Archive for the ‘seafood’ Category

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Tuna Puttanesca

Last week I was able to take part in Slow Food Seattle’s Tuna Canning Workshop. I had so wanted to go to the first one last year (especially after hearing all the raves about the tuna) but work got in the way. Pacific Northwest Tuna is exquisite (I especially love it raw) and I certainly love being able to support a local fisherman so I bought my ticket and reserved my flat of tuna as soon as it was possible.

We spent the day cutting and trimming the tuna, then stuffing it into jars. Each jar then gets a little salt, a little olive oil and a piece of carrot (Jeremy the fisherman’s secret ingredient). Finally the jars are sealed and then placed in a pressure canner for 90 minutes. The tuna comes out bubbling and hot so it has to cool for a few minutes before it get packed up to take home.

I wanted to cook something delicious with my first jar of tuna, but I’ve been a bit of a hermit lately so a trip to the store just didn’t sound like much fun. I decided to turn to a classic Italian dish, Pasta Puttanesca which requires no fresh ingredients.

Puttanesca has a bit of a tawdry history as it is said that it was invented by prostitutes. Some say that it’s aroma was used to lure new patrons while others say that they made it because it was quick and could be cooked entirely from the pantry (since many of them had no refrigeration available). Of course there are others that say it was simply invented by busy Italian women who wanted something quick to serve their family. Whichever version of history you believe, know that this is one of the most delicious pasta dishes around.

You might be tempted to leave the anchovy paste out of this dish but trust me, don’t. It adds a certain salty “what is that” flavor that is essential. I served mine over fresh pasta (just because I’ve been practicing my fresh pasta technique) but dry fettuccine or spaghetti will be just as delicious. Here’s the ingredients.

Start by covering the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil. Once it’s warm add the garlic and anchovy and let it fry for about 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomatoes, black olives, capers and red pepper flakes and let it simmer while the pasta cooks.

When the pasta is almost done, add the tuna to the pan just to warm through.

Finally, drain the pasta then add it to the sauce. Let it cook for another 30 seconds or so then serve.

We had a friend over to enjoy this dinner with us. She took one bite and her eyes got big. “Yum” was all she could say. Salty, spicy and tangy this is the perfect pasta for a cold winter’s night.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Tuna Puttanesca
Recipe type: Entree
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
This sauce takes as long to prepare as it does to cook the pasta. Start the sauce while you are waiting for the pasta water to boil. Finish it as the pasta cooks.
  • 1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 3 Tablespoon capers
  • 1-2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can good quality oil-packed tuna
  1. Cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil. When it is warm, add the garlic and anchovy and let it fry for about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, black olives, capers and red pepper flakes and let it simmer.
  3. When the pasta is almost done, add the tuna to the sauce just to warm through.
  4. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it then add it to the sauce. Let it cook for another 30 seconds or so then serve.



Friday, July 1st, 2011

Scallops with Carrot Cream and Marjoram from Good Fish Cookbook

A couple of days ago I got a call from a perspective client wondering if I was available this weekend for a dinner party for two. Happily I have the day open because I love doing these kind of intimate affairs. This particular dinner will be an anniversary celebration and my client wants to provide his wife with some of her favorite foods, one of which happens to be scallops.

However, because my husband is NOT a fan of seafood, I don’t cook a lot of it at home. I decided I better turn to one of my many (many) cookbooks to find some inspiration. Luckily, my friend Becky Selengut has just written a cook book all about sustainable seafood called Good Fish. I’ve had this absolutely gorgeous and exceptionally witty (yes a cook book can be witty) book on my shelf for a while but until now I haven’t had a great excuse to cook from it. This was my opportunity. I turned to the chapter on scallops and spotted a recipe for Scallops with Carrot Creme and Marjoram. Perfect.

The recipe has several components that are cooked separately then plated together. They include carrot cream, herb oil, pickled carrots and of course, the scallops. Looking at the photo in the book, the way that it was plated made me wonder if the pickled carrots were really necessary. They’re kind of off to the side looking very unimportant. Luckily I was able to contact Becky through Twitter (she goes by @chefreinvented) to ask if they were really needed. “Crucial” was her reply, “it’s the only acidity in the recipe”.

Okay then. I made the “crucial” pickled carrots (though I cut the carrot into tiny matchsticks instead of the ribbons Becky called for) and the rest of the components following her excellent instructions then plated it all together, piling my carrots atop my seared scallop rather than off to the side.

