Category Archives: Seafood

15 Minute Meals: Scallop Fettuccine Tossed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fried Capers

This past weekend was lazy. The kind of lazy that almost makes you more tired and gets into your bones, but is sometimes exactly what you need. Reading for hours, tucking in at nine o’clock, and considering laundry a triumph was what I was all about. Duke and Lou were oh-so-pleased to oblige.

Lou is growing like a weed…weighing in at 50+ lbs at 6 months. Looks like we’re going to have ourselves a heavyweight champion. Duke remains a saint of an older brother.

Come Monday though, all that changes. The week is filled with endless tasks, to-dos, demands, and delights. There’s work, dog walks, friends, food columns, blog posts, restaurant reviews, and frantic attempts to get in some much-needed exercise to preserve both my derrière and my sanity.

Incidentally, my boxing instructor (yes, I box…it’s a riot..and I love it..and someday I will be tough… and able to do a push up) scolded me the other day, “Erina…you’re very precise. But you’re also stiff. Very stiff. You have to feel it more. You have to loosen up.”

I’m still working on that one in the ring, but in the kitchen it’s one of my favorite ways to cook. This dish is the epitome of that, bringing together great ingredients and then getting out of the way. It takes only as long to make as the pasta does to boil and can be easily altered pending your desires and your pantry. The addition of the toasted panko simulates breaded scallops without all the trouble or the calories and the fried capers give each bite that little punch of “wow” you were looking for.

What’s your favorite 15 minute meal?

Scallop Fettuccine Tossed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fried Capers
Serves 2 generously

Scallop Fettuccine Tossed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fried Capers

1/2 lb fettucine

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

2 TB Olive oil + a glug

1/4 cup capers, drained

1/4 lb bay scallops

2 TB Butter

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to instructions.
  2. Meanwhile toast panko bread crumbs in a dry skillet until golden brown. Remove to bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet heat the 2 TB olive oil over medium high heat, and cook the capers until fried and crispy, occasionally tilting pan to mimic a deep-fryer, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain.
  4. Once the pasta is done, drain and toss with sun-dried tomatoes and corresponding oil + a glug of olive oil if it looks like it needs it.
  5. Just as the pasta is done add the 2 TB butter to the same skillet and melt over high heat. Add the bay scallops and cook until beginning to caramelize, about 3-4 minutes, turning once.
  6. Add the scallops and any remaining melted butter to the pasta and toss.
  7. Top with fried capers and toasted bread crumbs and serve.

Rainier…the perfect accompaniment.

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Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Pasta, Seafood, Uncategorized

Hobnobbing: Barbecued Salmon With Fresh Corn Grits & Chipotle Nectarines

There is something simultaneously inspiring and depressing about meeting someone your age that is having great success. Double-penalty points if they are having fame and fortune in an area you’re passionate about, and triple points if they’re nice to boot.

A spectacular beer cocktail, inspired by a Mai Tai. Photo credit: Annie Laurie Photography.

Such was the case last week when I met Mark Fuller , the chef and co-owner of Ma’ono Fried Chicken and Whisky and a James Beard semi-finalist. Not only has he managed to open not one, but two iterations of a tremendously popular restaurant, he is a phenomenal chef, and just a damn nice guy.

To see the full story on Ma’ono’s Happy Hour swing by my column in Seattleite magazine, but for those of you looking for some culinary inspiration for the weekend, look no further than below for a Mark Fuller original that he generously did a cooking demo of for me; Barbecued Salmon With Fresh Corn Grits & Chipotle Nectarines. Stone fruit is perfectly ripe this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, and while the lateness of the corn does render it a bit sweeter than the recipe originally called for the kick of the Chipotle Nectarines makes it a mouth-popping yet surprisingly delightful combination.

Chef Fuller in Ma’ono’s kitchen. Photo credit: Annie Laurie Photography.

Barbecued Salmon With Fresh Corn Grits & Chipotle Nectarines

Created by Chef Mark Fuller
Executive Chef and Owner of Ma’ono Fried Chicken & Whisky, Seattle

Photo credit: Annie Laurie Photography.

Marinade:
3/4 cup blue agave syrup
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Tabasco® brand chipotle pepper sauce
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco® brand pepper sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds salmon fillet, cut into four 8-ounce pieces

Nectarines:
2 ripe nectarines, pitted and cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint or basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco® brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce

Photo credit: Annie Laurie Photography.

