Archive | January, 2021

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #44 SPANISH FIDEOS WITH SHRIMP, SAUSAGE AND CLAMS

INGREDIENTS:

4  16 – 20 count shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 oz. spicy sausage

8 littleneck clams

¼ C green peas, frozen

½ red bell pepper, diced        

1 T olive oil

¼ # vermicelli pasta

½ onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ C scallion, minced

1 tomato, diced

2T tomato paste

4 oz.  Bottled clam juice

1 ½ C chicken or vegetable stock

¼ C white wine (optional) or equivalent amount of water

1 t saffron threads, crushed

¼ C parsley, chopped                             

Lemon wedges and minced parsley for serving

METHOD:

Break pasta into 2” lengths by wrapping in plastic film and breaking against the edge of a counter.

Heat 1T of olive oil in pan over medium high heat.  Add sausage and cook until lightly browned and cooked through.  Transfer sausage to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium. 

In the same skillet, toast broken vermicelli, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and toasted.  Watch carefully as the vermicelli can burn quickly.  Transfer vermicelli to a plate and set aside.

Using the same skillet, add the onion and cook until the onion has softened slightly.  Add garlic, tomato paste and scallions, and cook until fragrant.  Stir in diced tomatoes, clam juice, stock, wine and crushed saffron.   Bring to a low boil.

Return the toasted vermicelli and the sausage to the skillet.  Cook for 6-8 minutes.  Arrange clams, hinged side down, into the vermicelli.  Cover and simmer for 6 minutes.  Add shrimp to pan, cover again and cook until clams have opened and shrimp is cooked through. Depending on how much liquid the clams release you may need to add a little more water to prevent sticking.

When most of the liquid had been absorbed, sprinkle the peas and diced red pepper over the top of the fideos. 

Sprinkle with minced parsley.   Serve with lemon wedges

Serves 2

*Chef notes – If you are using bivalves like mussels or clams be sure to clean them with a stiff brush under running water before adding them to the dish. Any that are not closed – or don’t close when tapped – need to be discarded. When adding them to the pan, nestle them in the simmering noodles hinged side down. Once added, cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Bivalves cook when the hot steam produced from the simmering liquid is trapped in the pan, so do your best not to remove the lid too frequently.  I usually check progress once after about 7-8 minutes. When cooked, they should be open – unopened ones should be discarded – they are duds. (I know this is the exact opposite of what you did before you cooked them.) Finally, I add clam juice in the recipe to enhance the briny flavor of the seafood. You don’t have to use it, but if you’d like to, it can be found in most grocery stores near the canned tuna fish. Costco carries a reasonably priced saffron or reasonable quality in their baking/spice section.

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #43 PASTA ALLA VODKA

  INGREDIENTS:

1 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T unsalted butter

1 C yellow onion, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 6oz can tomato paste  

½ t crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

2 t brown sugar

3 oz. vodka

1 C vegetable or chicken stock

½ C heavy cream

1 # tubular pasta (penne, rigatoni, casarecce)

3 oz. parmesan cheese, finely grated  plus more for serving

Garnish – freshly ground black pepper, olive oil and fresh basil leaves

METHOD

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  When melted, add olive oil, chopped onions and garlic.  Stir frequently until onions are softened and garlic is fragrant.  Add tomato paste, brown sugar and red chili flakes (if using.) Cook, stirring constantly until the paste is dark red and browning nicely, 5-7 minutes.  

Add vodka, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low.

Using a heat proof measuring cup warm stock in microwave until hot but not boiling.  When heated, add heavy cream –heating the stock ensures the dairy won’t break when you add it to the hot pan. Gradually pour cream mixture into tomato paste in sauce pan stirring vigorously until a smooth consistency is achieved.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 C starchy pasta cooking liquid.

Add cooked pasta to sauce pan and stir in ½ C of reserved pasta cooking water. Add parmesan and stir until cheese is melted and well combined.  If needed, add reserved pasta water to sauce in small increments until sauce is smooth and coats pasta.  Season with additional salt and pepper.

Divide pasta between bowls and top with additional parmesan cheese, fresh basil and a light drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 2 generously with leftovers

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #42 SPICED TOMATO SOUP WITH POACHED EGG

INGREDIENTS:

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 C yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ t minced fresh ginger

½ -1 t high quality curry powder

1 16oz can diced tomatoes in juice

½ C dry white wine

2 ½  C chicken or vegetable stock

¼  t crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

2 slices crusty bread

2 eggs

Garnish – freshly ground black pepper, olive  oil and minced parsley or chives

METHOD

In a stock pot heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onions and sweat briefly.  Add garlic, ginger and curry powder and sauté until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with wine.

