Category Archives: Seafood


YAY I finally made duxelles! I don’t know why I thought this was so cool but I’ve had duxelles in a variety of ways, especially in soups and on toasts. I love that Cooking Light included them in their 3 Little Secrets of Big Flavors section that also includes chicken glace and shrimp butter. These three are French culinary tricks, or astuces, to add depth of flavor to a dish.   Duxelles are super savory and are an awesome little additon to a variety of dishes due to their herbacious and mushroom (read: earthtastic) flavor.

I chose the Artic Char with Duxelles and Leeks because it sounded amazing and I thought it would be fitting since we have an Artic blast hitting Austin right now. Why not celebrate artic cold temperatures with Artic something or other? I went to Whole Foods Market and alas they do not carry Artic Char. Turns out their purveyor couldn’t meet their Quality Standards requirements. Love it, and thank you Whole Foods for having those standards in the first place. I went with salmon which was a tasty equivalent choice and headed home.

Artic Char with Duxelles and Leeks (Photo by David Prince)

The duxelles were amazingly easy to make and oh so delicious even on their own. I also sauteed some Yukon Gold potatoes in olive oil and dashed with salt and red pepper. I placed the duxelles, potatoes, leeks and salmon in a baking dish at 400 degrees and voila! mes amis, dinner was ready. Oh, I did finish the dish off with a dash of a lemon slice (David sliced it up the fancy way) and some more olive oil.

I vageuly remember eating this because I might have inhaled it. Savory, lucious layers of earthy flavor that all worked beautifully together on the plate.  Amore!

P.S. Did I call Auburn or what? 😉

Scallops with Green Tea Cream

I’ve had this recipe on my radar since it appeared in the November issue of Cooking Light but for some strange reason every time I had it planned for dinner something would come up (friends showing up in town, last-minute errands etc). BUT the food gods were smiling upon me last night because I finally got around to it. I will say one thing, if you don’t have a specialty food store in your area finding matcha powder might be harder than finding a needle in a haystack. After a visit to HEB with no luck, David and I walked around Whole Foods Market looking everywhere, asked a staff member that led us to the wrong thing and then David suggested we look in the tea aisle…duh right? We found the glorious powder and I purchased the scallops last night.

Scallops with Green Tea Cream (Photo by Randy Mayor)

Lord have mercy this was amazing. That cream was dyn-o-mite. Plus, it’s 10 ingredients long with just three steps so it came together in 15 minutes tops. I followed everything to the letter, but since this is meant for first course, I upped the amount of scallops and on the side we had sauteed baby bok choy with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chile flakes and minced garlic. Simple, fresh, light and that sauce is crackalicious.

If you decide to make this I hope the food gods shine down upon you and nothing stands in your way, but hey I guess all good things do come to those who wait eh? I might start selling my leftover matcha powder to the highest bidder though. :)

Are you mocking me?

Imagine this…a “mock” hollandaise sauce from the one, the only Cooking Light. Now you know that I know that Cooking Light can make some seriously good sauces that skimp on fat, calories, and artery clogging ingredients, but even I was a little hesitant that this would turn out tasting like the real thing. David loves crab and he loves eggs Benedict with creamy hollandaise sauce so when I saw this Crab Eggs Benedict with said mock hollandaise sauce, I thought “meh, sure, we’ll see Cooking Light, we. will. see.”

And yes, Cooking Light definitely proved to me (once again) that they can bring their A-game while saving me the extra poundage on my hips. The hollandaise sauce with its mix of canola mayonnaise, reduced-fat buttermilk, Dijon mustard and lemon juice/rind was so simple to put together and was YUMMY. Combined with my favorite – poached eggs, sprouted-grain English muffins, chives and of course fresh lump crabmeat it was an absolutely perfect Sunday morning breakfast. I served with side salad of spinach and grapefruit…easy breezy!  I would definitely try this if you’ve got someone in your house who adores crab as much as we do, it’s an excellent spin on traditional eggs Benedict.