Fresh Corn Grits:
4 ears corn on the cob, husked and each halved
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco® brand Pepper Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Marinade
Combine in a large bowl, agave syrup, soy sauce, Tabasco brand chipotle pepper sauce, fish sauce, Tabasco brand pepper sauce, garlic and olive oil. Add salmon fillets; cover and refrigerate about 3 hours, turning occasionally.

Nectarines
Combine in a medium bowl, nectarines, mint, olive oil, salt and Tabasco brand chipotle pepper sauce. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate.

Fresh Corn Grits
Grate kernels from corncob into bowl. Place corn and butter in 2-quart saucepan. Over high heat, heat corn to boiling, stirring frequently until mixture thickens. Stir in Tabasco brand pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Photo credit: Annie Laurie Photography.

Salmon
Preheat grill to medium-high.

Grease grill. Place salmon, skin-side up on grill. Grill about 4 minutes. Turn fish: cook about 4 minutes longer or until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serve salmon with fresh corn grits and nectarines.  Serves 4.

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Filed under Entertaining, Health Conscious, Lactose Free, Seafood, Uncategorized

Spectacular, Spectacular: Grilled Bruschetta with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Basil, and Shrimp

This past weekend my Uncle Daniel took us on a boating adventure up to the San Juan Islands. It is truly breathtakingly beautiful up there, with vistas you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the States. We boated, we kayaked, we laughed, and of course, we ate. Happily bobbing along on the Moon Dance II, a handmade wooden craft by the renowned Sam Devlin, we enjoyed cooking up feasts in the boat’s galley, aptly named the Moon Dance Diner for all the impressive creations Daniel whipped up there.

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

A little pre-trip prep…slow roasting the tomatoes.

Day 17 of no buying groceries, coupled with boat friendly cuisine made this one a little tricky, but no less spectacular. The robust and bright flavors of the slow roasted tomatoes come to life when paired against the sizzling buffalo mozzarella. Basil freshly picked from the garden just the day before provides a welcome depth, and when topped with one impeccable grilled shrimp helps elevate an otherwise generally standard antipasto to an elite affair.

Mt. Baker in the distance.

The gents determining where the afternoon kayak should go.

Sunset at Sucia Island up in the San Juans.

We may have briefly lost a kayak, but it resulted in a midnight paddle where the phosphorescent were absolutely extraordinary, lighting up the water as we paddled through its stillness.

A cup of coffee, a morning kayak ride, and returning to Daniel cooking up omelets in the Moon Dance Diner. Doesn’t get better than this.

Grilled Bruschetta Topped with Buffalo Mozzarella, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Chopped Basil, and Grilled Shrimp

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course.

Grilled Bruschetta Topped with Buffalo Mozzarella, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Chopped Basil, and Grilled Shrimp

  • 2 Ciabatta loaves, cut in half
  • 1 TB butter
  • 4 slices buffalo mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup slow-roasted-tomatoes, room temperature (I’m loving the Smitten Kitchen recipe, right now)
  • 8 jumbo shrimp, raw and tail on, tossed in 1 TB Olive Oil
  1. Preheat grill.
  2. Using either a grill pan or skewers, cook the shrimp until pink and cooked through. About 2 minutes a side. Once done, set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, butter ciabatta loaves and grill until nicely marked, buttered side down, about 5 minutes
  4. Remove ciabatta and top with mozzarella over grill marks. Return to grill and cook until mozzarella melted, about 5 minutes.
  5. Cut loaves in half and top with basil, slow roasted tomatoes, and shrimp.
  6. Enjoy!

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Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Appetizers, Entertaining, Seafood, Uncategorized

Back to Reality: Arugula Salad with Grilled Shrimp, Pomegranate, and Goat Cheese

Thank you all for the birthday wishes. It was a grand day indeed complete with soaking up sunshine, ice cubes clinking against margarita filled glasses, and a seemingly never-ending stream of great friends, great food, and great fun.

TrufflePopcorn

The ever addictive Truffle Popcorn.

Fresh Spring Rolls, Sesame Noodle Boxes, and Goat Cheese Crostini.

Fresh Spring Rolls, Sesame Noodle Boxes, and Goat Cheese Crostini.

As an “adult” (whatever that means) I think I am supposed to have reached a state of general maturity and evolution so as to not feel disappointed when my birthday is over. But alas, between you and me, I’m not there yet. I love the anticipation and the excitement and the planning. And then I love the day…and then it is over, with simply a mysterious bruise or two and a full recycle bin as evidence.

