Category Archives: Seafood

Mango and Avocado Quinoa Salad with Blackened Shrimp

When I was precisely 16 years and 5 months old I went on a trip to Peru. I remember my age exactly because only my 16 year and 5 month old self would get on a plane to one of the most amazing and culturally rich places in the world, kicking and screaming.  It’s quite embarrassing for me to admit it today since I would go absolutely anywhere in a heartbeat, but at the time, I didn’t want to go.

I was the only one left in the house after my older sisters had all moved out and my mom and step-father (a native Peruvian) wanted to bring me along with them to South America.  Being the dramatic teenager I was I thought for sure that my life would end immediately if I missed out on three whole weeks of summer happenings in my tiny Ohio town.  The idea of doing anything other than painting my fingernails and reading teen magazines did not interest me.

The plan for the trip was to first fly into Lima to stay with some family.  After a week of exploring the city we would continue on to a few smaller towns, visit more family, and then eventually end up in Cusco to do a four day hike to Machu Picchu.  Which, by the way, I showed up in the Andes mountains for this half of a week long hike up a mountain, never having hiked before, wearing a pair of Sketchers boots, and a backpack full of Seventeen magazines and nail polish. I vividly remember standing on the top of the mountain next to a group of four Frenchmen, who had been training for this hike for months, as I flipped through and re-read my test scores from the “What kind of boyfriend is he” quiz. 

Lima, Machu Picchu, Cusco…none of those words really meant anything to me at the time because, not only had I never been to Peru, I had never been out of the country before.  I had no idea what it was like to see the world and my expectations were low (how could anything be better than Ohio?).  I was skeptical all the way up to, and even after, getting off that plane and stepping foot into Lima.  I remember how we sifted through taxi after taxi lined up outside to make sure we got in a legit car since they’ve been known to just slap a “Taxi Cab” sticker on the door to make a few bucks.  I remember how I was told that sometimes they’ll even kidnap you and hold you for a ransom to make a few bucks more.  I remember how we got in the taxi with a driver going 720 miles an hour, swerving through traffic while almost hitting a man walking a goat on a leash downtown Lima.   And then I remember thinking, Oh my god.  I’m going to love this place!

It was all so new and exciting and everything about it was intriguing. I especially loved the food. I had never experienced tasting the cuisine and dining cultures of a different group of people before and of all places, Peru seriously does it right.  Foods like quinoa and ceviche are everywhere. Fresh avocado, freshly squeezed oj carts going down the streets, I loved every bite of everything I put in my mouth.  Even some questionable things that I will refrain from sharing with you!

I am so grateful for the experience and it truly helped shape me into the passionate traveler and food lover that I am today.   When I eat foods like quinoa it always makes me nostalgic thinking back to the time when I had it first.  Every bite of the mild and nutty grain is better than the next.  It’s times like this that food…is more than just food.

 Mango and Avocado Quinoa Salad with Blackened Shrimp

Serves 2 large lunch sized portions, or 4 smaller portions

Quinoa

(you can use all water if you prefer, but I think the chicken stock gives it a nice added flavor)

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt
  • 1 large mango, pitted and diced
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • Cilantro, a large handful chopped (about ½ cup)
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • salt
  • pepper

Blackened Shrimp

  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and devained
  • blackening seasoning (or you can buy prepared blackening seasoning)
  • salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil

Begin by rinsing your quinoa under cold water.  Next, add your quinoa, water, chicken stock and pinch of salt to a medium sized pot.  Bring to a boil and then cover with a lid and turn the heat down to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. 

For the shrimp, place all the shrimp in a large ziplock bag, add your blackening seasoning, a little salt and a drizzle of olive oil and shake to coat completely.  Heat another tbsp olive oil to medium-high heat in a large pan.  Cook the shrimp on each side for just a couple minutes, or until they turn pink.  Shrimp cook very quickly, so be sure not to overcook.

Mix the quinoa with the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper and serve with the shrimp and fresh cilantro garnish

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Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Fruity Flavors, Healthy Options, Peru, Recipes, Scrumpdidily Salads, Seafood, Seasonal - Spring, Side Dishes

Lump Crab Pasta with Meyer Lemon and Chive Butter Sauce

 

 

Valentine’s Day or not, there is nothing more romantic than your honey cooking up a nice meal while you sit back, relax and sip your Chardonnay (or IPA). 

In honor of the upcoming holiday I wanted to share an easy dish to impress (or to splurge on yourself) with a little splash of elegance, a hint of seduction and is overall just wildly delicious.  

