Tag Archives: seafood

Grilled Red Snapper & Swordfish with Fresh Guacamole and Cilantro

Well it’s official. Grilling season is upon us. Yay! We took full advantage of that and the seasonable weather and made a fabulous grilled fish dinner.

Harris Teater’s seafood selection is awesome. Greg got some really nice looking seafood while there and the prices were also very reasonable. This meal was entirely his inspiration and I am so glad it was!

On the left is the red snapper, on the right the swordfish.

He made some fresh guacamole for the topping. His recipe for guac is the same as mine (avocado, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper) though he also added a chopped jalapeno.

He (expertly) grilled the fish and topped each fillet with a hefty spoonful of guacamole, fresh chopped cilantro, and some chopped tomato. He placed the fish on a bed of wilted spinach.

Though this dish may seem a but underwhelming, I assure you that the simplicity and freshness of the ingredients makes this dish so amazing.  It was a light, but very filling meal at the same time. If you like guacamole, the possibilites seem endless in terms of what to serve it on or with. This is just another great way to use it. I preferred the swordfish over the snapper because it was stronger in fishy flavor. If you are open to eating fish, but don’t want a fish intense in flavor snapper is a great option. Both held up well on the grill so it’s really up to you.I can’t wait for more!

Sushi Party!

Sushi!

Last year on Christmas I gave Greg a sushi making kit- it was something I put together for him with all of the sushi making essentials and we have been making sushi ever since. Well, he has been making sushi and I have been the sous chef.  We decided to show off our skills and invited a few folks over to partake in a sushi party.  Greg has two friends that live in Japan right now and one happened to be in town with his Japanese girlfriend (as in, lived in Japan her whole life and only in the states visiting right now kind of Japanese!!).  The pressure was on! In preperation for this event, I contacted Melanie at the Whole Foods in Silver Spring to let her know we’d be stopping by the store to pick up some ingredients. She graciously met with us and was so generous! Thank you Melanie! We picked up some beautiful looking seafood, produce, and some odds and ends and headed home to begin making the sushi.

One thing I have struggled with as the sous chef is making the rice. Obviously, this is an essential element to the sushi, but man, I just can’t get it right! Our Japanese guests highly suggested using a rice cooker, which I have but did not use. I will definitely try that next time. For this go round, however, I made it on the stove top and used this:

I followed the directions to a tee. First rinsing it and cooking it exactly how the container’s directions suggested.

It looked pretty good and I was encouraged! It was a teeny bit crunchy still though- wtf?!

According to our Japanese guests, any short grain rice will do and you don’t have to purchase “sushi” rice. So American, right? They made a great analogy to their experience eating bread at Italian restaurants  in Japan. It’s bread, it tastes like bread, but it’s not as good as “real” Italian bread. That’s pretty much how this rice was for them-  standard rice, but not GOOD rice.  Next time, I may try to buy Japanese rice… eek!

While the rice was cooking we prepared the fixings, fish, and other fillers.

I purchased this wasabi and  pickled ginger at Whole Foods.

It’s powdered wasabi so in order to make it you combine equal parts powder and water to form the paste.

I made a lot!

I pulled out the shiso leaves because I never had them before. Pretty lame, I know.

We purchase three types of fish (tuna, snapper, and salmon) and some shrimp (for shrimp tempura rolls). The quality of the fish was excellent- look how pretty!

The (heart shaped) tuna!

The snapper ( I believe of the red variety).

The salmon (so gorgeous!).

Shrimp!

We tempura battered and fried the shrimp.

Everything needed to be cut down to size for the rolls. We sliced up the fish and also the cucumber and avocado that would go in many of the rolls.

So, now on to the fun, yet most difficult part. We used these nori sheets:

We added rice wine vinegar to the rice.

and the sushi rolling began…

This was a spicy salmon roll.

Uh, yeah! That’s a sushi roll on a Steelers plate.

Next, the making of the shrimp tempura roll.

The whole rolling process went on for nearly 2 hours- I kid you not! It takes a lot of time and hard work, but just look at these results! MMMMM….

The “everything roll” (above)- all three types of fish, cucumber and avocado and a crazy assortment below.

I could not get the camera in focus for these close-ups because I am clueless when it comes to cameras, but I wanted you to see the shrimp tempura roll (front) and the salmon roll behind it.

Below, another out of focus shot (grr!) of the tuna rolls.