Agave Margarita Bar

CJ’s Agave Margarita Bar.

Never one to pout and pity party for (too) long, I inevitably find myself back in the kitchen, slowly stirring, and chopping, and whisking the lurking gray clouds away.

This salad screams Summer! And Fun! And Self-Righteously-Healthy! It is literally impossible to be grumpy while eating this salad, as the spicy arugula is paired with the burst in your mouth pomegranate seeds, countered by the smooth taste of goat cheese, and punctuated with a bite of a pine nut. Make this when reality has returned, but you’re not quite willing to give into it yet.

GIVEAWAY WINNER: Many thanks to all who shared the Eggplant Carpacio recipe. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and more were buzzing…but despite my wish that everyone win a bottle of Olive Oil, there could only be one winner. And that winner is…Bonnie K who shared via Twitter!

Arugula Salad with Grilled Shrimp, Pomegranate, Pine Nuts, and Goat Cheese
Serves 2

Arugula Salad topped with Grilled Shrimp, Pomegranate, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nuts

Arugula Salad topped with Grilled Shrimp, Pomegranate, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nuts

  • 12 jumbo shrimp, tail on, shell off, thawed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 2 TB
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 cups baby arugula, loosely packed
  • 1/3 cup Pomegranate seeds (Trader Joes sells them ready to go if you like)
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  1. Preheat grill until 500 degrees
  2. In a small bowl combine the shrimp, 3 of the cloves of garlic, and 2 TB of olive oil. Let marinade at least 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the dressing combine the remaining olive oil, garlic, balsamic, honey, and egg yolk. With a whisk or immersion blender, blend until well combined and slightly emulsified.
  4. Reduce grill to half heat, and cook until pink, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Note: Most people over cook their shrimp…it takes hardly any time and you want then to stay juicy.
  5. To serve, plate the arugula, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and goat cheese. Top with shrimp and drizzle with dressing.

Plating the Salad…so pretty.

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Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Giveaways, Health Conscious, Salads, Seafood, Uncategorized

Camping Cucina: Grilled Shrimp with Rosemary, Lemon, and Garlic

{Reminder: 24 hours and counting to enter the giveaway for some of the best olive oil you’ve ever had. Simply share this post via your favorite social media channel, drop the link into the comments section, and cross your fingers. Best of luck!}

What I’m about to say might shock you. Are you ready? Are you sure? Perhaps you might like to sit down. Here goes:

I am not much of a wilderness woman.

Shocking, right? And yet the truth remains,  I like nothing better than eight (okay 10) hours of sleep per night, my hot running shower, and my gourmet cuisine. I sometimes wish I was one of those women who genuinely loved to climb a mountain. Who was thrilled to ride the bull down white water rapids. Who thought bug spray was simply for the weak and the meager. But alas…I am not.

Not a soul in sight…but many a shooting star to keep us company.

And so rather than spend time beating myself up about it (so last year), I’ve decided to embrace my version of camping. Thinking PBR meets Prosecco. Bratwursts meets Bellinis. Hot Dogs meet Holy Hell Delicious.

A few weekends ago we went camping with our friends CJ and Nadia, their three dogs, and our crew. And it was fun. So much fun. And I’m not even pretending lying. We hung from hammocks over the river, we lounged and we lazed, and we ate. Oh did we eat.

Georgia Mae…one of the funniest dogs I know. She was perfectly content to be floating around in the river..on her raft!

The trick is to be smart about delicious, simple foods that require minimal on site preparation. Couple that with some prep work ahead of time and you can eat like a king in the middle of no where.

To give you some ideas, here’s the menu I put together…

Friday Dinner: Grilled Shrimp Packets with Rosemary and Garlic, served with Grilled Baguettes and Rhubarb Cocktails.

Saturday Morning: Bagels with Lox, Cream Cheese, Heirloom Tomatoes, Red Onions, Capers, and Lemon Wedges

Saturday Lunch: Mozzarella, Basil, Tomato Paninis

Saturday Dinner: Chicken Fajitas with Pinto Beans, Fresh Sliced Avocado, Pico de Gallo, and Peach Gin Fizz Cocktails.

Sunday Morning; Breakfast sausage, bacon, fireside biscuits, and hard-boiled eggs.

The shrimp was honestly one of the easiest items on the menu, and one of the most popular.

What’s your favorite food to make when camping?

