Tag Archives: Seafood

Blackened Catfish Salad

Blackened Catfish Salad

So, who’s snowed in today? Yeah, me too. I have lots of work to keep me occupied, but sometimes I get cabin fever on snow days anyway – I think it’s the whole not having the option to get out that does it. Hopefully today is sane enough for us all! All of you snowed in – what’s cooking and/or baking? I’ve got a very ambitious list, in the hopes that it will stave off cabin fever. We’ll see what gets accomplished!

Blackened Catfish Salad

In the meantime, I’m turning the classic dish I grew up eating, Blackened Catfish, into a main dish salad! This was incredibly delicious. I love blackened anything, I do stop short of just licking blackening seasoning off the countertops, but that should give you an idea where I stand. So of course this salad is right up my alley.

Buttermilk Dressing for Blackened Catfish Salad

A few recipe notes: take the time to dredge your catfish pieces in the seasoning. Don’t just toss the catfish with the seasoning in a bowl. That might make it evenly coated, but it won’t really blacken up for you, and the flavor won’t be as strong. This particular recipe uses a Cajun seasoning blend, which was very tasty, but feel free to sub in any other blackening rub you prefer. And lastly, don’t be like me and forget to add the pecans at the end!! I couldn’t believe I did that. They would add that amazing salad crunch we all love, like croutons, so please don’t miss out on them.

Blackened Catfish Salad

And I think that’s it! Enjoy and be safe today!

{One Year Ago: Balsamic-Lacquered Baked Chicken Wings}

Source: adapted from Chile Pepper Magazine, March/April 2012

Ingredients:
1 lb. catfish fillets, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-3” strips
4 tbs Cajun spice rub, or more to taste, plus 2 tsp, divided
Kosher salt, IF your blackening rub doesn’t already have it
Olive oil
½ cup buttermilk, well shaken
2 tbs mayonnaise
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 large romaine heart, chopped
¼ head of red cabbage, cored and shredded
About 2/3 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 roasted red pepper, sliced
3 tbs chopped toasted pecans

Directions:
Prep the catfish as instructed and dry really well on paper towels. Sprinkle the 4 tbs Cajun seasoning in a pie plate. Add salt if your rub doesn’t contain it. One at a time, dredge each catfish strip in the seasoning, getting all sides coated. Set aside on a plate.
Preheat a cast-iron or other nonstick large skillet over high heat. Drizzle in some olive oil. When the skillet is good and screaming hot, cook the catfish strips, in batches as necessary, for about 2-3 minutes per side. Don’t walk away here, they cook up very quickly. Remove with tongs to a plate and let them cool a bit.
Make the dressing: in a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, and the remaining 2 tsp Cajun seasoning. Add salt if your seasoning mix doesn’t have it. Refrigerate if not using very soon.
Now assemble the salad. Add the romaine, cabbage, tomatoes, and pecans to a large salad serving bowl. Drizzle in a little dressing and toss to coat. Lay the catfish strips over top and drizzle on a little more dressing. Serve immediately.

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over Chipotle Black Bean Puree with Jalapeno Crema

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over chipotle Black Bean Puree with jalapeno crema

Through lived experience I’ve found that when a craving hits, you should just feed the beast and then move on. It’s just going to haunt you until you do. So last week Matt and I booked a vacation – this May is our ten year wedding anniversary (!!!) so the last week in April we’ll be traveling to the Bahamas, visiting both Paradise Island and the Exuma Cays. (I’m SO excited!!)

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over Chipotle Black Bean Puree with Jalapeno Crema

We made dinner reservations to eat at Mesa Grill, at the Atlantis resort, and that, my friends, got me craving this dish. Unfortunately for me, Mesa Grill’s flagship New York location closed down a year or so ago; fortunately for me, there’s a Mesa Grill Cookbook! And yes, this is the recipe I’ve made most often from said book.

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over Black Bean Puree with Jalapeno Crema

This is surprisingly easy, for a fine dining restaurant dish, and it’s a real show-stopper. I’ve made it for dinner parties quite a few times, and my mom has as well. Everyone has raved. And yet, it’s also simple enough for a weeknight meal, believe it or not.

