Wheatless Wednesday – Maple Bourbon Glazed Salmon

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 Happy-New-Year-2015-Images-2

Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet? Some years I don’t bother because, well I don’t want to disappoint myself – again.  This year, however, I am not aiming so high.  I’m not promising to exercise more, lose weight, drink less, eat more fruit, spend less, volunteer more, enjoy life more and get organized; all on lists of Top 10 Resolutions. I’m not saying I won’t pursue any of those very worthy goals (there’s a reason they’re on the top ten) but I have to go where my heart is – goodmotherdiet.  So without further ado, here are my Top Five Food Related (of course) Resolutions for 2015

GOODMOTHERDIET TOP FIVE RESOLUTIONS FOR 2015

5 –  Continue my search for the world’s best (and healthiest) pizza, although the quinoa pizza crust will be hard to beat.

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4 – Pursue my love affair with exotic spices like turmeric and za’atar. That could mean jumping onto the Ottelenghi bandwagon and trying more recipes from ‘Jerusalem’ and his newest cookbook, ‘Plenty More’.

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3 – Increase my support for local growers and producers.  If we support the people doing it the ‘right way’, more will follow.  (i.e. Buy organic local products when possible.  Choose pasture raised not factory farmed.)

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2 -Try something new.  2014 was the year of using new grains like quinoa, barley and farro.  2015’s something new will be experimenting with more meat free options.  I have always been suspect of foods that ‘pretend’ to be other foods but I will just have to get over that.  There are reportedly some really good animal product free options out there now and I’m ready to explore.  Chia seeds and almond milk, here I come!  Readers, please tell me your favorite products!

1 – Promote Meatless Monday as an easy way to make a difference.

 

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So, now that our resolutions are out of the way, what’s for dinner?  This Maple Bourbon Glazed Salmon is an easy but delicious and super quick ten to fifteen minute meal.  The maple bourbon glaze is surprisingly delicate and makes this an elegant meal sure to please your guests.  It’s a perfect combination of sweet and salt.  The citrus and bourbon give it a tangy sweetness and the pepper adds the proper savory balance.  When broiled properly, salmon has a ‘melt in your mouth’ consistency. Delicious!

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According to Seafood Watch, The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s program which helps consumers and businesses choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that protect sea life and habitats, lists wild caught salmon to be a Best Choice option but some Farm Raised salmon is considered a Best Choice or Good Alternative depending on the methods and practices used.  It’s a great site for consumers to use in deciding what types of seafood to buy at the market.  Just click on Seafood Watch and type in the name of the seafood you are interested in for great up to date information. It’s handy dandy!  You can look up those shrimp while waiting in line at the market.

Maple Bourbon Cocktail

Here’s an idea!  While you have the ingredients out, pour yourself a ‘Maple Leaf Cocktail’.  (Just 2 oz Bourbon,  3/4 oz Maple Syrup, 3/4 oz Lemon Juice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass filled with crush ice ). Compliments of Drink Dogma.

 TIPS: I like to buy a nice side of salmon and slice it into individual portions before cooking.  It makes a nicer presentation and is easier to serve.  If I am serving a crowd, I make one inch slices, especially if there are several other dishes available.  For a family dinner, I pre-slice into larger portions, or the sizes I think people will eat. For this method I prefer skinless salmon so the marinade has more contact with the fish, however, the skin does help keep it moist and you can still precut the slices without having to cut through the skin.  The fish will slide right off the skin in perfect slices after being cooked.

Wishing you a happy and delicious new year!-J

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Maple-Bourbon Glazed Salmon

1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 whole side skinless salmon fillet or 4-6 individual 4 oz filets
Ground black pepper
salt to taste
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  • Slice salmon into one or two inch slices and place in an oiled baking dish.

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  • Combine maple syrup, orange juice, bourbon, soy sauce, lemon juice and pepper in a small dish.  Taste and add salt if necessary’

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  • Pour over fish making sure to coat all pieces and the insides of each cut.  Let sit for a few minutes while you preheat the broiler.

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  • Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat for about 3-4 minutes. Check salmon, brush with glaze and broil another 3-4 minutes.  It should be golden brown and flake easily with a fork.

Maple Bourbon Glazed Salmon

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 Maple Bourbon Salmon6

1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 whole side skinless salmon fillet or 4-6 individual 4 oz filets
Ground black pepper
salt to taste
  • Slice salmon into one or two inch slices and place in an oiled baking dish.
  • Combine maple syrup, orange juice, bourbon, soy sauce, lemon juice and pepper in a small dish.  Taste and add salt if necessary’
  • Pour over fish making sure to coat all pieces and the insides of each cut.  Let sit for a few minutes while you preheat the broiler.
  • Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat for about 3-4 minutes. Check salmon, brush with glaze and broil another 3-4 minutes.  It should be golden brown and flake easily with a fork.

Photo Credits

Happy new year 2015:   happyanniversarytext.com

Spices: iappfind.com

Chia Heart: intentblog.com

Wheatless Wednesday – Roasted Halibut with Lemon, Tomatoes and Capers

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How about a delicious, gourmet dinner in less than half an hour?  My husband came home from the farmer’s market the other day with a beautiful piece of halibut.  I didn’t realize until just before dinner, when all eyes turned to me,  that I was supposed to come up with an interesting preparation for it.  A quick look through my refrigerator and pantry yielded a can of diced tomatoes, fresh herbs, capers, white wine and a lemon from my tree. I combined all those ingredients into a chunky sauce which I poured over the fish and roasted it in a hot oven for about 10 minutes. It couldn’t have been easier or faster – almost instant gratification!  The fish was flakey and tasty. It would be great served on a bed of spaghetti to soak up the flavorful sauce. Yum!

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We have all heard that fish is good for you.  There are many reasons to eat halibut beside it’s mild and delicious flavor. It is a lean, meaty white fish that is low in sodium, fat and calories and rich in nutrients, including Omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid and B vitamins plus minerals like selenium, potassium, magnesium and niacin that are otherwise difficult to come by naturally.  Halibut is also a good choice when considering the environment. ,According to Seafood Watch California halibut are either a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative,” depending on the fishing method. Most Atlantic halibut is overfished, so it’s on the “Avoid” list. The exception is farmed Atlantic halibut. It’s a “Good Alternative” because it’s raised in closed tank systems that have little impact on local habitats. The Marine Stewardship Council certifies some of the Pacific halibut fisheries as sustainable.

ROASTED HALIBUT WITH LEMON, TOMATOES AND CAPERS

1 lb halibut steaks
1-2 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons capers
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs (flat-leaf parsley, oregano, marjoram or basil) chopped or 1 tsp dried Italian Seasoning
1 can diced tomatoes

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  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish. Rinse and pat dry fish and place it in the baking dish. You can leave the fish in one large piece or cut it into individual serving sized pieces. Brush fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

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  • Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the top of the fish.

