Posts Tagged sea salt

Summer Veggie Pasta Sauce

raw-zucchiniI spent my childhood eating traditional tomato-based pasta sauce. When I finally moved out of my family home and started to enjoy cooking, I decided I wanted to explore a bigger variety of sauces for my pasta. This sauce is especially nice in the summer, using zucchini, pancetta, and peas. Combine these delicious vegetables with butter, dry white wine and parmesan cheese, and it’s a real feast.

 

Ingredients

1 lb. cooked pasta

4 garlic cloves, chopped

4 oz. pancetta

1 cup zucchini, chopped

1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed

1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. olive oil

5 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tbsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried basil

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio)

Juice of one lemon

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese plus more for serving (I like to use the grated in the sauce and the shaved for serving)

Directions

The first order of business is to bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, cook until al denté (most of the time this runs from 7-10 minutes after the rolling boil has started). Then drain and set aside. While this process is going on, you can work on your sauce.

Add the chopped pancetta to a large sauté pan and cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Then add the chopped zucchini, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until it begins to soften. Add the thawed peas at the very end of this process and sauté for about 3 additional minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, and sauté for 1-2 minutes until it turns golden and becomes fragrant. Then add the white wine, lemon juice, butter, thyme and basil. Cook for another two minutes or until the butter is completely melted.

Return the vegetables to the pan with the sauce and sauté for an additional minute or two. Then, add the pasta and toss with the Parmesan cheese to heat through.

This is a good time to give it a taste test for saltiness (the pancetta is salted and the cheese will also add a bit of saltiness to the dish). Add salt and pepper to taste.

You are ready to enjoy!

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Pan-Seared Scallops

Pan-Seared Sea ScallopsSeafood is something Susan and I don’t have an opportunity to enjoy nearly enough. That’s because our kids think it’s something exotic (unless we’re talking about Tuna Melts). I love most fish, but I especially love shellfish. Scallops may be expensive, but they are so versatile and so delicious that the price doesn’t seem to matter much.

Although most people don’t understand this, there’s a difference between regular sea scallops and what they call “dry” sea scallops. The dry version is much easier to sear in a skillet, although this dish can be made with either version. So, my recommendation is that you don’t shy away simply because you cannot find “dry” scallops. Just be sure to rinse the scallops and pat them dry before pan searing them.

Depending upon where you buy your scallops, you may have to remove the muscle. I usually buy mine at my local grocer, and the muscle is already removed.

This is a great dish that comfortably serves three. I’m sure you will absolutely love it.

Ingredients

1.5 lbs “dry” sea scallops

2 tbsp Canola oil

6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 tbsp fresh thyme

sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1.5 cups Basmati rice

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup water

Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper (to taste)

Directions

Heat a skillet on medium-high. Add the 2 tbsp Canola oil. When heated, add 2 tbsp of the butter. Once melted and bubbling, add the scallops in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Sear on one side for 2-3 minutes. Turn each one and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes, or until the scallops become translucent. You can check this by looking at the sides of the scallops. Once done, remove the scallops to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Place them in a warmed oven to keep warm.

While you are cooking the scallops, you should be cooking the rice. Add the 2 cups of chicken broth, one cup of water and the 1.5 cups of rice. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook until the rice is done and the water is absorbed.

Once you have removed the scallops from the skillet, add the wine, the lemon juice and the thyme. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the 4 tbsp butter one tablespoon at a time. Cook until it is slightly reduced. If you feel you need more wine, please feel free to add it.

When the rice is done, divide it into three plates. Place the scallops on top of the rice, then pour the sauce on top of the scallops and rice.

Again, I cannot emphasize enough that this type of dish isn’t an exact science. The idea is to have the plain cooked rice and the scallops on top, with the sauce poured over the whole shebang. It is simply delicious.

 

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Rub n’ Slather Ribs

BBQ RibsI’m calling these Rub n’ Slather Ribs because they are cooked in two stages. Overall, these ribs take about four hours to cook at a low temperature of 250 degrees. The first stage is to cook them for two hours after applying a rub. After the first two hours, you add barbecue sauce and cook for an additional two hours.