Grilled Shrimp Packets with Rosemary, Lemon, and Garlic

Grilled Shrimp Packets with Rosemary, Lemon, and Garlic…magnifique!

1/2 lb jumbo, raw shrimp, de-shelled and tail on (Costco sells them very reasonably)

1 lemon, sliced in advance

1 large stalk of rosemary, chopped into 3″ sections in advance

4 cloves garlic, smashed on site

Olive Oil

In tin foil lay the shrimp, lemon, rosemary, and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and tightly seal up. If cooking on a cook stove or hibachi, grill directly, until shrimp is just cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Thanks to the foil these can also be cooked directly in the fire.

Serve with Rhubarb Cocktails, grilled baguettes, and one giant open sky.

17 Comments

Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Health Conscious, Lactose Free, Make ahead, Seafood, Uncategorized

Grocery Store Bingo and a New England Lobster Bake for 100

The lobsters we were eating on Saturday had been in the water the day before, and the taste was absolutely exquisite accordingly.

“Duh-ya-wanna-enta-thuh-Shaws-prize-contest?”, mumbled the teenage cashier at the local grocery store, hip cocked to one side, doing her best to make sure everyone around her knew just how cool she was, and how uncool she thinks being a grocery checkout girl is.

“Excuse me?”, I asked, having only caught about every third word amidst her smacking gum, thick Boston accent, and general disdain for all around her.

“Duh-ya-wanna-enta-thuh-Shaws-prize-contest?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

Realizing she had a foreigner in her midst, she sighed impatiently, shifted to her other hip, and began explaining it to me, slowly, as though I didn’t speak her language, which I suppose in a way, I don’t. “It’s like thuh stupidest thing ya eva heard of. You get tickets wheneva ya buy groceries and then you try and put them on a board. Maybe ya win something…but I gotta a ton ah tickets at home and I haven’t won anything yet. Dun think they give out the winning tickets until August or sumpa stupid like that. I’m a hoping to win the cahr…my Jeep only a gets like 15 miles puh gallon so I could really use it.”

“Oh…like grocery store Bingo?”, I asked, still confused, and trying to hide my smile at the honesty and intimacy she was sharing.

“Yah, like grocery stahr bingo…that’s it.”

“Well, I live in Seattle, so I don’t think the tickets will do me much good. Would you like to have my tickets though? Up your chances for the car?” I asked, still chuckling at the idea of a town wide grocery store bingo, loving this teenage girl, and wondering what the homies on Rainier would think if we imported this to the left coast.

“Nah, we associates got our own league…it’s like even stupid-aher, freaking impossible. Paper or plastic?”

***

Lobster Bakes and Clambakes are ubiquitous with the Northshore…right up there with grocery store bingo, pink (I mean salmon) shorts, crazy drivers, beautiful homes bought with old money, and an insatiable desire for gossip.

With July temperatures easily reaching 90, and humidity making your hair look like you never thought possible, it makes sense that casual summer events where the cooking takes place outside, and exquisite ingredients stand on their own, would be top of the list.

Beautiful oysters on the half-shell, also pulled just hours before we ate them and offering the freshest, crispest taste of the sea.

My brother Ben, who is one of the most generous people I know and just generally a hell of a good guy, has for multiple years hosted a Lobster Bake-Clambake-Oyster Fest of epic proportion. This year’s made all other years pale in comparison with 137 lbs of lobster caught by my Uncle Jeff, a renowned Cape Cod Lobsterman, as the headliner, and a bushel each of mussels and clams, and 150 of some of the best oysters you’ve ever had playing backup.

Lobsters were cooked all day, bacon cheddar burgers were grilled all night, Mussels Meuniere for 50 provided the perfect appetizer, steamer clams with dill, butter, and beer got gobbled up, oysters on the half shell got slurped down, and many laughs were had while enjoying Ipswich’s famous local libations of Ipswich Ale and Turkey Shore Distillery.

A barrel of rum from Turkey Shore Distillery, perfect with a boot of Root Beer from the Tapmobile.

The Tapmobile, featuring different Ipswich Ales, and the best root beer you’ve ever tasted.

My only regret, and the sting was sharp this morning as I flew the 3,000 miles back across the country at 4a PST, was that I wouldn’t be having a lobster roll for lunch today.

New England Lobster Bake
Serves 100

Ever wondered what 137 lbs of lobster looks like?