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  • Roast in hot oven until just opaque, about 10 – 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.  Fish should flake easily with a fork.  Serve with juices and more fresh herbs, if desired.

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Roasted Halibut with Lemon, Tomatoes and Capers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 lb halibut steaks
1-2 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons capers
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes

  • Pre -heat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish. Rinse and dry fish and place it in the baking dish. You can leave the fish in one large piece or cut it into individual serving sized pieces.
  • Brush fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the top of the fish.
  • Roast in hot oven until just opaque, about 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.  Fish should flake easily with a fork.  Serve with juices and garnish with more fresh herbs, if desired.

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Salt and Pepper Shrimp with Garlic and Chile

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Salt and Pepper Shrimp are finger licking good!  I’ll bet you can’t eat just one… I’m not even a shrimp fanatic and I loved these spicy, slightly crispy, garlicky shrimp.   They are perfect on their own as an appetizer. I guarantee they will get gobbled up and they don’t even need a dipping sauce, just lots of napkins.   Or pair them with rice and veggies for a complete meal.  Turn a simple buttered pasta into a delicacy by topping it with several beautiful and tasty shrimp.  Better yet, how about warm spicy shrimp over lightly dressed mixed baby greens, yum!

Did you know that shrimp is the most popular seafood in the U.S.? They are also a good choice from a nutritional standpoint.  They are low in fat and calories and zero carbohydrates but high in protein and heart healthy omega-3 fats.  Shrimp are a great choice when you are pressed for time since they cook in just a few minutes.  If you buy easy-peel or pre-shelled shrimp, the prep work is mostly done for you but the shelling and deveining process is not that difficult, it doesn’t even take that long.   Click HERE  for a handy video on shelling shrimp with just one cut.

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NOTES ON SHRIMP:  When buying shrimp, look for wild vs farmed shrimp, if possible, and pay attention to where they are from.  According to Seafood Watch, wild-caught shrimp is generally a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” with the exception of shrimp fisheries in Mexico and Louisiana, which are on the “Avoid” list for poor management. Farmed shrimp from the U.S. is also a good option.  However, 90% of our shrimp is imported farmed shrimp, mostly from Asia, and is generally on the “Avoid” list due to questionable practices including overcrowding, chemicals, poor quality of food and even abusive labor conditions. So even though they are likely to be more expensive than farmed, wild-caught shrimp are also better for you. The Huffington Post also reported that wild-caught shrimp are better for the environment, our health and our taste buds. Choosing to eat wild shrimp also helps sustain American jobs and fishing communities.

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Photo Credit – http://www.tasteofthai

If you don’t have Chinese Five Spice powder, which I didn’t, you can substitute with what you have in your pantry.  It is typically composed of star anise, cloves, fennel seed, cinnamon, and Sichuan peppercorns, so if you have any of those ingredients, start there.  I used bit of clove, cinnamon and crushed fennel seeds and added some Creole Seasoning which has black and red pepper and chili powder.  The cloves really combined nicely with the garlic and chiles, so I will definitely be using it more in cooking.  I suppose I will be looking for Chinese Five Spice next time I’m at the market. Who knew?

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SALT AND PEPPER SHRIMP WITH GARLIC AND CHILE

2 Tbsn cornstarch
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder or Creole Seasoning + pinch of clove and cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced into rounds
4 large scallions (green parts only), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1-1/2 lb. large shrimp (26 to 30 per lb.)
3-1/2 Tbs. peanut or avocado oil
1 small lime, cut into 4 wedges (optional)

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  • Peel and devein the shrimp if necessary. Using a sharp knife, slice through the underside of the shell and remove the legs, the vein and shell, leaving the tail on.  Then make a slice along the back and remove the second vein.  Click HERE  for a handy video on shelling shrimp with just one cut.

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  • Rinse and dry the shrimp dry with paper towels. In a large bowl, mix the cornstarch, sugar, five-spice powder, salt and pepper.

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  • Prepare the garlic, chile, and scallions; set aside.

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  • Add the shrimp to the cornstarch mixture and toss until evenly coated.

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  • In a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add half of the shrimp in a single layer. Cook without disturbing until deep golden and spotty brown on one side, about 2 minutes.

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  • Using tongs, quickly flip each shrimp and continue to cook until the second sides are spotty golden brown, about 1 minute longer. (The shrimp may not be cooked through at this point.) Transfer the shrimp to a platter or plate. Add another 1 Tbs. of the oil to the skillet and repeat with the remaining shrimp, transferring them to the plate when done.

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  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the skillet. Add the garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the chile and scallions are softened and the garlic is golden and aromatic, about 1 minute.

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  • Return the shrimp to the pan and stir to combine. Serve immediately, with the lime wedges.

Adapted from Fine Cooking

Salt and Pepper Shrimp with Garlic and Chile

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 Tbsn cornstarch
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder or Creole Seasoning + pinch of clove powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced into rounds
4 large scallions (green parts only), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1-1/2 lb. large shrimp (26 to 30 per lb.), peeled and deveined, tails left on
3-1/2 Tbs. peanut or avocado oil
1 small lime, cut into 4 wedges (optional)

  • Peel and devein the shrimp if necessary. Using a sharp knife, slice through the underside of the shell and remove the legs, the vein and shell, leaving the tail on.  Then make a slice along the back and remove the second vein.  Click HERE  for a handy video on shelling shrimp with just one cut.
  • In a large bowl, mix the cornstarch, sugar, five-spice powder, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, chile, and scallions; set aside.
  • Rinse and dry the shrimp dry with paper towels.
  • Add the shrimp to the cornstarch mixture and toss until evenly coated.
  • In a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add half of the shrimp in a single layer. Cook without disturbing until deep golden and spotty brown on one side, about 2 minutes.
  • Using tongs, quickly flip each shrimp and continue to cook until the second sides are spotty golden brown, about 1 minute longer. (The shrimp may not be cooked through at this point.) Transfer the shrimp to a platter or plate. Add another 1 Tbs. of the oil to the skillet and repeat with the remaining shrimp, transferring them to the plate when done.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the skillet. Add the garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the chile and scallions are softened andthe garlic is golden and smells toasted, about 1 minute.
  • Return the shrimp to the pan and stir to combine. Serve immediately, with the lime wedges.