There were so many combinations of rolls and we also made some nigiri.

All in all, TONS of sushi!

Everyone happily ate and we almost finished it all! We had about 8 pieces leftover, which is not bad at all! We also got the chance to open some Saki that had been given to us for Christmas, by none other than one of our guests tonight! I have never been into Saki, but this one was really good! It was served cold and did not taste like rubbing alcohol, which is always a plus :]

For dessert, we served tiramisu. Wait, what? That’s not Japanese. Yeah, I know, but I had most of the ingredients and everyone loves it. I followed my own recipe and it came out great! I actually made it two days in advance this time, which worked really well. Everyone scarfed it down, so I take that as a success!

Pistachio crusted flounder with creamed veggies

We bought some fresh flounder at Giant the other day and decided to try it with a bread crumb-less pistachio coating. I perused the internet and found that most pistachio crusted protein recipes included bread crumbs in the breading (go figure!). I didn’t want to use them though, so I just left them out. I also did not dredge the fillets in flour prior to dipping them in egg either, aiming to keep this recipe as low carb as possible. I started off with about 6 flounder fillets.

I crushed the raw pistachio nuts in a food processor, but left them sort of “chunky”. I think next time around, I will just pulverize them into crumbs completely to try a different “breaded” texture than what I got this time. Really, it’s up to you how chunky you’d like it!  A dip in the egg and then they were covered on both sides with the pistachio “breading”.

Into the baking dish they went.

They cooked for about 12 minutes or so. I knew they were ready when I could break the meat apart with a fork.

Interestingly, Greg and I cooked in a rather unusual fashion for us for this meal. I was responsible for one thing and he the other. I had a vision for the fish that didn’t match his so I took over on that. He focused on the veggie side dish, which was pretty amazing! He started off by sauteing some carrots, onions, and broccoli and then made a decadent cream sauce to pour over top.

The flavors of this meal were very rich and decadent. A little went a long way here and it was very filling for being a fish and veggies dinner. The pistachio crust still needs a little perfecting, but I was intrigued by the prospects. I may incorporate some almond flour to make it more breaded than coated next time. We’ll see…

Recipe for pistachio crusted flounder

Recipe for creamed veggies

Pesto Shrimp Bake

Recently, we hosted a dinner party in which we featured one of our best talents: cooking shrimp perfectly- of course!  Last summer, or fall actually, when the garden was reaching some of it’s last days, Greg whipped up some pesto and we froze several jars of it for occasions such as this. We did not want to be busy cooking when our guests arrived, so it was the perfect thing to use since it was already made.

First, check out the table scape complete with real dining room chairs! wahoo, we’re adults now!

For an appetizer we used our new cheese board to display four cheeses: parmesano reggiano, pecorino romano, some really sharp cheddar, and parano (my recent fave).

We also served a salad that if anything was Greek-esque: romaine, cucumber, tomato, feta and pine nuts.

Now on to the main event. Like I said we used some pre-made homemade pesto. When making pesto ahead of time, it is suggested that you add the cheese when you are ready to use it, versus adding the cheese before you freeze it.

The pesto as it dethawed:

and with a generous heap of cheese:

This thickens it up quite a bit and adds a ton of flavor.

The raw shrimp were peeled and placed in a casserole baking dish. The pesto went over top of the shrimp…

…and was thoroughly mixed in

Next, a layer of freshly grated cheese atop the scrimps.

Pine nuts! Whenever we make the trip to Pittsburgh, we always stock up on pine nuts. They are worth the price, but especially at the price Penn Mac sells them for! YUM.

This went into the oven and baked while we sampled the cheese and ate salad.

We topped it with fresh tomato once it was done baking and the shrimp were cooked through.

We had the romantic mood lighting going- sorry for the flashy picture!

We served it along side of some pasta… along side, not on top!

This was a key point Greg wanted me to stress. The dish is meant to stand alone and is not intended to be a pasta sauce per se, although it went quite well with the pasta.

This is the best picture I have of it– extreme closeup, ahh!

With the scent of basil in the air, this dish made me even more ready for summer! It was a crowd pleaser too, which is always good.

Recipe for Pesto Shrimp Bake

Recipe for our Simple Basil Pesto

Crab and Corn Chowder

One weeknight, we decided to use the extra crab meat we had to make a crab soup. This recipe is semi-homemade in the sense that we used some canned soups to create our soup and not all of the ingredients were homemade. This recipe was the result of melding several different crab bisque and chowder recipes. I was quite pleased with the end result though and it was also great re-heated for lunch the next day.

