Tag Archives: Fish and Shellfish

French Fridays with Dorie: Mussels and Chorizo

Mussels with Chorizo Without Pasta

Happy belated Valentine’s Day!  Predictably enough, I saved this week’s French Fridays with Dorie selection, Mussels and Chorizo, to celebrate the manufactured holiday and a successful presentation at the office.   Other than the tedious process of sorting, rinsing, and debearding five pounds of mussels, this was an easy, tasty meal.  We love our bivalves with pork and tomato during this time of the year! Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie: Buckwheat Blini with Smoked Salmon and Greek Yogurt

It’s time for another food confession.  I’ve never had blini before.  Little pancakes with caviar on top were images from fancy cocktail parties from another time or place; a far cry from the sandwichitos de mezcla that graced the parties of my childhood.   Read More…

Eduardo’s Paella

I can count with one hand the times I’ve lit the charcoal grill by myself. The outdoor kitchen – er, grill and a small adjacent table – are definitely my husband’s realm. It was his idea to buy a paella pan to use outside, and after a practice run (and a bit of coaching from the neighbors last Sunday), the man can make a mean paella. I love his grilling face – he not only looks physically hot and sweaty from working, his brown furrows in concentration, his eyes narrow for a few seconds, but then he breaks into a smile. “Yeah… this looks good”.  So do you, babe. Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie – Salmon and Potatoes in a Jar

I am a lucky girl.  Today I am featuring a guest post by one of my favorite people, my college friend Adam of Balls and Pie.  A while back we were IM-ing about self-imposed meat hiatuses and his brand new stovetop smoker, and I mentioned that one of my future FFwD assignments would involve cured salmon.  I showed him Michael Ruhlman’s blog post on Dorie Greenspan’s Salmon and Potatoes in a Jar recipe, one thing led to another…  and twelve days ago I received an e-mail with a picture of  jars of salmon and potatoes.  The rest is history.  Thank you, Adam! Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie: Salmon and Tomatoes en Papier d’Aluminium


This frazzled accountant is grateful to the FFwD powers-that-be for choosing the easiest, quickest, tastiest recipe for this week.  During the first week of every month, it’s crunch-time at work.  I won’t bore you with the details of what I do, but let’s just say that once the Thursday night arrives, I’m sick of twelve hour weekdays and cooking is the last thing on my mind.  If you follow me on Twitter, you must have also read about my refrigerator’s down time during the long weekend. That did not help my cause at all.   Read More…

Saffron and Seafood Risotto


I struggled to name this dish.  When I made it, I thought of calling it “Paella Risotto” – it combines the flavors associated to paellas with Arborio rice in the foolproof risotto cooking technique.  Shushing my (not so inner) etymology nerd, I decided against it because paella refers to the actual pan where the rice is cooked and the dish is traditionally referred to as ‘arroz a la paella’.  After listening to Annie Siboney, the hostess of Cooking Channel’s “From Spain with Love”, say that authentic paella does not have chorizo I opted for the alliteration filled saffron and seafood risotto.  As some British dude wrote once: “What’s in a name…”  I will be working on a “real” paella soon, though.  DH ordered our first pan to use it on top of our charcoal grill after considering it for a few weeks.

Read More…

Salt Cod Salad – Ensalada de Bacalao

ensalada de bacalao serenata puerto rico


Ah… back to reality.  The Easter holiday came and went quickly, but we got some much needed R&R.   DH and I usually make a weekend getaway to Humacao, a town in the Eastern coast of Puerto Rico from Thursday until Sunday.  Each day of our mini vacation is punctuated by food, starting on Thursday with Asian food from a nearby restaurant that makes some of the best egg rolls I’ve had.  On Good Friday, we have bacalao (salt cod or salt fish) salad with boiled root vegetables and avocado, and on Saturday a pre-assembled casserole (usually a lasagna) makes its way into the oven.   Since we have to clean out the fridge on Sunday, we have a ‘best of the weekend’ lunch before heading back out to the greater San Juan area.  I also usually take a batch of sweets and DHs beloved mezcla for sandwiches to take to the beach.  The menu has become predictable, but many of these foods are favorites that we don’t seem to tire of.  Funny how before I met my husband, I had never had bacalao salad before… now I can’t get enough of it!

