Entries Tagged as 'Seafood'

Trout with Almonds and Green Beans

January 30th, 2013 · 64 Comments · Seafood

The first time we made this was in January 2007 — I  remember that not only because, um, it’s written in my dinner diary, but because it was one of the keepers that came out of the original “30 Days, 30 Dinners” experiment (the prequel to Seven Days, Seven Meals that I hope you guys are still reaping rewards from). I want to say it was around Day 28 or 29 when Andy reached up into our cookbook library and pulled down our French Laundry Cookbook to look for ideas.

“Yeah right,” I said. The last time I had thought about The French Laundry was when I had been lucky enough to dine at the Napa legend about a decade earlier. Reservations were impossible to get, they only booked you 30 days in advance, and tables were usually all scooped up within 15 minutes of the reservation line opening. This was before OpenTable — it might have even been before me owning a cell phone – because I remember circling the day on my calendar that was exactly 30 days before the one night during a trip to SF that we’d have free, then camping out in my apartment on Monroe Place in Brooklyn and speed-dialing for an hour until I got through. Thirty days later we sat down to a parade of dishes served with bacon emulsions and pea coulis and quotation marks.

Things were getting blurry. Was that even my life? What on earth could we make from that cookbook that had any relevance to our real life?

But wearing his parent goggles, Andy found one that worked. What he found was basically a cleaner, healthier Trout Amandine and it worked for us because it was a) fast b) took advantage of my daughter’s newly discovered, Nemo-induced fish obsession and c) fast.

Trout with Almonds and Green Beans
Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook, by Thomas Keller 

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 trout filets (about 1 pound for four)
1/2 cup slivered raw almonds
2 large handfuls trimmed green beans (enough to fill four people)
red pepper flakes, a few shakes
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
chives, optional

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook fish skin-side down, 2 to 3 minutes. Lift it out and place on a platter (you might have to do this in batches if your skillet is not large enough.) The fish will not be cooked all the way through, it will still be pink in the middle. To the pan, add the green beans with some red pepper flakes and cook them over medium heat for about 5 minutes. With tongs, lift them out and place on top of the fish on the platter. (By doing that you are adding heat to the fish.) Add one more glug of oil to the pan, throw in the almonds and stir until just toasty, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape them over the fish.

Add lemon juice, butter, wine and stir about 30 seconds until reduced and slightly syrupy. Pour on top of fish, beans, and almonds.

Garnish with chives.

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The Little Things

October 1st, 2012 · 8 Comments · Entertaining, Quick, Seafood

One of the first things I learned about food when I started caring about food was that smaller usually translated to better. As in, a golf-ball-size lime is going to be juicier than a steroided-up one. As in, the meat from a 1 1/4 pound lobster is going be sweeter than meat from his 4-pound older brother. As in, those two-carat-size spring strawberries are going to taste more like strawberries than the strawberries that resemble McIntosh apples. And after writing a story about hors d’oeuvres for the current issue of Bon Appetit I remembered another one: Hors d’oeuvres for dinner are so much more fun than dinner for dinner. (See: Small Bites Phenomenon sweeping New York City Restaurant Scene) Why did it take writing this story to remind me that those shrimp rolls I’ve been making since my 1999 visit to Nova Scotia would be so much more appealing for the kids if I miniaturized them? How had I forgotten Cardinal Rule #2 of Family Sandwiches: Minimizing Size = Maximizing Appeal. (Cardinal Rule #1: Anything Tastes Better in Slider Form.) Well, either way, the little rolls were on the dinner table last week (it’s a good make-ahead if you can swing it) and will likely show up there again very soon.

Perhaps my most favorite magazine opener ever. (“Opener” = Old-school parlance for the image that opens the story.) Alex Grossman, the creative director, actually had this invitation letter-pressed before it was shot.  Credit: Kallemeyn Press.

This Butternut Squash Tart with Fried Sage, developed by the BA test kitchen, was in the star-studded line-up, too. Instead of a assembling a platter of fussy finger food for your party, each puff pastry square requiring it’s own individual piping of spicy mayo, this is just one big tart that you bake and cut up like a pizza before your guests arrive. It’s called Economy of Scale and it is up next on my Hors d’oeuvres-Turned-Dinner menu

Check out this month’s issue of Bon Appetit (The Entertaining Issue) to read the story and the entire issue. They’ve also put together an appetizer slide show which party-throwers would be wise to bookmark as the calendar inches its way towards the holidays. Two words: Queso Fundido.

