Thursday, March 31, 2016

Lobster tacos

I wasn't planning to post again this week. Then this happened.

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Pretty irresistible, huh?

Here's a glimpse into what makes me tick: I was on my weekly trip to the grocery store and looked (as I do every time I'm there) at the lobster tank. Imagine my joy when I saw a sign advertising a price drop on lobster. They were all jumbo - 3 pounds or more. So I took one and then contemplated it's future while I finished shopping. (I might have been humming a little tune I was so happy about the lobster. Nerd? Yep.)

It was a weeknight. I still had work to do. So I needed something quick. Lobster rolls? Lobster BLTs? Hmmm. Lobster tacos! I grabbed some avocados and fresh salsa and that lobster's fate was sealed.

(Lobster is quite possibly my favorite food. Ever. It will make many appearances on this blog in many forms...)

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Lobster tacos

Save even more time by asking your fishmonger to steam the lobster for you.

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    sub-recipe if needed
  • 1 jumbo or 2 medium lobsters, live or steamed
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • Fresh salsa
  • Guacamole, homemade or store-bought
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Hot sauce of your choice

Cooking Directions
  1. If using live lobster, bring 1 1/2 to 2 inches of salted water to a boil in a large pot. When boiling, put the lobster or lobsters in and put a lid on the pot. Steam for 10 minutes for the first pound and about 1 minute more for each additional half pound. (If using two small lobsters, steam them together for 10-11 minutes; if using a jumbo lobster, cook it for 13-14 minutes) Remove from pot and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. When the lobster is cool enough to handle, shell it, removing meat from the claws, knuckles, tail and legs. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over high heat and cook the tortillas for a few seconds on each side.
  4. While the tortillas are heating, melt the butter in a non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Add the lobster and cook until just heated thru. (It will get tough if you overcook it.)
  5. To serve, divide the lobster among the tortillas and top with guacamole, cabbage, salsa and hot sauce (we like Cholula).

Monday, March 28, 2016

Seafood scampi

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Easter has come and gone. The highlight was my little Nutmeg trembling with excitement when she discovered that the Easter bunny brought her the last remaining Paw Patrol Pup she needed to complete her collection. Tiny hands literally shaking as she tore off the paper, squealing as loud as she could. Seeing that little face erased my irritation at having to go to 7 stores to find it. The kids make the holidays a joy.

And this was Good Friday dinner, inspired by a pasta dish served at one of our favorite restaurants on Martha's Vineyard: The Square Rigger. It's a home-cooking type of place that serves up super fresh seafood and big slabs of beef. Summer vacation can't come soon enough. In the meantime, this dinner will suffice.

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Seafood scampi

Use whatever seafood you have or can get fresh. I often use lobster when I can get it and sometimes use only shrimp. One whole lobster would do the trick. Or increase the amount of shrimp if that's all you've got.


  • 5 Tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil, separated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (or more if you're only using shrimp)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup langostino tails, thawed if using frozen
  • 3/4 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered (or one plum or vine-ripe tomato, seeded and chopped)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black papper
  • 4 scallops, thawed if using frozen
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 pound pasta of your choice (linguine, fettuccine)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chives or parsley, chopped

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Cooking Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Heat 4 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large sautee pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds (don't let it burn).
  3. Add the shrimp and white wine and sprinkle with a little salt. Simmer for 2 minutes then flip the shrimp.
  4. Meanwhile, add salt to boiling water then add the pasta.
  5. Add the tomatoes and langostino tails to the pan with the shrimp and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Season scallops with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. While the pasta cooks, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a small non-stick skillet over high heat. When hot, add the scallops and sear for about 1 minute on each side. They should be nicely brown and caramelized. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  8. Reduce heat under shrimp to low and stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. When pasta is al dente, strain and immediately stir into the shrimp mixture. Let it combine for a minute or two, then divide among 2 pasta bowls. Top each with two scallops and sprinkle with some chopped chives or parsley.

seafood scampi over pasta

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mix 'n' match granola


I made it to one month. Blogging is starting to feel normal again. (Well, at least the kids don't look at me like I'm a nutjob when I run around with plates of food and my camera...) And I'm pretty sure my husband is psyched cuz he gets all the goodies. Like this one.

Once upon a time, I made homemade granola every couple weeks. For about a year and a half, I've bought granola bars for him instead. He has never complained about it and happily eats his crunchy granola bars. But last night when he came home to the smell of baking granola, he remarked that he forgot I used to make it and then quite eagerly filled a dish for work.

Granola is pretty much impossible to screw up. Unless you forget about it in the oven and burn it, there's really no way to mess it up. I throw in what I have on hand, keeping the wet/dry ratios the same. Feel like pecans instead of almonds? No problem. Have flax seed? Throw it in. Prefer bran flakes to corn? Be a rebel. Add dried fruit, different nuts, flaked coconut. The possibilities are endless. You can even add different extracts to the liquid - a few drops of almond or coconut for example...

My preferred method of gobbling this up is over fat free Greek yogurt. With or without fruit.

Oh, and the three year old ate a whole bowl of it this morning. And the older child willingly tried it and SMILED. Whoo hoo. Happy Friday to me.

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Mix 'n' Match Granola
Adapted from Fresh from the Market by Laurent Tourondel

Use this as a guide and then throw in whatever combination of ingredients you like.

  • 2 cups corn flakes (or bran flakes, or use more oats if you prefer)
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup almonds (or walnuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts...)
  • 1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (or flax, or sunflower, or a mix)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 vanilla bean, opened and seeds scraped (or use some vanilla extract)
  • Zest of one orange

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Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with a large piece of parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the corn flakes, old-fashioned oats, steel-cut oats, nuts, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the oil, honey, maple syrup, orange zest and vanilla bean (seeds and pod). Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Discard the vanilla bean pod.
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  6. Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients. Stir until well combined. Pour onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Spread it evenly and then bake for about 20 minutes, stirring it halfway thru. Watch the baking time, you want it golden and starting to dry. Remove from the oven and break up the big chunks. When cool, store in an airtight container.