Read More…

Shrimp Puttanesca


I am joining the chorus today and singing the praises of a well-stocked pantry.  I always keep on hand diced tomatoes and anchovies, which are convenient for whenever I feel like throwing a twenty-minute pasta dish like a pasta puttanesca.  This salty, briny, spicy pasta sauce is one of our favorites.  To bring it to weekend ‘woo food’ levels, I added shrimp and used squid ink linguine I purchased at the monthly ‘Mercado Urbano’ in the Condado area of San Juan.  The ‘Mercado Urbano’ is a very cool open air market for local farmers and artisanal food producers, sponsored by Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce; it’s usually held on the first Sundays of the month.   Read More…

Spaghetti with Oven-Baked Clams

Oven Baked Clams

The weekend right before Valentine’s Day was very busy in our kitchen with what I’d like to call “woo food”.  “Woo food” involves a bit of splurging, a great wine pairing, and trying to recreate a restaurant-quality experience at home.  We decided to split the workload: I would cook on Saturday and DH would take over on Sunday.  I have to admit that I was so tired by the end of the weekend that for Valentine’s Day I got us the best Turkish takeout within a five mile radius.

I had been craving mussels for a while so when we went food shopping on Saturday, so I was disappointed when the only ones available in the store came in a kit with pre-made sauce.  So much for my vision of moules mariniére, with freshly baked bread… What we did see was a five pound bag of live New England wild-caught littleneck clams.  We have always enjoyed spaghetti with clams, and my go-to recipe from Tyler Florence is quick and super reliable, and mighty tasty.  It fits our definition of ‘woo food’ – we have made it before to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.

The most difficult part of this recipe involves cleaning and inspecting the clams.  Clams must be thoroughly scrubbed, and any ones that are open must be discarded.  You can tell if they are still fresh/alive if when tapped against your countertop the shell closes.  Two of them actually did shut!  While prepping the clams, preheat the oven to 400F.


Littleneck clams – Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Once the clams are cleaned, set a roasting pan in your cooking range, taking up two burners, and render the fat of four slices of bacon (chopped) in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  The original recipe calls for pancetta, but I liked the smokiness of the bacon in the dish.  Add red pepper flakes to taste and ten smashed garlic cloves and cook until fragrant, about three minutes.

Pancetta for Oven Baked Clams

Once the oven reaches the temperature, the add to the roasting pan about a pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half, or quartered vine tomatoes, the clams, 1/4 cup of white wine (the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc steps through again!), the juice of one large lemon, and a lot of black pepper. Do not add any extra salt at this point – between the bacon and the clam juice released there should be plenty.

Oven Baked Clams with Tomato and Pancetta

While the clams bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, boil the strand pasta of your choice according to the package’s directions and prepare a pretty garnish of basil and parsley.  Keep in mind that the larger the clams, the longer they will take to steam until open.  Monitor the clams from outside the oven and once most of them are open, take out the dish.  Discard any clams that have not opened during the cooking process and toss the pasta in the sauce.  I served it in shallow bowls with plenty of clam juice.

Spaghetti with Oven Baked Clams

Should you have enough broth left over, save it.  It would make a great base for rice with squid, poaching liquid for white fish fillets… just as a warm dip for bread it should be great. The flavors really develop after a day or two.  If there are any leftover clams, remove them from the shells and store them in the leftover liquid.

Shrimp Etouffée

“Etouffée” means “smothered,” and that’s the idea. It’s not a long-cooked stew. – Tom Fitzmorris

Recipe Adapted from John Besh’s My New Orleans

I think I finally got over the Saints losing in the playoffs this weekend, and let go of my delusions of being able to influence the outcome of a game through my culinary ‘offerings’.  With this baggage off my shoulders, I can finally share with you my shrimp etouffée recipe and lessons learned.  This was my first foray into etouffée and into NOLA style seafood, after making over the last year a couple of chicken and sausage gumbos and jambalayas.  Etouffée is the French word for stew (and Spanish’s estofado, although I like guiso better).   Depending on the recipe/school of thought you may have a thickened up seafood gumbo or a very rich butter and spice based sauteed dish.  The most popular etouffees are crawfish, but shrimp and crab are widely used as well.

Etouffée, like gumbo, starts with a roux made of equal parts fat and butter, cooked to a dark brown color. Getting the roux to the color of milk chocolate should take somewhere between fifteen and twenty minutes over medium heat.

The Roux

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Once the roux is ready, reduce the heat to medium-low and add one small diced onion. The onion should be cooked until soft. It is very important to hold out on adding any other ingredient until the onion is translucent, as the moisture from the other vegetables would halt the caramelization of the process. The roux will get a little darker.

When the onions are ready, add the following ingredients and cook for about five minutes.

