SEAFOOD GRATIN FOR A SPECIAL DINNER

Phil’s brother spent last weekend with us to play some golf and relax (forgive the oxymoron). I did not join them because I am a woman of principle and will not set foot on a golf course until the temperature reaches a comfortable level. For the record, that means above 80 F.  With no excessive wind because that messes my  accuracy with the driver, some irons, and the putter. What can I say? My game is one of exquisite precision. Instead of shivering and getting drenched on the course, I stayed in our kitchen preparing a special dinner for the gentlemen.  I chose a recipe from Ina Garten, which is a bit of an unusual move for me, I find most of her recipes overly rich.  This was no exception, but once in a blue moon it’s ok to indulge. Especially when  we have a wonderful guest to share it with!

Seafood Gratin

SEAFOOD GRATIN
(slightly modified from Ina Garten)

1 cup clam juice (I used homemade shrimp stock)
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup plus 3 tbsp. white wine divided (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
3 tbsp. tomato puree
1 lb. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
8-ounces raw cod, cut into 1-inch chunks
16 oz. cooked lobster meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and green parts
1 cup peeled, shredded carrots
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Combine the shrimp stock (or clam juice), cream, white wine and tomato puree in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and add the shrimp.  Let cook 1-2 minutes, until pink and opaque.  Remove to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon.  Add the pieces of cod to the stock mixture until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove to the same plate with the shrimp using a slotted spoon. Add the cooked lobster to the bowl.

Continue to cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 12 minutes.  Combine 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small bowl with the flour and mash together with a fork.  Whisk the butter-flour mixture with the salt and pepper into the sauce and continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

In a medium sauté pan melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.  Add the leeks and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.  Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of wine and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes more.

Add the cream sauce and cooked vegetables to the bowl with the seafood and toss to blend well.  Divide the mixture between individual gratin dishes.  If not baking right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

When you are ready to bake the gratins, heat the oven to 375˚ F.  Place the filled gratin dishes on a baking sheet.  Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a small bowl.  Add the Panko, parmesan, parsley and garlic to the bowl and toss with a fork to combine.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the prepared gratins.  Bake 20 minutes, until the top is browned and bubbling.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

mixture

Several pointers for success in this recipe: use jumbo or very large shrimp, and cook them briefly in the mixture of heavy cream and white wine.  They will bake later and you don’t want your seafood overcooked. Same is true for the fish, choose a fish with firm white flash, cod or halibut will both word well. If you can splurge, sea bass would be amazing, but when I saw the price of those, I could not bring myself to grab some.  Use any method you like for the lobster tails. I almost went with sous-vide, but in the end simmered them in a little lemony water.  The secret of cooking seafood is to never boil the liquid too hard. They are delicate creatures that will tighten on you and turn rubbery very easily.

I had home-made shrimp stock frozen, and in my opinion that worked much better than bottled clam juice. Great that I remembered having that liquid gold in the freezer. And, what’s even better, it was properly labeled! HA!

This is a perfect dish to entertain, because you can assemble the whole thing in advance and do the final baking while you prepare any side dishes of your choice.  I served it with a bucatini in olive oil with lemon zest, very simple. And roasted asparagus. Dessert was a duo of sorbets, chocolate and raspberry, both recipes should be on the blog in the near future. Ok, near future is a relative term when it comes to my posts. But hang in there, patience will pay off.

😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Cooking Sous-Vide: Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Loin

TWO YEARS AGO:  Farewell to a Bewitching Kitchen

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen. June 2012

FOUR YEARS AGO: Goodbye L.A.

FIVE YEARS AGO: 7-6-5 Pork Tenderloin

CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY WITH A SEAFOOD CURRY

I honestly could not remember when was the last time I made a special midweek dinner for us. It seemed like ages, so I browsed the blog and there it was:  May 3rd.  Four  months ago.  Four hectic months.  Slowly we begin to adjust to a new routine, but there’s no doubt that my cooking suffered quite a bit.  Lack of energy, the feeling of being always short on time and exhausted, it all took a toll on me.  But, it’s about time to shake things up a little. This was simple enough to prepare after work, and delivered all that I expected to make that evening – a prisoner in the middle of a busy week – feel very special!

THAI SEAFOOD CURRY
(adapted from Bon Appetit Everyday Meals)

3 large limes
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut in small dice
1 + 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste
1 can (about 14 oz) light unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
10 ounces cod fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
12 peeled large shrimp
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

Finely grate enough peel from 2 limes to measure 1 + 1/2 teaspoons. Squeeze enough juice from 2 limes to measure 2 tablespoons. Cut third lime into wedges, and reserve for serving.

Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the  shallots, bell pepper, and minced ginger; sauté until shallots and peppers soften up slightly, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Stir in curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce,  lime peel, and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Simmer gently, for a few minutes. Sprinkle fish and shrimp with salt and pepper. Add fish and shrimp to curry sauce. Return to very gentle simmer and cook just until fish and shrimp are opaque in center, 5 to 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cilantro and basil; serve with lime wedges, over steamed white rice.  Prepare to receive high praise.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  The original recipe used halibut, but I substituted cod because our grocery store had gorgeous looking cod that day, whereas the halibut seemed a bit sad (or, to quote a favorite French expression of mine: pas fameux ;-)).  My other modification was to use green curry paste instead of red, because that’s what I had in my pantry.  As to coconut milk, I almost always use light because it works well for this type of recipe. It is slightly less dense, but feels rich and flavorful enough, with the added bonus of lower fat content.

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THREE YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers