Low Country Boil

Low Country Boil is a classic one-pot meal from the coastal region of South Carolina and Georgia (the Low Country). Also known as Frogmore Stew or Beaufort Boil, Low Country Boil is a simple, yet delicious meal that is a lot of fun to eat. This particular recipe serves about 4, but by increasing the quantity of ingredients, you can feed a crowd. You can even find Low Country Boil calculators online to determine the amount of ingredients you will need to feed a particular amount of people.

This is a basic recipe, but you can do your own thing. I have seen recipes that include crabs, crab legs, clams, green beans, mushrooms, bell peppers, etc… I added mushrooms to my Low Country Boil, as seen in the picture. Serve with crusty bread and cold beer.

Low Country Boil

1 gallon water
1 lemon, halved
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into eight wedges
2 pounds baby potatoes
1 sausage rope (about 14 ounces), cut into bite-size slices
4 ears corn, shucked, cleaned and cut into fourths
2 pounds fresh shelled shrimp

melted butter
cocktail sauce

Bring the water, lemon, Old Bay, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves to a boil. Add the onion and potatoes, return to a boil, and cook 10 minutes. Add the sausage and corn, return to a boil, and cook 10 more minutes. Check to see if potatoes are tender. If so, add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 3 minutes. If the potatoes are not tender, cook a few more minutes before adding the shrimp. Drain and serve on a large platter (or on newspaper in the middle of the table) with melted butter and cocktail sauce.

Shrimp Risotto

Shrimp Risotto

Risotto takes a little time, but is very easy to make (and hard to mess up) and it always seems to impress. You can add a variety of ingredients to a basic risotto recipe to create endless combinations. Shrimp is my favorite, but I also like mushroom, or a combination of fresh vegetables. It’s a great way to incorporate seasonal vegetables into your menu. Asparagus and baby peas in the spring. Corn, tomato, and zucchini in the summer. Wild mushrooms in the fall. Winter squash in winter. It’s all good.

Shrimp Risotto

1 cup arborio rice
1 pound shrimp
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced (or substitute 1 small onion, finely chopped)
½ cup dry white wine (or vegetable broth)
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons heavy cream (half and half will work too)
salt and pepper

Have the vegetable broth simmering in a pot close-by before you begin.

In a large skillet with a heavy bottom, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the arborio rice and sauté with the shallots, stirring often, until the rice starts to get some color, about 5 minutes. Carefully add the white wine (or vegetable broth) slowly, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Once the rice has absorbed the wine (or broth), add 1 cup of the vegetable broth, continuing to stir often. Continue to add the broth (about ½ cup at a time) as the rice absorbs the liquid and the pan becomes dry, until all the broth is absorbed. This should take about 20 minutes (the risotto will become creamy). About 3 to 4 minutes before the risotto is done (about the time you add the last bit of broth), add the shrimp and cook until pink. Stir in the butter, Parmesan, and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Top each serving with additional Parmesan cheese.

Salmon Cakes

Salmon Cakes

My 6 year old was home today with a nasty stomach bug and fever. I spent the day taking care of him. He needed lots of snuggling. Poor baby. For dinner, I was able to whip up something quick (and comforting) for the rest of us. These Salmon Cakes didn’t take too much time to throw together and they were really delicious. The capers and Dijon mustard added so much flavor.

I served the Salmon Cakes with arugula dressed with a homemade grapefruit vinaigrette (shallots, fresh grapefruit juice, white wine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and olive oil) and Bird’s Eye Steamfresh Italian Style Protein Blend that I zapped in the microwave. The blend of whole grains, lentils, broccoli, white beans, and spinach (and some kind of sauce) was kind of bland, but wasn’t terrible (it tasted better mixed with the dressed arugula). Generally, I’m not a big fan of Bird’s Eye’s seasoned or sauced products. Their Voila! Skillet Meals are downright disgusting! I don’t know whose taste palette they are targeting, but it isn’t mine. Anywho, I was able to bundle a coupon and Ibotta rebate with a sale and got a package of the Protein Blend for free. I like free.

I had the afterthought of adding some dill to the salmon mixture. I love the flavors of salmon and dill together. I will definitely try it next time I make these Salmon Cakes.

Salmon Cakes

1 15 – 16 ounce can salmon, drained
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 to 1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil

Break up the salmon in a mixing bowl. You can remove the skin and the bigger bones if you want to. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery until tender. Add the veggies to the salmon.

