Friday, August 31, 2012

Mussels in Curry Broth (serves 1 or 2)

mussels in curry broth
It is my day off after working a stretch of long days. My husband is away but it does not stop me from cooking something tasty for myself. I want to eat some fresh mussels and here is my favorite way to cook and eat mussels. One of the staff at work gave me some hot chili peppers so I added them to this dish to give it a bite! Thank you, Katie!!  The scallions and Thai basil leaves came from my garden.

Mussels in Curry Broth (serves 1 or 2)

Ingredients:

2 lbs fresh mussels, scrub, de-beard, and wash in cold water
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/3 C chopped onions
1 scallion, chopped
1 Tbsp Madras curry powder
25 Thai basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)
1/2 C unsweetened coconut milk
1 hot chili pepper, chopped (optional)
1 whole hot chili pepper, for garnish (optional)
1 small French bread, sliced in 1/2-inch width, toasted and rubbed with garlic

Method:

1) Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
2) Add onions and sauté about 1 minute until translucent.
3) Stir in scallions, curry powder, basil leaves, chili, and garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
4) Add the mussels, coconut milk, mirin, cook and stir the pot frequent about 5-7 minutes or until the mussels open up, may cover the pot for the last 1 minute to cook the mussels further.
5) Serve mussels with toasted French bread.

wild mussels (Star Island, NH, 2011)
throw away any broken shells,
de-beard and wash the mussels



outdoor cooking is great for
cooking food with a strong odor
and for cooking in the heat of summer 
sauté onions, scallions, garlic, curry powder, and basil leaves
add the mussels and cook until all the mussels opened up
my favorite part of cooking...EATING!
now that was delicious and filling! :--)
*This lunch was made for one person, however you may easily double the amount of ingredients for 2 people. I did not add any salt, water or broth to this dish. The broth came out of the mussels and it is great to soak the toasted bread! If the broth is too salty to your taste just add a little water. If you do not have coconut milk you may substitute with heavy cream or half & half.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Crab Cakes (makes 6 small and 9 large cakes)

crab cakes
I have eaten my share of crab cakes and the best ones are the ones that contain lots of fresh crab meat. Unfortunately, many places do not serve fresh crab meat, use very little crab meat, or are filled with bread crumbs. My mother gets buckets of Jonah crabs from her fishermen friends (in Maine) and she would pick the meat out and freeze them for me. I have made different versions of crab cakes but these ones are my favorite. They are moist, meaty and delicious! They are very easy and fast to make as long as you do not have to pick your own crab meat. However, if you do have to pick your own meat then I can assure you that you will enjoy and appreciate these cakes even more!

Crab Cakes (makes 6 small and 9 large cakes)

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh crab meat (cartilage and shells removed)
1 C honey panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/3 C mayonnaise
2 Tbsp chopped Chinese chives
1 tsp old bay spice
1/2 tsp grey poupon mustard
1 Tbsp lime juice (juice of about 1/2 a lime) 
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp canola oil (for frying)
Chive flowers or capers, garnish (optional)
Lettuce, garnish (optional)

Method:

1) In a medium size bowl, mix the crab meat and panko gently together, try not to over mix so the crab meat will stay intact (dry ingredients).
2) In a small bowl mix mayo, chives, old bay, mustard, lime juice, and black pepper together with a fork until well blended (wet ingredients).
3) Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently mix until blended.
4) Form the cakes using your hands or a scooper. I used an ice cream scooper to form the cakes.
5) Place the cakes onto a plate or cookie sheet, cover with a plastic sheet and chill for 3-4 hours.
6) When chilled, fry the cake in oil.
7) Heat a medium size pan with oil over high heat. 
8) Turn to medium heat once the pan is hot.
9) Place 4 or 5 cakes in a pan, do not overcrowd and fry about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
10) Turn each cake over to the other side and using the flat part of a spatula to push the top of each cake down to flatten it slightly, fry for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
11) Gently remove the cakes and place them on a plate.
12) Serve each cake with a dollop of the sauce (recipe follows).

