Monday, October 8, 2012

Fish 'n Potatoes

Hi y'all! As I mentioned in my last post, I could easily be a pescatarian. Well, after saying that I realized that I had no actual fish recipes up on this blog and that I had this meal waiting in the wings. 

It's definitely more traditionally American (or what I perceive to be American!) than what I normally get my eat on with, but it was definitely satisfying. So, without any further ado, here's....

 Scallion-Crusted Scrod with Accordion Potatoes

1 lb scrod* fillets, deboned
3-5 scallions, chopped fine
1-1.5 cup Japanese breadcrumbs or Panko
Lemon, 1 tsp. zest and 1 tbsp. juice
2-3 oz. baby spinach
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced

*Scrod is baby cod, and since cod is a flaky, dense white fish without a lot of unique flavor, any ol' white fish will do.

Preheat your oven to 375, then dice up your scallions and mince your garlic. Zest your lemon, and then mix these ingredients in with your breadcrumbs. The quantity of breadcrumbs depends on how large your fillets are. Sauté the breadcrumbs, scallions, and garlic all together for ~3 minutes or until breadcrumbs turn golden brown. Take care not to burn them! 

Next you can prep your potatoes. Slice them almost all the way through, ideally 1/8th of an inch apart. I was in a hurry, so as you can see my knife work is pretty ugly. But, I wasn't cooking to impress anyone other than my own stomach, which really doesn't care what food looks like. I will note, however, that the potato will be ready more quickly if the slices are narrower.

Once you've got your incisions, drizzle the potato liberally with ~2 tbsp olive oil and as much salt and pepper as you want. I've put the scallion stems here to try to add a little onion flavor to the potato, which might have worked a little. I'm being honest here, I didn't notice much difference but it made me feel cool and experimental, hahah.

Next, dip your fish in a little olive oil or egg white and cover it in as much breading as will stick.  Place it on a greased baking pan, preferably lined in tin foil to speed up clean up.

Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Throw a bed of spinach down on the plate, reuse that zested lemon for lemon juice to top the fish and dress the spinach, and voila! Your very own fish 'n potatoes meal:

Pair with whatever beverage you'd prefer, but may I suggest Joel Gott sauvignon blanc? For $14.99 a bottle, it's delicious, crisp, and very tasty. Even better, it comes with a screw top so you can save it for another day if you don't drink it all in one sitting...

 Happy eating, so long, and thanks for all the fish!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Shrimp 2 Ways

As the old saying goes...double the shrimp, double the fun!

While that may not be the saying, it's definitely true in my case. I love shrimp. I could seriously be a pescatarian and give up meat if I could have seafood every single day. And that's saying a lot, because I love meat. Maybe it's the Caribbean in me, but seafood just does something special for me.

To keep my diet varied while living on my own in the real world, I like to get frozen, pre-shelled shrimp from Trader Joe's that I can just cook up in a jiffy whenever I want. It doesn't really matter if they are pre-cooked or not since shrimp take so little time to cook.

Now, some people may be sticklers for shrimp with the shells on, and I do understand that. I even made my own shrimp stock at the beginning of the summer under the influence of Chef John Besh's cookbook My New Orleans, which is truly impressive and convinces you that the only way to cook is to spend hours slaving away over a hot stove and make everything from scratch. Oh, and raise a farm in your backyard. Suffice it to say, I never used that stock after I made it and it sat in my freezer for a month. So the net of that experience is that I now simply buy pre-shelled shrimp!

So, on to what I made:

Creamy Cajun Shrimp Linguine...found it on Pinterest!

Celery Shrimp Sauté with Guacamole Toast

So, how to make it? Here we go:

Creamy Cajun Shrimp Linguini
Original recipe found here

1 cup water
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
6 ounces uncooked linguine (I just substituted pasta)
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms*
1 large red bell pepper, cut into (1/4-inch-thick) slices
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt free Cajun seasoning (I found mine in the bulk spices at my local supermarket)**
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup fat free half-and-half
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Parmesan cheese (my addition)

*Didn't have any mushrooms
**The Cajun spices here must be different, because this came out kind of sweet. I compensated by adding Adobo...awww yeah. 

