Sunday, November 24, 2013

Crab Poached in Scampi Butter Sauce

It's the most wonderful time of the year ... crab season! We started it off with nine precious ounces of Dungeness crab meat from our seafood box. I decided to start off by keeping things simple and highlighting the crab in a rich, scampi sauce. The whole dish comes together very quickly and easily, although the butter should be made a bit ahead of time. The good news is though that the butter can be made up to a week ahead of time. This is a restaurant quality meal that requires very little work.

Two years ago: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Three years ago: Poutine Calzones
Four years ago: Pecan Pie

Crab Poached in Scampi Butter Sauce (from Fish Without a Doubt)

Butter Sauce
8 large garlic cloves, cut in half
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 lb unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
3 tbsp dry white wine or vermouth
12 ounces jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over
1/2 lb fresh fettuccine
chopped parsley or basil

1. Turn a food processor on and drop garlic down feed tube, then add shallot.
2. Scrape sides of bowl and add butter and Tabasco sauce.
3. Process until light and fluffy. Season with salt and white pepper. Process to combine.
4. Pack butter into small bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until firm.
5. Bring wine to simmer in small saucepan. Simmer for about 2 minutes to cook off alcohol, but not reduce.
6. Whisk in cold scampi butter about 1 tbsp at a time to make emulsified sauce. Simmer at low heat.
7. Stir crab into sauce, trying not to break up lumps, and keep warm on back of stove.
8. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook to al dente.
9. Drain pasta and diving among 4 plates. Spoon crab and sauce over pasta, top with chopped herb, and serve.

Avocado, Quinoa, and Fava Bean Salad

I had plans to make this with the beans, but that plan fell through. Even without the beans though, this was a lovely side. The one thing I might change is considering cutting back on the cumin. It didn't work for me quite as well in the mix. I served this as a side to the chicken and haloumi, but it could easily stand on its own.

One year ago: Chicken with Chiles
Two years ago: Fettucine, Pine Nuts, and Cilantro
Three years ago: Fettucine Alfredo
Four years ago: Spinach Pomegranate Salad

Avocado, Quinoa, and Fava Bean Salad (from Plenty)

200g quinoa
500g shelled fava beans
2 medium lemons
2 small ripe avocados
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g breakfast radishes, halved lengthwise
50g purple radish cress (or small purple basil leaves or watercress)
1 tbsp ground cumin
75 ml olive oil
1/4 tsp chili flakes
salt and pepper

1. Place quinoa in saucepan with plenty of water, bring to boil and simmer for 9 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and leave to dry.
2. Bring pot of water to boil, add fava beans, bring back to boil, drain, refresh with cold water, and leave to dry. Discard skins.
3. Remove skin from lemons and place in bowl. Juice lemons into bowl.
4. Peel, stone, and thinly slice avocado, adding it to the lemon juice.
5. Add dry quinoa to the bowl along with fava beans, garlic, radishes, cress, cumin, olive oil, chili flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss and serve.

Chicken, Haloumi and Preserved Lemon Skewers

For some reason, August came home with some haloumi recently. Without an idea for what to use it for, I started searching. Meanwhile, I've been more curious about Australian chefs lately. In particular, I've heard many good things about Donna Hay's book Seasons. I was delighted to see this recipe that would allow me to try a Donna Hay recipe and use the haloumi. This dish requires a little bit of advance planning with the short marinade and threading the oregano on skewers is a bit of an exercise in frustration, but the result is truly delicious for relatively low effort - a bit tart and deliciously easy.

One year ago: Persimmon Spice Cake
Two years ago: Bagel-Egg
Three years ago: Pomegranate and Fennel Salsa Quinoa
Four years ago: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Chicken, Haloumi and Preserved Lemon Skewers (from Seasons)

2 x 200g chicken breast fillets, trimmed and cut into pieces
500g haloumi, cut into pieces
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon, flesh removed and rind rinsed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
1 bunch oregano
pita bread. to serve
baby spinach leaves, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve

1. Place the chicken, haloumi, lemon juice, olive oil, preserved lemon, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Heat the extra oil in a large non-stick frying pan or barbecue hot plate over medium heat.
3. Thread the chicken, haloumi and oregano onto skewers and cook for 2–3 minutes each side or until the chicken is cooked through.
4. Serve with pita bread, baby spinach leaves and lemon wedges.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mocha Rum Cake

I made a rum chocolate cake a couple of years ago, but it wasn't quite chocolately enough or even rummy enough. Good, but not what I was expecting. This rum cake is dense and intense. I've increased the rum a bit from the original and next time wouldn't mind trying to substitute kahlua for the coffee.