Crab Cake Sauce

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbsp capers, chopped
1 tsp chives, chopped
1/4 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp sugar
A pinch or two of ground black pepper

Method:

Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. 

mix crab meat and panko in a bowl (dry ingredients)
 mix mayo, chives, old bay, mustard, lime juice,
and black pepper (wet ingredients) 
mix wet into dry ingredients gently until blended
form crab mixture into the size you prefer
(thank goodness for the timer on my camera!)
cover cakes with a plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator 
fry each side until golden brown
whisk all ingredients well for the sauce
*I used 2 types of ice cream scooper to form 2 different sizes. The smaller ones are bite size. These are great for appetizers and for parties. You can make the cakes larger and serve them in a sandwich. I have served these cakes on a bed of mixed greens and herbs and they make a wonderful salad.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Stuffed Squid with Tomato and Dulse Sauce (serves 2)

stuffed squid
Lucky for me the squid are still running in the Seacoast of New Hampshire! Last night my husband and I were out until 2 am jigging for squid. We were lucky to come home with some. You can't get squid more fresh than these! I wanted to stuff the squid and incorporate dried dulse and fresh home grown tomatoes so I came up with this recipe. In Vietnamese cooking you may see wood ears, Chinese vermicelli and pork in the stuffed squid. Some Vietnamese may serve stuffed squid with a plate of fresh herbs/vegetables and a Vietnamese dipping sauce (nước chấm).  

Stuffed Squid with Tomato and Dulse Sauce (serves 2)

Stuffed Squid

Ingredients:

4 seven-inch squid, cleaned (please see How to Clean Squid)
3 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 C dried wood ears, hydrated in water, roughly chopped 
1/2 C Chinese vermicelli, hydrated in water, cut into 2-inch length
1/4 tsp Chinese five spice powder
3 tsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp back pepper
1/2 C dried dulse*, chiffonade with scissors 
1/2 lb ground pork
6 toothpicks 

Method:

1) Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a medium size pan over medium high heat.
2) Add onion, garlic and scallion, cooked about 3-4 minutes or until onion is translucent.
3) Add wood ears, vermicelli, Chinese five spice, fish sauce, salt, pepper, and sugar, cook for 2-3 minutes.
4) Add dulse and cook for 1 minute.
5) Remove pan from heat and let cool (save pan for frying squid).
6) Add cooled mixture to pork and mix well with your hand.
7) Stuff each squid and secure with 2 tooth picks each.
8) Heat 2 Tbsp canola oil in the same pan over medium heat.
9) Add stuffed squid and cook for 3 minutes, turning squid 3-4 times.
10) Turn heat to med-low, cover pan and cook for 10-12 minutes.
11) Remove the squid from pan and save pan to make sauce.
12) Let the squid rest for 5 minutes and cut each squid into 1/2-inch width.

Tomato and Dulse Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 scallion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped 
1/4 tsp fish sauce
1 pinch of sugar
1/2 C dried dulse*
5 Thai basil leaves, chiffonade 

Method:

1) Use the same pan for cooking squid.
2) Heat pan to medium heat.
3) Add garlic, onion, and scallion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until onion is translucent.
4) Add tomato, fish sauce, and sugar and cook for 3-4 minutes.
5) Cook for 3-5 more minutes to reduce sauce to about half.
6) Add dulse and basil and cook for 1 minute.
7) Drizzle the sauce around the squid (see photo above) or on each squid ring (see photo below).

add sauce on squid ring for
bite size appetizers
making the stuffing for the squid
add cooled mixture to pork and mix well,
the best way I know is to use
your hand for this process
(messy but well worth the trouble)
this beautiful place is where I often jig for squid
*To learn more about dulse and other sea vegetables please refer to:  A Field Guide to Economically Important Seaweeds of Northern New England. White, S. and M. Keleshian. 1994.
http://www.noamkelp.com/technical/handbook.html

