LEMONY BARLEY WITH SHRIMP AND SPINACH

This recipe used to be a regular rotation in our kitchen then I totally forgot all about it. I was sure it was in the blog already, so I wanted to make it the other day and was shocked because… it has never been shared here. Shame. Shame. Shame. I will not walk through the streets of Manhattan in GoT fashion. Instead, I will quickly share it today, and hope to be forgiven.

LEMONY BARLEY WITH SHRIMP AND SPINACH
(inspired by a recipe from Fine Cooking)

1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (save peels for stock)
1/2 large onion, skin on
1 lemon, cut in slices
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 cup + 1/3 cup quick-cooking barley
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup black olives, pitted, cut in pieces
zest of 1 lemon

Make a shrimp stock simmering the shells with the half onion and lemon slices. Season it lightly with salt and pepper. Reserve.  You will use about 2 cups of the stock to cook the barley.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the shrimp seasoned with a little salt until almost fully cooked. Remove and reserve, covered with foil. Add a little more oil if needed, and saute in the same pan the onion and celery  until fragrant, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper.

 Add the barley and stir until coated with the oil and veggie pieces. Add the lemon juice and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Pour in 2 cups of shrimp stock, 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until the barley is tender, 12 minutes.

Uncover the pan, add in the spinach and cook until wilted. Stir in the reserved shrimp, black olives, and lemon zest.  Adjust seasoning if needed and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is truly delicious, and I am kicking myself for taking so long to bring this back to our table. It is quick to prepare, and if you like to make it even easier, use chicken stock, store-bought, which is actually part of the original recipe from Fine Cooking. I just feel that if you have the peels available, shrimp stock is ready so quickly, why not up the flavor of the dish with it?  Your kitchen, your decision.
.

 

SALMON TACOS

From years back, a delicious version of tacos for you!

Bewitching Kitchen

I’ve always twisted my nose at seafood tacos, considering them an abnormality of the gastronomic world.  But,  life has its own way of teaching important lessons and during our stay in Los Angeles, we sampled some fish tacos that made me reconsider my opinions. What can I say? I loved them, as well as the particularly incredible array of tasty salsas that place has to offer.

Since we came back, I wanted to make some type of fish tacos at home, and this recipe that I adapted from Food and Wine magazine was a perfect starting point.
CHIPOTLE-RUBBED SALMON TACOS
(adapted from Food and Wine)

2 tablespoons yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pound skinless wild Alaskan salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 corn tortillas

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NOT QUITE MOQUECA

Moqueca is one beloved dish in Brazilian cooking. Several ingredients are mandatory: coconut milk, dende oil, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. The main protein can be shrimp, fish, or both. It is spicy, luscious, quite filling, and always served over a simple white rice. I have already messed up with this classic before, but with this recipe I shall infuriate my fellow native Brazilians a second time.

MOQUECA-STYLE SHRIMP AND CHICKPEAS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1.5 pounds large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (14.5 oz)
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 shallot, finely diced
1 red or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon harissa (or to taste)
1.5 cups crushed tomatoes with their juice
3/4 cup light coconut milk
fresh cilantro to taste
juice of half lemon

Heat the oil on a large sauce pan. Add the fennel, shallot and bell pepper, saute everything together seasoning with salt and pepper until translucent and very fragrant.

Add the crushed tomatoes, harissa, and chickpeas, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the shrimp and  coconut milk, simmer gently until the shrimp is cooked, 5 minute or so. Add the cilantro, lemon juice and serve over white rice.  If you like, add some hot sauce on the plate.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Moqueca originated in one of the hottest states of Brazil, Bahia. Even though it is a kind of stew, it is enjoyed the whole year, even at the height of the summer. I like to bring this up because those of us living in the Northern hemisphere are headed to very warm days. Don’t twist the nose to a nice serving of moqueca for that reason. This will please you no matter how hot it is outside.

I completely forgot to get fresh cilantro at the store, so I added a couple of Dorot frozen cilantro cubes together with the coconut milk/shrimp mixture. But don’t make this mistake, fresh cilantro not only looks great but it adds a lot more flavor, especially if added right before serving the meal.

I committed many sins with the recipe, but served it over white rice as any good Brazilian would. I hope this helps restore my reputation.

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BOUILLABAISSE FOR A CHILLY EVENING

Bouillabaisse is a classic Mediterranean dish. Not to brag or sound like a pain-in-the-butt snob, but I once enjoyed a bowl in a wonderful restaurant in Nice. One of those unforgettable meals in which the setting, the company, the food, all conspired together to make you feel on top of the world. Or close enough. Where we live we have access to the very best beef you can dream of, but seafood? Not so much. So I realize that calling my humble seafood concoction “Bouillabaisse” is a bit of a stretch. The fish was previously frozen, same goes for the shrimp. I know that nowadays the frozen stuff is processed almost immediately upon fishing, but still… Cooking seafood in the middle of the country always seems a bit strange. However, I must say we were very pleased by how tasty it turned out. Not the same as sitting down for a beautiful meal in Nice, but… being at home with the fire-place going, and the three pups all cozy near us has its charm also.

