Main Course Recipes

Super Simple Shrimp Coconut Curry

While delightfully magical, planning a wedding is extremely time consuming.  I was still cooking up a storm amidst all the past magic, but I didn’t have time to photograph and post my recipes. Yes, I’m using the – “I recently got married excuse” – to justify my year long absence. So, what does this mean for you? It means you’re going to have to suffer through a few wedding pictures. It means I have plenty of tasty dishes tested and ready to publish. It means I’ll never go on a year long hiatus again.

Ryan and I got married at Journeyman Distillery in Southwest Michigan. Our families and talented friends pulled off what was without a doubt the best day of our lives. Truly magical. Pictures below!

Now onto the recipe – this curry is made up of big bold flavors. Onion, ginger and garlic give the dish a sturdy foundation.  Turmeric, coriander, curry powder, and coconut milk give the dish a wonderful depth.  Well balanced and mildly spicy. If you prefer spicier,  just add more cayenne to the shrimp marinade.

I know curry is one of those dishes often outsourced to carryout due to the “curry takes a log time to make properly” myth. Don’t believe that.  No myths or magic involved in this. It’s just simply delicious.

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Ingredients:
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 lbs extra-large shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or your preferred oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 5.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • cooked basmati rice, for serving (or your preferred grain)
Instructions:
  1. In a small bowl, toss the shrimp with the first 4 ingredients – 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, 3 tbsp lemon juice – and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  2. While the shrimp are marinating, heat the oil in a medium size pot. Add the onion, and cook for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, garlic, pepper, salt, coriander, turmeric, and curry powder.
  3. Continue to cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent, ( about another 2 minutes). Add the diced tomato. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, stir, and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Add shrimp with the accumulated juices from the marinade and cook for another 5 minutes or until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.
  4. Serve over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.
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Appetizers, Main Course Recipes

Steamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and Parsley

Steamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and Parsley

 

I don’t cook mussels at home often enough. But, I did this past Friday. It was glorious.

Elegant, affordable, readily available, and a breeze to make. From the fridge to dinner table, the mussels are ready to devour in just 20 minutes. I paired this batch with white wine, garlic, parsley and lemon. Obviously, I had some good bread to soak up the broth.

A few tips about buying, storing, and cleaning:

Buying: When you’re at the fish market, make sure the mussels are kept over ice and that their shells are glistening with moisture. The shells should be tightly closed. The mussels should smell briny, like the ocean. Mussels are living creatures, so they will still be alive when you buy them at the store. (Don’t worry, they don’t bite) Though wild mussels are available in certain markets, the vast majority of mussels you’ll find at the market are farm-raised.

Storing: Mussels are best if cooked within a few hours of purchasing. If you can’t do that, they’ll be fine for a few days in the fridge. If you need to store them, place the mussels in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel to keep the mussels protected and moist, and store in the fridge. The mussels need to breathe, so don’t store them in an airtight container or in water.

Cleaning: Mussels attach themselves to stable surfaces using thin sticky membranes referred to as “beards.”  Most farm-raised mussels will come debearded, but odds are good you’ll find a couple of stubborn beards left over.  Look for a group of short brown strings coming out on one side of the mussel where the two halves of the shell close. This is the “beard.” Grip these strings with your fingers and tug gently from side to side. As you tug, the strings will pull out and detach from the shell. If you have trouble gripping the beard with your fingers, a dry paper towel usually does the trick.

Steamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and ParsleySteamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and Parsley

 

On to the recipe …

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds mussels. Prince Edward Island (PEI) are my favorite.
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you want spicy)
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Lemon wedges, to garnish
  • Crusty bread, to serve

Directions:

  1. Rinse the mussels in a strainer and check them over. If you feel any muddy spots, rub under running water to remove.  All the mussels should be tightly closed. Discard any mussels with cracked shells. If the shell is open, tap the mussel lightly against the counter. If the shell doesn’t close in a few minutes, discard the mussel. Do a quick check for beards.  If any beards are still attached, remove and discard.
  2. Now you’re ready to start cooking. Warm butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Add shallot and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes until shallot is translucent and garlic fragrant. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  3. Add mussels to the pot and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Pour chicken broth and white wine over the mussels and immediately cover pot with lid.  Cook, covered, for 5 minutes.  Shake the pan once or twice while cooking (with the lid on) to distribute mussels.
  4. After 5 minutes, the mussels should be fully cooked and open.  If not, return the lid to the pot and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Add lemon juice and fresh parsley and give the mussels a good stir. This coats the mussels in the shallots, garlic and broth. Remove and discard any mussels that have not fully opened at this point.
  6. Serve mussels straight out of the pot in the middle of the table, or pour mussels and broth into 4 large bowls. Serve with extra lemon wedges, and crusty bread for mopping up the broth.

