Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

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I loooooove fennel. It’s such a weird vegetable — it’s white in color, has a core that needs to be removed, acts like a root vegetable (you eat the bulb vs. the plant that grows on top) and it tastes like nothing you would ever expect a vegetable to taste like — licorice or anise is the only way you can describe it, but it’s a mild version, not like biting into a piece of licorice. And then there’s the crunch you get. And on top of that, it’s so versatile! I’ve made dishes with fennel including a cheesy, rich potato fennel gratin, awesome salads, soups and roasted vegetables. It’s really awesome — you’ve got to try it.

This dish — Fennel and Garlic Shrimp — is a great use of fennel courtesy of Ina Garten. It’s fresh, garlicky and makes an awesome pan sauce that you sop up with crusty bread. Plus, it cooks up super quickly, so it’s a perfect weeknight meal.

TW’s Tips

  • I skipped the Pernod since I couldn’t find a nip and I knew this would be the only time I’d use it — but if you have it, it will add a little bit more licorice flavor
  • The shrimp took a little longer than stated to cook — just watch for them to get opaque and curled

Enjoy!

Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb, fronds reserved
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound (16- to 20-count) shrimp, peeled with tails on
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • French bread for serving

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and saute for 5 minutes, until tender but not browned. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook at a very low sizzle for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic just begins to color.

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels, add them to the pan, and toss together with the fennel and olive oil. Spread the shrimp in one layer and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes on one side. Turn the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on the other side, until they’re pink and just cooked through.

Off the heat, sprinkle with the parsley, 1 tablespoon of chopped fennel fronds, the Pernod (if using), the fleur de sel, and black pepper and serve it with bread to soak up all the pan juices.

Coconut Shrimp with Basmati Rice, Apricots and Lime

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Growing up in New Hampshire, Thai food was just not on the radar. Today, thankfully there are a few more options around my hometown, but in the 80s/90s, the extent of ethnic food was some woefully Americanized Chinese and some slapdash Tex-Mex. I must have had my first taste of Thai sometime around grad school — I’m not quite sure — but I do know that I was instantly hooked. There’s so much to love — the rich coconut milk, spicy curries, the acidity of lime and freshness of Thai basil. I loved the variety and the different flavors you just don’t experience when you’re eating super traditional American food. Today, you could convince me to have Thai food any day.

I’ve found it’s impossible to make Thai food at home that tastes as good as what you can get in a good Thai restaurant, but I make an attempt every now and then (especially when I can get good ingredients at the great ethnic food stores in NYC). This recipe from Tyler Florence is a solid showing. It’s got lots of coconut milk going, with ginger, lemongrass and Thai basil. The peanuts on top add a great crunch and richness.

The rice in this dish is actually really great — and I’m not a rice girl. The addition of arugula adds some interesting spiciness, and the dried apricots are a great hit of sweetness.

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TW’s Tips

  • Despite all the ethnic food stores here, I couldn’t find kafir lime leaves. I had to go with regular lime.
  • Go to the effort of finding Thai basil. It’s quite different from the traditional Italian basil — the flavor is really amazing. I even saw Thai basil at the greenmarket today.
  • Don’t overcook the shrimp. I had to cook them a bit longer than indicated in the recipe to cook them through. Look for them to curl and turn opaque.
  • Have some Thai chile sauce on the side that you can mix in to add a little heat to this.

Enjoy!

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Coconut Shrimp with Basmati Rice, Apricots and Lime

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, unpeeled and smashed with the side of a large knife
  • 2 Thai chiles, chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, chopped into small pieces
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 quart coconut milk
  • 2 kafir lime leaves, or one lime, halved
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, halved
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
  • Handful of arugula leaves
  • 1.5 lbs medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 small can straw mushrooms, drained
  • 4 fresh Thai basil sprigs for garnish
  • 1/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts for garnish
  • 1 lime, quartered, for garnish

Directions

First get the sauce going: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the ginger, chiles, lemongrass, and shallots and cook until the shallots are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, sugar, coconut milk, and lime leaves and give it a stir. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 minute, until the sauce is reduced by about one third and thickened.

While that’s cooking, jump to the rice. Combine the rice, salt, and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in the apricots, scallions and arugula.

To finish, add the shrimp to the pot with the sauce and simmer gently just to cook through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the straw mushrooms and stir. Spoon the rice into the bottom of 4 bowls. Spoon the shrimp over along with the sauce and garnish each bowl with basil, peanuts and a wedge of lime.

Leeky Linguine with Shrimp

IMG_5845Shrimp is the perfect weeknight meal. Why? Because they cook so fast your food is done in no time. Plus, they’re delicious. This is a super simple pasta meal — it combines leeks (basically mild green onions, don’t be scared) with lemon, garlic and white wine, and a hit of red pepper flake for a tasty dinner. It’s a Rachael Ray recipe that really might only take 30 minutes! For reals.

