Roasted Lemon-Dill Salmon (pes, gf) and Really Easy Butternut Squash Soup (v, gf)

You know those meals that look impressive but are super easy to throw together? The hands-off, Williams Sonoma photo shoot, break out your all-white everything serveware at your winter home in the Swiss Alps fancy? Yeah. Those are my favorite. Here’s one to add to your arsenal.

ROASTED SALMON WITH LEMON AND DILL

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lb salmon plank
  • 1 lemon
  • 10-15 fresh dill sprigs
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt & cracked black pepper
  • parchment paper

Directions:

On a baking dish, place the salmon on a sheet of parchment paper. The paper isn’t a must but will simplify cleanup. Generously salt and pepper the salmon. Cut the lemon in half and juice one half. Slice the other lemon half into thin, crosswise slices.

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Seafood Chowda (pes, gf)

Making this soup really stepped up my annoying culinary joke game last week. Anytime I make/eat/order/think of chowder, I think of the Simpsons chowda/chower Freddy Quimby scandal episode, which makes me laugh out loud regardless of time or location:

And having been given a beautiful filet of Alaskan halibut that I used in the chowder, I also got to walk around saying things like this,

halibut

which, as you can imagine, made me very happy. Just for the halibut…. hahahahaha…. Oh, top hat crab! You so crazy.

On to the soup. I’d stumbled across the idea for salmon chowder, which sounded delicious but quickly changed when the halibut entered my life. I decided to make a halibut, cod, and shrimp chowder just for the- wait for it- because I wanted to. Gotcha.

soup8

This soup can be made with whatever sturdy fish fillets you have on hand. You want the fish to be thick enough to stand up to being cooked in hot broth- the goal is to have large, spoon-sized chunks of cooked fish in the soup, not flakes. Leave the fish out altogether if you prefer- shrimp, chunks of lobster, and scallops would be equally amazing. This was a really tasty dinner and improved, as most soups do, overnight. It keeps for a few days and travels well. All in all, a tasty, hearty, warming dish.

SEAFOOD CHOWDA

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs fish, skinned and boned, cut into 1″ chunks, or 2 lbs seafood and shellfish mix of your choice
  • large handful peeled and deveined shrimp, optional
  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour, optional (leave out for gf option)
  • 1/2-1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • kosher salt, to tastesoup1
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 3 leeks, white and light green bits chopped into rings 
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into rounds
  • 1 clove minced garlic, optional
  • 1 bulb fennel, stalks and fronds cut off, chopped into small pieces
  • large handful kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 6 cups stock or broth of your choice
  • 1 cup half-and half
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, optional
  • Crystal hot sauce, for serving – or (sacrilegious) Tabasco

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Quickie: Shiitakes & Soba (v, gf)

Mushrooms! So tasty, so good for you. Shiitakes, specifically, are a well-known source of iron and immune-boosting properties (hear ye, hear ye, vegans and vegetarians: rich veggie iron source). The ever-popular goop recently published a piece on the health benefits of mushrooms (more on that here) and ideas on how to work them into your diet; here’s my very quick, single serving, weeknight-friendly take on their “Stir Fried Noodles with Mushrooms.” Enjoy!

mushrooms 4

SHIITAKES & SOBA

Adapted from goop

Ingredients:

  • 1 bundle soba noodles or 1 cup cooked soba (note: soba noodles must contain ONLY buckwheat flour to be considered gluten-free) mushrooms 5
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced; Whole Foods sells an especially tasty 1/4 lb package
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1-inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • drizzle sesame oil
  • sesame seeds

Directions:

Cook your soba noodles according to package directions, drain, and set aside. Chop your aromatics while the noodles cook (love the word aromatics). Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until browned, stirring to ensure they don’t stick, about 5 minutes.

mushrooms 2

Add the ginger and garlic and cook another minute, stirring. Add the cooked noodles, green onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil, tossing to coat and heat everything through. Remove to a bowl, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy! Really tasty 10-minute dinner! The best kind!

mushrooms 3


Shrimp “Ceviche” Salad (pes, gf)

So, it’s totally true that cooking is like working a muscle. The more you work that muscle, the easier it is to use. The less you work it, well, that muscle gets weaker. If I don’t cook on a regular basis, my culinary creative juices dry up like a sad roadside drainage ditch. Exhibit A:

ditch

so sad. so not cooking.