Servings: 4 (1 pound per serving)

Sandwiches, Seafood Recipes

Salmon Sliders with Dill and Caper Yogurt Sauce

Salmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt Sauce

 

Most of us are currently in the doldrums of winter.  It’s cold.  Perma-gray clouds are lingering.  We’re tediously wiping the pup’s paws after every walk.  (“tedious” is the best euphemism I could think of … it’s a family blog, after all.)  With all that said, I have to admit my inspiration for this fantastic dish.  It’s my recent return from a weekend in South Florida.  (Don’t be angry, fellow Northerners.  I won’t post pictures of the beach … yet.)

Here we go, with wonderful handheld salmon sliders.  What’s not to like about a small handheld sandwich on a mini brioche bun?  NOTHING.

This version is stuffed with melt-in-your-mouth wild salmon, tangy dill and caper yogurt sauce, thinly sliced red onion, cucumber, radish, creamy avocado, and crispy Romain lettuce. Harmonizing all these ingredients is the yogurt sauce.  Simply combine plain yogurt, capers, garlic, fresh dill, lemon zest and juice, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Then, allow the sauce to marinate when you prepare the remainder of the ingredients.  A little sandwich with a huge amount of flavor.

Salmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt SauceSalmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt SauceSalmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt SauceSalmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt SauceSalmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt Sauce

 

These sliders are ideal for game day, a cocktail party, or a family brunch.  Sandwich in one hand, cocktail in the other.  We’re all in sunny warm weather, as long as these sliders are on the menu.

Salmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt SauceSalmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt Sauce

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt, I used Noosa yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 4 springs fresh dill, about 1 tbsp, chopped
  • The zest of 1 large lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 lb fresh salmon, I used wild sockeye salmon
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 4 leaves of Romain lettuce, torn into pieces to fit the size of slider bun
  • 6 brioche slider buns, toasted (Note: A good bun makes the sandwich, so check out your local bakery for fresh options.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, capers, garlic, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. If you haven’t already done so, prepare your slider toppings – red onion, cucumber, radish, avocado and lettuce.
  3. Next, prepare your salmon.  You can ask your butcher to remove the skin when you purchase the fish, or follow these instructions.  Cut salmon into 6 equal pieces, roughly the size of your slider buns.  Season both sides liberally with salt and pepper.  Heat a large pan over medium high heat, add oil, and sear salmon for 2-3 minutes per side.  I like my salmon slightly pink in the center.
  4. Next, assemble sliders.  (Note: Always use lettuce to protect bun from sauce.  Assemble as follows – bottom bun, lettuce, caper and dill yogurt sauce, salmon, cucumber, radish, avocado, top bun.)
  5. Consume immediately!

Servings: 2-3 (Serving size 2-3 sliders)

Note: Recipe easily doubled to serve a crowd. You will have plenty of caper and dill yogurt sauce left over.  If you double the recipe, no need to double the sauce.

* Thank you Noosa Yoghurt for the incredibly delicious yogurt used in this recipe. It’s tangy, thick, velvety, and ideal for a sauce.  I used their plain yoghurt in this particular recipe. Their flavored varieties must be mentioned as well.  A simple combination of plain yoghurt and a fresh fruit puree.  Noosa yogurt is a welcomed addition to my refrigerator!

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Main Course Recipes, Seafood Recipes

Steamed Clams and Shrimp in Beer Infused Broth

Steamed Clams and Shrimp in Beer Broth

 

Lazy summer Sundays revolve around food.  That’s just a cardinal rule, (don’t ever break it). Where should we go for brunch?  What should we make for dinner?  A walk to the ice cream shop for dessert?  At the risk of sounding too “foodie-philosophical,” it’s always about the next meal for me.  Summer Sundays just epitomize that ideal.  Noshing my way through Sunday = my way to kick off the week.

Seafood is my favorite way to keep it light without sacrificing flavor.  Keeping that in mind, I’m going with shellfish … oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, lobster, crabs … I love it all. Based on what was fresh at my local market, I used clams for this dish.  Any shellfish/combination of shellfish will work wonderfully.

Steamed Clams and Shrimp in Beer Broth

 

My favorite way to cook shellfish is in a flavorful broth.  A mouthwatering concoction of beer, shrimp shells (you read that correctly, this bad boy has shrimp infused broth!), lemon, shallot, butter, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.  I mean, half the fun of steaming shellfish is dunking copious amounts of toasted bread into that liquid gold broth.  Don’t forget the toasted bread!

My ideal Sunday afternoon nosh is set.  Time to start collecting empty shells.  Time to dip bread.  Time to start thinking about “the next meal.”

Steamed Clams and Shrimp in Beer BrothSteamed Clams and Shrimp in Beer BrothSteamed Clams and Shrimp in Beer BrothSteamed Clams and Shrimp in Beer Broth

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, more if you want it spicy
  • 1 cup wheat beer (I used 6410 Citra Wheat from Horse Thief Hollow Brewery)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 6 large deveined shell on shrimp, approx 1/2 lb (Ask your butcher for them this way.  If you have to devein your own shrimp, follow these steps.)
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeds discarded and chopped (I prefer vine ripened tomatoes)
  • 2 dozen wild caught littleneck clams (see note about clams below)
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon, approx 2 tbsp
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Toasted sourdough bread for serving

Directions:

Heat butter in a medium size stockpot, over medium heat, until butter is melted.  Add shallots and cook for 3 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional minute until fragrant.  Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Stir and cook for one additional minute.

Add beer and broth and bring to a low boil.  You may need to adjust the cooking temp to medium low to keep a low boil.  Add shrimp, cover the pot, and cook for 2 minutes or until just cooked through.  Using tongs, remove shrimp from the broth.  Once cool enough to handle, remove the shells from the shrimp and add them back to the stockpot.  Reserve cooked shrimp.  Cover pot, and allow shrimp shells to cook for an additional 8-10 minutes in the broth.  Remove shells from the broth and discard. (Shrimp stock, YUM!)

Note:  When you are removing the shells from the shrimp, keep broth covered over low heat to maintain a simmer (low boil).

Add tomatoes and clams.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until the clams have opened.  Check on the clams at 7 minutes to see if any have started to open.  If any clams do not open, discard them.

Add lemon juice, parsley, and reserved shrimp.  Cook for an additional minute to allow shrimp to heat through.  Serve with toasted sourdough bread and a cold beer.  Bread dunking in the broth is obviously mandatory.

Servings: 2

Note about clams:  It’s best to purchase clams just before cooking.  If you purchase them several hours in advance, they should be kept on ice in the refrigerator.  Clams are purchased alive and must be kept alive.  So, don’t wrap them in anything airtight.  They need oxygen to survive.  Just before cooking, scrub them with a stiff brush under cool running water.  If any clams are open, tap the shell.  If they don’t close tightly, discard them.

Thank you Americas Best Racing, Horse Thief Hollow Brewery, and Koval Distillery  for a wonderful night of excellent  food, drink, and company.  This post was inspired by the delicious beer at Horse Thief Hollow Brewery.  I used their 6410 Citra Wheat beer.  It’s citrus flavor & hoppy finish gave this dish a wonderful depth of flavor.  If you live in the Chicago area, check out Horse Thief Hollow Brewery. You won’t be disappointed.

Pasta Recipes, Seafood Recipes

Summer Spaghetti with Shrimp

Summer Spaghetti with Shrimp

 

I LOVE PASTA!  That’s all there is to it.  I try to minimize my carb intake, especially at night.  That being said, sometimes I have to give in to my craving for a big bowl of pasta.  In the summer months, this dish is perfect.  I know perfect is a strong word, but really, it applies to this pasta.  Tomatoes are just starting to come into season in my neck of the woods. So last weekend, when I was at the farmers market, I scooped up 2 large pints of cherry heirlooms.  These tomatoes have a sweet, tangy, candy like quality to them.  Perfect (there’s that word again) to be eaten raw.

This recipe is simple to make, and it only takes 15 minutes to put together.  During the week, this is exactly the type of dish I am looking for.  I added shrimp to round out the meal with a bit of protein, but you can very well leave it out.  The key to this recipe is making sure the spaghetti is still warm when you toss it with the rest of the ingredients.  The warm spaghetti absorbs the fresh flavors of the tomatoes, garlic, and basil. This results in the perfect (had to throw it in there one more time) dish.

Ingredients:

  • 14.5 oz box whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 12 jumbo raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Cook pasta 10 minutes until al dente or according to package directions.  Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.  Drain pasta and immediately add to serving dish.

While pasta is cooking, preheat a saute pan to medium-high.  Season shrimp with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to hot pan.  Saute shrimp for 5 minutes turning half way through the cooking process. Remove shrimp from pan, top with lemon juice, and reserve.

To warm pasta, add tomatoes, garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, the reserved pasta water, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Toss to combine.  Add basil leaves, toss, top with reserved shrimp, and serve.  Enjoy with a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc.