Marinated Shrimp Salad

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This is another recipe I made in Washington DC with my family. It is my mom’s recipe, and it is perfect for a hot summer day, especially if served with a glass of chilled white wine!

Ingredients:

  • Large shrimps (30, about 5 per person to serve 6 people)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup white or rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 T celery seed
  • Or use 2 cups of a nice champaign vinegar salad dressing and add capers

Directions:

  • Cook shrimp 3-5 min in boiling water until turn pink. Peel shrimp before or after cooking
  • Mix all ingredients into marinade. Can place in a large zip lock bag. Marinate cooked shrimp for 30 min – 3 hours. (But not overnight)
  • Serve over green salad with tomatoes, onions, and black/green olives. Add salad dressing to desired taste.

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Baked Tilapia with Vegetables

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I was in Washington DC last week visiting my sister, who lives there, and my mother and brother who flew in from Colorado and California, respectively. We had a great time catching up, shopping, visiting DC, and of course – eating! We went to a few very nice restaurants, of which Le Diplomate on 14th St. was a personal favorite, and we also did some great cooking on the rooftop of my sister’s very nice apartment building, which has a swimming pool, lounge chairs and grills for residents to use.

This recipe for baked tilapia turned out amazing. We wrapped everything up in foil and put it inside the grill where it baked inside the foil for about 12 minutes. Without easy access to a grill, this recipe could also be made in an oven heated to about 200C (390F). The recipe was pretty simple without exact measurements, so I’ll do my best to approximate what we did. But really any number of combinations of vegetables, herbs and sauces could be added to vary it up.

Directions:

Place array of cut and washed vegetables and herbs (spinach, red peppers, onions, parsley and basil) on a large piece of tin foil

Place tilapia fish on top of the vegetables.

Put two or three slabs of butter on top of the fish. Squeeze fresh lemon over the fish and place the rind of another lemon slice on top of the fish.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Can also add any combination of: cayenne pepper, rosemary, white wine (1 T), teriyaki sauce, or other sauces/herbs if feeling creative.

Fold the side of the tin foil in so the fish is completely sealed. Put inside grill or oven and let cook for 12-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

  • We also cooked asparagus with the fish in a similar manner – placing the asparagus in the tin foil, covering with olive oil, salt and lemon, closing the foil and placing in the grill. It turned out great!

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View of the Washington Monument from my sister’s balconyImage

The balcony and DC streets

 

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View of the Washington Monument from the Jefferson Memorial

Baked Monkfish with Roasted Potatos

There is a great little shop in my neighbourhood that sells locally grown and mostly organic produce and meats. I discovered it only a few weeks ago but have thus far enjoyed some fresh tomatoes, carrots and yogurt. Today when I went I saw a beautiful monkfish fillet “ethically caught” in Cornwall and decided to give it a try. I brought it home and the Italian and I found a very simple recipe with potatoes, olive oil and parsley so as not to overpower the flavour of the fish.

Interesting fact about monkfish: the Italian said that in Italy they rarely if ever sell the fish whole because it is so ugly (the head in particular) that no one would buy it. That is why monkfish is always bought in fillet form. You can see a picture I took of a monkfish head while on a recent shopping trip in London’s Borough Market.

Another interesting fact: Monkfish is often compared to lobster tail due to its texture and flavor and has been called “poor man’s lobster” for its comparatively economical price.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 monkfish filets
  • 3-4 medium waxy potatoes, cut into thin slices
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1 T flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth, or white wine
Directions:
  • Heat the oven to 400F (200 C)
  • Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in the bottom of a lightly oiled 9 x 13-inch roasting pan. Spread the shallots over the potatoes.
  • Place the filets in the pan.
  • Place garlic slices over the filets.
  • Lightly dust the filets with the flour.
  • Season with fresh ground black pepper and parsley.
  • Add the broth or white wine to the pan.
  • Roast the fish until it easily pulls apart with forks and is no longer opaque inside, about 30 minutes.

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Spicy Jumbo Shrimp

This is a fairly simple shrimp recipe that has a nice spicy kick to it. The Italian and I bought fresh Brazilian shrimp at Borough Market in south London and served them as an appetiser for a lobster dinner. We also had them with asparagus and crusty bread. They were delicious!

