Archive | February, 2012

Shrimp Etouffee

29 Feb

Unfortunately, this is another picture-less post.  Take it from me, though, this dish was colorful and tempting-looking.

As a former NOLA (that’s New Orleans, Louisiana) gal, I cooked this way back on Fat Tuesday.  Though my Fat Tuesday diet in New Orleans consisted of a Tequila Sunrise at The Boot, a few Bloody Mary’s at Igor’s, and whatever takeout I could find open between our parade camp out for Zulu and my bed, I figured I needed to do tribute to my college town on a day I had some time to cook.

I must say, I was really happy with the outcome of this dish.  I’ve eaten quite a bit of etouffee in my day (crawfish, shrimp, crab, alligator, chicken), and I think this stacks up with some of the best of them.  My favorite is crawfish etouffee due to the fact that they are small enough to comprise of a succulent surprise in each bite, but crawfish, unfortunately, are not readily available in February in Cleveland.  And if they are, please comment and let me know, because I’ve yet to find them.  This dish had an excellent balance of freshness from the parsley and lemon, spice from the creole seasoning, and savory deliciousness from the homemade shrimp stock, bay leaf, and shrimp itself.  The vegetables added color and texture, resulting in a satisfying and relatively quick dish that is equally appropriate for a special occasion and a fast week night meal.

Shrimp Etouffee

Adapted from Emeril

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1 tbs. all-purpose flour

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup green onions, chopped

1/4 cup carrots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 tbs. creole seasoning of choice (for example, Zatarain’s, Tony Chacere’s – I used a recipe from the Uglesich’s cookbook)

1 cup shrimp stock (see below)

1/2 pound shell-on shrimp, peeled with shells reserved for shrimp stock (see below)

1/2 lemon, juiced

3 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Slowly add the flour, while whisking, to form a roux.  Reduce heat to medium and continue stirring 20-25 minutes until the roux is about a deep golden brown, about the color of peanut butter.  Add onions, celery, bell pepper, green onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Cook until vegetables are soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the shrimp stock and peeled shrimp and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened and shrimp are cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and parsley.

Remove from heat and serve over white rice.

Shrimp Stock:

Shells from 1/2 lb. shell-on shrimp, reserved from above

1/2 lemon

1/2 cup fresh parsley stems and leaves, roughly chopped

2-3 stalks celery, with leaves, quartered

1 carrot, cut into 2-3 pieces

1/4 large red onion, quartered

1 tbs. whole black peppercorns

3 bay leaves

Add all ingredients to a large pot.  Cover with water and cook over very low heat for at least five hours.  Strain.

Dijon-Chive Baked Eggs

27 Feb

Sorry, ladies and gents, no pictures for this one.  A bunch of my recent food shots got accidentally deleted.  But I couldn’t resist posting this, despite the fact that it’s another baked eggs recipe.  After all, I do eat them a few times a week.  So when I post a recipe for baked eggs – albeit I’ve done it many times – it is a particularly good version.  Cream, mustard, and chives are a classic combination for a reason.  It’s transcendence in a bite.  Add a couple of gorgeous eggs and a well-suited cheese, and you have a decadent meal that is ready in less than twenty minutes (maybe twenty five, if you count heating up the oven).  Which is super important to me, given the fact that my schedule has been insane with school, work, and moot court the last couple of months.  Luckily, moot court is finally (finally!!!!) over, so I’ll be able to be back in the kitchen and not consider “done in half an hour” an absolute necessity.  But this is so delicious I would put in a much greater time investment, if required.  So, despite the fact that I have a good chunk of other baked egg recipes, I thought I would share this particular recipe with you.

Dijon-Chive Baked Eggs

2 free range eggs

1/4 cup dubliner cheese, shredded

1/3 cup 1% milk

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tbs. fresh chives, roughly chopped

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°.

Add about half of the cheese and half of the chives to an oven proof bowl.  Crack eggs on top, careful not the break the yolks.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Whisk together the mustard and milk until well combined.  Gently pour over the eggs.  Add remaining cheese and chives.

Transfer to oven and bake 15-18 minutes.  If desired, serve with toast.

Roasted Mushroom and Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese

20 Feb

Though this winter has been relatively mild, there are days when the cold, dreary weather has me craving something rich, warm, and comforting.  When it comes to comfort food, for me, mac and cheese tops the list.  I upped the ante on this dish from an everday mac and cheese by adding some decadadent balsamic roasted mushrooms and choosing a high quality hickory smoked gouda and sharp dubliner cheese.  The rye bread crumbs added a buttery, flavorful crunch.  Zak and I were both happy to have leftovers of this delicious dish the next day – me, because I am sick of the to-go places around campus for lunch and Zak because, well, this is just damn good.  The great thing about this dish is that it comes together rather quickly and doesn’t take a whole lot of work, making it the perfect weeknight meal when you’re looking for something with a lot of flavor but not a lot of effort.

Roasted Mushroom and Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese

1/2 box pasta shells (or shape of choice), cooked according to package instructions

8 oz. package crimini mushrooms, washed and quartered

4 tbs. olive oil, divided

1 tbs. balsamic vinegar

2.5 tbs. butter

2 tbs. whole wheat flour

3/4 cup 1% milk

1 cup hickory smoked gouda, shredded

1 cup dubliner cheese, shredded

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup rye bread crumbs (or bread crumbs of choice, but the rye worked really well)

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil.  Toss together mushrooms, 2 tbs. olive oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Add to oven and roast 15-20 minutes, shaking baking sheet frequently, until mushrooms are tender and caramelized on the edges.  Set aside, but leave oven on.

