Tag Archives: shellfish

Seared Scallops with Butternut Squash / Sage Puree and Prosciutto crisp


Seafood is our go to  celebratory meal.  So when we were in Flagstaff, we picked up some beautiful fresh scallops from Whole Foods for a delightful seared scallop dish.

First I roasted a butternut squash in the oven at 400F until golden brown and tender.  I sautéed some onion and garlic, then added half the roasted butternut squash, cubed into chunks.  I seasoned with sage, thyme, and salt, then added about a cup of chicken broth to make a thick broth.  After that reduced a bit, I added just a splash of cream, then  puree’d it to a smooth consistency.

I sautéed prosciutto pieces to crispy…. and seared the scallops in the prosciutto oil.

To plate, I put a nice smear of butternut squash puree on the plate, added the scallops and topped with herbs and fresh tomatoes, garnishing with my prosciutto crisps.

Yum!  Worth of a celebratory meal.


Mushroom Ragout

It’s mushroom season again on the mountain, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  We just love the idea of foraging for our food.  What’s not to like about a nice walk in the woods with something to quest for, or the excitement that results when you spot a fresh porcini, yelling out those now familiar words, “I found one!”.  It’s great fun, and makes for delicious meals and experimentation at home to make more and more interesting and amazing dishes.

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For our first mushroom feast, we made a super flavorful mushroom ragout using a mix of exotic mushrooms like oyster and porcini.  We started by sautéing onion and garlic, to which we added our diced mushroom medley.  We then deglazed with a bit of wine.  Once that was evaporated we added a cup of chicken broth and let that simmer until reduced.  Finally we added 1/2 c. whipping cream and a variety of chopped herbs.

We served the mushroom ragout over a bed of creamy polenta (4 parts liquid to 1 part polenta).  We simmer 1 c. milk + 1 c. chicken broth, then add 1/2 c. polenta and simmer, stirring constantly until the polenta starts to pull away from the side.  Then we add butter, parmesan cheese, whipping cream, and herbs.

Finally we grilled some shrimp to put over the top.  But honestly, the shrimp was overkill.  The polenta and mushroom ragout were enough… and with plenty of deliciousness of their own.

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.


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.


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?).


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.


Clams and Chorizo in wine

What’s better than fresh clams and chorizo taking a bath together in a glass of wine?  I don’t know either.  The clams are delicate and briney… the chorizo spicy and hot.  It’s this crazy combination that just works.clams copyPSi.JPG

I sautéed some onion, garlic, red peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and chorizo until translucent.. then added the clams and a glass of white wine.  I put a little lemon in for good measure, and put the lid on until the clams started to pop open.  Served with crusty bread… and it’s a meal.

Mussels – PineNeedle Smoked & Mexican Style

Why is it so hard to get good mussels?  Maybe because we are in AZ?  Yet, I can make my own so easily… and so perfectly.  So many people are afraid to make shellfish (mussels and clams) at home.  Maybe they are afraid they will get sick from them if not prepared right.  The only time I have ever gotten sick from shell fish has been from restaurants.  I would argue that making them at home offers us the opportunity to cull off any questionable or unopened mussels to assure that you don’t get sick… something I can’t be sure a restaurant does.  Moreover, so often restaurant mussels aren’t cooked fresh and often overcooked and mealy tasting.  Bleh.

We get a bag at Costco… keep them on ice, and take them home and cook them right away.

We cook the whole bag, even though it’s too much for the two of us, but we use the cooked leftovers for curried mussel soup or other preparations that might call for cooked, just warmed through mussels.

Cooking the whole bag also gives us the opportunity to cook the mussels in multiple preparations… so here are two… and I’ll post another for the leftover mussels.

Maybe you’ve heard of smoked mussels.  They yield this smokey, wonderful flavor to the delicate mussels.  They are just great.  We have tried various recipes that sorta worked… even building apparatus (nails on boards to hold them upright), with awkward results.  Here’s our simple method that works really well… and deliciously.

