (yet uncoordinated) French force.  It’s like the Alamo. . . if Texas had won.

So this isn’t really a menu per se.  More of a collection of recipes that are easy to make and that you can have for your holiday celebration.  So let’s start off with the Guacamole.  It’s simple and easy to make.  Plus it’s easy for you to put your simple twist on it.  Por exemplo, you could keep everything in a rough dice and make an avocado salad, or add some jalapeno or serrano chiles, or add cilantro (yuk — I am one of those folks who cannot stand cilantro).  Here’s what you need:

  • 3 or 4 Hass avocados, about 1 1/2 lbs.
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or chopped
  • 1/2 of a small white onion, diced
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

1.  Prepare the avocados by cutting them in half lengthwise and twisting them to open up the halves.  Remove the seed.  Scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl.  Now mash it with a fork (depending on how chunky you want it).

2.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir.  Serve with some tortilla chips or use as a topping for tacos, burritos, eggs. . .  anything really. . . except like blueberry pie and the ilk.  Press down a cover a plastic wrap onto the surface of the guacamole if you’re not using it immediately.  I have heard that in order to keep this from turning brown, you can place the avocado pit on top of the mixture.  Not sure how or even if this works.  But if it does, in theory, you won’t need to cover this dish and can even cut back on the lime.

Ceviche.  There are all different kinds of ceviche, but they all involve “cooking” or marinating fresh seafood in some citrus juice, usually lime.  “Cooking” doesn’t necessarily happen in this dish, but the citrus does denature the proteins in the seafood, which is what the heat from cooking does.  It probably originated in Peru and made its way up the coastline to Mexico, although some place origins of the dish closer to Central America.  There are some cultures in Asia who may also have a claim on “inventing” the dish (I luv Hawaiian Poke).  Again, a variety of seafoods are used — different fishes, scallops, squid, octopus, crab, I even saw one with smoked fish for those who have concerns about eating raw fish.  Since this is Cinco de Mayo, I will “de-Asian” my recipe to put it closer to the Mexican version (I like to put a little ginger, green onion, and soy sauce in mine).  I will be making some later today.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb. ocean fish like halibut, mackerel, or snapper (go to your fish monger and see what’s fresh and use that.  you could also tell them that you’re planning on making ceviche and ask them for suggestions.  any good fish monger should be able to help you out.  if they can’t offer any good advice buy your fish somewhere else!).
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
  • 1 c. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley
  • hot chiles, to taste
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sugar

1.  Cut the fish into about 1/2 in. cubes.  Place in a non-reactive bowl (like glass or stainless) with the onion, garlic, and lime juice.  The fish should be covered with the lime juice, if not just add some more, or top it off with some water.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, to get the fish well done.  If you want it more raw, just marinate it for about an hour or two.

2.  Strain out the lime juice and discard it.  Add your tomatoes, chile, cilantro (or parsley), and olive oil.  Stir to combine.  Season with the salt and pepper.   Balance out the flavors with just a scant amount of sugar, maybe 1/2 teaspoon.

Margaritas.  What would today be without a good margarita?  Origins of this drink are highly debatable, with several stories about where and why this drink was created.  But it is definitely Mexican in origin and can be made in lots of variations, which I’m sure y’all know.  Just go to a local restaurant and see what different kinds they have.  This recipe is simple, requires only three ingredients (not including ice and salt or sugar on the rim of the glass) — Silver Tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau.

1.  Prep the glass by running a lime around the rim and dipping it into a shallow plate of salt or sugar, depending on your taste.

2.  Pour your tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau into a pitcher.  If you use a cup of each, you’d probably get 5 margaritas, depending on how much of a booze hound you are.  Fill a cocktail shaker about half full of ice.  Add enough of your Margarita mixture for a couple of drinks and shake vigorously for about 15-30 seconds to chill and dilute it.  Strain into the prepared glass.

Now these are just a couple of things that you can make today to help celebrate the holiday.  We typically think of this day as an excuse to drink, but take some time to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage.  One e-magazine that can offer some information on a wide variety of topics ranging from culture to cuisine to travel is MexConnect.  On the Culinary side of things, one great resource is Chef Rick Bayless.  He has a series on PBS called Mexico – One Plate at a Time where he explores the culture and food traditions  of Mexico, as well as the variations across the different regions of the country.  He has won various awards including a couple of James Beards.  You can learn about his books, restaurants, products, and his bio at the hyperlink above (I did not know that he did some doctoral work in Anthropological Linguistics at the University of Michigan).

Sorry for the long post, but hope it was helpful.  I’ll try to post some other things throughout the day that are Mexican themed.  Depends on how many margaritas I have 🙂