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Archive for February 18, 2014

RECIPE: Crab Stuffed Flounder

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Crab-stuffed flounder is actually easy to
make. Photo and recipe courtesy Westside
Market | New York City.

 

February 18th is National Crab-Stuffed Flounder Day. The recipe is easy to make, and gives the appearance of a “fancy” preparation. You can stuff any white fish filet with crab meat.

Before buying crab, note that there are four grades of meat. In order of expense, they are:

  • Jumbo lump crab meat, the largest, snow-white lumps.
  • Lump/backfin crab meat, the same color, flavor and texture of jumbo lump, but is in slightly smaller pieces
  • White crab meat, smaller white pieces ideal for recipes where the size and shape of the crab flake becomes indistinguishable, such as crab cakes.
  • Claw crab meat, the reddish-brown claw and leg meat which is actually more flavorful and is preferred by many (who also and appreciate the lower price) and is the best to use in spicy dishes, where the flavor best holds up to the spices,
  •  
    So the best crab meat to use is this recipe is claw or white, depending on preference and availability.

    Here’s more on the different types of crab meat.

    Thanks to the Westside Market in New York City for this easy recipe.

    RECIPE: CRABMEAT STUFFED FLOUNDER

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley or dill plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 8 ounces crab meat, picked over
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 tablespoon cayenne
  • 4 8-ounce flounder or tilapia fillets
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4-8 toothpicks
  • Optional garnish: lemon slice or wedge, parsley or dill sprigs
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Lightly oil 9 x13-inch ovenproof dish.

    2. MELT butter in skillet. Add onion and celery and sauté until soft. Stir in parsley or dill. Remove skillet from heat and stir in breadcrumbs, crab meat, lemon juice and cayenne.

    3. DIVIDE crab meat mixture among fillets and roll up. Hold together with toothpicks. Place fish seam side down in baking dish. Sprinkle paprika over fish.

    4. BAKE for 20 to 25 minutes. Garnish with dill and lemon before serving.
     
    CRAB MEAT OR CRABMEAT?

    You’ll see both uses. Which is correct?

    “Crab meat” is more correct, although the incorrect “crabmeat” has eased into acceptance over time (spell or pronounce something incorrectly enough and people accept it as right).

     

    claw-meat-phillips230

    Claw meat and leg meat are darker but more flavorful and less expensive. Use it in recipes where the crab gets fully blended with other ingredients. Photo courtesy Phillips Crab.

     

    Whenever you’re confused about how to write something, think of other uses. For example, lobster meat is the correct form; you’d never write “lobstermeat.”

      

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    TIP: Soup As A Main Course

    lentil-soupr_mccormick-230

    Add enough protein to a lentil or bean soup
    and you’ve got a main course. Ham and
    sausage pair deliciously with beans and
    legumes. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    As we published the post below, for acorn squash soup with gnocchi, we thought about soup as a main course.

    To turn a first course into a main course, simply add more of the protein: beef, chicken, ham, sausage, tofu, etc.

    It’s also an opportunity to double up on the veggies and to add whole grains like barley, brown rice or quinoa.

    Serve it with a large and interesting side salad, and you’ve got a delicious lunch or dinner.

    Here are 25 ideas to start; or create your own combinations:

  • Albondigas (meatball soup)
  • Bean & barley soup with choice Of protein
  • Black bean soup with ham or sausage
  • Bouillabaisse/cioppino
  • Borscht with meatballs
  • Chicken or sausage gumbo
  • Chicken rice soup (go whole grain: use brown rice)
  • Chicken matzoh ball soup with lots of chicken (switch out matzoh balls with rice or noodles)
  • Chili with meatballs
  • Fish soup (fish or vegetable stock with rice, poached white fish, vegetables)
  • Gazpacho with poached shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab, etc.
  • Greek meatball soup
  • Hot & hour soup with shiitakes and protein of choice
  • Kale or spinach and white bean soup with pork and pork sausage
  • Lentil soup with ham
  • Minestrone or pasta e fagioli with sausage
  • Paella soup
  • Pepperpot soup with beef chunks
  • Ravioli in brodo
  • Root vegetable soup with choice of protein
  • Salmon chowder with salmon chunks
  • Scallops & fennel in saffron-tarragon broth
  • Seafood bisque with shrimp
  • Southwestern bean soup with chicken
  • Split pea soup with ham
  •  

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOUP, STEW &
    RAGOUT

    There’s a thin line between soup and stew. Both can be combinations of vegetables, proteins and starches (beans, dumplings, grains, legumes, noodles, potatoes, rice, etc). Both are cooked in, or with, a liquid. Both can be served in a bowl.

    Stews are thicker, with the liquid reduced to a gravy. Because they are made to be main courses, the ingredients are cut into larger/chunkier pieces. Meat-based stews are an opportunity to slow-cook tougher (least expensive) cuts of meat. Soups cook for a shorter time at higher temperatures.