Photos by Romulo Yanes for Bon Appetit. 

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Don’t Get Mad, Get Cooking

July 31st, 2012 · 29 Comments · Seafood

One day I’m going to write an in-depth post about our weekly shop — how we strategize, prepare, and, eventually attack our local Trader Joe’s like a bunch of Navy SEALs. But for now, all I’ll say is that we have it down to a pretty precise science, so when I open the fridge or pantry and can’t find what I’m looking for….well….I get mad. That’s what happened a few weeks ago when the girls were nice enough to suggest grilled shrimp tacos for dinner. (You know how much I love it when someone else dreams up the menu.) This meal is a classic go-to in our house because it’s so fast and also because the ingredients called for are all items we would never dream of leaving Trader Joe’s without: scallions, tomatoes, cilantro, limes, greens, sour cream, tortillas. All we have to do is stop by a fish market at some point to pick up some (preferably peeled) shrimp. On this particular occasion, however, I had fired up the grill, knocked back at least half my dark & stormy, whisked lime and sugar into sour cream, and skewered up the shrimp before realizing that we were all out of tortillas — in our house a crime punishable by I-thought-you-got-them-no-you-said-you-did. But I set aside the blame game for the moment in order to make some frontline decisions. I could easily abort mission and go with a southwesternish salad. Or I could channel my inner Alana Chernila and — get this — make my own tortillas from scratch. I know the last two words of that sentence strike fear into the hearts of many a new parent, and so of course, you should feel free to go ahead and click on the “Quick” category over there in the margin, while making a note to return to this page in 2019. (Please please come back!) But emboldened by my cocktail and a few willing little partners, this was the route I decided to take. And wow did our dinner taste good. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that “from scratch” can be as simple as mixing together flour and water. And also that it’s usually the simplest things that make all the difference.

Flour Tortilla Recipe
Adapted from something I found on squidoo. Makes about 6-8 eight-inch tortillas. (PS: No one is keeping score here. You should definitely skip the from-scratch version and just go with storebought if it’s going to be the thing that crushes you and your dinner spirit.)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for flouring the board)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm water

Combine flour and salt. Add vegetable oil and mix lightly. Add the warm water and mix with a wooden spoon until you have a soft dough. Divide into equal pieces of 6-8 balls. Brush with a little vegetable oil and cover with a dish towel and let sit for 15 minutes.

Roll out each ball on a floured surface. Preheat an ungreased griddle or cast iron pan. Add tortilla and cook until it begins to puff with a few browning spots on the bottom. Flip and press down to release the air pockets. Cook for about 1 minute. Remove and keep warm on a platter under foil until ready to fill.

Grilled Shrimp Tacos

About 20-25 pieces of medium shrimp, peeled
olive oil
2 teaspoons-ish chili powder
salt & pepper
tortillas (homemade, see above; or your favorite storebought ones prepared according to package directions)

Prepare grill. Thread your shrimp on skewers and place on a platter. Drizzle a little olive oil on top, then, using your fingers, rub chili powder all over shrimp, turning them on skewers as you go. Grill for about 3-4 minutes, flipping them along the way, until they are cooked through. (You could also saute the shrimp — un-skewered in a skillet.) Remove shrimp from skewers into a bowl. Place shrimp on the table with your tortillas and other fixings such as shredded cabbage, chopped tomatoes, chopped scallions, lime wedges, chopped cilantro. Have everyone assemble their own.

I serve these with my usual sauce: 1/2 cup sour cream whisked with 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. You could also just do sour cream.

 

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Top of the To-Do List: Lobster Rolls

June 29th, 2012 · 8 Comments · Quick, Rituals, Seafood

We’ve just wrapped up what you might call an “unstructured” week — other than a late-afternoon soccer clinic for the kids and other than one full day of meetings in the city for me, we had nothing on the schedule for the first few days of summer vacation. And now I’m wondering why we registered them for their upcoming organized activities at all. I could get used to a schedule where we get to sleep in and not once have to hear ourselves say tie your shoes immediately or you will miss the bus and please please please don’t make me ask you again! (Happiness is the laceless summer shoe.)

