Tag Archives: shellfish

Grilled Shrimp with Garlicky Pea Puree

shrimp pea puree tastefood

~ Grilled Shrimp with Garlicky Pea Purée ~

Here’s a fresh twist on the classic shrimp cocktail. Rather than dipping poached shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce, how about dipping grilled shrimp in a garlicky pea purée?

I like to make this pea purée when sweet peas are in season. It’s an incredibly versatile condiment. Not only is the purée a perfect garnish to sweet and briny shrimp, it tastes great with other seafood such as scallops, salmon and halibut. It also makes a great topping for crostini, a dip for cruditées or steamed new potatoes.

Grilled Shrimp with Garlicky Pea Purée

If fresh peas are out of season, frozen peas may be substituted. Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer.

2 cups fresh peas or 12 ounces frozen peas, defrosted, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Tabasco or hot sauce
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar

1 pound medium (21/25) shrimp, peeled, tails intact, deveined

If using fresh peas, fill a medium saucepan halfway with water (do not add salt as this will toughen the peas) and bring to a boil. Add the peas and cook until bright green in color and tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the remaining puree ingredients and process to blend. (If using frozen peas, skip the first step and add the peas with the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process to blend). If purée is too thick, add more olive oil to achieve desired consistency. Taste for seasoning.

Whisk all of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat. Thread shrimp on skewers. Grill over high heat with the lid closed until just cooked through, turning once, 2 to 4 minutes.

Serve the shrimp warm with the pea purée for dipping, or spoon dollops of the pea puree over the shrimp.

This is a great beat-the-heat recipe for the summer.  If you like this you might also enjoy these recipes from TasteFood:
Smoked Salmon Salad Tartines
Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Syrup
Bloody Mary Gazpacho

Shrimp, Broccolini and Tomato Pasta

broccoli shrimp pasta tastefood

~ Shrimp, Broccolini, Plum Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic, Chili, Spaghetti ~

Nothing beats a fresh and bright bowl of pasta, whipped up in less than 30 minutes, for an easy weeknight dinner. This dish has it all: Crisp tender broccolini and sauteed shrimp tossed in a simple tomato sauce flavored with basil, garlic and chili.  It’s elegant, light and utterly delicious. Happy Monday!

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Broccolini and Basil
Serves 4

1 pound spaghetti or linguine
Extra-vrigin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 pound broccolini, ends trimmed, cut in 1-inch pieces
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled with tails intact, deveined
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 (28 ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, drained
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup whole basil leaves
Grated Parmigiano cheese, optional

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain  and transfer to a large serving bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, heat one tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a skillet. Add broccolini and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until bright in color and crisp tender. Transfer broccolini to a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to same skillet.
Add shrimp in one layer, in batches if necessary. Cook until pink on both sides and just cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Transfer shrimp to another plate.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, one teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Simmer 5 minutes, breaking tomatoes apart with a spoon. Taste for seasoning and add a teaspoon of sugar if needed. Add shrimp, broccolini and tomatoes to the spaghetti. Toss to combine. Add basil and toss again. Divide among serving plates. Grind more pepper over the pasta and sprinkle with cheese if using.

Shrimp Puttanesca

shrimp puttanesca x
~ Shrimp Puttanesca ~
It took me a long while to make puttanesca – that feisty Italian tomato sauce packed with briny, sharp, spicy, fishy flavors. I confess it was the anchovies. While I don’t mind anchovies, I don’t liberally cook with them either, harboring a childhood timidity toward their pungent fishiness. I should know better: Anchovies are a magical ingredient, a bright star in the cuisines of the Mediterranean and Asia (think fish sauce). When used with restraint, anchovies melt into a dish, amplifying flavor and producing an elusive umami quality that keeps us digging in for more. So in the spirit of the New Year and a kick in the derriere, I made this puttanesca-inspired sauce, and now I am smitten. Goodness knows why I waited so long.

Shrimp Puttanesca

Serve as is or tossed with spaghetti. This recipe may be prepared with other shellfish and fish such as clams, mussels, squid or firm fleshed fish filets.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 anchovy filets, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, divided
2 cups grape or small cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup oil-cured or kalamata olives, pitted, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, anchovies and 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, olives, white wine and capers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down and sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add a spoonful of sugar if needed. Keep warm.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in another skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes. Arrange the shrimp in one layer in the skillet and season with salt. Cook until pink on both sides and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes, turning once. Arrange the shrimp on  a serving plate. Spoon the puttanesca sauce over and around the shrimp. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately with crusty bread.

puttanesca shrimp

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Baked Shrimp and Kale with Chermoula
Coconut Shrimp Curry
Sausage, Kale, Tomato Ragout with a Poached Egg

Lambs + Clams Round 2: Smoky Clam, Chorizo and Butternut Squash Stew with Saffron Aioli and Fried Oyster Croutons

Lambs + Clams Contest – Round 2
Ingredient Challenge: Rappahannock River Oysters and Clams

It’s not often, er, ever, that I receive a box of East coast shellfish delivered to my California front door – that is until 10 days ago when a special delivery box arrived with 4 dozen pristine oysters and middle neck clams from Rappahannock River Oysters in Virgina. They were as fresh as could be, cold and moist, smelling of seaweed and sand. A taste of the East lay at my feet. This was simply not fair.

