As a kid I was never a seafood person. My family used to vacation on Cape Cod, and I remember there was always one night dedicated to eating as much seafood as humanly possible. This was the night that I usually stomped my feet on the ground, cried and asked if we could go to McDonalds instead. For Dave on the other hand, seafood was one of the 5 food groups. His mom grew up in Rhode Island, with the ocean literally in her back yard, and I knew that if I was going to have any hopes of lasting in his family, I was going to have to suck it up and start expanding my seafood horizons.
My first experience with steamers at Dave’s Nana’s 80th birthday party was like a scene out of National Geographic – I was a tourist in a foreign country where everyone was practicing this ritual of taking a ball of slime out of a shell, pulling the icky outer skin off it, dipping it in water to get the dirt off of it, and then slathering melted butter all over it. There were pails apon pails of them on every table, with accompanying bowls of ‘bath’ water and melted butter, and the shells may as well have been flying over people’s heads they were eating them so fast and enthusiastically. It was at this moment that I realized that stomping my feet on the ground and asking for Chicken McNuggets was not age appropriate – so I did it – I ate a steamer. And another. And another. And ya know, it wasn’t all bad!
There’s this restaurant that we love called The Local. It’s nothing fancy – no frills – a simple menu, with a really great beer selection. All glasses of wine are $7 and the size of them would make your eyes bug out of your head. Watching the bartender as he pours, you keep thinking (glug – glug) – wait, he’s STILL pouring? (glug -glug) as it gets closer and closer to the top of the glass. Love that noise. One of our favorite ‘small plates’ of theirs is their Mussels – you can get them in either an Ale/Mustard/Cream broth (delish) or a Pinot Grigio and Garlic Butter broth (MORE delish). Last time we got them there, after I was done eating the mussels and soaking up as much of the left over broth as possible, we sat and tried to analyze how they were made, promising that one night we’d try to recreate them ourselves. And when we saw Mussels at Market Basket for $3.99, voila!
Mussels in White Wine and Garlic Butter
*Adapted from Cooking Melangery
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp butter
2 1/2 lb. mussels, well scrubbed and debearded
1/2 cup dry white wine
3-5 small tomatoes, chopped
1/2 bay leaf
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1) Cleaning the mussels: To clean mussels, scrub the shells well under running water. The beard, a fibrous tuft near the hinge, should not be removed until just before cooking. Grasp it close to the shell and pull on it with a firm tug. Today, with so many farm-raised mussels in the market, beards are less fully formed and are easier to remove. Once the mussels have been thoroughly cleaned, remove and discard any shells that are open or broken and that do not close when tapped – this is the most time consuming part. The rest is fast and easy, so be patient!
2) Cook the onion, garlic and the butter on medium flame until the onions are soft.
3) Turn up the flame to high and add the mussels.
4) Pour in the white wine, bay leaf, parsley, ground pepper and salt and stir for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, cover and cook for 5 minutes until all the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that did not open.
5) Serve the mussels in large bowl with the broth and baguette slices for dipping.
And, whatever wine is left over (glug, glug) pour yourself a tall glass 🙂 That’s an order!
Warning – this recipe is not for the faint of garlic heart – it calls for NINE garlic cloves! Holy mother – so maybe not your best option for a first cooking-of-the-dinner for a new bf/gf, or the best dish to eat if you have anyone important to talk to in oh, say the next week or so. But I will vouch for this recipe and say it was delicious – I was nervous about the amount of garlic honestly, because even I being a garlic lover shuddered at the thought of using that much of it, but honestly, the other flavors balanced it right out. And the smell OHHH the smell! I love the smell of garlic cooking! It’s one of those smells that turn me into zombie mode whenever I smell it – I could be taking a jog or a walk, and that heavenly smell fills my nostrils and then you may as well consider me an extra for The Walking Dead, only instead of being on a quest for the flesh of humans, I am on a quest for garlic.
