Lemon and Scallop Carpaccio

14th April, 2011: Posted by G.L. Pease in Moderate, Starters, seafood

There’s little that comes from the sea that I don’t love, but scallops are a particular fave, and their fresh, sweet, slightly briny flavor is always a delight, whether seared, sautéed, grilled, fried, or in a ceviche or crudo. One especially elegant approach is to serve them as a carpaccio, and that’s what this is. Sort of.

Like most seafood, scallops get along well with citrus, but it’s easy to go too far. Even in a ceviche, too much time in too much lime can easily overwhelm their delicate flavor, so it’s important to approach them simply, and with a light hand. Here, for that reason, the lemon is prepared separately in advance, sweetened and preserved by the application of a little sugar, a little salt. The scallops, sliced and lightly marinated with fresh orange juice, are served on top. The combination is fresh and delightful, making a wonderful little amuse bouche for a seafood supper.

Let’s get to it. Read more…»

Lime Cilantro Potato Salad

20th October, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Salads, Sides, easy, vegetarian

There are well over a million potato salad recipes on the net (seriously—I looked), so why am I publishing another one? Simple. This one brings some exciting flavours to the party, is healthful, vegan friendly, delicious and versatile. It can be put together quickly and served warm with a casual supper, or chilled for a picnic.

I use habanero chiles in the recipe because of their beautiful fragrance and delicious fruity flavors, but others could be substituted if these aren’t available, or are just too pungent for you. If you’re really a chile-wimp, you can leave the chiles out entirely, but a little spice really wakes things up. You can also add red or yellow bells to the basic recipe, and if fire-roasted, they add a delightful smokiness.

This is a great starting point for some serious kitchen-riffing, and, of course, I’d love to hear what you come up with. Read more…»

Campanelle al Pomodoro e Basilico

20th September, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy, pasta, vegetarian

Campanelle, little bells, are just so much fun, but even better than that, their funnel-like shape hangs onto a lot of this sugo fresco, so every bite will be a little explosion of fresh flavors. Campanelle are also sometimes known as Gigli, (lilies). If you can’t find campanelle, use fusilli or any pasta corta, like ziti, penne, or mostaccioli.

This is one of those things that isn’t really a recipe, but a place from which to jump off, to start riffing. It’s fabulous, fresh, delicious and quick, and perfect for improvisation. If you grow your own tomatoes and basil, even better, as you can build it right from the garden, and really experience the freshness. Add other greens for variety – fresh and peppery arugula is especially nice. Read more…»

Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe

7th September, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy, pasta

I’m sure I don’t have to say this, but I will anyway, just in case there is one single reader holding out for “convenience” at the expense of flavor and aroma: Throw away the jar (or, worse, the tin) of pre-ground pepper that’s been sitting on the shelf since great aunt Maude gave it to you as a house-warming present when you got your first apartment. It was as useless as a unicycle to an earthworm when it was “fresh,” and after it had seen the dawn of the new millennium, it became even more so. Bin it. Buy a decent pepper mill, some fresh peppercorns, and never, ever look back. Really.

Now that that’s sorted (and the single holdout has either stopped reading, or has gone on a quick spending expedition to get a shiny new Peugeot mill and a glass bottle of tellicherry peppercorns), we can talk about Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper), a classic Roman dish that’s almost as old as Rome itself, and universally loved. It’s quick, delicious, satisfying, and cheap as old chips to make. Go wild! Read more…»

Salt Crusted Rosemary Grilled Trout

27th August, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Light Mains, easy, seafood

There are plenty of summer weekends left ahead of us, so the opportunities for getting outside to cook are plenty. Grilled trout is one of those things that I love, but after a while, we’re all looking for ways to give it a little more gusto. Here’s one. It’s quick, simple, and best of all, absolutely delicious.

Start with beautifully fresh, cleaned and scaled trout, with the heads on so you can see their still-bright lil’ eyes. And, if their eyes are not bright, find a fish monger who isn’t trying to sell you Tuesday’s fish on Friday. Figure on one fish per person.

Rub the cavities with a little garlic, then season with a little squirt of lemon juice, and some freshly ground black pepper, and stuff them with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Then, massage the fish, front and back, with olive oil, and crust with coarsely ground sea salt. The salt will actually seal the juices in, season the flesh, and help keep the fish from sticking to the grill.

Over hot coals, or high heat if using gas, pre-heat the grill for ten minutes. You want a good sizzle when fish hits iron, so get it hot. Place the fish at an angle on the grill, cover, and sear for about a minute or so, until the fish releases easily. (If using coals, or you’ve got a heat diffuser over your gas burner, throw on some rosemary sprigs, dipped in water, to get a nice smoke going.)

Then, lift the fish carefully, and rotate them about 60Ëš, and sear, covered, for another minute or so. We’re looking for a nice grill tattoo. Turn the fish over, and repeat.

Remove to a warm plate, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for a few minutes. Fabulous! The flesh will be moist and wonderfully flavored. You can fillet them before serving, or teach your guests how to do it themselves. The whole fish, prepared this way, makes a lovely presentation. (The skins will be far too salty for all but the truly salt obsessed, so don’t serve the fish on a bed of anything, other than perhaps some sprigs of rosemary, or the bed will get salty too.)

Serve with a side of polenta and a Minted Cucumber and Tomato Salad for a lovely summer supper. Enjoy!