While I now live in California, and before that called Europe my home, I am a New Englander at heart. And I miss it. This is evident by how I gravitate to environments and sensations that remind me of a place I haven’t called home since 1991. I crave 4 distinct seasons, and reminisce wintry blizzards, humid summers, and the smell of fallen leaves with chimney smoke hanging in the air. I seek vignettes suspiciously similar to a traditional New England setting, old structures and neighborhoods steeped in history, creaking with wood, lined with cobblestones. And the sea must never be far away. Nothing epitomizes New England to me more than the seashore – especially on a chilly foggy day laden with mist, with the cries of seagulls and the clanging of buoys punctuating the sound of the wind and waves.

So there I was, a week ago, with 2 nets of memories before me in the form of shellfish, still moist from their beds, gritty with sand, smelling of brine and salt. It transported me to New England, and I knew that I would have to do them justice. I headed to my kitchen – the heart of our family home and life, no matter the coast or the country. The place where I go to recreate memories, carry on traditions and evoke sensations of time and place.

The oysters and clams were ridiculously fresh, and I knew I had to get to work fast. (OK, I admit a few oysters were instantly slurped straight up with a squeeze of lemon and dash of Tabasco. Hey, you would’ve too). I thought about how to create one recipe showcasing both oysters and clams, drawing inspiration from the East coast, while embracing my adopted West coast sensibilities – with a touch of the Mediterranean. I am a fan of chowders and cioppinos, and I decided on a stew, with layers of flavor and texture. It’s autumn after all, the season of layers – layers of clothing, layers of bedding and layers of nourishing, sating ingredients in our meals.

Each ingredient would stand out yet complement the whole of the stew, with a balance of sweet, smoke, heat and brine. I addressed each ingredient separately before uniting them, taking care to prevent a muddle. I browned the chorizo slices first for color and flavor. They would be added to the stew in the end, preventing softening and loss color by overcooking in the soup. Their legacy, the flavorful oil, remained in the pot infusing the stew with heat and smoke. I sautéed planks of sweet butternut squash in the oil. This step ensured the squash were thoroughly cooked and slightly caramelized. The chunks would be added in the end, like the chorizo, avoiding excessive mushiness and preserving their brilliant saffron color. Roasting the red pepper coaxed out its natural sugars and imparted another layer of smoky flavor to the soup. The clams cooked in the stew, opening and releasing their briny juices in the stock. Finally, I fried the oysters, first soaked in buttermilk and Sriracha, then rolled in cornmeal, ensuring super-crispy results with a playful bite. They would garnish the stew as a riff on croutons one might add to a Mediterranean seafood stew with a definite nod to the American south. A spoonful of saffron scented aioli added a creamy finish to the soup with the kick of heat.

Smoky Clam, Chorizo and Butternut Squash Stew with Saffron Aioli and Fried Oysters Croutons

Serves 4.

1/2 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha or hot sauce

Oyster Croutons:
16 shucked oysters
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon Sriracha or hot sauce
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 small butternut squash, cut in chunks, approximately 1 1/2-inch square, 1/2-inch thick
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 sweet red pepper, roasted, peeled, cut in 1/4 inch julienne
2 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
12 to 16 middle neck clams
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Vegetable oil for frying
Fresh chopped Italian parsley leaves for garnish

For the aioli:
Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

For the oysters:
Place the oysters in a small bowl. Whisk buttermilk and Sriracha in a separate bowl. Pour over the oysters to cover and set aside. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper together in another bowl and set aside.

For the stew:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage slices, in batches, and brown on both sides, turning once. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Add the squash, in batches, to the skillet and pan fry until golden on both sides, turning once. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil from the pan. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and onion. Sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add red pepper, garlic, paprika and red chili flakes. Sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Add wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits. Add tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, until somewhat thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Add clams. Cover pot and cook, shaking occasionally, until clam shells open, about 10 minutes. (Discard any unopened clam shells). Add salt to desired taste.