How was it? Really, really  good. In the headnote to the recipe Becky says “There is something about the earthy sweetness of carrots paired with the delicate pine notes of the marjoram that really works.” I have to agree. And that carrot cream, I could eat it with a spoon. Swoon. Following Becky’s instructions for cooking the scallops themselves led to beautiful caramelization on the outside with a lovely medium rare interior. Awesome.

The husband though? Yeah, he really is not a fan of scallops (though he enjoyed  the other elements of the dish). I applaud him for trying them but by the time he was done he had declared the house a seafood-free zone until at least August.

As you know, I’m not in the habit of sharing recipes from cookbooks. Those authors worked hard on their book and I’m not going to give away their hard work for free. So, get yourself a copy of this book, turn to page 89 and fall in love.

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Bad Blogger, with Good Reason

Lately I’ve been a bad blogger, but I’ve had good reason. Last week as part of my fundraising for my Team in Training event and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society I threw a Hawaiian Feast. I spent a fairly sizable amount of time menu planning, finding door prize donors, creating gift certificates, coordinating volunteers, making signs, etc. It was more work than I imagined (but in the end it was totally worth it). This left me with little energy for cooking much less blogging.

The menu for the feast consisted of lots of yummy traditional Hawaiian food. Here’s what I prepared (with the help of some great volunteers):

Spam Musubi (think sushi but with fried spam instead of fish)
Ahi Poke (pronounced po-kay)
Kalua Pork
Chicken Luau
White Rice
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad (trust me, it’s different from mainland macaroni salad)
Tropical Fruit
Cupcakes (from New York Cupcakes, delicious)

I also made Haupia which is a coconut milk pudding/gelatin concoction, but it never set so I couldn’t serve it.

My favorites from the night were the Kalua Pork and the Ahi Poke. I thought I would pass along the recipes.

Traditionally at a luau the Kalua Pork would be a whole pig, cooked all day in an underground imu. Obviously that is not practical for most cooks. I used pork shoulder which is not only cheap, but also very tasty. This recipe is from Epicurious.

Kalua Pork

5 pound boneless pork butt roast
2 Tablespoon Hawaiian sea salt or course sea salt
3 frozen banana leaves, thawed
4 cup Water

2 cup water
2 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt or course sea salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Using small sharp knife, cut 1/4-inch-deep slits 1 inch apart all over pork roast. Rub 2 tablespoons sea salt all over pork. Unfold 1 banana leaf on work surface and place pork roast atop leaf. Fold up leaf around pork, enclosing completely. Repeat wrapping pork in remaining 2 banana leaves, 1 at a time.

Tie with kitchen string to secure, then wrap roast in foil. Place pork in roasting pan; pour 4 cups water into pan.

Roast pork in oven until very tender when pierced with fork, about 5 hours. Unwrap pork and cool slightly. Shred pork and place in large bowl.

Bring remaining 2 cups water and remaining 2 teaspoons salt to boil in small saucepan. Add liquid smoke; pour over pork and stir to blend. Let stand 10 minutes to allow liquid to flavor pork. Serve.

Ingredient tip: Hawaiian alaea sea salt is available at specialty foods stores and online from Hawaii Specialty Salt Company at Banana leaves are available at Asian markets and Latin markets. Liquid smoke is a smoke-flavored liquid seasoning available at many supermarkets and specialty foods stores.

My other favorite from the night was the Ahi Poke. There are lots of different recipes around for Poke, but the one I used came from a blog called Chaos in the Kitchen. Click the link to see her beautiful poke photo (which in the end was a large part of the reason I chose that recipe). I used frozen Ahi Tuna (QFC had donated a gift card for me to use for the event and frozen was all they had) and it actually turned out great (and was substantially less expensive than fresh would have been). I cut the tuna into 1/2 squares while it was still partially frozen which made it really easy to do. My version of the recipe makes 12-16 appetizer size servings.

Hawaiian Poke

16 ounce sushi-grade tuna
1/2 sweet or red onion, julienned
2 green onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoon black sesame seeds (or toasted)

Combine onion, green onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame seeds and oil in a bowl.

Add bite sized pieces of tuna, mix well.

Chill the mixture for 15 minutes before serving so flavors can mix. Check for salt before serving, the soy sauce can be pretty salty without needing any additional salt.

Now that my event is in the books I can get back to blogging. I picked up my CSA box yesterday and I’ve already got some ideas brewing about what to make. A new entry will be coming soon, I promise.

P.S. I raised $706 for LLS with the Hawaiian Feast. A little less than I was hoping for, but not too bad. The thing that really touched me was the willingness of my friends to give of their time and talents to help make my event a success. Some friends gave amazing door prizes, others spent hours in the kitchen helping me prep and serve, another spent the evening as our DJ (setting an awesome tropical mood) and a few helped collect money at the door, sell raffle tickets and bar tend. I could not have had a successful event without all of their help.