I just love it. The recipe contains three steps, all of which are super easy and two of which can be done ahead of time. Upon making this (yet again!) I realized I had never put it up on the blog – for shame!! Time to correct that little misstep!

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over Chipotle Black Bean Puree with Jalapeno Crema

You just have to make this one soon – it’s so incredibly delicious. And now my craving is sated, and perhaps more importantly, now I won’t be tempted to order it when we dine at Mesa Grill in a few months – and that’s important because at Mesa Grill Atlantis, this dish costs $39 – apiece!!! A little outrageous… I’d rather make it for about $25 total (meaning for two servings) in my own kitchen. Enjoy!

Ancho Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon over Chipotle Black Bean Puree with Jalapeno Crema

{One Year Ago: A Guest Post – Creole Meatball Po’Boys; Bacon and Hazelnut Buttermilk Caramels}
{Two Years Ago: Chipotle Chilaquiles}

Source: adapted from The Mesa Grill Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
BLACK BEAN PUREE:
Canola oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt

SALMON:
1/3 cup honey
1 tbs ancho chile powder
1 tbs Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 (about 8 oz.) skin-on salmon fillets
2 tbs canola oil
Cilantro or scallions, for garnish

JALAPENO CREMA:
½ cup sour cream
1 large or 2 small jalapeno chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded if desired, and chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:
First make the BLACK BEAN PUREE. In a medium sauté pan preheated over medium-high, drizzle in some canola oil, then add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor. Wipe out the skillet. Add the black beans to the food processor, along with the chipotle chile(s), cumin, and salt to taste. Fill the black beans can up about halfway with water, then add that to the food processor. Puree until very smooth. If it’s too thick, add a touch more water. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Transfer the bean puree back to the skillet you wiped out and place over medium-low heat for a few minutes, just to warm up the beans. Turn the heat to low to keep warm but not scorch them while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Note: the beans can be made ahead and reheated just before serving.
Now make the SALMON. In a small bowl, add the honey, ancho chile powder, Dijon mustard, plus a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth.
Season the flesh sides of each salmon fillet with salt and black pepper. Add the canola oil to a large skillet or cast-iron pan and set it over high heat. When the skillet is very hot, add the salmon fillets skin side down. Let them cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, until a crust forms and they will lift from the skillet with no sticking issues whatsoever. In the last minute of cooking on this side, brush each fillet with some of the honey glaze. Flip the salmon fillets and cook flesh side down for at least 2 minutes, and up to 2 minutes beyond that. 2 minutes flesh side down will get you rare to medium-rare salmon, so go longer if you want it more done in the center.
Remove the salmon fillets to a plate and brush more glaze on the flesh side of each fillet.
To make the JALAPENO CREMA, place the roasted jalapenos and sour cream in a small or mini food processor, season to taste with salt and pepper and puree until smooth.
To assemble the dish: on each of 4 large dinner plates, spoon a mound of black bean puree and spread it out all chefy-like with the back of a spoon. Center a salmon fillet over the spread of bean puree, then dot the jalapeno crema all around the salmon and bean puree. Garnish with cilantro sprigs or snipped scallions if desired. Serve immediately.

Louisiana-Style Shrimp and Andouille One Pot

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A random grocery store run to Fairway a couple weeks ago turned out to be a major score, when I found a rare-to-this-area item sitting nonchalantly on the shelves: Abita Pecan ale. Now, I can find Abita regular brew, but the company also puts out a pecan harvest ale, and that I could never before locate anywhere in NYC. Happy dance time!

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Before buying it here, I’d only had it one time in my life. That time was with Matt in New Orleans, where the beer itself is brewed, and their pecan ale is seriously the best beer I’ve tasted, ever. With sincere apologies to the Shiner.

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I figured it was perfect for this recipe, a simple one pot that can be thrown together for tons of Cajun flavors, and one that really requires a Louisiana beer. Obviously, using regular Abita (or another brand of Louisiana style beer) would be perfectly fine.

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This was a very lovely dish. Bold flavors, just saucy enough, just messy enough, and pairs so perfectly with that amazing pecan beer. I’m still excited over it. And yes, I’m rationing my stash, trying to make it last, since who knows if I’ll ever see it in NYC again… Anyways, I hope you enjoy this easy one-pot! Oh! Very important – puh-leeze don’t forget a hunk of bread to mop up the delicious holy trinity sauce.