While the stew is simmering, fill a large heavy saucepan with 2 inches of vegetable oil. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep fry thermometer reads 350 F. Remove the oysters from the buttermilk, shaking off any excess liquid. Dredge in cornflour. Fry in batches, without overcrowding, until golden and crispy, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel

Ladle the stew into warm serving bowls. Top each bowl with 4 oysters. Spoon a little saffron aioli into the center of the soup. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

What is Lambs + Clams?
A contest hosted by the Charleston Food and Wine Festival where 8 food bloggers create a recipe in 4 monthly contests leading up to the festival to be held in February ’13. Each contest will spotlight either lamb, clams or oysters supplied by Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm and Travis Croxton of Rappahannock River Oysters. Each month a winning recipe will be selected by a panel of judges and fan votes (which do indeed count) on the Festival’s facebook page. The winner is awarded an all-expense paid trip to the Festival. I encourage you to visit the facebook page and cast your vote!

And visit my fellow food bloggers and check out their recipes:
Peter@A Cook Blog; Olga@Mango Tomato; David@eat drink RI; Gwen@Bunkycooks; Heather@Farmgirl Gourmet; Cecilia@One Vanilla Bean; Vivek@Vivek’s Epicurean Adventure


Clam Chowder

~ Clam Chowder with Root Vegetables and Thyme ~

I happened to have some left over clams this week. While you scratch your heads and think, who and why would anyone have left over clams, – I’ll just say that they were the delicious vestiges of the next round of the Lambs and Clams Contest, sponsored by the Charleston Food and Wine Festival. For more details on that, you will have to tune in next week for my official post and submission. Until then, let’s talk leftovers. More specifically, let’s talk chowder.

I don’t know about you but when the weather chills down, I can’t think of anything more comforting than a bowl of piping hot, creamy chowder – blame it on my New England roots. So, this week, as the temperatures dropped and we had a deluge of rain, I found myself in the possession of some lovely clams,  and I made this chowder. Use the smallest clams you can get your hands on, such as little necks, middle necks, or, if you are on the U.S. west coast, manila clams. Typically, onions and potatoes accompany clams in a chowder. In this soup, I’ve also added leeks, celery root and turnips, which add flavor to the creamy broth, while maintaining a nice white color theme.

Clam Chowder
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 large black radishes or 1 medium white turnip, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 small celery root, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound small fingerling potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch coins
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
12 manila or middle neck clams or 24 little neck clams
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and fry until fat is nearly rendered (it will continue to render as the vegetables cook). Add onion and leek and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add turnip, celery root and potatoes. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 3 minutes.  Add milk, cream, stock, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil. Add clams. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until clams open, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any unopened clam shells. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot garnished with fresh thyme sprigs.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Smoky Salmon and Fennel Chowder from TasteFood
Corn Chowder from Leite’s Culinaria
French Onion Soup from TasteFood
Red Chile Seafood Chowder from Homesick Texan
Celery Root and Parsnip Soup from TasteFood

Cioppino with a Twist

I would like to call this recipe a cioppino. Cioppino is a fish stew with a San Francisco pedigree reaching back to the 1800′s. The name is derived from the Italian term ciuppin, which means “to chop.”  It’s believed that the Italian and Portuguese fisherman would chop up leftovers from their daily catch to make this robust and flavorful soup. The reason why I hesitate slightly about labeling it a cioppino is that I have taken a liberty with this recipe that is neither Italian nor Portuguese at all. It’s Greek.

Wine is a key ingredient in the cioppino stock, and recipes gamely call for white or red, depending on the source. I usually use red wine, however in this recipe I tried white. The result was a lighter, more acidic broth that I felt needed a little oomph. Additional salt and extra pepper helped, as did a spoonful of sugar (which often works wonders in tomato-based stocks and sauces.) Still, something was missing. I looked no further than the fennel I had sautéed with the onion as a base for the stock, and I reached for the Ouzo, a Greek anise liqueur, in the back of the pantry. It was a perfect shot. The Ouzo coaxed out the licorice flavor of the fennel, adding depth and roundness with subtle anise notes. So here you have it: Cioppino with a Greek twist.

