Crab Cakes with Buerre Blanc

kjfkjA great chef and Blue Fish owner, Richard Grenamyer, taught me how to make his very popular crab cakes.  They are very simple with just a few ingredients so that the crab is the focus. He pan-cooked them and served them with buerre blanc, a white wine butter sauce. I recently added an ear of sweet summer corn to the mix, Go ahead and make the whole recipe because they freeze beautifully- just thaw before cooking.

 Blue Fish Crab Cakes Yield: 16

  •  1 Lb Jumbo Lump Crab Meat (Picked Clean of Shells)
  • 1/2 Lb French Bread (torn)
  • 4  Green Onions, chopped
  • 2 T Fresh Dill, chopped
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 ear of corn cut from cob (optional)
  1. Place bread, green onion and dill in a food processor and pulse until bread is chopped to a medium texture.
  2. Place in bowl, add picked crab meat and toss together.
  3. Add egg and mix well.
  4. Wet hands and form mixture into balls approximately 1 1/2 to 2 ounces. These may be covered and refrigerated till ready to use. They also may be frozen.
  5. To cook, flatten each ball into a cake and pan saute in clarified butter or olive oil. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side till golden brown. Serve with beurre blanc.

Buerre Blanc

2 tablespoons minced shallots (about 1 large shallot)
¼ cup dry white wine, of drinkable quality
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
6 whole black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
¾ cup heavy cream
1½ sticks unsalted butter (12 tablespoons), cut into pieces and chilled
Salt, to taste

  1. Combine the shallots, wine, vinegar, lemon juice, peppercorns and thyme in a small sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat, and cook until the sauce has reduced and the pan is nearly dry.
  2. Add the heavy cream; continue cooking (reduce) until the cream has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. 
  3. Remove the pan from the heat; whisk in the cold butter, one piece at a time, until all is incorporated. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer; season to taste with salt. (Note: Properly seasoning this sauce is crucial, as the salt brings out the layers of flavor.) Hold in a warm water bath (or thermos) until needed

 

How To: Make Almond Flour

I occasionally find recipes calling for almond flour or skinned, ground almonds.  The two that come to mind are macarons and a fruit galette, which uses ground almonds between the pastry and fruit to keep the pastry from becoming soggy. You can find almond flour in your grocery store, but at quite a steep price. Also, if you need just a bit in a recipe, the leftover ground almonds will most likely go rancid before your next baking adventure.  Here is an easy way to skin almonds and make almond flour…

almondsFill a pot half way with water and bring to a boil.  Drop the almonds in the water for 10-15 seconds. The skins should look visibly loosened. If you are unsure they have cooked long enough, use a slotted spoon to remove one almond.  If the skin slides off when you rub it with you finger, the rest are ready to be removed to a colander and drained.

Once cool, I throw them in a large bowl and mindlessly rub the skins off the almonds while catching up on my tv, You don’t have to watch tv, but it makes the somewhat dull process go a  bit faster. Pick the skins out of the bowl and you now have blanched, skinned almonds.

To make the flour, I let them air dry for a couple of hours set on a  towel on the counter.  Pulse in your food processor until ground to the consistency you need. Macarons like finely ground almonds while I use a coarser ground for my galettes. Either way, you will need to go a step further in drying them now. Set your oven to the lowest setting (mine is 170F) and spread your ground almonds on a baking sheet.  Let dry in the oven for an hour. Once cooled completely, you can store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Shrimp & Okra

shrimp

 

Shrimp and okra makes for a quick, healthy dinner with a lot of flavor. I use Pernod in this dish because I love the anise flavor. If you don’t, feel free to substitute white wine. Also, you typically see these creole dishes served with fluffy, long-grain white rice. We’ve substituted a bit of brown rice to make it even more nutritious.

