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Archive for the category “seafood”

Boiled Lobster with Clarified Butter

lobster in shell

A most hated dish to me is overcooked, dried out lobster. It is sad that such a delicious creature gets so abused for our sake. Not the eating of lobster; I am fine with doing that, but the overcooking of it. For that reason I do not often order it in restaurants. Maybe it is unfair to assume they will screw it up, but it is what I do. My parents were the same way. They would not get them at restaurants, but buy them alive the afternoon they planned on cooking, and leave the suckers in the sink to wait. When I was young and short I would peek over the edge of the counter and see them moving around, with their claws bound in rubber bands. According to my mom, once one of those claws came towards me and I freaked out. Apparently it was hilarious. I am not sure if I thought so at the time.

If you have never prepared fresh, live lobster, from crawling to consuming, you are missing out. The meat cannot be compared to previously frozen tails or disguising of it in a lobster roll or dip. It is pure, sweet, meaty heaven. The reason for keeping them alive until right before cooking is to preserve them as long as possible. Like all shellfish, they begin to break down (organs and all) immediately upon death, so delaying it as long as possible is the healthiest, safest way to prepare them.

If you have never used clarified butter you may wonder why is it important to us it, instead of just melting butter right out of the fridge. It is my opinion, and that of many others, that if the butter is not clarified, with a hint of lemon, the butter will take over the flavor of the lobster instead of enhancing it, and leave a greasy film in the mouth. Leftover clarified butter is a great fat for cooking other things. It is the foundation of butter without the milk solids and water, so it has a high smoking point for cooking other foods and contributes a wonderful butteriness to whatever you cook.

Sadly, Brigit did not sample the lobster. After helping me buy them, watching them move around on the counter, then watching them lowered live into a pot of boiling water, I think she was squeamish about eating them. She might have been influenced by watching me tear it apart, claw by claw, tail by tail, then use kitchen scissors to open up the stubborn pieces. Maybe next time she will try it, for there will be a next time. The rest of our gang inhaled ever morsel, and sucked out the meat from the legs, like little lobster straws.

If you want more information about how to utilize as much of the lobster as possible, and dismantle it like I do, I recommend this video.

Boiled Lobster with Clarified Butter

1 pound unsalted butter
2 lemons
2 lobsters, 1 1/2 -2 pounds each
2-3 gallons water
2 bay leaves

In a medium saute pan over medium low heat add butter and zest from one lemon. Heat until butter is melted and steaming. Remove from heat and pour butter through a sieve to remove zest. Let butter sit for 20 minutes. Skim off fat layer that forms on top. Pour the rest of butter into a measuring cup or clear glass bowl. Place in refrigerator and let chill for at least four hours.

In a large stock pot add enough water to cover both lobsters and squeeze in lemon juice from one lemon. Drop in lemon rinds and bay leaves. Bring water to a rolling boil. Remove rubber bands from lobster claws. Drop lobsters into the boiling water, head and claws first. Cover and boil for 15 minutes, until shells are red.

While lobster cooks complete the clarified butter. Remove butter from refrigerator and scoop out the yellow, clarified portion from the top, leaving separate the white, watery portion (water and milk solids). Heat butter over medium heat until melted and steamy. Remove lobsters from water and set on tray to cool. Serve whole or remove edible meat from shells and serve on a platter. Serve by dipping bites into the butter.

Salmon Stuffed Mushrooms

salmon stuffed mushrooms

I came up with these when thinking about my in-laws. They are very special people I have known since I was about eight years old. One loves salmon, one not so much. She can usually find shrimp acceptable, but not at all with the salmon. When the salmon eater comes to dinner without the other we often do salmon. The situation came up at dinner a few days ago, and there was some poached salmon left over. There is always the opportunity to use salmon leftovers at a brunch or in a frittata, but I wanted something for dinner. Not breakfast-for-dinner, but dinner-for-dinner.

I didn’t want to overwhelm the salmon with other flavors, so I stuck with ingredients used when poaching the salmon. Being surrounded by mushroom, cream cheese and egg whites the salmon did not get dried out or overcooked. Funny the way things worked out – the salmon loving in-law was also at dinner to enjoy these mushrooms! Go figure!