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Ingredients:

  • Shrimp (about 12 large, uncooked)
  • Olive Oil (1 T)
  • Garlic
  • Red Pepper Flakes (~1 tsp)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet pan. Add the garlic and sautee until the garlic becomes brown, infusing the oil.

Add the uncooked shrimp and sautee  8-10 minutes on one side.

Flip shrimp to the other side and add the red pepper flakes and salt. Sautee for another 8-10 minutes or until shrimp are done.

Serve hot with vegetables and crusty bread.

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Boiled Lobster with Hot Melted Butter

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The Italian and I decided to treat ourselves to a lobster dinner on Saturday night. Both of us absolutely adore lobster but have never cooked it ourselves. I grew up eating lobster during summers while visiting my dad’s family who live in Maine – one of my strongest childhood memories is of being outside in someone’s backyard with a picnic table filled with dozens of lobsters, and I walked around sucking on the juices of the lobster legs.

The Italian said that his experience in Italy has seen lobster usually served as part of another dish such as pasta, which is always delicious but not quite the same as you sometimes lose the actual flavour of the lobster itself. He said in Italy he had never had a whole boiled lobster and only tried that for the first time while studying abroad in Boston during high school. We both agree that when it comes to lobster (and most shell fish, for that matter) simpler is better as you can really taste the meat of the fish. We had our lobster with melted butter and amazing bread rolls that we bought from Borough Market in south London.

We bought our live lobster from a fishmonger at Borough Market as well as some Brazilian shrimp that we prepared as an appetiser (recipe for Spicy Jumbo Shrimp). For dessert I made a chocolate mousse and we toasted with champagne and wine. All in all it was an excellent dinner, and we surprised ourselves by successfully cooking lobsters that brought us both back to summers spent on the American east coast!

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Two lobster tails ready to be eaten!

Boiled Lobster recipe

Serves 2.

Use a large pot suitable to cook two live lobsters. Fill the pot 3/4 with water. Add 2 T of salt for every quart (1.1 litre) of water. The water should be salty like sea water. Bring the water to a boil.

Holding the lobster by the body lower it upside down and head first into the boiling water. When both live lobsters are inside cover the pot.

Note the time at which the water begins to boil again. From that moment, boil the lobster 12-20 minutes longer, depending on the size of the lobster. 12-15 minutes for 1 lb lobster, 15-20 minutes for a 1 1/2 pound lobster, 20-25 minutes for a 2-3 pound lobster. The lobsters should be a bright bright red color when done.

  • Note: Just because the lobsters are red does not mean they are done as they change colour quite quickly after being placed in the water. This is why it is important to time the cooking to ensure it is done.

Remove the lobster with tongs and place on a plate to cool and drain.

Use nutcrackers to crack open the lobster shell and get to the meat. The best parts are the tail and claws! Serve with melted butter and crusty bread.

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Live lobster fresh from Borough Market

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Lobster goes into the pot headfirst

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In the pot

ImageOnce inside the boiling water the lobster changes colour fairly quickly. Be sure to watch the timer to know when it is done. 

Spicy Crab Cakes

I’m back home in Colorado for Christmas, and my family is, as usual, using the holidays as an excuse to eat in excess all of the wonderful foods that we may normally try to limit throughout the rest of the year! My mother has always been a very good cook as well as hostess, and among the food that have graced our Christmas-week menu include Lobster salad with pomegranates, perfectly seasoned steaks, asparagus with pepper butter, spicy shrimp, and chicken teriyaki (complete with a Sake aperitivo).

One of our new Christmas traditions, begun last year, is to have a Feast of the Seven Fishes on December 24, which in our family translates to seven different types of seafood dishes being eaten from lunch to dinner. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian-American tradition. (The “American” bit is seemingly key as The Italian, my non-American Italian boyfriend, has never heard of such a thing). The feast  commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. It is unclear exactly where the number “7” came from, although Wikipedia states that:

“One popular theory is the number represents completion, as shown in Genesis 2:2: ‘By the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.’ During the feast of the seven fishes, participants celebrate the completion of God’s promise of the Messiah through baby Jesus.”