A SIMPLE BOUILLABAISSE
(adapted from several sources)

3 pounds of mild fish, cut into large pieces (I used cod and red snapper)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 pound clams
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions (I omitted)
1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp saffron threads
2 tsp salt or more to taste
1 cup shrimp stock (made with shrimp shells, lemon and onions)
1 cup clam juice (store-bought)
fresh thyme
orange zest and a bit of juice
parsley leaves, minced

Make the shrimp stock.  In a sauce pan, add the shells, cover with water, juice of half a lemon and half an onion. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain, reserve the liquid to use in the bouillabaisse. In a small bowl, mix a couple of tablespoons of the shrimp stock with the strands of saffron, rubbing them between your fingers to release the oils.  Reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and fennel. Stir to coat the vegetables with the olive oil. Cook on medium heat until softened and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Do not let it brown. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, the saffron infused shrimp stock, salt, orange zest and juice. Simmer gently for 10 more minutes. 

Add the pieces of fish, the shrimp, the reserved shrimp stock and the clam juice. Bring to a gentle boil,  add parsley, simmer covered for 5 minutes. Add the clams, cook for 10 minutes or so until they open and are cooked through. Keep the heat at a very gentle level.  Remove bay leaf before serving, adjust seasoning.  Wonderful with a nice piece of sourdough bread.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Traditionally, Bouillabaisse is served with a rouille on top. Think of a sauce made from hearty bread, olive oil, and other tasty suspects. I omitted, we had a slice of sourdough with it instead. I added a generous squirt of lemon juice to my bowl, it’s something I find myself doing so often, it always seem to make the food shine a bit brighter. If you want to simplify things even further, you can use just clam juice and water as the cooking liquid, but making shrimp stock is so simple, and it does intensify the seafood flavor in the soup. If you can find sea bass, definitely use it. It is the best fish, in my opinion, but as you can imagine, not easy to find in our neck of the woods.  And when we do find it, we must be ready to shell some serious cash for it.


The smell as this soup-stew cooks is something! The main thing to pay attention to is not to overcook the delicate seafood, and keep the heat at a very gentle simmer, because shrimp in particular tends to toughen up easily. I had considered cooking the shrimp sous-vide separately and just add it to the soup when serving, but ended up going the more traditional route. If you have a sous-vide gadget, keep in mind that it makes absolutely perfect shrimp, with a texture you cannot get any other way.

The resident oyster-shucker made sure we have the perfect appetizer to open this meal…

Totally off-topic: today marks my first anniversary of…..  braces!
One year down, one more to go (sigh)

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NINE YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

 

 

SMOKED SALMON FAIT MAISON

I love this French expression that makes “home-made” sound a lot more special…  In Paris, they often print it in restaurant menus to indicate that some item – say,  their country paté – is “fait maison.”  In other words, unique. Special. Cannot get anywhere else. And that’s pretty much how I feel about smoked salmon made in our very own electric smoker. If you like the stuff available at the grocery store, you will flip for this. It is so much better, it doesn’t even seem like the same food item. I go as far as saying that buying an electric smoker is worth it just for smoking salmon. And steelhead trout.

SMOKED SALMON WITH BUTTERMILK DRESSING
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

1 salmon fillet (about 4 pounds)
½ cup seafood dry rub
1 lemon, sliced
½ cup buttermilk dressing

for dry rub (makes more than you need):
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon  paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt

for buttermilk dressing:
½ cup buttermilk
1/4 cup full-fat yogurt
Juice of half lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

Make the dry rub:  In a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast the coriander seeds, black peppercorns and cloves for 1 to 2 minutes.  Let the mixture cool slightly, then process it thoroughly in a spice grinder and transfer it to a small bowl. Add the paprika, oregano, red pepper flakes, sugar, and salt. Mix thoroughly.  Keep leftovers in a dark, dry place.

Soak 2 cups of wood chips in water for 15 to 30 minutes.  Heat the smoker to 200F.

Pat the salmon dry and let it come to room temperature.  Coat the salmon thoroughly in the dry rub and place it skin-side down on the grates. Scatter the lemon slices over the flesh. Smoke for about 1 hour, or until the flesh flakes easily with a fork.  While the salmon smokes, prepare the buttermilk dressing.

Whisk together the yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, salt, and dill. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 

Serve the salmon with the buttermilk on the side, or drizzled all over. It’s your call…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Since we acquired the smoker back in December last year, we’ve made this recipe (with or without the buttermilk dressing) countless times.  We simply do not get tired of it. Often we will smoke two pieces, one we remove after 1 hour, and enjoy for dinner. The second piece we allow to smoke for one additional hour or even a little longer. That will be perfect to have over crackers with a bit of sour cream or cream cheese and capers. Or to make salmon rillettes. Or a smoked salmon quiche. Certain dogs love it too…

What makes the smoked salmon ‘fait maison’ so amazing is the texture. Simply cannot beat the texture. It melts in the mouth, and the smoky flavor is just perfect. Subtle. Delicious.

If you do not have a smoker, the closest approximation to this would be a method used by Jacques Pepin, in which you place the salmon on the dish it will be served and stick it in a very low-oven, 200F. You can check it out here. I would then make the same dry rub, but use smoked paprika instead.


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