This is not to say that we were sitting around watching Nick Jr and bumming at the beach. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Without even realizing it, we began checking things off the List of Things We’ve Been Meaning to Do All Year. Monday: We finally saw that documentary First Position about the Grand Prix ballet competition and the girls loved it. Tuesday: We hit Shake Shack. (It’s hard to even admit this to myself as a parent, but my poor, deprived daughters had to live eight and ten years respectively before ever sinking their teeth into a Shack Burger.) We roadtripped to Ikea in search of a “swivel stool” for Abby’s new desk and wound up stuffed to the gills with Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes. (You know, one of those nice light summer meals.) We visited a new Asian Supermarket across town which everyone keeps talking about and where we found all sorts of cool and crazy little things to try like quail eggs, mochi, and Korean melon. It was there, in the glisteningly clean seafood aisle where I spied a five-dollar cooked lobster ($5!) and remembered one other thing on the List: Make Lobster Roll! I came home from that trip, tossed the lobster meat with mayo, scallions, and the slightest sprinkling of paprika, and with one bite, officially initiated summer.

Lobster Roll
Makes one lobster roll. Recipe can be multiplied accordingly.

meat from a cooked 1-pound lobster (about 1/4 pound of cooked lobster meat), roughly chopped
1 scallion (light green and white parts only), chopped
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
squeeze fresh lemon juice
sprinkling of paprika
salt to taste
hot dog bun
butter

Add all ingredients (except bun and butter) in a mixing bowl. Fold together gently. Toast hot dog bun then spread with a thin layer of butter. Top with lobster salad.

Don’t forget about the Mega Giveaway: Tell me your favorite part of the book (not on the comment field of this post, but through the official contest survey) and be eligible to win some pretty awesome prizes. You have until July 9 to enter so get reading!

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Dinner: A Morning Show Story

June 14th, 2012 · 19 Comments · Deconstructing Dinner, Favorites, Picky Eating, Seafood, Sides, Salads, Soup

So I went on the Today Show yesterday to talk about some themes you know well by now — deconstructing meals, picky eaters, my Trickle-Down Theory of Dinner (see page 10!) and of course, the book itself. I’ve known about this segment for about three months now — my publisher called me with the news while I was watching soccer practice — and if I were a certain kind of person I suppose I would have been broadcasting this news all over the world, posting it on my events page and facebook, tweeting from the green room and all that, but the truth is: I was kinda terrified about the whole Live TV thing. To the point where over the past few months I’ve been dividing my life into two distinct eras:   (more…)

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The All-Day Dinner

May 17th, 2012 · 6 Comments · Dinner, Seafood, Sides, Salads, Soup

By now you know that for weeknight meals, we are all about efficiency. And by the looks of my Analytics, it looks like you guys are too. (“Quick“ shows up consistently as one of the top 3 most-clicked Categories.) But the weekend? That’s another story entirely. Especially when the weekend in question conspires to create the most conducive dinner-making conditions in modern history: Grandparents = in town; weather = glorious; farmer’s market = open; kids = not cranky; and only two officially scheduled events for the entire day: Early morning soccer practice, and a 6:00 cocktail on the just-opened-for-business patio. On days like this, unconsciously or not, dinner is something that only barely resembles the scramble on the weeknight. We talk about it and shop for it and cook for it all day long. You might even say we make things as difficult as possible for ourselves — plying the kids with cider donuts while we wait in the interminable line at the market to secure the beautiful local sea bass you see below; whisking homemade mayonnaise to serve with French fries when, really, is there anything wrong with Heinz?; tracking down the spring-iest spring greens available (sorrel was the winner); pureeing asparagus into the vinaigrette that we will drizzle on top of those greens; digging out the fancy crystal tumblers for gin and tonics — which is another way of saying it’s our idea of the best day ever.

Spicy Fries with Homemade Mayonnaise. I used some very green looking olive oil to make my mayo, which accounts for the very green color. Don’t let it fool you, though: Delicious! And paired nicely with the fish, too. (more…)

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Quick Miso-Glazed Salmon

April 19th, 2012 · 19 Comments · Dinner, Rituals, Seafood

On any given day, there are about a zillion things that can derail family dinner  – where do we begin? — and I’ve probably heard about every one of those things from you guys these past few years. How do I deal with the fussy toddler? The spouse who won’t help? My coworker who makes me feel bad about leaving the office before him? The relentlessness of after-school activities and all the schlepping it entails? This last one always stumped me. It seemed of all the obstacles one could face, this one was something we could control instead of complain about. What I didn’t know until fairly recently, though, was how broadly defined the term “after-school” has become. We just got the soccer schedule for the spring and one of my daughters has a practice that ends at 7:30, at a field that’s a 20-minute drive away. That’s a dinner deal-breaker if there ever was one. Well, unless you have this recipe in the repertoire. Cause you can have this on the table in the time it takes for your midfielder to walk in the door, change out of her jersey, get washed up, and return to the table where she belongs.

Simple Miso-Glazed Salmon
A big reason why I could get this on the table so fast was because I had a stash of the glaze in the fridge already. Making the glaze definitely qualifies as the kind of task your bright-eyed morning self can do ahead of time — it takes only a minute or two if you have all the ingredients on hand.  Your beaten-down evening self will thank you later.

1 1/3 pound salmon
2 tablespoons white miso*
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon brown sugar
squeeze of lime

In a small bowl, mix together everything but the lime. Slather the miso glaze on salmon and broil for 10-12 minutes until it gets golden on top. (Watch it carefully. The sugar in the glaze will burn.) Serve with lime wedges.

While the salmon was broiling, I briefly sauteed some snap peas in a drop of sesame oil, then tossed them with a sliced radish, sea salt, a squeeze of lime, and chives. (Scallions would be better than chives, but I didn’t have any on hand.)

*You can buy white miso at Asian specialty stores or better supermarkets like Whole Foods. It keeps in the fridge for ages.

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My New Favorite Dinner

February 6th, 2012 · 37 Comments · Dinner, Quick, Seafood

Do you guys know that story about Robert Rauschenberg? The one where the interviewer asked him “How do you know when you are finished with a painting?”  and he responded “When I sell it.” Meaning, he’s never finished, and as long as the work is in his possession he will keep reworking it forever. This is what came into mind the other night as I stared at the galley of my book, which, in one form or another, has been sitting on my dining room table for the past six months, as I go back and forth from the kitchen tweaking and replacing and reworking and driving my editor and designer crazy. But I had just made this dinner — salmon and brussels sprouts, a combination which I had spied in both Martha Stewart and Real Simple in the same week, then married that with a Momofuku-inspired ginger scallion sauce — and I began to leaf through the pages looking for a place to squeeze it in. It’s so quintessentially DALS — simple, weeknight-friendly, tasty — how could it not be in the book?!! And not that I’m in any way comparing my writing to a Rauschenberg Combine painting, but I do believe it’s just the element that would turn my book from cookbook to masterpiece. It’s so good! It’s so easy! But alas, my deadline was for real this time (I said goodbye to the galley forever — terrifying) so I have no choice but to give you the recipe here and now. (more…)

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A Little Something Special

December 8th, 2011 · 14 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Dinner, Rituals, Seafood

New Year’s Eve is so overrated. I realize I’m not breaking any ground with this statement — which became a mantra in our house long before we even had kids who would’ve insisted on playing Dora dollhouse at 5:30 AM with no regard for how much champagne was consumed the night before. All it took was one aggressively mediocre $100 prix fix dinner out — which offered nothing more special than what you’d find on the menu on a Tuesday night in March — to convince us that we’d be much less resentful of the New Year and way better fed if we just stayed home for the night and watched Larry Sanders re-runs.

That doesn’t mean we don’t properly recognize New Year’s Eve. (As my friend Rory noted the other day, my family has never met a ritual or an opportunity to celebrate that we haven’t seized upon.) Before the kids came along and before Andy’s brother, Tony, and his wife Trish had to go and move across the world to Hong Kong, we used to dress up in our holiday best (for me: black velvet Ann Taylor pants, chunky-heeled Nine West loafers, something shiny on top from Banana) and make multi-course dinners in each other’s Brooklyn apartments that almost always included something worth a splurge. Something special.

Something Special could mean just about anything: a bottle of Champagne that was not procured from the sale bin (1995); a tin of beluga caviar that one of us had received as a corporate gift, served on blinis with creme fraiche (1996); a bottle of 1963 Port that Andy’s dad had been saving for a big night (1999!). But if I am to believe my Dinner Diary — and why wouldn’t I? — the “something special” that, as of 2002, began dominating our New Year’s Eve celebrations was… is lobster.