Salmon Stuffed Mushrooms

15-20 miniature Portabello mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 egg white
6 ounces poached salmon
1/2 + 1/4 tsp fresh dill
1/2  cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Scoop out stem and meat from caps of mushrooms. Chop the stems finely. In a small skillet over medium heat add the oil. When oil is hot add the mushroom stems and garlic. Stir occasionally until mushrooms have released moisture and liquid is reduced. Remove from heat. In medium bowl whisk egg white until foamy, about 15 seconds. Add to the whites cheese, salmon, 1/2 tsp dill and stir until combined. Add the stem mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill mushroom caps with cheese mixture. Place filled caps evenly distributed in a 9×13 baking dish. In a measuring cup mix the water with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp dill. Stir until salt is dissolved. Pour water into bottom of baking dish. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, until mushrooms shrink and filling puffs up. Remove from oven. Place mushrooms onto platter and serve immediately.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

bacon wrapped scallops

Big D is going to be so pissed that I did this while he was out of town. I just could not wait! There is a local restaurant that makes something similar, and I had a serious craving. The restaurant appears to wrap the scallops with bacon and pierce with toothpicks, then deep fry them and serve with hollandaise sauce. Their sauce is a bit subtle – it may be the version of sauce they make, but I have longed for something tangier when we have ordered and inhaled them as an appetizer. Not one to deep fry things, I decided to broil, since scallops are easy to overcook and quick cooking works well with the broiler. I was tempted to do more seasoning, but decided to keep it simple. I was not disappointed. These were so easy to make at home and delicious! I promise I will make them again sweetie and after you get home!

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

8 large scallops (about 1″ diameter raw)
4 slices bacon, cut in half
8 round toothpicks
Salt and pepper to taste

Spicy Cocktail Sauce

1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 Tbsp raw horseradish, grated
1/4 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven on low broil. Lightly sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper. Wrap a piece of bacon around a scallop, overlapping the edges. Secure the bacon with a toothpick, pushing it through both sides of the scallop. Repeat with all scallops. Place scallops on a shallow baking pan. Position oven rack about 8 inches below broiler. Place scallops in oven. Broil for about ten minutes, making sure not to overcook the scallops. If you only have one broiler setting assume it is high and reduce cooking time to 5-7 minutes, watching carefully – a few more minutes may be needed, depending on broiler heat. The bacon may smoke a bit. While the scallops cook make the spicy cocktail sauce: whisk together the paste, horseradish and juice until well blended. Sprinkle sauce on serving dish. Place scallops on plate and serve immediately after removing from the oven.

Shrimp Hollandaise on Scrambled Eggs

shrimp hollandaise with eggs

We eat a lot of eggs. Not only are they good sources of protein, they are extremely versatile. Do you want to bake some cookies? Add an egg. Do you want a casserole type macaroni and cheese? Add an egg to thicken it. Do you want a shiny finish on your pie crust? Brush it with an egg wash. Do you want a fun appetizer or side dish? Devil some. Need to feed a crowd of overnight guests? Make a frittata. Do you want a breakfast that sticks to your ribs? Scramble some. You can always throw some meat and cheese into your scrambled egg, but there is always that occasional morning when you want something different. Here is a dish for one of those different days. My original craving was for Eggs Benedict, but I have not yet mastered the low carb English muffin, so I deviated. I figured out that what I was craving was the Hollandaise Sauce. Although not a traditional, more complicated version of the sauce, it was quick to make and ready in advance of the short cooking time needed for the shrimp and eggs. Little B was not very excited about the sauce – she is still young and naive, but she inhaled the eggs, shrimp and guacamole.

Shrimp Hollandaise on Scrambled Eggs

6 eggs
1/4 tsp sea salt
Dash of ground black pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 pound medium shrimp, deveined, shells and tails removed
1/2 lemon
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup prepared guacamole

Hollandaise Sauce
4 oz Butter
2 Egg Yolks
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Water
1/4 tsp salt

For the shrimp fill a medium pot half with water. Add salt, squeeze lemon juice into water and drop the lemon half into the water. Set pot over high heat. While waiting for water to boil for the shrimp, make Hollandaise Sauce. Melt 4 ounces of butter and let cool briefly. While butter is cooling add the rest of ingredients in a blender but do not blend them yet. When butter has cooled a bit spoon out the foamy, bubbly top from butter, leaving the clear, yellow clarified portion. Use only the clarified portion for the sauce. Begin blending the mixed ingredients on low and gradually and steadily add the butter. Let blend for about a minute. Stop the blender. Leave sauce at room temperature until served. If water is boiling add shrimp and cover. Let boil for three to five minutes, just until they turn pink all over. Remove from water and place on towel to drain. In a bowl crack the eggs and add salt and pepper. Whisk until combined. In a frying pan melt butter over medium high heat. Add eggs and stir in the pan until cooked to desired doneness (Big D likes soft so I take his out of the pan first – Little B and I like ours a little more firm). Divide eggs among individual serving plates. Top with shrimp, then drizzle them with Hollandaise sauce. Add a side scoop of guacamole and serve.