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{One Year Ago: Hatch Chile Cheese Bread, Apple Pie Bagels, My Mom’s Apple Cake}

Source: adapted from Week in a Day by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:
Olive oil
½ lb. Andouille sausage, thinly sliced or chopped
3 tbs unsalted butter
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 thyme sprigs
2 fresh bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red chile flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tbs sweet paprika
2 tbs flour
1 (12 oz.) bottle of beer (I used Abita, from Louisiana, which I highly recommend)
1 cup chicken or seafood stock
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
Louisiana-style hot sauce, to taste
1 ½ lbs. medium-to-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Sliced scallions, for garnish
Crusty bread hunks, for mopping sauce

Directions:
In a Dutch oven or deep, large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and the fat rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
Add the butter to the hot pan and swirl or stir to combine it with the sausage drippings. Add the bell pepper, onion, celery, thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Cook, stirring frequently, until completely softened and cooked. Add the garlic and chile flakes, and cook 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Now add the paprika and flour. Stir 1 minute to cook the pasty taste out of the flour. Stir in the beer and cook 2 minutes, stirring to scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the stock and Worcestershire, reduce the heat to low and simmer about 3 minutes to combine the flavors. Stir in hot sauce to taste. Add the reserved sausage back into the pot.
Lightly toss the shrimp with a little bit of kosher salt, then add it to the simmering pot. Cook over medium heat until the shrimp are opaque and firm to the touch, about 3-5 minutes.
Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, and ladle into either deep bowls, or wide shallow bowls. Garnish with scallions and dig in!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Anchovy Marinara

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Spaghetti squash doesn’t have a terribly long season here in New York, and for many years I’ve only made it once per season (this fabulous dish, every time). And then I woke up and realized, that is rather dumb of me. This year we will have it at least twice! And not the same way twice.

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Spaghetti squash is named so because after you roast it, you scrape out the insides with a fork, and it comes out in strands, like spaghetti. And it happens to pair well with thick, hearty pasta-type sauces. But that is not because it tastes like pasta (it doesn’t), it’s because its inherent flavor is very mild, enabling it to take on bold, saucy flavors without masking or marring anything about the squash itself, and because it is easy to toss with sauces, due to the strands and all.

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I adored this dish. And best of all, it’s very customizable to you and your family’s palates. Want it less spicy? Cut back or eliminate the crushed chile flakes. You can also leave out the anchovies, but unless you’re wanting this to be vegetarian, please don’t. They are so delicious and not at all fishy tasting. And they melt into the sauce – no chunks to be worried about when you serve dinner. Enjoy this one, y’all!

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{One Year Ago: Apple Butter Doughnuts}

Source: adapted from Week in a Day by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:
2 medium spaghetti squash
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling
6 flat anchovy fillets
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 generous tsp crushed red chile flakes
Leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano, chopped
2 tbs tomato paste
½ cup dry red wine
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 parmesan cheese rind
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, with their juices
A few fresh basil leaves, torn
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 450 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle lightly with oil, or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
Using a *very* sharp and large knife, cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Using a regular cereal spoon, scoop out the seeds. Season the cut sides of each squash with salt and pepper. Place them, cut side down, on the baking sheet and roast for 45-60 minutes. Mine were very good to go after only 45 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a paring knife into the skin side of the largest squash half. It should go in with no resistance.
Turn the squash halves over, and use pot holders or oven mitts to hold them while you scrape the flesh out into a bowl with a fork. Drizzle a little olive oil onto the “spaghetti” and taste for seasoning. Stir the “spaghetti” to evenly coat it with the oil. Do not discard the squash shells.
While the squash is roasting, make the marinara. In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the anchovies and shake the pan a bit to get them heated and moving around a little. Stand back because they spit daggers, and when they start to melt, lower the heat and mash them with a stirring spoon. Add the onion and saute at medium heat until softened. Add the garlic, chile flakes, and oregano, and cook 1 minute more. Add the tomato paste and stir 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine, then add the stock, tomatoes, and parmesan rind. Use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes. Keep at a gentle simmer and let the flavors meld for about 10-15 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Remember the anchovies are very salty, so you may not need anything.
To assemble, spoon the “spaghetti” evenly back into the squash shells and top with marinara. Toss some torn basil over each and garnish with parmesan cheese to your heart’s desire. Serve immediately.
Leftovers will work if you transfer the “spaghetti” out of the shell and into a food storage container.