One year ago: Oven Roasted Pork Butt with Rosemary
Two years ago: Fennel Frond Pesto
Three years ago: Sweet and Sour Pork
Four years ago: Peanut Flavoured Potatoes

Mocha Rum Cake (adapted from epicurious)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/3 cup dark rum
1 cup strong brewed coffee or kahlua
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter a 12-cup bundt pan.
2. In a bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth.
4. Remove chocolate from heat and stir in rum, coffee, and granulated sugar.
5. With an electric mixer beat in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down side, and beat in eggs and vanilla until batter is combined well. Pour batter into prepared pan.
6. Bake cake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan on a rack and turn it out onto rack.

Grandmother's Chicken with Wild Mushrooms

It's funny what a difference the right cookbook can make. This isn't my first cookbook from Mai Pham, but her other one (The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking) wasn't deemed good enough to make the move. Nothing quite turned out properly and I think I was even convinced that I just didn't like Vietnamese food that much. But given my experience at restaurants, I knew that wasn't the case. Knowing the other book wasn't really authentic Thai food and that I'd been unhappy with the quality of those recipes, I decided to give Vietnamese another chance. Somehow I ended up back with a Mai Pham book, but this time around? I'm so much happier with the results. This is a great weeknight dish. Simple to pull together, but full of rich unami. The dried mushrooms do call for a 30 minute soak, but the dish cooks up very quickly and the rest is just chopping. Don't forget the rice. We both thought the dish was just a bit on the salty side (even homemade stock without added salt), so you might want to reduce the salt in the mushrooms further if you tend to go light on salt like we do.

One year ago: Slow Braised Beef with Potatoes
Two years ago: Roasted Beets with Cumin-Mint Vinaigrette
Three years ago: Mashed Brussels Sprouts
Four years ago: Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin

Grandmother's Chicken with Wild Mushrooms (from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table)

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts of things, cut into thin bite-sized strips
3 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
2 shallots, sliced
8 dried black mushrooms (or cloud ear), soaked in warm water for 30 minutes, drained, stemmed, and halved
1 cup white or brown mushrooms, cleaned and halved
1 cup oyster mushrooms, cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp salt (see note)
2 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 cup fresh chicken stock
5 sprigs cilantro, cut into 2" lengths

1. Place soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl and stir.
2. Add chicken to sauces and toss to coat.
3. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of oil in large skillet over moderate heat. Add shallots and stir until fragrant, 20 seconds.
4. Add black mushrooms, white mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and salt. Cook until mushrooms are soft, 3 - 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.
5. Add remaining 1 1/2 tbsp oil to pan over medium heat. Add garlic and chicken and stir-fry until meat turns white, 2 - 3 minutes.
6. Add chicken stock and mushrooms and cook until all ingredients are cooked, 3 minutes.
7. Transfer to a plate, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Green Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite side dishes, so creamy and comforting. This is a bright, green, clean-out-your fridge risotto. I paired it with some nice roast beef. The author suggests several variations of the recipe. In particular, the variation of 1 1/2 cup chopped basil, 1/4 cup chopped marjoram, 1/2 cup chopped mint, and 1/2 cup chopped parsley sounds very appealing. Feel free to play around with the mixtures. I didn't have sorrel for the recipe below, so I ended up adding some spinach and then a little bit of lemon zest to add brightness.

