Tag Archives: seafood

December 2016 Cooking Wrap-Up

Cooking wise, if not in other respects, 2016 has been a successful year.

I made a second sourdough starter with canned pineapple juice and whole wheat flour and then made some great breads with it. I thickened it up quite a bit compared to the one I made in 2105 and that may have accounted for some of the success. Experience helped as well, as I’m less hesitant about trying new sourdough recipes. I did revisit the old stand-by, regular yeast, and made a delicious honey challah just before Christmas. Definitely something I’ll be repeating next year.

Bacon, Cheddar Cheese and Cracked Black Pepper Sourdough loaf and round Honey Challah

Crumb of the challah

Cooking on an even stricter budget than ever before resulted in having to be creative with simple ingredients bought on sale, like chicken, pork and ground beef, or leftovers, and the results were mostly successful. You’ll have to scroll back through the posts to see them. I do miss fish, seafood and steak however. I’m also grocery shopping less often and there’s less wastage as I try to use up what’s most perishable first. I’m also going back to basics with the dishes I’ve been making such as cookies and fudge. I haven’t been buying as many jarred sauces as in the past, while using up the ones I already have in things like stir-fries.

The meat sauce I made recently with a simple spaghetti sauce base was delicious as well as economical.  One pound of ground beef was stretched to make eight cups of sauce.

I turned some leftover mashed sweet potato into muffins with raisins for added sweetness using a recipe found on Rachel Ray’s web site.

And because I missed seafood … I bought a package of mussels in garlic sauce on sale, and one of cooked shrimp, and made this pasta dish with the spaghetti sauce.

Repeated … Asian Themed Dishes

I’ve been craving sushi again … and you know what THAT means.

I make a bunch of my favourite Chinese and Japanese dishes, take pictures of them and share them with you all.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake) – I diced some fake crab legs (surimi) and added it to the pancake mixture. The cooked strips of bacon are added to the top of the pancake before it’s flipped over and the top is cooked. I’m wrapping the two I made and freezing them away for future meals.

Szechuan shrimp and broccoli over longevity lo mein noodles – 3/4 of a pound of white Pacific shrimp in a spicy sweet and sour type sauce. I bought a bundle of broccoli cheap (88 cents). It was most mostly stem and very little florette so I threw in all the florettes and froze some of the stem for vegetable stock.

Sticky Asian drumsticks

Sushi hand rolls (temaki sushi) – A shiso (perilla) leaf gives these hand rolls a great fresh flavour. And they’re so inexpensive. Cook up a cup of sushi rice and you have enough rice for 8-10 hand rolls.

All you need is a drizzle of soy sauce before devouring these beauties.

Mushroom and Shrimp Linguine for Valentine’s Day

This was going to be a mushroom linguine but as it was Valentine’s Day, I decided to splurge and add some large Black Tiger shrimp to the dish.

Mushroom (and Shrimp)** Linguine – 4 servings

340 g linguine
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
2-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 pkgs (454 g) white button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup (250 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup (75 mL) whipping cream 35%
2 tsp (10 mL) grated lemon zest
2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground black pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley or 2 tsp dried parsley

** Peel and devein 1 pound of shrimp

In large pot of boiling lightly salted water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid, drain.

Meanwhile, in large nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat; saute garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add (shrimp,) mushrooms and thyme; saute until the mushrooms are softened, about 3 minutes (and the shrimp are red).

Stir in pasta, reserved cooking liquid, Parmesan cheese, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice and black pepper; cook, stirring, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Stir in parsley if using fresh. If using dried, reserve 1/2 tsp for garnish.

Serve with more grated Parmesan cheese on top if you’d like as well as the dried parsley.

Dessert was a white chocolate panna cotta with a raspberry coulis.

For the coulis, I combined 1/2 cup of raspberries with 1 tbsp of coarse sugar and 1 tbsp of lemon juice, pureed it and then strained out the seeds. A fast and elegant presentation.

Japanese Trio

I’ve had a sushi craving for a while now, but the budget doesn’t allow for an outing as I’m saving up for b’day dim sum next weekend. So, I dug into my freezer (duh!) for a couple of ingredients.

No recipes cause they’re all things I’ve posted YEARS ago, so you’ll have to go looking. (I’ll try to add links back to the recipes.)

I started with a savoury pancake, okonomiyaki, which features shredded cabbage (I used a bagged coleslaw mix as a time-saver) and sliced surimi aka fake crab ‘legs’. Instead of the sauce from the recipe, you can use bbq, tonkatsu or eel sauce, as I did.

