Sunday, April 1, 2012

Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee

I winged this tonight and dayumn it was good.  Try it, you'll like it.  Paired well with champagne, for realsies.

1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp (start w/shells on though -- see below)
1/2 lb. cooked crawfish tails (okay, I used langostinos)
2 celery stalks, cut into small dice
1/2 Maui onion, minced
1 orange bell pepper cored and seeded, cut into small dice
2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and minced
1 small can generic, plain tomato sauce
1 cup shrimp stock (recipe below)
1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

Saute the celery, onion, and pepper in olive oil over medium heat until softened.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant.  Add tomato sauce, stir and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes.  Add the shrimp stock, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Whisk in the yogurt slowly (this adds a lovely creaminess to the sauce).  Simmer for about 15 minutes then turn the heat up -- if the sauce is too thick add a bit more shrimp stock.  Add the shrimp and stir until cooked through, just a few minutes.  Add the crayfish, stir, and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.  Serve over or next to rice, with Tabasco sauce on the side.

Shrimp stock
Shells and tails from 1 lb. of shrimp
1 large carrot, peeled and quartered
1/2 Maui onion, halved
1 celery stalk, quartered
2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and minced
2 cups water to start
Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan, cover and boil for about an hour, adding water to keep the liquid at about two cups.  Strain and ladle into vegetables and tomato sauce above, as needed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mashed Root Vegetables

This dish is as easy to make as mashed potatoes and has a very pleasant, mellow flavor.  Clean and shave two fennel bulbs and peel two shallots and a celery root.  Chop the fennel into quarters and the shallots in half and the celery root into 2" chunks.  Steam the fennel and shallots until tender, then blend in a food processor until combined.  Set aside.  Steam the celery root until tender.  Place in a stand mixer and mash with the flat beater.  Add the fennel, shallots and a tablespoon of butter.  Mash until combined then switch the beater for the wire whip.  Whip on high until fluffy.  Keep in a warm oven until ready to serve as an accompaniment to roasted meat or poultry.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Sweet Potatoes

I was asked to bring a sweet potato dish to Thanksgiving at my cousins' this year and I was quite pleased with this one.  I started with an Ellie Krieger recipe for Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes that I found on-line and changed a few things to make it more holiday-y.

4 pounds peeled sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons clarified butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of ground allspice
pinch of ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a couple of large baking dishes.  Slice the potatoes 1/4" thick using the crinkle-cut blade on a mandoline and place in a large mixing bowl.  Try to avoid giving yourself a crinkle-cut shaped wound on your index finger that takes a month to heal, like I did the first time I used my mandoline.  Melt the butter and whisk thoroughly with all the other ingredients.  Slowly drizzle the mixture over the potatoes as you toss by hand, coating thoroughly. Place potato slices on the baking dishes, slightly overlapping one another.  Roast for about 20 minutes and turn, then stir after another 20 minutes. In 20 or so more minutes they should be done.  They are best when slightly crispy with pretty carmelization.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Butter-Poached Lobster Salad

We had this at a restaurant in Culver City called Sublime and it was so good I did my best to recreate it.  What I think I changed was browning the poaching butter and putting a shallot in the vinaigrette, but I cannot be sure.  Anyway, here's my version:

The Salad
1 1-1.5 lb. lobster tail
5 oz. package of pre-washed mixed baby lettuce
1 shaved head of fennel
1 cup of grapes

The Vinaigrette
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup mandarin orange slices
1 small shallot
1 tablespoon chopped lavender petals/leaves

4 tablespoons of butter for poaching

Combine oil, mandarin oranges, minced shallot and lavender in an immersion blender.  Add salt to taste.  Set aside.  (Pretty soon I am going to try making the vinaigrette with lemon juice [or Meyer lemon juice] and tarragon instead of orange juice and lavender -- perhaps a bit cliched, but dayum I think it will taste good.  I might put some lemon zest in the salad, as well.)

Steam the lobster tail for a minute and fifteen seconds per ounce, then put on top of some ice to cool.  Heat the butter in a small saucepan.  Shave then cut the fennel into thin slices.  Cut the grapes in half.  Combine fennel and grapes with the lettuce in a large salad bowl.  Shell and cut the lobster meat into medium-sized chunks.  When the butter is just browning, add the lobster and simmer for a few minutes.  Remove the buttery lobster chunks with a slotted spoon, shake off excess butter (is there even such a thing?  When I made this the lobster seemed to soak up all of the butter!) and put into the salad, then toss with the vinaigrette.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken with Giblet Gravy

Putting herbs and lemon under the skin before roasting makes this recipe somewhat labor intensive, but the end result is well worth it. 

