Oven Roasted Colossal Shrimp

Shrimp tf

I went to the store today to buy salmon and came home with colossal shrimp. It was impossible to resist them. They looked pristine and, well, colossal, artfully arranged on ice in the fish case – and they were on sale. How could they be ignored? I didn’t know how I would prepare them and was open to suggestions. The man who sold me the shrimp recommended shaking them in a plastic bag with oil and a spice mix from Emeril Lagasse. I posed the question to my foodie facebook friends and received an answer which made me laugh, since it called for stuffing the shrimp with crab, but due to a typo, it read “with crap”, which fleetingly caused me to reflect upon the importance of deveining the shrimp. Meanwhile, the afternoon was nearing its end; I didn’t have any fancy spice mixes or, unfortunately, any fresh crab on hand. So, this is what I came up with, and the results were delicious.

Oven Roasted Colossal Shrimp
serves 4

16 colossal shrimp
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime

3 scallions, ends and tips discarded, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Carefully loosen the shrimp bodies from their shells without disconnecting the tail and devein the shrimp with a paring knife. Return the shrimp to the shell (this allows the marinade to permeate all around the shrimp) and place in a bowl. Combine the olive oil, lemon, and lime juice in another bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the oil and stir to combine. Pour the marinade over the shrimp, and with your hands, gently coat the shrimp with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to one hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Remove the shrimp from the marinade and discard the marinade. Arrange the shrimp in one layer in a baking dish. Roast the shrimp in the oven until the shells brighten in color and the shrimp are just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve the shrimp with rice.

Roasted Lemon Cilantro Chicken

Roasted Lemon Cilantro Chicken

Cilantro Lemon Chicken

The grill is on. Every day. And at least once a week this involves a whole chicken for a family dinner. In the winter we do it in the oven, and in the summer we do it on the grill. Both methods are similar, while grilling adds a smokier flavor to the chicken meat, especially when using a charcoal grill. Cilantro is also a family favorite, and the marinade for the chicken is chock-a-block full of it. For those who are faint of heart when it comes to cilantro, you can substitute rosemary or thyme with great results (be sure to omit the saffron from the paste). 

Roasted Lemon Cilantro Chicken
Serves 4-5

2 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro sprigs
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 whole 3-4 pound chicken
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Make the paste:
Combine garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt, lemon zest and saffron in a mortar with pestle or bowl of a food processor.  Smash or grind to a paste.  Stir or pulse in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Rub chicken between skin and breast meat and inside cavity with the paste. Rub the outside of the skin with one tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place on tray or platter, breast-side up and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting.

Prepare Chicken:
Prepare grill for indirect medium heat or preheat oven to 450 F. (225 C.)
 Place chicken, breast-side up on the grill with a pan below to catch it’s juices. (If roasting in the oven, place chicken in a roasting pan). Close the lid of the grill and roast for 20 minutes. Carefully turn chicken over with tongs. Roast, covered, another 20 minutes. Turn chicken over once more, breast-side up. Continue roasting, covered, 20 minutes. Check to see if chicken is done by carefully cutting skin between breast and thigh. If meat is pink, continue roasting additional 10 – 15 minutes. Chicken is cooked when meat is no longer pink, and clear juices run from the thigh when pierced with a knife. Remove from heat, cover loosely with foil and let rest 15 minutes before carving.

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.

Carrot Soup with Coriander Seed and Cilantro

Carrot Soup with Coriander Seed and Cilantro

Carrot Cilantro Soup

Carrots share a love affair with coriander in this rich yet light soup. Carrots are cooked with onion and dried coriander, then blitzed with fresh cilantro leaves. The sweetness of the carrot is tempered by the spice of coriander and cayenne, while the strength of fresh cilantro is mellowed as it mingles with the sweet and savory flavors of the stock. All in all, a lovely match.

Carrot Soup with Coriander Seed and Cilantro
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound carrots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 3 minutes. Add carrots, ground coriander and cayenne. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until carrots are very soft, about 45 minutes. Carefully transfer soup to bowl of food processor or blender. Add cilantro sprigs. Purée until smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in brown sugar, salt and pepper. Gently rewarm over medium heat. Serve soup warm garnished with fresh cilantro sprigs.