*To purchase dulse and other sea vegetables you may contact Mr. Larch Hanson at http://www.theseaweedman.com

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nước Chấm)

Vietnamese dipping sauce
Vietnamese dipping sauce with hot chili peppers
This is a typical dipping sauce called nước chấm that can be found in every Vietnamese home.  This sauce is used for many dishes such as salads, fresh spring rolls, stuffed squid, some rice/noodle dishes, and grilled meat to name a few.  My mother makes her sauce using white vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, garlic and shredded carrots and this keeps for many weeks.  She makes a large batch and gives us a jar when she visits.  When my family eats this sauce we prefer to add hot chili pepper to spice it up.  The spicier the pepper the better!

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nước Chấm)


Ingredients:

1/2 C water
Juice from 1 lime
2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 hot chili pepper, snipped thinly with scissors (optional)
1 Tbsp shredded carrot (optional)
1 Tbsp shredded daikon (optional)

Method:

1) Dissolve sugar in water in a small bowl.
2) Cut the lime in sections, remove the seeds, and squeeze all the juice from them.
3) Add the lime juice to the water and sugar mixture.
3) Add garlic and fish sauce to taste.
4) May add chili pepper, carrot and daikon if desire.

limes and leaves
*This sauce may be kept in a refrigerator for up to a week.
*Everyone has a different preference when making and consuming this sauce.  If you prefer to make this sauce sweeter then add more sugar.  If you like it more sour then add more lime juice. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Grilled Steak Tips with Home-Grown Rosemary Rub

grilled steak tips with home-grown rosemary rub
This is one of my favorite ways to grill meat. I came up with this rub after I had a large harvest of rosemary from my garden. This is a very simple and quick rub and it is great on any meat. Recently I used the same rub on lamb loin chops and they came out wonderfully.  I served these grilled steak tips with boiled home grown potatoes and a pat of benecol*, and garden herb/vegetable salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.  

Grilled Steak Tips with Home-Grown Rosemary Rub

Ingredients:

5 sprigs rosemary, remove leaves and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tsp Hawaiian pink sea salt (or any other sea salt)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 lb steak tips

Method:

1) Preheat grill to 300 F.
2) Mix the first 5 ingredients in a mortar and pestle and gently crush the mixture. 
3) Rub the mixture onto the meat and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
4) Grill the meat for 10 to 12 minutes total (or grill to your liking)--flip the steaks after grilling every 3-4 minutes to prevent burning.
5) You may drizzle a little olive oil on the grilled meat right before serving.  
6) Serve meat with any side dishes.

add  rosemary, garlic, shallot, olive oil
and sea salt in a mortar
use the pestle to crush the mixture
(if you can only smell this aroma!)
marinade steak tips with the mixture
grill the meat
rosemary from my garden
*My father-in-law and his colleagues helped create benecol when he worked for a paper company. My father-in-law tells me that his cardiologist recommended that he uses benecol!  I don't believe that his doctor has any knowledge that he played a part in the creation of benecol. Benecol has many health benefits and to me it tastes as good as butter. To learn more about benecol please visit:  http://www.benecol.com

Mini Soy Salad Rolls (makes 18 rolls)


The idea and inspiration for making these mini rolls came from eating at Sensei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Kihei (Maui).  When I eat food I often take a mental note of what ingredients were used to create the meal, how it was prepared, tasted, and presented. When I came across the soy wrappers at my local Asian market I was happy to give them a try.  This is my first time using them so I have a few ideas of how I would improve them for next time. If you are making this it is best to use drier ingredients such as shredded papaya, avocado, cucumber, or mixed greens and place them closer to the wrapper.  The wetter ingredients such as crab meat and tomato should be placed in the center of the roll.  My best cooking tip is never be afraid to experiment.