1 4-5 lb. chicken, giblets set aside
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh savory, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh marjoram, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 large lemons (see below)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the herbs, garlic, olive oil, and the zest from both lemons.  Slice the lemons thinly and remove the peel by cutting in a circle with a sharp knife, then mix the lemon slices in with the herbs.  Sprinkle salt on chicken and work your fingers under the skin of the breast and thighs, loosening it from the flesh without breaking it.  Once you loosen the thigh skin, you can work your fingers under the leg skin.  Don't worry about the wing skin, but fold each wing tip under the rest of the wing.  Stuff lemon slices coated in herb mixture wherever you can.  I can usually fit two per breast, two per thigh, and one per leg.  Then add more herbs and massage everything around until it coats the flesh evenly.  Rub the remaining mixture (there should be plenty, if not I messed up and you should use more of everything) all over the outside of the chicken.  Put the lemon peels inside the cavity.  If any skin has torn stretch it back into place, layer it over the skin from which it separated, and hold fast with a toothpick or two.  This will keep the meat nice and moist.  Place the chicken on a roasting rack in a roasting pan breast side down.  Add water to the roasting pan and roast for 45 minutes, making sure to replenish the water before it evaporates.  Flip the chicken over (this required some teamwork with the Darling) and cook for another 45 minutes breast side up, making sure there is enough water.  The skin should crisp nicely.  Remove and let rest, then carve it up.  Now for the gravy:

Saute the giblets in a pan with olive oil until browned all over and sticking to the pan without burning.  Remove the neck, keep the liver and kidneys.  Deglaze with a 1/4 cup of sherry, scraping up any bits.  Add 1/2 tsp. each of garlic powder and onion powder, then a cup of chicken stock.  Stir thoroughly and simmer for about half an hour.  Cut the kidneys into small pieces and smash the liver with a fork and bring to a boil.  Add some water if necessary and stir.  Whisk in about 1/2 tsp. corn starch mixed with water until the sauce has thickened.  Keep warm in a gravy boat until ready to serve.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Roast Leg of Lamb - Variation with Rosemary, Oregano, Lemon

I just winged this last night based on the fact that I had fresh rosemary and oregano in the garden.  I often use thyme, not oregano, but I don't have fresh thyme in the garden right now (a disastrous oversight that must be corrected), and as it turns out the oregano was a welcome change.  I get my leg of lamb at Costo because it comes butterflied with a little net around it. 

5ish lb. boneless leg of lamb
5 garlic cloves
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt per your taste

The evening before your dinner party, blend the garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt, olive oil and lemon juice to a paste in a food processor.  Stab the lamb all over with a little knife.  Remove netting.  Work paste into the holes and also rub all over the inside and outside of the lamb.  Re-net the lamb and seal it in a Ziploc bag.  Refrigerate until an hour before you are ready to cook, whereupon you should remove the lamb and let it approach room temperature.  Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place still netted lamb on a roasting rack in a roasting pan, roast for 20 minutes then turn the temperature down to 325 and continue roasting until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 125 degrees (per the experts, and the experts are right!  [I changed the cooking temperatures and recommended final internal temperature from my last lol recipe]).  This will result in a very tender lamb (maybe the lemon juice helps?), rare in the middle of the leg and medium rare on the ends.   Serve with mushrooms au gratin and oven fried potatoes.

Mushrooms and Savory Au Gratin

This recipe was a big hit with our guests last night.  It was really easy to make and went very well with roast leg of lamb and Syrah.  Here's what you need:

1 lb. sliced cremini mushrooms (other types should work, too)
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh savory leaves (savory also goes very well with asparagus)
1/4 cup cooking sherry
Gruyere cheese
Crumbled crackers (I used Glutinos) or breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter in a big skillet and saute the onions over medium heat until soft.  Add the mushrooms and saute until they give up their liquid, then add the savory and stir.  Turn up the heat, add the sherry and reduce, scraping up any bits.  Transfer everything to a 9x9 shallow baking dish.  Grate as much Gruyere as it takes to just cover the mushrooms and sprinkle cracker/breadcrumbs on top.  Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the cheese melts and the crumbs are golden.  Remove and let rest for a few minutes before serving.