This recipe is from Americas Test Kitchen. It’s funny, my mom bought Dave and I this cookbook a few years ago, and it has become more of a paper weight. But when our internet was acting up and I couldn’t find a recipe on the world wide web, I thought I’d go old-school. So I blew the dust off of this bad boy and let me tell you – they have some amazing looking recipes! I’m looking forward to trying many more!
But this one was definitely a keeper – highly recommended for you shrimp, garlic and pasta lovers! Pretty simple ingredients, the only two that I really scratched my head at was the Vermouth and Clam Juice, since I’ve never used them before. But Vermouth is a cooking wine you can find in the dressing aisle of the grocery store (or you can use the version you’d put in cocktails). Or you could just use wine instead, and then you get to drink the rest of it 🙂 And the Clam Juice is in the same section with the tuna and canned seafood. And don’t be scared by the amount of steps – it seems like a lot, but they’re all very easy – promise!
Garlicky Shrimp Pasta
*yields 4 servings
5 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons), plus 4 medium cloves, smashed
(*note I did not use a garlic press, but instead one of those handy dandy hand mincers that did the job just great!)
1 pound large shrimp (21-25), peeled, deveined, each shrimp cut into 3 pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound pasta in short tubular shapes, such as fusilli, campanelle, or mezze rigatoni
(I used the mezze rigatoni)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine
(I used vermouth)
3/4 cup clam juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice plus 1 lemon, cut into wedges
ground black pepper
1) Toss 2 teaspoons minced garlic, shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Let shrimp marinate at room temperature 20 minutes.
2) Heat 4 smashed garlic cloves and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden brown, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and use slotted spoon to remove garlic from skillet; discard garlic. Set skillet aside.
3) Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook until just al dente, then drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water, and transfer pasta back to Dutch oven.
*Note: Dutch oven isn’t 100% necessary – I just used a regular pasta pot
4) While pasta cooks, return skillet with oil to medium heat; add shrimp with marinade to skillet in single layer. Cook shrimp, undisturbed, until oil starts to bubble gently, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir shrimp and continue to cook until almost cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Using slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to medium bowl.
5) Add remaining 3 teaspoons minced garlic and pepper flakes to skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
6) Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute; stir in vermouth and cook for 1 minute.
7) Add clam juice and parsley; cook until mixture starts to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes.
8) Take off heat and whisk in butter and lemon juice.
9) Add shrimp and sauce to pasta, adding reserved cooking water if sauce is too thick. Season with black pepper. Serve, passing lemon wedges separately.
Yum! Garlic and shrimp and pasta – oh my! The sauce was so good that I actually wished I had used a little less pasta, as to have a better sauce to pasta ratio, so my only suggestion would be to maybe only use 3/4 lb of pasta (so not the entire box) but that’s just a personal preference.
Suggested dessert? Something minty 🙂
However, if you’re eating this with someone else, 2 cases of bad breath cancel each other right out!
Anyone think Tuesday’s are worse than Monday’s? It’s not the first day of the week – it’s not the last – it’s not half-way through or the day before friday – it just is. But I gotta say, this Tuesday night’s dinner made up for the nothing that is Tuesday.
When we went to New Zealand for our honeymoon, we ate a LOT of fish and chips – mostly from these tiny hole in the wall places where there was no room to sit – you basically went in, picked your fish, waited for it and then left. They wrapped it in the white paper like the ‘real’ fish places do and it was the most delicious fish and well seasoned chips we had both ever had.
And tonight, shockingly enough, it was like taking a time machine back to kiwi land with this amazing beer battered fish recipe from The Culinary Chronicles posted by Cooking for Carnivores. This batter was absolutely amazing – light and crisp, fried perfectly, like something out of Bon Appetit! And the best part – it was SO easy – I can’t even tell you. The hardest part was getting the skin off the haddock (mainly because we have sucky knives :() We paired it with some green beans and Alexia Sea Salt fries and man, let me tell you, we were in heaven – on a Tuesday night – now how often does that happen?If you love a delicious piece of fried fish that doesn’t taste greasy and heavy, you have GOT to try this – we were so impressed with it!
