Attempting Gravlax…

5 Apr

Lent. Otherwise known as the 40-day push for expanding your fish horizons, right? Why else would I think it perfectly reasonable to make gravlax, just for an appetizer, just for one night, just for two people? But, I am glad that Lent pushed me to attempt it.

Gravlax, pre-cure

Gravlax, ready to cure

After the first night, I found myself having this for breakfast with eggs, as a snack on crackers with a horseradish-dill sour cream sauce, on buttered toast anytime, and, well, serving it with just about anything and everything. And it worked!

Gravlax with Horseradish-Dill Sour Cream

Coriander-Dill Gravlax, adapted from Fish Without a Doubt.

  • 1/2 cup coarse salt
  • 3/8 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons toasted coriander seeds, ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 (1.5-pound) piece wild salmon fillet, skin on, pinbones removed

First, mix the salt, sugar, dill and coriander in a bowl. Next, cut a strip of plastic wrap a little more than twice the length of the salmon and set it on a baking dish. Cut a second strip, this time a little more than twice the width of the salmon, and set it cross-wise on the center of the first piece. After the plastic wrap is ready, spread about 1/3 of the salt cure across the center of the plastic and set the salmon on top of it. Then, cover the salmon with the remainder of the cure and wrap the plastic tightly around the fish. Set a second baking dish/sheet on top of the salmon package, placing weights on top. I used a few cans of tomatoes, which seemed to work perfectly fine. At this point, the baking dish contraption should go into the refrigerator; it should refrigerate for 36 hours. The salmon will give off a lot of liquid, and it can be poured off halfway through the cure if desired. Once cured, after 36 hours, scrape off the solids and rinse the salmon, drying it well with paper towels. It can be served immediately, or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and kept for about a week. Enjoy!

Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes

27 Mar

You’d think that anyone who loves cupcakes as much as I do would have made them at least once. Right? RIGHT?! Yet, thinking about it earlier this week, as I walked by yet another tempting cupcake store (and bravely resisted the temptation to buy one), I realized that I never have! Not. One. Single. Time.

Which, really, is scandalous. And a situation that I felt the need to rectify at once. Or as soon as possible. Like today. And, since I had some dark chocolate covered espresso beans, which would make a delicious topping, Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes it was.

Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes

As I clearly am a novice at cupcake making (first time!), I decided to hunt the interwebs for a delicious cupcake recipe to try…

I found one here, from A Baked Creation. Since I basically followed their recipe/instructions exactly on this first effort (minus adding some salt and ground coffee to the frosting), I’ll just link to their recipe. Of course, their frosting looks *much* prettier than my semi-falling apart and separating version… Still delicious, though!

And, soon enough, there will only be this many left….

Last Chocolate Coffee Cupcake

Oops.

Garlicky Shrimp Pasta

27 Mar

Weeknight dinners are always a challenge.  I don’t generally get home until after 6:30 and I am already *starving* when I do!  So, I am trying to learn to create delicious, but quick, meals for me to rely on, and that won’t necessitate a trip to the grocery store to make.  Because, you know, that just pushes back dinner!  Of course, yes, I could plan my meals in advance, and I could buy everything I need during the weekend, but really!  Creativity just goes out the door at that point.  Plus, I’m indecisive and making decisions that far in advance?  Oh, my.  Just.  Not.  Happening.

Last night’s dinner definitely fit these criteria, and I’ll definitely by making it again.  So flavorful, and it took a mere 30 minutes to get on the table!  And only ten minutes for me to figure out.  Since some frozen (uncooked) shrimp were the only protein the boyfriend and I had in the house, I started from there.  I then realized that I also had a fairly large supply of garlic, and that that went perfectly with shrimp.  So, I started searching for a garlic shrimp recipe, and came across a perfect one on Cook’s Illustrated.   Using that as a base for modification, this was the end product…

Garlicky Shrimp Pasta

Garlicky Shrimp Pasta, serves 2

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 3 oz. micro greens
  • 6 oz. of capellini (angel hair) pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 14 large uncooked shrimp, tails and shells removed and reserved
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup vermouth
  • 1/2 lemon, juice
  • salt
  • pepper 
  1. On one back burner, begin heating a large pot of salted water to cook the pasta.  Watch the water while preparing the rest of the dish, and when boiling add pasta and cook for the recommended time (5-6 minutes for capellini), or until al dente.  Drain, and set aside.
  2. On the other back burner, place the 1/2 cups water and shrimp tails/shells in a small pot and heat over medium-high heat.  Checking periodically, cook until mixture has reduced to 1/2 cup, then strain out the shrimp tails/shells and set the shrimp stock aside.
  3. On a front burner, melt one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  While the butter is melting, mix the bread crumbs with the shallots, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.  Once the butter is melted, add the bread crumb mixture to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 7-10 minutes.  Transfer to plate to cool, and mix in the micro greens.  Wipe out the skillet with paper towels.
  4. Meanwhile, dry shrimp thoroughly and toss with sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.  Return your front skillet to medium high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and heat until shimmering.  Add the shrimp and and cook until spotty brown and edges turn pink, about 3 minutes (do not flip shrimp).  Remove skillet from heat, and transfer the shrimp to a waiting plate.  Again, wipe out the skillet with paper towels.
  5. Return skillet to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon butter.  When the butter is melted, add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic just begins to turn golden, about 1 minute.  Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes.  Increase the heat to medium-high and slowly whisk in the vermouth and shrimp stock. Bring to simmer and cook until mixture reduces to 3/4 cup, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Lastly, stir in the lemon juice.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low, return the shrimp to the pan, and toss to combine.  Cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Toss the shrimp and sauce with the drained pasta, then add the breadcrumb and micro-green mix.  Once combined, serve on plates with additional lemon wedges if so desired.

Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Pea Shoots

22 Mar

One of my favorite things about getting vegetables from a CSA is that you often get things that you’ve never cooked with before and probably would never have picked up on your own from the grocery store. And that you then use as inspiration for an entire meal. That was the case with the Black Spanish Radish, which I turned into a delicious fresh vegetable slaw with yellow carrots, red onions, and cabbage, and which in turn was a perfect foil for a rich, creamy, Panko-Crusted Macaroni and Cheese. Same for the Watermelon Radishes, that become a multicolor garnish for some fabulous fish tacos.

And that is the case now, with the Pea Shoots. Once I had them in hand, I knew that they had to be showcased somehow. After playing around with a few ideas, this is what I came up with: Seared Sea Scallops with Sautéed Pea Shoots, Garlic Chips, Beer-Butter Sauce, and a Pea Shoot Gremolata.

Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Pea Shoots

Seared Sea Scallops with Sauteed Pea Shoots (serves 2)

  • 5-6 sea scallops, dry packed
  • 6 oz. pea shoots
  • 5 cloves garlic, 2 minced and three thinly sliced
  • 1 medium lemon, zested, about 1 tablespoon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

First, combine the lemon zest, the 2 minced garlic cloves, and one tablespoon of minced pea shoots for the gremolata, and set aside. Next, take the sea scallops and after making sure that the tough ligament is removed, season them with salt and freshly ground pepper. In one medium skillet, add about a tablespoon of olive oil, and heat it on medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic. Cook until crisp and browned, about 2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the oil in the skillet. At the same time, on another burner set to medium-high, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Once that is melted and bubbling, and the pan is fully heated, add the scallops. Once a good golden sear has developed, after about only 40 (to maximum 60) seconds, flip the scallop, and repeat the process. Scallops cook quite quickly, and you don’t want to overcook them. Really, once that golden sear is present, and they wiggle just a bit less, you are set. Once done, remove the scallops from the pan, and set aside. Quickly, in the still hot pan, de-glaze with some beer, I used Red Stripe as that was what I was currently imbibing, and quickly reduce the sauce. At the same time, add the rest of the pea shoots to the skillet that you cooked the garlic in with the reserved oil. Stir the pea shoots in the oil, and once wilted, after about a minute, remove from the heat. This whole process goes by in just a few minutes, so this is a fast, quick, and very easy meal. To assemble the dish, place the wilted pea shoots on the plate, topped with the garlic chips strewn about. Then, place a scallop (or two) in the middle, and drizzle the beer-butter reduction on top. Lastly, place a small mound of the pea shoot gremolata on top of the scallops as a garnish. And a delicious dinner is served. In about 15 minutes.

Frittuffins

22 Mar

Yes, “frittuffins.” So much more fun to say than frittata muffins, don’t you think?! And these delightfully fun to pronounce little morsels have become my go-to breakfast. But why, you ask? Well, I (unfortunately!) have to be at work at 7:30 on Monday-Thursday. And, as I am not such a morning person, I desperately detest awakening at such an ungodly hour. Detest! So much so, that no matter what I do, I cannot seem to wake up in enough time to make breakfast. So, I resign myself to eating breakfast at work. Which, really, isn’t so bad, when you realize my office has refrigerators, toaster ovens, and microwaves. But, the thing is… I find myself growing sick of microwaved oatmeal type things. And since I am a lactard (lactose intolerant), have been since I was able to eat solid food, I have never really gotten in the habit of eating milk and cereal for breakfast (yes, I know, there are now such things as lactose milk and pills, but still). Plus, I find I need some sort of protein in the AM to get me going! So, hence, therefore, and so on, Frittuffins! If I can’t wake up in enough time to make eggs to order for breakfast, I’ll just have these little eggs-to-go…

Frittuffins in the pan...

So, lately, every Sunday, I’ve been whipping up a different batch of frittuffins to take to work for breakfast for the week. Just as for regular frittatas, I’ll throw in whatever I have in the refrigerator. Last week it was portobello mushrooms, spinach, bacon, and cheddar cheese. This week, though, I added celeriac, red onion, a garlic green or two, and some leftover grilled queso fresco. After adding in some delightful farm-fresh eggs, the frittuffins were set to go! Of course, like soufflés, while they rose beautifully in the oven, they collapsed as soon as they were out…

The final frittufin

But, they were still delicious! Even if they were slightly hilarious looking…

Celeriac, Onion, and Queso Fresco Frittuffins

  • small celeriac, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic green, chopped
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, grilled and diced
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • olive oil

To begin, preheat the oven to 350°. Next, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the pan and oil are hot, sauté the red onions and celeriac until cooked through and slightly crispy. Add in the garlic greens for a minute to quickly combine, and then remove from the heat. While that is cooling, mix the eggs with a bit of salt, pepper and paprika (just enough to season the eggs). Then, add the diced cheese and the celeriac and onion mixture to the eggs and pour into the individual muffin cups.* Place the muffin tin in the oven, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until frittuffins are cooked through; they’ll be very puffy and will have risen just like a soufflé. Take them out to cool and, once cooled, wrap them individually in plastic wrap, and place them in a Ziploc. To reheat them each day, just place them in the toaster oven for about 5-10 minutes at 300°, and they turn out perfectly!

*The first time I tried this, I failed to use muffin cups… and, well, let’s just say they stuck horribly and the muffin tin hasn’t been the same since. I found some reusable silicon muffin cups that work amazingly well, but, if you don’t have those, I think the metallic muffin cups would be best.