Tag Archives: seafood

Necesito mas cervezas

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My mom and I are learning Spanish courtesy of her boyfriend (although this phrase I learned from my good friend Cristina). But the title really has nothing to do with the post, beyond the fact that I like to cook and I like beer.

Once again it has been busy around here and, once again, I’ve been neglecting my blog. I am sorry readers and I wish that my blog didn’t suffer form my busy-ness. To make it up to you I am going to give you a nice long blog to catch you up on everything:

1) I think I mentioned a while back that my mom fell and broke her back the week after she helped me and The Boyfriend move into our apartment in New York. Well, her doctor did bone scans and they found lesions and the lesions are cancer. So we are in Atlanta where my mom’s doctors are and she is going to be starting IPT chemo later this week or early next week. She is going to be all right but we appreciate all healing thought and positivity sent towards her!

2) We were staying with a friend of my mom’s but things weren’t working out (apparently we are too loud and messy) so we moved into an extended-stay hotel. It’s a bit small but it’s closer to the clinic and less stressful than being at my mom’s friend’s place.

3) For the next few weeks my recipes might be fewer than usual and…simpler than usual since our kitchen looks like this:

 That’s our kitchen: just 2 burners, a microwave and a mini-fridge. There is no oven, very little counter space, and no kitchen appliances, fancy or otherwise.

Nope. It doesn’t look any bigger from a different angle.

For the next few weeks, everything I make will be made with 1 pot and/or 1 pan. And since our fridge is the size of a postage stamp:

I will be cooking less than usual. For instance, I am only cooking 1 or 2 dinners a week because we have to completely finish all leftovers before there is enough fridge space to house something else.  Did I mention that my mom has dietary restrictions? This means little to no sugar, wheat, gluten, dairy, pork, and red meat in my recipes for the next few weeks as I do my best to cook around her dietary restrictions.

Whew! Now that that’s covered I though that I’d catch you up on some old recipes (i.e. from 2-3 weeks ago) today and introduce more recent ones in the next post. These first three recipes are ones that I lost in the shuffle of everything that’s been going on lately, starting with

Tostadas. I love tostadas; honestly, I think it has more to do with the queso fresco and salsa than anything else. And maybe too it’s because of memories: the last 2 years in school a couple (Jessica and Carlos) came into one of the school’s lounge spaces on the weekends to make and sell food. Jessica is (I think) Columbian and Mexican and Carlos is Dominican and Mexican and they shared their life and their background through the food that they made: tacos, tostadas, rice and beans, empanadas, quesadillas, and arepas with guava and cheese. Jessica and Carlos have 3 kids and like a lot of people in this economy were looking for an extra source to supplement their income. I don’t know exactly how they happened upon the college kitchen but I am sure glad they did! Besides the fact that their food was always fresh, affordable, and available on the weekends, Jessica and Carlos are really nice, very intelligent people. They were always friendly and tolerant of the college environment and they took the time to get to know people. I have missed them since graduating, especially since I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye and get contact info from them. So I guess that’s what I think of when I eat tostadas: I think of college on the weekends (fun!) and the wonderful Jessica and Carlos. I do miss it all. Anyway, enough nostalgia—here’s the recipe:

Shrimp Tostadas

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp or so each paprika, cayenne, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, pinch brown sugar, salt and pepper
  • Corn tortillas and Pam or other baking spray OR bag of tostadas

To top tostadas:

  • Chopped avocado
  • Best salsa ever
  • Queso fresco
  • Lettuce
  • Chopped tomato
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Greek yogurt

 Directions:

1) Mix 2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, and all spices; add to a Ziploc bag with shrimp, onion, and chopped garlic. Let marinate for 1-2 hours in fridge.

2) When you’re ready to cook the shrimp, heat 2 tsp oil in pan over medium high heat.

3) Dump contents of bag into pan; cook 5-6 minute or until shrimp is cooked through.

4) While the shrimp is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with tinfoil.

5) Spray corn tortillas with Pam; cook for 5-10 minutes or until corn tortillas are crispy (skip this step if you bought a bag of tostadas).

6) To serve, put all toppings on the table. Assemble tostadas: spread Greek yogurt or sour cream on the crispy corn tortilla. Top with lettuce, shrimp, chopped tomato, cilantro, and avocado. Finish with crumbled queso fresco and salsa.

Good cheese is pretty crucial here. I recommend hitting up your local Mexican super market to find the authentic stuff: it tastes better and is less expensive than you’ll find at the grocery store. If you can’t find good queso fresco, mozzarella will work. I also recommend the Best Salsa or another spicy, restaurant-style salsa; Pace or Tostitos won’t do this recipe any favors.

Because I am such a creature  of habit (and because I don’t know another healthy side dish that compliments Mexican/Tex-Mex food) I made the corn and bean salad again. I am starting to think that my lack of side dish creativity is the reason we don’t eat Mexican/Tex-Mex as often as we’d like. The only other side dish I have run across that would complement a Mexican/Tex-Mex meal is Spanish rice and I just hate making another starch when there is already a starch element to the meal (tortillas). Anyone have a suggestion for a healthy side with moar veggies?

And we usually just bring all of the toppings to the table and build our tostadas there; it winds up being less messy in the long run.

***To vegitize this meal, replace the shrimp with whatever protein you’d rather be eating: tofu, tempeh, chick’n, etc.***

Next!

40 Clove Chicken is one that I have been jonesing to make for a while now. The allure of 40 cloves of garlic in a single recipe is pretty hard to pass up, too hard apparently because I decided to use up all of my garlic in one evening to make it. Was it worth it? You betcha! Surprisingly it wasn’t as intensely garlicky as I thought (and would have liked) it to be. But it was creamy and mildly spicy and very tender and we wound up eating all of the leftovers, which usually indicates a well-liked recipe in my house.