 

Pan Roasted Halibut with Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc

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You know when you’re at a restaurant and have just polished off a dish with a sauce so delicious that you come darn close to licking your plate?  Well this is that sauce.  Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc is buttery and slightly creamy with the perfect lemon tang and carmelly wine finish.  Yum!   I could pretty much eat it on anything (or even by itself standing by the stove on the pretense of testing it, but don’t tell).  I paired it with a mild halibut which I pan roasted and then quick sautéed power greens in the same pan to pick up any remaining flavors.  I added orange and grapefruit segments to the greens and topped them with the pan roasted fish, then drizzled the whole thing with the lovely Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc.  Mmmm…

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Fish is delicious, especially when cooked to perfection with a light golden crust and the perfect flake, but this recipe is really all about the beurre blanc.  The recipe, which I adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, August, 2014 Good & Fresh magazine, doesn’t use loads of heavy cream like so many recipes, just one tablespoon of cream or yogurt, wine, shallots and butter, which we now know is a healthy fat, not the enemy as we have been told all these years.  So whisk away!  This sauce is definitely worth the ten or fifteen minutes it takes.  The only problem is you’ll be trying to figure out what else you can put it on…

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When you’re at the market choosing which fish to buy, be aware that not all fish is raised naturally and without added chemicals.  If you are eating fish as a healthy alternative, this is something to think about.  I am a big believer in voting with my pocketbook.  I prefer to buy ‘live caught’ fish to support local fisherman rather than the factory farming industry.  The farm raised fish industry, in some countries, is very questionable with the fish being fed unmentionables along with  antibioltics and other things to counter the crowded horrible conditions. The best choice is to buy Sustainable Seafood which includes caught or farmed fish that whose purveyors take into account the health of the species and the oceans.  If you aren’t sure you can check out Seafood Watch which has a website and an app that tells you if the fish you are going to buy is a good choice or not.

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  • Prepare your fruits and vegetables before you start cooking.

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  • Then make the Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc (recipe below) and set aside covered to keep warm.

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  • Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper and add to the pan.  Cook until the fish is golden and turn to cook the other side, 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove the fish to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

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  • Add another Tablespoon oil to the pan if necessary and toss in half the scallions. the vinegar and the greens.  Saute about a  minute just until they start to wilt.

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  • Remove skillet from heat and add grapefruit and orange segments.  Divide among four plates and top each with a piece of fish. Briefly reheat the beurre blanc, if necessary, and drizzle over the top of each plate. Garnish with remaining scallions and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

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Pan Roasted Halibut with Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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4 5 oz skinless halibut, cod or sea bass filets
2 Tbsn olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tbsn cup white wine vinegar
4 cups mixed greens (baby kale, chard, arugula or spinach)
1 orange, peeled and sectioned
1 pink grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
1/4 cup scallions, sliced into thin julienne, or snipped chives
1 Tbsn lemon zest (optional)

  • Prepare your fruits and vegetables before you start cooking.  Then make the Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc (recipe below) and set aside covered to keep warm.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper and add to the pan.  Cook until the fish is golden and turn to cook the other side, 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  • Remove the fish to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
  • Add another Tablespoon oil to the pan if necessary and toss in half the scallions, the vinegar and the greens.  Saute about a minute just until they start to wilt.
  • Remove skillet from heat and add grapefruit and orange segments.  Divide among four plates and top each with a piece of fish.
  • Briefly reheat the beurre blanc, if necessary, and drizzle over the top of each plate. Garnish with remaining scallions and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc
1 cup white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, not sweet)
1/4 cup lemon juice (Meyer lemon preferably)
2 large shallots, minced
1 Tbsn cream or yogurt
12 Tbsn cold butter, cubed

  • To make Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc, combine shallots, wine and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons. Stir in cream or yogurt and turn heat to low. Whisk in butter one cube at a time until a rich sauce forms. Remove from heat and set aside.

 

Lobster Risotto

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Lobster Risotto

What happens when Maine meets Italiano meets Mexico?  Lobster Risotto, of course!  My new friend, Claudia, an Italian who lives in Mexico, was recently visiting my Maine neighbor, Lydia.  We were sitting at the lake one afternoon, enjoying the sunshine and the view, when the conversation turned to food, as it often does (occupational hazard).  Summers in Maine often involve Lobster Bakes and the inevitable leftover lobsters which the next day become lobster rolls, lobster salad or lobster fra diavlo.  Claudia makes a wonderful lobster risotto whenever she is in Maine visiting Lydia and graciously offered to share her recipe as a Guest Chef on Goodmotherdiet.
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Lobster Risotto is a great way to use extra lobster but it is delicious enough on it’s own to buy lobster just to make this dish. It’s also a good way to get two lobsters to feed 4 or 5 people. Claudia likes to make a homemade lobster broth by simmering the lobster shells with fresh herbs for 20 minutes to an hour which infuses the broth with lobster flavor and gives it a richness that really makes the dish.  She also recommends using Albariño white wine but sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio are good substitutes.  Risotto is usually made with Arborio rice which is an Italian short-grain rice, named after the town of Arborio, in Italy, where it is grown. When cooked, the rounded grains are firm, creamy, and chewy, due to its higher starch content; but blends well with other flavors.  Carnaroli rice, grown in Northern Italy, is a medium grained high starch rice which is also great for risotto.  (Long grain rice doesn’t work quite as well.)  The resulting dish is very flavorful with a rich and creamy consistency.  For such a simple dish, Lobster Risotto is quite elegant. Thank you Claudia!

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Lobster Risotto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup Arborio rice
1 glass Albariño white wine (or sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio)

2  1 pound and half soft shell Maine lobsters, cooked
8 cups home made lobster broth (directions below)
pinch of Salt
1/2 cup Butter
1/4 cup Parsley, minced
1/4 cup Basil, minced
pinch of Saffron
1 zucchini, diced
3 tablespoons of extra virgin Olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
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  • Place the shells, a few sprigs of parsley and basil in a stockpot, cover with water and simmer for at least an hour.  Remove shells, strain and keep broth hot.

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  • Saute the onion and zucchini in butter until soft.

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  • Add rice and sauté for several minutes.

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  • Add wine and saffron and let simmer for about five minutes.

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  • Add stock to the rice one cup at a time and reduce, stirring often until the liquid is absorbed.

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  •  Repeat until the stock is gone and the risotto is soft and creamy but slightly al dente. Salt to taste.

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  • Heat the lobster meat in a couple of tablespoons of butter in a small pan.