Lobster, Charred Corn, and Avocado Sandwiches

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About one week out of every summer, I feel like the luckiest person on earth. Why? Because my grocery store gets these small, roughly-one-pound live lobsters and puts them on sale for around $6 per pound. Yeah. You read that correctly. It’s crazy. Matt and I can dine on lobsters for less than $15 total.

We never know which week of the summer this blessed event will occur, so you have to be vigilant and alert. And sometimes, like last year, you’ll be on vacation during that week and want to cry about it. But not this year! (Whew…)

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This year, we walked into the grocery store after a long, beautiful day at the beach with a shopping list for burger makings, and that quickly got tossed as we exuberantly exited the grocery store with our $6 lobsters, some garlic, herbs and butter. We had a leisurely, romantic dinner of boiled lobster, drawn garlic-herb butter and chilled Chardonnay.

The next day, I went out and bought two more of those low-price lobsters for this amazing, glorious sandwich. Some fresh sweet corn, ripe avocados, eggy Briochoe rolls, and we were in business.

This is one of the richer summer sandwiches I’ve eaten in my lifetime, but also one of the more delicious. Due to the (usual) price of lobster, I’m guessing it isn’t a sandwich most of us can have every day; I certainly can’t anyway. So once a year, I’ll thoroughly enjoy it and not feel the least bit bad. And you could always sub in jumbo shrimp for the lobster. Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Duck Fat Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Heirloom Tomato Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette}
{Two Years Ago: DrPepper Can Chicken}

Source: adapted from Barbecue Addiction by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
2 (1-1 1/4 lb.) live lobsters
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 large ear of corn
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/2 small jalapeno or serrano chile
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
2 tbs sour cream
2 tbs chopped red onion
A handful of cilantro leaves, chopped, plus extra for garnish
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Few dashes of Tabasco sauce
2 Brioche buns, split and toasted

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lobsters and boil for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove with tongs to a shallow bowl or high-sided plate and let cool. When you can handle them, crack the meat out of the claws and tail. Cut the tail meat into chunks. If not continuing the recipe immediately, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Peel the husks and silk off the corn and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off. Add the butter to a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn, garlic clove, and chile and saute just until softened and toasted, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Transfer the garlic clove and chile to a cutting board and the corn to a large bowl.
Once cooled a little bit, mince the garlic and chile. Add to the bowl with the corn. Also add to the bowl the avocado, sour cream, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash and stir the whole thing together with a fork. You want it combined but still chunky.
Now assemble the sandwich. Dollop a hunk of avocado mixture onto the bottom bun and spread to the edges. Nestle a generous amount of lobster meat, both claw and tail, on top of the avocado. Mound a few dollops of avocado over the lobster, garnish with a few leaves of cilantro, then close the sandwich. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 sandwiches.

Beer-Battered Soft-Shell Crabs Meuniere

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I’ll freely admit to you: I have trouble pinning down soft-shell crab season. Some years it seems to be early summer, other years it’s very late summer, almost into the fall. Some summers have fishmongers featuring these elusive beauties week after week, and other summers you miss them if you blink. I have not figured it out.

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Soft-shell Crabs 110

What I have figured out though, is that soft-shell crabs are rather polarizing and can inject friction into otherwise happy marriages, like my own. I absolutely ADORE soft-shell crabs and my version of heaven would be waters with mutant crabs that never grew their shell back, so I could feast on them year-round.

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Matt, on the other hand, isn’t so much of a fan. He’ll be a good sport and pick at them when I insist on making them, but he doesn’t smile at all during those dinners and he described their texture as “soggy fingernails.” ???