It might be dipped in Champagne butter. It might be part of a paella or served alongside a wild mushroom risotto or a citrusy salad or horseradish mashed potatoes. Early on in our parenting career, it was usually just the two of us feasting on 1 1/4 pounders after the girls went to sleep; later the lobster dinner became a family affair that would splinter into two teams: The Tail is Better Team (me and Abby) and the Claws are Better Team (Andy and Phoebe). No matter how the lobsters are prepared or who is eating them, there is a 100% chance that they’ll wind up in the family photo album, with Andy or me doing our obligatory imitations of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall.

And that’s the plan for this year, too. (more…)

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Last Gasp

October 4th, 2011 · 6 Comments · Grilling, Quick, Seafood, Sides, Salads, Soup

We’re not the types who keep the Weber burning all year long — something just doesn’t feel right to me about grilling a leg of lamb while wearing a parka. Which means that this past Saturday night, when the sun was on its way down before the girls’ muddy cleats had been kicked off, may have just marked our final grilled fish dinner of the season. But it was a good one. (more…)

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Detox Dinner

September 20th, 2011 · 8 Comments · Dinner, Quick, Seafood

And so the question is, what does one have for dinner the night after she swears off eating for a year? The answer: Fish in Parchment Paper. We had a ton of vegetables left over from the shoot (if anyone needs to borrow an onion, I’m your lady) so Andy sliced them up, arranged them on a cutting board, then asked the girls to top their flounder filets with whatever topping they wanted. We’ve written about these before (“fish presents“) but I was reminded of how flexible the recipe is — we never make it the same way twice. Last time we wrote about them, we went in an Asian direction with bok choy and sesame oil. This time we went in a more classic (if slightly purply) direction: purple peppers, purple potatoes, shallots, asparagus, haricot verts, kale, lemon slices, olive oil and sea salt.

Fish in Parchment Paper, A Refresher Course

You’ll need one square of parchment paper or aluminum foil per filet. (Again, we used flounder, but you can use any fish you want: sole, salmon, tilapia, sea bass, snapper, you can’t go wrong.) Lay the fish on the paper, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover with thin slices of lemon and shallots.

Layer on your desired toppings (see photo above) drizzle with olive oil, then add herbs (parsley, chives, cilantro), a squeeze of lemon, and a final dash of salt.

To “wrap the presents,” lift up the sides of the parchment paper until they meet above the fish. Turn down a few times and  fold the ends under the fish — picture the way the deli guy wraps a sandwich — creating a seal so the steam doesn’t escape. Slide the packets onto a cookie sheet, and bake in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes. (It’s hard to overcook the fish when steaming it like this.) Remove from oven and serve on plates. Be careful when unwrapping, though: steam is hot.

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What is All That Stuff?

August 24th, 2011 · 10 Comments · Dinner, Seafood, Travel

At the end of an eight-hour Paris wander session that began in Luxembourg Gardens, took us down rue Mouffetard, and ended up in the Marais, I collapsed on our sofa and began to scroll through the photos on my camera. There’s Abby feeding the remains of last night’s baguette to the ducks. There’s Phoebe gaping at the 6-month-old monkey at the zoo at Jardins des Plantes, there’s Andy drinking a Kronenbourg at a cafe one block from Place des Vosges, there’s….my dog in New York. It was like the screeching of a record player seeing that image — which was part of a video that doesn’t automatically download with still images. You know it’s a successful vacation when you are looking at photos of your house and you have to struggle to remember what it feels like to be standing in your own kitchen. I played the video and looked around at all the stuff that was littering the counter — bottles of vinegars and bowls and knives and spice jars and…what is all that stuff? What was I making? We had become so used to cooking in our French kitchen with the bare minimum that I thought Maybe I should just throw everything away when I get home. That night I picked up sole (aka, the most family-friendly fish there is) from the fish guy at the Marche Saint-Germain, Andy made a simple salad with peas, butter lettuce, and tomatoes, and we sliced up a baguette. Making sure we saved a little of the bread for next morning’s ducks. (more…)

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Korean Pancakes for Dinner

August 15th, 2011 · 24 Comments · Dinner, Seafood, Vegetarian

Phoebe has been on a tear in the kitchen lately. I would love to say this is due to the fact that she’s watched her parents cook every night for her whole little life, and so now, at 9 1/2, her interest in cooking has finally kicked into high gear, but I think it’s more likely due to something else: Farm Camp. She has spent the last four weeks spraying pigs to keep them cool (did you know they don’t sweat?) harvesting yellow cherry tomatoes (which we then bought at the market for $8 a box), examining microbes in the compost pile, herding sheep, and cleaning and collecting eggs. In other words, we’ve been paying for her to do slave labor.