40 clove chicken

Adapted from a recipe at For the Love of Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of any fat
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or duck and/or bacon fat)
  • Italian seasoning, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste
  • 40 cloves of garlic
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 2/3 cups of chicken broth
  • ¼ cup milk

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; then start separating the cloves of garlic and peeling them.

2) Place trimmed and halved chicken breast in a large zip lock bag. If necessary, pound the chicken breasts flat with a mallet until ½ inch thick.

3) Season with salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste.

4) Heat the olive oil (or bacon/duck fat) in a large skillet over medium high heat. In batches, sauté the chicken smooth side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 minutes; flip the breasts and cook for 45 seconds then remove to a baking dish.

5) Once all the chicken has been removed, add the garlic and the onions to the pot. Lower the heat and sauté for 3-4 minutes, turning often; add the chicken stock, making sure to scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

6) Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and Italian seasonings if needed. Pour sauce over the chicken in the baking dish; cover with a lid or tinfoil and bake for 20 minutes. Reserve pan—do not wash!

7) Once the chicken has baked, carefully remove the chicken, onion, and garlic cloves to a platter and cover with lid or aluminum foil to stay warm.

8) Place the sauce in the large skillet that you cooked the meat in. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and milk with a little bit of the sauce.

9) Once it’s thoroughly mixed, slowly whisk the flour mixture back into the rest of the sauce. Add the butter to the sauce, raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes or until it’s nice and thick. Taste and re-season if needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

The dish had a mellow, roasted garlic flavor rather than the aggressive, spicy flavor that I was expecting of so many cloves. I think mushrooms, a bit of bacon, and some white wine could have really elevated even beyond what it was but as it stood, it was damn good.

***If you wanted to make this minus the animal product, I bet it would taste just as good over chick’n; adjust cooking times accordingly.***

I’m a big fan of trying new veggies, especially ever since a friend of mine gave me a good piece of advice regarding food that you didn’t like as a kid. He told me to never say you don’t like a food until you have cooked it yourself. I’ve discovered that a lot of food that I ruled out as a kid (fish, Brussel sprouts, cooked carrots) I actually really like when I cook it. This week I decided to see if I could reclaim asparagus! I added the lemon juice, feta, and vinegar last-minute because it turns out that I don’t much like asparagus. But feta and lemon juice can save just about any vegetable side dish: I’ve used it on bland green beans, wilted spinach, and overcooked Brussel sprouts and I’ve got to say that it works every time. If you like asparagus, feel free to leave out the feta and lemon juice; if you wish you liked asparagus, maybe you should add it…

Roasted asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, quartered
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Toss asparagus with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

3) Add asparagus to cookie sheet; bake 15-30 minutes or until roasted (asparagus should be soft but not mushy).

4) Toss asparagus with lemon juice and feta; drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

So that’s all the recipes from before upheaval, now for the ones since. Now, I only had time to make a couple of recipes while we had a full kitchen at our disposal. I made an old favorite, cod and mashed potatoes with Indian-spiced carrots; that one never gets old for me. I have been wanting to make this for my mom for a while now and this seemed like the perfect occasion: it fit all of her dietary needs and is such a warm, homey meal. This made a TON of food and since our temporary host can’t eat black pepper (oops!), my mom and I ate on this all week.

My mom and I are at her clinic here in Atlanta Monday thru Friday from about 9am until 5pm. For breakfasts I have been mostly eating yogurt or fruit and my mom gets fed lunch and snacks at the clinic. Since I’m not a patient, I don’t so I had to think of some easy portable lunches for me. As usual, my thoughts turned to lunch wraps…

Wraps are easy to make, ahead of time or on the spot; they taste pretty good and can be really nutritionally balanced. With this wrap, I really wanted something that could be a hot lunch if I chose (the clinic has a toaster oven) and would be filling but still healthy.

Warm turkey-avocado wrap

Ingredients (for 2):

  • 2 tortillas or wraps
  • 1 avocado
  • 4 pieces turkey breast
  • 2 pieces sharp cheddar
  • Handful lettuce
  • 6 tomato slices
  • 6 cucumber slices
  • Handful shredded carrots
  • Sliced sweet onion
  • Instant dressing
  • Black pepper

Directions:

1) Start by mashing the avocado; spread half of the mash on each tortilla and sprinkle with black pepper.

2) Put 2 pieces of turkey on each wrap, right in the center, with the edge of the turkey about ½ inch away from the edge of the wrap.

3) Lay tomato slices down the center of the wrap right on top of the turkey; add blacked pepper and then cheese.

4) Put wraps into a preheated oven or toasted oven on broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese melts.

5) Remove wraps from toaster oven and top with tomato slices, lettuce, and shredded carrots.

6) Squeeze some instant dressing over the veggies and roll up wrap like a burrito; enjoy!

***This would be just as good (and probably as filling) without the turkey, so vegetarians/vegans, feel free to omit the meat.***

The wraps generally aren’t enough for me to stay full for 9 hours so I have been packing a small side salad that I can eat a couple of hours after my wrap. I found this super simple recipe on Foodgawker (of course) and made a couple of mods to it and it is delicious!

Very green salad

Adapted from a recipe at Salad Pride

Ingredients (for 3-4 salads):

  • Handful green-leaf lettuce
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 2 oz blue brie cheese, sliced
  • 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • Instant Dressing

Directions:

1) Wash and dry lettuce before putting it in a bowl.

2) Add chopped avocado, pear, cheese, and pumpkin seeds to lettuce; top with 1-2 tbsp salad dressing.

***Veg-friendly as is!!***

I accidentally added the pear—I misread the recipe and thought it was listed as an ingredient so I bought two at the grocery store. I only learned that it’s not in the original recipe when I started typing up this post! It is a nice addition, if I do say so myself. I also like how the salad looks: very green. Sorry that there are no pictures of this! I’ll try to get a pic the next time I make it and add it to the blog.So I am going to wrap this up for today but I’ll leave you with a sneak peek at what is going to be in my next post: pictures and stories of the last burn I went to (including costume pieces!) and plans for the next one in 5 weeks; TV gossip (remember when I used to do that?); tales of food in Atlanta; updates on my mom and Greek food constructed in our tiny “kitchen.”

Until next time!

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Something for the vegetarians

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Today I have something for the vegetarians: I tried my hand at tofu! And it wasn’t terrible! In my quest for a different lunch this week (i.e. not salad), I stumbled upon this tofu recipe. I have to admit, I was pretty intimated. I have only made tofu once or twice before and every time, it was pretty bad. But for some reason, this tofu recipe caught my eye and I couldn’t forget it: I started to crave this tofu, even though I hadn’t tried it.

I decided to wrap this tofu up rather than sandwich it between bread: less messy, less bread-y, and I can pack more veggies into it! It is kind of an involved process: making the tofu, making the chipotle mayo, and then making the wrap. My advice? Whip up a batch of tofu and mayo when you have free-time (like 30 minutes before you want lunch) and make enough for the week. And then revel in the fact that your lunch is tastier and undoubtedly healthier than everyone else’s at the office 😉

Sweet-n-Spicy Seared Tofu

Adapted from a recipe at http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2011/09/16/easy-maple-tamari-seared-tofu/

Ingredients:

Seasoning rub:

  • Butt rub
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne
  • Chili powder
  • Salt and pepper

Marinade:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp paprika

Other:

  • 14 ounce block extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil

Directions:

1) Drain the water from your tofu. Squeeze dry with paper towels.

2) Slice tofu into 3/4 inch thick rectangles. Pat each individual rectangle dry with paper towel; set aside.

3) Mix together your spice rub; apply spice rub to both sides of tofu and let sit for a few minutes.

4) Mix together the marinade ingredients. Cover the tofu strips into the marinade; set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Ok, not so pretty. But tasty!

5) Add oil to a large nonstick skillet over high heat

6) When oil is hot, add the tofu to the pan (it will sizzle loudly but don’t move the tofu around: let it sit in pan uncovered). Cook 1-2 minutes per side.

7) Remove tofu from pan; let cool before serving.

Again, not as pretty as K Blog’s. Oh well.

Smoky Chipotle Mayo

Adapted from a recipe at http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2011/09/spicy-chipotle-tofu-sandwich.html

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup mayo or Vegenaise
  • 1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped (from a can of chipotle in adobo sauce)
  • 1 tbsp adobo sauce from chipotle can
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp each garlic powder, paprika, chili powder
  • Salt and pepper, to tasteSpicy Chipotle Tofu Sandwich Wrap
    Ingredients:
  • 1 wrap
  • 2 slices sweet-n-spicy tofu
  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow cheese spread
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp Chipotle Mayo
  • 2 planks of sweet-n-spicy tofu
  • Red-leaf lettuce
  • Tomato slices, chopped
  • Small handful shredded carrots
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • Slices of cucumber, chopped
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar/1 tsp olive oil


Directions:
1) Combine ingredients for chipotle mayo and place in fridge for at least ten minutes to chill.
2) Prep all of the veggies; gently toss in vinegar and olive oil.

3) Start assembling your wrap: heat wrap for 10 seconds in microwave. Spread Laughing Cow cheese spread on wrap; top with chipotle mayo and Dijon mustard. Add lettuce, tofu, tomato, cucumber, carrots, green onion, and avocado.

Review: The texture of the tofu wasn’t bad, thanks to the chewy and slightly crunchy exterior. I found the texture of the middle of the tofu a little weird for me but it wasn’t bad in the wrap. Very good flavor: sweet and mildly spicy, with a bit of smokiness.

I loved the chipotle mayo—so good! Again, mildly spicy, very smoky; flavors similar to those in the tofu but creamy instead of sweet; it kind of reminded me of Subway’s chipotle sauce. I toned down the mayonnaise-y taste by adding more chipotle sauce and brightened the flavor with lime juice.

The wrap as a whole was excellent: a ton of flavors and textures so my palate wasn’t bored. All of the veggies “hid” the texture of the tofu (you will have to excuse me, I’m still new to the ‘fu).

One note about tofu:  it is very moist. Like ridiculously moist. I used nearly an entire roll of paper towel drying it off. If you know of a better way to dry tofu, holla at me!

Moving on…

On a different topic, today I went back to healthy. It’s not that I haven’t been eating fairly healthy lately (bacon-piñata and epic sandwiches aside) but I have been struggling with working out. And I have been struggling with eating healthy as a life change and not as a temporary thing (aka a diet). I also get frustrated because I feel like I should be making huge strides (working out every day, never eating junk food, etc) and it’s tough and I get discouraged. So I am trying to reclaim “healthiness for life” in baby steps; one of my first steps was implementing yogurt for breakfast. I’ve read a lot about how adding low-fat/fat-free milk, yogurt, or cheese to your diet can aid in weight-loss but since I don’t really drink milk, I hadn’t considered it. But then I discovered Greek yogurt: 160 calories, no fat, and lots of proteins. I also discovered that I hated it: it made me gag and want to pitch it in the garbage. But after suffering through a week’s worth of flavored yogurt (strawberry, blueberry, peach, vanilla, etc), I accidentally ate the plain yogurt. And that, that one I like. It tastes a bit like sour cream, which can be off-putting, so I combated that by turning it into a sort-of-parfait. And now I have a mega-healthy breakfast that I kind of like (and being that I only kind of like it, I have been eating it for 2 weeks straight now and I’m not sick of it yet!).

Greek Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Greek yogurt, plain
  • 1 ½ tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Handful blueberries

Directions:

1) Stir honey and cinnamon into yogurt until well-mixed; add blueberries and enjoy.

Another step I am making towards healthy is a big step: 2-a-days. Basically, I am working out with Jillian Michaels twice a day between now and the end of next week. The deadline is because I am going out of town for a while; I figured that this intense period of time will be manageable because it isn’t permanent. It’s just a way to jump-start some weight-loss before transitioning into a more sustainable one-a-day workout. So I am doing Jillian’s Ripped in 30 DVD when I wake up and her yoga DVD before I go to bed. The Ripped in 30 is for body health, the yoga is for mental health. I just wanted to let you all know where it stands on my exercise; and to tell you, once again, how wonderful (awful?) Jillian’s workouts are. They are really designed to tear you down and build you up again; Jillian drives a hard workout and you hate her and your hate yourself for not being able to do it perfectly. But just when you think you can’t do it anymore, that you are going to give it, Jillian gives you an easier move to do and delivers a great motivational speech. And you find enough in you to carry on. I personally wonder if Jillian is the devil or a deity…

In my quest for a whole healthy day, I decided to make one of my favorite recipes for dinner: cod and mashed potatoes. I ran across this recipe at some point last year and The Boyfriend and I quickly made it one of our favorites. It was a bit of a hassle the first time that I made it but not that I’m familiar with the recipe, it’s pretty simple.

When writing this blog up, I realized that this is from the same source as to my favorite salsa recipe (that I will also be making this week)! Yay for Kayotic!

Steamed Cod and Taters

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.kayotic.nl/blog/steamed-cod-champ-and-mustard-sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lb fresh cod
  • 1 ½ lb Yukon gold potatoes
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ – 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 spring onions or 5 green onions
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • pepper and salt

Directions:

1) Peel the potatoes and boil them in lightly salted water until tender, about 25 minutes.

2) Mince the spring (or green) onions. Transfer them to a sauce pan, pour in the milk and when the potato timer has 10 minutes left, put them on the stove and simmer them over low heat for 5 minutes to soften up and heat the milk.

3) Stir heavy cream together with flour until smooth.

4) Heat broth; as soon as the broth starts to boil, pour in the cream/flour mix and stir intensely. Add water until you have a sauce consistency you like. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and Dijon mustard to taste.

5) Season the fish with salt and pepper; steam fish for 8 to 10 minutes.

Bamboo steamers are amazing–get one now if you don’t already have one. And don’t be afraid to really pack that fish in there.

6) Drain the potatoes, add the butter and mash them. Pour in the hot milk with scallions and a good bit of pepper; stir until well mixed.

7) To serve: divide the taters over the plates, top it with the steamed cod, and spoon mustard sauce on top.

***Ok, so this one is a little hard to veg-ify but I suppose if you replaced the chicken broth with veg broth, and found a good substitute for the cod (maybe roasted veggies?) than it could be done). You could even make it vegan if you used milk and butter replacements.***

Ok, I know it might sound a little weird to put fish on top of mashed potatoes and to cover the whole thing with mustard sauce. I know: it sounds a little bizarre. But don’t think of it as bizarre: think of it as exotic! And after you try one bite, you won’t be thinking of anything except how delicious it is. Talk about a party in your mouth! It’s exciting and it still tastes and feels like comfort food. Mmm…

Just like the blogger at Kayotic suggests, I always serve this with baked carrots. Besides the fact that these are delicious, the carrots are really easy to make; add that to the exotic Indian flavor and the great color pop on the plate next to the white fish and mashed potatoes, and you;ve got a hit!

My Favorite Carrots

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.kayotic.nl/blog/easy-baked-carrots

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb carrots
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • Cinnamon, ground cumin, curry powder, ground ginger, and cayenne, to taste
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; line a cookie sheet or roasting pan with tin foil.

2) Peel carrots and halve them lengthwise.

3) Combine butter with all of the seasonings and garlic. Add the butter mix to the carrots; use your hands to make sure every carrot is covered. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and black pepper over the carrots.

4) Cover the baking tray tightly with aluminum foil. Place them in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

5) After 40 minutes, remove the top foil; drizzle with about 2 tsp of olive oil and cook for another 10-15 minutes without the aluminum foil, until they’re slightly browned and caramelized.

Before I wrap it up today, I just wanted to tell you about a few big things in my life: I have 2 job interviews this week (yay!) and I am going to a burn in Atlanta in 2 weeks (double yay!). In addition, I will be spending a few weeks after the burn in Atlanta with my mom. The last one is not really a yay but I am looking forward to spending time with my mom and my friends in ATL. Expect to see a lot more vegetarian recipes while I’m there because my mom is a recent convert to vegetarianism. So my blog question for the day is: what’s your favorite vegetarian recipe??

Until next time…

Feasting

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Feasting

If you’re sensitive to pictures of dead animals, you might want to avoid this blog post.

Man, I am still behind on recipes! I’m sorry that I’ve been slacking on the blog-front; it’s been a little busy around here and I’ve not been in the blogging mood. But before I cook anything else, I want to catch you up on everything that I haven’t posted. So I’m going to start a while back with the feast that we had. A few days after The Boyfriend’s party, he and I started kicking around the idea of doing a feast.

We usually had a feast as a celebration for The Boyfriend’s birthday but we hadn’t this year. The feast would have a $10-$15 buy-in and there was usually six or eight of us who would buy in. We’d buy crab legs and shrimp and scallops and sometimes lobster tails. It’s always been a good excuse for a fun night with friends and a fancy dinner at low cost. We wound up deciding to do a small feast with just a few friends in Albany; with our $40 budget, we bought shrimp, lobster (tails and claws), sea scallops, and a duck. Roasted duck is one of my favorite things to make in part because it’s so easy. And, besides also being really delicious (it tastes like the dark meat of chicken), it also yields duck fat. Duck fat is a fat that can be cooked in; it’s a liquid at room temperature, it is less bad for you than butter, and it gives a light, smoky flavor to food that is cooked in it. In short, it is a miracle elixir of magical proportions in the kitchen.

Back to how easy duck is to prepare: the first time I made a roast duck, it was under the supervision of a close foodie-friend of mine, Wilco. Whenever I was got insecure that I was doing something that was going to ruin the duck, I’d ask Wilco. Wilco always responded the same way “The worst that can happen is you’re going to have a roast duck.” And that is pretty much true. If you cook the duck too long, yeah, the meat might be a little tougher but the skin will be all the crispier. If your rub isn’t flavorful enough, you can always add more salt once it’s cooked. Trust me, a duck is one of the easiest things you can make but it sounds so fancy that it will impress people. AND it tastes great. What more could you want from dinner?

My favorite rub is a barbecue-style rub; it is salty and smoky and sweet and spicy.

Crispy BBQ Duck

Ingredients  

  • 1 whole duck, 5.5 to 6 lbs
  • ½ white onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
  • 1 cup boiling water

Spice rub

  • Butt rub
  • Brown sugar
  • Spanish paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Italian herb seasoning
  • Salt and pepper

 Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Remove duck from packaging; drain blood and check to make sure there is nothing inside the duck (like the duck’s organs in a bag).

3) Using a knife, score the duck skin or poke shallow holes into the skin; make sure you get all over the duck, both sides.

4) Pour 1 cup boiling water all duck.

5) Mix up seasoning in bowl; adjust quantities to taste.

Rub seasoning all over duck, making sure to get every part.

6) Shove onion and garlic cloves inside the duck; place duck on broiler pan in oven.

7) Cook for 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the duck (2 hours for a 4.5-5 lb duck; 3 hours for a 6.5-7 lb duck). Turn the duck in the oven every half hour. Duck is done when skin is brown and crispy and juices run clear.

 Pouring boiling water over the duck after it’s been scored loosens up the fat under the skin of the duck. When the duck roasts, the fat melts off making the skin crispy (and creating quantities of  wonderful duck fat).

Our duck really was whole this time: head and feet included! You can get frozen duck at the grocery store; these will likely have head/neck and feet removed. Or you can buy refrigerated ready-to-cook duck from an Asian supermarket; this duck will more likely have head/neck and/or feet still attached. It is just a matter of preference. For me, I prefer being able to eat the whole duck; the meat on duck feet is delicious and extra crispy.

We bought ¾ lb of scallops at our local Asian supermarket. They were very fresh: large, white, very round.

 Bacon scallops with butter sauce

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.spotsfordates.com/07/2008/recipes/bacon-scallops-with-butter-sauce-recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 sea scallops
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp white wine (or sub for a mixture of light beer and white vinegar)
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tooth Picks

Directions:

1) Start by making sure that your scallops are completely dry: set the on paper towels to drain and blot the tops with another paper towel.

2)  While the scallops are drying, cook up the bacon; cook the same number of slices as you have scallops. Blot grease off bacon and set aside.

3) When the scallops are dry, season both sides with a little bit of salt and pepper.

4) Put 2 tbsp butter in a different frying pan over medium high heat.

5) When the butter has started to bubble, add the white wine (or beer/vinegar) and lemon juice.

6) Add scallops to pan and cook 3-4 minutes per side; remove from pan to a plate.

7) Cut bacon strips in half; to plate, slide one slice bacon (2 halves) onto a toothpick. Stick a toothpick with bacon onto a scallop. Pour butter-wine sauce over all scallops onto the plate; serve immediately.

I made the bacon-scallops this way rather than the “traditional” method (wrapping uncooked bacon around raw scallops and cooking them in the oven) to ensure that the bacon was crispy and the scallops weren’t overcooked. And it worked great! The scallops were very juicy and the chewy, saltiness of the bacon complimented them nicely. Also, this whole recipe took about 15 minutes start to finish and again, looked fancier than it really was. Double bonus.

The other two things we made were boiled shrimp and lobster tails and claws. Unfortunately the quality of the seafood was bad in this case—the seafood was frozen when we bought it and it suffered from freezer burn. The recipe is still solid so I’m going to post it, but I recommend using fresh seafood.

Seafood boil with butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 3 lbs lobster claws and tails
  • 3 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Large pot
  • Garlic butter (1 clove garlic, chopped mixed into 2 tbsp melted butter)
  • Lemon butter (2 tsp lemon juice mixed into 2 tbsp melted butter)

Directions:

1) Heat up a lot of water in a huge pot; add Old Bay and vinegar.

2) Once the water is boiling, add seafood; cover and cook 5-7 minutes or until shrimp is pink and lobster is bright red.

3) Serve with garlic butter and lemon butter.

And so we feasted! And it was glorious.

Working on my mussels

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Working on my mussels

For the past few days, I have kind of been on an eating “vacation.” I had a friend visiting who was on vacation and it was easier to eat out than to cook; it was more fun to eat burgers and pizza than it was to watch my diet. But my friend left yesterday and although I will miss her, my diet is much improved now that I am cooking again. Today has been a pretty healthy day! I had Greek yogurt and blueberries for breakfast; a turkey wrap for lunch; and mussels for dinner. I am pretty proud of myself 🙂

Onto the healthy recipes!

Chipotle Turkey Wrap

Adapted from a recipe by College Girl Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 1 wrap

  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle spreadable cheese

  • 4 pieces turkey
  • 1 handful green-leaf lettuce
  • 1 small handful matchstick carrots
  • ½ tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • Optional: drizzle of olive oil vinaigrette

Directions:

1)  Heat wrap in microwave for 15-30 seconds.

2) Spread Laughing Cow cheese on warmed wrap.

Add hot sauce on top of cheese.

3) Lay 4 pieces of turkey on wrap, overlapping; leave about ½” space between end of turkey and edge of wrap

.