Our finished Crab Eggs Benedict (photo: ME! via Hypstamatic app for the iPhone)

Mussels (or Clams) Steamed in Beer with Crème Fraîche, Herbs, and Parmesan Croutons

I think I just saw a pig fly by my window because yes gentle lambs I cooked last night and the recipe was quite delicious, yay! As I’ve mentioned my cooking life has been on a bit of a hiatus (for very fantastic reasons so no complaints here) as of late and thus so has my gentle little blog that I love so much.

I had the opportunity to cook last night and decided to ease myself back into it with something simple yet absolutely delicious sounding and what’s not delicious sounding about mussels, herbs, beer, parmesan and crème fraîche? Exactly, nothing! I chose this Belgian-inspired Mussels Steamed in Beer with Crème Fraîche, Herbs, and Parmesan Croutons recipe from the May 2010 Bon Appetit and chose to make a Belgian Endive, Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette as a complementary Belgian-ish side dish.

For a mussels dish, which usually takes me about 10 – 15 minutes max to prep and cook, this one took a wee bit longer but I had time so I didn’t mind. One thing I did mind was the fact that some dude took the last of ALL of the mussels right before I got the seafood counter at Central Market. Mind you, this is the second time this has happened to me at the CM so I sighed and then went with clams. They still turned out to be fantastic with the rest of the ingredients and it was my first time to cook with clams…cooking experience bonus!
What I absolutely loved about this dish was the broth…yum. I loved the fresh herbs of tarragon, thyme, parsley, chives and chervil and the combination of the white Belgian beer with the crème fraîche, or in this case I used sour cream, with the two mustards gave it a nice bite and rounded out the broth nicely. Last but not least the parmesan croutons were the perfect addition. Crispy, salty, cheesy and if you let them sit in the creamy, herby, beery broth you will be a happy little clam yourself.
Give this one a try as soon as you can and enjoy a nice Belgian beer along with it. A votre sante!

Fastest Dinner Ever?

On Monday it was just me, myself and I at home since Alex was working and I wanted something simple, delicious and quick so I could get to perusing ALL of the food magazines I had waiting for me on the couch. As I searched for the perfect recipe I knew I wanted fish and I had some broccolini that had to be used that night or it was hitting the trash, and I hate to waste produce…hate, hate, hate.

After searching and searching I found this little gem on Bon Appetit’s Web site. This Seared Artic Char with Broccolini, Olives and Garlic was the perfect fit for my needs. After work I went to Central Market to pick up a fresh filet of artic char and wouldn’t you know it, the woman right in front of me took the last one. As I stood there moutbreathing in front of the fish monger he quickly recommended barramundi instead. I’ve had this delicious fish a few times in restaurants but never cooked at home. YUM. This was a perfect alternative to the char and very easy to make.

Not only was the recipe, simple, simple, simple and came together in a flash, but the garlic, olives, orange and white balsamic vinaigrette all played nicely together in the sandbox. If you want something fast and delicious give this one a try and if you do try it with artic char let me know how it turns out.

I have recipes marked for days including a possible Brinner (Brunch/Dinner) coming up next week so stay tuned…there might be homemade strawberry pop tarts involved. Strawberry homemade pop tarts…marinate on THAT for a while.

The Rogue Gumbo

When I think of a traditional gumbo I immediately think of Louisiana, sausage, chicken and/or shrimp, okra, rice and spice! You can imagine my surprise when I came across this Shrimp and Okra Gumbo in Cooking Light that of course has shrimp and okra, but also has smoked ham and instead of rice, creamy yogurt grits. I’m not going to lie, I think the creamy yogurt grits is what got me hook, line and sinker.

As my fun little Chef friends pointed out, the roux for this was very interesting indeed. It consists of canola oil, all-purpose flour and chicken broth (instead of the usual butter for the added fat). Making this together was a whole lot of fun and Alex even mentioned she liked it better over the creamy grits – awesomeness on its own or with the gumbo – than rice. Now that’s saying something.