One year ago: Frisee with Chevre
Two years ago: Sichuanese Roast Duck
Three years ago: Orzo with Everything
Four years ago: Tortellini with Walnut and Mascarpone Sauce (sadly this recipe STILL reminds me of having the flu)

Green Risotto (from The Herbfarm Cookbook)

5 1/2 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used goose)
5 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp salt (less if using canned stock)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped basil
1 cup coarsely chopped sorrel
1 cup coarsely chopped arugula
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped or snipped chives or green onions
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigaino-Reggiano

1. Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan and set over very low heat.
2. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
3. Add onion and cook until softened but not browned, 5 minutes.
4. Add rice, reduce heat to medium-low and stir for 1 minute.
5. Add wine and salt. Stir until wine is absorbed.
6. Ladle in 1 cup of stock. Stir often, let bubble until rice absorbs the stock. Continue ladling in stock 1 ladle at a time until rice is puffed and tender, but with a little bit of bite still, 25 - 30 minutes.
7. Stir in remaining 3 tbsp butter over low heat until it melts.
8. Stir in herbs and cheese. If needed, add more stock. Season with black pepper and additional salt if needed. Serve.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Salted Yogurt, Mint, and Pomegranate Seeds

I've been meaning to make this recipe for a very long time, but somehow never gotten around to it. Finally, an overabundance of pomegranates gave me the perfect reason to stop putting this off. I topped this with a sparing amount of yogurt, just enough of an accent to not overpower. The addition of mint and pomegranates gives a nice contrast to delicious roasted cauliflower.

One year ago: Chicken Breasts Diable
Two years ago: Pork and Tomatillo Stew
Three years ago: Black Bean Pumpkin Soup
Four years ago: Creamy Carrot Soup

Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Salted Yogurt, Mint, and Pomegranate Seeds (from Cook This Now)

1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
plain yogurt
chopped fresh mint
pomegranate seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Toss cauliflower with oil, cumin seeds, salt, and pepper. Spread on baking sheet.
2. Roast until cauliflower is tender and edges are toasty, 20 - 30 minutes.
3. Whisk a pinch of salt into yogurt. Dollop yogurt on top of cauliflower. Top with mint and pomegranate seeds.

Sea Bass with Pistachio-Pesto Crust

Another quick and easy fish dish. The cook time is for thick fillets of fish. I made this recipe using a thin fillet of sole and it only needed about 5 minutes to cook.

One year ago: Cod Baked with Tahini Sauce
Two years ago: Crisped Chicken with Chimichurri and Avocado
Three years ago: Spiced Pearsauce Cake
Four years ago: Potato Soup

Sea Bass with Pistachio-Pesto Crust (from Radically Simple)

4 thick sea bass fillets, 7 ounces each
1/2 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup finely ground pistachios
1 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Season fish with salt and pepper and arrange on baking sheet.
2. Spread each fillet with 2 tbsp pesto to cover completely.
3. Distribute pistachios equally among fillets, patting to form a crust.
4. Roast for 16 minutes, until fish is firm (less if you have a thin fillet).
5. Grate lemon zest on fish and serve.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pasta Rustica with Sole, Greek Olives, and White Wine

It's been a while since I made pasta, but this quick and easy dish got rid of a bit of fish and made good use of some last of the season tomatoes. I couldn't resist adding a bit of feta to the final dish, but it probably wasn't strictly necessary.

One year ago: Saffron Rice
Two years ago: Hot and Sour Rhubarb and Crispy Pork with Noodles
Three years ago: Brisket
Four years ago: Bread pudding

Pasta Rustica with Sole, Greek Olives, and White Wine (from Radically Simple)

8 ounces penne rigate
3 large ripe plum tomatoes
2 large yellow tomatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, divided
1/3 cup slivered basil
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
12 ounces lemon sole, cut in 1/2" strips
16 pitted kalamata olives
feta (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until tender. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, cut all tomatoes into 1/2" pieces.
3. Heat oil in wok or large skillet. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
4. Add tomatoes, wine, half the parsley, basil, lemon zest, and 1 tsp salt. Cook 3 minutes over high heat.
5. Add fish and olives. Cook until fish is just cooked through, 2 minutes.
6. Add cooked pasta to skillet, heat 2 minutes until hot.
7. Divide among 4 bowls. Garnish with remaining parsley. Top with feta if desired.