Mini Soy Salad Rolls (makes 18 rolls)

Ingredients:

1 roma tomato, diced, seeded and drained
1 avocado, half sliced and half diced
1/2 small cucumber, cut into match stick size
1 three-inch piece of papaya, cut into match stick size
2 C shredded papaya
about 1 C tightly packed of fresh picked crab meat
Herbs (Thai basil, shiso, mint,Vietnamese cilantro)
5 sheets of assorted soy wrappers (cut in various sizes 1 1/2 inch to 2 inches length)
1 Tbsp cooked rice (to seal the wraps)
Chili-honey dipping sauce (recipe to follow)

Method:

1) Use a combination of the first 5 ingredients to put in each wrapper, try to keep the drier ingredients next to the wrapper to prevent the wrapper getting soggy.
2) Gently roll each wrapper tightly.
3) Seal the end of wrapper with a little cooked rice, keep the seam side down until well sealed before putting onto a plate.
4) Serve the pieces on a small plate with the dipping sauce.

Examples of combo are:

1) shredded papaya, herb, and crab, garnish with roasted peanuts
2) crab and avocado
3) crab, avocado, and herb
4) cucumber, avocado, crab, and herb
5) use your imagination, be creative and please share your ideas!

Chili-Honey Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

1 tsp or more of chili garlic sauce (Huy Fong Food brand)
4 Tbsp nước chấm (please see Vietnamese Dipping Sauce post)
1 tsp honey

Method:

Mix all 3 ingredients until well blended.

prepared ingredients ready to roll
another way to present your dish

*I used the ingredients listed above since I have them available in my house.  The tomato and herbs come from my garden.  You can use other ingredients in your wrappers such as smoked salmon, sea urchin, caviar, lobster, shrimp, tuna tartar, other types of herbs, micro greens, edible flowers, or just about anything! You can buy the soy wrappers in some Asian grocery store or on-line.  These mini rolls are fun to create and eat!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Stir-Fried Chinese Broccoli and Squid (serves 2-3 as part of a shared meal)


My father loves Chinese broccoli.  He uses pretty much all of the broccoli including the tough end of each leaf.  He would use the flat part of a cleaver and smash the tough parts.  This softens them and make the cooking process much faster.  

Stir-Fried Chinese Broccoli and Squid (serves 2-3 as part of a shared meal)

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp grated ginger
2 squid, cleaned and cut into 2-inch pieces
about 1 lb Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan), cut into 2-inch length 
1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp fish sauce*
1 Tbsp oyster sauce*

Method:

1) Heat oil in a wok or a large pan over medium high heat until the pan is hot.
2) Add garlic, sauté for 1 minute or until garlic is light brown but not burned.
3) Add ginger and squid and stir for 3-4 minutes, until squid pieces start to curl and turn opaque.
4) Remove the cooked squid in a bowl and reserve .
5) Add the base pieces and smashed pieces of the Chinese broccoli into the wok/pan, stir for 2 minutes.
5) Add the green leafy portion, stir for 2 minutes or until leaves are wilted but still a vibrant green color.
6) Add sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and squid, stir about 1 more minute.
7) May serve with rice.

Chinese broccoli (also known as Gai Lan)
separate the leaves from the stalk
remove the base of each stalk with a peeler
smash the tough end of each leaf with the blade of a knife
cut each of the leaf and stalk into 2-inch length
wash thoroughly in cold water and drain
grate the ginger (I used a microplane for this)
flatten the garlic with the flat part of a knife
and mince the garlic
prepare the squid and cut into 2-inch pieces
(see How to Clean Squid)
  
*I used three crabs brand fish sauce (Viet Huong) and panda brand oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee) but you can use other brands if you prefer or have available.   The fish sauce with the three crabs brand is not as salty as the others.  Also, instead of squid you can add other seafood, pork or chicken. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Squid Ink Gnocchi with Squid and Asparagus (serves 4 people)


You may make this dish without adding the gnocchi.  You can serve the squid and asparagus over rice and it would be very tasty.

