Monthly Archives: January 2010

Roasted Dungeness Crab

Growing up California, Dungeness crab season has always been a favorite time of year.  It is its own season.  And having lived here my whole life, I know how crab is cooked.  Its steamed.  While it is yummy in simple foods like tacos, and disappears in casserole type dishes, the best way to eat crab is to just get your fingers messy picking apart a steamed crab. A little bread, some clarified butter for dipping, and a nice glass of wine.

In recent years, more and more restaurant reviews boast of delectable roasted crab.  Some are spicy, others garlicky, and others including with Vietnamese flavors.  But roasted crab?  Really?

This week, crab and chicken breasts sold for the same price at the grocery store.  What a perfect time to experiment with roasted crab at home.  This is certainly a departure from simple steamed crab and is scrumptious in its own way. The flavor of oranges with just a little heat from the chilies is a perfect match for the dungeness crab.  Messy?  You betcha.  Be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1  shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
  • 3 large Dungeness crabs, cooked, cleaned, and cracked (about 4 1/4 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 500°F.

2.  Melt butter with oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic, shallot, and dried crushed red pepper. Add crabs; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon chopped thyme and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley over crabs. Stir to combine.

3.  Place skillet in oven and roast crabs until heated through, stirring once, about 12 minutes.

4.  Using tongs, transfer crabs to platter. Add orange juice and peel to same skillet; boil until sauce is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Spoon sauce over crabs. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon thyme and 1 tablespoon parsley and serve.

Notes:

  • The cooking goes pretty quickly, so get all of the ingredients prepared and at your side before beginning.
  • For easier cooking and serving, separate the crab into pieces before adding them to the skillet.
  • Both the flavor and aroma are amazing!

Arroz Con Pollo For a Crowd

Need to cook for a crowd?  Large family?  Make a few extras to share or stash for lunches?  Here’s your recipe.  Arroz con Pollo.  Basically, we’ve got chicken, rice, and some veggies working together to make sheer comfort food.  This recipe came from my father in law quite a few years ago.  I know that because it is printed in black and white, while anything from the past few years is in color.  He is a good cook and along with Sandi they practice and perfect dishes, then kindly share them out.  Nice!

The original recipe calls for “chicken parts” which could mean whatever is on sale that day.  I tend to go with a whole chicken because it is economical and any home cook clearly equates breaking down your basic chicken with cooking street creds.  And yes, this is one area where I’ve got street creds.

This arroz con pollo is another of those recipes where if you read it through first, you’ll notice that while the meat is cooking you can chop the vegetables, and while the vegetables cook,  you can get out the spices and open the canned tomatoes and wine (ok, you may want to open that wine earlier, but still), and by the time they are all cooking happily together,  you can clean up the chopping board, read the mail, and enjoy another glass of wine.  Once again, nice.

Serves 6 to 8 with leftovers.

Ingredients:

2 TBS olive oil

1 1/2 lb chicken parts or 1 small chicken broken down into parts, patted dry and liberally seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb italian sausage, casings removed

1 small onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, but into 1/2 in dice

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground tumeric

1 can crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 bay leaf

2 cups medium grained rice, such as Goya

2 1/4 cups water

Directions:

1.  In a dutch oven or large pot, heat the oil on medium high.  Brown the chicken on all sides in batches and transfer to a platter.

2.  Brown the sausage, breaking it up into bite sized pieces.  Transfer to a platter.  Drain all but 1 TBS of the oil in the pan.

3.  Reduce heat to medium and saute the onion, pepper, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the cumin, paprika, chili powder, and tumeric to the pot, and stir.  Return the chicken and sausage to the pot and stir gently to mix evenly.

4.  Add the canned tomatoes with liquids, wine, and bay leaf to the pot.  Increase the heat to medium – high and cook for 2 minutes.

5.  Add rice and water.  Stir.  Bring to a boil, cover,and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook until the rice is done and the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.  If excess liquid remains at that time, remove the lid and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.

6.  Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.  Serve.

Notes:

  • I cut the chicken breasts in half so they are of a similar size and cooking time as the other parts.
  • This was served with a simple salad of romaine and spicy ranch dressing.  For the dressing, just add some salsa to ranch dressing and stir.
  • The cumin is the must have spice on this list.  If one of the others is not in your pantry today, no need to purchase it just for this dish.

Ribollita

Shopping while hungry is a dangerous act, but putting together the shopping list for the week while hungry allows for a bit of reasoned thought.  Needing some warming vegetarian ideas, I headed over to the Cookbooks 101 which is always a dependable source of healthy homey foods.  She had just posted the Ribollita recipe and, figuring that was some kind of sign from the blogging gods and goddesses, the ingredients were quickly added to the shopping list.  Plus, I’m a sucker for brothy soups with kale.  It adds great texture and flavor, plus you look so healthy when buying that big bunch of dark leafy greens at the store.  Call it grocery store vanity.

The recipe here is straight from the Cookbooks 101 blog, and omitting the olives was my only alteration.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Ingredients:

3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil

4 celery stalks, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 medium carrols, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 bunch kale, cut into long strips

2 cans white white beans

8 cups water

1/2 pound crustless loaf of bread

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

zest of one lemon

well chopped oily black olives (optional)

Directions:

1.  In a dutch oven over medium heat, combine the olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot, and red onion.  Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, avoiding browning.

2.  Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes thicken up a bit.