Following up with inari sushi, which are seasoned fried tofu pockets filled, traditionally with sushi rice. I topped them with spicy fake crab legs and egg salad. I was tempted to make a third topping of tuna salad but I’d made too much of the other two toppings for the leftover inari from the can which I’d frozen away. For an interesting and tasty variation, you can fill your tofu pockets with somen noodle salad.

The spicy crab was garnished with masago (capelin roe) and the egg salad with shichimi togarashi (chili pepper condiment).The inari was served with the last of my sake. The bottle is pretty too. 🙂

And since I had a couple of cups of leftover cooked sushi rice, I decided to make a donburi or rice bowl. For a topping, I used one of the larger chicken cutlets/katsu made previously and an egg poached in the simmering sauce. I only used 1 cup of the rice so I think I’ll freeze away the rest. The only recipe you need is for the simmering sauce as the topping choices for the rice bowl are very flexible.

The egg stuck to the bottom of the pan while poaching so I lost a lot of the yolk to the simmering sauce. Oh well. What was there was still somewhat runny, the way I like it.

Romanian-Themed Christmas Eve Supper: Fasole Batuta (Mashed White Beans) and Bacalao (Salt Cod)

My mom did 99% of the cooking at our house. However, one dish that my dad could, and did make, twice a year, was the white beans that were featured in this menu. I’ve not been able to find it in any of my google searches of Romanian dishes so I wonder if the pairing of mashed white beans (Great Northern, navy, or cannellini) and soaked salt cod was unique to our family.

Pieces of dry, salted cod would be soaked overnight in several changes of cold water, placed in the bottom of a baking dish and then the pureed cooked and seasoned beans would be layered on top. The dish would be baked at 350 deg F for about half an hour, and then my dad would pour 2-3 tablespoons of oil flavoured with fried onions and paprika over the top and serve large spoonfuls to each of us. A white bean and noodle soup, made with the bean cooking liquid and a cup or so of mashed beans, would precede the beans and cod.

I decided to break up the pairing and instead serve 3 separate dishes: the soup mentioned above, a mashed white bean dip/spread and salt cod cakes. And because I thought I might still be hungry, I made a quick pasta dish with jarred sauce and a seafood medley.

Appetizers/Bread

Fasole batuta cu ceapa caramelizata (Mashed White Beans with Caramelized Onions)

I made the rolls from a recipe posted on a FB bread baking group I belong to.

Salted Cod Cakes

Soup

White bean and noodle soup

Main/Pasta

Florentine Seafood Medley over Fettuccine

Memorial plate … buns and dried Romanian sausage

Waiting for Mos Craciun (Santa Claus)

Basic Marinara Sauce and Seafood Medley Marinara over Fettuccine

If you’re fortunate enough to have the freezer space, make a batch of marinara sauce, portion it out in 1 or 2 cup amounts and you’ll have the start of many great meals at your fingertips. Need ideas? This Food Network web site has 50 of them to start you off.

There are as many marinara sauce recipes as there are households in Italy, as far as I can tell.

The recipe below is an adaptation of Giada de Laurentiis’ though I’ve made several additions, as well as greatly reducing the amount of extra virgin olive oil she uses (1/2 cup!!).

Pureed and more rustic versions of the marinara sauce

I decided to combine 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce posted below with some chicken stock to thin it down, 300 grams of a frozen seafood medley (shrimp, octopus, clams and squid) and 250 grams of cooked pasta for a fast meal for 3. I threw in 4 oz of diced cremini mushrooms left over from shopping for another dish though it wasn’t really necessary.

All that seafood looks delicious, doesn’t it?

The finished dish

Basic Marinara Sauce – makes 9 cups of sauce

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 cups ground tomatoes
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 dried bay leaves
sugar, as needed

In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the celery, carrots, garlic, and the salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, dried basil and dried oregano, and simmer partially covered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.

Remove and discard the bay leafs. Taste and if too acidic or bitter, add 1/2 tsp sugar, stir through and taste again, adding more if needed.

Season the tomato sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.

If you like a bit of spice, you can add some dried red pepper flakes to the individual containers depending on the recipe you use the marinara for.

Cool, then cover and refrigerate. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead.) Rewarm over medium heat before using.

NOTE: You may choose to puree the sauce when cooled a bit for a more refined sauce. I did so with half the batch but kept the remainder more ‘rustic’ in texture.