This was pretty amazing gumbo if I do say so myself. The smoked ham, obviously, gave it a smoky flavor along with the paprika and all of the vegetables and spices blended together to create a lovely, spicy balance of flavors. One thing is that we did not have okra. Quelle horreur! I went shopping after work and they had everything BUT okra, not even frozen. Being good Southern girls we knew what we were missing without the okra but we still loved the dish.

I can’t find the recipe online so check it out below for a spicy gumbo night of your own!
Cooking Light
April 2010
Shrimp and Okra Gumbo with Creamy Yogurt Grits
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped onion
4 ounces smoked ham, chopped
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2/3 cup diced celery
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound fresh okra pods, sliced
1/4 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; cook 1 minute or until lightly browned, stirring constantly with a whisk until thick. Pour into a bowl; set aside. Wipe pan clean with paper towels.
2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and ham; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bell pepper and next 4 ingredients (through okra); cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally. Add broth mixture, water, and next six ingredients (through tomatoes). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in shrimp; cook 4 minutes or until shrimp are done. Spring with parsley. Yield: 4 servings.
Creamy Yogurt Grits
Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits; cover, cover reduce-heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until thick. Stir in 1 cup fat-free Greek-style yogurt, teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Mussels Time!

I think I’ve proven by now that I absolutely lurve making mussels at home. Typically the broth doesn’t take too long and then you cook the mussels for 10-12 minutes max and voila! delicious mussels in yummy broth and then crusty bread to sop up the rest in your bowl.
Bon Appétit features this fantastic Mussels Steamed in Spicy Tomato-Cilantro Broth recipe from Passionfish restaurant located in Pacific Grove, California. I’ve never been to Pacific Grove but it’s located in one of my favorite places in California, the central coast region where things seem to have a slower pace, the food is delicious anywhere and everywhere you go and they just happen to produce delicious wines too. Ahhhh, what I wouldn’t give for a bottle of Sea Smoke Pinot Noir right about now.

I couldn’t find the recipe online, but as you will see below it has a very short ingredient list with limited prep and steps. You know you are going to be a happy puppy when this is the case. I love tomato-based broths for mussels and this packed a flavor punch that went nicely with the mussels. Well, I guess with five tablespoons of butter it’s definitely got something going for it doesn’t it? Alex and I both loved this recipe with some nice, crusty bread and I was definitely slurping everything up when my mussels disappeared in about two minutes.
If you love mussels, you will love this recipe. Bon Appétit!

Mussels Steamed in Spicy Tomato-Cilantro Broth

Bon Appétit
Recipe adapted from Passionfish
4 first-course servings (or two entree)
1 1/2 cups bottled clam juice
3 ripe tomatoes, seeded, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 pounds of mussels, scrubbed, debearded
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
Crusty bread
Bring first five ingredients to boil in large pot, stirring occasionally. Add mussels and butter. Cover and cook until mussels open, about 4 minutes – poodles, we had to go about 10 minutes on this so watch your mussels! – (discard any mussel that do not open). Stir in cilantro and green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.

Soba Noodles with Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro from Food & Wine

Continuing on with the Battle of the Cover Recipes, I’ve tried the insanely delicious short rib/grilled cheese goodness that graced the cover of Bon Appetit and now it’s on to the Soba Noodles with Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro recipe on the cover of the new Food & Wine.mThis was a really fast and simple recipe to make plus I’m a sucker for shrimp. I have to say though that Alex liked this WAY better than I did. I felt it was OK but nothing to write home about. The flavors were fine and I did enjoy the crispy shallots and garlic on top.  One thing to note, I’m not the biggest fan of cooking Asian-inspired cuisines at home (I’m weird, I know) so maybe that’s why I’m so blah to the blah about it. Alex loves cooking Asian-food and is a big fan in general so if you are anything like her then I would definitely give this one a shot and not listen to me one bit!  The Grilled Cheese is still winning in my book and we are testing Cooking Light’s new cover recipe tonight and watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, how fun huh? Stay tuned lambs!

Bananas, Wheat Germ and Canned Tuna, Oh My!

