Category Archives: What’s For Dinner

It’s What’s For Dinner: photos, inspiration, recipes

Madeleine Scallops

My friend Maureen turned me on to this new kitchen tool… a shrimp / scallop pan.  This pan goes in the oven, and had little divots for the shrimp or scallop to hold the garlic butter or other flavor agents.  It’s true I own a lot of kitchen gear and tools.  (I just can’t help myself.)  These days however I have to think twice before buying more gear.

I just got through making a batch of Madeleine’s (you know the little shell shaped cake-like cookies), with my special Madeleine pan.  When Maureen showed me this pan online, I thought maybe I could get another use out of my single-use Madeleine pan.  So I thought I’d try her baked scallops…. and while I was at, why not play in the kitchen.

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So I made a variety of different versions – 2 each, one for myself and my husband.

We had fun with combinations like:

  • jalapeno butter
  • chile sauce + mayo
  • garlic, parsley, lemon butter
  • tomato, yogurt, salsa verde
  • chili oil, cilantro
  • BBQ spice
  • yogurt, chili

The fun part was I could have done all kinds of other combinations I thought of afterward.  They were fun to make… and to eat.

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So… what did I think of the pan idea?  Truth is, it was kinda cool and very fun.

The part I didn’t like was I lost all those great juices when I transferred them to my serving spoons, as I didn’t want to serve in the pan.  If I tried to pour the juices out, I lost all the scallops.

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So instead, I wound up with no juice / dry scallops.  My favorite combinations were those where the juice ‘stuck’, like the yogurt based ones.  I’d definitely try it again, as I thought it was fun… but next time I’ll just bake them in my spoons. (I wonder if they are oven proof?).

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Marinaded seabass with summer squash skewers

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We actually made this dish camping, which gives you an idea of how easy it was.

I made the marinade for the seabass at home and put in a baggie to marinade the seabass filet:

  • sugar
  • soy
  • water
  • sake
  • chili sauce

For the veg, I stacked 3 thin slices of summer squash on top of one another, then rolled and skewered…. alternating radish in between each summer squash roll.  I marinaded the skewers in a salsa verde, and drizzled with oil.

At dinner time we grilled the seabass and the summer squash skewers for a perfect summer time outdoor meal outside a great setting… see here.

Salmon with Yogurt Sauce and Mango Salsa

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I must confess I enjoyed this dish more than I expected.

While I was going to make a salad side, I decided to use some of my wonderful very ripe fresh tomatoes in a new way.  I had plain yogurt in the fridge, so I smeared that on the plate, along with dollops of salsa verde, and then topped with sliced large and cherry tomatoes, that I well salted.

For the salmon, I seasoned it and cooked it on the grill on the skin side for around 8 minutes (dependent on thickness of salmon), with lid on grill closed to allow to bake.

I also had a mango, and fixings for a salsa.  So I diced up the mango, tomato, green onion, and jalapeno for fresh spicy fruit salsa to top the salmon.

Between the luscious salmon, spicy fruity salsa, and creamy yogurt with fresh tomatoes and garlicky herby salsa verde… it was a hit!  I will definitely make this again, and hopefully sooner rather than later.

Souffle

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I never would have guessed I’d be a souffle gal.  Who knew?!  But they have become a special celebratory treat around here.

I guess I was intimidated, early on, by the separating the eggs, whisking the whites to soft peaks, and folding it together… never opening the oven, and having it fall.  Now that seems silly.

I use a great recipe from my food hero, Jacques Pepin.  I think I first saw it in his fantastic memoir, The Apprentice.  It’s his mothers, Maman’s, souffle recipe.  In this version you don’t even have to separate the eggs or mess with any of that.  It’s super simple.  You basically make a béchamel (butter, flour, milk), add cheese, and eggs.  Bake.  As easy as that.  Serve with a nice green salad… and champagne.

Jacques Maman’s Souffle

  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 6 T flour
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. white pepper

Melt butter.  Whisk in flour.  Slowly add milk, whisking in to make homogenous mixture. Mix until smooth and thick.  Season with salt, pepper, chives, and nutmeg.

  • 2-1/2 c. gruyere cheese
  • 5 eggs

Off heat, mix cheese into béchamel until melted.  Whisk together eggs, and slowly add, whisking constantly, so as not to cook eggs.

Bake 400F for 30-40 min.

 

Jalapeno Butter stuffed shrimp

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When I first saw this recipe I thought, ‘ what a fiery mess this could be ‘.  Just think about it… you make a compound butter of jalapeno, butter, garlic, and lemon zest… then stuff it under the shell of the shrimp… then grill.  All I could think was that the butter would fuel the fire for our flaming entertainment.

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As it turns out, that wasn’t entirely the case.

So let me take pause and step back.

First, you clean your shrimp.. leaving the shells on, but cut at the top.

Make a compound butter:

  • 4 finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1/2 stick softened butter
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon

Stuff the butter into and under the slit shell, both sides.  Then refrigerate until ready to grill, at least 30 minutes.

Then salt the outside all over… and GRILL.

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The grilled shrimp were messy and had to peel at the table… but other than that, they were delicious, flavorful, fun, and yummy.  Definitely a make-again.

 

The Best Ciabatta Bread

You know, as long as I have been doing this blog, I don’t ever recall post a bread recipe.  I can’t say why, as we certainly make our fair share of bread.  I guess I don’t think of it as a meal.

As engineers, we have tested and documented countless pizza doughs for our pizza’s.  We have settled on a Mugnaini dough that we are very pleased with.  Recently we discovered, quite by accident, this amazing ciabatta bread recipe.  If someone asked me ‘what is your favorite bread?’.  I would easily and without hesitation say ‘ciabatta’.  I love the soft airiness, the big holes, and the exterior crunch.

If you love ciabatta like I do… this recipe is for you.

I found the recipe here… http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2984/jasons-quick-coccodrillo-ciabatta-bread

So you can read all the specific details there.  This dough is like soup… they refer to it as a pancake batter consistency, and I can’t argue that.  It’s a pretty basic bread recipe – flour, salt, yeast, water.  It differs in it’s way of building gluten by mixing in the stand mixer for an entire 20 minutes.  In this time the bread transforms from a soup to a sticky dough.

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It results in an amazing, light, holey bread.  It’s awesome.  I can’t wait to try it again.  As a matter of fact… I’d like to try it as a pizza dough.  Hmmmm.

Note… if you do make this great bread, the recipe is in grams.  I weighed and measured all the ingredients I used and thought there was a mistake when my 15 grams of salt measured almost 2 Tablespoons of salt.  But I followed the weight measures exactly… and it came out great.  So just follow the recipe, and you will be pleased with your results.

Here were my weighed conversions:

  • 3-1/2 cups Italian ’00’ Caputo flour (or use bread flour)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 T + 2 t. salt

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Salmon Ceviche

I do love fish.  It breaks my heart that so many people don’t.  Too fishy, I hear.  Then you shouldn’t buy it… fish shouldn’t be fishy.  Their loss, I guess.  More for me.

Not only do I love all kinds of cooked fish, I like it cooked all ways… sautéed, grilled, baked, smoked, and cured.  Cured fish is made by ‘cooking’ it with acid – lemon and/or lime and salt.  You can make gravlox… a whole filet cured over 36 hours, using zest and salt / sugar flavored brine… or a quick cure, as in ceviche.

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In this preparation of ceviche, I cut up the fresh salmon into cubes and added the zest and juice of 2 limes.  I added cut up green onion, jalapeno, tomato, cucumber, salt, and a touch of olive oil.

I served it with nori chips.  It was excellent.