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Mussels with Fennel and Orange Broth

Mussels may be the husband’s favorite food. This always seems a little weird to me because he despises fish (although he will eat tilapia or halibut if coerced) and doesn’t like clams or oysters. He, like me, is a big fan of escargot though, so maybe it’s a texture thing (they always seems similar to me).

When I got fennel in the box I immediately thought of using it with mussels because I think fennel matches nicely with seafood (but, as mentioned, the husband doesn’t like other seafood). Then I started to think about what matches with fennel. Here’s what I came up with.

2 tablespoon butter
1 head fennel, trimmed, core removed and diced
1 bunch red scallion, diced (any other sweet onion or even leeks would work instead)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup orange juice
1 sprig thyme, leaves removed
2 pounds mussels, beards removed

1 loaf of crusty bread (to sop up the delicious broth)

I started by melting the butter over medium heat in a saucier (a stock pot would work just fine). I added the fennel, onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and let it all sweat until fennel and onion were cooked through. Next I added the wine, orange juice and thyme and brought the mixture to a boil.

Then I added the mussels to the pan. Gave it a stir.

Then put the lid on and let them cook. After six minutes I checked them and decided they needed a little more time (they were still slimy in the middle). Three minutes later I dished them up.

The husband enjoyed the dish immensely. I always like it when I make a dish he really enjoys (he is just so picky). I enjoyed the mussels well enough, but the broth was definitely my favorite part of the dish (it always is). Yummy bread, sweet, tangy broth. What could be wrong with that?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

White Albacore Tuna Crudo

While shopping at Whole Foods for a client a couple of weeks ago, I spotted a fish that I had never seen before. Nestled next to the Big Eye and the Yellowfin was something labeled local white albacore tuna. It was the only fish that I have ever seen still in cyrovak in the display case at Whole Foods.

I decided to ask a few questions of the fish monger. I was informed that this time of year the albacore migrate by this area. They are fished younger than most tuna so their mercury levels are lower. They keep them cryovaked because they can only be fished for a few days, but they would like to sell them for more than a few days (without freezing them). I was also told that this particular Tuna can be served raw, seared or cooked through and it’s still tasty (a bonus when fish is being left to be cooked by the client).

I bought some for my client and a bit for myself. My lunch that day was so good.

Yesterday while shopping once again for my client I spied that they still had the tuna. I bought a bit and decided to have it for lunch today.

Here’s the ingredients:

6 ounces white albacore tuna
juice and zest of 1/2 lime
Hawaiian pink flake sea salt to taste
the good olive oil

I diced the tuna and tossed it with the lime juice and bit of the sea salt. Once I had it on the plate I drizzled it with olive oil and then sprinkled it with the lime zest and a little more salt.

That’s it. So easy. I decided to enjoy this with a few tortilla chips (a nice crunch against the texture of the tuna).

Best. Lunch. Ever. Nuff said.

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Pasta Salad with Grilled Corn and Shrimp

Holy smokes, it is hot outside. Gonna need something cool for dinner tonight.

The other day, I was watching the Today Show. Martha Stewart was on demonstrating shrimp and corn salad and I thought it was an interesting idea, but that I could make it better (don’t shoot me Martha fanatics). Now I haven’t tried Martha’s recipe, so it may be a good thing (and I’ll admit that bibb lettuce would have been way better than the way too bitter dandelion greens).

Here’s the ingredients:

1 pound of shrimp
1/3 pound shell pasta
2 ears corn
1/2 Walla Walla sweet onion, diced
a whole mess of basil, julienned
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 bunch of dandelion greens (but as I said, a milder lettuce would have been way better)
1/2 cucumber, sliced

I started by cooking the pasta in salted water and grilling the corn until is was nicely charred. When the pasta was done I cooled it down with cold water right away than left it to drain. When the corn was cool enough to handle I cut it off of the cobs.

Meanwhile I boiled the shrimp in water seasoned with salt and a bit of cider vinegar for three minutes, then immediately plunged them into an ice bath to cool.

While everything was cooking, I made a creamy vinaigrette with the garlic, mustard, sherry vinegar and mayonnaise. Then I simply stirred together the shrimp, corn, pasta, basil and onion.

To plate I made a bed of greens and cucumber, then topped it with a generous scoop of the salad.