 Squid Ink Gnocchi with Squid and Asparagus (serves 4 people)

 Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/2 lb asparagus, cut in 2-inch length
2 C baby bella mushrooms, julienned
2 squid, cut into 2-inch length (please see How to Clean Squid)
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 lb squid ink gnocchi (please see Squid Ink Gnocchi)

Method:

1) Heat oil in a large pan over high heat.
2) Stir in onions, turn heat to medium-high and cook until translucent.
3) Stir in scallions, asparagus and mushrooms, cook about 6-8 minutes until asparagus is tender but still crunchy.
4) Add squid and cook for 4 minutes or until squid curls up and turns opaque.
5) Add fish sauce and sugar and gnocchi, cook until gnocchi is heated through.

stir and cook onions, scallions, asparagus, and mushrooms
add squid and cook until squid curls up and turns opaque

Purple Gnocchi in Sage-Truffle Oil-Butter and Roasted Peanuts (serves 2)


Purple Gnocchi in Sage-Truffle Oil-Butter and Roasted Peanuts  (serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 purple gnocchi recipe (please see below)
10 fresh sage leaves
3 Tbsps white truffle oil
2 Tbsps unsalted butter
Salt to taste
Roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed

Method:

1) Heat the oil in a medium size pan or skillet and add sage leaves, stir about 1 minute
2) Add gnocchi and sauté about 5 minutes or until the gnocchi is heated thorough
3) Add salt
4) Garnish with peanuts before serving and ENJOY!!

Purple Gnocchi 

Ingredients:

2 large russet potatoes
5 small purple potatoes
about 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Method: 

1) Cook the potatoes in water for about 20 minutes or until fork tender (less time for the purple potatoes), drain.
2) While potatoes are still warm, peel and mash the potatoes in a ricer.
3) Chill mashed potato in refrigerator for about 2-4 hours or overnight.
4) Use a dough hook and a dough mixer in low-medium setting to incorporate mashed potato, add
a tablespoon of flour at a time.
5) Add more flour until the dough is not sticky but come together when touched.
6) Take a small amount of dough out and roll on a floured board.
7) Cover the rest of the dough you are not using to prevent drying out.
8) Roll the dough with your palm gently into a long rope, with the diameter the size of your fingers. 
9) Cut each log about 1-inch length.
10) Drop these gnocchi logs in gently boiling salted water.
11) When the gnocchi float to the top scoop them out onto a plate.

sage from my garden

How to Clean Squid

I am very fortunate to be living near the coast where there is an abundance of fresh sea life to be eaten. For the last few years I have been meaning to get back into fishing. Finally this summer I went out and purchased 2 fishing poles and fresh/salt water fishing permits. I also have been very lucky to have met many interesting and helpful fishermen who have given me great fishing tips, hooks/lures to try and even a few fish tales! Recently I was jigging for squid and I was told by an avid fisherman 'not to fish like a man!' After that tip I jigged more gently and brought home 15 squid. Wow, who would have known??!  : D

these are the squid I caught
1) find the clear cartilage on the tail and pull it out (easier said than done!),
or take a stick (such as a chopstick)
and insert it between the cartilage and tail
and run it all the way down to the tip of the tail
2) pull out the head/tentacles, innards, and clear cartilage
(discard the cartilage)
3) peel off the thin outer skin
4) cut off the eyes and beak
(the beak is found in the middle of the tentacles by the eyes)
5) save the cleaned tentacles

squid can be left whole, cut into rings or
cut into flat pieces depending what you will be cooking
if you prefer not to keep the squid whole then instead of step #1,
you can take a pair of scissor and cut right down the middle of the tail
and remove the squid tentacles, clear cartilage and innards
(a much quicker way to clean squid)
carefully cut out the ink sacs
(tear-drop shape)
and save them for later use,
discard the rest of the innards
1) cut the squid into 2-inch pieces
2) score the inside of each piece diagonally,
about 1-2 mm deep with a knife,
avoid going through the squid

(this will give them a nicer look and helps
to tenderize them when cooked)
squid is translucent when raw
and will turn opaque when cooked
when you scored the squid pieces
they will curl up when cooked,
making them look pretty
*Of course, if you do not want to jig for your own squid or clean them then you can just visit your favorite local grocery store and may be able to purchase them all cleaned.  