So from that point on I basically followed the steps of the recipe, which are below:

Combine 1 cup water and broth in a large pot and bring to a boil. Break pasta in half; add to pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 8 minutes. Add shrimp to pasta. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes or until shrimp are done; drain and set aside. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and red pepper to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until moisture evaporates. Add flour, Cajun seasoning, and salt to pan; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in half-and-half; cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add pasta mixture and parsley to pan; toss together with tongs. Add Parmesan cheese!
My main piece of advice for this is to prep (wash, cut, etc.) all the ingredients beforehand because this recipe moves along at a quick clip! Also, as the original recipe notes, the pasta is much better cooked in broth because it absorbs that flavor. I wasn't able to do it because I had leftover plain spaghetti, but I want to try it again. On to recipe number two!
This recipe is something I threw together off-the-cuff, but more or less this is what went down:
Celery Shrimp Sauté with Guacamole Toast
Shrimp, as much as you think you'll eat
1 tbsp. olive oil
Celery, 1 stalk per serving
1/2 a yellow onion
Red pepper flakes
Whole wheat baguette slice, halved
Salt and pepper, to taste
Wash the celery, then halve it lengthwise and chop it; dice up the onion and set aside. Slice the bread in half, toast it, and set it aside. (You can always warm it up later and there's nothing worse than waiting for your bread to toast as your hot food gets cool.) Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium high heat and put the celery and onions in at the same time. Normally I wouldn't advocate that for veggies, but celery is high in fiber and takes a while to cook through, so it's okay to put it in with onions. Be sure to stir periodically to make sure the onions don't burn. At this point, add in red pepper flakes so that they have started releasing their heat before you add the shrimp. Next step is--you guessed it--add the shrimp! Cook for 3-5 minutes, until pink and no longer grey. Add the salt and pepper before you finish the shrimp. Finally, reheat the bread if necessary, slap some guac on there, and eat! Eat, eat, eat!
See, double the shrimp equals double the fun! And definitely double the noms!
Happy eating!

Back in Blog! With Flatbreads...

HELLO! I have been absent. I know! I know, I missed you too. I brought you a present:

I ate both of these in one sitting, alternating between each because they were THAT GOOD.

I figured I'd start off with something easy and cheesy, since I'm easing myself back into being a responsible food lust-provider.

A few months ago I made these on the spur of the moment after deciding I wanted pizza and I wanted it my way (Burger King doesn't make pizza, as far as I know). Having only bread, I decided to make flatbreads instead. I'll start with the top pizza:

Spinach and Mozzarella Marinara Flatbread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Rustic Italian or French bread (I like Whole Foods' pain de campagne), toasted
Spinach, as much as you want
Marinara (I made mine but from a jar is just fine)
Sliced mozzarella

The second edible is a...

 Mushroom and Green Olive Pesto Flatbread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2 portabello mushrooms
Rustic Italian or French bread (I like Whole Foods' pain de campagne), toasted
Sliced mozzarella
Green olives stuffed with garlic
Trader Joe's pesto (amazing!)

For each flatbread, I recommend toasting the bread first until it's pretty dark so that it won't buckle and become soggy under the weight of all the sauces and moisture (cheese and mushrooms both release moisture when melted). I also recommend making the marinara a little spicy to balance your generous portions of mozzarella, and even adding some meat into the sauce. Really, you can put anything you want on bread with cheese, it's up to you!
The garlic-stuffed green olives came from my local grocery store. After you toast the bread, just load up each piece with what you want and pop it in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Don't panic if your cheese doesn't melt right away because mozzarella has a higher melting temperature than something like cheddar. When done, consume immediately!
Returning to the TJ's pesto, briefly. I am a pretty harsh judge of pesto, namely because I was subjected to sub par, greasy, gross pesto for 4 years (here's to you, Harvard). Trader Joe's pesto is well-balanced and flavorful. You can taste the basil AND the garlic, without being overpowered. The oil is perfectly proportioned to the pesto, and if it separates it stirs back together quickly without making me feel queasy about how much oil I'm about to consume. It's also refrigerated and must be refrigerated even before opening, so you know it's fairly fresh. I'm sure Whole Foods' pesto is comparable if there isn't a TJ's near you.
So that's that, happy eating! And look forward to more posts soon =).