    Yet, stew is not simply a thick or chunky soup. There is a different approach to cooking:

  • Stewing is a method of cooking the solids with a slow, moist-heat method. When you make a chicken stew, you are stewing the meat in a liquid.
  • When you make a chicken soup, however, you are extracting flavor from the chicken into a liquid—making a chicken-flavored liquid instead of cooked chicken.
  •  
    Here are more differences:

     

    albondigas-meatball-soup-melissas-230

    Albondigas—meatball soup—is a Mexican classic. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     

  • SOUP: Any combination of ingredients cooked in a liquid base: fish/seafood, fruit, meats, starches and vegetables. Soups can be thick and hearty or thin and delicate. While cooked ingredients can remain in the soup, the objective of the ingredients is to flavor the liquid. Soup can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. Fruit soups can be served for dessert.
  • STEW: A hearty dish of meat or other protein and vegetables, optionally with grains, starches and/or fruits, simmered in a liquid until cooked. The liquid becomes the gravy. Stews are served warm. There are no dessert stews.
  • RAGOUT: The French name for a main-dish stew.
  •  
    Both stews and soups may be thickened:

  • By reduction
  • With flour (by coating pieces of the protein with flour before searing, or by using a roux or beurre manié, a dough consisting of equal parts of butter and flour)
  • With thickeners such as arrowroot or cornstarch
  •  
    Hot soups and stews are particularly suited to cold winter days. It looks like we’ll have more than enough left to pull out some favorite recipes, or try new ones.

      

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    RECIPE: Acorn Squash Soup & Sauteed Gnocchi

    acorn-squash-soup-gnocchi-garnish-giovannirasta-230close

    Acorn squash soup with gnocchi and a garnish of
    dried cranberries, Brussels sprouts leaves and
    crème fraîche. Photo courtesy Giovanni Rana.

     

    Italians are known for combining pasta and soup: minestrone, pasta e fagiole (pasta and bean soup) and pasta in brodo (chicken broth with pasta) are classics.

    Here’s an even fancier creation from pasta maker Giovanni Rana: acorn squash soup with potato gnocchi. This hearty starter can also serve as a main course—an example of how you can build on a simple bowl of soup to create a meal.

    RECIPE: ROASTED ACORN SQUASH SOUP
    WITH SAUTÉED GNOCCHI

    Ingredients

  • 1 package (17.6 ounces) potato gnocchi
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 large shallots (or 3 small), cut in 1/4″ dice
  • 2 bulbs fennel, core and stem removed, cut in 1/4″ dice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic or champagne vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves removed
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 425°F. Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Cut the squash halves into segments, following the natural seams. Toss segments with extra virgin olive oil and season with kosher salt. Lay squash in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast until tender; about 30-35 minutes. In the meantime…

    2. MELT butter with extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Sauté shallots and fennel until soft, about 8-10 minutes. While shallots and fennel are sautéing, peel leaves from Brussels sprouts. Toast in a dry nonstick pan over medium high heat until starting to char in spots. Remove and set aside.

    3. INCREASE heat to high and add half of the vegetable oil. When oil is shimmering, add half of the gnocchi directly from the bag. Sauté gnocchi, tossing often, until browned. Set aside and repeat.

    4. REMOVE acorn squash from oven when tender; allow to cool enough to handle. Peel skins off and discard. Working in batches, purée squash, sautéed shallots and fennel, vegetable broth, heavy cream and vinegar in a blender or food processor.

    5. RETURN soup to a pan and gently reheat. Adjust consistency with more vegetable broth if necessary and season with kosher salt. Add gnocchi and divide among bowls.

     

    1002200_gnocchi-NecoGarnicia-230

    Boiled potatoes are riced and rolled with flour into ropes of dough. Small pieces are cut off and handmade gnocchi are pressed between the thumb and the tines of a fork to make the characteristic indentations (no dents in factory-made gnocchi). Photo courtesy Neco Garnicia.

     

    6. GARNISH with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream, toasted Brussels sprouts leaves and dried cranberries.
     
    WHAT ARE GNOCCHI?

    Gnocchi (NYO-kee) are light and fluffy Italian dumplings. The most commonly known in the U.S. are made from potatoes and flour, although other styles are noted below.

    You can find butternut squash, spinach and sweet potato gnocchi on modern menus, and creative chefs can create a myriad of flavors. Some also substitute semolina for the potato flour—the original recipe (more about that in a minute). Shapes and ingredients vary by region.

    The word “gnocchi” means “dumplings” in Italian. There are two suggestions for the origin of the word:

  • Nocchio, “gnarl,” referring to a gnarl in wood
  • Nocca, “knuckle,” referring to the knob-like appearance
  •  
    They’re Not Italian!

    Gnocchi are of Middle Eastern origin; the originals were made with semolina dough. As the Roman Empire expanded, favorite recipes were brought home and adapted, based on local ingredients and preferences. Depending on where you are in Italy, you can find:

  • Gnocchi alla romana (Roman-style gnocchi), made with semolina flour and rolled out in a thick, flat dough. Circles are cut from the dough and then baked.
  • Gnocchi di ricotta (ricotta gnocchi), which uses ricotta instead of potatoes with the flour and egg mixture.
  • Gnocchi di patate (potato gnocchi), shown in the photos above; essentially mashed potatoes with egg and flour, cut into small pillows and boiled.
  • Gnocchi Parisienne (Parisian gnocchi), made with boiled pâte à choux (cream puff dough, which can be used in savory recipes). They are often pan-fried in butter and great tossed with fresh herbs.
  •  
    Whether covered in sauce, tossed in butter or pan-fried, gnocchi are crowd-pleasers.

      

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