  • 1 diced celery stalk
  • 1/2 bell pepper – whichever color you may have on hand
  • 3 cloves of garlic – depending on the size
  • Leaves from three sprigs of thyme
  • 1.5 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

At this time, you are ready to add 2 1/2 cups of liquid into your pot and a small peeled and chopped tomato. This is the only point in the recipe where I disagree with Mr. Besh. His original recipe calls for one quart of shellfish stock. My secondary source, Emeril Lagasse’s recipe calls for one quart of stock as well – for double the amount of roux and thrice the seafood. Etouffée is supposed to be like a gravy. By following the recipe ‘to a T’ the first time, I got a pretty tasty shrimp gumbo. Ideally, you would have shrimp or seafood stock on hand, but since my freezer bag of shrimp tails is nowhere near full at this point I bought a seafood base to create a broth. Clam juice is an acceptable substitute too.

After the sauce has come to a boil, reduce and simmer for five to seven minutes, making sure that nothing sticks (and burns!) to the bottom of your pan. Reduce the heat to low and add:

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 to 1.5 pounds of cleaned, deveined shrimp (save the tails and shells for stock)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes of Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Once the shrimp are cooked thoroughly, serve with long grain white rice. The recipe yields at least four generous portions, and the leftovers are awesome.

My Orleans: The Cookbook on Foodista

Arroz con Calamares – Rice with Squid

Arroz con Calamares

Last week, I visited a couple of co-workers that have been ‘exiled’ to an off-facility trailer to work on a very cool special project.  As it usually happens between girlfriends, we started talking about food and trading tips on everyday cooking.  While talking about Puerto Rican childhood classics like
arroz con salchichas, I mentioned that I make most of my rice dishes in a little $10 rice cooker when cooking for DH and me.  One recipe/method I keep coming back to is arroz con calamares, or rice with squid.   Canned squid from Spain is inexpensive, readily available in all local supermarkets, and one of those items I always keep in my pantry.    A warm bowl of rice with squid makes the perfect lazy New Year’s Day lunch – quick, hot, and very satisfying.


Mise en place for the rice with squid


These are the ingredients for the arroz:

  • 1 1/2 cups of short grain (pearl) rice.  If you are using a longer grain, adjust the cooking liquid proportion accordingly.  The longer the grain, the longer cooking time.  
  • 2 4-ounce cans of squid in its ink.  Look at the side of the label for what additional seasonings it may have so you can adjust accordingly.  The brand I use is infused with oil, tomato, onion, spices, and includes the dark tasty ink that imparts that peculiar color.
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid.  I almost always use chicken stock because I usually have it on hand. Tastewise, clam juice works best to bring out the seafood flavors, and in a pinch, half a chicken or veggie bouillon cube will do if you are out of any stock.  A splash of dry white wine would be awesome too. (A glass of Sauvignon Blanc or a young Ribera del Duero red with the finished rice would be even better).
  • 2 tablespoons sofrito/recaito. Mama’s or the plaza del mercado are the freshest and tastiest.  Sofrito is a puréed blend of cubanelle peppers, cilantro, small sweet and spicy peppers known as ajicitos, onions, garlic and recao.  Everyone’s sofrito recipe is different; feel free to add any of these items to taste to the rice if your sofrito doesn’t include them.
  • About half an onion, chopped.  I like soft sauteéd onions in my rice dishes.  
  • 2 cloves of garlic
I love the color of the squid oil! Just in case, that’s not even half of the ink that comes with the squid.


Place the insert of the rice cooker in your stove top and empty the oil/liquid of one of the cans of squid (use a medium saucepan/pot if you don’t have a rice cooker). Over medium heat, sauteé together the onions, garlic and sofrito until the onions are soft and the mixture is fragrant.  Add the squid and ink from the two cans – there might be too much oil depending on your taste, so hold back when adding it to the mixture if you see it fit.  Stir and make sure all the rice is coated with the mixture before adding the cooking liquids.  After adding the liquid, taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.  From there, just hit ‘Cook’ and you are good to go!  Otherwise, bring the mixture to a boil, cover it, and turn down the heat to low.  The 1 1/2 cups of rice should be ready in about twenty minutes.  


You can serve this with tostones and a side salad to make a complete meal, but for us it was just fine on its own.  The recipe yields for two generous main course portions.

Shrimp Po’Boys


I keep cooking New Orleans food and the Saints keep winning.  I’ll have to sneak in a starter or dessert to my family’s tiny celebration on Thursday to make sure the luck doesn’t wear out for the Cowboys-Saints faceoff.  We’re already doing the turkey so any suggestions would have to be either easy or quick to pull off. Read More…