Our seven-fish feast this year includes: lobster salad, spicy crab cakes, lox and cucumbers with creme fraiche, scallops with red pepper butter, pasta with mussels, clams and shrimp, and salmon. It’s a lot of food to cram into one day – but we manage to do it, and happily so!

I’m going to share what I thought was one of the standout recipes from our feast, Spicy Crab Cakes. The recipe is from Emeril Lagasse and definitely carries a kick! We enjoyed it with two different salsas: a Mango Salsa and a Mustard Creme Fraiche.

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Spicy Crab Cakes (Emeril Lagasse)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup seeded and finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup seeded and finely chopped yellow bell pepper
Salt
Cayenne pepper
1 T chopped garlic

1-2 pounds lump crabmeat, make sure shells and cartilage is removed
1/4 cup chopped green onions, green parts only, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
2-3 T Dijon mustard
Juice of one fresh lemon (or 3 T)
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce

1/4 cup flour, mixed with 1-2 T Emeril Essence spices (recipe follows)
2 eggs (for egg wash) mixed with 1/4 cup water

Directions:

1. Melt butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add onions, celery and bell peppers. Season with salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.

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2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the crabmeat, green onions, Parmesan, parsley, mustard and lemon juice. Mix, then add sauteed veggies and 3/4 cup bread crumbs. Fold all together.

3. Mix the mayonnaise, Worcestershire Sauce and hot pepper sauce together. Fold in the mayonnaise mixture with the crab mixture.

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4. Measure 1/4 cup of the crab mixture. Form into patties around 1 inch thick. Coat with flour mixture, dip into egg wash and then coat with bread crumbs. Refrigerate overnight.

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5. In a large saute pan, heat vegetable oil. Pan fry the cakes until lightly golden, about 2-4 minutes on each side. Season with more Essence spices if desired (for more spices)

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6. Serve with Mango Salsa and Creme Fraiche.

Directions for Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Mango Salsa
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Directions for Mango Salsa:

Combine all ingredients. Can make 1 day in advance and refrigerate.

1 ripe mango, diced

1/4 cup finely chopped poblano peppers

1/4 cup finely chopped red bell peppers

1/4 cup finely chopped red onions

1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions for Mustard Creme Fraiche:

Combine all ingredients. Serve at room temp. Will keep refrigerated for 3-4 days.

1/2 cup creme fraiche

1/4 cup mayo

4 T Dijon mustard

1 T honey mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 drops Tabasco sauce

 

Spaghetti con Bottarga e Pomodorini (Spaghetti with Bottarga and Tomatoes)

Bottarga is a unique food that is found in the Mediterranean and most often associated with Sardinian cuisine. I became a fan on the several trips to Sardinia I’ve taken with the Italian, where Spaghetti with Bottarga is a staple in his family’s summer home.

Bottarga is a salted and dried roe of either tuna or grey mullet. It is often used as a condiment and can be sprinkled on a variety of dishes besides pasta for a bit of extra flavor, including scrambled eggs, risotto or even salads. It can either be sold in a block or else already grated or sliced, and it has a deeply bright orangish-red colour and an intense, savoury flavour.

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Bottarga

Spaghetti con Bottarga e Pomodorini (Spaghetti with Bottarga and Tomatoes)

Ingredients:

Spaghetti (400 grams)

Cherry Tomatoes, chopped (1.5 cups)

Garlic (2)

Onion (1)

Basil (12 leaves)

Pepper (to taste)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (4 T)

Bottarga, grated (2-3 T per person)

Directions:

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Chop garlic finely. Chop onion (slices or chunks, depending on preference.)

Heat a pan on medium and add oil. Add garlic and onions until onions turn translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes until they are soft. Add pinch of salt and lower the flame.

Cook the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. Add the spaghetti to the pan with the tomatoes along with pepper to taste and the basil leaves. Cook another minute or two.

Serve on plates. Each person can individually add their desired amount of grated bottarga (usually around 2-3 T) to their plate. Mix the bottarga into the spaghetti.

Enjoy!

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