So, loosening our belts, we prepared for the onslaught …
First up, Valentine’s Day. Now I get that a lot of people feel that Valentine’s is a Hallmark-consumer-driven-cheesefest. Got it. But I still like it. I like taking one day out of the year to show a little extra love. We don’t do presents or boxes of chocolate or overpriced chi-chi restaurants. What we do is cook ourselves a feast at home!
Now I wish I could say that I had developed all these recipes on my own, but let’s be honest: I don’t cook 10-ounce lobster tails on the regular. I followed recipes. And they were brilliant, I highly recommend all of them. Here was our menu:
Next up: Broiled, stuffed Lobster Tails. The stuffing was garlicky and buttery and complemented the luxuriously tender meat. SIGH.
This recipe is easy & genius: http://www.food.com/recipe/baked-stuffed-lobster-tails-174936
Swakopmund seafood potjie (ala Salvadoreña)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large, or 2 small/medium onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green pepper, seeded and cut into strips (I used one whole bag of Trader Joe’s raw, frozen peppers)
3 celery sticks, chopped
1 cup red wine
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives (or to taste)
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 pound large shrimps (prawns), cleaned & rinsed *
2 pounds mussels, cleaned & rinsed *
Chopped fresh parsley and cilantro (coriander/dhania) to garnish
* You can use any combination of your favorite seafood to equal roughly this amount.
In a large Dutch oven, sweat the onions in the olive oil till translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, till fragrant. Add tomato paste to brown a bit. Add all the spices and cook them a few minutes, till they are fragrant. Add peppers and celery, turn heat down a bit and let the natural moisture of the peppers andcelery come out. Cook the mixture down. You should have a very fragrant sludge. Add wine, tomatoes, olives and simmer 15-25 minutes. Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste. (The sugar helps balance out the acidity in canned tomatoes.)
Turn the heat up, add the lemon juice and zest, stir, then add all the seafood. Cover and steam about 5 minutes till the prawns are no longer translucent and the mussels open (discard any that don’t open.) Serve with rice and bread to soak up all the juice!
I made a loaf of the New York Times “No-Knead” Bread — and I realized again how ridiculously simple it is. Everyone loved it and assumed I had slaved for days kneading and coaxing starters. I almost didn’t disabuse them of that notion, but my inner Catholic won out and I confessed how stupid-easy it really is.
We also had rice and salad, but in the midst of feeding and feasting, I didn’t get any pictures.
I did, however, make sure that I got a picture of this:
The real secret here is the vinaigrette, which is my own version of a classic French one. I use way more vinegar and more mustard — I guess I like it zippy! Here’s how I do it:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup any light-tasting vegetable oil (grapeseed, canola)
2 shallots, finely chopped
This will make lots of salad dressing, just keep it in the fridge, it’s really yummy! I just mixed a couple of tablespoons of this dressing with rice (white basmati, which had been cooked with chicken stock, bits of carrot, one onion and one garlic clove — but you can use whatever you’ve got), some leftover chicken breast, both lemon and lime juice, chopped cilantro and parsley, grape tomatoes, chopped scallions and chunks of avocado. It was really delish!
So there you go, 3 feasts in 4 days! Hope you are all well and that the year has started off great for you!