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So, if you happen to agree with my darling husband, just click on, for this post may not be your cup of tea. If you are like me though, you most definitely want to make these babies, the sooner the better. I’ve made soft-shell crabs every which way, from grilled in a sandwich, to sautéed over pasta, to breaded and fried. And these beer-battered and deep-fried crabs are by far the best I’ve ever tasted. The batter gets so crispy in the hot oil, but it somehow melds perfectly with the moisture of the crabs when you take a bite. They were so insanely delicious, and even Matt admitted that they were growing on him as he ate.

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So if you are a soft-shell crab fiend such as myself, please make these as soon as you can. You’ll love me (and chef Donald Link) forever.

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Source: slightly adapted from Down South by Donald Link

Ingredients:
1 cup cake flour (can sub in rice flour)
1 tbs all-purpose flour
About ¾ cup beer
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
4 medium to large soft-shell crabs, or up to 8 small crabs

Meuniere Sauce:
2 tbs unsalted butter, cold
3 tbs chicken stock
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp drained brined capers
½ tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:
First make the beer batter: in a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, beer, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. The batter should be thin enough to barely coat your fingers.
Fill a medium pot with about 3 inches of oil and heat to 350 F.
Cut the crabs in half lengthwise, right down the midsection (make your cut where the chest cavity meets). Pat them very dry with paper towels.
Place the crab pieces in the bowl of batter and gently toss to thoroughly coat each piece. Carefully take each piece out of the batter and let the excess drip off for a second, then carefully place them in the hot oil. Fry until light golden brown, about 2 minutes, flipping once if needed. Do not crowd the pot – do this in batches if need be. Transfer the fried crab pieces to a paper towel lined plate.
Once the crabs are done, make the meuniere sauce. It goes quickly, but for best results, have everything prepped for the sauce before you start frying crabs, then throw the sauce together as soon as the crabs are done.
For the sauce, heat a small skillet or pot over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add 1 tbs butter and swirl to coat. When it starts to turn golden brown (and this will only take about a minute), add the chicken stock, lemon juice, capers, garlic and red pepper flakes. Slightly reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half, which again only takes about a minute. Remove from the heat and swirl in the remaining 1 tbs butter.
Transfer the crabs to a plate or platter and douse liberally with the meuniere sauce. Serve immediately.

Seared Tuna Salad with Nectarines and Cherry Tomatoes

Seared Tuna Salad with Nectarines and Cherry Tomatoes 001

Happy Friday!!! So, I love discovering new food blogs. There are so many food blogs out there that I don’t think any one individual has any hope of reading, or even knowing about, all of them. And sometimes that fact makes it easy to get in your own patterns and even forget there are tons of great food blogs out there of which you’re completely unaware!

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Thanks to joining a few food blogging related Facebook groups, I met Melissa at The Front Porch Gourmet, a great southern lady featuring delicious recipes and mouth-watering photos. When she posted this seared tuna salad with summer plums, I immediately started drooling and knew exactly what I was making for dinner.

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I ran out to the grocery store and started shopping. Tuna, check. Greens, check. Then I got to the plums, and at that particular store on that particular day they were looking rather Meh-not-so-much-thanks-but-no-thanks. Fortunately they were sitting next to some beautiful nectarines, so problem solved!

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This salad completely lives up to its billing. It’s light, healthy, summery, and perfectly balanced. The nectarines worked very nicely, but really I’m sure any stone fruit would do here. And if you don’t groove on tuna, I’m thinking salmon would be nice as a stand-in. Enjoy this one, while we can still get the last bit of seasonal stone fruit! Before it’s all eggplant and tomatoes (not that I’m complaining). And be sure to check out Front Porch Gourmet!

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{One Year Ago: Peach and Cherry Frittata}
{Two Years Ago: Squid Ink Fettuccine with Shrimp and Chorizo, Peach Cobbler, Fettuccine Alfredo}

Source: adapted from Front Porch Gourmet

Ingredients:
2 small to medium sushi-grade tuna steaks
1 sprig rosemary, minced
About 3 tbs olive oil, plus extra for dressing the greens
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 bag of mixed salad greens, whatever your preference
2 nectarines, pitted and sliced into wedges
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Balsamic vinegar

Directions:
Pat the tuna steaks very dry with paper towels. Preheat a skillet, preferably non-stick, over high heat. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Brush this over both sides of the tuna steaks. Carefully add the tuna steaks to the hot pan. Leave them to cook undisturbed for about 1 minute. Flip them (it works best with a thin spatula) and cook on the other side for about 30-45 seconds for rare.
Remove the tuna steaks to a plate and let them rest about 5 minutes. Then, with a very sharp knife, slice them thinly against the grain.
Pile the greens into a large salad bowl. Add the nectarines and cherry tomatoes, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, just enough to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Transfer the salad to 2 large salad plates and top each with slices of tuna. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.

Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab Salad

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It’s only been in the last decade of my life that I’ve even heard of gazpacho, let alone tasted it. I’ll admit, it sounded a little odd, but I learned of it in my New, Adventurous Eating Phase of Life, so I dove right in to trying it. And…. I didn’t like it. So I tried again. And once again, I didn’t like it.

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After another try or two, I simply gave up. I figured, no one likes everything out there, right? Until I put two and two together and realized it – I don’t like onions in my gazpacho. I’m just not a big raw onion person. They have their place, sure; don’t worry, I don’t pick them out of pico de gallo or anything. But when I tried gazpacho without any onions, I finally understood its appeal, and now I happily join its legions of fans!

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I picked up Donald Link’s new book a few months ago and was very excited to see a gazpacho recipe in there. Now that watermelons are in season (yea!!!), I thought it time to give his recipe a go. And as you’d expect, it’s insanely delicious. It’s so light and healthy, and extremely flavorful with perfect juicy watermelons.

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A few recipe notes: as written, this makes a lot! Feel free to cut the recipe in half. If you make the whole thing, my recommendation would be to chop everything and mix it up in a large mixing bowl, then blend it in batches. Also, a note about the crab salad. Chef Link instructs to place a spoonful of salad on top of the bowls of soup. Initially, I couldn’t do the math on that. I mean, the crab salad has mayonnaise, which I just couldn’t picture blending well with gazpacho. So I put the salad on toasts and we ate them alongside. Well, I was wrong and Chef Link was right, which I know is really not surprising. Skip the toasts, guys. I’m serious, it’s so delicious the way he intended it.

And lastly, I scaled down the amount of crab salad, because the day I went shopping, crabmeat was horrifically expensive. So I chose to cut the recipe down to save my wallet. You can certainly scale up to as much as 1 ½ lbs.  of crabmeat. Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Jerk Chicken “Tostadas” with Cabbage-Jicama Slaw}

Source: slightly adapted from Down South by Donald Link

Ingredients:

GAZPACHO:
4 cups chopped ripe tomato
4 cups chopped seedless watermelon
1 small fennel bulb, cored and chopped
3 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and chopped
¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves
¼ cup loosely packed torn basil leaves
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste if needed
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste if needed
2 tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling

CRAB SALAD:
6 tbs mayonnaise
½ tsp lime zest
Juice of half a lime
1 small serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
4 large basil leaves, chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of sugar
8 oz. jumbo lump crabmeat

Directions:
Make the crab salad first. Spread the crab on a plate and pick it free of shells and cartilage. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, lime zest, lime juice, serrano, basil, pepper flakes, salt, and sugar. Add in the crabmeat and gently stir to combine. Let it sit in the refrigerator while you make the soup.
To make the gazpacho, combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until pretty smooth. A little chunky is good. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice and salt, if needed.
To serve, divide the gazpacho in wide bowls. Top each with a dollop of crab salad and finish with a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Pissaladiére with White Anchovies

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Concluding our week of The South, we are leaving America and traveling northeast to the south of France! I’ve personally only been to northern France, which I hope to correct at some point before I kick it. Provence and the French Riviera just sound so idyllic and romantic. And when I learned from David Lebovitz in his amazing new book that the southern French love rosé wine, it just cemented that desire for a visit even more firmly.

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I am quite the rosé wine lover, and Lebovitz tells us that in Provence, rosé is not a wine but a drink. They pour it into regular glasses over ice. As my husband said, “Oh. So it’s like… slammin’ wine!” I suppose so. Whatever you call it, I couldn’t wait to try it.