Add the capers, Dijon mustard, lightly beaten egg, salt, and pepper to the salmon and veggie mixture and combine well. Mix in the breadcrumbs, a little at a time, until the mixture is at a consistency where it is not too wet and it can be shaped into cakes easily. You may not use the full cup of breadcrumbs. Divide the mixture into 12 equal parts and shape each part into a cake with you hands.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet (you can use the same one you sautéed the onions and celery in) over medium heat. Add six of the salmon cakes and cook until browned on one side. Carefully flip the salmon cakes over and brown on the other side. Remove from the skillet and keep warm in a 250° oven (or toaster oven) while you cook the next batch. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet and cook the remaining salmon cakes (as you did before). Serve warm.

The Bitten Word’s Cover to Cover Challenge – Crab Toast with Lemon Aioli

Crab Toast with Lemon Aioli

I signed on to participate in The Bitten Word’s Cover to Cover Challenge. The gentlemen at The Bitten Word chose the September 2013 issue of Bon Appetit magazine for the challenge. They randomly assigned each of the almost 500 participants one recipe (out of a total of 47) from that issue. With so many participants, several people will be cooking the same recipe. I am looking forward to seeing the results of the challenge on their blog next week.

I was assigned Crab Toast with Lemon Aioli. It’s probably not a recipe I would have chosen on my own. Part of the fun of the challenge was to get out of one’s comfort zone.

Crab Toast with Lemon Aioli 2

I enjoyed preparing the recipe, Crab Toast with Lemon Aioli. It looked good. I followed the recipe as written with the exception of a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Unfortunately, my husband and I were not crazy about the results. Overall, we found it to be quite bland. The crab and lemon aioli were both so rich and soft (texture-wise) that it was a bit off-putting for our tastes.  We are not mayonnaise people (aioli is very similar to mayo) so that is probably part of the reason we didn’t care for this dish. I couldn’t taste the fennel fronds in the finished product, but thought their inclusion in the dish was visually appealing. We felt like it needed more crunch (perhaps some of the fennel bulb) and something extra to enhance the flavor (a drizzle of sriracha, maybe?). Even with those changes, I don’t think I would make this recipe again. Despite not really caring for this dish, I’m so glad I participated in this event. I’m looking forward to doing it again next year.

Find a copy of the recipe for Crab Toast with Lemon Aioli here.

9-9-13:  The Bitten Word has the Appetizer and Beverage portion of the Cover to Cover Challenge up on their blog. I loved seeing how others interpreted the dish I was assigned.  You can check that out here.

Won Ton Egg Drop Soup (includes a recipe for Filled Won Tons)

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This soup is so good. Making the filled won tons is a bit time consuming, but they are well worth the effort. Once the won tons are made, this soup is super fast to prepare.

Won Ton Egg Drop Soup

6 cups broth of your choice (vegetable, chicken, etc…)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 ounces snow peas (sugar snap peas are fine if you can’t find snow peas)
2 eggs, beaten
12 – 18 filled won tons, uncooked (recipe below)

Cook filled won tons in simmering water for 5 minutes.

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Drain and discard the water. Set won tons aside. In a soup pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the snow peas and soy sauce. Pour the beaten egg into the soup and stir. Remove soup from heat. Place 3 or 4 cooked won tons in soup bowls. Ladle soup over the won tons and serve. You can sprinkle sliced green onion over each serving of soup.

Filled Won Tons

The filling for the won tons is easy to make if you have a food processor. I toss the garlic cloves and veggies in the work bowl and pulse until everything if finely chopped. I empty the contents into a mixing bowl and repeat the process with the protein source.

I like making these with shrimp and veggies like cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, and water chestnuts. You can use almost any vegetables you want for the filling. You can easily make these won tons completely vegetarian by omitting the meat and doubling the vegetables for the filling. I usually have a little bit of the filling left over after filling all of the won tons. I stir fry the leftover filling in a tiny bit of oil over high heat and then spoon the cooked filling into lettuce leaves.

Filled Won Tons

1 cup finely chopped vegetables (cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, water chestnuts, etc…)
1 cup finely minced meat (shrimp, chicken, or pork)
2 cloves garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 package won ton wrappers
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons water

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Combine the finely chopped vegetables, garlic, and meat in a bowl.

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Add enough soy sauce to just moisten the mixture. Cover and refrigerate filling for at least 15 minutes.

Mix the flour and water together in a small bowl. Set aside. This is the sealer.

To fill the won tons, place the won ton wrapper with one corner facing you. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling into the center.

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Moisten the top edges of the won ton with the sealer and fold the won ton in half to form a triangle.

