Shrimp and Scallop medley

The nightly quest of  satisfying the question “what’s for dinner,” was especially difficult due to a missed shopping trip… kids homework and other things that just get in the way of a Betty Crocker moment.  I found myself staring at a very bare fridge.  Most would order in or get take out but this wasn’t an option.  You can use things in an imaginary way, just pretend your fridge is the mystery basket on the show  Chopped

I found enough to make a nice meal:  a few frozen scallops and shrimp.  A lemon grass and some spinach.  It took less time than ordering food and having it delivered.  I sautéed the shrimp in a bit of butter and garlic for about 2 mins.   I added the scallops and then tossed in my lemon grass and spinach.  I didn’t over cook the scallops.  I didn’t get a lovely

seer on them, either, but it was better than overcooked rubber!!!!! I finished the dish off with Sel de Cali– the Meyers lemon sea salt.  It was delicious and only took about 10 minutes to prepare.   I served this  medley over rice and called it my own.

1 garlic clove chopped

1-2 tablespoons of butter, depending on your health 🙂

around 6 scallops

around 6 shrimp

One bag of baby spinach

1 lemon grass

Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf
Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf (Photo credit: Ahmad Fuad Morad)

2 teaspoons finishing salt- Sel de Cali-meyers lemon sea salt

Steam some rice
IMG_1181

simple melone with Sel de Cali (Chardonnay salt and Pinot Noir salt)

Today I decided to make a simple little lunch with my specialty salts. Sel de Cali (Chardonnay) and Sel de Cali (Pinot Noir)  Not only does the Chardonnay salt and Pinot Noir salt taste good, it looks spectacular.  Just by adding a few grains you have turned your boring melon into a wow!  So now I feel good, I had a good sweet and salty cantaloupe that was just right for a healthy lunch.  This is a quick and easy appetizer for guests and a great hors d’oeuvre for a party.  You can cut them up and put them on a stick… play around with presentation, make a trail of wine salt on the platter… either way, it will look and taste delicious.  By the way, I had 3 more pieces after this photo!

 

Salmon with herbs

salmonI love salmon!  And I love super fresh Salmon from my fish monger.  I call it the freshest seafood in southbay. I’m seriously lucky to have this wonderful fish available when I want.  Luckily, my friend was with me and wanted salmon as well because we had to buy the whole fish.  That’s what you get when you shop at a warehouse .  The big debate was how we wanted it split.  She wanted a filet with the skin off, I wanted a steak, but said fine for the filet, yet in the end, I had to have the skin off, too. I didn’t want Tony to do too much work, it was already a favor for him to clean the fish for us.   This decision dictated my preparations for dinner.  I had planned to grill it on the BBQ, but instead would bake it.  We each had enough for 7 -8 people each. So I guess you could say one big Salmon would have fed 16 people!  And it only cost about 24 dollars for the whole fish!!!

I peeked at recipes online for inspiration and decided to make an herb incrusted salmon in the oven.  I took what I had growing on the balcony.  I grabbed a bunch of fresh Italian oregano and some Thai basil.  I chopped it up and added some Chardonnay Salt from Sel de Cali and placed the salmon on a bed of thinly sliced and de-seeded lemons.  I baked the salmon for about 15 minutes at 350F.  In the meantime I steamed some asparagus that I bought from Jacques produce stand.  I set up the rice medley in the rice cooker.  Yet, something was missing, I needed color so I cut up some delicious tomatoes that I also purchased from the veggie stand.  I made a really simple tomato salad.  I used a few scallions and then just finished it off with Sel de Cali, the Cabernet one.  It was simple but added a deliciously fresh element to our dinner.  Yum.  We actually enjoyed it in front of the TV, which isn’t ideal fro great dinner conversations, but it was late.

salmon, asparagus, rice medleytomatoes

A smoked salmon dinner

This is so easy, yet so delicious.  I love simple dishes.  I bought some wild caught smoked salmon at the local market.  I made myself the easiest and not to mention healthiest dinner.  I wasn’t in the mood to cook, but I wanted something good.  I added some heirloom cherry tomatoes and some organic persian cucumbers on the side for some crunch appeal.  I cut up lots of lemon slices for my salmon.  There is nothing better than simple flavors with salt, I of course used Sel de Cali, for the taste and beauty appeal.  This is now one of my favorite, easy meals to prepare that can also transform into a great appetizer or  hors d’oeuvre platter.  I would however dress it up a bit more when serving it to guests.  I would add a few capers on the side, maybe some red onions, little crackers, blinis, or just simple pieces of  bagels or some type of vehicle to place the salmon and veggies on it.  A great cheese that goes with this is of course, cream cheese, but also a marscapone, ricotta, boursin or even goat cheese.  There are many possibilities.  And for those who are staying away from carbs, a great way to serve this is with Belgian endive leaves, they are a perfect little vehicles to serve the salmon.  You can also make it in advance by placing a bit of cheese, a piece of salmon and a few capers with an onion on a piece of endive… or play with the combinations.  I personally wouldn’t mix the lemon with the cheese, however.  If you don’t have time to prepare it,  in a rush, just add all the elements to a plate as nicely as possible and call it the deconstructed hors d’oeuvre.  Smoked salmon is something I always have in my fridge, you just never know when you will have an impromptu guest over.  Enjoy.  

Mexican Red Snapper and clams

How delicious.  I finally used my fish stock that I made and froze a few weeks back.