  • 137 lbs hard shell lobsters, boiled, and kept warm in coolers.
    • To boil, bring a large pot of water to a boil over a propane boiler outside. Once boiling, plunge lobsters into the water. Cook 5 minutes for the first pound and an additional 3 minutes  for each additional pound. Lobster is cooked when the shell is entirely red. Lobster will keep warm in coolers for multiple hours.
  • 1 bushel steamer clams, well rinsed, and steamed with beer, dill, and butter.
    • In a large pot (same as you used for the lobsters if you like), add 1 gallon light beer, 1 stick of butter, and 1 cup of dill. Bring to a boil, add the steamers, and cook until all shells are open. Transfer to a cooler to keep warm and strain the broth for dipping.
  • 1 bushel mussels, well rinsed, and cooked as Mussels Meuniere
    • In a large pot, add 2 bottles of white wine, 1 stick of butter, 10 shallots, finely diced, 2 cups parsley. Bring to a boil, add the mussels, and cook until all shells are open. Transfer to a cooler to keep warm and strain the broth for dipping.
  • 150 oysters, schucked
    • Serve on the half shell on a bed of ice, with assorted toppings such as lemon wedges, horseradish, and Tabasco.
  • 10 lbs butter, melted and kept warm

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Filed under Entertaining, Seafood, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized

Coming Home: Panko Crusted Pollock

It is hard to describe the town I grew up in if you’ve never been here, or if you grew up in a city, or if you’ve never had the experience of everyone knowing your name…of everyone knowing your everything if we’re being honest.

As such, I’ll tell you a tale of a little town called Ipswich, if it pleases you. For this is where I am from.

The other day my wonderful Mama had trotted off to the town library. Why you ask? Well, because she needed to use their internet. For you see, in the home I grew up in there is no high-speed, no call waiting, no microwave. So off she goes to the library when she must “get online.” While trolling through her Earthlink inbox (yes, Earthlink…did you even know they still existed?), she saw a recent post about Vegetarian Carbonara I’d done (for she too is doing a CSA from Appleton Farms, so must battle weekly in the ever ongoing attempt to not let any of your organic groceries go to waste).  Not owning an iPhone or an iPad, she needed to print it out so she could make it at her leisure.

Walking the fields at Appleton Farms.

All the beautiful options available this week.

Now my mother is many incredible things, smart, funny, beautiful, gracious, caring, but she is not particularly tech savvy. And so, on the homepage of my blog she hit PRINT…and print it did. All 45+ pages of the past 10 recipes on my homepage. Realizing her error (at 20 cents per page to print at the library this was no small drama) she quickly tried to cancel the printing, calling over the librarians in droves. They leaned over the computer, they fluttered nervously about, and all together they accidentally hit print another 5 times, resulting in no less than 200 pages of Shut Up & Cook goodness spewing out of the library printer.

My mother, being an honorable woman, walked up to pay (Ipswich employing the honor system, bien sur), and upon telling the nice librarian what happened she replied, “Oh, you don’t have to pay for the extra copies…here, give them to me…I’ll just recycle them.” Passing them to her, all 200 pages were about to go into the recycling when something caught her eye.

Smoked Salmon Quiche? This looks dynamite!” she exclaimed in her Boston accent that you must hear to understand.

“Kitty, come over here…didn’t you say you were trying to figure out what to do with all those tomatoes? This here thing has a recipe for Baked Tomatoes!”  (Yes, people in this town are named Kitty, and Muffin, and Wilma…and no one thinks it’s strange).

Within moments a gaggle of women had gathered and were dividing up and passing out the recipes, each knowing exactly what the other needed and thumping my mother on the back for how proud she must be to have, “A daughter who can cook?? I wish my Perry would cook…she never cooks!”

Don’t even think about getting greedy with the carrots…Muffin, and Kitty, and Wilma will kick your butt.

Home for a week, and loving every minute of it, I am reminded of where I’m from and how it has so affected who I am. Friday supper was made from fresh pollock a local fisherman had caught, and beautiful vegetables picked from Appleton Farm’s own fields.

It was simple. It was perfect. It was just like home.

Panko Crusted Pollock
Serves 4

Panko Crusted Pollock, served with Caesar Salad, and Summer Snap Peas

1 lb, Pollock Fillet, de-boned and rinsed, and cut into 4 oz fillets

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup flour, plus shake or two of salt and pepper

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 cup dill, finely chopped

  1. Preheat Oven to 385.
  2. In three separate bowls put the flour, egg, and panko.  Add the herbs to the panko bowl and mix well.
  3. First dredge the fillets in the flour mixture, then in the egg, and then in the breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Set into a glass baking dish.
  5. Bake until firm, yet flaky, about 10-15 minutes.