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Press the edges together and try to keep the filling from oozing out. Now put some sealer on the bottom side of the left corner and on the top side of the right corner. Fold the left corner up towards you and fold the right corner over the left. Seal together.

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Repeat with remaining won tons.

The won tons are now ready to be used in your recipe for Won Ton Egg Drop Soup. Uncooked won tons can be frozen for future use.

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The won tons can also be fried for an appetizer. Fry the won tons in hot oil until they are deep golden brown. Drain the fried won tons on paper towels and serve with a sweet chili dipping sauce. I have had a little problem getting the filling to cook all the way through without burning the won ton wrapper. It may help to precook the filling before filling the won tons so that everything is cooked.

Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo

This is one of those dishes that requires lots of time and lots of babysitting, but it’s so worth it. Gumbo reminds me of my grandmother.  She would make gumbo from time to time and was the person who introduced me to this dish from Louisiana. I adapted this from my grandmother’s recipe. There are a million different gumbo recipes and one can add all kinds of ingredients (like oysters, chicken, sausage, alligator, etc…) to make it their own.

Seafood Gumbo

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 1/2 diced green bell pepper
4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups sliced okra
1/4 pound crab meat
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. old bay seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
1/4 tsp. gumbo file powder (optional)
cooked rice
hot pepper sauce (crystal’s or tabasco)

In a dutch oven, heat flour and oil over medium-low heat. cook, stirring almost constantly, until the flour browns to a dark, mahogany color, being careful not to let it burn. This takes about 30 minutes.

This is what the roux looks like at the start: roux 1

This is what the roux looks like after about 15 minutes: roux 2

This is what the roux looks like when it’s ready, about 30 minutes: roux 3

Stir in the celery, onion, and bell pepper. cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 to 20 minutes. add vegetable or chicken stock, okra, and crabmeat; cook for 30 minutes more, stirring often. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, parsley,lemon juice, sugar, oregano, thyme, old bay seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. At this point, I also add several healthy shakes of hot pepper sauce to the gumbo. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the shrimp and file powder, if using. Cook until shrimp have cooked through, about 15 mintues.

Serve warm over rice with hot pepper sauce.

Makes about 10 servings. recipe can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Thai Red Curry Mussels

Thai Red Curry Mussels

From December 26, 2008:  Don’t be afraid of mussels.  They have been a human food source for thousands of years.  Although there have been cases of mussel poisoning due to toxins from “red tide”, bad mussels can easily be avoided.   The U.S. government monitors the levels of toxins in  coastal water “fishing” areas and issues warnings if the toxin levels get too high.  To be extra safe, don’t consume mussels in the warmer months (especially ones from the West coast), when red tide is more apt to occur.  A good rule of thumb is the old adage:  Months with an “R” in their name (September to April) are said to be the “in” season for mussels.  A few other tips will make sure you get the best mussels you can get.  First of all, buy your mussels from a reputable source.  Ask to make sure the mussels are fresh (not more than 3 or 4 days since harvest) and make sure they are stored on ice.  Most retailers sell mussels that have been cleaned of sand and grit.  If not, there are instructions on how to clean mussels on the internet…it’s an easy process, but it takes an extra day.  It is also important to discard any mussels that are opened (tap the open mussels – if they close they are alive and fine to cook, if they do not close, toss them) or have broken shells.  After cooking, never eat a mussel that has not opened.  Just keep these few things in mind when buying and preparing mussels and everything will be fine.

This particular recipe poduces yummy and flavorful mussels..  They are great for an appetizer (for several people) or a meal (for a couple of people).  Serve with fresh crusty French bread to soak up the sauce.  To make it a meal, add a crisp salad, and a nice wine.

Thai Red Curry Mussels

1 can unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 1-inch piece ginger (or galangal), minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, minced
2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 to 2 pounds fresh mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
3 kaffir lime leaves (frozen or fresh), finely julienned
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (reserve 2
tablespoons for finishing)
4 tablespoons chopped Thai basil or Italian basil
leaves (reserve 2 tablespoons for finishing)

Rinse the mussels under cold water, checking to make sure they’re clean. Discard any mussels that are
open(and do not close when tapped) or have broken shells.  Set aside.

Add the coconut milk, curry paste, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, and 2 tablespoons each of cilantro and Thai basil to a heavy Dutch and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring. Add the mussels, cover the pot, and let steam until mussels are opened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook them, or they will be tough.  Discard any mussels that have not opened. To serve, carefully pour mussels and sauce into a serving bowl (or spoon into individual bowls).  Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and basil leaves. Serve with a loaf of fresh French bread to soak up the juices.