Creamy Scampi & Chicken (Mild Jambalaya)

I am a Canadian of British heritage, so my stomach can’t tolerate most Cajun dishes, but my mind insists that I try.  Much to my dismay while visiting New Orleans twice in my life, I have found that “hot” spices do not make a dish tastier to my palate; they, in fact, make it intolerable. But the recipe’s are so good otherwise. The solution? A milder version. This creamy recipe uses fresh shrimp and beaten chicken to guarantee the flavor, but I succumbed to the heritage of such dishes and added a dash of Paprika and Cayenne pepper. It does elevate the dish, but for the faint of heart, it is also very, very digestible.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally
1 and 1/2 tsp oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 lb raw shrimp
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 tspn butter
1 large tomato, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup wine
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup half and half cream
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/3 tspn salt
1/8 tspn pepper

METHOD

  1. Cut both chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Beat chicken until about 1/4″ in thickness
  2. Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper to taste. In a large skillet on med/high heat, add oil. Once hot, add chicken. Saute chicken until fully cooked an browned (3-4 min per side)
  3. Remove the chicken from the skillet, add 1 tbsp butter and shrimp to skillet. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until shrimp is cooked. Remove from skillet.
  4. In the same skillet, sute the onions with 2 tbsp butter for about 3 minutes, stirring as needed until onions are tender.
  5. Add the tomatoes, minced garlic, wine and cook for anothr 5 minutes.
  6. Add the broth, heavy whipping cream, half and half, and the seasonings. Stir and simmer 2-3 mintues, until the sauce starts to thicken.
  7. Add the chicken and shrimp back to pan. Cook until chicken and shrimp are reheated.
  8. Serve with crusty bread for dipping into the sauce

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

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Browned Butter Honey Garlic Salmon

Salmon tastes great with very little help, but when you’re tired of the traditional lemon-style seasonings, try this butter and honey variation. It’s sweet and oh, so tasty! The Artichoke Hart uses this as a Friday night “fish” dish. Thanks to Karina at CafeDelites.com
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) honey
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced*
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (or juice of half a lemon)
  • 4 wild caught salmon fillets (about 1/2 pound or 250 grams each), skin off or on
  • Lemon wedges (to serve)
  • Salt, to taste
Method
  1. Arrange oven shelf about 8-inches away from heat element in your oven and preheat your oven to broil

  2. Place butter in a cast iron skillet (or an oven-proof frying pan if you don’t have a skillet). Cook over medium heat, stirring and swirling pan occasionally for about 3 minutes, or until the foam settles; the butter begins to change in color to golden brown and has a nutty fragrance.

  3. Pour in the honey and let it dissolve into the butter. Then add in the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add in the lemon juice; stir well to combine all of the flavors together.

  4. Add the salmon steaks to the butter in the pan; cook each fillet (skin-side down if there’s any skin) for 3-4 minutes or until golden, while basting the tops with the pan juices. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

  5. Add the lemon wedges around the salmon. Transfer the pan to your oven to broil / grill for a further 5-6 minutes, or until the tops of the salmon are nicely charred.

  6. To serve, drizzle with the reserved brown butter sauce. Serve with steamed vegetables; over rice or with a salad.

     

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

Shakshuka…a delightful way to start (or end) the day

My son visited last night. He attends University in Toronto and has been integrating himself with various cultures including the middle east, the Mediterranean, and especially Israel (he lives with a Jewish family).

He offered to make this dish and since having another chef in my kitchen is a rarity, I offered him the stove. What a delight! This simple, tasty breakfast dish was amazing. If you’re a tomato and egg lover, you have to try this meal, served in a bowl with crusty bread…an Englishman’s heaven.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño chile, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway
  • 1/2 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped, or spinach
  • 8 to 12 large eggs

METHOD

  1.  Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the bell peppers and jalapeño and cook just until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  2.  Slowly pour in the tomatoes. Stir in the bay leaf, sugar, salt, paprika, cumin, pepper, and caraway and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes. Layer the Swiss chard leaves on top.
  3.  Crack the eggs into the tomato mixture. Cover and simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are no longer translucent.
  4. Serve in soup dishes with crusty bread and wait for the smiles!

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

How do you reheat steak without cooking it further?

If you’re like me, having left over steak leaves a lot to be desired. If you cooked it perfectly the first time, then any further cooking will turn it into charcoal or thereabouts. If you try pan frying but that just turns even the best medium-rare steak into well done in seconds, especially if you slice it.

Here are two methods I’ve used to achieve the above and stopped me from ruining a great steak the next day:

  1. IF THE STEAK WAS KEPT IN THE REFRIGERATOR  Place the leftover steak in a freezer seal plastic bag and immerse it in a pot of boiling water. After 20 minutes or so, the steak is warm enough to eat and the temperature hasn’t risen enough to change the “state” of the steak as it was originally cooked. The only problem with this method is that you recognize you’re not cooking to 160 degrees and so risk that some bacterial matter may have been introduced during the refrigeration stage.
  2. IF THE STEAK WAS FROZEN (OR REFRIGERATED OVERNIGHT) Place leftover steak in about 1/8 inch of warm water inside a slow cooker (preferably a small one) and turn the dial to “warm”. After about 1/2 hr, the steak is heated through and hasn’t changed it’s “state”. If you’re concerned about bacteria, dial it to low and the steak will cook slightly further (turning a medium rare into a medium, etc.), but you’ll still have a decent-tasting steak that has likely reached close to 160 degrees.