Pine Needle Smoked Mussels:

Here on the mountain, pine needles are plentiful.  They can be found everywhere and anywhere.  This time of year the pine needles are well dried.  So we can easily scoop them up and pile them atop our grill (they should be well dried – I actually collect pine cones and pine needles fresh and allow them to dry all year, and use them for fire starter and smoking throughout the year).  Don’t light the propane on your grill… no charcoal… just lay the mussels atop the dried pine needles, and light the pine needles directly.

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Once they start to open,  pull them off with tongs one by one as they open.  If they don’t open, throw them out.  Be aware, if you cook them long enough the fire will burn through the shells.


Arrange them on a platter… smoked mussels.  They are juicy, smoky, and amazingly delicious.  We served these as a first course / appetizer prior to the main course mussels.

Mexican Style Mussels:

I often will do your traditional mussels – onion, garlic, wine, lemon, tomato, parsley… but I easily bore of same, same.  So this time I opted to do a mexican style mussel using the same basic principle.

I made a mexican style roasted salsa (which by the way is good on anything, including just with chips).  I soaked a variety of dried chilies in hot water: ancho, guajillo, arbol to rehydrate.  Meanwhile I set out my veg to grill: halved onion, jalapeno, and halved tomatoes (~3-4).  I drizzled oil and salt of the veg and grilled them until charred.  Then I cut the stem off the grilled jalapeno and the soaked rehydrated chilies, and put everything in the food processor to puree.  Add salt and a little lime (add chicken broth or chile soaking liquid, if you want a little more liquidous).  Season / adjust to taste.  Once you make this salsa… you’ll be making it again.. and using it as dip!

With my roasted salsa made, I was ready to start the mussels.

In traditional style, I sautéed onion, garlic, a little red chile flake (as if I needed it), chopped tomato, and white wine (1/2 – 1 cup)… simmer briefly, then added a couple large dollops of my roasted salsa… and then added the mussels and covered.

I turned the mussels a few times to make sure they were cooking evenly.. and then recovered.. checking on them until most were opened.  Those that don’t open get pitched.


I sprinkled a little cilantro over top.. and served them with fresh toasted bread… to soak up all that spicy wonderful broth.  Wow!  I have a new favorite mussel preparation.




Curried Mussel Steam

Well… I got my new Point & Shoot camera, a Canon S120.

After my bad Lumix went belly-up in a simple puff of steam, my new camera was put to it’s first test via steamed curried mussels.  It took picture after picture and it just said… ‘ooh, stretch my shutter’.


I love mussels.  We usually make them the traditional method, with white wine, scallions, broth, etc.

I felt like something a little zippier.  The Slanted Door cookbook has a wonderful looking curried mussel recipe.   I looked at the long list of ingredients (and the clock) and decided to make my own.  Making your own curry from scratch isn’t hard… yes, it’s a lot of ingredients and prep, but mostly just chopping, grinding, and simmering.  That being said, I find opening a can of Thai curry paste that has all the ‘stuff’ to be very easy and delicious.  I like the Maesri brand Panang red curry paste.

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Ironically I still added a lot of ‘stuff’ to it.  I started off by sautéing chopped onion, garlic, and ginger while my husband cleaned the mussels (my hero).  Then I put the whole can of curry paste in my large wok with the sautéed onions.  I added a can of coconut milk + 1 c. chicken broth.  Then I added some kaffir lime leaf (I keep in a bag frozen in the freezer), 1 lemongrass stalk, chopped into 6 large pieces (I also keep in the freezer), 1 c. grape tomatoes cut in half, and a 1/2 bunch chopped cilantro. I squeeze 2 limes into the broth to bring the balance out.  I tasted it and it was spicy deliciousness.

You don’t have to put all the additives in… but I had them available, and they add a brightness to the broth.  If you don’t like it hot cut back on the curry paste and keep the remainder in a jar in the refrigerator for another use.

By the time the curry broth had come to a full simmer for several minutes, the mussels were ready to take a warm bath.  Oh, my.  What a great dish.  We couldn’t stop eating them.  Absolutely delicious and wonderfully flavorful.