Mussels with White Wine and Tomatoes

Last night I was shopping at my favorite grocery in Cornwall. Over by the seafood counter a standalone display caught my eye. There were a handful of 2 lb nets of jet-black mussels with ice packed around them. I love mussels, so naturally I grabbed a bag for Saturday night dinner.

Mussels are pretty easy to prepare. This time I decided to do mine with white wine and tomatoes. They are usually available scrubbed and debearded; you can also ask your fishmonger to do this. When ready to use them, rinse well in a colander. Discard any with broken shells or open mussels that do not close when you tap lightly on them.

Let’s cook! 🙂

3 Tbsp. Kerrygold butter
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (my favorite are Mutti Finely Chopped Tomatoes)
1/2 cup of dry white wine
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Warm, grilled slices of baguette

Melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until fragrant and soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until that wonderful garlic aroma is drawn out.

Add the tomatoes, white wine, and parsley. Stir until combined and then season with salt and pepper. Bring to just a simmer, not a rolling boil.

Add the mussels, cover, and simmer until all the shells are open; about 4-6 minutes. Discard any shells that are not open.

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Spoon mussels into a bowl and ladle sauce over them; garnish with more parsley. Serve with grilled baguette slices to mop up that wonderful sauce.

Enjoy!! 🙂

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Lobster and Shrimp Chowder

I love a good chowder in the winter; it’s a wonderful comfort food served up with some crusty Italian bread. This fall I found a southern inspired seafood base that I wanted to try, and picked up a three-pack of Chilau Seafood Sauce (one each of original, citrus, and gumbo). This chowder will definitely become one of my staples. It has just the right amount of warm heat from the Chilau Seafood Sauce base, not a fire-breathing spiciness.

Chilau

I used lobster tail meat and Argentinian Red shrimp, which our local grocer has started stocking. One thing I am definitely missing from Charlotte is the fresh fish markets! 🙂 In this recipe I also used lobster juice. Bar Harbor sells it in 8 oz bottles; alternatively you can use seafood stock, lobster stock, or clam juice. This recipe would be equally as good with other types of seafood or fish – scallops, calamari, lump crab, halibut, etc.

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Let’s get cooking!

3 Tbsp Kerrygold butter
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
2 cups corn (frozen works well if out of season)
1 cup Chilau Seafood Sauce (I used Original)
8 oz Bar Harbor Maine Lobster Juice
1 cup crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 lb lobster tail meat
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup dry white wine

Melt butter in a dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and peppers and saute until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the potatoes and corn and stir well to combine. Add the seafood sauce, lobster juice, crushed tomatoes, heavy cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until potatoes are fork tender (about 20 minutes, depending on the size of your chopped potatoes). Do not over cook.

Add the lobster, shrimp, and white wine. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until seafood is just cooked. Remove from heat.

Serve with: shaved Parmesan, quartered lemons for a hit of acid to finish, and crusty bread. Enjoy!! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Chicken Marsala Soup

Mushrooms. Morel, oyster, shiitake, maitake, enoki, chanterelle…no matter the type of mushroom, I love them. Well, I expect I would. There are actually over 14,000 species of mushrooms, only about half of which are okay to eat. Earthy, hearty, even meaty…they are the steak of the vegetable world. I had a large container of my favorite workhorse mushroom, creminis, in the fridge and was in the mood for some soup. Creminis are actually immature Portobello mushrooms, and often found as Baby Bellas. I browsed the web for some mushroom soup ideas and found a few chicken and mushroom recipes that looked good. One called for dry sherry, and that’s when it hit me: Chicken Marsala Soup!

This recipe has all things Chicken Marsala in a hearty, comforting soup; chicken, marsala, mushrooms, garlic, butter, pasta, and spinach for some color! I use organic chicken bone broth here, but you can substitute chicken broth or stock. I prefer bone broth for soups for the simple reason that it has more flavor, as it simmers for a very long time. As a bonus, it has more gut-healing gelatin and anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Additional note about mushrooms. They have a high water content, and when you cook them, they will release juices. They are also porous, so I recommend not washing mushrooms. If they have dirt on them, take a damp cloth and wipe them off.

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4 Tbsp Kerrygold butter, divided
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons Wondra flour
2/3 cup Marsala wine, divided
6 cups organic bone broth
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken is great)
2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
4 ounces uncooked dry pasta, your choice of shape (I used egg noodles in this version)
1 cup heavy cream
2 large handfuls fresh baby spinach
Couple of shakes of Maggi Seasoning Sauce (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste

Top with shaved Parmesan cheese and fresh lemon wedges.
Serve with fresh, crusty Italian bread.

Melt half of the butter in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, and sauté for 5-6 minutes until softened and browned. Transfer mushrooms to a separate bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the stockpot along with the diced onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute, stirring until fragrant. Sprinkle the Wondra flour on the onion and garlic mixture and stir until completely combined.