I really dislike store-bought barbecue sauce. It doesn’t matter what the brand is; the stuff just doesn’t taste good to me. One of the things I dislike about them is the “smoke” taste. If you, on the other hand, like that smoky flavor, you can simply add “Liquid Smoke” to the homemade barbecue sauce.

The rub calls for an ingredient called Vulcan’s Fire Salt. This indispensable little condiment can be ordered from The Spice House, and it’s one of the things I keep in my spice cabinet. If you don’t have it or don’t want to wait to try these, you can always use a Cajun spice — which can be purchased at your local supermarket. The barbecue sauce also calls for a bit of a specialty product called Slap Ya Mama. You can also replace that with a Cajun spice. However, I highly recommend that you get both of these and stock this stuff.

This recipe works with both baby back ribs and regular ribs.

Ingredients

3.5-4 lbs pork ribs (baby back or otherwise)

Ingredients for Pig Rub

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp white pepper

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 tsp coriander

2 tsp Vulcan’s Fire Salt

1 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Ingredients for Pork Slather Barbecue Sauce

16 oz tomato sauce

4 tbsp tomato paste

1/3 cup ketchup

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tbsp Slap Ya Mama Cajun spice

1 tbsp dry mustard

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp onion powder

3 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp fresh-ground black pepper

1.5 tsp sea salt

Directions

Mix together all the ingredients for both the rub. Be sure to mix well.

Prepare the ribs by cutting the top flap off each rack of ribs. Keep for use in another recipe, like say, a black bean soup (which I promise to get to).

Line baking dishes with aluminum foil (depending upon how many racks of ribs you’re cooking). Apply the rub liberally to both the underside and the top of the ribs. The idea here is to have absolutely none left over.

Place in the foil-lined baking dish(es) and cook for two hours, uncovered, at 250 degrees.

While the ribs are cooking, mix all of the ingredients together for the barbecue sauce. Whisk at the end to ensure that everything is incorporated.

At the end of two hours, remove the ribs from the oven and slather the top with barbecue sauce. Be sure to cover the whole area using a brush. Cover the ribs with aluminum foil and return to the oven for another two hours. After two hours, remove the aluminum foil and switch the oven to “Broil.” Leave the ribs in for an additional 5-8 minutes. Be sure to put the oven hood on and open a window. I’ve set off many a smoke detector with this kind of behavior.

 

 

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Greek Lemon Chicken Nos. 1 and 2

Greek Lemon ChickenThis is one of my all-time favorite dishes, and there’s more than one way to make it. Therefore, I’m posting both recipes here, listed as numbers 1 and 2. The baking instructions are the same, as you will see.

Greek Lemon Chicken incorporates some of the greatest spices on the planet, like oregano, thyme and rosemary. And let’s not forget the lemon, which is amazing. I’m not going to tell you which one is my favorite because I cannot choose between the two. If I could, there would only be one recipe here. So, don’t go thinking that I like the recipe labeled no. 1 better. It just worked out that way!

For this dish, I use bone-in chicken as opposed to boneless chicken. And I use everything but chicken breast.

Ingredients for Greek Lemon Chicken No. 1

2.5-3 lbs bone-in chicken pieces (wings, thighs and drumsticks)

3/4 cup lemon juice

2 tbsp dried oregano

2 tbsp dried thyme

2 tbsp dried rosemary

2 tbsp lemon zest

1.5 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp Kosher or sea salt

2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

1/4 cup canola oil

Directions for Greek Lemon Chicken No. 1

Here’s where that Good Seasons cruet that I always talk about comes in handy. Check out the Kitchen Accessories page on this blog. Place all the ingredients in the cruet and shake like you mean it.

Take a toothpick and poke holes in both the top and undersides of the chicken pieces. Place them in a resealable plastic bag with the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight. Be sure to turn the chicken by squeezing the bag every once in a while to ensure that all the pieces spend time in the marinade.

Bake for 1 hour in a preheated 350-degree oven. After an hour, turn the heat up to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes to “crisp” the chicken.

Ingredients for Greek Lemon Chicken No. 2

For this version of Greek Lemon Chicken, you are basically making a “rub.”