3.  Stir in 8 cups water, kale, and 3 cups of the beans.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the greens are tender, about 15 minutes.

4.  Puree the remaining beans with a bit of water until smooth.  Tear the bread into bite-sized chunks.

5.  Stir the bean puree and bread into the soup.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, 20 to 30 minutes.

6.  Stir in the salt and red pepper flakes.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  Serve with olives.

Notes:

  • This really does make a lot of soup!
  • For the bread, I just repurposed a few hoagie rolls that have been hanging out in the fridge for a few days.
  • This soup comes together quite easily.  Chop the first veggies while the pot warms, the prepare the next ingredients while those veggies cook, and so on.  A relaxing cooking experience to be sure.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Oh, how can anyone not simply love butternut squash?  Sure, it takes a bit of care, but it can even be purchased ready to steam these days at Trader Joe’s.  Somehow, my family does not yet appreciate the joys of butternut squash.  Surely this would be the remedy.

Results?  I had pretty much the whole thing to myself at home.  When sharing this dish with Renee’s family, they politely said they liked it.  But, their 13 year old son coming back for 3rds was proof that other butternut squash lovers do exist in this universe!

This was made from Giada deLaurentiis’ recipe.  Straight up.  Using only 3 of those lovely Amaretto cookies seemed a shame, until the family quickly snacked them up with no complaints.  Yes, we have the traditional wide noodles.  Between them are a lovely milky roux with fresh basil (hence the hint of green) and steamed and pureed butternut squash.  Somehow, both sweet and savory flavors come though.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 amaretti cookies, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Directions:

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet and then cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and then transfer the squash to a food processor. Add the amaretti cookies and blend until smooth. Season the squash puree, to taste, with more salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Cool slightly. Transfer half of the sauce to a blender*. Add the basil and blend until smooth. Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 more times.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna. Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Notes:

  • Honestly, I burned the first batch of butternut squash.  Medium heat?  Which medium?  On the power burner, medium burner, or simmer burners?  Low and slow is what you need here.
  • Couldn’t find no boil noodles in my discount grocer, so just got the dry noodles and cooked them al dente.
  • This makes a great little breakfast snack.  (really)

Go-To Winter Salad

Everyone needs a dish to whip up at a moment’s notice to stretch a meal for additional guests at the table or to bring to a shared meal.  Lately, this has been my “go to” salad.  It is a snap to prepare, the ingredients last nicely in the fridge for several days or even a week, and it incorporates the sweet, savory, and earthy tastes of winter.  This salad must have made it to at least three Monday Night Football social gatherings before anyone realized I kept bringing the same tasty salad week after week.  And even then, there were certainly no complaints to be heard.  The recipe as listed here is perfect for a small crowd but can be pared down as needed.   While much easier to explain in sentences, here we go in the traditional recipe format:

Ingredients:

12 to 16 oz lettuce (spring mix or butter lettuce work best,  romaine nor iceberg do so well in this salad)

2 to 3 tart apples, cored and diced

6 oz Maytag blue cheese, crumbled

1 cup pecans halves, toasted (optional)

1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 TBS Dijon mustard

2 TBS sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  Prepare vinaigrette by mixing olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper.

2.  Place lettuce in a large bowl and add just enough vinegrette to coat the leaves lightly.  Gently mix the greens, adding vinegrette as needed.

3.  Add apples, blue cheese, pecans and dried cranberries.  Toss lightly.

Notes:

  • I use a small mason jar with lid for making all of my vinaigrette.  Just add the ingredients, screw on the lid, and give it a good shake.

Turkey Salad Sandwich on Cranberry Bread

Count me in on fans of leftover turkey.  Really now, the reason for cooking a bird really is for those second and third meals.  Especially sandwiches.

Christmas dinner was a several family affair this year.  We LOVE this time together, and decided to share with a few more families which tripled the number of people at our tables.  The Big Deal of this feast is always the amazing prime rib prepared by my husband.  But, with so many at our table this year, we decided to add a deep fried turkey.  That meant left over turkey with lovely crispy skin bits.  Oh, yum!

While I wouldn’t deep fry a turkey just for this sandwich, making or purchasing cranberry bread is a must.  That cranberry bread puts this over the top!

Ingredients:

6 cups turkey meat, roughly chopped

4 hard boiled eggs

6 oz sweet gherkin pickles, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

2TBS Dijon mustard

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup light sour cream

Lettuce leaves

Cranberry bread

Directions:

1.  Peel the hard boiled eggs, remove the yolk from two of the eggs, and roughly chop.

2.  In a mixing bowl, mix together Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, and light sour cream.  Add the chopped turkey, hard boiled eggs, sweet pickles and celery and mix gently.

3.  Toast 2 slices of cranberry bread.

4.  Spread turkey salad mixture on the toasted cranberry bread, top with 2 leaves of lettuce and cover with the remaining slice of bread.

Notes:

  • The cranberry bread was made by my mom.  Thanks mom!
  • This is based on the Annie’s Turkey Salad recipe on AllRecipes.
  • Removing the yolks from half of the hard boiled eggs is just my habit.  I like the texture of the egg whites but don’t want too much yolk to muck up the texture of the salad in the end.
  • The overall flavor profile of this is of turkey first, with a few light add ins.  Some people will prefer a more even proportion of add ins to meat.
  • With the hearty bread and meaty filling, just half of the sandwich makes a perfect lunch.