Who wants to eat there? Bleh. Luckily, the more often I cook, inspiration flows back like a tumbling tropical waterfall. Exhibit B:

waterfall 2

take me there? now? I’ll cook!

Much more appealing!! Do you find the same thing happens in your kitchen? It’s 100% the case in mine. Speaking of which, let’s flex those cooking muscles and talk ceviche. Typically, ceviche is a raw fish and/or shellfish dish in which the seafood had been “cooked” by citrus juices. To explain those salmonella-hazy quotation marks and to quote Chowhound, “citric acid changes the proteins in the fish, unraveling the molecules and altering their chemical and physical properties. When fish is bathed in citrus juices, this process… turns the flesh firm and opaque, as if it had been cooked with heat.”

ceviche

Since there are just two of us at home and we’re leftover-heavy on the food rotation, I opt to pre-cook my seafood when making dishes like these. It’s a safe option when keeping this stuff on hand for a few days and the classic, citrusy flavor isn’t compromised. This is a “cut it all up and stir it together” recipe- great for busy nights or when you’re trying to use up veggies in the fridge. So! Let’s get to it.

SHRIMP “CEVICHE” SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked, diced large 
  • 1 bell pepper, your choice of color, diced large
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and chopped into large dice
  • 1 small container grape tomatoes, halved (the tomatoes, not the container)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup cilantro, packed and finely chopped
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 3-4 tbsp olive or canola oil (taste preference here: olive oil has a distinct, earthy taste; canola is neutral)
  • 1/2-1 small red onion, small dice
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • honey, optional
  • optional spices, such as chili powder, cumin, oregano
  • spinach or salad green of your choice

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Winter Wonderland Salad (pes, gf, veg option)

Pinterest is by far the leading referrer to allez! gourmet. My peanut butter & cinnamon Greek yogurt dip has been a huge Pinterest hit- thank you to all readers who have shared it! Interestingly, my pollo guisado recipe has also taken off. This cracks me up- the Dominican woman and American woman in me have experienced Pinterest validation equality. Ha! Pinterest is truly a great resource for recipe sharing and I browse it for inspiration all the time. In fact, a solid Pinterest-browsing sesh inspired me to create this tasty winter salad.

salad 10

Another inspiration for the salad: My wonderful husband very kindly gifted allez! gourmet eight bottles of Vom Fass vinegars and olive oils for Christmas and I was eager to use them. Dave has always supported my little hobby blog and encourages me to keep it up- thank you to Dave for keeping me flush with love, encouragement, and olive oil.

salad 7

WINTER WONDERLAND SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 1 package organic baby arugula (I suggest organic girl)
  • 2 salmon filets, seasoned (leave out for veg/v option)
  • one large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 can sliced beets
  • goat cheese, torn into chunks
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • balsamic or red wine vinegar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400. In a 9×13 Pyrex pan or on a baking sheet, toss the sweet potato cubes with 2 tsp olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes until browned outside and soft inside, tossing once or twice so they don’t stick.

salad 1

As the sweet potatoes cook, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium and season the salmon. You could use good old s&p, fresh herbs, or your favorite seasoning mix. I used a seasoning called “Fisherman’s Wharf,” which conjures up the image of a filthy dock but was actually quite tasty.

Cook the salmon 3-5 minutes per side until medium well or well-done, your choice.

salad 3

Meanwhile, drain the can of beets and layer the slices between paper towels. If you’d like to toast your walnuts, do so over medium heat in a nonstick skillet, tossing until they’re fragrant. Toasting the walnuts will lend big flavor for little work.