I steamed my clams in the fish stock with a bunch of chopped shallots that Paul had accidentally chopped when making Boeuf Bourgignon, when the recipe he was using asked for whole shallots, so I had pre-chopped shallots.  Yay.  I have to say that you should soak your clams in fresh water, a bit of salt and a spoon of polenta or some type of grainy flour, if you have.  Soak for at least one hour to make sure the clams purge all the sand out.  There is nothing worse than chewing on sand.   Once I got my clams situated, I stuffed a gorgeous red snapper with a big bunch of parsley and sliced lemons.  I dusted the fish with lovely Sel de Cali and then popped it in the oven for about 20 mins at 350 degrees.  Since the fish was large, I fileted it once cooked.  I didn’t do the best job presenting my meal. I think it lacks color for sure, but I was hungry.  Had it been for guests I would have added a small bed of parsley with lemon slices and something red, like a little cut out red pepper flower or something to accent my Sel de Cali.

The meal was really delicious and thanks to my fresh fish shop, inexpensive.  I don’t know what I would do without the San Pedro fish warehouse.  It’s truly the best fish in South Bay!  I would have payed 4x’s as much for this fresh fish.  In the end, it just cost 7 dollars paying the extra $1 to get it cleaned.  I made the mistake of cleaning it myself before and I just didn’t want scales all over the tiny apartment kitchen again!  I had scales everywhere, even in my hair!  Yulk.  But onto better more appetising thoughts, this meal was great!  So good that my husband wanted us to save the stock and have clams the following night, too!  Super YUM

Fish stock

I bought a great red snapper at the Seafood warehouse in San Pedro and my friend bought a huge fish, I can’t remember the type, but she had the man filet it.  He asked if we wanted the discarded parts, I decided to take them home and make a fish stock.  I added just about everything appropriate I had in my fridge.  I filled a large pot of water, added some chopped up fennel, coarsely chopped onions, chopped baby carrots, normal carrots are fine, I just didn’t have any.  I also added a few celery stocks with their leaves, a few, about 4-5 bay leaves, about 1 tablespoon pepper corns and a large scoop of salt.  I added my Sel de Cali, giving it a bit wine infused sea salt flavor.  I let the stock simmer for about 1.5 hours.  I strained and transfered the stock to Tupperware and once cooled, I put them in the freezer for future use.  I have to say, this stock was the easiest and tastiest stock I’ve had.  It really makes a huge difference making it yourself, however, man did it smell fishy.  The apartment smelled fishy and my hands were fishy, but nothing like a few candles and some lemon juice for my hands, the smell was gone.  I later used these stocks for a simple steamed clam recipe, so simple, just put the stock and steam the clams!  I also used it for my seafood stew.  I hope you enjoy.

Brownies with Sel de Cali

There is absolutely no reason to make brownies from a box!  It’s almost too easy to make them from scratch.  You just need some good chocolate and about 10 minutes to chop and mix. I tend to buy the huge, 500 gram bars from Trader Joes, which can make up to 3 or 4 batches of brownies, depending on how chocolaty you want your tasty bars.  I miss nice chocolates at expensive prices from Europe, or even just the access to good chocolate, but the Trader Joe’s dark Belgian chocolate isn’t bad.  I used to make brownies from a box until I moved to Italy where no boxes of brownie mix were found and that is when I discovered the amazing and healthier version of this American desert. When ever a friend had a party or an event I was asked to bring brownies.  I became the brownie and blondie maker.  I’ve passed on my recipe and taught others to make these and am proud to know that people are eating my brownies all over the world.  Now a best friend impresses  guests in South Africa, my Italian mama friend is making them for her kids’ playdates, and my non-baking Mexican friend has now found a love for baking and her children have rediscovered how yummy a real brownie can be.  Brownies from a box are actually disgusting, adding vegetable oil and an egg to a pre-mixed powder of fake-like chocolate isn’t so healthy.  Please pass this recipe on to show how easy it is to make real brownies.  It will take about 10 mins to make and 25 to bake.  The baking part is the key.  You want to  under bake  your brownies.  If you over cook them, they just become regular brownies and are a bit too dry.  If this does happen, just top them with marscapone cheese before serving, but hopefully you will get the timing right to enjoy this chocolate, gooey treat.  The most important part of making brownies is timing and salt!

Recipe

125 grams butter, cut into pieces (1/2 cup)

100 grams chopped dark chocolate -play around with the dark percentage to find your favorites.

1 cup sugar-superfine sugar works best, but costs more, so just normal white sugar works also

2 pinches of salt

2 large eggs at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup all purpose flour

150 grams chopped chocolate – I use the same dark chocolate used in the melting process, but you can use white chocolate, peanut butter chips, milk chocolate, play around to find your best indulgence.

1/2 cup loosely chopped walnuts optional.

Sel de Cali- a red wine infused salt

Basically you want to chop about 100 grams of good quality, dark chocolate into your cut up butter, place in a pan and melt completely.  Take off heat and add the rest of your ingredients.  Mix sugar completely, add eggs and vanilla, mix with wooden spoon, add two pinches of salt, then add in the flour a bit at a time to avoid lumping.  Next you will want to chop up the 150 grams left of chocolate, you can chop as finely or as loosely as you want.  It all depend if you want more melted chocolate to your brownies, which is what I choose, or if you want chocolate chunks within the brownies.  Then add your walnuts.  Sprinkle this lovely Sel de Cali, making each bite have a mouth-watering red-wine sea salt accent.  It will change your brownies.  Bake for 25 minutes at 350 f or 180 C.  Make sure you do not over cook.  Check your brownies with a toothpick. You want a bit of the brownie to stick to the toothpick.  You just don’t want them too raw, but as it cools, it’s still cooking.