When mushrooms are nearly done, add remaining olive oil and butter to a 10″ cast iron pan or other oven-proof pan.  Alternatively, you can cook in any pan and transfer the mixture to individual, oven-proof serving dishes.  Slowly whisk in flour until smooth and cook 1-2 minutes.  Add milk, constantly whisking, until a smooth sauce is formed.  Season with salt and pepper.

Constantly whisking, slowly add in cheeses, working in batches.  Once sauce is smooth, taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.  Add mushrooms and pasta shells and stir to thoroughly coat.  Smooth into a single layer (or transfer to individual oven-proof serving dishes) and top with bread crumbs.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Alternatively, you can mix the bread crumbs with a little melted butter prior to topping.

Transfer to oven and bake 20 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown and cheese is melted and oozing.  Serve immediately.

Pan Fried Calamari with Thai Chiles

17 Feb

Our refrigerator was on the fritz a couple of days back.  I went to pour myself a glass of milk on Valentine’s morning and it was curdled.  Ew.  And our landlord was out of town.  So, basically anything in the fridge was of little or no use.  Luckily, there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot in the fridge to begin with, since I’ve been way too busy to do much shopping.  And the freezer was still okay, which means I had to think about what was in the freezer and the pantry to comprise a colorable Valentine’s Day dinner.

This delectable finger food was a really delicious explosion of flavors and textures.  I had originally planned to use scallions in place of the chiles, but Zak requested I mince up a few of the hot peppers and it turned out to be a really excellent substitution.  Beware – these chiles are very hot, so be careful when handling and reduce the amount or remove all of the seeds if you aren’t a huge fan of spice.  Alternatively, you can substitute a milder chile such as a jalapeño or poblano.  We both really enjoyed this, however, and I thought the flavor worked well with the brightness of the lemon juice and earthiness of the garlic.  The calmari had a really nice crunchy bite to it, and alongside some rice, this made for a light and delicious dinner for two.

Pan Fried Calamari with Thai Chiles

1/4 cup canola oil

1 lb. squid, bodies and tentacles, defrosted if frozen, bodies cut into 1/2″ to 3/4″ rings

3 tbs. all-purpose flour

3 tbs. cornstarch

4 cloves garlic, grated

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2-3 Thai chiles, very finely minced

In a cast iron pan, heat canola oil over high heat until oil is shimmering, about 5-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large brown paper or ziplock bag, add all flour, corn starch, salt, and pepper.  Shake until calamari is well coated.  Shake off extra flour and add calamari to pan, working in batches if necessary, and cook 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add the chiles the last thirty seconds or so, and cook  until calamari is cooked through but tender.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

While the calamari is draining, toss together garlic and  lemon zest.  Toss with calamari and serve with lemon juice.

Chipotle Chickpeas and Sweet Potato Saute

11 Feb

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my “easy” days, this semester.  I leave for school at 8:30 and get home by 7:45 or 8ish, which is much nicer than leaving for work at 8:30 and getting home at 10:30 on Mondays.  It’s a schedule that doesn’t leave much time for cooking, and until I get on a plane back from Minneapolis where we will (hopefully) kick some serious appellate ass, not much is going to change.  But I was sick and tired of subsisting on Subway and noodles hastily tossed with a little butter or olive oil and cheese.  So, I made the decision Tuesday morning while aimlessly flipping through food websites to cook a real dinner that night.  I didn’t want it to be too late, however, so I decided to stick to something relatively quick and simple.  And after many days of footlong turkeys and butter-laden noodles, I wanted something healthy, hearty, and jam-packed with vegetables.

A quick mental checklist of my pantry led to the conceptualization of this dish.  It has elements of sweetness, smokiness, and spice that work very well together.  It also is packed with vitamins and minerals – but it’s so tasty, you forget you’re eating something incredibly healthy.  The smoky spice of the chipotle is balanced perfectly by the sweet potatoes, golden raisins, and cool yogurt.

Chipotle Chickpeas and Sweet Potato Sauté

1 cup chickpeas, canned or precooked

1 very large, ginormously huge sweet potato, scrubbed clean (yield: about 3 1/2 cups of sweet potato cubes, see below)

1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup vegetable stock

1 cup spinach, defrosted if frozen

2 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced (remove seeds if you like less heat)

2-3 tbs. adobo sauce from chipotle in adobo

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Olive oil for tossing, plus 1 tbs. olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 cup golden raisins, for serving (optional)

Plain Greek yogurt, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 475°.

Cut potatoes, skin on, into 1″ cubes.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a single layer on parchment-paper lined baking sheet.  Roast for 20 minutes until edges are lightly golden brown.

In a 10″ cast iron pan, heat remaining tbs. olive oil.  Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent, 6-8 minutes.  Add cooked potatoes, chickpeas, minced chipotles, adobo sauce, vegetable stock, and spinach.  Simmer 10-15 minutes until everything is heated through and stock has entirely evaporated.  Serve immediately topped with raisins and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

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