Thursday, August 25, 2016

Another treat from Paradise Seafood


If you're a follower of my (now too infrequent, I know) blog, you know that I'm extrememly fond of Paradise Seafood, and Ted the Fish Man, who always has interesting ideas to share.  Remember the fish filets marinated in bottled Italian dressing? Ted the Fish Man.

I had gotten four of Paradise's home-made crab cakes a few weeks ago. They are frozen when you get them, so it's easy to keep them in the freezer.  We were expecting guests so I thawed all four.  But plans changed and we had two left over.  Two days later we had re-scheduled the dinner.

In a flash of inspiration, I took the two leftover crab cakes, crumbled them into a bowl and mixed in two egg yolks.  I used the mixture to stuff white button mushrooms (stems removed, of course) and those cute little multicolor peppers that are sold pretty much everywhere in bag in the produce department. I found some shredded Italian mix cheese in the fridge.  Covered, I chilled them until baking time later in the day.

I preheated the oven to 350 and at dinner time, baked them for about 20 minutes.  They were declared delicious.

It occurs to me that they would also be delicious in a main-course stuffed pepper as well.  But if you're going for a main course, just thaw, brown in a little olive oil and eat with your favorite sauce. 

Paradise will be at the usual spots this weekend but won't be back until late in September, but you can keep the crab cakes in the freezer until you're ready to use them   

Sunday, May 08, 2016

A dinner to remember in Nashville

We'd planned on a few days in New Orleans.  But the storms and flash flood warnings made us think twice.  We decided on Nashville instead.  For one night's dinner I made a reservation at Josephine based on TripAdvisor reviews.  Little did I know that the Nashville Magazine rated them as #1 in town.

We were shown to our seats and our server turned up almost immediately.  I ordered from the aperitif menu, something one doesn’t often see at Southern restaurants, even Nashville.  I asked fol r the Lillet Blanc, a lovely French apéritif. On the rocks.  With a splash of soda and slice of orange, as I would have ordered it in France. She came back to say they were out of that. (Well, one step down from being impressed about the nice apéritif menu).  She offered me a French option, Pineau des Charentes, but she did stumble over the pronunciation. I was happy to help and wasn’t at all disappointed by the replacement.
        We ordered an appetizer to share: the “grilled/chilled asparagus with fresh jumbo lump crab with brown butter hollandaise.  It was delicious if a little short in “jumbo lump crab.”  For the price, a bit small. But delicious nonetheless.
For our main courses I ordered the “Dumpling, rabbit, morel mushroom, peas, grilled onion, spring herbs.” Oh yum. I could find no fault in any part of it.
For his, my hubby ordered “Porter Road pork chop, shaved asparagus and arugula salad, radish, lemon, pecorino.” As pork is almost always overdone, even in good places, he asked for medium rare.  Our server said that was not possible, but they could do it medium. 
That would be okay if it had actually been done that way. But it was cooked well done, and although tasty, was drier than either of us would have liked.  In defense of our server, she offered to have another one done but we were well into our meal before she came back to check and were meeting friends later.

After we’d ordered a delightful couple was seated at the next table. They ordered all from the appetizer/small plate menu. Pretty much everything on it.  And insisted that we taste a couple of their items, since I think they might have over-ordered.   So we got a taste of the fried chicken skins. Oh golly, you’ll never want pork cracklin’ again! And they had us try the scrapple. Okay, fine, my hubby is from PA, and thought it was delicious.  And the cauliflower--good but a bit spicy for my taste…I’m a wimp that way. 

We’d had a lovely dinner and didn’t do dessert—we rarely do.  But the list looked good. All in all, except for the overdone pork chop, it was a fabulous meal, and we can both see why it is so highly rated in Nashville, a town with so many fab places for dinner!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup!

It was a cold damp day, like today, and soup was on my mind.

            I’d had several recipes I had wanted to try, and invited a few friends to come sample and critique.  One new-comer to the group hinted that he really would like to be able to cook along with me.

            So rather than getting everything mostly done ahead, I waited until everyone was there and we all pitched in to make several new dishes.  Some you will see later.  A couple you will never see.  That’s just the way it goes.

            What an interesting experiment.  By the time we’d finished, I do believe that every pot, pan, wooden spoon, spatula, whisk, prep bowl and potholder in the kitchen had been used and was piled on my kitchen cabinets.  We may have to rethink this “let me help” idea.

            But this soup is the dish that one guest pronounced “best of show.”

            It was wonderful done with butternut squash, but it does take some time to peel; using a vegetable peeler is the best way to go.  It’s an awkward shape to deal with as well.  You could also use another winter squash, such as acorn or pumpkin.  Or even, I think, canned pumpkin; two 16-ounce cans of pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling, which is pre-spiced) should do the trick.

            I’ve used the chipotle Tabasco sauce often.  It’s not as hot as the original red variety, and gives a great smoky flavor to this soup.

            We had it as a first course, but it would make a great winter supper, either as is, or with leftover shredded chicken added.  Some sort of nice green or vegetable salad and some crusty bread and you’ve got dinner!

1 medium butternut squash, about 4 pounds

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or 1/2 teaspoon pre-ground nutmeg)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons chipotle Tabasco sauce, or to taste
2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 ripe but firm avocado, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced, including some of the green part
The juice and zest of one lime
Cilantro, for garnish

            Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler.  Cut in half lengthwise.  Scoop out and discard the seeds.  Cut the squash into 1” cubes.  In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, bring the stock to a simmer.  Add the squash, cover and simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes.

            Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet over medium heat, melt the butter,  Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add the spices and continue to cook, stirring frequently, another couple of minutes.  Scrape this mixture into the pot with the squash.

            Simmer to soup for another 10 minutes or so.  With a hand blender or in a blender or food processor, pulse several times to just barely puree the squash.  A few small chunks left in will give a pleasant texture to the soup.  Add the cream and Tabasco sauce.  Taste and add salt if desired.

            In a small bowl. combine the tomato, avocado, green onions and lime juice and zest.

            When ready to serve, bring the soup to a simmer.  If necessary, add stock to thin to desired thickness (this should be a thick soup).  Ladle into soup bowls.  Garnish with the tomato mixture and a few leaves of cilantro.  Serves 6-8 as a first course, or 4 as a main course.