Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mediterranean Fish Stew

By Paul Briand

This recipe has been kicking around in my sister Margaret's recipe book for many years, and it's a family favorite.

And I'm being literal when I use the term "kicking around" because an important part of this recipe is a topping that adds some real kick to the stew. The topping is sour cream based and includes cayenne pepper -- the more cayenne the heartier the kick.

(For stew)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1 large green pepper chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 16-ounce cans of kitchen ready tomatoes
1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine
8-ounce bottle clam juice
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon each of basil, oregano and thyme
2 pounds total of white fish, shrimp and/or scallops
(For topping)
1 cup sour cream
3 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Make the topping ahead of time starting with the sour cream in a mixing bowl and add the garlic, cayenne, lemon and salt and mix. More cayenne equals more kick. Cover and refrigerate to give the ingredients an opportunity to marry;
2. In large pot with oil heated over medium high heat, sautee the onion and pepper until limp;
3. Stir in garlic;
4. Add the tomatoes, white wine and clam juice;
5. Stir in bouillon cubes along with basil, oregano and thyme;
6. Simmer covered for 15 minutes;
7. Bring to boil and add fish, shrimp and/or scallops;
8. Simmer for 8 minutes;
9. Serve with crusty bread.

I used a pound of fish (cod) along with a half pound of pre-cooked shrimp and a half pound of scallops. I gave both the shrimp and scallops a quick frying pan searing in hot oil before they went into the stew.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Caramel Appletizer

Editor's note: This recipe comes from my son, David, who has both skill and imagination in the kitchen.

By David Briand

I was recruited to prepare appetizers for a surprise birthday party with a Roaring 20s theme. Based on the theme, I decided to prepare one meat and one meatless appetizer, both of which would use alcohol in the recipe in celebration of the decade of Prohibition and bootlegging. I found two recipes on the internet that called for bourbon, so I went out and bought a bottle of Jim Beam.

The first was a recipe for bourbon BBQ sauce. The second was for a bourbon-infused caramel, which I knew I could use for an autumn-themed arrangement. Caramel apples are always a fall favorite, so a bag of Macintosh apples was added to the shopping list. Pairing fruit with cheese is always a hit, so I decided on a block of good old New York cheddar. The Roaring 20s, after all, was an American phenomenon. Last, I needed a base upon which to assemble the ingredients, and a crusty baguette seemed a perfect fit.

Caramel Ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp butter
1 tbsp bourbon
3/4 cup heavy cream

Heat sugar on high until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Once all the sugar has been liquefied, add butter and whisk vigorously until all the butter has melted. Add cream and bourbon, whisking continuously and remove from heat. Let stand for a minute, then transfer the caramel to another container. If you refrigerate it, you'll have to reheat before use.

Cut baguette into thin slices, about 1/8 inch. Place on cookie sheet and bake on 425 degrees until toasted lightly. Cut Macintosh apples into flat, half-moon shapes. Using a vegetable peeler, slice off thin strips of cheddar.

Use the baguette chips as a base, then add a slice of cheddar, then the apple, and drizzle with the bourbon caramel. Stick a toothpick through the whole stack, and there you have it -- Caramel Appletizers.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Salmon Burgers with Caesar Slaw

By Paul Briand

If you watch Rachael Ray on the Food Channel or on her own syndicated show, you know that she can whip up a meal in 30 minutes or less. She's built a cooking career on her 30-minute meals, in fact.

So I decided this week to put Ray to the test with her recipe for Salmon Burgers with Caesar Slaw.

From start to finish, I had this meal on the table in 45 minutes. To be fair, however, I probably could have done it in the prescribed 30 minutes, but while I was doing the salmon burgers and slaw, my son David who was visiting for a couple of days was doing a side dish of homemade mac and cheese. So there was conversation. And there was beer.

But the end result was a tasty meal created with only a moderate amount of effort.

A couple of notes on the recipe. Ray calls for a 14-ounce can of salmon. I don't like canned salmon, so instead I used two 12-ounce pouches of salmon.

2 (12-ounce) pouches of salmon
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
Handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 lemons, zested and juiced, divided
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs, 3 generous handfuls
Salt and pepper
4 anchovies, finely chopped, optional
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Couple handfuls grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano
2 hearts romaine lettuce, shredded
1 head radicchio, shredded

1. In a bowl with the salmon, add egg whites, parsley, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, 2/3 of the total amount of chopped garlic, the bread crumbs and lots of black pepper and a little salt. Mix together and form 4 large patties or 8 mini patties;
2. To a salad bowl add the remaining zest and lemon juice, remaining garlic, chopped anchovies, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire;
3. Whisk in about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil and cheese. Add lots of black pepper, no salt;
4. Add shredded lettuces to the bowl and toss to coat evenly. Now, season the slaw with salt to taste, if necessary;
5. Preheat 2 tablespoons, of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, in a nonstick skillet over medium to medium high heat. Cook salmon patties 2 to 3 minutes on each side for mini patties, 4 minutes on each side for large patties;
6. Serve salmon patties atop Caesar Slaw.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Skillet Baked Spaghetti

By Paul Briand

First off, when the directions say to use large skillet, use a very large skillet.

My 12-inch skillet was barely large enough to fit all the ingredients for this all-encompassing dish that is perfect for these crisp fall evenings.

The stirring part that described below meant a fair amount of spillage, but in the end this recipe from my local Shaw's supermarket was very satisfying.

My changes/additions to the recipe included onions and pepper, and I didn't use as much water as was suggested, mostly because I had simply run out of room in the skillet.

12 ounces of ground beef
4 ounces of sweet or hot Italian sausage (two links will suffice, remove the casings if buying links)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
28-ounce can of kitchen ready tomatoes
8 ounces of uncooked spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
2 cups water
1/4 cup heavy cream (I substituted half and half)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
6 tablespoons basil
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend

1. Pre-heat oven to broil, with rack down one slot from usual broiling position;
2. In a large skillet (very large skillet) coated with olive oil over medium high heat, cook the onion and pepper until onion starts getting translucent;
3. Add minced garlic, oregano and basil and stir, then add ground beef and sausage, breaking them up with wooden spoon and cooking until no longer pink;
4. Stir in tomatoes, spaghetti and water, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the pasta begins to soften (you'll know right here whether your skillet is big enough);
5. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to simmer and stir, cooking the pasta until it's al dente;
6. Stir in the cream (or half and half) and a half cup of cheese;
7. Remove skillet from burner, top mixture with rest of cheese and place under broiler;
8. Let cook about three minutes or until the spaghetti mixture surface is spotty brown.

Serves from four to six.

Please note: Handle with care and oven mitts. It's heavy and very hot coming out of the oven.
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