Category Archives: Fish

Black Pepper Shrimp and Zucchini “Fettuccine”

Black Pepper Shrimp and Zucchini Fettuccine

This is probably the ugliest photo of a plate I’ve ever put on this site.

But this zucchini “fettuccine” is one of the most popular vegetables I ever made as a private chef, and one that family members have loved and recreated after I’ve made it for them.

It’s ridiculously simple. With a good vegetable peeler and a flick of the wrist, zucchini gets shredded in ribbons and tossed quickly in hot olive oil until it softens to an al dente-like texture. My former boss didn’t know it wasn’t pasta the first time I served it to him. My father downed his plate in minutes. A client’s guest asked me for details at a repeat dinner visit when he couldn’t quite replicate it after his first go.

So simple, so yummy. Continue reading

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Filed under Fish, Gluten-Free, Healthy Alternatives, Recipes, Vegetables and Sides

Rhode Island Clam Chowder – Dairy Free

Clam Chowder2

There’s a clam chowder made at a restaurant in Westport, Connecticut, that I start to think about a tad too much this time of year.

It’s cold and rainy in New York City but lacking the joy of fluffy snow that makes all the mushy street corners and sopping subway cars worth the mess. I’m dreaming of soup.

This time of year, along with the slush, I get Robert Frost poems stuck in my head (often sung by a madrigal choir) and daydream about the cookies I don’t have enough time to make (I think my neighbors are getting “Happy New Year” cookies this time around). I drag my computer to the living room so I can look at this while I work:

My roommate's cat under our tree.

My roommate’s cat under our tree.

Snow and cookies and Robert Frost and wrapping presents may have to wait, but this soup I just couldn’t shake.

I’ve always been a fan of the lesser known Rhode Island version of clam chowder. The Manhattan version is too tomato-y and rather flat-tasting for my likes. And the New England take is obviously loaded in dairy, which I can’t eat. So when I stumbled into that restaurant in CT one day with a friend and found a variation that not only was allergy-friendly but that tasted just what I want a seafood soup to be, I was hooked. Now I make excuses to stop in there when I go see my family this time of year, and I often buy it by the 2-lb jug. Which is quite silly because, as you can see here, it’s incredibly easy to make myself.

Yesterday was a quiet private chef-fing day, and I wanted to provide something nourishing for my lady-boss, who’s a bit under the weather. There were already a few pureed soups in the fridge, but she needed something with a bit more sustenance. She loves veggies and corn and seafood, so it was the perfect combo to hit the spot.

This is an incredibly easy, quick, flavorful soup to make. In the minimal growing season you can completely get by with high-quality canned clams and corn. You don’t have to peel the potatoes. It only takes a few sprigs of thyme to get some amazing flavors outta it. You don’t even need butter! There are measurements here, of course, but you can eyeball things and taste as you go. Easy peasy.

Soon I’ll get to slow down, wrap those presents, make those cookies, and spend a day watching the Christmas movies I just bought to round out my collection. Until then, I’ll relish in the quiet moments at work where I get to make someone feel just a tiny bit better with a big mug of soup.

It’s the week before Christmas. I hope you’re not sweating the small stuff, that you’re relishing in the happy things you get to do, and that with the coming holidays you get to rest and recharge.

Happy Monday,

- Jacqueline

Clam Chowder1

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into small pieces
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
4 small red potatoes, diced small
1 15-oz can corn, with juice
3 6.5-oz cans clams, with juice
1 cup clam juice or fish broth
2 Tbsp chopped thyme
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until almost brown, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion, celery and remaining olive oil and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5-6 minutes.

Add the potatoes, corn, clams, clam juice/broth and thyme. Fill with enough water to cover, and bring to a low boil. Turn heat to a simmer, and simmer about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Fish, Gluten and Dairy Free, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Soup

Scallops with Bacon, Grapefruit and Pomegranate over Fancy-Pants Pasta and On Quiet in the Kitchen

Yesterday I got into the kitchen at work and didn’t put WNYC in my earbuds. I didn’t polish silver while watching Downtown Abbey on my iPad (yes, I sometimes do this at work). I didn’t let my phone shuffle my music.

I just cooked, and listened.

After a frantic summer of cooking in the Hamptons, where my days stretched for 14 hours and I had very little – if any – privacy, coming home to cook in New York City has been a gift. Waking up in my bed, doing yoga on my floor, taking Mitra for a long walk, and jumping on the subway to go to work has taken completely new significance.

The transitions are not going unnoticed.