When the salmon is done and the sweet potatoes are cooked through, dress a large handful of arugula with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of vinegar, and a bit of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with the beet slices, torn goat cheese, walnuts, sweet potatoes, and salmon.

Pescatarian and vegetarian options, equally delish

Simple as that! The olive oil I used was lemon-flavored and the vinegar was aged and Spanish. The Antonio Banderas of vinegars, if you will. So! How will you dress your winter salad?


Culinary Bucket List, West of Maine Shrimp Rolls (pes), and Watermelon Crush Smoothie (v, gf)

Hey there! In last week’s post, I mentioned my “dying wish” meal: Dominican beans and rice. “What would your last meal be?” has got to be my favorite food-related question out there- it can reveal so much! Last week’s post got me thinking about the rest of my culinary bucket list- the foods and restaurants I want to try before I kick the you-know-what. I put pen to paper on these and here’s what I came up with:

bl5

  • Chili from Ben’s Chili Bowl in D.C.
  • A lobster roll in Maine
  • Pho in Ho Chi Min City
  • Pizza in Italy (or NYC! had as a child but don’t remember too well)
  • Tapas and jamón Ibérico in Madrid
  • A Jucy Lucy from Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis
  • Spam musubi and poke from Da Poke Shack in Kailua-Kona, HI
  • Feijoada and a caipirinha in Brazil
  • Spicy, spicy street food and dou hua in Chendgu, Sichian province
  • Moules frites in Brussels
  • Korean food with a table full of garnishes, anywhere
  • Dim sum in San Fran’s Chinatown
  • Ice cream at the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Vermont
  • Brewery stops in Seattle and Bend, OR
  • Wine tasting in Napa Valley

Dreaming is wonderful but being grateful for what you have seen and done is where it’s at.  Here are some of the standout culinary moments I’ve been fortunate enough to experience:

  • Dinner at the Signature Room of the John Hancock Tower in Chicago
  • Brunch at the Army Navy Club in D.C.
  • Crab cakes oceanside in Maryland
  • Burgers made the same way as they were when my grandparents were newlyweds at Whisler’s Drive-Up in Carthage, MO
  • Cuban food in Little Havana
  • A hot Krispy Kreme donut right off of the conveyor belt
  • Fried chicken and fireworks by the Potomac on the Fourth of July
  • Hot, fresh apple cider feet from where it was made at an orchard
  • Oysters and Yuengling at the Old Ebbitt Grill in D.C.
  • Hot dogs at various MLB ballparks and Chicago dogs in Chicago
  • Sushi at Station Sushi in Solana Beach, CA and fish tacos in San Diego
  • Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ in Kansas City
  • Street tacos in Acapulco
  • Fette Sau BBQ and momofuku milk bar cookies in Brooklyn
  • Jerk chicken and Red Stripe from shack kitchens in Jamaica and home-cooked creole lobster with coconut rice and peas on the beach in Negril
  • Café au lait and a croissant in Paris
  • St. Louis roll call: Ted Drewes frozen custard, toasted ravioli, dinner at the chef’s counter at niche with Gerard Craft at the helm, cocktails made by Ted Kilgore, pho at Mai Lee, Sunday dim sum at Lulu Seafood
  • NOLA roll call: Beignets and chicory coffee at Café du Monde, hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s, boozy Friday lunch (complete with sing along) at Galatoire’s, oysters at the Acme Oyster House, a Pimm’s Cup at The Napoleon House, pecan-crusted fish and champagne and bread pudding at Commander’s Palace, a Sazerac at the Roosevelt Hotel, Abita and Zapps on Frenchmen Street, cocktails [everywhere]
  • Dominican Republic roll call: sancocho, fresh fish and boiled crabs, limoncillos, sweet-sauced and oregano-sprinkled cheese pizza from Pizzarelli, road stand ice-cold Presidente, juicy mangoes I climbed for and plucked myself, mofongo from Adrian Tropical, red snapper from the ice chest at Capitan Cook’s, and many, many more…

