Monday, March 31, 2014

Moules-Frites (Mussels and Sweet Potato Fries)

This week’s theme was Belgian food, so how could I not cook mussels? They’re cheap, simple to prepare and delicious. I served them with sweet potato fries made in the oven, which I left in there for about a minute or two too long. Save for a few which didn't make it to my plate they didn't end up too burnt.

If you’re not familiar with mussels, make sure that when you buy them you use them the same day. Ideally you should cook them right when you get home from the store, but if you need to keep them, remove them from the sack the came in and place in a large bowl covered with a damp towel, then place in the fridge. Also, check for any dead mussels when you do so – If a mussel is open, run it under a bit of cold water and give it a few taps; if it closes back up it’s fine, if it stays open it’s dead, and should not be eaten.
2 lb. mussels
1 large shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
½ cup white wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
Lemon slices
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Bread for dipping

For the mussels:

Soak the mussels in cold water for 10 minutes. Scrub the mussels one by one with a brush, moving them to a clean bowl. If any are open, give them a tap – if they close up they’re fine, but if they stay open they are dead and should be discarded.

Preheat a pot over medium. Add in olive oil, then the diced shallot and garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until softened. Add the white wine and heavy cream and bring to a boil.

Dump in the mussels, reduce the heat to low and put a lid on the pot. Steam for 5 minutes, or until the mussels have opened up.

Serve in a bowl topped with parsley, lemon slices, and plenty of bread to soak up that delicious cooking liquid.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sweet Potato and Tomatillo Soup

I didn’t know there was such a thing as white sweet potatoes until I saw them at the market this weekend, and I’m a sucker for novel vegetables. This can easily be made vegetarian/vegan by using vegetable stock, however since I made chicken stock this weekend that’s what I went with.

2 large white sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
½ large white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
4 cups chicken stock
6 tomatillos, husks removed, halved
3 tomatoes, stems removed and halved
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper

For garnish:
Jalapeno slices
Diced shallots

Preheat your oven to 450°F.

In a dutch oven or other decent sized pot, heat over medium and add some oil. Add the onion, garlic and poblano peppers and sweat for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and the sweet potatoes, then add the salt and spices and taste to adjust. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer, cooking for 20 minutes or so, until the potatoes have softened.

Meanwhile, place the halved tomatoes and tomatillos on a baking sheet (cut side down) lined with foil and sprayed with cooking oil. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. The tomatillos will have some color on them. Remove from the oven, take the skins off the tomatoes, and add to a blender.

When the potatoes have softened add them to the blender as well. Blend smooth and adjust seasoning. Garnish with cilantro, jalapeno pepper slices and shallots.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Shrimp Po Boys

Seafood po boys are just ridiculously delicious, so I decided I had to make one. The bread typically used has a slightly softer crust than the baguette I used, but being far away from Louisiana I had to make do with what I had (and with a seriously good baguette from a local bakery, I can’t complain too much). Remoulade adapted from:

Shrimp: (for 1 sandwich)
6-8 jumbo shrimp
1 cup water
3 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg + 1 tbsp water
Panko Bread Crumbs
Canola/Vegetable Oil

I bought my shrimp whole, so the first step was to devein and deshell: hold the shrimp in your hand, belly side up with the tails facing your fingers and take a paring knife underneath the tail section and run it down the center of the shrimp. Peel back the shell, and remove the blue vein from the center of the shrimp.

Once your shrimp is prepped, mix 1 cup of water, 3 tbsp salt, and 1 tbsp of sugar in a bowl and add the shrimp. Brine for 20 minutes.

Set up a dredging station: 1 container with flour, 1 with a beaten egg + 1 tbsp of water, and 1 container with panko breadcrumbs.

Remove the shrimp from the brine and bread them by dredging first in the flour, then the egg wash, and then the panko. Repeat for remaining shrimp.

In a medium pan add enough canola oil to cover the shrimp. Heat the oil to 350°F. Add the shrimp and fry for 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tbsp paprika
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
2 teaspoons pickle juice
1 tablespoon chopped pickes
2 teaspoons hot sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Mix everything in a bowl. Makes approximately 1 ¼ cup.

To Finish:
Butter Lettuce
Tomato slices
Fried Shrimp
Lemon slices (optional)

Cut the baguette in half and smear some remoulade on the bottom. Add lettuce, tomato and shrimp. Serve with lemon slices (optional).