On September 11th, part of my job was taking my boss’ cat across town to the dentist. Yes. The animal hospital was a block from where I lived my first year in NYC, straight out of college, back in 2003. Walking by it again I found my breath catch. On this beautiful, solemn day in the city I love so much, I was given the chance to reflect on my 9 years in NYC, who I am now versus then. Back then I was an actor hungry for the stage. I lived in that 10×30 apartment with three guy-friends from college. We loved it. We worked (sorta) hard and partied (maybe too much). We had fun. We’re still all good friends. How rich and full of love and hardship my time has been since then, now a calm and seasoned 31 New Yorker.

The transitions are not going unnoticed.

On Wednesday I got a heart-wrenching phone call from a favorite friend – the kind women want to push off as long as we can. The kind where you’re immediate reaction is, “we’re too young to be having this conversation!!!”. The kind where you cry, and pray, and carry about your day with a rock in your stomach and a flutter in your heart. We talked through it, we continue to talk through it, and we’ll deal with whatever comes of it. But we’re now at that age where these conversations happen.

The transitions are not going unnoticed.

I made a lot of food in the kitchen yesterday for the family I work for, and as all this reflection was bubbling away I really let myself listen to my movements and what they created: the sound of my knife slicing through parsnips; the sizzle of slab bacon; the rush of water going into the pasta pot; the click of the dishwasher; the clang of a plate on the marble counter.

I thought of my city, my dearest friend, the person I was almost ten years ago, the cook I am after a long summer in the Hamptons.

And I made this. It’s based on a recipe in the current issue of Food and Wine. It’s sweet and salty. It’s colorful. It pops in the pan. It brings a little fun into the kitchen as you teach the 13-yr old in the house the joy of opening a fresh pomegranate and finding the seeds hidden in the pockets of the coral-like fruit. It encourages several moments of praise from your boss. It’s comforting to make in a quiet kitchen when there’s a lot on your mind.

Scallops with Bacon, Grapefruit and Pomegranate over Squid Ink Spaghetti

Serves 2

Notes: I realize squid ink spaghetti is not easily found on a grocery store shelf. I was lucky to stumble upon it and snatched it up, as I love the deep color. When I recreated this dish for myself I used a gluten-free pasta from DeBoles I had around, and it was tasty. I would suggest, however, using as fresh a pasta as you can (find dried ones in specialty markets that take 3-4 minutes to cook) as they retain a bit of texture while weighted foods are placed upon them.

Ingredients:

8-10 large sea scallops
1-2 strips of slab bacon (depending on how salty / meaty you want the dish
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1 large grapefruit, peel and all white pith removed and split into segments
1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1/2 cup light and fruity white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc or light Reisling
2 Tbsp caper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
Your choice of cooked pasta for two, al dente

Directions

Note: the scallops take about 15-20 minutes to cook, so prepare pasta accordingly.

In a large skillet, cook bacon on medium/high until crispy. Remove to a plate.

Season scallops with salt and pepper and sear on one side for 3 minutes. Flip and sear another minute. Add shallots and toss bacon fat, scallops and shallots together. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until scallops are cooked to your preference.

Remove scallops with slotted spoon to a plate or bowl.

Add grapefruit juice and wine and cook, scraping up browned bits, for about 2 minutes. Strain grit and onions, and return to pan. Add butter and capers and cook, shaking the pan to thicken the juices. Toss scallops back in with bacon and pomegranates, and shake the pan to coat completely.

Remove from heat. Add grapefruit segments.

Serve over pasta.

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Filed under Fish, Meat

Gluten-Free Pastry Puff Party!

photo Brent Herrig

I’ve been obsessed with a gluten-free cream puff recipe.

Having gone without gluten for almost twenty years (minus the occasional succumbing to a bowl of homemade pasta passed to me or the gloriousness of a chewy piece of bread on my family’s island in Portugal just last week), delicate, precious things like filled pastry puffs had long been far from my food thoughts.

But when I sourced a bakery for gluten-free Easy Eats magazine’s Sweet Surprise column in our most recent issue, those thoughts shifted.  As I assisted the food stylist on the shoot I fell enamored of the smooth, thick dough that puffed into crackly rounds.  I was amazed by how such seemingly simple ingredients and a rather quick process could make something so delightful.