Silver Packet Flounder with Miso Mayo

I've been trying desperately to get our fish freezer situation under control. It seems to be a losing battle (we got another 1.5 lbs of lemon sole this week!), but it's made for some quick and easy dinners. This one is a full meal in one convenient little packet. Low effort, but the spinach wilts beautifully and the rehydrated sun-dried tomato is excellent. The miso mayo seemed a little out there, but I loved it and it gave the dish a little something extra. I substituted black cod for flounder.

One year ago: Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad
Two years ago: Penne with a Cashew-Dill Sauce
Three years ago: Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Four years ago: Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Silver Packet Flounder with Miso Mayo (from Radically Simple)

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp white miso (shiro)
2 tbsp mirin
1/4 tsp ground cumin
4 thick flounder fillets, 7 ounces each
4 ounces baby spinach
4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), 20 total
4 large ramps or scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup slivered basil
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch hot pepper flakes

1. Preheat oven to 500F.
2. Stir together mayo, miso, mirin, and cumin. Set aside.
3. Tear off four 15" pieces of foil. Season fish with salt and pepper.
4. For each, put 1 ounce spinach in center of foil. Top with fillet, 5 tomatoes, 1/4 of ramps, 2 tbsp of basil, 1 tbsp of oil, pepper flakes, and salt.
5. Crimp foil to form a packet. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.
6. Bake for 10 minutes.
7. Serve with miso mayo.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Steamed Fish Curry

Our seafood box seems to be increasing the amount of fish they give us lately. Given that we typically do small portion sizes of meat, getting through 1.25 lbs of fish a week has been increasingly challenging (especially with the freezer back log). This simple creamy curry was a great way to use up 1/3 of our fish from last week. So far, my new Thai book has been a bit intimidating to dive into, but the results have been worth it. This one (along with all of the recipes in the book) calls for making your own red curry paste, but I'm going to assume that you can get by with commercial paste on this one and will skip including that part below.

One year ago: Chicken Fricassee
Two years ago: Chipped Beets and Beet Greens
Three years ago: Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake
Four years ago: Chocolate Layer Cake

Steamed Fish Curry (from Thai Food)

200g fish fillets - whiting, cod or perch (I used cod)
pinch of salt
a little lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
pinch of palm sugar
1/2 cup coconut cream
3 tbsp red curry paste
1 small egg, lightly beaten
6 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
handful of Thai basil leaves
1 tbsp thick coconut cream
a few long red chilies, julienned

1. Wash fish in water with a little salt and a squeeze of lime juice. Drain, pat dry, and slice finely.
2. In a bowl, season fish with fish sauce and sugar, stirring with a spoon.
3. Gradually work in coconut cream. If it separates, add a little ice cold water and stir.
4. Fold in curry paste.
5. Stir in egg and finish with lime leaves.
6. Line a steamer basket with parchment paper, line with basil leaves, and add curry. Steam over moderate heat for 15 - 30 minutes or until curry has set.
7. Garnish with thick coconut cream and red chilies and serve.

Fennel and Feta with Pomegranate Seeds and Sumac

We have an overabundance of pomegranate seeds right now thanks to a thoughtful dinner guest (some people apparently have backyard pomegranate trees??? I'm officially jealous!). This simple side salad is a bit on the sour side, but pairs beautifully with fish. The mix of sour sumac, lemon juice, salty feta, and sweet pomegranates is a winner.

One year ago: Pot Roast Studded with Almonds and Bacon
Two years ago: Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
Three years ago: Blue Cheese and Red Potato Tart
Four years ago: Asparagus, Oka, Pine nuts, and Lemon Pasta

Fennel and Feta with Pomegranate Seeds and Sumac (from Ottolenghi)

seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
2 medium fennel heads
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sumac
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp tarragon leaves
2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
70g Greek feta cheese, sliced (or crumbled)

1. Remove leaves from fennel, keeping a few for garnish. Trim base. Slice very thinly lengthwise.
2. In a bowl, mix together olive oil, sumac, lemon juice, and herbs (You can also add salt and pepper, but be careful with the feta).
3. Add fennel to oil and toss well.
4. In individual serving dishes, layer fennel, then feta, and then pomegranate seeds. Garnish with fennel leaves and serve.