Serves 6

1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, with juices
2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup Ouzo or other anise liqueur
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)
18 littleneck clams
18 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
6 large sea scallops, about 3/4 pound
2 cooked crabs, legs cracked, flesh removed from bodies
1 pound firm fleshed white fish such as halibut or sea bass, cut in 2 inch chunks

Fresh Italian parsley

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, fennel, bay leaf, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until vegetables are soft and onion is translucent without coloring, about 8 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Add tomatoes, wine, chicken stock, Ouzo, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If necessary add a spoonful of sugar. Add clams. Cook, stirring, until they open. (Discard any clams that do not open.) Add shrimp, sea scallops and white fish. Cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until all of the fish is cooked through. Add crab legs and meat. Simmer to heat through. Serve hot in bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Smoked Salmon Chowder from TasteFood
Spicy Halibut Stew with Chorizo and Kale from TasteFood
Shellfish Risotto from Ciao Florentina
Brazilian Fish Stew from Leite’s Culinaria

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Broccolini and Basil

Shrimp Pasta

Light, fresh and bright, this dish sings spring. Shrimp, broccolini and plum tomatoes have a turn in a skillet with a little olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. All the ingredients are united in a bowl with spaghetti and fresh basil leaves, then tumbled with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I am thinking of Italy – are you?

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Broccolini and Basil
Serves 4

1 pound spaghetti or linguine
extra-vrigin olive oil
crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled with tails intact, deveined
3/4 pound broccolini, ends trimmed, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 – 28 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, drained
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup whole basil leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain and return to pot.  While the pasta is cooking, heat one tablespoon olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes in a skillet. Add shrimp in one layer. Cook until pink on both sides and just cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Add one tablespoon olive oil to same skillet. Add broccolini and sprinkle with one teaspoon salt and  a pinch of red pepper flakes. Sauté until crisp tender. Transfer broccolini to another plate. Add one tablespoon olive oil to skillet. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, one teaspoon salt and one teaspoon black pepper. Simmer 5 minutes, breaking tomatoes apart with a spoon. Return shrimp and broccoli to skillet and toss to combine. Remove from heat. Add to spaghetti. Add cheese and basil and toss to combine. Serve with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes from TasteFood:

Fiesta Shrimp Salsa
Linguine with Asparagus, Morels and Fava Beans
Linguine with Broccolini, Red Pepper and Prosciutto

or these delicious broccoli recipes from the foodblogs:

Broccoli Slaw from the kitchn
Sesame Broccoli Salad from Eating Out Loud
Broccoli and Scallops from RasaMalaysia
Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Garlic from Veggie Venture

Seared Sea Scallops with Gingered Pea Purée and Lemon Cilantro Gremolata

Scallop Gremolata tf

Sometimes, it’s all in the accessories. I first made this recipe a year ago when I was experimenting with cilantro in a gremolata and decided to combine it with seared scallops. The scallops were served with a simple spring pea purée and garnished with the gremolata. The dish was beautiful to look at, and the peas exuded a soft sweetness that married well with the briny scallop. Since then, it has been a favorite go-to recipe for special occasions – the figurative little black dress in my cooking repertoire.

But, like any wardrobe, recipes can stand a tweak from time to time. Maybe it was my mood or maybe it was the dreary weather, but when I made this recipe the other day, I craved a little extra zing. So, I made a few additions to the pea purée: fresh ginger and a pinch of cayenne. The result was delightful. The extra touches bolstered the flavor of the purée, distinguishing it from the sweet scallops while complementing the assertive lemon cilantro gremolata. Like a special scarf to the figurative little black dress, these culinary accessories were the flourishes I needed to make this recipe sparkle.

Seared Sea Scallops with Gingered Pea Purée and Lemon Cilantro Gremolata
Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as an appetizer

For the Cilantro Gremolata:
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Pea Purée:
2 cups shelled English peas
1 large garlic clove
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne

16 large sea scallops, about 1 1/2 pounds
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Prepare the Gremolata:
Combine the cilantro, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Mix together and set aside.

Prepare the Pea Purée:
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons salt and the peas. Cook until peas are tender. Remove from heat and drain peas, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
Combine peas, garlic, ginger, olive oil, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and cayenne in bowl of food processor. Purée until smooth. Add some of the reserved water (approximately 1/4 cup) to thin to desired consistency; the purée should not be too thin. Discard remaining water. Transfer purée to a bowl and keep warm.

Prepare scallops:
Pat scallops dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the scallops, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Cook, turning once, until brown on both sides and just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining scallops.

To assemble, spoon pea purée on serving plates. Top with scallops. Sprinkle scallops and purée with gremolata. Drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

Oyster Stew with Chorizo and Spinach

Oyster Stew

I love a good fish stew, and a favorite is fish chowder. (After all you can take the girl out of New England, but you can’t take New England out of the girl.) Depending on what looks best in the market, I usually choose a firm-fleshed fish such as halibut or salmon, and combine it with a smoky component, such as bacon or smoked salmon. The smokiness is crucial to get the extra depth of flavor in the soup.