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Cooking in the Low Country-Purloo Ya-Ya

20th August, 2010: Posted by Daniel in Main Courses, Sides

In our last installment about Low Country Cuisine I mentioned the many similarities that Low Country and Cajun Country share. Here’s another, also based on three key elements:

  1. Rice
  2. “If it flies, it dies.”
  3. The Holy Trinity (2 parts diced onion, 1 part diced celery, 1 part diced bell pepper).

Down bayou way this dish is called Dirty Rice. In the Low Country it is called Purloo (pronounced per-low). It is also similar to Jambalaya. Once again there are serious African and Caribbean influences at work in the creation of this wonderful one pot meal or side dish. Meager amounts of meat are stretched with rice and vegetables, making for good, filling and cheap eats and a complete meal. This dish also lends itself to endless improvisation with ingredients; it’s not uncommon to see meats and seafood combined with all manner of vegetation; eggplant, squash, mushrooms, okra, tomatoes (especially green tomatoes), peas…the garden’s the limit.

Ingredients of the critter persuasion are also limited only by the cook’s imagination. Many recipes include shrimp, oysters, chicken, sausage, ham and/or bacon. The locals add whatever game that may have had the misfortune to cross their path, and livers, hearts and gizzards add a certain rustic authenticity. Read more…»

Cooking in the Low Country – Shrimp and Grits

16th August, 2010: Posted by Daniel in Main Courses, Moderate, seafood

The Low Country refers to that section of the United States that extends along the Atlantic coast from Charleston south to the Georgia-Florida border. The western edge is marked by Interstate 95. The area is blessed with wetlands, marshes, inlets, sounds, estuaries and bays. Given this rich geographical location, it is no wonder that rice, waterfowl and seafood dominate the local cuisine.

The thousands of miles of beaches and pleasant weather have helped create a unique coastal lifestyle and cuisine; a beach-side Low Country Boil is an institution that incorporates all the bounty of the region. Usually prepared over a driftwood fire with a huge pot full of corn, potatoes, sausage, crab and shrimp…all simmered in a spicy broth. The appetite seems to increase with the sea breeze, clear blue sky and the gathering of friends.

Low Country cooking also shares many common elements with Cajun cooking; the bayous of Louisiana provide many of the same ingredients, especially rice, and there are significant cultural influences from Africa and the Caribbean. Combining meats and poultry with seafood in a variety of dishes, all brought to a new flavor level with the “Holy Trinity”; onions, peppers and celery, are also similar traits in both regions. About the only difference that I’ve experienced is one of climate. Instead of a cool sea breeze, the Cajun version is served in the humid bayou country, or as the locals say; “Air You Can Wear”. Also, you’re more likely to hear the strains of accordion and Zydeco in bayou country; in the Low Country it’s apt to be music with a bit more country twang. Ice cold beer is another common element — lots of it. Read more…»

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Summer Minted Cucumber & Tomato Salad

3rd August, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Salads, easy

Our CSA farm has been providing beautiful tomatoes and cucumbers over the past couple weeks, and though there’s never really a shortage of ideas for things to do with them, here’s a great, simple summer salad that’s cool and refreshing. It’s brightened with fresh mint leaves, and a little oregano gives it a touch of the mediterranean. Don’t worry about measurements with this one, and add or subtract other ingredients as the spirit moves you. Read more…»

Eat It Before It Eats You…

22nd July, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Sides, easy, vegetarian

Every summer, it happens. Someone you know arrives at your door with an immense paper sack and a terrifying story to tell. Their soil is really rich, they explain; they’ve been cultivating it and amending with all the compost from the kitchen scraps and chicken coups. The weather has been especially good, you know. And, they forgot to prune before going on holiday, and the plants went totally out of control, stimulated by freak sunspot activity and increased gamma radiation from ozone layer depletion. And, their kid just discovered these while retrieving the dog’s ball after it had been thrown into the green danger zone where Fluffy won’t wander for fear of being devoured herself.

Yes, it’s the attack of the giant summer squash, the immense zucchini and yellow crooknecks that are almost apologetically presented to every co-worker, friend, and neighbor that can be reached by bicycle-drawn wheelbarrow. And, now, the zucchini that ate Cleveland sits menacingly on your kitchen counter, staring at you relentlessly with its unblinking green eye. What to do with it?

When these alien space squash and near-geriatric marrows reach such biblical proportions, they’re no longer really suitable for steaming or sautés, the preparations preferred for younger fruits. As they grow, they toughen and much of their sweetness is replaced by stronger, slightly more bitter flavours. But, all is not lost. Don’t just think of zucchini bread and baseball bats when these monsters invade. Roast them! It’s a great technique for imparting both tenderness and sweetness to the great beasts. Read more…»

French Vanilla Ice Cream with Blueberry/Tequila Coulis

13th July, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Desserts, easy

Cooking, eating, entertaining should be fun. For all the fuss, for all the serious talk about celebrity chefs, competitions, all the haute couture in food that’s dominating the media, it seems that a lot of people may have forgotten that what really matters is that we have fun in the kitchen, and at table. And, what’s more fun than a little surprise? So, when some friends were coming to dinner the other night, I figured I’d surprise them with something fun and simple for dessert.

Those who know me fairly well will understand that it’s already a bit surprising anytime I volunteer to take on the dessert course, as well as the rest of the meal. I tend to spend most of my time on the savory side of the kitchen, where I’m most at home, and leave the sweeties to someone else. “What can we bring?” will almost always get the same answer. “Oh, let’s see. Hmm. Hey, I know! Why don’t you bring something for dessert. I’ll take care of the rest.” It gets me off the hook. Read more…»

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