Addendum:
Update as of May 2016. I recently had to clean 10 pounds of squid and would like to add a few of my new tips to this post. Take a hold of the squid in one hand and pull out the tentacles with the other. Find the clear cartilage (along the body) and pull this out and discard. Peel the outer layer and discard. Take a spoon and scrape the inside of the squid. This will clean out the inside very well. Use a pair of kitchen shears (scissors) and cut out the eyes and mouthpiece (located on the tentacles) and discard. Save the squid ink sac from the innards (if you want to eat it later). If you use a knife to cut there is a high chance you may puncture the eye and the eye liquid may squirt into your face (believe me this happened to me during this cleaning). It did not happen when I used the shears. Wash the squid body and tentacles with a little vinegar to remove the slime. Rinse everything well with water. After you have cleaned a few squid then the process will get easier. Also, be sure to eat before you plan on cleaning 10 pounds of squid since it will take up some of your time! Wear old clothes as the squid ink is almost impossible to remove.

Papaya and Garden Herb Salad (serves 1-2)


You can make the salad with boiled shrimp (shell and intestine remove), thinly sliced boiled lobster meat, thinly sliced boiled pork, or chicken.  I have made my papaya salad with shrimp, lobster, octopus, pork, chicken and a combo of shrimp and pork.  They are all very tasty.  Today I made my salad using fresh garden herbs because I have it growing in my garden.  

Papaya and Garden Herb Salad (serves 1-2)

Ingredients:

4 C packed of shredded green papaya
1 C fresh herb (mint leaves, shiso, Thai basil, Vietnamese cilantro), torn
3 Tbsp Vietnamese dipping sauce  (nước chấm) or to taste
Roasted peanuts, coarsely ground, garnish
Chili pepper, optional

Method:

1) When ready to eat toss the papaya, herbs, chili pepper, and nước chấm in a large bowl.
2) Mix until all ingredients are blended.
3) Divide the contents into 2 plates.
4) Garnish with peanuts.

papaya (Maui, 2011)
mix shredded papaya, torn herbs,
and nước chấm in a bowl

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sauteed Lobster & Dulse on Rice (serves 2)


The majority of lobsters are caught in the Summer and Fall here in New England and we are fortunate to have an abundance of these fresh and affordable crustaceans.  The butter and sugar corn comes from our local farms and they are amazingly sweet.  Dulse is a sea vegetable that is a good source of minerals and vitamins.  When I visited Nova Scotia I bought a huge bag of the dried dulse from the fishermen.  In Nova Scotia some people consume dried dulse as a snack.  I like to use dulse in my cooking and this evening I made this dish using the best ingredients from the sea!

Sauteed Lobster & Dulse on Rice (serves 2)

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
3 scallions, chopped
Kernels from 1 butter and sugar corn
Cooked meat from 1 medium size lobster and its roe if there is any, cut into bite size
1/3 cup dried dulse*
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp granulated sugar

Method:

1) Heat pan to a medium high heat, once the pan is hot add olive oil, garlic and scallions and cook for 2-3 minutes.
2) Stir in corn and cook for 3-5 minutes.
3) Add lobster meat, dulse, butter, fish sauce and sugar and cook for 3-5 minutes.
4) Serve with rice.

dried dulse
*To learn more about dulse and other sea vegetables please refer to:  A Field Guide to Economically Important Seaweeds of Northern New England.  White, S. and M. Keleshian. 1994.
http://www.noamkelp.com/technical/handbook.html
*To purchase dulse and other sea vegetables you may contact Mr. Larch Hanson at http://www.theseaweedman.com