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  • Arrange the lobster meat on the risotto, sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

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Wheatless Wednesday – Maine Lobster Bake

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Maine is famous for it’s lobsters and summer is not considered complete here without at least one old fashioned lobster bake.  Traditional lobster dinners include lobster with drawn butter, corn on the cob and steamers (Ipswich clams) and sometimes potatoes or eggs, often served on these inexpensive, but iconic, blue platters that mimic retro diner tablecloths.   I tried lobster for the first time on my first trip to Maine, way back when my husband and I were just dating.  He went to summer camp in Maine as a kid and he has many fond memories (and good friends) and still loves to come here.   I’m pretty sure he brought me up here all those years ago as a relationship test, which luckily I passed with flying colors.  I learned how to eat lobster, waterskied in Bear Pond and slept on a cot in one of the old cabins, three actions which, I’m sure, made me marriage worthy.  My three sons followed in their father’s footsteps and consider themselves Wigwammers to the core, first as campers, then as counselors.    It’s no coincidence that we have a house across the lake from Camp Wigwam and come to Maine as often as possible.  It’s a little slice of heaven on earth.

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We were lucky enough to be invited to an authentic Maine Lobster Bake that was catered by our friend, Tom DeLois.  He provided and prepared everything, freshly procured that morning, including the seaweed which they gathered by boat from the ocean.  I was not involved in the preparations in any way, except for taking lots of pictures to document the process, which is simple but takes some effort.  It’s also a great way to feed a large group in a casual but festive manner.

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This technique can easily be done on the beach but we used a flat gravel driveway.  Just use something to elevate the cooking surface, a flat metal sheet or galvanized tub.  Layer your chosen ingredients with seaweed and  light the fire.  Tom and his crew were veterans and really knew what they were doing.  I have to admit it was nice to have someone else take care of dinner…

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In an effort to minimize damage to the area, they cleared the gravel down to the bare dirt, then set up the cooking area with four concrete blocks and a metal tray.  They stacked layers of wood and newspaper.  The four metal sides(on the ground in the photo) are to block the wind if necessary.

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The first layer is wet seaweed which they collected themselves from the ocean.

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Next is bags of clams (steamers), lobsters and foil wrapped red skinned potatoes.

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Topped with raw eggs and corn on the cob.

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Wrap everything tightly with aluminum foil.

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Finish with another thick layer of wet seaweed.

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Light the fire and cook about 45 minutes.  TIP:  When the eggs are hard cooked, you know it’s done.

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The unveiling…

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One of the nice things about a traditional lobster bake is the leftovers!  The next day I made a composed salad with the remaining lobster, eggs, potatoes and corn cut off the cob.  I added some chopped tomatoes and scallions and arranged it all on a bed of fresh romaine.

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I also made a big pot of clam chowder with the leftover clams and potatoes.  I sautéed a couple of chopped onions and garlic in butter, then added chopped potatoes, vegetable broth and milk and cooked it all for an hour or so until it’s slightly thickened.  Add the clams toward the end and cook another 20 minutes or so on low heat.  Don’t let it boil or the clams will get touch and chewy, like rubber bands.  Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

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Wheatless Wednesday – Scallop Ceviche with Avocado and Tomatillo

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Summer officially begins on Saturday and you know what that means- long lazy days spent at the lake, cool, refreshing drinks by the pool and the return of brilliant pink and red sunsets!  It also means salads or cool foods that don’t heat up your body or your kitchen.  Ceviche is popular in South and Central America where temperatures are warm most of the year.  For the uninitiated, Ceviche is a delicious taste sensation.  Various fish or shellfish is marinated in a citrus-based mixture, usually lemons and limes. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, which is what makes it firm and gives it the taste and feel of being cooked.  Recipes for ceviche vary among countries but adding onions and chili peppers or other herbs and vegetables is fairly common.

My ceviche was inspired by the ingredients I had on hand (tomatillo, serrano peppers, red onion, cilantro and the first tomatoes from my garden), which give it a more Mexican flavor.  I had never used tomatillos before and bought them on a whim the other day. Tomatillo, (in Spanish “green or little tomato”) is not really a tomato but a part of the nightshade family.   If you don’t have access to tomatillos, then you can omit them from the recipe or put some of those ‘not quite ripe tomatoes’ to work for you for a similar flavor.

The ceviche needs at least 3 hours or over night to “cook” but can be assembled in less than 10 minutes.  The flavors combine for a tasty, slightly spicy and refreshing dish that is loaded with vitamins and minerals plus healthy fats.  This is perfect for when you don’t want to turn on your oven.  It makes a great appetizer served in small glasses with chips or crackers or as a main or side dish.

 

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Scallop Ceviche with Avocado and Tomatilla

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 lbs bay scallops
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely diced
2-3 Serrano peppers(or other hot pepper), seeded and diced
6 limes, 2 lemons freshly squeezed (should be enough to cover scallops)
1/2 red onion, finely diced
3-4 tomatillas
2-3 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 avocados, peeled, seeded and diced

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  • Rinse scallops and pat dry.  Place them in a ziplock bag or container with a lid.
  • Add garlic, lime and salt.
  • Dice peppers, onion and cilantro and add to scallops.
  • Remove papery skin from tomatillas and rinse to remove the sticky residue. Dice and add to the scallop mixture.
  • Gently comgine.  The scallops should be covered by lime juice.  Add a bit more if necessary.  Refrigerate at least 2 or 3 hours or overnight while the scallops “cook”.
  • Before serving pour off excess liquid, leaving a bit to keep it moist.  Add tomatoes and avocados and gently combine.

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  • Serve with crackers or tortilla chips (my fave)..

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Wheatless Wednesday – Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Coconut Rice & Bok Choy

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They’re Back! ( in sing song voice) With graduations and summer approaching, we have gone from being empty nesters to having a full house again. One of the biggest adjustments this time has been for the ‘kids’ because of my meatless diet.  They are more likely to cater to my diet now, which is a complete switch from when I used to plan meals around them. Back in the day I had to make many allowances for my picky eaters.    Even when my boys were young and ate only five or six things in the world, there was always the odd food, like flying fish roe sushi, that they would eat along with their plain pasta with butter and cucumber circles.  I lived in fear that they would figure out what flying fish roe was and then even that would be out.  Luckily for me, as they grew older their tastes expanded in the same proportion as their desire for ‘plain food with no sauce, nothing on the plate touching’ diminished.  Some of you still may be there but don’t worry, they do eventually grow up and eat real food.   I knew we were there when the last one crossed over into  the light ‘salads’.  My life was so much easier once I no longer had to hide veggies somewhere on their plates and could just serve them right out in the open, no secret dips or funny mashed potatoes.  Whew!

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My boys (young men now) still have an affinity for Asian food, and although they still eat flying fish roe sushi, their tastes for the exotic have also expanded.  One of our favorite appetizers is Miang Kam (literally meaning Tasty Leaf Wrapped Tidbits) in which several ingredients, usually coconut, ginger, lemon, dried shrimp, peanuts and green onions, among many other interesting bits of food, are hand assembled in a leaf, topped with a yummy sauce, folded over and popped in the mouth where the ingredients combine for a burst of flavor.  These Shrimp Lettuce Wraps are loosely inspired by Miang Kam, although I took many liberties with the selection of ingredients.  The wraps themselves are reminiscent of the Thai dish with the garnishes of ginger, red chili pepper, toasted coconut, scallion and sliced lemon which provide an explosion of flavor.  I added Sriracha to mine since I love spicy but a plum or sweet ginger sauce would be tasty too.

