Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gone Crabbin'

Kickin' Crab Dip

Josh (of "Josh Steele's Slammin' Salmon Chowder fame) invited us to go down to visit his family for a weekend of small town relaxation. His parents live on 15 acres, complete with horses and a feisty terrier named Rocky. Part of the weekend plans included an afternoon (which turned into an evening) of crabbing on the Oregon coast. I had never been crabbing before, but I was definitely up for the adventure. It all started with buying shellfish licenses, crab nets and bait boxes, pieces of raw chicken (for bait), and a lengthy drive on on a twisty road out to the docks. Josh took us to his favorite spot between a couple of fishing boats. We dropped our nets with wide-eyed fantasies of delicious, juicy crabs scuttling eagerly to their doom. It didn't happen quite so easily. The sea lions kept busting open our bait boxes and taking the chicken for themselves. We came up empty or with baskets full of female crabs, which you have to throw back. A couple of local fisherman kept giving us tips (more than a few times we heard: "You know where there's a lot of crab? Up at the restaurant up there! Ha! Ha!") We had caught a few rock crabs worth keeping, but the real prize was the dungeness crab with its softer shell and sweeter meat. We didn't give up. We wanted a cooler full of crab. The temperature dropped and daylight waned, I was really feeling ready to pack it but, but we decided to push through, move our nets, and try a few more throws. Glad we did! Maybe the crabs got dumber. Or maybe it was just the sea lions taking off for another dock, but we began pulling nets full of keeper crabs. Exhausted on the drive back home, I thought to myself, "You know what would be good with these crabs? I jalapeno-spiked mayonnaise." I was right.
- 1 c. mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp. Sriracha hot sauce
- 1/4 c. chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together mayonnaise, hot sauce, peppers, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. That's it! Dip crab into sauce. It would also be a great dressing for shrimp, salmon, or pretty much anything delicious from the sea.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hey There Hot Tomato!

Thick and Creamy Tomato Soup With Cheddar and Bacon Paninis

I love many forms of tomato soup. It is a particularly effective soup for sandwich dipping- one of my favorite edible activities. The cold weather around here seems to be back with a furious vengeance in the last few days- we even had a few inches of wet snow! When the temperature drops like that my desire to sit on the couch in a hoodie and warm my hands and stomach with a big bowl of soup increases. I put together this very thick, rich tomato soup for these chilly February days. The paninis seem like a great companion piece.

- 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 c. tomato paste
- 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 2 tsp. dried basil
- 1 c. heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- sliced cheddar cheese
- 4 slices cooked pepper bacon
- 1 tomato sliced crosswise about 1/4 " thick
- 4 slices sour dough bread

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook about 5 minutes until they are softened and begin to turn translucent, season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and tomato paste and stir constantly for about 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, dried herbs, sugar, and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the tomatoes have softened, slowly add cream and stir to combine. Adding more if soup is too thick. Season to taste and serve with paninis.

While soup is simmering, turn the panini press to high heat. Brush one side of each piece of sourdough bread with olive oil. With the oiled side out, arrange sandwiches with cheese, bacon, tomato slices, an additional piece of cheese, and top with a piece of sourdough oiled side up. Place on heated panini press and cook about 5 minutes until sandwiches become toasty and cheese is melted. Remove and serve with soup.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Whole Enchilada

White Bean and Pork Loin Enchiladas
Once again I faced the leftover dilemma in the form of a succulent pork roast. I made a huge "fancy dinner" of homemade ravioli, rosemary and garlic rubbed pork roast, and a colorful bowl of sauteed veggies. The rather filling side dishes were devoured, but I had about 2 pounds of pork remaining. I decided the best fate for all the meat would be rolled up in a fried corn tortilla and smothered in sauce and cheese. The recipe was right on the money. I was at the Market of Choice in town and found that they carried a red sauce in their refrigerated salsa section called Nacho's House Dressing made and sold to local markets by a Eugene Mexican restaurant. This stuff was great! Tangy and a little sweet, it was the perfect compliment to the savory meat. If you can't find it, just use a can of your favorite red enchilada sauce instead.

- 2-3 c. diced leftover pork loin
- 1 14 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 c. chicken broth
- 10 8" corn tortillas
- 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. chili pepper flakes
- 2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pint container of Nacho's House Dressing (or red enchilada sauce)
- oil for frying
- 2 c. grated pepper jack cheese

Heat about a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small non-stick pan over medium. Cook tortillas, one at a time, for about 20-30 seconds per side in the hot oil to soften. Add more oil as needed. Drain on layers of paper towels. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350˚ F and coat an oval or 13x9" baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside while preparing the enchilada filling.

Bring chicken broth to a boil over medium high heat in a medium sized pot. Add beans and turn heat down and simmer until beans soften, about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, chili powder, cumin, and pepper flakes. Remove beans from heat and mash up with a fork or potato masher. Add diced pork loin to bean mixture and stir to combine ingredients. Season with additional spices or salt and pepper to desired taste.

Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 c. of the bean and pork filling, roll up and arrange side by side in prepared baking dish. Top with dressing or enchilada sauce then sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes. Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

Soy Good For You

Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna Steaks on Stir Fry Greens
I recently purchased a big bottle of Sriracha sauce. It's that chili sauce you can get in the Asian section of the grocery store. Due to the characteristic picture of a rooster on the bottle and my own spicy sense of humor, I like to call it "cock sauce." (Ha!) Whatever you decide to call it, it's a fantastically versatile condiment that provides a welcomed kick to whatever is on the table. Eager to break out the cock sauce, I put together a soy ginger dressing with a healthy dose of spice to offset my soy-marinated and seared tuna steaks. Eat up!

- 2 6-7 oz. ahi tuna steaks
- 1/2 c. toasted sesame seeds
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1 10 oz bag mix stir fry vegetables
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus extra for frying
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp. grated ginger
- 1 c. cooked edamame beans

Place tuna steaks in a shallow dish and cover with 1/4 c. soy sauce. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. After steaks have marinated, dredge in flour and then through beaten egg. Cover steaks in sesame seeds and set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together remaining soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil to make salad dressing. Divide stir fry vegetable among two plates and top with edamame beans then dress salad.

Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add steaks and sear about 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat. Slice steaks across the grain to about 1/4" thick. Top salads with tuna. Eat!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Berry Fresh

Seared Salmon With Raspberry Glaze Over Mixed Greens
I don't think I can ever really tired of a seared cut of meat served over a bed of fresh greens. Here is another yummy, fresh variation on that theme. The last couple of weeks, we have been experiencing oddly spring-like weather which has made me crave crisp greens and berries rather than my usual winter menu of rich soups and stews. So . . . for that odd sunny winter day (or any time of year) enjoy this main course salad.


- 2 6-7 oz. salmon fillets
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 2 c. fresh raspberries
- 2 Tbsp. dry sherry
- 10 bag of mixed greens
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Crush 1 c. fresh raspberries and dry sherry in a blender or with an immersion blender. Combine in a small saucepan with brown sugar and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer mixture for about 10 minutes over low until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

While glaze is simmering, prepare salmon by seasoning fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high in a large, heavy skillet. Add salmon and sear (3-5 minutes per side). Remove from heat and tent with foil on a plate for about 5 minutes before serving.

While salmon is resting, combine shallots, honey, vinegar, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside. Set up salad by dividing greens, avocado, cucumber, and remaining raspberries between two plates. Dress with prepared dressing and sprinkle with feta cheese. Top each salad with a salmon fillet and then brush salmon with raspberry glaze. Eat up! It's good for you.