Not really — there are, of course, other activities like soap-making, hikes around the lake, painting with egg tempera, and cooking with the farm chef — a guy named Dan. I don’t know who this Dan guy is, but he not only sent home a little packet of inspired plant-based recipes after the session ended, but he also sent home a blossoming little cook. Last week, Phoebe invited our 20-year-old neighbor/friend/babysitter for dinner and oversaw the production of a pile of Korean Pancakes for her. And when we were finished she held up the heel of a carrot and asked where we keep the compost pile. I guess I know what our next project is. (more…)

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It’s Just a Scallop

July 19th, 2011 · 20 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Quick, Seafood

This is a cheap shot kind of story but I’m going to tell it anyway.

Last summer I was having dinner at a friend’s house. She is about ten years ahead of me in the parenting game and I’ve always looked to her for advice on everything from day camps to birthday cake bakeries to how best survive third grade clique drama without ending up in the headlines.  She has three daughters, each one more accomplished than the next. At the time of this dinner, the oldest was about to start her junior year in college, the middle one, a homebody, was getting ready to leave for her freshman year at a big school in the Midwest, and the youngest, a high school sophomore, had just returned from doing volunteer work in South America. None of them were at the dinner table with us. In fact, none of them were in the house — until about half way through our delicious grilled salmon, at which point the middle daughter wandered into the kitchen and opened the fridge. (more…)

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Finger Food For Grown-Ups

July 13th, 2011 · 19 Comments · Entertaining, Posts by Andy, Quick, Seafood, Uncategorized

Let me put your minds at ease, right here at the top: No, our kids do not love clams. They’re kids, first of all, and clams are kind of freaky. The most I can say, while maintaining journalistic integrity, is that our kids and clams are in the process of learning to coexist. They’re getting to know one another. They’ll eat one or two, at most — warily, and with some prodding — before they move on to the safety of chips and guac. But learning to coexist is important, and exposure, as we have argued here before, is half the battle. And, this summer, we’re not having any trouble in the exposure department. This summer, we are all about clams.

At the risk of sounding predictable, Jenny and I are sticking to a script these days when it comes to entertaining – and, more specifically, when it comes to appetizers. There will be no elaborate cheese platters, no overly-produced dips, no bruschetta. (Okay, maybe some bruschetta.) Whenever we have people over, and even when we don’t, we do up a bowl of littlenecks from The Fish Guy at the farmer’s market, slice a fresh, crusty loaf of bread, set out some napkins and forks, and let that be our appetizer plate. We find that even if the kids won’t touch the clams, they’ll gladly take a hunk of that bread and dip it into that deep, salty broth. Which, as my parents always used to say, just means more good stuff for us grown-ups. There are endless variations to this dish — spicy, not spicy; garlicky, not garlicky; wine, no wine; basil, or tarragon — but it’s easy and fast, it only dirties up one pot, and clams are, on the farmer’s market spectrum, a relative bargain. Plus, there’s just something festive (and yes, I just used the word festive) about sitting outside with some friends on a summer night, as dinner sizzles on the grill, burning through a bowl of clams and a loaf of bread and tossing the shells — clank, clank, clank — back into the bowl. That’s living. – Andy

Steamed Little Necks
Maybe the best part: there’s no stress about overcooking or undercooking when it comes to clams; these things literally open their mouths and tell you when they’re done. (more…)

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The What’s-For-Dinner Worksheet

May 27th, 2011 · 14 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Quick, Seafood

Fried Shrimp Rolls

Add vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. In a bowl mix together 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup club soda or seltzer, salt, and pepper. On a plate, mix about 1 cup bread crumbs or panko with a few tablespoons of fresh oregano. Dredge 1 pound shrimp in the flour mixture, then the bread crumbs. Fry them in a pan until cooked through, about 2 minutes a side. Drain on paper towels and stuff into split hot dog buns with tartar sauce. (Sometimes I hollow out the buns a bit with my fingers so they’re not too bready.)

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How Lucky Are We?