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Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Cheap Eats, Health Conscious, Lactose Free, Seafood, Uncategorized

Like It Was Yesterday: Dungeness Crab Dip with Grilled Braided Bread Sticks

I have a terrible memory. Fascinatingly bad really, for someone so organized and obsessively high functioning. And I’m not even saying this so you’ll exclaim, “No you don’t, Erina, you have an amazing memory! It’s like the best memory of anyone I know,” like I used to do when I was a teenager and would feign wishing I had bigger lips so people would exclaim “You wouldn’t want bigger lips! Your lips are perfect…and super big! You practically look like Angelina Jolie!”

No, the truth is my memory is shit. Not for the day-to-day mind you, I am capable of keeping 50 projects running simultaneously at work, remembering the most minute detail about each, but for major life events like my 8th grade graduation. Or some bunny we apparently had growing up. Or my uncle’s wedding.

So I find it strange, though maybe I shouldn’t,  that I have an impeccable memory when it comes to food. I remember with aching clarity the first time I had Saag Paneer, while visiting my friend Madeline in Toronto. Each little bite of cheese a seemingly glorious, hidden prize, and each piece of spinach scooped and scraped up until there was nothing left. I remember getting lost in Florence and unknowingly stumbling upon a famous pizzeria that slung the most perfect slices for 1 Euro a piece, and were sold out and shut down by noon each day. I remember the first time I tasted Sweet Breads in a little NYC restaurant, the savory, smooth, rich flavor dancing across my tongue as I quickly did the math in my head that if I skipped the taxi back to my hotel I could maybe order another plate. Simply put, I remember food, the way my brother Ben remembers everything else. With excruciating detail, and a general state of shock that others don’t remember it exactly the same way.

This, in case you’ve never seen one, is a Flying Squirrel.

A few months back we had dinner at one of our local pizza joints, Flying Squirrel. The pie’s were yummy, as always, and the Caesar salad an expected ringer. What blew me away though, what I ate much more than my share of, what I thought about for weeks afterward was their Dungeness Crab Dip served with Pizza Dough Bread Sticks.

It was rich. It was sinful. It was sumptuous. And I couldn’t get it out of my head.

A few weeks ago l got the ingredients to try to recreate it. I cheerfully exclaimed to Matt what I was doing…what I was about to undertake…what potential greatness awaited us and he looked at me with a blank stare.

“What crab dip? We got crab dip at Flying Squirrel? Okay…I guess I don’t remember it.”

I was flabbergasted…how could you forget this? But alas…he had. And despite my beseeching requests that he try to remember as I described it in painstaking detail, he did not. Perhaps it is better that way. He can remember major life events, history, politics, and birthdays and I can remember our meals.

My rendition was nearly as good and a perfect appetizer when paired with Grilled Braided Bread Sticks and Champagne. It makes a big batch so I actually split it between two dishes and served it two nights in a row at two different parties, each time greeted with great acclaim. If you don’t have time to do the bread sticks you could skip them and just do toasted french bread instead, but they are a lovely complement.

Dungeness Crab Dip
Adapted from Food & Wine
Makes two large appetizer dishes, enough for 12 easily

Unforgettable Dungeness Crab Dip

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
3/4 cup cream cheese (6 ounces), softened
1 cup Beechers Flagship Cheddar (or something equally sharp and delicious)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons minced chives
2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon
Salt and pepper
Dash of Tabasco
1 1/2 pounds jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over to remove any bits of shell

  1. In a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until just beginning to brown, 4 minutes. Add the vermouth and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, chives and tarragon. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and a dash of Tabasco, and scrape into a large bowl. Fold in the crabmeat, maintaining the large pieces of meat. Spread the crab dip in a shallow baking dish, two dishes, or 12 shallow ramekins pending how you want to serve it.
  2. Preheat the broiler. Position a rack 10 inches from the heat. Broil until the dip is heated through and the topping is golden, about 2 minutes; shift the baking dish for even browning. Serve warm with Grilled Braided Bread Sticks.

Make Ahead The recipe can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated overnight. Return to room temperature before broiling.

