This recipe is healthier than regular fish tacos because the fish isn't fried and the dressing is the best-tasting low-fat dressing you will ever put into your mouth. (That's high praise from someone who usually makes her own salad dressing. It's really that good.) The kids gobbled this up.
For Christmas Eve Eve dinner my mom made cioppino and pasta with clams. The deliciousness was totally lost on my girls who aren't fans of seafood unless it's in fried form (a la fish sticks, clams, or tempura), but the rest of us devoured everything, sopped up the sauce with crusty bread, and had fun licking our fingers.
For the cioppino, the seafood was added to a simple sauce made with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, fennel, fennel fronds, parsley, chilis, and wine.
My mom's clam sauce started with bacon and garlic sauteed in olive oil, then the clams were added and cooked until they popped open.
Pasta was set out in bowls and we could top it with either the cioppino or the clam sauce. I like clam sauce with my pasta, but cioppino just on its own.
For Christmas Eve, we're having a turkey dinner. It's not something we usually do for Christmas (we usually do a standing rib roast--which we might do as well), but my niece loves turkey and we didn't get to see her for Thanksgiving so turkey it is. I'm in charge of roasting the turkey. Right now it's getting happy in my sister's dry brine (a salt rub), which will ensure it's flavorful and moist tomorrow. We'll have the usual sides and loads of cranberry sauce for the kids who love it. Pecan pie is for dessert. (I'd love to hear about what you're having for Christmas Eve dinner and what your plans are.)
After our dinner we'll go and sing Christmas carols at hippie church, take a cruise down Christmas Tree lane, set out the carrots and cookies and milk, and then get the girls tucked up into bed to await Santa Claus's visit.
Christmas is almost here and I can feel the magic in the air! This time of year is just the best.
My girls have a new-found love for shell-shaped pasta and why not? They're cute, they hold sauce well, and they are the perfect size for kids to bite. It wasn't a shape I normally bought, but one trip to an Italian restaurant changed all that, and it's now a staple in our house.
I like to serve the shells with shrimp to continue the "ocean" theme, and this dish literally comes together as the pasta itself is cooking. It couldn't be easier or tastier. It's a perfect weeknight dinner when you need to get dinner on the table quickly. Just make sure you leave the shrimp to thaw in the fridge the night before.
EASY PASTA WITH SHRIMP
1/2 bag of Trader Joe's cooked, peeled shrimp, thawed
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup of halved organic cherry tomatoes
sea salt and pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon or orange
a handful of chopped, fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 box of Barilla shell pasta
Put pasta water on to boil (be sure to salt the water). In the meantime, put 3-4 glugs of olive oil in a saute pan and heat over medium heat. When garlic starts to turn golden, dump in cherry tomatoes and shrimp and warm through. This should only take a minute or two. Do not "cook" the shrimp, just warm them, or they will get tough. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Cook pasta about a minute less than package directions indicate (my trick for perfect al dente pasta every time). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water. Dump pasta into a bowl along with the tomato-shrimp sauce and enough of the pasta cooking water to loosen. You may not need all the water. Squeeze lemon or orange over, add parsley, toss and serve. Cheese isn't served with this pasta.
This pasta reminds me of all the flavors of the Amalfi coast. It's a simple, uncooked sauce—perfect for summer—which comes together while you are cooking the pasta. The key is to use a really good imported tuna packed in olive oil, sweet summer tomatoes, and the freshest herbs. Mint and tomatoes go really well together. So do tomatoes and orange. I decided to gild the lily and throw everything together and it worked quite nicely. It was so delicious that Bunny and Wallie ate every speck and were licking their pasta bowls. I think I'll call this one:
1 lb spaghettini or spaghetti
1 5 or 6 oz can or jar of imported Italian or Spanish tuna (Genova or Flott) packed in olive oil
3-4 glugs of extra virgin olive oil (1/2 cup or so)
2 medium heirloom tomatoes (different colors are lovely), seeded and chopped
1/3 a bunch of chives, minced (about a handful)
1/2 a Vidalia, Texas Sweet or Maui sweet onion, chopped
6-8 fresh mint leaves, rough-chopped
the juice of one orange, if you don't have an orange, a lemon (if you don't have fresh citrus, skip it)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
small dried Tuscan chilis to crumble over your serving (or chili flakes)
Cook pasta for about a minute less than the box indicates in generously salted water.
Place remaining ingredients in a large serving bowl, toss together gently, then season to taste with salt and pepper. When pasta is cooked and drained, dump into the bowl and toss with the sauce. Serve at once. (Cheese is not served with this sauce.)
Here is the sauce hanging out, waiting for its pasta partner.
Shrimp and grits are one of those classic food pairings that have stood the test of time for a reason: they are delicious together. I first tasted this dish in the 90's when a Southern-style restaurant opened in the city where I living. It was listed under the appetizer section of the menu, but I always ended up ordering it for dinner. I loved it so much that my bachelorette dinner was help at the restaurant and shrimp and grits were definitely part of the meal.
After gathering recipes from friends and watching lots of techniques online, I've finally hit on a recipe that—while probably straying a little from its Southern origins—is all my own. It's simple and packed full of flavor and I hope you like it.
SHRIMP AND GRITS
For the grits:
The amount you cook depends on the number of people you are serving. I always make extra grits because my girls love it.
grits (I use Alber's Quick Grits)
milk or water (or a combo)
a pat of butter
1/2 cup (a good handful) grated medium-firm cheese like white cheddar, goat gouda, p'tit basque or whatever you like
Prepare grits according to package directions. I use milk to cook the grits because I think it lends a better flavor, but water is just fine, too. You have to ensure that you stir the grits constantly as you are cooking them so they don't get lumpy. (Stir, stir, stir!) Once the grits are creamy, stir in a pat of butter and let it melt, then add the cheese. Give it another stir, then remove from heat, cover and set aside while you cook the shrimp.
A touch hyperbolic? Perhaps. But I really think I make the best tuna salad and what's funny about that is: everyone loves their own tuna salad the best, don't they?
In my opinion, tuna salad should never contain pickle relish (pickles a-ok, just not sugary relish) or mustard, and it should be creamy not just-barely-bound-together with mayo. And speaking of mayo, it's Best Foods (or Hellmann's) all the way. It's the only mayo that will do. It should also be made with albacore tuna packed in oil whenever possible (oh, don't be afraid, you drain it off), but water-packed will do in a pinch.
THE BEST TUNA SALAD
1 can of albacore tuna (or boneless skinless salmon), drained thoroughly
1/2 a fresh lemon
1/4 of a sweet onion, very finely minced
1/2 a dill pickle, very finely minced
1/2 stalk of celery, very finely minced
Best Foods mayonnaise
fresh ground pepper
a little chopped, fresh dill
Place tuna in a bowl, flake it, then moisten with juice of half a lemon and give it a quick mix. This gives the tuna a nice, fresh taste. Add in onion, pickle, and celery, mix well. Add in enough mayonnaise to bind all the ingredients, then add a little more to taste so that it's creamy without getting sogged down. I use at least 1 tablespoon to bind, then add another tablespoon at a time until I get the consistency I like. Add in pepper and a sprinkling of fresh dill to taste, mix and serve. I love it on sandwiches, but I also love it on a Triscuit cracker topped with a dash of habanero hot sauce.
This is one of those recipes that has become a new classic. I often see it on menus at Italian restaurants and because I love salmon, it's hard for me to resist. It couldn't be simpler to make at home, and best of all, it's a great way to use up leftover salmon and that last 1/3 of a bag of frozen peas that is cluttering up your freezer.
My recipe contains dill, and dill is one of those herbs that I never thought my children would like, but it turns out, they are as crazy about the stuff as I am. Back before I had kids, I was an English (ESL) teacher, teaching English to students from other countries who wanted to take the TOEFL test to go to university here and for new U.S. immigrants. It was one of the best jobs I've ever had and one of the most enlightening experiences of my life.
Here's another iPhone post on the go. I have to say, having this new gadget has changed my approach to blogging about food and dinners. If you hadn't noticed the iPhone posts you will when you see all the typos. (The texting sucks.)
These salmon cakes are made with:
2 cans of skinless, boneless salmon
3/4 can of cream of mushroom soup
A squeeze of lemon
1/2 cup of fine breadcrumbs
Freshly snipped dill
Fresh ground pepper
Combine all of the above into a stiff mixture. Form into 8 patties and fry in olive oil until browned. Serve hot with lemon wedges.
Both of my girls loved this so much that they asked me to prepare it next week. Specifically "on the 19th." Kids will eat it.
First things first. Last night I made a simple dinner of olive oil-roasted wild salmon that was yum but the real highlight of the meal was a Costco impulse buy that I must share: Paradise Valley "Creamy Mash" Yukon Gold Instant Mashed Potatoes.
I think most instant mashed potato mixes are bleh, but I like to keep some on hand to make things like shepherd's pie or croquettes. When I have a hankering for those things, it sucks to have to make a whole batch of potatoes just to mash them for that purpose. Instant mashers make life easy sometimes.
The ones from Costco, though, are so good you'd swear they were real. If you've tried them, am I right? (I can't find a link to them so if anyone has one please let me know.) The ingredients are: yukon gold potatoes, butter, and salt. That's it. You cook em up by adding them to a water/milk combo with butter (or margarine) added. They are good on their own but also super-yum with embellishments like: crumbled bacon, snipped chives and a little grated cheese (smoked gouda, Irish cheddar, whatever you like) or smashed garlic or a little fresh horseradish, sour cream, and parsley.
It's the best impulse buy I've ever made. (Run to Costco and get some!) And they were yummy with the roasted salmon which I did as follows:
Pour enough olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet to coat the bottom and heat over medium until very hot but not smoking. Add in a pound of salt-and-peppered wild salmon fillets and 2 seasoned tomatoes which have been halved, cut-side down. (My fillets were about 3/4 of an inch thick in the middle.)
Cook salmon and tomatoes for about 7-8 minutes and then flip (if it sticks, it's not ready for flipping, give it a minute or two). Flip the tomatoes as well.
Stick the entire pan into a 375º oven along with a handful of cracked oil-cured Kalamata olives and roast for about 7-8 minutes more or until your preferred done-ness. I like a slightly pink, med-rare center.
Carefully remove pan from the oven. Divide salmon among four plates, add a tomato half and a few olives to each. Serve with mashed potatoes and a salad (we had Meyer lemon vinaigrette since I have about 20 of them on hand.)