4) Top with cilantro,

lettuce,

carrots, and drizzle with olive oil vinaigrette.

5) Fold the wrap like a burrito: start by rolling the edge closest to you over the filling (make sure this is tight!)

Fold in the right side

and then the left.

Cut in half and serve.

Notes/Review: I saw this recipe on College Girl Cooking (via Foodgawker) and I was attracted to it for a few reasons. The simplicity of it was, of course, very appealing but I was especially excited about trying it because I love the Laughing Cow spreadable cheeses. While my favorite is the original light cheese, I also liked the sundried tomato and I have been eying the queso fresco flavor. I’m also tired of salads for lunch so a salad wrap sounded tasty. And guess what? It was! I added the extra ingredients (hot sauce, cilantro, carrots) because I had them in the fridge and I wanted to add a little more spunk to the wrap. We chose Hot! Ocean Deck Rasta Sauce because it is smoky and garlicky and peppery. It went well with the chipotle cheese and the rest of the wrap. Avocado would have been an awesome addition (I might try that tomorrow!); red/green pepper or cucumber would also be nice. You really can customize the ingredients to your taste preferences; I recommend keeping the turkey/cheese/cilantro/hot sauce to keep the tasty flavor intact. Overall it was a really healthy lunch and very tasty! 4 stars

For dinner, The Boyfriend and I have been wanting to make mussels for a few days so we finally bought them and cooked them in a curry and lime broth.

Mussels with Coconut Curry Lime Sauce

Adapted from a recipe at Verses from my Kitchen

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 can (14 ounce) coconut milk
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Juice of one lime
  • ½ Serrano pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 2 pounds mussels, washed/scrubbed/debearded
  • Small handful chopped cilantro

Directions:

1) Melt the butter in a large wok over medium heat; add in the shallots and garlic and cook for one minute.

2) Add in the curry paste and the thickened top half of the coconut milk and stir for another minute.

3) Pour in the rest of the coconut milk along with the beer, vinegar, lime juice, green chili and ginger. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

4) Add the mussels and increase heat until a low boil starts. Cover the pot and boil softly for about 8 minutes, or until all the mussels have opened up.

5) Place mussels in bowls and pour sauce over top. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.

Notes on the mussels: Since The Boyfriend and I usually keep beer in the house, we swapped the wine in the recipe for the beer that we already have. I recommend using a lighter-colored beer; we just used an inexpensive beer from our local grocery store. The flavor of the beer is very apparent in the recipe so make sure you pick a beer that you enjoy. The original recipe did not specify a type of curry paste or a type of pepper; we hit up our local Asian food store to buy the curry paste. Please don’t buy name-brand, mainstream curry paste: the flavor is always weak, diluted, and not even close to authentic. The brand we normally buy is MAESRI; they sell a variety of types of curry paste and we’ve been able to find them in several Asian supercenters. We picked green curry because the ingredients sounded the closest to the flavors in this recipe; we bought the Serrano pepper for the same reason.

Mussels review: We gave this recipe a solid 4 stars. The broth was tasty and nicely accented by the cilantro; the spice level was appropriate; and the mussels themselves were soft and tender. We are going to freeze all of the leftover broth and make shrimp curry with it in a few weeks. Yum!

Curried Grilled Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 large yellow squash

Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tsp Badia curry powder
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: ½ tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

1) Whisk all of the sauce ingredients (except lemon juice) together in a bowl until combined; set aside.

2) Wash zucchini and squash; halve both vegetables and slice into thin (1/8”) pieces.

3) Using a pastry brush and liberally brush both sides of every slice of squash and zucchini.

4) Grill veggies about 4 minutes per side.

5) Add lemon juice to veggies and serve.

Notes: If you are like me and don’t have a pastry brush, you can use your hands to spread the sauce on the veggies; it’s a little messy but it gets the job done. We did not put any brown sugar in the sauce and it was still tasty; I just thought that a little sweetness would have been given the sauce some nice depth.

Review: The squash was solidly good but not terribly exciting; for that reason, I gave it 3 stars (out of 5). I enjoyed the squash (and The Boyfriend ate it, which is great because he isn’t a squash fan) but I have made other squash recipes that I like better (remember Cannibalistic Squash? Now that is a “Wow!” squash recipe).

The Boyfriend and I shared a side salad and some tasted and buttered sourdough bread, in addition to the mussels and squash. Overall, we both gave the meal a solid 4 stars; I was quite happy with the balance of flavors and textures that this meal presented.

Ok so end-of-blog question time: what’s your favorite indulgent, so-bad-it’s-bad food?

DIY and a few left-over recipes

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DIY and a few left-over recipes

Sometime in the last week or two amidst all of the cooking and then posting, I forgot to post a recipe, a solid, healthy, easy recipe. Since tonight was a no-brainer meal not really worthy of posting the recipes for (spaghetti; roasted squash; salad; and yes ok, we had garlic bread), I figured that now would be a good time to catch up on what I missed.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

Adapted from a recipe at Lana’s Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound shrimp, split and deveined 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Directions:

1) Melt the butter and oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

2) Add the garlic, onion and jalapeno. Cook, stirring until the onion begins to wilt, approximately 3 minutes.

3) Add the red pepper, chili powder, and cumin. Continue cooking until the onion becomes translucent, approximately 3 additional minutes.

4) Add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are soft.

5) Add the shrimp, zest and lime juice, salt and black pepper.

6) Cook until the shrimp are just opaque. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro

Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad Recipe

Adapted from a recipe at Eclectic Recipes

Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can corn, rinsed and drained
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1) Add all diced vegetables except avocado to a large bowl.

2) Add lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Add avocado right before serving. Serve over salad greens.

I recommend NOT chopping all of the avocado at once unless you intend on the salad being eaten in one sitting. I just chopped and added the avocado to the salad on the days that I ate it so that I had unspoiled avocado for leftovers.