Simple Salmon Frittata

salmon frittata

I have shared a frittata recipe with you before, but the ingredients this time combined so nicely, and made such a great weekend breakfast that I decided to share another. Living in Southeast Alaska there is a year round craving for seafood, but it gets magnified as the spring days get longer, and the call to play outside with fewer layers on gets stronger. Our smoker has been busy flavoring meats, vegetables and cheeses for us all winter, but now we ask it to prepare our salmon. A local fish shop – and I mean a fish shop that sells catches from local fisherpeople – Pinkies, had some beautiful, fresh King Salmon. The smoker used alder wonderfully to compliment it, so we feasted on some wonderful marine life. The King Salmon is a big fish, so the leftovers were waiting on us the next morning. I get very used to tossing onion and garlic into many morning egg dishes, but I also leave them out sometimes, depending on the ingredients. This time I chose to let the salmon sing, and it did! I used smoked salmon, but any leftover cooked salmon would work.

Salmon Frittata

8 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Dash dried red chili flakes
4 ounces smoked salmon, roughly chopped
3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup Colby jack cheese, grated
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crack eggs into a medium bowl and whisk until slightly frothy. Whisk in cream salt, pepper, chili flakes and 1 tsp of dill. Grease a 9×9 baking or pie dish. Pour in egg mixture. Sprinkle salmon and bacon evenly into the egg mixture. It should sink down into the egg. Follow the fish and bacon with the Colby Jack cheese and then mozzarella cheese. Spread the last of the dill weed and a bit more salt on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until edges are browning, middle egg is set and middle cheese is slightly bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for about ten minutes. Slice and serve.

Divorce Shrimp over Spaghetti Squash

divorce shrimp spagh sq

There is a story/urban legend known down in Texas about a restaurant called Paesano’s. It was (and still is) popular for a Texas version of Italian, including a particular shrimp dish. The shrimp is butterflied and gently dragged through flour and lightly cooked in softly boiling oil.  A creamy lemon sauce is made and poured over the top. Totally addictive. I don’t know how true the story is, but here is what I heard many years ago. The married couple who owned the restaurant got divorced. Rumor has it the husband got the restaurant, but the wife got the recipes. It was not enough to have the recipes, so to even the score she widely distributed them and they gradually crept into kitchens far and wide. Eventually I got a fuzzy copy of the recipe titled ‘shrimp paesano’. I have made it many times, laden with flour and served on top of linguine or angel hair pasta. Each time I made it the kitchen is left fragrant and an absolute mess – multiple pots and pans dirty, the counter sprinkled with shrimp shells and flour, but some beautifully presented shrimp resting on a pile of creamy, lemony pasta with sauce. I think I usually remember the mess in the kitchen because you serve immediately and don’t do the final clean up until much later, after food coma passes. I prefer cleaning as I go, then have little to do after dinner. For this recipe you need to drop everything right when the shrimp is ready and sit down and eat. Of course, the dishes are always waiting when dinner is through, just a little stickier than I prefer. Since the restaurant is nowhere near where we live now, and quite pricy when within reach, I can do nothing but make it myself. Here is my attempt to make a version more in line with our less expensive, wheat free, low carb eating habits. The kitchen still is a mess when all is said and done, but the flavor shines through just like the original. I may do a ‘breaded’ shellfish version in the future, but for now the two pot version below really hit the spot on a staying in, snowy Saturday night!

Divorce Shrimp over Spaghetti Squash

1 pound large shrimp or langoustines, shelled
2 eggs, whisked
¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp butter
3 lemons, juiced with meat and seeds removed (about ¾ cup)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp arrowroot powder
1 medium or large spaghetti squash
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half and scrape out seeds. Place halves face down on baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until meat is soft. Scrape out meat with a fork to make spaghetti ‘noodles’.  Melt 2 Tbsp butter into noodles and sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover and keep warm until time to serve. While the squash cooks prepare the sauce and prep the shrimp or langoustines. In a large skillet over medium heat melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add shellfish and gently toss, only cooking long enough so they shellfish is only half cooked – the rest of the cooking will happen later when simmering in the sauce. Set aside the shellfish and make the sauce.  In medium sauce pan over medium heat melt ¾ cup butter. Add all the lemon juice and garlic. Heat until steamy. Add cream, lower heat and cook until sauce is mixed well, stirring frequently. Add cheese and stir slowly, making sure it melts and blends in with the smooth sauch. Add arrowroot powder and whisk. Sauce should bubble and thicken, but not boil. Add shellfish and gently simmer for about five more minutes, allowing the shellfish to cook through completely. Remove from heat and keep covered. On individual serving plates make a bed of spaghetti squash, then generously drizzle a ladle full of shellfish and sauce. Serve immediately.