Beer Battered Haddock
2 pieces of fresh haddock (preferably w/ skin off, unless you’re up for a challenge :))
3/4 cups of flour
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp of kosher salt
1 tsp of baking powder
1/3 cup of lager beer (we used an IPA)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1) Place enough vegetable oil in cast iron skillet til 1/2 inch high. Heat on medium
2) Combine all the dry ingredients except the salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Pour 1/3 of this dry mixture in a separate mixing bowl and set aside.
3) Add the baking powder and beer to the 1/3 of the dry mixture the other bowl and combine to form the ‘wet’ batter.
4) Pat fish dry and season with salt and pepper. Remove skin if necessary.
5) Coat fish in dry mix (large bowl) first, then in wet batter (small bowl), then again in dry mix.
7) Remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
And there you have it folks – quite possibly one of the most delicious things that has ever come from this kitchen! We spent the rest of the night trying to figure out how many other things we could dip in this heavenly batter – onion rings, scallops, shrimp, clams, paper clips, kitchen spoons – pretty sure it would make just about anything taste amazing.
Hopefully this will bring you back to a fun fish and chip memory of your own!
Easter usually means: brunch – eggs – loads of candy shaped like eggs – hot cross buns – and my least favorite meat ever – HAM! Is this why I don’t like easter? Perhaps. It’s strange – when I was younger, E.T. was like one of my favorite movies, and the scene in it where E.T. gets sick at the end and his skin gets all discolored – well, the color of his skin in that scene reminds me of ham. So sick E.T = never likin’ ham – ever.
Dave likes ham, but luckily, understands my traumatization as a young child and made a wonderful suggestion on Friday night to screw the ham – screw the Friday night pizza – it’s easter weekend and a delicious meal is in order – so we made LOBSTER! Dave got a 3- pounder and man was this thing big. I always have a sense of pity for these Lobsters. Not only were they yanked from their sweet life in the ocean and placed in a tank in the middle of a grocery store, for everyone to walk by and stare at them, tappin’ on the outside of their house, disturbing their peace, and then finally the day comes when they get to go home with someone. But unlike a dog, they know that in only about 24 hours, they’ll meet a hot and steamy death.
I think most people know how to make Lobster, but just in case, here it is:
New England Lobster
large pot of boiling, salted water
1 lemon, cut in half
2 bay leaves
1) In a large pot (preferably a lobster pot) fill 3/4 of the way full with water. Add a generous amount of salt, the juice of one lemon, then the lemon halves themselves and 2 bay leaves.
2) When the water is at a rolling boil, place the lobster in the pot and put the cover on. Boil the appropriate time, according to the size of your lobster (10 minutes for the 1st pound and 3 minutes for every additional pound)
3) Take Lobster out, let cool, crack and enjoy!
And a Lobster dinner isn’t complete without some sort of delicious starch and corn on the cob.
The delicious starch this night was twice baked cheddar garlic potatoes. Dave and I had these at our wedding, and I figured there was no reason why I couldn’t recreate this masterpiece. And I have to say, not to toot my own horn, I think that these were actually even better than the ones at the wedding. So tasty! Not the healthiest side on the planet, but hey it’s Easter – I mean Jesus rose from the dead! That calls for some serious side dish action.
Twice Baked Cheddar-Garlic Potatoes
Three large russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed clean
1/3 cup sour cream
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 – 4 slices of thinly sliced cheddar cheese (or if you don’t have sliced cheese, 1/4 cup of shredded should do it)
2 garlic cloves, steamed in water
1/3 cup of reserved garlic water
Salt and Pepper to taste
1) Bake the potatoes in the oven at 425 degrees for about an hour, until the skin is crunchy on the outside.