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No meal is complete in my book without some kind of veggies, so I sliced up fresh bok choy and sautéed it with a bit of garlic and ginger and added mung bean sprouts, which were in my refrigerator, for good measure.  I also made  Coconut Rice with brown Jasmine rice, ginger, turmeric and cumin which came out a deliciously lovely yellow (thanks to the Turmeric, which I’m sure you’ve heard is the new wonder spice that provides antioxidants and health benefits to your food along with it’s unique flavor).  Both side dishes are great as a base for the shrimp in the lettuce wraps or can be simply served on the side.

Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
1 head Butter or Boston lettuce (whole leaves)
1 lb raw shrimp (shelled, tail removed)
4  Tbsn olive or avocado oil (divided)
4 cloves garlic, finely minced (divided)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp chili powder
3-4 heads bok choy
1 cup bean sprouts(optional)
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GARNISHES:

1/3 cup dried unsweetened coconut
1 fresh red chili pepper, minced
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, minced
3 green onions, minced
1 lime cut into small wedges
Sriracha Sauce, Plum Sauce or Sesame Chili Oil (Optional)

 

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  • If you are using peeled and deveined shrimp, rinse them in cold water and pat them dry.  If your shrimp still have the shells, remove the legs, shell and tail or watch this video for instructions on peeling shrimp.
  • Dry toast coconut into a pan (preferably cast iron) on medium high heat until golden brown. (1-2 minutes). Remove from pan and let cool
  • Wash and dry lettuce leaves and arrange on a platter with toppings.

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  • Reheat pan and saute bok choy on medium heat in half the oil and garlic for several minutes.  Add the bean sprouts, if using, and heat another minute or so.  Remove from heat and place in a serving bowl.

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  • Reheat pan on medium high and add the remaining oil, garlic, chili powder and red pepper flakes.  Sautee the shrimp until it turns pink, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.  Serve in hot pan or place in a serving bowl.
  • Assemble lettuce wraps with coconut rice (see recipe below), bok choy and shrimp topped with your preferred condiments.  Or serve rice and bok choy on the side.

 

Coconut Jasmine Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

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Coconut Jasmine Rice

1 cup brown or white jasmine rice
1 can coconut milk
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
pinch of saffron threads (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry shredded or flaked coconut, unsweetened

  • Heat coconut milk and stock to boil.  Add rice and spices and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the water has evaporated.  Remove from heat and let sit covered.
  • Dry toast the coconut in a pan on medium high heat for one or two minutes until golden brown.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork.  Serve topped with toasted coconut.

Wheatless Wednesday – Grilled Striped Bass with Chimichurri Sauce

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At the farmer’s market on Sunday, in a momentary lapse of judgement, I found myself buying a whole 2 1/2 pound striped bass.  What was I thinking?  I have never prepared a whole fish before!  Well, Good Mother Diet is partly about expanding my culinary repertoire, so here goes…  This recipe can also be adapted for cooking individual fish filets (see recipe for tips).

Chimichurri, a sauce which is a staple on Argentinian tables,  is made from finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white or red wine vinegar, although there are many variations which include cumin and other spices).  Since striped bass has such a nice delicate flavor, I didn’t want to overpower it with too many strong flavors during cooking, so topping it  with a spoon of chimichurri sauce after cooking is a great way to add freshness and flavor without ‘drowning’ the fish.

Cooking whole fish seems daunting but in reality, the preparation is quick and easy.  The only challenging part is removing the bones which can be done before or after cooking. Most butchers (even at farmers markets) will gut, clean and scale the fish for you even removing the fins. If you ask, they might be willing to also butterfly and remove the bones so you don’t have to do it later. If you are preparing smaller fish that hasn’t been de-boned you can leave it up to each diner to remove the bones, however, if you are cooking a large fish and serving family style, it’s best to remove the bones and cutting the filets into smaller pieces for serving. Click HERE for video instructions on how to debone a cooked fish.

Grilled Striped Bass with Chimichurri Sauce

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 whole white fish (bass, branzino, snapper), gutted, cleaned and scaled (deboned is a bonus)
6 – 8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs  fresh oregano
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 Tbsn olive oil
kitchen twine (optional)
  • Rinse and dry the fish with papertowels.  Brush the inside of the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Spread half the thyme and oregano sprigs inside the fish.
  • Arrange the lemon slices on top of the herbs and place the rest of the herbs on top of the lemon.

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  • Wrap the twine, if you are using, around one end of the fish and tie it in place.  Wrap it around the fish several times, to keep the filling inside, and tie the other end.

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  • Preheat grill (or broiler).  Cook fish for 5 minutes.  Carefully turn it over and cook another 5 minutes, or until fish flakes easily.

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  • If you are using filets instead of whole fish, brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Broil 3-4 minutes on a rack at least 6 to 8 inches away from heat.  Turn fish over and place herbs and lemon on top.  Broil 3-4 more minutes.  Top with Chimichurri Sauce.

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You can choose to serve the fish skin side up or down depending on preference.

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Chimichurri Sauce

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1  Tbsn fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 small fresh or dried hot red chiles, seeded and minced
 
Combine all ingredients together and spoon over cooked fish. 
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Mexican Trio – Fish Tacos, Chile Rellenos & Black Bean and Mango Salad with Avocado Ranch

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Monday is Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican celebration which many Americans have wholeheartedly adopted. I mean who’s going to pass up an opportunity to legitimately drink margaritas and salsa dance on a Monday? (Stay tuned, I promise a recipe for the World’s Best Margaritas and easy ‘homemade’ tortilla chips on Friday). I have always focused on the wonderful Mexican food and cervezas without knowing much about the holiday itself, other than knowing cinco de Mayo means fifth of May in Spanish. It is a celebration of the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, in which the Mexican military was victorious over the French in 1862. The victory at Puebla became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination.  Read more at Enclyopaedia Britannica.

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In honor of this Mexican holiday, I am presenting a trio of Mexican goodies to include in your celebration next week. They are all wheat free,  gluten free, and vegetarian, with the exception of the fish tacos. The fish tacos are made with roasted halibut, spiced with ancho chili, garlic and cumin, then topped with a  creamy, lime coleslaw.   If you don’t like creamy dressings, you can omit the sour cream/yogurt and mayo and substitute olive or avocado oil and vinegar for a fresh, zesty coleslaw.  My coleslaw turned out a glorious pink color.  The more red cabbage you use, the darker purple it will get.  I try to buy fresh fish that is live caught (rather than farmed) and sustainably fished.  Good choices are mahi mahi and halibut but any mild, white fish will work. Seafood Watch is a good source of information on selecting sustainable seafood.