May 18th, 2011 · 18 Comments · Grilling, Quick, Seafood, Sides, Salads, Soup

Have you ever stopped to think about how lucky we all are to be parents in 2011? Not just because DVD players are built into back seats or that iTunes offers a staggering selection of white-noise-for-baby songs (including vacuum!), but because cooking for our children is overlapping with the here-to-stay movement of cooking simple, fresh, food. I don’t know about you, but when I first decided I was going to teach myself to cook, I was picturing fancy and dreaming big. The recipes I gravitated towards involved lots of steps and artery-clogging ingredients. (I’m talking to you Silver Palate Tortellini with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce!*) Those were the meals that professional cooks made, right? I realize that Chez Panisse had been open for a full 20 years by that point in my life, but if you asked me who Alice Waters was when I was 22, there’s a 100% chance I would have told you she was the author of The Color Purple. The point is, we are so lucky that simple food equals good food, and that you can brush a little smoked paprika butter* on a piece of just-off-the-boat super-mild tilefish and have a sophisticated dinner that doesn’t necessarily alienate the kids. And that’s just what we did last weekend.

**Yes, I debuted it for Andy on July 16, 1993 and took notes.

*I loved every page of Blood, Bones, and Butter, but I think every page I dogeared mentioned smoked-paprika butter.

You can find smoked paprika in the spice section of most ethnic markets or at Penzeys.com.

To make the smoked paprika butter: Beat together 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick) with 1 tablespoon smoked paprika and a large pinch of kosher or sea salt until it’s blended together.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt your smoked paprika butter and pour into a heatproof bowl.

Grilled Fish with Smoked Paprika Butter
This is the second Sunday in a row that we’ve started off on a healthy note and I’m hoping to keep it up through summer. The formula is pretty simple: grilled seafood +  healthy grain + anything with kale.

Prepare Your Grill. Marinate a 1-pound piece of firm white fish (such as tilefish, swordfish, mahi mahi) in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. (Add the lemon only about five minutes before you grill.) Once grill is hot, grill filet about 4-5 minutes a side depending on thickness brushing smoked paprika butter as you go. (Fish is done when it’s firm to the touch with out being rock hard.) Remove fish from grill and brush one more time with butter. Serve with braised kale salad and herby barley salad (simple!) below.

Simple Barley Salad

Bring 1 cup pearl barley, (rinsed and picked over), a teaspoon salt, and 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Cover and simmer for 50 minutes until barley is firm but cooked through. Toss with a few tablespoons chopped herbs (I used parsely, thyme), olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped scallions, and a squeeze of lemon (or tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar).

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Here’s the Plan

April 15th, 2011 · 12 Comments · Dinner, Quick, Seafood, Sides, Salads, Soup

Two things happen to me when the weather starts getting nice: First, I don’t have the primal urge to cook up a bolognese for the freezer in the middle of a sunny day. Second, I want my dinner cold. This shrimp and avocado salad is a riff on a ceviche I had at Los Gemelos (website is somewhat bizarre, but attn: Westchester bretheren, food is real-deal amazing) that was so fresh and flavorful I had to attempt replication for dinner. You can of course make it when you walk in the door after work, but if you make it ahead of time, the flavors have some time to mingle together and you get the satisfaction of going to work on Monday knowing that family dinner is chilling in the fridge waiting for you at home. Is there a better way to start the week than that?

Sunday morning
When you go shopping pick up the following ingredients: 1 1/4 pounds shelled shrimp, 1 avocado, 1 jalapeno pepper, 2 limes, 1 small container grape tomatoes, 1 small red onion, 1 bag corn tortillas or tostadas.

Sunday afternoon
Boil your shrimp for three minutes. Drain and let cool. Chop your tomatoes, mince 1/3 onion and 1/2 the jalapeno (remove pith and seeds if you don’t want the heat). Mix with the shrimp and squeeze juice from the two limes over everything. Add a little olive oil, salt, pepper. Chill and let flavors mingle.

Monday night
Walk in door, heat tostadas as directed, chop your avocado and mix into the shrimp salad. Pile your salad on top of the tostada and serve with a squeeze of lime. Summon the troops for dinner.

Note: If you can’t find tostadas, fry corn tortillas in a healthy glug of vegetable oil over medium-high for about 2 minutes a side until crispy. Drain on paper towels.

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