2) While the potatoes are baking, steam the 2 garlic cloves in a sauce pan of boiling water until they become soft and mashable (about 10-15 minutes)
3) Take the potatoes out of the oven and let cool for a couple minutes. After the potatoes have cooled, slice down the middle and shell out the inside of the potato and place in a mixing bowl (to keep the potato skins stiff, place them back in the oven while you’re making the mixture)
4) To the potatoes, add 1/3 cup sour cream, 3 tbsp. butter, 2 steamed garlic cloves, 1/3 cup of reserved garlic water, and cheddar cheese. Mix together until fully combined. Season the mixture with salt and pepper (add butter/sour cream as needed to make mixture to your desired texture).
5) Take skins out of the oven and stuff them with the potato mixture. Add another slice of cheddar cheese to the top of the potato.
6) Place back in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese on the top is melted and bubbly (you can even throw them in the broiler to brown them).
And there you have it – a delicious New England classic to celebrate Easter, that does not involve sick-alien colored meat 🙂
Happy Easter everyone!
Friday – we made it! Congrats everyone!
Friday’s have really morphed over the years. I remember growing up, Friday was the day that I got to have McDonalds for dinner (Fish and Chips during lent – being the stellar catholic that I am) I’d get my chicken nugget happy meal (and usually a collection of ten of the same toy) but I knew that every Friday, I was gettin’ MacShack, and it helped me get through the tough elementary school week.
In high school, Friday meant a night out at the mall or the movies – getting dropped off and picked up by the parents was a major drag, until finally your first friend got their liscense and we’d jam in the car feeling like rockstars because we could come and go as we wanted, as long as we were home by curfew of course.
In college, Fridays were major – anyone who was anyone was out – and if you weren’t out, you should call the doctor cuz’ something MUST be wrong with you. It was the official start of the weekend, and it usually was a late one, that entailed ordering pizza at 3am (well, that’s what mine were like anyway.)
Annnnd in 2012, Fridays have changed quite a bit – all day at my desk, I think about my sweatpants just sitting at home, waiting to be put on. And the highlight of the night for us is deciding if we’re drinking wine or beer, and if we’re going to stick to the usual pizza-Friday routine, or try something different. And the hottest seat in town is on the couch, and dinner at the coffee table, and if we’re up passed 11pm, there’s probably a full moon.
And this Friday is no different, although instead of pizza, we’re shakin’ it up a bit and making shrimp tacos. We have a recipe that we absolutely love, for Cilantro Lime shrimp tacos, that is TDF. But, tonight we’re trying a new spin and making Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream from Life’s Ambrosia. And to really spice it up, pairing it with Habanero Salsa. I am starting to aquire a taste for hotness, and if Dave doesn’t have sweat dripping down his forehead, than it’s not ‘really’ hot.
Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Lime Sour Cream
1 lb or so of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
Cilantro lime sour cream (recipe underneath)
Habanero Salsa (recipe underneath that recipe)
1) In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper. Add in shrimp and toss to coat completely. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to give the flavors a chance to marry.
2) Cook shrimp in a skillet or grill pan on medium heat until pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
3) Heat corn tortillas over direct flame, approximately 30 seconds, until char marks begin to appear.
Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream
1/4 cup sour cream (we used low fat)
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, chopped fine
1/4 tsp cumin
juice and zest from one lime
salt to taste
1) Stir ingredients in a bowl and voila!
2 large or 3 medium tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 habanero, chopped small (can use half if you don’t want it to be super spicy – the whole adds some extra heat, if you can stand it – also would advise using gloves while cutting)
Juice of 1 lime
1 handful of cliantro, chopped fine
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Place tomatoes in food processor; pulse to desired chunkiness and add to large mixing bowl. Do the same with the onion (when making salsa I like to layer each ingredient vs. putting them all in the food processor at once)
2) Add minced garlic, chopped habanero, lime juice, cilantro, chilli powder, cumin and salt and pepper and mix together.
3) Let sit for a while, maybe 1/2 hour or so. I like to let sit at room temperature (cold tomatoes skeeve me out) and the longer it sits, the more the habanero will settle in with the other flavors.
And, when you have all three players ready, layer Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream, Salsa and Shrimp, fold and ENJOY!!!