Grilled Braided Bread Sticks

1 loaf store-bought pizza dough, I use Trader Joes
Flour
Olive Oil

  1. Remove bread from refrigerator and allow to rest lightly floured surface for 30 minutes.
  2. Slightly press out the dough, until it’s an 8″ circle.
  3. Divide into nine even sections.
  4. Using your hands, and gravity, allow each piece to stretch out until it is about 12″ long and 1.5″ side.

    Pizza dough, ready for braiding.

  5. On a floured surface take three pieces, press the tops together, and then braid until the end. Press ends together.
  6. Transfer to a cookie sheet and brush each side with olive oil.
  7. Get grill as hot as possible and allow to heat for another 10 minutes, scraping off the grates and carefully rubbing with olive oil on a paper towel.
  8. Reducing heat to 3/4, add the bread sticks to the grill, and cook until lightly browned and puffy, about 3-5 minutes per side, pending on the heat of your grill. Watch carefully to make sure they don’t burn.
  9. If you like, once done feel free to top with grated parmesan, or red pepper flakes, or roasted garlic, or whatever suits you.

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Filed under Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Make ahead, Seafood, Uncategorized

Like Father, Like Daughter: Grilled Shrimp with Lemon, Garlic, and Garden Herbs dipped in Sriracha Mayonnaise

Grilled Shrimp, Blasted Asparagus, Grilled Bread with Roasted Garlic, and Quinoa Salad

“Honey! It’s Dad!! You’re on SPEAKER!!!”

My father’s booming voice, a crescendo through the phone, culminated in what could easily be construed as a full shout, as when he is particularly excited he forgets that thanks to the invention of Alexander Bell, one needn’t yell all the way across the country to be heard.

Feverishly trying to find the volume down button and holding the phone out from my ear, I shouted back, “Hi! I’m great!! What’s UP???”, as when I am particularly excited I forget that thanks to the invention of Alexander Bell, one needn’t yell all the way across the country to be heard. Like Father, like Daughter…what can I say.

“Have you taken the shrimp out of the BRINE??”

“Another minute forty-five seconds! WHY?!”

“You’re really going to want to RINSE IT!”

At this point I simply burst out laughing. My dad, who semi-retired this past year and went from working nearly 80 hours a week to consulting part-time, has taken all the energy and enthusiasm and passion he had for his job and turned it into the kitchen. The result is one very lucky wife,  one very well fed teenage son, and one very happy adult, food-blogging daughter, who now gets phone calls from her Dad wanting to talk about shrimp for 30 minutes. Yes, we can talk about shrimp for 30 minutes, and I’m not sure which of us enjoys it more.

I’ve never been much of a Cooks Illustrated fan, finding a large number of the tasks they suggest seemingly annoying and high maintenance. I prefer to flip through pictures of Food & Wine, pick a recipe, then ignore half of it, and feign shock and dismay when it doesn’t turn out exactly as its pictured. Take brining…brining is the kind of thing I would almost always skip. I don’t know why…clearly it’s not that hard…but it just bugs me.

So when my Dad called to tell me he had recently made “the MOST succulent shrimp, I mean really Erina, the absolute best shrimp you’ve ever had” I promised to make the recipe, and follow the “CRITICAL” step of the brining and the “RINSING” (all of which he told me about in detail on our first call, and in the email, and on the recipe, and in our second call…because come on folks, this is SERIOUS stuff we’re talking about.)

Well, turns out, Father does know best. These shrimp are amazing. I might even say they are the most succulent shrimp, I mean really, the absolute best I’ve ever had. The brining is quick (30 minutes), and really does result in tremendously juicy shrimp. Furthermore, they take less than 5 minutes to cook making them  festive and utterly satisfying, yet very manageable, dinner party fare. We served them with Sriracha Mayonnaise, from the New York Time’s recent article, and there was not a shrimp left to be found in the house despite my Dad’s urging that I make “EXTRA” because they are “FANTASTIC leftovers!”

Grilled Shrimp with Lemon, Garlic, and Garden Herbs dipped in Sriracha Mayonnaise – Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Serves 4-6

Platter of awesomeness…these got scarfed up quickly!

Brine:

  • 2 lbs raw shrimp, tail on, shells off, thawed
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (or 2 TB table salt)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 quarts cold water

Paste:

  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tsp garden herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, chives, whatever suits your fancy)
  1. In a large bowl combine the water, salt, and sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the shrimp and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mince garlic with salt to form a smooth paste. Combine garlic paste with olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. Set aside.
  3. When thirty minutes is up, drain the shrimp and RINSE them for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Return shrimp to large bowl, add the herb paste, stir to toss, and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours, stirring occasionally if marinating for the longer term.
  5. When ready to cook, light a grill and allow to get very hot, preheating for 15 minutes or so, and ensuring that grates are scraped clear. Meanwhile, skewer the shrimp, catching both the tail and body so they are securely on the skewer.