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TW’s Tips

  • To clean the leeks, chop off the upper part of the leek where it starts turning from light green to dark green. Cut the bottom in half lengthwise then cut into half moons and drop them into a bowl of water. All kinds of dirt gets stuck between the layers, so you need to swish them around then let it sit for a minute so the dirt sinks to the bottom of the bowl. Then fish out the leeks and dry them on a towel.
  • You can choose to keep the tails on your shrimp or take off the whole shell.
  • I buy the shrimp that are tail-on but already shelled so you don’t have to mess with that.
  • I added mushrooms to this since I had some hanging around and it wasn’t that bad! Then again, I like mushrooms on everything.

Enjoy!

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Leeky Linguine with Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh linguine
  • 4 leeks trimmed, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise and washed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (a generous handful)

Directions

In a bowl, toss the shrimp with 2 tablespoons EVOO, the lemon peel, garlic and crushed red pepper; season with salt and black pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and black pepper and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Push the leeks to the side of the pan, add the shrimp to the skillet and cook until pink and firm. Pour in the wine and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the pasta to the skillet; season with salt and black pepper. Add the parsley and toss.

Greek Orzo and Grilled Shrimp Salad with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette

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I’m a big orzo fan. It’s super fast to cook, doesn’t feel too heavy and acts like a pasta without being too pasta-like. This dish by Bobby Flay incorporates my favorite orzo into a simple pasta salad with shrimp, cucumber, tomatoes, dill and feta, topped with a mustardy dressing. It’s really simple and fast. No brainer for a weeknight meal.

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TW’s Tips

  • Serve warm or cold — great either way.
  • I’d scale down the amount of dill a bit — it was a bit too dill-forward for me.
  • If you’re not into shrimp, substitute any other protein here — chicken, pork, grilled salmon would be delish.

Enjoy!

Greek Orzo and Grilled Shrimp Salad with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound orzo, cooked al dente
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded, quartered lengthwise, and sliced
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus additional for brushing shrimp
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 16 medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Directions

Combine orzo, cucumber, green onions, and tomatoes in a large bowl. Place dill, vinegar, and mustard in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the vinaigrette over the orzo mixture and stir well to combine. Gently fold in the feta cheese.

Heat grill to high. Brush shrimp with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for approximately 2 minutes per side or until just cooked through. Divide orzo salad among 4 take-out containers or plates and top with 4 shrimp. Garnish with additional dill.

Happy Pancakes

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While I absolutely love it, I don’t cook Asian food very often. One, it’s usually a special trip to a specialty grocery (though not super tough in NYC). Two, my feeling is that it usually tastes way better when I get it at a restaurant. This is especially true for me with Thai food — I just can’t perfect the curry flavor you get at a Thai restaurant. But I strayed from convention the other day and made this Vietnamese dish — from the same list of Food & Wine “best dishes” I’ve been reverting to lately.

They might look a little funny, but these “Happy Pancakes” are pretty delicious. The base is thinly cut pork and shrimp, along with mushrooms and onions and bean sprouts. All of that is bound together with a rice flour mixture, and wow. It’s pretty simple but has so much happening.

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The most difficult/annoying thing about this is having to cook each pancake separately, but the result is an awesome crunchy outside on these pancakes and such great flavor.

TW’s Tips

  • The recipe calls for cooking these on high heat and I was skeptical about leaving it covered for a full five minutes on high. But it works.
  • It does get a little smoky, so use your fan/hood.
  • It was hard to distribute the batter when pouring it in the pan since it’s not very runny. You can’t just tilt the pan to make it run around the pan. I ended up ladling and spreading it around the pan and then giving it a good shake, and pushing it around if I needed to.
  • I have to say, I have a hard time with the fish sauce in the dipping sauce. I like it when I’m served it, but the smell is just too pungent for me when I have to work with it myself. I ended up using a chile dipping sauce and a little soy because I couldn’t deal with the fish sauce.
  • A little bit of burnt edges on these make them even better.
  • I had to get the mung bean sprouts at an Asian grocery store. They are different than regular bean sprouts. Careful, they don’t keep very long.
  • These were even good reheated!
  • Make sure you have a skillet with a lid that fits.
  • Store the dipping sauce in a Tupperware with a Ziploc around it so your fridge doesn’t smell like death.

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Happy Pancakes

Ingredients

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 Thai red chiles or 1 medium jalapeño, thickly sliced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, thickly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons water

Pancakes

  • 1 3/4 cups rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound boneless pork loin, cut crosswise into very thin slices
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 10 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts

Directions

Make the dipping sauce. In a mortar, pound the chiles, garlic and sugar to a paste. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice and water.