I (with the direction able assistance of my son, Eric) made corn tortillas for the first time and it wasn’t a difficult as I thought it was going to be.  If you don’t want to go to the trouble, you can find many very good store bought tortillas that are labeled organic (meaning non GMO). My favorites are organic, whole grain Taco Sliders by Mi Rancho.  They are also the perfect size (4 1/2 inch round) for taco appetizers or mini quesadillas.

I fondly remember my Mom making chili rellenos when I was a kid, using canned chilis, stuffed with cheese, dipped in batter and fried.  Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?  This updated version includes fresh poblano peppers, not fried but roasted and stuffed with jalapenos and various cheeses topped with fresh tomatoes, cilantro and lime.   We rounded out the meal with a Black Bean and Mango salad tossed with a dollap of homemade  avocado ranch dressing. Yum!

Spicy Fish Tacos

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 pounds halibut(or other mild white fish), skinned, and cut into 4 to 6 pieces
3 Tbsn chili powder
1 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
1/2  tsp cayenne pepper(or more to taste)
1 clove garlic, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsn lime juice
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 teaspoon(s) salt
 
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  • Combine chili powder, cayenne, cumin, garlic lime juice, oil and salt in a gallon zip lock baggie and shake to combine.
  • Add fish and allow it to marinate for 20 minutes or so.

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  • When ready, broil fish for 4 or 5 minutes per side, until fish flakes easily. (fish can also be cooked on the grill)
  • Break into pieces for serving, if desired.

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Coleslaw

3 cups red or green cabbage, finely shredded
2 Tbsn fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 jalapeno
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp lime zest
2 Tbsn lime juice
1 tsp sugar
2/3 tsp salt
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  • Combine all ingredients, except cabbage, jalapeno and cilantro, in a small bowl and stir until creamy.

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  • While wearing gloves, seed and mince jalapeno and add to cabbage and cilantro.

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  • Add creamy mixture to cabbage mixture and toss to combine.

Tortillas

If you are using pre-made tortillas, you can wrap stacks of 10 or 12 in damp paper towels and heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.  Or wrap them in foil and heat them in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  Wrap them in a clean towel to keep warm.  If you are feeling industrious and want to make them yourself, here is how:

2 1/2 cups masa
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 tsp salt
 
 
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  • Combine all ingredients and form into a ball, kneading until it’s smooth.  It should be firm not sticky. It will not be elastic like a four dough.  Add water if it doesn’t form a ball or masa if it’s too sticky;.
  • For each tortilla, form a golf sized ball of dough and place it between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper and roll it into a flat circle with a rolling pin.  You can free form it or use an inverted  bowl as a ‘cookie cutter’.  A golf sized ball will yield a 5 or 6 inch tortilla.
 
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  • Cook tortillas in a dry (ungreased/ heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, for 1 or 2 minutes on each side over medium heat until there are several small brown spots.  Stack them as they are done and cover with foil or a clean dish towel.
 
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Chiles Rellenos

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

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6 poblano peppers
1/2 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 1/2 cups shredded cheeses (jack, pepper jack, cheddar, parmigiano)
2 tablespoon(s) chopped cilantro
Salt

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoon(s) chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon(s) freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

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  • Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or under a broiler, turning occasionally, until they are charred all over.
  • Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool.  Peel. The skins will come off easily

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  • Using a small, sharp knife, make a small lengthwise slit in each one, near the stem end and carefully remove the core and seeds, leaving the stem on if possible.  If you accidently cut it off, you can add it back after the pepper has been stuffed.

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  •  Sauté the onion, garlic and jalapeño over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then add the cheese and chopped cilantro.
  • Carefully stuff the cheese filling into the poblanos and press the poblanos closed.

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  • Place the stuffed poblanos on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
  • Combine tomatoe, cilantro, lime and salt in a small bowl.
  • Serve chile rellenos with tomato garnish.

 

Black Bean and Mango Salad with Avocado Ranch

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 head romaine
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh mango, diced
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
 
  • Chop romaine and top with beans, tomatoes, mango and avocado.
  • Dress with avocado ranch.

Avocado Ranch

1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley or cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsn apple cider or white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally when needed. Thin with water if desired.

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Wheatless Wednesday – Fish in Parchment

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Do you ever have days where dinner seems impossible?  One kid has basketball practice and another is at play rehearsal, both done at different times. Your spouse is working late and you just walked in the door.  Sometimes the concept of a healthy family dinner is just that, a concept.  Before you pick up the phone to order Chinese takeout (again) check out my very easy fish in parchment which can be assembled in minutes or pre-assembled and cooked whenever you are ready. This has been a go-to dinner for me over the years because it is just so convenient and I can easily cater to each family members’ personal tastes. I pre-assemble each piece of fish in a square of parchment or aluminum foil and write each person’s name with a sharpie and throw them into the oven as needed.  By far the fastest side is couscous (a huge hit with my kids) which only takes 5 minutes, but since this is Wheatless Wednesday, I will be serving my fish over brown Jasmine rice. Most grains can be cooked ahead of time and will sit and wait until you’re ready and they make a perfect pairing with fish in parchment as the delicious juices add a boost of flavor to what is normally a fairly bland side dish.  The best part of this meal though is the presentation.  I love a ‘pretty plate’ and this is certainly nice enough to impress your dinner guests, plus you can prepare everything ahead of time and clean up is easy.

When they were little boys, my kids’  tastes were very finicky, so I was limited to what vegetables or seasonings I could include. Dylan was a purist, butter and salt only. Jackson liked thinly sliced zucchini circles on his and Eric was more adventurous with red peppers.  As they got older their palate grew right along with them, and I started adding jalapenos, sliced red onions, mushrooms, capers, tomatoes, olives, cooked eggplant, pretty much anything I had available.  The trick is to know your customer and prepare with them in mind.  Parents with picky eaters, take heart.  My boys, who at one time couldn’t have any food touching on their plate, have moved on to gourmet and exotic foods like seared ahi, sushi and escargot.

A light fish like red snapper, tilapia or sea bass are very mild and suit themselves to cooking in parchment.  Cooking in parchment is really steaming the fish in its own juices which is a healthy and tasty way to cook.  The juices also pick up the flavors of any vegetables and seasonings you include and create a delicious ‘broth’.  You can use parchment or aluminum foil but foil cooks a bit hotter, so fish might get done more quickly, and some ingredients will react with it, especially lemon juice and wine.