Sounds like I’ve got my priorities straight, right? My memories have always been punctuated by food- what I ordered when we went here or there, what we ate the day that this-or-that happened, what so-and so cooks so well. Today’s recipe is an approximation of one of the dishes on my list- the lobster roll! My OCD prevents me from trying this recipe with lobster- I’m holding out for the real thing in the right place- so I used shrimp. Didn’t heat up the kitchen too much and loved every bite. Bonus recipe below for a cooling summer smoothie!

shrimp4

WEST OF MAINE SHRIMP ROLLS

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup light mayo or Greek yogurt
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • celery seed
  • butter or olive oil
  • hot dog buns

Directions:

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the Old Bay seasoning, the lemon, and the peppercorns. When the water is boiling, add the shrimp and boil 2-3 minutes, until opaque and cooked through. Strain and set aside, tossing the lemon and peppercorns. I recommend chilling the shrimp for a while to bring to room temp or cooler.

shrimp1

Meanwhile, dice the onion, celery, and tarragon. When the shrimp are cool (or warm, your call), toss the veggies and tarragon with the mayo, a sprinkle of celery seed, and some cracked black pepper. Fold in the shrimp and taste for seasoning.

Toast hot dog buns and drizzle with a bit of melted butter or some olive oil. Pile high with the shrimp salad and enjoy! Serve with a refreshing:

WATERMELON CRUSH SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups watermelon
  • a handful cilantro
  • 2-inch knob of ginger
  • juice of a lime
  • a handful of strawberries
  • 24 oz coconut water

Directions:

Toss all ingredients in a blender a whir away. Serve over ice. Crazy straw optional, but recommended.

Would be quite tasty with a bit of coconut rum… Hmm. Rum is good for pondering. Sip your smoothie, ponder, and tell me….

 What have YOU checked off of your culinary bucket list? What’s left to be tasted?


Quickie: Max & Fanny’s Open-Faced Tuna and Fennel Sandwiches (pes)

As if belonging to the YMCA doesn’t make me happy enough, my local Y has started a book exchange program (a well-intentioned, pile, rather) in its lobby. Members donate books they’re done with to the pile and the donated books become fair game for anyone who’s interested. On my way in and out, I stop to scan the boxes and bags and bins of books for new finds. The selection is delightfully varied and makes me love my fellow members even more, quirky smarty pantses that they are. Recently, I made quite the haul when I lifted a few tattered textbooks to find six (SIX!) Peter Mayle books peeking out from underneath the castoffs like rays of Mediterranean sun. “Bring us home!,” they said, “love us and read us and dream of meals in Provence with us!” Um, OKAY GUYS!

It’s cliché to be an escapist American or Brit who loves to read Peter Mayle, but I’m an American who loves to read Peter Mayle. I really, really do. His books fill the mind with Provençal scents and smells and breezes and dreams of sunny, lazy lunches soaked in wine and olive oil that are much cheaper to read about than to create (faster, too). A Year In Provence and Encore Provence are favorites of mine, as is A Good Year, which Ridley Scott made into a Russell Crowe-starring movie in 2006. Also cliché: women who love Russell Crowe movies. I don’t want to, I try not to, there’s nothing interesting or noble in doing so… but my heart can’t be swayed. He was wonderful in A Good Year, as was lovely Marion Cotillard. Such pretty people in such a pretty setting. Who wouldn’t want to watch that? Speaking of the pretty setting, let’s take a look at the grounds of Château la Canorgue, where the movie was filmed. Le sigh.