Make the pancakes. In a bowl, whisk together the rice flour and 2 cups of cold water. Mix in the turmeric and scallion. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over high heat. Add 3 slices of pork, 3 shrimp and a few slices of onion and mushroom. Season with 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute. Stir the rice flour mixture again and ladle 1/3 cup into the pan; tilt the pan to evenly distribute the batter. Cover and cook until the sides of the pancake turn deep brown and curl up, 5 minutes. Scatter 1/4 cup of the bean sprouts over the pancake, fold it in half and slide it onto a warm platter. Keep warm in a low oven while you repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve the pancakes warm, with the dipping sauce on the side.

Seafood Newberg Soup/Chowder

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The soup kick continues.

This time it’s a spicy seafood chowder with cod and shrimp, a recipe from Rachael Ray. It’s got a great kick from the Old Bay and cayenne, and it’s not too thick. Poaching the fish and shrimp in the liquid makes it so nice and tender, it melts in your mouth. And you get some good heartiness from the potatoes. Even reheated it’s fantastic! I could eat this every day.

It was also surprisingly easy to make, besides the fact that I mistakenly got non-EZ peel shrimp at the fish counter and had to devein and shell them, which made me not super happy. (Shelling is easy as long as they are deveined.) Oh well, they were yummy.

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TW’s Tips

  • This recipe calls for “corn toasties” which I remember from my childhood but they weren’t that amazing, so I made corn bread instead.
  • Any white fish will work in this — tilapia, cod, scrod, etc.
  • Don’t obsess about the size of the shrimp, since you cut them up anyway.
  • This makes a lot of soup. I started worrying after I finished since this wouldn’t freeze well, and ended up delivering a Tupperware-full to my BFF since there was no way I was eating it all on my own before it would go bad. I would estimate it was about 12 servings.
  • When reheating, I highly recommend either gently heating it in a pot on the stove or microwaving it on 50%, since heating it too fast may cause the fish to get tough.

Seafood Newburg Stoup with Cayenne-Chive-Buttered Corn Toasties

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large starchy potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs with their greens, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3 cups chicken or seafood stock
  • 1 1/2 pounds cod, scrod, or haddock, cut in chunks
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups whole milk or half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 corn toaster pastries, such as Thomas’ brand
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO and the 2 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into small pieces. Add the veggies, then season them with the bay leaf, salt, pepper, and Old Bay Seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes to begin to soften, then add the flour and cook for a minute longer. Next, add the sherry and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the stock and bring it up to a bubble, then arrange the seafood in an even layer around the pan. Cover the pan and cook until the fish is opaque and the shrimp is pink, 4 minutes. Remove the lid and add the milk and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer to thicken. Add about 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, then adjust the seasonings. Discard the bay leaf. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a small cup. Toast the corn pastries, brush with cayenne butter, and sprinkle with the chopped chives.

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail with Two Green Sauces

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With the typical hot September weather in San Diego (it’s when we get our summer), I broke out the grill so I could avoid heating up the house. I  made these grilled shrimp once before in a grill pan, but they’re even better on a real grill! What makes these so great is how simple and fresh they are — and light, which is ideal for when it’s hot out. You can serve them hot, cold or room temp, and with a wide variety of dips, from the green ones here to cocktail sauce to a vinaigrette. They’ll be a hit, so make a lot.

The green dips here are really fresh and interesting. The Tunisian pesto uses almonds instead of your traditional pine nuts, and parsley and cilantro instead of basil. The chutney has a Mediterranean influence, with kick from a jalapeño, plus ginger, yogurt, mint and cilantro — it’s spicy and herby and delish.

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TW’s Tips

  • The dip recipes make a lot — freeze the pesto and serve with salmon or chicken another time.
  • The dips also involve a fair amount of food processor work — make them ahead to save on the headache.
  • Make sure you skewer the shrimp well so they don’t become grill martyrs.
  • I prefer larger shrimp versus medium.
  • Serve with a green salad or as an appetizer.

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Grilled Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1 pound medium shrimp with tails, peeled and deveined
  • Oil or melted butter for grilling
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lime

Directions

Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high. Toss shrimp with just enough oil or butter to coat lightly, then season with salt and pepper to taste. If cooking on an open grill grate, thread the shrimp on skewers or place in a grill basket. Grill shrimp under they just curl and are translucent, about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Squeeze lime over the shrimp and serve warm or at room temperature with dip.

Tunisian Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed fresh cilantro (leaves and some stems)
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley (leaves and some stems)
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch Cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

Combine the cilantro, parsley, almonds and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add about 1/3 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Add the salt and pinch of cayenne pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 1 cup.

 Fresh Green Chutney

Ingredients

  • 1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 scallions (white and green parts) cut into large pieces
  • 1 cup fresh mint (leaves and some stems)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (leaves and some stems)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed (with seeds for more heat, without seeds for less)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water (optional)

Directions

With the machine running, drop ginger into the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add scallions, mint, cilantro, yogurt, jalapeño, lime juice and salt. Process to a textured paste similar in consistency to pesto, adding water to adjust the consistency, if desired.