Like many things we eat, this dish started off with a good saute of some onions and garlic in butter.

After the onions sweated out, it was time to add the remaining ingredients, which mostly consisted of the canned soups (cream of celery and cream of mushroom) and the dairy- milk and half and half.

Also not to be forgotten are the veggies- corn and asparagus and of course, the holy grail of spices in our house, Old Bay, among others.

You can see how nicely the soup thickened up after simmering for a little while. At the very end, we added the crab meat and some fresh parsley. Since the crab meat is already cooked it only needs to heat up in the soup, not cook. It’s best to add it at the end so it maintains it’s firmness within the soup.

This was a relatively quick and easy dinner and perfect for the winter-ness that was going on outside!

Recipe for Crab and Corn Chowder

Valentines Day Surf and Turf

For valentine’s day dinner we decided to make something we don’t eat often and make something that would be a special treat for us. We went with surf and turf, lobster and lamb.

We got two beautiful lobster tails from Harris Teeter.

We did not want to alter the natural flavor of the lobster and decided to steam them and serve them with melted butter for dipping. Greg put a little Old Bay on his, but my lobster tail went au naturale. Both were steamed in water that was infused with Old Bay and vinegar.

Talk about simplicity! Simple food, done well. The “surf” was a great way to kick things off.

Now on to the turf portion of the meal. We bought two racks of lamb from Whole Foods, that were conveniently frenched already. We have made lamb before, but never rack of lamb. We’ve learned that when making lamb at home it’s important to spend a little extra money and buy a nice cut. The cheaper cuts are grizzly and much more gamey in flavor, not good things. We tried two different recipes, so each rack had a different preparation, set of ingredients, and taste. Both sets were first seasoned with salt and pepper before going on their unique paths.

For the first rack we decided to tap into some Greek flavors, involving mint, lemon, and rosemary.

Greg combineded these ingredients with some olive oil to create a marinade.

Before actually baking this rack, we heated a glass dish in the oven for about half an hour. The rack was placed in the hot dish to sear it. Greg brushed on the marinade and baked it for about 15 minutes or so.

We made the second rack in a more traditional French way, using dijon mustard and bread crumbs.

We began by searing the rack in a pan with a little hot oil.

Once it was seared, we coated it with dijon mustard.

The next step was to cover the rack with bread crumbs (which had been mixed with oil).

Once it was well coated, it went back into the pan for the final leg of cooking. We covered the tips with tin foil so they did not burn.

It cooked for a few more minutes in the pan and then it was ready.

We tried both versions and they were both SO good. Very different from one another and it’s hard to say which one was better!

The bread crumb version is in the back, the lemon/rosemary/mint variety in the front.

This was a delicious meal and I love when we make two (or more) versions of things to try them out and then we also to get to eat a nice variety within the same meal. I really loved them both!

Recipe for Mediterranean Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb

Recipe for Bread Crumb Rolled Rack of Lamb

Top Scallop?

Scallops are one of our favorite foods to eat, but making them at home can be a little tricky. We have made many attempts at cooking them though and I think we got one step closer this time.We picked up some really nice looking scallops at Giant.

We prefer the bigger sea scallops rather than the smaller bay scallops.

They have an almost “meaty” texture. We seasoned these with salt and pepper.

We definitely have not yet mastered the searing technique for scallops!  But here we go…

Notice we used the all-clad pan, which is not teflon, and no oil…

We wanted some stickage in order to get the rough seared exterior, but this did not quite work out the way we wanted…

Rest assured, the pan was just fine (after a wine de-glazing) and the scallops still tasted great, they just were not the right texture. We don’t know why we can’t sear scallops! Should we have added oil to the pan? Did we not flip them soon enough? Was the pan too hot? So many questions…

Anyway- as I said, they still tasted really good. I sauteed some spinach and placed this on the plate (er, small bowl) for the base.

Then placed the scallops on top— kinda seared actually!

The sauce we made was a white wine butter sauce with lemon and garlic and red pepper flakes, of course.

We topped it with green onion.

All in all, they came out tasting pretty good. It’s tough to really infuse scallops with much flavor, which is why I like to serve them atop the spinach, which tends to absorb some of the sauce so you can get some really tasty bites!

Recipe for Seared  Scallops in White Wine Sauce