So very lovely. A Good Year, both book and movie, are near and dear to me. If you want to make a fast, faux getaway to the south of France, check out A Good Year or A Year In Provence. Here’s my warm-weather recipe inspired by the currently very warm St. Louis weather, the good luck of finding a stack of favorite books, and the hazy, sepia-toned romance of A Good Year. I imagine Max and Fanny serving this in the leafy shade of their terrace on a sunny Provençal day…

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OPEN-FACED TUNA AND FENNEL SANDWICHES

Adapted from Real Simple

Ingredients:

    • 3 6-oz cans of good quality albacore tuna, drained
    • 3 tablespoons capers, chopped
    • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced into bite-sized pieces
    • 3/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
    • wheat toast or sliced baguettes

 

Directions:

Grab two bowls. In one, mix the drained tuna, the chopped capers, 3 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, and about 1/4 tsp black pepper.

In the other bowl, toss the sliced fennel, the chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons olive oil, a large pinch kosher salt and another 1/4 tsp pepper.

Spread a bit of the tuna salad on toast, then top with fennel salad. Grab your loved one and whisper a sweet nothing into his or her ear. Bonus points if you whisper it en français.

fanny and max

“I would like a lifetime spent with an irrational and suspicious goddess, some short-tempered jealousy on the side, and a bottle of wine that tastes like you, a glass that’s never empty.”

I may be getting carried away by Max & Fanny’s love story, but this post is dedicated to my husband and how he makes every day feel like a day in Provence.


Strawberry, Kiwi, and Mint Chop-Chop with Jicama and Roasted Shrimp (gf, pes)

The season is turning, things are heating up outside… This is the time of open windows, attic fans, and late spring breezes. And easy dinners that free up more time to be spent with our loved ones. And salads.

* sweet * tart * mint *

* sweet * tart * mint *

I’m not generally a salad fan but if I can get my hands on one with a high interesting toppings-to-greens ratio (I’m no rabbit), I’m all in and this salad more than fits that profile. Like fruit? Like shrimp? You’re gonna love this…..

STRAWBERRY, KIWI, AND MINT CHOP-CHOP WITH ROASTED SHRIMP

Adapted from Triathlete Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup jicama
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 4 kiwi, peeled
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped into small dice
  • handful mint, chopped
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp honey or agave
  • 1 inch-piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 large container spring mix

Directions:

Peel, devein, and rinse the shrimp. Pat them mostly dry and toss them in a bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Heat your broiler on high and arrange the shrimp, side by side on a broiler pan, like this:

salad 1

Every time I see tail-on shrimp, I think of Beetlejuice. Every. Time.

Roast the shrimp 2 1/2 minutes, flip, and roast an additional 2 1/2 minutes. They’re going to be perfectly cooked and really tasty. Set aside.

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Meanwhile (though I suppose not really so meanwhile, as you only have five minutes while the shrimp cook- I apparently have lot of faith in your time management skills), chop all of your fruit and your tuber! That’s right, a tuber. Let’s talk jicama. Jicama is, well, a tuber in the pea family. It’s crispy and refreshing and pairs well with citrus and seafood and salad. So the fruit  and herbs should be chopped as such:

  • strawberries- hulled and sliced
  • kiwi- cut in half, scooped out with a spoon, and sliced into coins
  • jicama- peeled with a vegetable peeler and cut into thick, 1-inch matchsticks
  • English cucumber- cut into small dice
  • Mint- chopped

Chop those and toss. The dressing is easy to make: juice an orange, juice a lemon, add 1 tbsp olive oil, the honey, a pinch of kosher salt, the grated ginger, and a few grinds of black pepper, and stir. Toss the fruit mixture with 1 tbsp of the dressing, then toss your desired amount of greens with another bit of dressing. Layer the greens with the fruit mixture and top with the shrimp. Serve! This would be really good with the addition of feta cheese. Enjoy!

My appetite requires me to eat salad from a mixing bowl... the shame, the SHAME!

My appetite requires me to eat salad from a mixing bowl, don’t judge me