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Korean beef lettuce wraps

Theory: If you cut the steak into teensy-weensy pieces, the children will willingly ingest it.

Reality: While child #1 may ingest some of it, she will reject teesny-weensy pieces that are any or all of the following: (1) brown, not pink; (2) too big (AKA teensy, but not teensy weensy); (3) chewy. Child #2 will scarf it all back and ask for more...twice.

This, in my house, is a victory. There were no tears. And everyone ate some or all of their meat. (And Daddy loved it too...)

And I made one - yes one! - dinner. With a slight variation...

These are the kinds of dinners I love. It's fast, fresh, loaded with flavor, and healthy. For the grown-ups and adventurous kids, there's marinated meat and rice wrapped in lettuce with yummy condiments that don't take eons to prep. For the kiddies, there's rice and meat and veg on the side (I did sliced cukes and carrots one night and the corn off the cob when we had leftovers).

The original recipe calls for 4 hanger steaks. This made 2 meals for us and there's a piece leftover in the fridge will will likely find its way onto a salad for my lunch one of these days...


Korean beef lettuce wraps with kimchi puree and ginger scallion (AKA Marinated Hanger steak ssam)
adapted from Momofuku by David Chang

I've made several Korean BBQ recipes like this one. This marinade is by far the easiest. (I have two kids and the main ingredient is apple juice... got that!) If you can't find hanger steaks, try flank or skirt. Didn't think you could rock Momofuku on a weeknight? Guess again...

  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (light soy sauce if you have it)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

  • Ginger scallion sauce
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 3/4 tsp. soy sauce (light soy sauce if you have it)
  • 1/2 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • Accompaniments
  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup kimchi, pureed
  • Bibb lettuce leaves, washed and separated (from about 2 heads)
  • Sssamjang (optional, this can be found in the Korean section of an Asian market)

Cooking Directions
  1. Combine the apple juice, soy sauce, onion, garlic, sesame oil and black pepper in a gallon storage bag. Add the steak and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Make the ginger scallion sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a small dish. Let sit 15 minutes then adjust seasoning if needed.
  3. Prepare a grill for high heat. When the grill is hot, sear the steaks for 2 minutes a side, then monitor until they are medium rare. REmove from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes.
  4. While the grill is heating, cook the rice. Rince the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Combine rice and water in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cover. Cook until the water is absorbed. Turn off heat and let rest a few minutes. Fluff with a paddle or fork.
  5. To serve, thinly slice the steak. Take a lettuce leaf and put some rice in the leaf. Top with steak and accompaniments and eat it like a taco!

Notes: Ssamjang is a condiment that's a combination of a fermented red pepper paste (gochujang) and bean paste. Sounds completely bizarre but it's really good. You can find it in Asian markets that carry Korean ingredients. For the lettuce, look for hydroponic, mainly because it's easier to wash. I found it at Costco - three heads, no dirt. Can't say the same for my kids after a day playing in the yard... And the kimchi... the cookbook says to make kimchi. I buy it (once had an epic fail in that department...). Look for Napa cabbage kimchi. My fave is from the Asian market, not the ones you find at the likes of Whole Foods...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Angel hair pasta with chicken, white wine and garlic

I'm a cookbook junkie. Big surprise from a food blogger. (We can and will psychoanalyze my addiction in a future post.) But mid-week, I don't always have time to consult my "friends" (aka Mario, Ina, Laurent, Thomas, etc.) So this is one of my go-to dinners. Few reasons:
  1. I almost always have all the ingredients on-hand - garlic, white wine, chicken, parsley, pasta
  2. I can make it in about 25 minutes. 
  3. I can make it any time of day and heat it for dinner. So if I'm working from home, I can throw it together at lunchtime. If I'm in the office, I can whip it up when I get home.
  4. Everyone claps when it hits the table. Yes, the kiddies actually cheer for this one.
Number 4 is my favorite. And if I make a little extra, lunch for the next day is done for the kids too!

So working moms, make this one tonight. No joke. My husband loves it. My kids love it. Makes for a happy night. (and if you use regular wine instead of cooking wine, BONUS! a glass for mommy!)


Angel hair pasta with chicken, white wine and garlic

I think this originated with a recipe my mom clipped from a newspaper when I was a kid (in other words, longer ago than I'd care to admit). I first made it in college. I no longer even look at a recipe to make it. In other words, it's easy!

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine (I use Pinot Grigio, but you can use cooking wine or whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3/4 lb. Angel hair pasta, or pasta of your preference
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • chicken-garlic-wine
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut each chicken breast into 4 thin pieces (you can skip this step, but I find it improves the taste and makes the chicken more tender).
  2. On a small plate, mix together flour with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. If you are going to serve the dish immediately, start bringing a large pot of water to a boil for your pasta. If you're making the chicken ahead, wait and cook the pasta just before serving.
  4. In a saute pan with a lid, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.
  5. When the oil is hot, dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture. I don't worry about shaking off the excess - it thickens the sauce and adds more flavor. Place them in the pan and cook until golden brown. Turn them over and brown the other side. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the garlic, being careful not to brown it. Let it cook for about 30 seconds, then pour in the wine. Bring to a simmer and let it cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Return the chicken to the pan along with any juices that have accumulated. Season to taste with more salt, if needed. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and cover.
  8. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through. During the last 5-10 minutes cook your pasta and drain.
  9. To serve, put pasta in bowls and top with chicken and plenty of the sauce. Finish with a generous sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
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