Friday, March 18, 2011

Seafood Extravaganza 3: Green Bean and Seared Shrimp Salad with Spicy Curry Vinaigrette

This is the last of my Seafood Extravaganza posts (three total). This one is a lot shorter than the last.

This recipe is, once again, from Barbara Lynch's Stir cookbook. This is a fantastic recipe (not reproduced verbatim here) and next time I'll be a little more liberal with the red curry was subtle and wonderful, but I'll be happy for a little more kick)

Vinaigrette: chopped shallot, white wine vinegar, Thai red curry paste, grapeseed oil, crème fraîche

Shrimp is lightly sauteed in olive oil, haricots verts are blanched, and hazelnuts are toasted in oven and chopped when cool (skins rubbed off with paper towel after toasting---neat trick!).

Toss everything together with some sliced radishes and cilantro, and the dressing!

Seafood Extravaganza 2: Saffron-Steamed Mussels with Crème Fraîche

One might subtitle this post:
Or, Why Not to Cook When You Don't Feel Well.

It doesn't help that celery, fennel and leeks all begin to look rather alike--especially when cut into matchsticks. But have no fear--this "mistake" actually turned out well in the least for the mussels

While on "Spring Break" which I affectionately refer to as "Break from Teaching, but little else," I've been focusing on going trough my fantastic Stir cookbook by Barbara Lynch. After conquering clams the week before, I felt it was time to try mussels, which, frankly, are more of a pain to clean. I wish I had looked at Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris, because I just found a great description of how to clean mussels, but I managed. Mussels have these annoying "beards" that one must remove. I didn't soak the mussels as Garten recommends, and I wonder if this would have made the beard-removal easier. Moreover, half the beard stays IN the mussel, so I ended up removing them after cooking as well.

See the kinds of trouble I get into when I don't teach?

At any of the reasons I love Barbara Lynch is because she writes things about saffron like this: "I'm not going to be half-assed about it and call for the usual "pinch" or "a few threads." (Stir, 192). She's not kidding. Two teaspoons of saffron threads. I used slightly less than that, which came to about $10 worth of saffron.

So the "mistake" I made was cooking the fennel instead of the leeks and celery. The fennel is supposed to stay raw, combined with tomatoes, celery leaves, olive oil and lemon juice as a little salad-mixture to top the mussels. So, we had a salad mixture comprised of leeks, celery, and the aforementioned ingredients. Not terrible, except that I don't love raw leeks.

The cooked fennel, on the other hand, was lovely in the recipe. In butter and olive oil, I cooked the fennel with chopped garlic. To this I added the crumbled saffron, red pepper flakes, 2 cups of white wine, salt and the cleaned mussels. This sits covered for as long as it takes the little guys to open.

Once opened, I removed the mussels with a slotted spoon and made the sauce: basically reduce the broth in the pot and whisk in crème fraîche, letting it simmer for a bit. Serve the mussels in the bowl and pour the sauce over it. Serve with the salad-mixture on top (either my "version" or hers).

This was fantastic....and even better for lunch the next day! Funky salad-mixture not pictured below:
Note: Due to copyright, I haven't reproduced the recipe, but if you actually read all my prose, you'll get a good sense of it.

Seafood Extravaganza 1: Linguine with Clams, Fennel, Leeks and Saffron

I've been on a seafood kick for the last two weeks, largely due to the fabulous seafood I can buy at the Somerville Winter's Farmers Market. I've never cooked shellfish, and I decided it was time to try. I started with some fresh littleneck clams and used this recipe that I found on Cookthink.
I used gluten-free linguine (because I happened to have some), so it made this already healthy recipe even healthier.

It was very tasty. I'd probably be more generous with the saffron threads next time (see more about that in my next post), and if making it for company, I'd serve it with the clam shells (that I took the time to scrub!). It will make a lovely summer dish as well, followed by some kind of lemony dessert.