Well it’s my first post of 2010 and I hope this finds you having a gentle start to the New Year. Personally I’m ready to get back to work but am really enjoying just one more lazy day before everything gets started again.
All of the January/February issues are out and I’m literally swimming in magazines from Cooking Light, Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Saveur, Prevention, EatingWell and Food Network Magazine and I have recipes selected for weeks and weeks. One fun recipe testing idea I’m starting in the New Year was created by my friend Ivette who walked in my office one day with this flash of fun brilliance – “Battle of the Cover Recipes.” Like the name states, each month I’m going to test and taste the covers recipes of cooking magazines and announce a winner by the end of the month. Thank you Ivette! I’m testing Bon Appétit’s delicious-looking Spaghetti and Meatballs All’amatriciana this week and have also chosen Cooking Light’s comfort-in-a-bowl Beef and Pinto Bean Chili and Food and Wine’s dripping with ooey goeey goodness Butterscotch Sticky Buns…let the battle begin!

Now where were we? Oh food, cooking and recipes yes! I have had a nice easy day of cooking this morning with two awesome recipes from the new Cooking Light. One is this Banana, Wheat Germ and Oats breakfast dish that was quick, super delicious and reminded me of a grown-up version of the oatmeal my mom would make for me when I was kid. I am a big believer in breakfast and never, ever skip it so I love having quick and easy new recipe ideas for the day’s most important meal. I saved the remainder of the cooked oats for tomorrow and then will just add the brown sugar, butter and bananas for a super fast breakfast in the morning.

For lunch, I came across this Spanish-Style Tuna and Potato Salad in their Easy Cooking section that focuses on a slew of recipes all based on one convenience staple, in this case, canned tuna. Did you know that you get more healthy omega-3 fatty acids from drained tuna packed in water instead of oil? Hmm, good to know. I tested this recipe to its full capacity so I am going to have this salad around for days to munch on and am I glad because this was delicious! The crunchy romaine lettuce worked perfectly with all of the smoky flavors of smoked paprika and red pepper and tangy dressing, plus I loved the mixture of shallots, tomatoes, red potatoes, green beans and of course canned tuna. This was a fast, easy and fresh salad that I think you will love. I’ve got some more cooking to do tonight and I’ll keep you posted of any further success.

It’s Simple Really

It has been said on this blog tons of times, I love magazines and Real Simple has held an organized, gentle and special place in my heart for years now. Each issue is informative and inspirational and I keep them around for years to revisit say when I need to remind myself of the essential spring cleaning routine or the best way to pack a suitcase; I love their little “aha!” moments don’t you? I also wish I could afford the clothes, shoes, bags and jewelry they feature each month but I digress.

I always loved their food section because they had really simple recipes that never seemed to lack on flavor or originality…until a few years ago. I found myself reading the magazine from front-to-back but would skim the food sections because nothing tickled my fancy. Saddened was I to see that I was never inspired to try any of their recipes, until last month when a grilled cheese with fruit chutney recipe caught my eye. When I tested it, it tasted great. “Humph” I thought to myself “could I be falling in love all over again with Real Simple’s recipes or are they just playing games with my food loving heart?” Well there are no broken hearts here as I tested three new recipes from the January issue and they all gave me the old Real Simple razzle dazzle that I loved so long ago.

Coming back from traveling for the holidays, I was quite happy at my foresight to choose these three recipes that were super easy to execute and they all really rocked in their own way. The Skillet-Poached Huevos Rancheros for a late-lunch was awesome and reminds of the Tex-Mex version of the much loved Italian-style eggs baked in tomato sauce. Next, the Seared Tilapia with Mango and Watercress for dinner was YUM. The dressing on top of the tilapia mixed with the mango, spicy watercress and red onion was so simple but delicious. This will be a healthy, quick recipe I can turn to again and again. Finally, for lunch the next few days I made this Kale and White Bean Soup which was simple, delicious, and healthy and it features Kale. I love Kale. Can I please get a t-shirt or mug that says that?

Thanks Real Simple for the delicious recipes and I can’t wait to see your February issue! I couldn’t find any of the recipes online (sigh) so I posted all three below, who loves you?