2.5-3 lbs bone-in chicken (wings, thighs and drumsticks)

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp garlic powder

2 tbsp onion powder

3 tbsp dried thyme

3 tbsp dried oregano

3 tbsp dried rosemary

1 tbsp Kosher or sea salt

1 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

3 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning

Zest of one lemon (reserve the lemon)

1 additional lemon, cut into thin slices

Directions for Greek Lemon Chicken No. 2

Mix the garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, oregano. salt, pepper, lemon pepper seasoning, and lemon zest together to make a rub. Rub each piece of chicken on both sides with olive oil and apply the rub. Then, wrap each piece individually in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and allow the chicken pieces to absorb the flavors for a minimum of 6 hours or, preferably, overnight.

When you are ready to bake the chicken, unwrap the pieces and place them in a baking dish. Poke holes in each piece with a toothpick, and squeeze the lemon you zested on top of the chicken. Cut the additional lemon into thin slices and place them on top of the chicken.

Bake for 1 hour in a preheated 350-degree oven. After an hour, increase the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional hour to “crisp” the chicken.

Discard the lemon slices that may have burned prior to serving. Otherwise, you can serve it with them on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Paella Mixta

Paella MixtaI just perfected my recipe over the weekend. We had a celebration dinner for my sister, who just finished up a grueling schedule of straight chemo and chemo/radiation, so I wanted to make something very special for her and those who have helped her get through this. Paella is the perfect dish because it combines both meat and fish. It originated in the fields of a region of Spain called Valencia, which is on the east coast.

When I went tooling around the web way back when I first started to think about putting this together, I found one person who complained about a recipe being nothing more than “rice with stuff in it.” I started thinking about this and determined that it’s a perfect description for Paella. So, frankly, I don’t know what his problem was. It’s also a great description for Jambalaya (which I promise to add very soon, since I have a great recipe in my head for that).

I would recommend you purchase a Paella pan. You could, of course, use a large all-purpose skillet, but a Paella pan is just perfect and can be used for other things…like Jambalaya!

Ingredients

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs. cut in 1-inch pieces

1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 oz chorizo cut into 1/4-inch slices and peeled

8 oz Serrano ham, diced

1/2 lb squid rings

1/2 lb langostinos (Chilean lobster tails)

20 mussels, cleaned and debearded

1 cup red. yellow and orange bell peppers, seeded and chopped

1 Spanish onion, chopped

1.5 cups frozen petite peas, thawed

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes

2.5 cups short-grained rice (Valencia preferred)

1/2 cup dry white wine

6-7 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup lemon juice

3 dried bay leaves

1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro

1 tbsp smoked paprika

30 strands of saffron threads

2 tbsp minced garlic

Directions

Place the saffron threads and 1/4 cup of hot water in a bowl and all it it to sit for about 15-20 minutes to steep. Heat oil in a 15-18″ Paella pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper. Add the chicken, shrimp, ham, squid rings, and chorizo to he pan and cook until brown, remembering to turn occasionally. You don’t want it to burn. Remove the shrimp and squid rings to a plate, leaving the meats in the pan.

Add the paprika, garlic, bay leaves, tomatoes, chopped peppers and onions to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften. This should take about 6 minutes. Add the wine, lemon juice, saffron broth and chicken broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil over high heat.

Now, add the rice and distribute it evenly with a spoon. Add peas and return the squid rings to the concoction. Cook without stirring until the rice has absorbed a good portion of the liquid. This should take about 12 minutes. Your Paella pan will definitely be bigger than the burner, so it’s important that you turn the pan every couple of minutes to ensure that the rice cooks evenly. Do not worry if the rice “burns” a bit on the bottom. This is perfect. It’s one of the important things that happens with Paella. Adds to the incredible flavor.

Turn the heat down to “low” and add the reserved shrimp. Give the concoction one stir. Nestle the mussels into the liquid (hinge side down). Allow it to cook without stirring until the mussels have opened, the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is al dente. This should take about 5-10 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the burner and cover with aluminum foil. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes before serving. This is crazy good stuff.

 

 

 

 

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