So my proposal for FoodBuzz’s 24×24 dinner party – where 24 bloggers from around the world host and post on the same day – quickly centered around the thought: how much can I play with this in one meal?  The owner of the bakery and creator of the recipe, Geri Peacock, had mentioned that, growing up as a child, her mother and grandmother filled the shells with things both savory and sweet.  It was a bit of her heritage that she had adapted for the gluten-free community years later.

So I rounded up some friends, checked in about their dietary issues and cultural backgrounds, and set them in the living room with some cocktails and a really random mix of music, and got to stuffing.

The pastry recipe is below, with my thoughts about how to make each batch spot on.  Click on the images for links to the other recipes.

And please check out Easy Eats magazine for the original recipe and other beautiful gluten-free recipes, lifestyle tips and stunning photos – and my most recent feature of five gluten free pasta recipes! Oh, and coming out in May, my feature of six top-notch chefs give us their own food thoughts and easy-to-execute classic recipes made gluten free (two of the chefs even put gluten-free options on their menus after!).

Oh, and mucho thanks to my photographer, Brent Herrig, for plating and snapping away.  All images are his.

Brent Herrig © 2012

Gluten-Free Pastry Puffs

Makes about 36 puffs, depending on size

The original pastry recipe took a teeny tiny bit of playing with – things like the position of the oven rack and sheets used made a huge difference in how one sheet would either rise and become too thin or remain deliciously eggy but too dense.  Luckily they are rather quick to whip up, and once you get the hang of it you can start swapping flours and fats with relative ease.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, Earth Balance or lard
  • 2 cups Cherbourg Bakery flour blend
  • 8 large eggs, at room temperature
  • dash of salt

Method:

Heat oven to 400° with rack in the center / one notch down from center.  Line 3 baking sheets with Silpat (the original recipe says ungreased cookie sheets but mine continually stuck that way – could be my ancient oven).

In a small pot on high heat, bring the water and butter (once it’s melted) to a full boil.  Lower the heat, add the flour all at once, and mix thoroughly, using a combination of smearing together and folding to completely incorporate the flour into the liquid.  Cook until a smooth ball forms.  Immediately transfer to a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Beat in eggs one at a time, starting on a low setting then raising to incorporate.  About halfway through, beat until smooth, and then continue with the rest of the eggs.  Once all are in, beat for about one minute on medium-high speed.

Drop on sheets in smooth lumps, about one tablespoon for smaller puffs (what I used for dessert) and twice the size for larger ones.  Bake one at a time for 30 minutes (I was lucky to use a neighbor’s oven as well).  Once you put the puffs in, don’t open the oven for a good 25 minutes to check – they need the heat to rise properly.  Cool for a few minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Depending on the sturdiness of the puffs, I cut out small tops and filled them or sliced them in half and used them in a slider-type of way.  As they’re light, eggy and rather flavor-neutral, they worked well with strong savory and sweet flavors equally.

Puff Pastry Party Menu

Piri Shrimp

This is the one dish for which I’m not posting a recipe, because I totally cheated and just threw 1 pound of ethically caught shrimp (as in not from Thailand and labeled with certain standards) with 1 bottle of Very Peri Mild (I was sent some to test out and it’s quite delightful).  I marinated it overnight and then threw them in a hot pan with the juice of one fresh lemon.  YUM!

Lamb Stew

Garden Chicken Salad

Jerusalem Artichoke and Kohlrabi

Mini Banana Split with Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes with Dairy-Free Liquid Cheesecake


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Filed under Dairy-free, Dessert, Fish, Gluten and Dairy Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Alternatives, Meat, Recipes, Stories, Vegetables and Sides, Vegetarian

Phat Tuesday Lobster Dinner

Phat Tuesday Lobster Dinner

I’ve never read anywhere that a fish dinner during the Mardi Gras / Lenten season couldn’t mean LOBSTER.  I mean, wasn’t lobster formerly the poor man’s dish?

Personally, I am not a Christian.  But I was raised in a very Catholic family and still have respect for the faith and, particularly, the period of mindfulness that comes with the 40 days before the celebration of Easter.  And the gluttony that’s inevitable on the eve of those 40 days.

And I like fish.  Acoreans are fishing people.  We know how to cook it up.

In truth, it was my father who requested this dinner last week.  I was fed lobster for my first birthday in a summer celebration that would quickly become tradition in my family, and my father’s stuffed lobster dinner became a meal I naturally inherited and serve for birthdays and such special occasions.  Dad was away for his birthday this year, so tonight was a bit of a post-birthday celebration.

