Got uncooked shrimp or a bag of frozen stuff that’s taking up valuable freezer space? An easy, tasty and versatile solution is shrimp mousse. It can be used as a stuffing for fish, cooked in a ring and chilled for a potluck, or used as filling for mushroom caps or puff pastry. You can substitute sole or salmon if you don’t like shrimp.
quickly made w/ only a few ingredients
Confession time…. I blew the mold when plating, and used spoons to form a bowl shape. In the words of Anthony Bourdain, “What happens in the kitchen….”
a scotch bonnet from Calvert Farms
Farmers markets are making a come back. A great way to spend a weekend morning is to stroll through the stands, admire the fresh offerings, and get inspired to try something new.
There are a couple of markets in my area, but my favorite CSA provider is Calvert Farms in Maryland ( http://www.calvertfarm.com/fallcsa_app.htm – Calvert hosts a market at Getty Park in Silver Spring, MD, every Saturday from 9 to 12 a.m.). The quality is undeniable but what’s really inspiring are some of the quirky selections that can take you in a whole new direction. Two recent gems are fractal cauliflower and watermelon radish.
fractal cauliflower. they can grow in several colors. & the taste? dios mio!
watermelon radish, a whole new experience
I’ve had a lot of fun with both.
I hadn’t made cornbread in years (the kids weren’t wild about it, so another item fell from the menu) but stepped up to the plate for an office party. Perfect for the fall, it can be served at the table or brought along on an outing. Preparation time’s less than an hour and, for parties or picnics, it can be made a few days in advance.
small but deadly
Below is a basic recipe with a spicy alternative. Traditionalists would use a cast iron skillet. Since this is for a potluck I’ll use a muffin tin.
A festive presentation. The toughest part of this recipe is prepping the fish (see Boning & Prepping Flounder). Diners will think you slaved all day. It’s true that gutting and boning sea creatures is not for the faint of heart or tender scented, but the rest is a snap. With a little practice total time from prep to service is about an hour.
olive oil, spinach & mushroom -- big flavor, low calories
This technique is great for presenting a whole fish at the table. I like to leave the head on. For the squeamish, you can take off the head and tail, use this technique to remove the backbone and ribs, and then close the head opening with skewers and twine.
When buying the fish, ask for it to be scaled only. Not gutted or fileted. You’ll probably have to say it twice.
You'll surprise yourself
Recall the raves about fresh mayonnaise? In the age of Cuisinart fresh mayo spiced to taste is nothing special. So give it a try and get ready for a big surprise. Easy to make, mayonnaise is ready in five minutes and can keep for several days in the fridge. Play with different seasonings to create your flavor.
so much better
Salmon or trout filets are fast and easy as a sauté. If you want to get fancy you can dredge in flour and crisp. If you’re looking for a path of least resistance between the stove and table here’s an idea that can be executed in 15 minutes.
Fish prepared this way cools quickly, so you want to put a serving plate in the oven to warm while setting up. Also remember pat the fish dry with paper towel before adding it to the pan so that you cut down on froth forming in the pan.
Cooking a boned chicken gives bragging rights. The nasty little secret’s that it’s not that hard. The only tough part is getting the bird off its cooking rack and onto a cutting board without splitting the skin. This recipe also works well with duck.
Boned Chicken with Vegetable Stuffing (serves 5-8)
1 4-7 lb roasting chicken, boned (see earlier post “The Boneless Chicken Ranch“)
ready to go
This alternative to bread stuffing gives extra texture to boned or rolled meats.
Ricotta & Veg Stuffing (2-3 cups, enough for a 7 lb chicken)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 zucchini, minced
- 1 carrot, minced
- 1 sweet onion, minced
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 tbsp parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tbsp butter
- Kosher salt and coarse ground pepper to taste
This works as a basic marinade or basting liquid for chicken, turkey, fish or veal – anything that requires a light touch. It’ll also work as a salad dressing.
give it a swirl