I find that whenever I reheat a steak, it loses a little of its original flavour, so I usually serve with a tomato/onion/feta salsa, or at the very least, a little A1 or HP sauce on the side. Even a little heated gravy or aus jus poured over the steak will not only add flavour but keep the warmth in.

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

 

 

 

 

Baked Haddock with Creamy Crab Sauce

I had an urge for a creamy crab sauce. That’s what started it. Then, I realized I had to have the sauce with something. Enter the Haddock. Brushed lightly with lemon olive oil and baked at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, the Haddock is a perfect vehicle for the Crab sauce to enhance. You can put it on top of anything really (preferably fish) but I like the consistency of baked haddock to that’s my choice. The sauce is 296 calories per serving alone, so that’s why a light fish is necessary to keep those numbers down.

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsns butter
2 tbsns flour
2 green onions with about 2″ of green, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon parsley leaves chopped (or 1/2 tspn dried)
4 ounces lump crabmeat (I use canned but fresh would, of course, be better)
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 cups heavy whipping cream (or half and half if you think that’s too rich)
1/2 tspn cajun or creole seasoning. (sometimes I use a 1/4 tbsn of chili-flavoured olive oil)
1 tbsn tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat; stir in flour, onions, and parsley. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes
  2.  Add the sherry and crabmeat to the flour mixture; gradually add the cream, stirring constantly. Stir in Cajun seasoning and tomato paste. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce slightly.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper, if necessary.
  4. Arrange the haddock (or whatever) on a plate and pour sauce over top. Serve with rice or small baked potatoes. Garnish with parsley.

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

Roasted Sausages & Grapes

 

This is actually not a gourmet dish but rather a staple, comfort food example from Tuscany.  Popular at grape harvest, Italians use grapes right from the vineyard. It has a nice balance of richness with sweetness that is pulled together by balsamic vinegar.

My kids loved this dish when I discovered it about 25 years ago and it continues to be a simple go-to for my wife and I, along with a great Tuscan wine. The best way to enjoy this dish is to ensure each forkful has a grape, a slice of sausage, and a dollop of mashed potatoes. When it hits your taste buds for the first time, it is truly astonishing!

INGREDIENTS

2 sausages per serving (mild or hot Italian, honey garlic, English banger). My preference is mild Italian because the flavor mix is tremendous and the meat doesn’t overpower the grape. Serve one of two types in each serving; i.e: one mild and one banger on a plate.

3 tbsn unsalted butter
6 cups red or green seedless grapes, stemmed (I prefer red for rich flavor)
4 tbsn balsamic vinegar

METHOD

  1. reheat oven to 500 degrees. In a large pan, cover sausages with water and parboil for 8 minutes to rid them of excess fat.
  2. Melt butter in large, roasting pan. Add grapes and toss to coat. With tongs, transfer teh sausages to the roasting pan and push them into the grapes so the sausages don’t brown too quickly
  3. Roast, turning the sausages once, for 25 minutes or until the grapes are soft and the sausages have browned.
  4. With a slotted spoon, bring sausages and grapes to a heated serving platter
  5. Place the roasting pan on the stove top over medium-high heat. Add balsamic vinegar, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom the the pan. Allow the vinegar and juices to reduce until they are thick and syrupy.
  6. Pour the sauce over the sausages and grapes and serve immediately.

Serve with garlic mashed potatoes and a good Tuscan wine.

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

 

 

 

Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi with Tomato-Butter Sauce

Since my wife and I are foodies, our recent trip to Curacao included hitting one of the ten top ranked restaurants (according to Trip Advisor) each day we were there (we managed eight).

So when I came home, my first gourmet night was a little nerve-racking: How could I compete with the extraordinary dishes we had just experienced? I couldn’t disappoint my wife that soon after such a great culinary experience.

So I decided to make my own Gnudi and see what happened. Gnudi is basically “ravioli filling without the pasta,” according to Gotham Bldg Tavern (New York City) chef, Tommy Habetz (originator of this recipe). Turns out it was a hit with a fresh, tasty dough that soaked up the sauce perfectly.

INGREDIENTS
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 small onion, halved
1 bay leaf
pinch of crushed red pepper
one 28 ounce can diced Italian plum tomatoes
salt
2 cups spinach, stems discarded
1 tub of fresh ricotta (apx 1.5-2lbs)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 cups all purpose flour

METHOD
1) In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter. Add the garlic, onion, bay leaf and red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their  juices and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 2 and 1/2 cups (about 1, 1/2 hrs). Discard the garlic, onion and bay leaf. Season the sauce with salt and keep warm. (If you desire, you can chop up the onion and put it back but Tommy prefers it sans-onion)

2) Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet. Add the spinach, a handful at a time, and stir over moderately high heat until wilted; transfer to a colander; let cool slightly. Squeeze the spinach dry and finely chop it.

3) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a food processor, combine the spinach with the ricotta, eggs, nutmeg, and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan and process until blended. Add the flour in 3 batches, pulsing between additions, until almost incorporated. Scrape the ngudi dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 5-10 times, until smooth.

4) Add one-fourth of the gnudi dough to a large, resealable plastic bag; with scissors, cut a 1/2 inch corner from the bag. Working over the boiling water, squeeze the dough through the corner opening and use a knife to cut it into 1-inch pieces. Cook the gnudi over moderately high heat until firm, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon or sire skimmer, transfer the gnudi to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

5) Carefully transfer the gnudi to the tomato sauce and stir lightly to heat through. Spoon into shallow bowls and serve at once, passing more Parmesan at the table.

Pair with a fresh Tuscan white wine (this is a Tuscan dish), or a light Chardonnay.

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.