This pasta covers all the bases with soft and subtle flavors of the butter sauce (also known as a Beurre Blanc) paired with a hint of citrus, and the sweetness of fresh crab is true perfection. 

Add a little chocolate to the mix and I’m pretty sure this is the way to make any suitor fall head over heals.  If you’re lucky, maybe with you too!

 

(If can’t find meyer lemons, you can substitute regular lemons)

Lump Crab Pasta with Meyer Lemon and Chive Butter Sauce

Serves 2

  • 8oz thin spaghetti ( half of a box)
  • 1 lb fresh lump crab meat, picked over for shells and pieces
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 large shallot, chopped fine
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
  • 4 tbs chopped chives
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
  • salt, pepper
  • parsley

Begin by cooking pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.  Drain pasta, and reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking water.  Set pasta aside.

To make the sauce add the shallots, wine and vinegar in a medium-large saucepan.  Boil until the liquid reduces to just about a tablespoon.  Reduce heat and begin to add the cold butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously, until all of the butter is incorporated.  Turn the heat off and add chives, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt (a generous amount of salt) and pepper.  Mix in most of the crab meat, reserving about 1/2 cup to top pasta with. 

Pour the sauce in a large saute pan and add the pasta.  Heat through and add the cooking water from the pasta a tablespoon at a time to loosen the sauce, if needed.  Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.  Plate the pasta and top with the reserved crab meat, fresh parsley and lemon zest.  Serve immediately.

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Dover Sole w/ Crispy Potato Scales and Orange Beurre Blanc

It has been nearly nine years since my culinary school venture and it seems like it was only yesterday I was frantically sliding into my morning class with only 1 second to spare, getting scorned in French for experiencing major uniform malfunctions, and having to confess to the secretary that we needed to call the locksmith to cut through my locker’s padlock due to a forgotten combination – for the third time.  Well, being back in Europe for the first time since my everything-but-dull school days, brought back a lot of fond memories – including these.  I rarely make dishes from school, but I do occasionally bust out the old books and read through them for inspiration.  But there is one dish that has always stuck with me: Light flakey fish with a crispy potato crust and a perfectly balanced beurre blanc.  Ahhhh, pure elegant bliss!  This is not exactly the same recipe as Le Cordon Bleu’s,  but it’s similar to a Red Mullet with Crispy Potato Scales that we made in class.  A perfectly simple dish that’s sure to wow any fish-loving critic!

 

 Dover Sole with Crispy Potato Scales 

  • 4 dover sole filets
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • dash of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Parchment paper

Potato Scales – To create the scales I used the bottom of a pastry tip (this is a make-due technique) to cut out circles.   Cook the potatoes in 4 tablespoons of melted butter until potatoes are soft and then drain and cool (do not color, just soften).  

Dover Sole – Brush each filet with a thin layer of the egg yolk and season both sides with salt and pepper.  Dust the potatoes with corn flour and arrange on the fish to make a “scale” effect.  Cut a piece of parchment paper to the size of the fish and place on top of the potatoes.  Refridgerate for about 15-20 minutes. 

On medium-high heat melt butter and a splash of olive oil.   Add fish to the pan paper side down and cook until potatoes are golden brown. Flip and cook on other side for about 3 -4 minutes longer.

 

Orange Beurre Blanc

  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 orange — Juiced and 1/2 of orange Zested
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 stick of butter, cold and cut into chunks
  • salt and pepper

In a small saucepan on medium high heat place shallot, wine, orange juice and orange zest and reduce to about 2 tbsp (until syrupy and thick).  Add cream to reduction and reduce to low.  While whisking add the butter (ensure it is cold) slowly until all butter has been added and sauce is a smooth texture.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Pan-seared Tilefish with Roasted Vegetables and Curry Jus

Tilefish is comparable to snapper or grouper with firm white meat and a mild flavor.  It is also a very lean fish.  This is the perfect example of a healthy and low-cal dish that’s bursting with satisfying  flavors!

  •  1 lb Tilefish, de-boned and cut into three fillets
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  •  1 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 large tomato, diced (whole tomato)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove 
  • 1 white eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 carrots, chopped small
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F and chop eggplant, zucchini, onion and carrots. Place all vegetables on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for about 20 minutes until vegetables are tender.

While vegetables are roasting heat olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat.  Season fish fillets and coat lightly in flour.  Once oil is hot add fish and sear on both sides for 2-3 minutes each (will not be fully cooked). Remove from pan and place on a plate covered with foil.

Add to the pan garlic and tomatoes and saute for about 2-3 minutes. Add vegetable broth, curry and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low.  Transfer fish back to pan along with any juices acquired.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes longer or until fish is cooked through.  Add vegetables to the pan and serve immediately.

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A mouth-watering salad

Salads are a deceiving little species.  What looks to be just a simple and thoughtless mixture of a few things here and there, is actually the contrary. And I’m not talking about the type that’s intended for calorie-pinchers. I learned long ago to never order a salad in a restaurant if I was looking for a low-cal dish (unless I was in the mood to eat a bowl of lettuce with a few specs of salt, and in that case I would buy my own head of lettuce). Dieting is for wimps anyway.  I’m talking about the type of salad that is so memorable it leaves your taste buds tantalized just by the mere thought. 

Nothing ruins your dining experience more than when you order something that sounds so incredibly divine, and then when the fork goes in your shoulders collapse and your heart sinks.  Recently, I ordered a salad that read: “White balsamic marinated summer peaches, blue cheese crumbles, and toasted pecans tossed in a sweet white balsamic vinaigrette.”  It sounds great!  How could I go wrong with these few ingredients that are all equally pleasing to my palate?  Well, I was wrong – it sucked.  It was a flavorless pile of blah with the exception of a few juicy peaches here and there.  The dressing was subpar, there was way too much lettuce and way too little crunch.

So, that’s the bad news.  But the good news is that with the right mixture of flavors, textures, and proportions you can make your salad one to remember.   There are a few that are close to my heart and here is one of them (and it happens to be low-cal — that was an accident!): 

Smoked Salmon Salad with Pumpernickel Crutons and a Tangy Sour Cream-Dill Dressing

For the salad:

  • One small package of smoked salmon
  • Spring mix
  • 1 cup of corn
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 half loaf of pumpernickel bread, cut into cubes and toasted

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 2 heaping tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp sugar (plus a little more if needed)
  • salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together and let set for several minutes for flavors to merge.  Pour over salad and season all with salt and pepper.

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Tilapia en papillote

 

“En papillote” is a French cooking term which simply means to bake wrapped in paper.  This is an easy method that steams fish beautifully, creating moist and delicious flavors.  And my favorite part of it all, you ask?  You can cook this any time of the year, using whatever seasonal goodies you fancy-and besides it always tasting fantastic-you get an extra added bonus when you experience a familiar jolt of excitement as you pull the pretty little package out of the oven and quickly unwrap it to peek inside — just like Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilapia en papillote

Provencal style is also a great preparation – Tomatoes, olives, oregano, capers, garlic.
  • 4 tilapia filets (or any light white fish works great)
  • 2 zucchini, julienned
  • 3 tomatoes, gutted and sliced into sixths
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, sliced thin
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • splash of white wine
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
  • parchment paper (not to be confused with waxed paper)

The two important factors involved in cooking a successful fish en papillote are: ensure your paper is wrapped tightly, so the steam does not escape and your vegetables have to be equally thin or adjusted to the right size accordingly for the cooking time. 

Place each filet of fish on a large square of parchment paper and season both sides with salt and pepper.  In a medium bowl combine zucchini, tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Distribute vegetables evenly over the four filets and top with thyme, a splash of white wine, 2-3 slices of lemon and 1/2 tbsp butter.

To wrap the fish you must do as follows:

  1. Pull each side lengthwise across the fish together, as if you were folding a piece of paper in half. 
  2. Make a small fold at the top about an inch wide, and repeat the fold all the way until you reach the fish.
  3. Repeat the process on both remaining ends and fold until snug.

Place packages on baking sheet and into the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 10 minutes (Cooking times will vary based on size of fish).  Serve entire package on the plate and allow each person to open!

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Grilled Shrimp Kabobs with a Firecrackin’ Jalapeno-Curry Dip

It is a requirement on the fourth of July to celebrate America’s birthday by flaming up the grill and cooking whatever possible over the coals.  Kabobs are always a crowd pleaser, and when paired with a super easy and absolutely delicious dip – you can still allow yourself time to kick back, relax and soak up all of America’s star-spangled glory.

 

 Grilled Shrimp Kabobs

  •  20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • olive oil
  • fresh lime juice squeeze
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 4 metal kabob skewers (or if using wooden ensure skewers are soaked in water first)

Combine ingredients and marinade shrimp for 30 minutes to an hour.  Add 5 shrimps to each skewer and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.  Grill on each side for approximately 2 minutes each.

Firecrackin’ Jalapeno-Curry Dip

  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs plus 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and diced
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • salt and pepper

 Combine all ingredients in small bowl and mix until well incorporated.

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Filed under All Posts, Great for a barbeque, Holidays - 4th of July, Recipes, Seafood