Shrimp & Okra

  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed*
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 lb ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups sliced okra
  • 2 T Pernod liqueor
  • 1 T fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 t. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 green onions, very thinly sliced
  • Sugar
  1. Put shrimp into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper. Heat 1T of the oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the shrimp, stirring and tossing them with a spatula, until they turn pink, about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
  2.  Into the same skillet with the oil and shrimp juices, put the remaining 1T oil,  and the onions, garlic, celery, and bell peppers and cook, stirring constantly with a  wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes. 
  3. Add the tomatoes, okra and Pernod.  Reduce the heat to medium low, and when the sauce comes to a simmer, add the bay leaf. allspice, and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp back to the skillet, along with the parsley and green onions. Cook for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper. If the sauce is a little too tart, add a little sugar to balance the flavors. Serve with rice of your choice.

* I save the shells and tails in the freezer so I can make wonderful seafood stocks when I’ve accumulated enough. Waste not, want not!

Braised Beef Pho for my Pho-natics!

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Pho is a Vietnamese soup with a flavorful broth, rice noodles, and a myriad of fresh herbs and vegetables as garnishes. I make mine with a chuck roast seasoned with five-spice powder and braised with garlic and ginger.  Kale, cabbage, mushrooms and carrot are added to the broth at the last moment so that they retain their flavor and texture. Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sambal oelek  and you really have something extraordinary.  You will be tempted to eat nothing else for the rest of your days.

Braised Beef Pho with Kale

  • 2 lb beef chuck roast, sliced into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 T five spice
  • 12 cups beef stock
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T ginger, peeled and  minced ( 1T for braise and 2 T for broth)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 carrot. quartered plus 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 stalk celery, quartered
  • 4 T rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T sambal oelek
  • 4 T soy sauce
  • 2 cups packed kale, chopped
  • 1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms (shitake or button work), thinly sliced
  • 1 T cilantro
  • 2 T green onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 leaves thai basil, torn
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • lime wedges
  1. Place a large dutch oven over medium heat and add the oil. While the pot is heating, season the sliced chuck roast with the salt, pepper and five-spice powder.  When the oil is hot, cook each side of the beef until golden brown.  Once all pieces are brown, add just enough beef stock so that it comes 3/4 way up the beef.  The braising liquid should never completely cover the meat.  Add the garlic, ginger, onion, quartered celery and carrot to the stock. Bring to a simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Transfer to a 300F oven for four hours or until the beef is tender.
  2. Remove beef from the braising liquid and chop into bite-size pieces. Discard any fat or connective tissue.  Set beef aside until time to serve.  Remove the carrot and celery pieces and discard. Add the rest of stock, vinegar, sambal oelek, 2 T ginger, and soy sauce,  Cook 3o minutes on medium heat.
  3. While the broth is simmering, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.  Pour the hot water over the rice noodles in a heat-proof bowl. Let sit 10 minutes and then start checking for pliability. When softened, drain and run cool water over the noodles. Reserve noodles for serving.
  4. After the broth has simmered for 30 minutes, taste and adjust the soy sauce, rice vinegar and sambal oelek.  Turn the heat to low and add the kale, cabbage, mushrooms, and carrots. Cook just until the cabbage has softened a bit.
  5. To serve: In a large bowl, place 1/2 cup of rice noodles, 1/2 cup beef, 2 cups of broth with vegetables and the rest is garnish.  So, whatever suits you. I chose cilantro, thai basil, green onions, lime wedges and sliced red onions. My crazy husband added the sliced chiles. Ouch!

Serves 4

Mr. Rylee’s Spicy Smoked Chicken Pizza

065My sweet husband loves anything spicy. He puts red pepper flakes, cayenne or hot sauce on most food he eats. His favorite pizza has always been a spicy one with smoked chicken, jalapenos, red onion, and bell peppers. I had always made this pizza with regular marinara, but after watching him put Sriracha all over it, the Vietnamese chile-garlic hot sauce was substituted for the marinara on the next pizza. And it was a hit! Now, his spicy pizza also has fresh and pickled jalapenos, banana peppers, and finished with cilantro. Don’t even think about leaving off the cilantro!

Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough 

Best pizza dough-crispy & chewy! Makes four pizzas.

  • 3 ¾ cups bread flour, plus more for shaping the dough
  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups water 

For dough: In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72°F) for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.

 Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them: For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center; then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn’t actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.

If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.