Fish in Parchment

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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4 – 6 oz pieces of fish (red snapper, tilapia or sea bass)
4 Tbsn butter or coconut oil
4 12″ squares parchment or aluminum foil
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
several cloves garlic, chopped
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 – 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 Tbsn capers
1/2 tsp ground oregano
 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a small saucepan, dry saute the red peppers with oregano for a few  minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool. (Optional)

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  • Wash and dry fish.  Place each piece of fish in the center of a square of parchment.
  • Dot each piece with butter and sprinkle with a dash of salt.
  • Add jalapenos, garlic and capers.

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  • Top with onion, zucchini and redpeppers
  • Fold parchment in half the length way of the fish and fold to seal the edges together.  Crimp the sides carefully to keep liquids and steam inside.

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  • Label your parcels with a sharpie and place on a cookie sheet
  • Bake or broil for 12 to 17 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish and how many vegetables you include.

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  • To serve, spread jasmine rice in a circle on the plate.  Place fish parcel in the center and open carefully (It will be steamy).  Rip the parcel in half, lengthwise and slide fish onto the rice.  Be creative and enjoy!

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Grilled Oysters with Garlic Chipotle Butter

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Grilled Oysters

Today my husband came back from the Farmers Market at Country Mart with a bag of really large fresh oysters in the shell and I knew immediately what I wanted to do with them.  A couple of years ago, our friends, Chris and Carrie, gifted us with a bag of fresh oysters they had brought back from their weekend at Point Reyes.  Not having prepared oysters before, I went on to the Hog Island Oyster Company website and found many great recipes for both raw and cooked oysters.  We opted to try their “Hog Wash” mignonette and their barbecued oysters with Garlic Chipotle Butter. We really liked the Hog Wash for dipping raw oysters, but we Loved the Garlic Chipotle Butter. We were practically licking the shells clean!

Following is the Hog Island recipe. I took a shortcut and used one whole tube of garlic paste which was much easier than peeling and chopping ¾ cup of fresh garlic.  I had a 7 oz can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce so I used the whole thing, rather than wasting some of it.  Otherwise, I followed the recipe pretty closely. I have now done both the ‘burrito’ method and the bowl and spoon and think both work just as well..

In preparing the oysters, you can pre-shuck them using an oyster knife or put them on the grill whole until the shell pops (it is an audible pop) and you can more easily remove the top shell.  Make sure you have an oyster knife.  A regular knife will not work and is unsafe.  Click on this link for a video of proper oyster shucking technique from Hog Island.  http://hogislandoysters.com/kitchen/shucking-oysters  Enjoy!

Grilled Oysters with Garlic Chipotle Butter

The Ingredients

50 Hog Island sweet water Oysters

1/2 lb (two sticks) unsalted butter softened to room temp

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup bourbon

3/4 cup finely chopped garlic

Half of (10 oz) can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce,chopped.

Raw Oysters

The Butter (can be made up to one week in advance, keep refrigerated)

In a medium bowl, dissolve the brown sugar with the bourbon. In a food processor or blender, combine the softened butter with the bourbon/brown sugar mixture and add the garlic and chipotles. Mix on medium/high speed until well blended (OK if some chunks remain). Lay down a sheet of parchment paper (12″ or so), scoop the butter compound onto the sheet working to form a long row. Roll the butter in the parchment, like a burrito, folding the ends as you go. Refrigerate for about two hours or until firm. The finished roll should be the dimension of a cube of butter, only longer (about a foot). When you are ready to grill, slice 1/8″ pats of butter from the butter log and place on top of your shucked, raw oysters. Allowing the butter to melt as the oysters cook. *You can also skip the log-roll and leave the butter in a airtight covered bowl (refrigerate after making). Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture onto each oyster as they grill.

Tip:  I opted for the burrito method for the butter and found it a bit gloppy at first.  It was easier to work with once it was in the refrigerator for a bit.  I rolled it in the parchment paper and went back a couple of time to form it into a more rectangular shape as it hardened.
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The Grill

Preheat the grill to medium hot. You can pre-shuck the oysters or just place them whole on the grill.  Once you hear them pop, they will be easier to open.  Wearing an oven mitt, pick up the hot oyster and insert the tip of an oyster knife in the opening at the skinny tip of the oyster and pry the top shell off.  Place a pat of butter onto each shucked oyster and place back on the grill.  After about 2-4 minutes of bubbling and sizzling remove the oysters from the heat.  The oysters will be ready when the edges of their meat begins to curl and the butter sauce is bubbling hot.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly before eating.

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Wheatless Wednesday – Seared Ahi Tuna & Sunomono

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Ahi Tuna Dinner

Wheatless Wednesday – Seared Ahi Tuna with Sunomono, Edamame & Ahi Poke

With Guest Chef, Eric Porter

ahi eric

 We are filled with great joy to have all three of our sons home for Christmas, the first time we have all been together since June.  Our oldest son, Eric, has been interested in cooking since he was a toddler, standing on a stepstool and helping me make peanut butter cookies, pancakes and other kid favorites.  When he was older, he learned cooking basics from me and grilling techniques from his Dad.  Then he moved out and has taken cooking to a whole new level.  For the past several years, Eric and I have engaged in what I think of as friendly ‘cooking wars’, where we take photos of whatever gourmet meal we just made and text it to each other. Eric has created quite a reputation as a great cook among his friends and rightly so.  I have had the pleasure of Eric’s famous Seared Ahi Tuna several times and am pleased to have him as the first guest chef for Good Mother Diet.

Notes from the Chef – A dish like this is delicious, beautiful and looks decadent but is actually very easy once you get comfortable working with Ahi.  Ahi is a fish that is generally served raw to rare. People are sometimes are afraid of working with raw or rare fish, however if you buy your fish from a reputable local source, the fish should be good.  Keep in mind that most if not all tuna is flash frozen on the boat which is a means to preserve the flavor and keep it fresh.  Pickling the daikon takes out all the sharpness and adds a pleasant sweetness.  This is best done days before but in a pinch, it can be done that day as well.  Kept in the refrigerator, it only gets better and will last for 2 weeks.  In making the dry rub for the tuna, I find that dry ginger works best in this dish rather than fresh, because it’s easier to blend evenly with the rest of the dry spices.  The hardest part of this dish is in removing what I call ‘the horn’, the fibrous tip on each piece of tuna. It’s easy to see what to remove when you look at the grain of the fish.  There are two parts of the Ahi steak, a large piece where the grain goes one way and a small piece where the grain goes the other direction.  You need to remove the small piece which is too fibrous for this dish.  I hate to throw it out so I usually use it to make Ahi Poke.  You can also make poke with a prime piece of tuna, which makes a prettier dish, but for our purposes, we are going to make use of the less desirable bits. If I have one thing to say about Ahi tuna, less is more, because it is so good on its own. I believe that everything on your plate should look good and I like to use edible ingredients in my presentation.