    Skewer the shrimp through both the tail and body to ensure they stay in place.

  6. Reduce the grill heat to 75%, and avoiding direct flame as much as possible, cook until just cooked through and pink, about 4-6 minutes total time (2-3 minutes per side).

    Sweet Nadia took this picture when I wasn’t looking…be sure not to cook the shrimp too long!

  7. Serve with Sriracha Mayonnaise, blasted asparagus, grilled bread, and quinoa salad.

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Filed under Entertaining, Health Conscious, Lactose Free, Make ahead, Seafood, Uncategorized

Dog Days of (Almost) Summer: Smoked Salmon Quiche with Sauteed Leeks and Chevre

Smoked Salmon Quiche with Sautéed Leeks and Chevre

People often ask me where I get my recipe ideas. Well, they come from all places, and inspiration tends to strike at the oddest times, leaving me foggily trying to remember what brilliant foodie idea I had while standing in the yard at 3a with the new foster puppy silently beseeching her to “do your business” so I can go back to bed.

Yes, there’s a new pup in town and we call her Ella. She arrived from Georgia on Sunday, having been pulled at the 11th hour from being put to sleep. She is as sweet as they come, and we are excited to see the lovely dog that emerges with love. Sadly, she is currently at the 24-hour vet clinic, having taken ill with severe pneumonia. We are keeping all fingers and toes crossed that this special little girl pulls through and can go on to find the loving forever home she so deserves.  (To learn more about the rescue group Georgia Peaches, please visit our Facebook page).

Slowly beginning to trust us and giving in for a little snuggle.

This particular meal idea is good old-fashioned copying. The Columbia City Bakery (which incidentally was just recognized by Bon Appetit as making one of the 10 best baguettes in the country), had the most amazing quiche the other day and I enjoyed every crumb of it. It was a smoked salmon quiche with sautéed leeks and chevre. Their crust is to die for, and there was almost too much goat cheese to seem like it was okay, except that I (not so) secretly loved it.

I’m pleased to say my carbon copy was pretty dang close and was the perfect center piece for a Saturday morning brunch before wine tasting in Woodinville. The perfect addition to any lazy morning, or light summer supper.

Smoked Salmon Quiche with Sautéed Leeks and Chevre

1 Pate Brisee (recipe follows)

4 oz smoked salmon, thinly sliced (you can add more or less pending on your affinity for it)

1 leek, white part only, split in half, thoroughly washed, and thinly sliced

1 TB olive oil

1/2 cup goat cheese (yes, it’s a lot, but it’s worth it)

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup 2% milk

3 large eggs

1 TB chives

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put rack one rung up from the bottom of the oven.
  2. In a non-stick skillet on low saute the leeks until nearly all color is gone, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pate brisee until a slightly larger circle than the pie plate. Fold in half for easy transfer, and move over to the pie plate. Unfold, trim the edges so even, fold crust under itself, and flute the edges.
  4. Sprinkle the leek mixture evenly along the bottom of the crust, follow with the goat cheese, and top with the salmon, creating a pinwheel design if you like.
  5. In a glass mixing bowl combine the eggs with the cream, milk, and chives and whisk until foamy.

    An assortment of garden herbs can be added, pending on preference and what’s in your pots.

  6. Pour over top of filling and carefully move to oven.
  7. Cook until egg is fully set and crust is golden brown. About 30-35 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Makes beautiful leftovers too.

Pate Brisee (aka buttery pie crust)  – From the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook

1 1/2 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup ice water

  1. Using a food processor fitted with a steel blade, (because it makes it so easy, and hey, there is no shame in that) process the flour and salt just to sift and mix.

    Making the pate brisee.

  2. Add the butter and process with repeated pulses until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

    Pulse until the butter and flour mixture resembles a coarse meal.

  3. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and process until the dough leaves the side of the bowl.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a thick circle, and wrap in plastic wrap.
  5. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using. If chilling overnight, pull out 30 minutes before use to allow to slightly thaw.

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Filed under Breakfasts, Entertaining, Make ahead, Seafood, Uncategorized