Poached Salmon

poached salmon

As we head towards our new home in Alaska I ponder the loveliness of the salmon we can get up there. The salmon season is coming to an end as I type, but the bounty will be enjoyed all year. I get a serious craving about once a week for salmon. I have been trying to appreciate Atlantic salmon, but the taste is a bit too mild for me, compared to Alaskan and Pacific versions. Depending on my craving, I vary the preparation – do I want tart, or sweet and spicy, or maybe traditional dill with citrus? I should have called this post ‘variations on a salmon’ because each time I make it the ingredients vary. I am going to discipline myself for the time being and make sure you have a good base recipe, then list some variations that give the salmon a subtly different flavor. I am all kinds of in the mood for salmon lately, because thoughts of Alaska remind me of it so! We are excited to return to the most awesome state ever, and the home of the bestest salmon ever. Even if you can’t find the freshest or never frozen salmon, this recipe still works on any piece, as long as it is completely thawed. As you see, we like our salmon warm but still pink in the middle – to each his/her own…

Poached Salmon

1 – 2 pound fresh salmon fillet
1 lemon
4 Tbsp vinegar (champagne, red wine or white wine)
2 Tbsp butter or extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Additional ingredients from the variations below

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a shallow baking sheet place a piece of aluminum foil – twice the length plus about four inches – with the center of the foil in the center of the pan. Place the salmon fillet skin side down in the middle of the foil and bend up the foil edges, so the liquid does not leak out. Drizzle juice from half the lemon over the fish, followed by drizzling vinegar. Sprinkle salt over fillet lightly. Add any additional ingredients from the variations below. For variations with liquid ingredients I recommend mixing them all together before adding to the fish. Fold over the edges of the foil and seal into a pouch so no fish is exposed. Bake for 15 – 25 minutes until desired doneness. It is better to under cook than over cook, then let it set outside the oven covered up – it will still cook and reduce the risk of it overcooking and getting dry.


1 Tbsp fresh dill
1 clove garlic, finely minced


2 tsp ginger, freshly grated
2 Tbsp soy sauce (gluten free if you are sensitive, because regular soy sauce has wheat in it)


3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin


1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tsp ginger, freshly grated


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp garlic powder
1tsp onion powder

Salmon Patties

salmon patties
I got nostalgic on this one, in many respects. I was craving salmon and began remembering the patties my mom used to make with the canned stuff when I was little. I liked them, but always got a little shiver when I came across one of the soft, yet still crunchy pieces of bone from the canned salmon. I still recall not being able to decide whether the shiver was fun or not. The soft bone was easily chewable but always a surprise in the otherwise non-chewy dish. Another nostalgia point was from my time living in Juneau, Alaska. In late summer and early fall the salmon pile up on each other in an effort to swim upstream and practically jump out of the water into your arms. You have to make sure they are not aiming for bear arms, but after the all clear on the bear front, you can just grab the slippery suckers. Needless to say, even if you don’t fish there is a bounty of salmon, from ‘dogs’, also known as chum salmon, to the sweet, naturally bright red meat of the sockeye salmon. Living in Juneau you are surrounded by fisherpeople who get their maximum catch as often as they can and they share share share. It can be smoked, steamed, grilled, marinated, chopped, dried, jarred, canned….which brings me to this recipe. For this recipe I used canned pink salmon, which in this case is wild caught from Alaska. Not ideal, compared to the taste of the stuff that was swimming in the creek this morning, but effective in my effort to combine the nostalgie, and the fact that the only fresh salmon found in Maryland is Atlantic. Sigh. And as Big D said, these were the first salmon patties he ever had that were not dry and Little B enjoyed them, too. Score!