Seared Ahi Tuna over Marinated Daikon

2 cups fresh Daikon radish

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced or ginger paste

¼ cup carrot or beet juice to color (optional)

Up to ½ cup rice vinegar

2 lbs fresh Ahi tuna

1 Tbsn salt

2 tsp pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp sesame oil

1 Tbsn Wasabi powder

Pickled ginger

  • Using a mandolin or grater, shred the radish into long strips.
  • Combine radish, ginger and juice in a container. Add ½ to ½ rice vinegar and water to cover.  Cover and refrigerate. (The longer it marinates, the better)
  • Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl, or a pie plate.

Ahi1Ahi2Ahi 3Ahi 4

  • Place Ahi tuna on a cutting board.  You need to remove the tough fibrous part of the tuna (the small tip section).  Using a knife, beginning at the ‘knotch’ where the grain of the fish changes, cut, as shown, taking care to remove the fibrous tissue.  Reserve the small piece of fish to make Ahi Poke.  Recipe below.
  • Dredge each piece of fish in dry rub on both sides, including edges, and brush off excess.
  • Add sesame oil to bowl and toss fish to coat evenly.  Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. You don’t want it to come to room temperature before cooking.

Ahi

  • Make wasabi paste by combining one Tablespoon wasabi powder with 1 Tablespoon water. Mix and shape into a cone.  Let sit ten minutes.
  • Heat a heavy pan until it’s almost smoking.  Sear the tuna 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.  Remove from heat and put in the freezer for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from freezer.  Press sesame seeds into both sides. Slice and serve.

Ahi done

Ahi Poke

½ lb Ahi Tuna (whatever scraps are left from the Ahi steaks)

½ tsp sesame oil

1 tsp soy sauce

½ Tbsn lemon zest (from about half a lemon)

1 firm avocado

  • Working from the long end toward the tip of each piece, run the knife between the sections to remove the white fibrous tissue.  You will need to use your hands to pull the meat off as well. Some of it will be small scraps.  Cut the longer pieces into cubes.
  • Put tuna pieces in a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and toss well.  Cover and refrigerate. (Best if marinated overnight or 24 hours).
  • Cut slices of avocado and arrange tuna mixture on top. Serve

Ahi Poke

Sunomono

1/2  lb salad shrimp

2 cucumbers

2 large carrots

¼ cup rice vinegar

½ tsp salt

8/8 oz package thin rice noodles

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add rice noodles and let stand 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain and rinse with cold water until they are no longer hot. Noodles should be soft but firm. Gently press the water out.  Set aside.

  • Using a mandolin or grater, cut carrots into long strips
  • Using a mandolin, Cuisinart or knife, cut cucumber into thin circles
  • Rinse shrimp
  • Combine all ingredients.  You may need to use your hands.
  • Top with shrimp

CHEF TIP-You can make a pretty cool dish to hold your edamame, or anything else, by shaving the side s of a cucumber on the wide setting.  Form them into rounds and clip together with carrot or zucchini pins.

zuxxhini bowl2

Edamame

Boil fresh or frozen edamame for 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Serve.

Ahi Tuna Dinner

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Crab Quinoa Tower

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crab tower

Crab season is here!  I had my first last week and it was sweet and delicious. It is less expensive and fresher to crack and clean your crab at home, however, if you don’t mind paying a bit extra, or you are in a rush for time, it can be nice to have it done at the market.  I don’t mind doing it myself and have included directions below.

I am excited to incorporate another grain into this menu that have never made at home before, quinoa.  As is my custom with new things, I googled quinoa and was impressed by what I found and sorry I haven’t made it before.  The Incas, who believed Quinoa to be sacred, called it “chisaya mama” or “mother of all grains”.  It is increasingly popular for its high protein content, dietary fiber and minerals; phosphorous, magnesium and iron.  It’s also a source of calcium, so good for vegans and those lactose intolerant. As a bonus it is gluten free.  For all those reasons, quinoa is considered a superfood. (www.Wikipedia.com) I used Rainbow quinoa but any kind will work just fine.

One note of warning, this recipe calls for an empty can for forming the tower.  Mine got recycled tonight so I had to open a new can.  Make sure your can has rims on both the top and bottom so the can opener has something to grab on to.  My salad tonight was only going to have only mixed greens and arugula but ended up with a few garbanzo beans and mandarin oranges since I had to open both cans to make my tower.

FRESH CRAB QUINOA TOWER

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsn olive oil

1 large ripe tomato, sliced into rounds

1-2 ripe but firm avocados, halved lengthwise, seeded, peeled and sliced horizontally

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1Tbsn parsley, minced

1-2 fresh, cooked crab, cracked, cleaned with meat removed (reserve claws) *Instructions follow

8 ounces mixed greens

1 bulb fennel, trimmed and sliced

Lemon vinaigrette (½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 2 T red wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper)

Directions:

  • Rinse quinoa under cold water until the water runs clear. In a 1 quart saucepan, saute quinoa in olive oil until slightly toasted, about 5 minutes.  Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover until liquid is absorbed and germ has spiraled out, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
  • Prepare vinaigrette or use your favorite.  Put ingredients in a small container and whisk together or shake until combined.
  • Remove crabmeat from shells, retaining claws for garnish, and pull meat apart leaving large chunks.  1 crab will serve 4 with moderate proportions/2 crabs generously. Combine in a bowl with 3 or 4 Tablespoons vinaigrette, scallions and parsley.
  • Remove both ends from an empty food can (regular soup size) to make a hollow cylinder.  Wash and dry can thoroughly.  Place can in the center of one of the serving plates.  Spoon in one fourth of the couscous mixture and gently press down with the back of the spoon.
  • Top couscous with one slice of tomato, then a quarter of the avocado, pressing with spoon after each layer.  We love avocado so would use ½ half for each serving, however you can adjust the quantity to your liking. Top the avocado with a quarter of the crab mixture. While pressing on the crab mixture with back of spoon, slowly lift off can. Repeat to make three more plates. Top with a crab claw.
  • Toss greens and fennel with remaining vinaigrette and serve with crab towers.

CRACKING AND CLEANING A CRAB

crab1

 

  • Place the cooked crab on a cutting board on its back. Hold the body in one hand and gently twist each of the legs and claws off with the other.  Set them aside

crab2

  • Remove the tail flap and both flaps near the eyes.  Discard.

crab3

  • Pull off the back shell and remove the ‘dead man’, the spongy gills and the orange ‘skin’.
  • Rinse the body then cut in quarters.

crab4

  • Using a metal or wooden meat tenderizer, give several hammers to each leg, enough to crack the shell and allow access to the meat.

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