Grab the good stuff – the Marsala – and add 1/3 cup to the stockpot. Deglaze the stockpot, using a wooden spoon to free any of those delicious brown bits that have stuck to the bottom. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of Marsala wine, chicken bone broth, shredded chicken, fresh or dried thyme, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer. Do not let it boil or it will burn off all the Marsala.

Reduce heat to medium and add the dry pasta. Continue cooking for 8-10 minutes, stirring periodically, until the pasta is al dente. Add the cooked mushrooms back to the stockpot, along with the heavy cream and baby spinach. Stir until they are completely combined, and the spinach begins to wilt. Taste the soup and season with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Give the Maggi Seasoning Sauce a couple of shakes into the pot and remove the thyme sprigs if using fresh thyme. Bring back to just a simmer; do not boil. Move the stockpot off the heat.

Note: If at some point, you brought the soup to a boil for a few minutes you can bring back that true Marsala taste at the end by adding a splash with your seasonings.

MarsalaPot

Ladle into bowls, and hit each bowl with a squeeze of lemon. Top with Parmesan cheese and fresh lemon wedges; crusty, Italian bread on the side.

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Enjoy!! 🙂

 

 

 

Spicy Weeknight Chili

Now that comfort food season has kicked in and the temperatures are down in the 30s, I decided to whip up some quick weeknight chili. I’m also trying to clean out my freezer before I head South for a few months.

In this recipe, I used ground turkey, but you can use beef or pork as well. Most of the ingredients are in the typical household pantry. In most recipes where I would normally use red-wine vinegar, lately I’ve switched it out for Ume Plum Vinegar. Tangy and salty, it is made from Japanese ume plums. It is also great as a condiment and in salad dressings; a rich, tart sweetness paired with salt.

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Let’s get cooking!! 🙂

2-3 Tbsp olive oil  (I used cilantro and roasted onion infused olive oil)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb ground turkey or beef
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp Ume Plum Vinegar (you can substitute red-wine vinegar)
One 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
Two 16 oz cans of dark red kidney beans
1/2 cup of good red wine
Ground pepper and salt, to taste

Heat a large saute pan on medium and add the olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic; saute until they start to get soft, around five minutes.

Add the turkey (or beef) to the pan. Brown the meat and then add the cumin, oregano, basil, and chili powder. Stir well to distribute the spices.

Stir in the Ume Plum vinegar and crushed tomatoes, and simmer on lower heat for 15 minutes. Add the red wine and kidney beans; simmer for 15 more minutes on just enough heat to hold a simmer. If the chili appears to be a bit too thick, add 1/2 cup of water.

Take the chili off heat and let stand for at least five minutes. Scoop into bowls and add your favorite chili toppings. I added shredded cheese, sour cream, and my most favorite herb – fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

Suggested chili toppings: Sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, cilantro, crushed tortilla chips, corn bread crumbles, and avocado.

 

 

Spices.

Robust. Spices make your dishes exponentially better. They will change your taste.

I kind of feel like a traitor today. Most all of my spices come from Savory Spices, and my recent discovery The Spice House. Spice House….that Porcini Mushroom Powder is a gift from umami heaven.

I ordered a few jars of blends that looked interesting from Penzey Spices. I gave them the scent test (which everyone should do when buying anything you’re going to put in your food!)…opened the jar of each one, closed my eyes, took that initial sniff, and let the scent envelop me. This is my essential oil process, as you all know. 🙂 Second smell…what could I use this spice with (already had preconceived notions when I ordered). The thing I’ve noticed when buying spices is you need to experience them across the senses.

Ordered eight little jars that looked interesting. Here are the three that survived. 🙂 The must-haves from Penzey’s:

  • Fox Point Seasoning – ummmm hello. I love you. I see you in so many Italian dishes, and sprinkled alone by yourself on crusty bread with olive oil.
  • Parisien Bonnes Herbes – my nose was intrigued. Maybe on a slow, roasted chicken, or in a hearty mushroom mix over wild rice.
  • Arizona Dreaming – I miss living in Arizona. I LOVE Arizona. Many friends and awesome experiences from this state. Back to the spice…I cannot wait to use it in tacos, fajitas, salsas….perhaps something else outside of the box. I’m in love with this one.

Explore the three above – you will not be disappointed. Some inject magic into your food. 🙂

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

With the cold weather we’re having, I thought that soup would be a great idea for the weekend, with leftovers for the week. Poked around on the web and found a couple of recipes for stuffed cabbage soup. I had pretty much everything already in the house, so this one was fairly easy to whip up.

