Provincial Fish Stew

Provincial Fish Stew

Once of my favorite restaurant dishes to order is bouillabaisse, because it’s light, filling, and it’s really hard to make at home (so many ingredients, etc).  This is my Americanized, simplified version of a European fisherman stew.  You can make the whole thing in about one hour, and you don’t need saffron or a bunch of different types of fish. 

I made this with frozen flounder, but any whitefish will do, or you could even use shrimp or salmon.  I didn’t even let the flounder defrost all the way before cutting it, and it’s actually easier that way.  Same goes for slicing beef or chicken –if it’s still almost frozen, it’s much easier to cut up.  You can use your favorite white wine for this because that’s what I did.  I love Sauvignon Blanc, and it’s what I always drink and use for cooking if I can.  And Seaglass is my favorite brand –I like every wine of theirs I’ve tried, but especially the Sauv Blanc. 

Another thing you could do with this soup is add 1-2 cups of small diced potatoes at the beginning with the carrots and onion to make this soup more substantial.  Just remember to add plenty of cooking time while sautéing (about 10 extra minutes) and extra time when simmering (about 15 minutes).  But use your best judgment.  I eat this soup plain, but it would go great with some crusty bread and parmesan cheese if you wanted to make it special. 

 

Total Time:  1 hour and 15 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 onion, peeled and small diced

2 carrots, peeled and small diced

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my favorite

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 bottle dry white wine (like Sauv Blanc)

1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 15 ounce can tomato sauce

3 cups chicken broth

Salt and pepper

1 pound whitefish filets

Juice of 2 lemons

Fresh chopped parsley

 

Directions

  1. Heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion, and sauté until translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, basil, and thyme. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic and dried herbs.
  3. Add the bottle of white wine, and bring everything up to a boil for 5 minutes, then down to medium heat for 5 more minutes.best
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chicken broth. Bring it up to a boil for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium low. Cover, and cook for 45 minutes.
  6. While the soup cooks, cut the fish into 1 inch pieces. Keep refrigerated until it’s time to add them to the soup.
  7. After 45 minutes, taste, and season with salt and pepper.  Add the fish to the soup, and stir in gently. Don’t let the soup come back up to a boil.  Cook over medium low for another 5-10 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
  8. Right before serving, squeeze in the juice from the lemons, and add the chopped parsley.

(adapted from Giada de Laurentiis


Butter Lettuce Salad with Tarragon Grilled Shrimp + French Artichoke Vinaigrette

Butter Lettuce Salad with Tarragon Grilled Shrimp + French Artichoke Vinaigrette

This is the perfect lunch for 2—not really kid-friendly, but that’s okay.  Not everything needs to be.  As someone who loves all things French (but who has never been to Paris), I think this salad seems like something Parisians would eat. 

Do you ever get butter lettuce?  It’s got the creamiest, crunchiest texture that goes really well with both vinaigrette dressings and creamy dressings.  I didn’t want to overwhelm the salad with too many ingredients, so a few different veggies plus the shrimp felt just right.

The difference between a French vinaigrette and a regular vinaigrette is Dijon mustard.  It makes the dressing creamy and luxurious without adding mayonnaise.  The pureed artichoke hearts make the dressing extra creamy.  This salad makes 2 generous entrée portions, but the dressing will make enough for 6-8 servings. 

While I’m letting the shrimp marinate, I prepare the dressing and the salad ingredients.  I like to serve the shrimp at room temperature so they don’t wilt the lettuce.  If you don’t have shrimp or don’t want to use it, try it with some pulled rotisserie chicken instead!

 

For the Butter Lettuce Salad

Total Time:  10 Minutes (not including shrimp and dressing)

Serves:  2 Dinner Sized Portions

Difficulty Level:  Easy

Ingredients

1 head butter lettuce, roughly torn2

3 radishes, thinly sliced

6-8 jarred artichoke hearts, drained

4 scallions, tips cut off

Grilled Shrimp, cooled to room temperature (recipe follows)

Parmesan cheese

French Artichoke Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Directions

  1. Preheat an indoor grill to high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, to a large bowl, add the butter lettuce.
  3. Arrange the sliced radishes and artichoke hearts.
  4. Spray the grill with nonstick cooking spray. Add the whole scallions (with the tips cut off), and sear on high for about 3 minutes, or until you can see some grill marks.
  5. Arrange the scallions to the salad.
  6. Arrange the shrimp on top of the salad.
  7. Use a vegetable peeler to cut shavings of parmesan cheese directly onto the salad.
  8. Drizzle with French Artichoke Vinaigrette, and eat immediately.

For the Tarragon Grilled Shrimp

Total Time:  45 minutes (including marinade time)

Serves:  2

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1 pound of raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 ½ tablespoons of dried tarragon

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Add the shrimp, tarragon, olive oil, salt, and pepper to a bowl, and toss to combine. Let marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  (Go ahead and assemble the rest of your salad, and make your dressing while it marinates.)
  2. Preheat and indoor grill to high heat. Once it’s preheated, spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Add the shrimp to the hot grill, and cook until pink (about 6-8 minutes). Watch carefully after 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t overcook.
  4. Remove the shrimp from grill, and allow to come to room temperature before adding to the salad.

 

For the French Artichoke Vinaigrette

Total Time:  10 Minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

½ of a 14 ounce jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained

1 cup of loosely packed whole basil leaves

Zest of 2 lemons

Juice of 3 lemons

3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil (about ¾ cup)

Directions

  1. Add the ingredients except for the salt, pepper, and olive oil to a food processor.
  2. Pulse until the artichokes and basil have been broken down.
  3. Stream in the olive oil while it’s running to blend everything together to a salad dressing consistency.
  4. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pulse again, and serve over salad.