Not so long ago, I decided to make Oyster Stew. After all, the Saints won the Superbowl, and when I think of New Orleans I immediately think of food and then oysters. It would be cream-based as all good Oyster Stews should be. For the smoky component I added chorizo. It lent a kick of spice and beautiful saffron color to the broth. To pop things out and add more substance to the soup I finished the stew with fresh spinach, just long enough for the leaves to wilt, but still maintain their vibrant green color.

Oyster Stew with Chorizo and Spinach

Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 oz. (180 g.) chorizo sausage, cut in 1/4″ slices
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shucked oysters (about 12), liquor drained and reserved
3 cups spinach leaves, washed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chorizo. Cook, stirring, until golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Transfer chorizo to a plate lined with a paper towel. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from saucepan. Add onion to saucepan and saute over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add milk, cream and reserved oyster liquor to the onions. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Add spinach and cook briefly until wilted but still bright green. Add oysters and simmer until cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately in warm bowls.


If you like this, you might also enjoy these recipes from TasteFood:

Halibut Stew 1 Halibut Stew with Chorizo and Kale

Broccoli Rabe Soup Broccoli Rabe, White Bean and Parmesan Soup

Bisque Lobster Bisque

and these oyster recipes from the foodblogs:

Oyster Rockefeller Bites from Stephen Cooks
Fried Oysters with Lemon and Balsamic Vinegar from Serious Eats
Oven-Grilled Oysters from Dianasaur Dishes
Oysters with Mignonette Granita from Umami Girl


Lobster Bisque – a gift that just keeps giving

Lobster xmas house

reprinted from the TasteFood holiday archives

A gift box labelled “Perishable” arrived at our home earlier this week. I had a heads-up on this, because my mother, who lives on the coast of Maine, mentioned she was sending us something edible for the holidays.  When the box arrived I was on my way out the door, running late to go into the city with a friend. When the deliveryman handed me the box, I imagined a fruitcake or chocolate. I set the parcel on my kitchen table and hurriedly put on my shoes by the door.  Suddenly, the box shifted. I looked up in surprise, and my dog started growling.  I hesitated, but the box didn’t move again, and my friend was outside tooting her car horn ready to go.  Figuring the contents of the box were just settling, I picked up the box and placed it on a bench outside the front door in the cold air.  After all the box said “Perishable.”  I would tend to it when I came home.

An hour later my husband called me on my phone.  He had arrived home early and discovered the box.  Did I know the contents?  I paused, knowing something was coming.  He continued to tell me that we were the proud owners of 2 new family members.  As he explained further it suddenly came to me: They were lobsters. From Maine. Of course.

So now what?  I love lobster, but I don’t like to cook them.  I face this contradiction every summer when we visit Maine.  My husband is understanding and clearly not as conflicted in the lobster department, so generously offered to stun them and boil them before I came home.  And when I did I found a platter of freshly cooked lobster.  We enjoyed them for dinner, saving and freezing the shells and extra meat to make a bisque.  Several days later I cooked the shells, making a rich stock for the base of the bisque to which I added the remaining lobster meat and cream.  Served in demi-tasse cups it was a sublime and elegant addition to a holiday party, an extra treat created from the gift that keeps giving.


Lobster Bisque
an elegant addition to a holiday or celebratory dinner

Makes 4-6 portions

2 cooked lobsters

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup (80 ml.) brandy
1 fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, sliced thinly
3 shallots, sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, cut in slivers
8 black peppercorns
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups water

2 cups heavy cream

Prepare stock:
Working over a large bowl to catch juices, break off lobster tails and claws.  Crack tails and claws and remove meat.  Chop lobster meat in large chunks.  Cover and chill.
Coarsely chop lobster shells and bodies.  Place shells in bowl.  Reserve lobster juice from the bowl.

Heat oil in a large pot over high heat.  Add lobster shells and bodies and sear without stirring for one minute.  Stir them and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the shells begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add brandy, fennel, shallots, garlic and peppercorns.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring, until vegetables soften, about 3 minutes.  Add tomato paste and water.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes.
Strain through a fine-meshed strainer, pressing firmly on solids.  (Can be made in advance to this point.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to one month.)

Add cream to lobster stock.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Add lobster meat.  Stir to heat through.
Serve in bowls or demi-tasse cups.

Crab and Shrimp Bisque:
If lobster is not readily available, you can substitute the lobster with crab or shrimp.  In either case, pre-cook the crab or shrimp.  Then remove the shells, saving the meat.  Cook the shells and follow the recipe as noted above.

The bisque pictured above has lobster and shrimp meat, since we ate a good deal of the lobster when it was freshly cooked.