Since it’s a Sunday, I decided to spend some time cooking instead of throwing everything in the Instant Pot. I’m also on a sugar detox, so adapted this recipe from The Recipe Critic to be a bit healthier and detox friendly.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

Let’s talk ingredients! As I move to a more whole food, healthier lifestyle, I learn more everyday about the quality of food in our markets and what to avoid. Believe me, there is A LOT that should be avoided. Here are my tips:

  • Use organic, grass-fed ground beef from a trusted local source. I’m not going to get into a discussion on factory farming. 😊
  • All salt is not the same. Typical table salt is highly processed and ends up being around 99% sodium chloride, which makes it very easy to exceed a recommended daily intake. My standard choice now is Himalayan Pink Salt (HPS). HPS contains about 85% sodium chloride, and the remainder contains over 80 minerals have many health benefits. Organics has a great article describing the differences.
  • San Marzano tomatoes – I LOVE them. You may have wondered how a small town near Naples, Italy, produces enough of these wonderful gems to supply supermarkets year-round. It doesn’t. In fact, only about 5% of the San Marzano tomato products are authentic (ref. Food & Wine article). Read the label before spending your money. Here are the things to look for to make sure you’re getting the real deal:
    • San Marzano tomatoes are only sold in cans, either whole or in fillets. Tomatoes that are jarred or those that are labeled ‘puree,’ ‘chopped,’ ‘diced,’ ‘sauce,’ or ‘organic’ are not San Marzanos.
    • Look for the words ‘Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P.’ on the can; and the symbols of the Consorzio and the D.O.P., the latter of which identifies European regional food products protected by law. The Consorzio assigns a number to each can, labeled as ‘N° XXXXXXX.’ If you do not see these things, don’t pay the premium price.
  • White rice, bad – highly processed and stripped of nutrients. In this recipe, I used Lundberg’s Wild Blend, which turned out to be an excellent, hearty addition.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 pound organic, grass-fed ground beef
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons Kerrygold butter, divided
1 medium head cabbage, cut into 8 wedges and sliced thickly
1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes, not drained
1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes (or 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes)
3 cups Swanson organic beef stock
3 cups cooked Lundberg Wild Blend rice

INSTRUCTIONS

If you’re using a rice cooker, start your rice now. Mine took about 50 minutes to cook. Follow directions on your rice to prepare 3 cups of cooked rice.

Heat a dutch oven over high heat and add the ground beef; season well with the Himalayan pink salt and coarse black pepper. Crumble the ground beef into large crumbles, and make sure to get a good brown on it. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium-high, and add half of the butter to the pan followed by the chopped onions. Saute the onions for 4-5 minutes until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until it becomes fragrant. Do not brown the garlic. Remove the onion and garlic mixture from the pan and set aside.

Keep the pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining butter and cabbage. Cook until cabbage is wilted and browned.

Pulse the can of San Marzanos in a blender until like crushed tomatoes. Do not process until pureed. Of course, skip this step if you’re using crushed tomatoes.

Add the beef and onion/garlic mixture into the pan, along with the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and beef stock. Let simmer for 30 minutes over low heat.

If you are cooking rice on the stove or in an Instant Pot, start it now. Follow the directions on the rice to make 3 cups of cooked rice.

After 30 minutes of simmering (and when the rice is done) add the rice just before serving, and stir gently. Enjoy! 😊

Portobello Mushroom Pot Roast

Mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms! People love them or can’t stand them. I love them! Mushroom lasagna, in a marsala sauce over a good steak, tucked into a salad, stuffed with crabmeat and broiled with melty cheese on top, grilled Portobello burgers. I’ll eat mushrooms any way you want to cook them for me. They are also a great go-to in vegetarian dishes for meat eaters; and their hearty, meaty taste works well in stews and soups.

This dish is easy to make, everything goes into the slow cooker and is thickened up a bit at the end. It definitely lands into the comfort food dishes for the fall season! I served it with egg noodles; however, it would be great over rice or just by itself with crusty bread to mop up the wonderful mushroom sauce.

In addition to the thyme and Porcini mushroom powder that cooks with it, I add some freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste before adding the cornstarch mixture for thickening. Porcini mushroom powder is optional. I like the extra blast of umami that it gives dishes. If you can’t find it locally, The Spice House in Chicago sells it online.

The version below is vegetarian. To make it vegan, use vegan Worcestershire sauce.

Enjoy! 😊

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Ingredients

4 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 pound baby bella mushrooms, cut the large ones in halves or quarters
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup frozen pearl onions
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cups vegetable stock, divided
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp Worcestershire
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp Porcini Mushroom powder (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Add potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, 2-1/2 cups vegetable stock, wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire, and Porcini Mushroom powder together in the bowl of the slow cooker, and gently toss to combine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours, until the potatoes and carrots are tender.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining cold 1/2 cup vegetable stock and cornstarch until combined. Add to the roast mixture, and gently toss to mix together. Continue to cook for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce thickens up a bit.

Serve immediately, garnish with fresh parsley if desired.