Add crushed red pepper (if using), canned tomatoes and their juices, plus stock and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Carefully transfer soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree soup until smooth. Pour the pureed soup through a strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula, discard the solids.  Taste soup and season with salt and pepper. The soup may be prepared to this point and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

For service, return soup to saucepan and reheat on medium low until hot. Meanwhile, lightly brush bread with olive oil. For added flavor you may also rub with the cut side of a clove of garlic. Toast or grill the bread and set aside.

Place 2” water in a deep skillet. Heat water to a simmer. Crack eggs and gently lower into simmering water. Turn off heat and cover skillet with tight fitting lid.  Poach eggs for 3-5 minutes. Carefully remove eggs from water and blot on paper toweling.

To serve, place a slice of grilled bread in the bottom of a warmed soup bowl. Place an egg on the bread and ladle the hot soup over. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and minced herbs.

Serve 2 generously

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY #41 RESOLUTION WORTHY BAKED COD AND VEGETABLES

INGREDIENTS:

2 T unsalted butter, melted

2 4-6 oz cod fillet

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 C zucchini, julienned

½ basket grape tomatoes, halved

2 T oil-cured black olives, chopped (Kalamata or other olives may be used)

1 ½ t capers, chopped

¼ C  dill, parsley, and chives, chopped

½ lemon, zested

2 T feta cheese, crumbled

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush oven proof baiking dish with melted butter, reserving extra. Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper.

Combine zucchini, tomatoes, olives, and capers with 2 T of minced fresh herbs.

Add the warmed stock, in ½ C increments, gently stirring until almost all liquid is absorbed. After the last increment of stock has been absorbed, taste for doneness. Risotto should be creamy but not overcooked. When the rice is cooked through but still chewy, add fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and capers. Off heat, finish the risotto by adding butter, mint, parsley and grated parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into warmed bowls and garnish with additional parmesan and fresh mint.

Serves 2

VIRTUAL DINNER PARTY ONLINE COOKING CLASS -HOLIDAY MERINGUE CAKE WITH ORANGE, CHOCOLATE AND ROSEMARY

We hosted our first online cooking class in December. For the first time the Virtual Dinner Party  was able to bake together as a group in real time through the magic of Zoom.  I have to confess, there was a steep learning curve for me. The internet time lag and impersonal nature of zooming was a bit weird, but attendees cheerily persevered through my missteps. They took it in stride that I forgot to mention what mixer attachment to use when making a meringue, and they totally had my back when I left them unattended to search my cupboards for ingredients I had forgotten to set out. But even with the glitches, I am extremely thankful for the experience.  Zooming is no substitute for face to face gathering, but in these very unusual times, it was miraculous to be able spend time with our community of chefs and diners for just one night.  For me the best part was the spirited text volley between participants that occurred after the class. I am smiling still at how our group continued to inspire and share their creativity with one another.

For the class we prepared a Holiday Meringue Cake with Chocolate and Rosemary.  Sheree Giesenhaggen and Christy Lueders turned out stunning creations while John Reed provided very insightful and spot on baking recommendations.  His thoughtful contribution solved the uneven baking conundrum for the group.  In order to ring in the New Year with style, Katy Petersen and Colette Szczensy held off on assembling their cakes until the 31st.  I am certain champagne was the perfect accompaniment to complement their handiwork. And, always delightful Kristin and John Hunt were there too, cheering the group on with their humor and good spirits. It truly was a party!

Please know how grateful I am for the opportunity to continue to cook with you. The activity and your participation continue to boost my spirits. I know that no amount of cooking will fill the void of missing actual contact with our community, but I do hope that this activity and these recipes will help build a bridge to connect us in some way.

All good things to you and yours in 2021 – Victoria

If you were unable to make it to the class, I encourage you to try the recipe.

HOLIDAY MERINGUE CAKE WITH ORANGE, CHOCOLATE AND ROSEMARY

INGREDIENTS

6 ea                                      egg whites

1 ¼ C                                    granulated sugar, divided

1 T                                         cornstarch

splash                                  white wine vinegar

2 T                                         rosemary leaves

1 ea                                      orange zest

2 T                                         confectioners’ sugar

2 C                                         heavy whipping cream

¼ C                                        sour cream

1 ea                                      high quality bittersweet chocolate bar (such as Lindt)

                                                Fresh rosemary, for garnish

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Prepare rosemary orange sugar:  Combine ¼ granulated sugar, rosemary leaves, and orange zest in food processor.  Process vigorously until rosemary and orange are finely chopped and combined well with sugar.  Set aside.

Prepare baking sheets: On a sheet of parchment paper, draw three 8” circles.  I use a salad plate as a guide and trace around it with a pencil.  Place parchment on a baking sheet and set aside.

Prepare cake:  Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites on medium low speed until foamy (about 1 minute).  Increase speed to medium high and slowly add the remaining 1 C sugar.  Continue whipping until eggs become soft and fluffy.  Gently sift cornstarch over meringue and mix gently.   Fold in vinegar and 3T of rosemary orange sugar.