Salmon Cakes

1 can pink salmon, drained with spine and other bones removed
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 eggs
1 lemon, juiced with meat included
½ – 2/3 cup golden flaxseed meal
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp dried dill
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp dried parsley leaves
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup coconut oil

In medium bowl add salmon and break it up into small flakes. Make a pool in the middle of the salmon and drop in yogurt, eggs, salt, thyme, parsley, garlic and dill. Whisk together egg, lemon juice and yogurt mixture with a fork until eggs are broken up. Toss egg mixture with salmon until combined. Add ½ cup of the meal and stir. Let sit for a minute or two. While you wait add the coconut oil to a medium skillet and heat to medium high. If the salmon mixture is not thick enough to drop into the oil and hold shape as patties (thicker than pancake batter, thinner than, say, tuna salad) add some more meal and stir it in until thicker. Drop a large spoonful of mixture into the skillet and gently flatten so it is of even thickness and about two inches in diameter. Cook until the patties set and begin to brown on the edges, about 2 minutes. Gently flip the patties and cook for another minute or two. Repeat process until all the patties are cooked. Serve with zucchini wedges or other veggies.

Crispy Tuna Melts

20130602-204719.jpgWe found ourselves hanging out in the RV the other day after a hot, hilly hike along a section of the Appalachian Trail. A few years ago Big D did a stint solo from Georgia to Virginia, and has had a hankering to return to the trail ever since. I am keen to spend a few months on the trail with him and Little B, but finding a gooldly chunk of time during the right seasons of the year has yet to happen, so we will continue with it on our radar for now. Living in Maryland, so close to the trail inspired us to dip our toes into the experience. The dip not only reminds us of our desire to dive in, but also to see how our little trooper, Little B, would do. Ever since she was about 2 years old we have taken her on stroller free walks and hikes. To this day she gets excited about going ‘on a dirt trail’, which is much more fun than the more structured ‘asphalt trails’. When given a choice she always chooses the dirtier path. We all did well with the rocky hills and deep drop offs during our hike, but the heat really drained all my extra energy. Hungry, but also melting into our lounge chairs, we tried to figure out what to have for dinner. Wanting something quick, while limited by our decision to pass on a trip to the store, I dug through the fridge and pantry and came up with these guys – crispy tuna melts. When you think of a tuna melt it is probably an image of hot cheese and tuna between two pieces of buttered, crispy toast. To avoid the carbs and wheat of the bread I made some tasty tuna treats without the sandwich part. They were filling, so it did not take much to sate us, and we sank back into our chairs, full and sleepy as the evening air cooled with the setting sun. Nice day and nice food with nice company.

Crispy Tuna Melts

2 cans tuna in water, drained
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese in the pan, followed by half a can of tuna and some garlic. Season with salt and pepper. After a minute or so the cheese will begin to crisp as stick together in a cheese pancake. When the tuna and garlic mixes with the melted cheese it is time to flip. Push spatula under half of the pancake and flip it over the other half, like you would an omelet. Flip the crisp to make sure it is evenly browned on both sides. Remove from pan to a plate for cooling. Repeat the process three more time to use the rest of the ingredients. Cut crisps in half, or strips, or any shape for eating. Can be eaten cold or reheated.

Spicy Shrimp Vegetable Toss

I didn’t want a hot meal, but I also did not want a cold meal. Between Big D and I we came up with this flavorful, crispy concoction. The vegetables are either raw or cooked just until warmed up – maximizing the nutritional potential of them all. A perfect match for shrimp, which needs very little cooking to be ready to eat. The spiciness made us feel full pretty quickly. No lead belly after this meal! We were excited about our find at the store – big, fresh shrimp calling to us. Our past is filled with Gulf Coast shrimp by the bowl full. We grew up sitting at dinners filled with peel-and-eat shrimp dipped in spicy horseradish cocktail sauce, complimented by boiled corn on the cob and new potatoes. For this dish it was Little B’s first attempt at peeling raw shrimp. The first one was pretty mangled, but serious improvement on the subsequent little shrimpies. You should see her peel an onion these days – masterful!

Spicy Shrimp and Vegetables

2 – 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp red chili flakes
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 medium onion, sliced julienne
½ large red bell pepper, slice julienne
1 jalapeno, sliced julienne
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
2 pounds small/medium shrimp
½ head cauliflower, finely chopped
½ large tomato, sliced in about eight wedges
½ carrot, cut in thin strips
4 cups shredded cabbage
Additional salt to taste

Heat two Tablespoons of the oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add chili flakes and let sizzle for a few minutes. Add garlic, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno. Saute until onions begin to sweat. Sprinkle in turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and salt, and toss until vegetables are coated. Add cauliflower and cook a few more minutes until it begins to sweat. Add shrimp and toss. Place tomatoes on top of mixture. Cover skillet and cook for about five minutes, until shrimp are cooked and pink. On serving plates spread ½ – ¾ cup cabbage. Add 1 – 2 cups shrimp and vegetable mixture, then top with carrot strips. Serve immediately.

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