Spicy Smoked Chicken Pizza

  • 8 oz smoked chicken breast, thinly sliced (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup grated smoked provolone
  • 1/2 cup grated low-moisture mozzarella
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 8 pickled jalapeno slices
  • 8 banana pepper slices
  • 3 T Sriracha, or as needed
  • 2 T cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 recipe Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough (recipe above)
  1. Place pizza stone in bottom 1/3 portion of oven and preheat to the highest temperature your oven will go (mine is 550F).
  2. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to the size of the pizza peel. Stretch the dough as described above and brush the outer 1″ with olive oil. Spread the Sriracha over the entire pizza except the 1″ with oil.
  3. Start layering ingredients- I start with chicken, then I add cheese and top with everything else except the cilantro.
  4. Cook 10 minutes on the pizza stone or until the crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before slicing.
  5. After slicing, garnish with cilantro and if you like it super-duper-spicy (like my husband), drizzle more Sriracha over the top.

Smoked Chicken Breasts

You need a little stovetop smoker to make this quickly.  It’s worth the money.

  • 2- 4oz chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
  1. Mix the oil with the paprika, salt and pepper. Coat each breast with the mixture thoroughly.
  2. Place 1 T wood chips in the bottom of the smoker and place rack on top with chicken on it. Heat over medium heat with the lid half way on.  When wisps of smoke appear, close the lid and let smoke for 20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 155F.

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You can multiply this recipe as much as you need and will fit in the smoker.  I smoke extra for chicken tortilla soup.

Day 7: Roasted Beet, Arugula & Chevre with a Walnut Vinaigrette

110bI didn’t like beets for the longest time. I suppose I was too young to appreciate their complexity. They tasted like sweet dirt back then. Now, I love the sweet earthiness of beets. Anyway, back to the salad. Peppery arugula (aka rocket) is tossed in a walnut vinaigrette and topped with slices of roasted beets, toasted walnuts, and chevre. I love it and can’t get enough! If you aren’t a goat cheese fan (like my sweet mother-in-law), I would substitute another soft tangy cheese such as a Roquefort or even a good Feta.

Roasted Beet, Arugula & Chevre Salad with a Walnut Vinaigrette

  • 4 medium beets ( I used golden and red, but any variety will do)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted
  • 4 oz chevre
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 T walnut oil
  • salt  & pepper, to taste
  1. Cut stems off of the beets and scrub under water to remove any dirt. Lightly coat each beet with oil and place on foil-covered baking sheet. Roast in preheated 400F oven for 35-45 minutes, or until slightly tender. When cool enough to handle, peel outer skin and cut into 1/4″ slices.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar and honey. Drizzle the walnut oil in slowly while whisking. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the arugula and toss to coat.
  3. Arrange the arugula on each plate, garnish with crumbled chevre, walnuts, and beets. Serves 2

Day 6: Argentine Beef Salad

026My husband loves salad, but I got the feeling he was a little fed up with his dinners of lettuce. He sounded pretty excited when I told him we would be having steak for dinner. I think he was expecting a ribeye and baked potato. Not the case, my man! Where this dinner lacks in fat, it more than compensates in flavor. Marinated and grilled flank steak, roasted sweet peppers, and crisp greens are drizzled with chimichurri sauce, a South American sauce for grilled meats made from parsley, cilantro, oregano, garlic, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Delicioso!

  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 T oregano, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1.5-2 lb flank, skirt, or flatiron steak
  • 4 sweet peppers
  • 2 packed cups greens of your choice ( I like romaine and spinach)
  1. Combine parsley, cilantro, oregano, garlic, oil and vinegar in a food processor. Pulse until smooth and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Brush 3 tablespoons of chimichurri over steak and marinate 1-4 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. Roast sweet peppers on an open flame on grill or stove. Char all over and place in bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let steam for a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel blackened skin off and core and seed. Slice into julienne strips and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Cook beef on grill that has been preheat to 500F. Each side will take about 5 minutes, depending on the thickness. A thermometer should read 130 for medium rare. Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes before slicing into thin strips against the grain.
  4. Layer lettuce, peppers, steak and then drizzle with chimichurri sauce. Enoy!

Serves 2-3

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