How was it? Delicious. Seriously, the only mis-step here was the dandelion greens (they were just way too strong for the delicate flavor of the pasta salad). The cucumbers, however, were a lovely accompaniment. It was nice to have a cool, tasty meal on a day that was way too hot. The husband really liked it too (and he’s not even a big fan of shrimp). The best part? Plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow (it’s still supposed to be way to hot then too).

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Shrimp Tacos

Lately I have had a craving for shrimp tacos. There is a local taco place that makes a pretty fair version, but since I am trying to cook more at home I have resisted the urge to get them.

So, when I saw that I would be getting cabbage in my box this week, I decided that this would be a good opportunity to make my own.

Here’s the ingredients.

2 limes, juiced, divided
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
30 or so smallish shrimp
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1 mango, julienned
creme fraiche
white corn tortillas

I started by marinating the shrimp in half of the lime juice and the adobo sauce (whenever I open a can of chipotles I stick whatever I have left in the can in the freezer, so I almost always have adobo on hand). I set this aside for about 20 minutes.

While the shrimp marinated I worked on the cabbage slaw. I combined the cabbage, red bell pepper and mango along with the juice of 1/2 a lime and a little salt and black pepper, then set it aside.

To grill the shrimp, I skewered them the long way through the entire shrimp so that they would be a bit straighter when they were done.

I sprinkled the shrimp with a little salt then grilled the skewers for about 3 minutes on each side. While the shrimp cooked I warmed the tortillas, wrapped in wet paper towels, in the microwave for 30 seconds.

When everything was ready I created tacos by spreading each tortilla with about a Tablespoon of creme fraiche, a bit of the cabbage slaw and a few shrimp.

How was it? Well, these were quite good. The slaw was maybe a tiny bit too limey but overall really tasty. With a couple of tweaks (less lime, a little more spice) I could see these going on the permanent repertoire.

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Crab Cakes with Two Salads

It’s been a few days since I’ve been in the kitchen. The mother-in-law has been in town and keeping us busy. After a couple of nights of take-out, I was ready to cook.

Once again I took inspiration from the Serious Eats blog feature “Weekend Cook and Tell”. This week’s theme was “What’s in your Pantry”. Really, this is a pretty easy theme for me, because I cook from my pantry all the time. However, I have had two cans of crab lurking in my cabinet for some time. I bought them on a lark at Costco, but once I had them home, I was a little scared of them, unsure, just what would be in the cans.

Today was the day, and crab cakes was the dish. The method I use for my crab cakes is based on a Tom Douglas recipe for crab cakes from his Seattle Kitchen cookbook .

Here’s the ingredients:

10 slices sourdough bread (because that is what I had in my pantry, white bread would probably be better) with the crusts cut off
1 handful fresh parsley
2 cans crab meat (note it is crab, not krab, a good sign)
1 bell pepper, minced
1 large shallot, minced
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
Sriracha to taste
(there is a lemon in the picture but I decided not to use it)

I started by putting the bread in the food processor and pulsing to make crumbs. Once I was done with the bread, I tossed in the parsley to mince. I combined the bread crumbs and parsley, measured out 1 cup of the mixture and put it in a bowl, them put half of the remaining crumbs in a pyrex dish.

Next I put the minced bell pepper, shallot and crab in a dish towel and squeezed it to remove all the excess moisture. I added this to the bread crumbs in the bowl and added the remaining ingredients stirring to combine and tasting for seasoning. I decided it needed a touch of salt and some black pepper. I divided the mixture into six equal portions.

Then formed the mixture into patties, laying them in the bread crumbs as I finished each one.

Once they were all done, I poured the remaining bread crumbs on top, covered the dish and then stashed it in the fridge until I was ready to cook (it needs to sit for at least one hour).

When I was ready to complete the meal I melted a bit of butter with some olive oil in a pan. I added three of the crab cakes (I didn’t want to crowd the pan so the cakes would brown well) and browned them on each side, then I put them on a cookie sheet while I browned the remaining cakes. I popped the pan into a preheated 400 degree oven and let them cook for 12 minutes.

Alongside I made two salads. The first featured red lettuce (that I grew myself, thank you very much), diced tomato, fresh parsley, chives and a lemon vinaigrette. The second had diced mango, chive blossoms, fresh basil and a bit of sea salt.

Now, I tried the crab when I opened the can and to be honest, I was not impressed. It had a weird texture and wasn’t super tasty. However, in crab cake form, it was quite good, maybe not fresh-picked crab good, but good. The husband and the mother-in-law both liked it too. The green salad was just meh. but the mango salad was delicious and really good with the slightly spicy crab cakes. If I was to see canned crab at the Costco again, I might just buy it again.

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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