I haven’t done a ton of cooking in the past few days but I did do some DIY beauty stuff! After a pretty exhausting and frustrating day, I decided that I needed a bath to unwind. I really wanted a bubble bath and my friend, Mrs. H, was chatting to me about DIY-beauty products and one thing led to another and…

Foaming Vanilla-Honey Bath

From Pink of Perfection

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup light oil (almond, sunflower, or canola)
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup mild liquid hand or body soap 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

Directions:

1) Mix ingredients together in a glass jar. To use, shake gently to remix and pour ¼ cup under running bath water.

Word to the wise: if you don’t have any of the light oil, you can use olive oil; that’s probably not recommended but that’s what I did and it didn’t smell weird or feel funky or anything. I also used Sweet Pea body wash from Bath and Body Works as my soap and that worked out alright. It smelled pretty good and felt nice on my skin.

I have dry skin and don’t have the money to fork over for special, intense moisturizers. However I did have all (really, both) ingredients for an at-home moisturizing mask!

Avocado Mask for Dry Skin

From Pink of Perfection

Ingredients:

  • ½ avocado
  • ¼ cup honey

Directions:

1) Mash the avocado in a bowl, then stir in honey.

2) Apply to skin and leave for 10 minutes, then rinse.

Pros and cons of the mask:

Pros:

  • It tastes good
  • Simple ingredients
  • It made my skin super soft and awesome afterwards

Cons:

  • It was a little (ok, quite) slimy
  • It is really hard to get off of your face.Be prepared for lots of washing
  • The recipe makes enough for 2 masks, so I felt bad about wasting half of it (you should just invite a friend over!)

Overall, I really liked the mask. It definitely made a difference in how my skin felt, for the day and in the week since.

Also, as promised, I am doing better in the exercise department! I did my 30-minute Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown DVD yesterday and then tonight I went on a 30-minute brisk walk with The Boyfriend. I want to get to a place where I am able to do an intense workout EVERY day but right now things just seem to come up that prevent that. Maybe once I get a job (will I ever??) and get on a routine it will be easier.

Oh! If you like DIY home products, you should check out Mrs. H’s blog! She is a newly-married lady exploring her housewife side. She is insanely creative with her DIYs and a lot of them are also really doable. Check her out! Until next time…

Back on the wagon

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You may have noticed that I haven’t written much about exercising lately. Well, I have a confession to make: the last two weeks I have been not as healthy as I should have been. Exercise has been infrequent (ok, nonexistent) and we ate more red meat last week than we should have; also, there may have been some chocolate involved. But I am back on the straight and narrow!

Things to look forward to on my blog this week:

1) Less red meat! In fact, no red meat this week; instead, we’ll be eating salmon, chicken sausage, chicken and veggie spaghetti. I am tired of eggs and toast for breakfast so I need to think of something different for next week but in the meantime I have been having lots of salads, which brings me to…

2) Salad recipes! I have been eating some truly amazing salads and I’ll probably share a few recipes.

3) A recap of my daily exercise. Yep, I said daily, not every-other-daily or once-a-weekly. I need to kick myself into high(er) gear and that starts with more activity.

Bonus! An update on The Great Job Hunt. Yes, I know this isn’t really related to food but it’s relevant in my life so I’ll probably write about it. Things like pimping a resume, going on a job interview, and bemoaning unemployment.

Recipe time! Let’s start with the salad (because breakfast has been boring me lately):

Lox Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 handful green leaf lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp diced red pepper
  • 2 tbsp shredded carrots
  • 1 tbsp diced tomato
  • 4 slices cucumber, quartered
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • ½ tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 oz smoked salmon, chopped
  • ½ oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp Instant Dressing

Directions:

1) Add lettuce to bowl; top with remaining salad ingredients and dressing. Enjoy!

This salad is super easy, super flavorful, full of good fats (poly/mono-unsaturated from the dressing and the avocado, omega-3s from the salmon) and really, really delicious. But don’t take my word for it—make it yourself!

Dinner time!

Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Adapted from a recipe at Unwined-TN

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
    1 tsp pepper
    ½ tbsp ground cumin
    ½ tbsp paprika
    ½ tsp salt
    ¼ tsp curry powder
    ¼ tsp cinnamon
    ½ tsp brown sugar
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 lb fillet sockeye salmon

Directions:

1) Mix chili powder, pepper, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture all over fish, making sure to get sides and top of fish.

2) Tear off a piece of tinfoil that is about twice the size of the fillet. Grind salt and pepper in the middle of the foil; add minced garlic and pour tablespoon of olive oil on top.

3) Center fish over the garlic/olive oil on tinfoil. Fold tinfoil up around fish, making a pouch. Put pouch on preheated grill and cook for about 10 minutes.

While I adapted the rub from the recipe at Unwined-TN I borrowed the method of cooking from A Newf in my Soup:En Papillote, French for in parchment, is a method of cooking food in a folded and sealed pouch or parcel, and then baked. The parcel is typically made from folded parchment paper, but a paper bag or aluminium foil works equally well. The food steams in moisture from the food itself, or from added water, wine, or stock.  Vegetables, herbs and spices add to the flavor.” So there you are. I have wanted to try cooking fish en papillote for a while but I had my eye on a recipe that uses phyllo dough as the bag and that doesn’t exactly fit in with my new ideas on eating healthy. Serve the sweet and spicy salmon with roasted broccoli and a salad for maximum health!

Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Feta

Adapted from a recipe at A Couple Cooks

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag broccoli florets (or 1 head broccoli, cut into florets)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2) Cut each garlic clove into quarters.

3) Add broccoli and garlic to a bowl and toss with olive oil. Add salt and fresh ground pepper.

4) Line a baking sheet with tinfoil; add broccoli and garlic to sheet, spreading it out evenly. Roast the broccoli for about 20 minutes.