Bamboo Steamer Salmon + Summer Vegetables

Bamboo Steamer Salmon + Summer Vegetables

bamboo salmon 3

The Final Product

As much as I like complicated food or greasy food, sometimes I actually crave steamed fish and veggies.  During my second pregnancy, I ate a bacon jalapeno cheeseburger with onion rings every single day for about 2 months, and that is not an exaggeration.  It was the only thing I would eat all day, and the only thing I really wanted.  Then about 3 weeks before Ben was born, I felt sick to my stomach.  Like, even though I needed all those calories, I just did not want any more greasy, spicy food.  That’s when I started making foil steam packets with fish. 

After I got Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “It’s All Good,” I added a bamboo steamer to my Amazon wish list.  I had never really given one much thought before, or maybe I didn’t even know what it was.  Even though I make steam packets in the oven with tinfoil, I liked the idea of doing it on the stove. 

The steamer is really easy to use.  I got it here on Amazon.  You can line your steamer with parchment paper, but I use these pre-cut sheets (also here on Amazon).  Finally I got a steam ring (Amazon).  You just fit it over a small to medium pot full of water.  The bamboo steamer fits on top.  My steamer is 2 tiered, so you can do an individual meal in both.  You can also just use one tier at a time if you want.  Most steamers are 10 inches, but you should make sure the ring and parchment sheets are meant for a 10 inch steamer.

11

Yum! That time I mixed up the salmon and mushrooms with shallot, grape tomatoes, and avocado…

I love salmon.  It’s my favorite fish.  I like it grilled, seared, roasted, and raw.  But my favorite way is steamed with dill and lemon.  It is so simple, and it flakes off and tastes so clean and buttery.  You can serve this plain (like I did), or serve it over a portion of Gwyneth’s Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice.

I feel lucky to live by the ocean and have a really good fish store a mile from my house because it makes the meal much better.  You really should use fresh fish and seasonal vegetables for this.  Since it is so simple, it’s important to have the few ingredients taste really really good and fresh.  If you are cooking this in the spring, cook it with spring vegetables.  I made this in August, so I’m using summer vegetables.  Just go with the season.

I haven’t gotten very adventurous yet, but I have seen recipes for boiling eggs in them.  And of course, you can do lots of Chinese food in them like dumplings and buns.  I’m excited to try something a little more complicated and exotic next time.  But for now, the salmon turned out just perfectly.

 

Total Time: 35 minutes

Serves 2

Difficulty Level:  Easy

bamboo salmon 1

How I Arranged My Meal

 

Ingredients

1 pound of very fresh salmon fillets

8 fresh button mushrooms

1 ½ fresh red bell pepper

1 medium zucchini

1 lemon

1 handful of fresh dill

 

  1. Place a parchment liner in each tier of the bamboo tray.
  2. Remove the skin from the salmon, and divide into 2 equal portions.
  3. Thinly slice the mushrooms and place around 1/3 the perimeter of each tray. Repeat with the bell pepper and the zucchini.
  4. Place the salmon in the center on the tray. Top each piece with lots of dill and several lemon slices.
  5. Fill a medium sized pot with water, and place the steam ring on top.
    bamboo salmon 2

    The completed steamer on the ring and boiling water.

    Place the Stacked up bamboo tray, lid on, on top of the ring.  Bring to a boil, and cook for 20-22 minutes.  Check once or twice for doneness of vegetables.

  6. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes before serving. Serve either by itself or over Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice –with another squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper, soy sauce, or sriracha sauce.

Seared Tuna Over A Powerhouse Kale Salad

Seared Tuna Over A Powerhouse Kale Salad

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This was an impulse dinner.  I stopped at my favorite seafood shop hoping for a nice piece of salmon.  They were all out of salmon, so I settled for my second favorite fish, tuna.  The first time I
ever had sesame crusted tuna was 12 years ago when I waitressed at an Ernest-Hemingway-themed restaurant.  I don’t know exactly how sesame tuna goes with Hemingway, but it tasted really good. 

Difficulty Level: Easy

Serves 1

Total time 20-25 minutes

 

Ingredients

Fresh kale

2 Button mushrooms

1 Scallion

Jalapenos (or bell pepper if you don’t like spicy)

1 radish

¼ of an English cucumber

Sesame ginger salad dressing

One 6-10 oz piece of sushi grade tuna.  It doesn’t matter the size, but it must be fresh

Cooking spray (I like coconut oil spray because it makes me feel healthier)

Black sesame seeds

 

  1. Start with the salad because the fish only takes a minute.  Plus I think the salad tastes better if it sets for a few minutes first.  Chop the kale into small pieces and add to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Slice the vegetables and add to the salad. Add the salad dressing.
  3. This is how I always mix my salads: Use tongs.  Toss gently, folding it until it is all incorporated.  I never pour my dressing over the salad in the serving dish.  Sure, you dirty one more bowl, but it tastes much better.
  4. Transfer your salad to the serving bowl and stick it in the fridge.
  5. Spray the fish with cooking spray, and dump lots of sesame seeds on top, coating it thoroughly. Flip it over and repeat.
  6. While the fish comes to room temp, heat your skillet to medium-high. Once it’s hot, add the fish and cook for about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to a cutting board and slice against the grain.
  7. Top your salad and enjoy.