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Slammin’ wine is typically enjoyed in Provence with this traditional French pizza, Pissaladiere. Pissaladiere has no cheese; it’s a flatbread topped with caramelized onions, anchovies and Niҫoise olives. For some Americans it can be an acquired taste (it was for me – the first time I tried Pissaladiere a few years ago I wasn’t a fan, but then I also think my anchovies were past their expiration date, which could have contributed), but I highly recommend acquiring it, because it’s extremely delicious. The sweetness of the onions plays beautifully against the salty anchovies and olives.

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That said, I took a couple of liberties. I used Italian white anchovies instead of red French anchovies, simply because I like them better (and I had some on hand from this amazing salad); and I couldn’t find Niҫoise olives, so I used Kalamatas, which are technically Greek, not French. I used a dry rosé wine, instead of a fruitier sweeter one after a very cursory Google search led me to believe, hopefully accurately, that French rosé wine tends to be on the drier side.

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And whether this meal is inside or outside your culinary comfort zone, I’d highly urge everyone to give it a shot, including the wine over ice. I was thoroughly impressed by the elegance and deliciousness of the whole thing.

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{One Year Ago: Fourth of July Recipe Round-Up, Coconut Poke Cake}
{Two Years Ago: Beef Puffy Tacos}

Source: slightly adapted from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:
4 tbs olive oil, divided
3 lbs. onions, peeled and thinly sliced
10 sprigs of thyme
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp granulated sugar
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 lb. ball of pizza dough, at room temperature
30 pitted Niҫoise olives, or 20 Kalamata olives pitted and cut in half
16 or so good-quality, oil-packed anchovy fillets

Directions:
First, caramelize the onions. Pour 3 tbs olive oil into a large, deep Dutch oven and heat over medium. Add the onion slices, thyme, garlic, salt, and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently for 30 minutes, watching carefully to make sure your onions aren’t scorching on the bottom. If they are, lower the heat to medium-low. Cook another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden-brown. You can add more olive oil if needed. Stir in a few grinds of pepper, then pick out the thyme sprigs and the smashed garlic. Let cool.
Preheat your oven to 400 F and grease a baking sheet. Stretch the dough out into a loose rectangle on the baking sheet. If it is snapping back when you stretch it, cover it with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest 15 minutes, then try again.
Once your dough is fitted on the baking sheet, spread the caramelized onions on it in an even layer, leaving about a 1-inch border on all sides. Toss the olives on top, spacing them evenly, and then top with the anchovies. You can lay them about however, or you can decoratively crisscross them. Drizzle the whole pizza with the remaining 1 tbs of oil.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned. Remove the pizza to a cutting board and let rest a few minutes. Cut the pizza into squares or rectangles and serve warm, with plenty of slammin’ wine to go around!

Steamed Mussels with Lemon and Bay

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Longtime readers here know that seafood wasn’t a big thing in my house growing up (save for catfish), and that I didn’t become a seafood fiend until after I married one in my mid-twenties. Upon thinking about what to write for this post, it occurred to me that I really and truly do not remember how Matt got me to try mollusks. I wish I did, but after thinking about it for several days, I’ll have to conclude that that memory has just flown the coop.

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All I do know is that he did convince me to try mussels and clams in the shell, and I fell head over heels in love. A big bowl of steamed mussels, a hunk of bread, (not forgetting to put out the kill bowl,) and some chilled white wine makes for one fine romantic evening. We try to have such an evening at least once a month or so. It’s good stuff. Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Cherry Streusel Muffins}

Source: slightly adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients:
2 lbs mussels, scrubbed and debearded
4 tbs unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 shallots, minced
2 fresh bay leaves
Crusty bread, for serving

Directions:
Heat a large pot. Add all of the ingredients except the salt, pepper and bread and cook over high heat, shaking the pan and stirring occasionally, until the mussels open, about 7 minutes. Some mussels will open sooner than this, so keep an eye on them. When the early mussels open, quickly grab them with tongs and remove them to a large serving bowl. Once all the mussels have opened, immediately shut off the heat and pour the remaining contents of the pot into the bowl. Discard the bay leaves and serve right away with crusty bread.
Serves 2. Double the recipe exactly for 4 servings.