5) Put broccoli and garlic back to bowl; add feta cheese and top with lemon juice.


Lobster Mac and Comfort Cooking

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Lobster Mac and Comfort Cooking

So in the last post, I talked a bit about comfort food and why Korean food is comforting for me. Today is different; today I got comfort not from the food (although it was delicious!) but from the act of cooking it (and I even remembered to take pictures this time!).

Today I finally got to try two recipes that I have been begging The Boyfriend to let me do. The first was beets. The boyfriend has a high aversion to these maroon-ie root veggies. “You know what my mom says about beets?” he says whenever I bring up the possibility of making beets. “What?” I say, even though I know what’s coming next. “She says that she eats them whenever she is craving something that tastes like dirt.” Sigh. Some people (like The Boyfriend) think that tasting like dirt is the same as tasting earthy. I tried to explain that while beets are earthy, they don’t have to taste dirty, but until this week, he wasn’t having it. This week I put my foot down and said that I wanted to try making beets. I was able to placate him by pairing the beets with another recipe I have wanted to do: lobster mac-n-cheese. To quote the blogger that I borrowed the recipe from, “We are not talking about the abomination of folding lobster meat into mac and cheese here. We’re talking about using every part of the lobster to layer and accentuate its flavor in a spectacular lobster and macaroni gratin.” and s/he wasn’t kidding! It was definitely an effort (not a quick or easy meal) but it was a labor of love and it was just what I needed to boost myself up today.

The last few weeks, I have had so much work to do that it feels more like I am looking down the barrel of a gun that looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. And unfortunately, the workload is only increasing. So today when I got out of class feeling dejected and staring at the mountain of work piled in front of me, I did whatever any mature, responsible adult would do: I took a nap. Ok, so it wasn’t the most mature or the smartest decision to make, but I was feeling so low that I just couldn’t face it. When I woke up form my nap, I just wanted to do something that I could feel good about and would also give me that feeling of accomplishment. So I decided to tackle my most challenging recipe of the week. It took about 3 hours from start to finish (prep to doing the dinner dishes) but it was way worth it. Not only was it delicious but now I also feel better about the work in front of me; because really, if I can make lobster mac, I can handle 5 chapters of statistics homework, right? Right?

Lobster Mac adapted from the recipe at Zen Can Cook

serves 3-4

For the lobster:

3 lobster tails, cooked in a court-bouillon*

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1/2 large white onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup bourbon**

1/4 cup white wine

1 tablespoon tomato paste***

4 ounces whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 bouquet garni (fresh parsley, thyme, and tarragon, tied together or loose)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

salt and pepper, to taste

For the gratin:

approx. 6 ounces elbow macaroni

lobster meat from 3 lobster tails (above), roughly chopped

Gruyere cheese, grated

*For my court-bouillon, I used water, lemon juice, salt, parsley, bay leaf, tarragon, and thyme, but feel free to adjust the seasonings to your taste.

**The original recipe called for Cognac but I didn’t have any so I used Maker’s Mark. Use whichever one is most convenient for you!

***It is super annoying to buy a whole can of something only to use 1 tbsp of it, so I froze the rest of the tomato paste in 1 tbsp increments in an ice cube tray. In the future if I need just 1 tbsp, I can pop an ice cube out and throw it in the pan.

Directions:

For the lobster broth and meat:

Make sure you have everything prepped, so chopped all of your veggies and boil your lobster tails.

After your lobster tails have been boiled in the court bouillon for approximately 5 minutes, remove from water and cool. Once cooled, separate meat from tail.

In a deep enough stockpot, heat the olive oil over high heat and add the lobster tails. Brown for a few minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the chopped carrots, celery, onion and garlic and keep cooking until translucent, about 5 minutes.Remove from pot and set aside.

Deglaze with the bourbon or Cognac and carefully set aflame with a match. When the flames die down, add the white wine and reduce. Add the tomato paste and the crushed whole peeled tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the bouquet garni and the heavy cream. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes at a very gentle simmer. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes.

At this point, if you have a hand held blender you can remove and discard the tough lobster part and blend the mixture until roughly blended before straining it through a chinois or strainer. If you don’t have a hand held blender, strain the mixture making sure to push hard on the solids to extract all the juices. You should obtain a lobster ‘cream’ more or less the same consistency as a cheese sauce. Reduce if too thin to concentrate the flavors. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the gratin:

Cook the macaroni ‘al dente’ and add it to the lobster ‘cream’. Adjust seasoning and toss the chopped lobster meat with the macaroni and lobster ‘cream’.

Scoop the mixture into buttered ramekins or a casserole dish. Sprinkle the shredded Gruyere over the top in an even layer.

When ready to serve, broil for a few minutes until a nice crust has formed and bubbly on top.

Ok, so the beets aren’t as exciting but they are a nice complement to the mac-n-cheese because it is tart and sharp and crunchy where the mac is soft and gooey and rich. And beets are really good for you, where the mac is only good for the spirit.

10-minute Beets, adapted from the recipe at A Doctor’s Kitchen

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 beets, without greens, scrubbed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive, plus more for drizzling, if desired
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  1. Shred the beets in a food processor fitted with a disc for medium shredding or fine julienne.*
  2. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shallots and garlic; cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the beets and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper. Cook, stirring and tossing, 3 to 5 minutes, until the beets have given up their water and are crisp-tender, or longer to desired doneness. Take pan off of heat and stir in 2 teaspoons of the vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve immediately.

*I don’t have a food processor that can shred beet so I just chopped them with my Pampered Chef Chopper and that worked out fine

So here is my first official post with pictures of the food that I actually made! And about those pictures… I’m sorry if the color/angle/clarity is not always good. I’m not terrific with a camera and I have a basic shoot and point. But hopefully it gets the idea across.

Until next time!