If we were enjoying the summer months I’d serve this with boiled corn on the cob and a salad.  But as it’s still frigid in my hometown in Connecticut, I opted for recent favorites Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes and, for a little healthy green, Kamui Den Cold Aparagus Salad.  Along with too much red wine and a bit of Portuguese corn bread.

Now, like many European cultures, the Portuguese are loose with the amount of their “ingredients”.  They don’t measure their amounts and are skilled at utilizing what’s on hand. And there’s a pride in knowing that your particular recipe is yours.  And that means it’s yours every time too – as changeable as what’s in your cupboard or what looks best in season.

I often use beer or white wine in this recipe; because I wanted it completely gluten-free and wanted to feature fresh lemon I used neither.  Sometimes I include diced onion; tonight I didn’t have any.  I completely forgot that fresh parsley makes it sing.  I ran out of regular gluten-free bread that I had toasted and dried so I threw in some soft gluten-free corn bread that my dad brought me from Fall River (a mecca for Portuguese on the east coast of the U.S.).   I’ve made this recipe two dozen times – always differently.

Tonight, my sister remarked that she liked it better than my dad’s.  I take that as a compliment, for this night only, knowing that the recipe, like the seasons and the people who make it, is different every time.

Note: The ingredients are listed PER PERSON.  I suggest using these amounts as guidelines and estimating and being creative to taste.

Ingredients PER PERSON

  • 1 lobster between 1.25 – 1.5 pound
  • 1/2 can lump crab meat, with water/juice
  • 1 large piece of bread of choice per person – I’ve used anything from regular sliced gluten-free bread to classic Italian or French bread.  Either way, toast it well and allow it to cool completely before mixing.
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice plus one thick slice lemon
  • 1/2 Tbsp hot sauce or salsa, heat depending on company.  I used a Portuguese red pepper exclusive to where we get it in Fall River.  Any good simple hot salsa works well, or Frank’s Red Hot to taste.
  • 2 Tbsp butter, separated, melted
  • white wine or beer to moisten – optional
  • 2Tbsp fresh chopped parsley – optional
  • Other options: minced garlic, minced parsley, sauteed celery, small scallops, lemon zest, lemon or orange rind.

Directions

Lobster Massacre

This is always the hardest part, for me anyway.  I used to slice my way easily through and not bat an eye.  But the older and more yogic I get, the more difficult it becomes.  To the point that I had my father do it for me tonight.  And my boyfriend suggested I watch Annie Hall before.  Both very useful.

My recommendation for killing live lobsters for stuffing, though, is to use a sharp knife and dive in.  Using bare hands or an oven mitt (making sure that their claws are safe with rubber bands – I made that mistake once!), hold the main body back side / tail down and slice sharply from the head to the middle of the body between the rows of legs.  Doing so is the fastest way to kill them.  Don’t be alarmed if they twitch for a while after – this is purely muscular.  Set aside on a cutting board while you prepare the stuffing and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Stuffing

In a large bowl, dump in crab meat.  Tear toasted bread with your fingers into a combination of small pieces and crumbs.  Add 1 Tbsp melted butter (per person), lemon, hot sauce, parsley, and enough beer or wine to make moist.  I actually had no problem tonight not adding any extra liquid, but would have thrown in a splash of the red wine we were drinking if needed.  VERY adaptable recipe.

Not for vegans.

Gut the lobsters.  I actually find this part easier than the killing.  Basically, you want to clean out any soft matter from the insides.  I usually run the knife down from the head to the tail so that I’ve split the lobster length-wise, leaving the main shell intact.  This way I can easily crack the middle cavity open and take out the digestive and reproductive tracts, which are basically all lobsters have.  If it’s gooey, remove it.  And maybe say a prayer of thanks for the little guy who’s about to nourish you deliciously.

Fill em and line em up

Distribute stuffing equally amongst lobsters, packing tightly into empty body cavity. Melt remaining butter and mix with a small additional amount of hot sauce if desired.  Carefully pour equally into the crack you’ve made in the tail and onto the top of the stuffing.  Cover with one slice of lemon.

Cover with tin foil and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until lobsters are almost bright red.  Uncover and turn up to broil.  Broil for 5 minutes.

Vibrant bright red lobster

Remove from heat, allow to stand a few minutes and serve!  There’s a good amount of butter in the recipe and good lobsters don’t need the addition of melted butter with serving.  But a nice option would be to infuse some fresh herbs into melted butter.  I served this with asparagus salad, roasted potatoes and fresh melon.

SO yummy!

Happy Phat Tuesday!


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Filed under Fish, Gluten-Free, Recipes