Bouillabaisse

One of the best things I’ve ever eaten was a perfect bowl of bouillabaisse in Marseilles. I’ve never even bothered to try making it, because it’s a complicated dish with a long list of exotic and expensive ingredients. Today I ate lunch at Aquavit, and although I didn’t order it, was intrigued by the “Scandinavian bouillabaisse” on the menu. On the way home I stopped to get a nice piece of fish for dinner, but wasn’t thrilled with the quality, so ended up with a combination of a small red snapper fillet, a bag of mussels, some wild shrimp, and a few large sea scallops. While trying to figure out what to do with it all, I looked up Emma Bengtsson’s 2 Michelin star recipe from Aquavit, and supplemented it with a simple Mark Bittman preparation, with some elements from Bobby Flay’s version. I rushed through the prep, so even though there are a lot of steps and elements, it went quickly and was ready to eat within the hour. I watched an episode of MasterChef for extra inspiration while I cooked.

Ingredients

  • 2 small red snapper fillets (1/2 lb)
  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 6 large scallops (1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 lb large shrimp, with shells
  • 1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
  • 1 TB Pastis, Pernod, or Absenthe
  • Olive oil
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 slice bacon
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TB mayonnaise
  • 1 stalk lemon grass (optional)
  • 1 Serrano pepper, sliced (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat a pot with a cover, large enough to hold all of the mussels.
  2. Dice the bacon, and brown with the shallots in a splash of olive oil. Add the chili pepper and lemon grass if using, along with the thyme and bay leaf.
  3. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels, cover and cook for about 3 minutes, until they open. Discard any that didn’t open.
  4. Drain the mussels and strain the broth (to remove any sand) into a large pot.
  5. Remove the mussels from their shells once cool enough to handle, and set aside.
  6. If you have time, shell the shrimp and boil the shells in 2 cups of water with a bouquet garni to make a seafood stock. Strain and reduce to 1 cup. You can also use any fish/seafood stock, or even a cup of mild chicken broth. Add to the mussel cooking liquid and the tomatoes. Bring back to a simmer while you prepare the other components.
  7. Make the anchovy butter by mashing the anchovy fillet with 1 TB butter with a fork. Scrape into a small ramekin and chill in freezer for a few minutes.
  8. Boil the shrimp for a few minutes in the broth, then remove with slotted spoon. Peel and devein if needed.
  9. In a large skillet, pan sear the fish fillets and scallops in olive oil+butter until golden brown and just barely cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, slather with the anchovy butter, and set aside.
  10. Deglaze the pan with the Pastis, and add to the
  11. aioli: In a small skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil, and lightly brown the garlic. Mix well with the mayonnaise, season to taste with salt, pepper, cayenne (or other chili powder), and lemon juice.
  12. Assembly: Put 3 scallops and half the shrimp and mussels into the bottom of two soup bowls. Pour over the broth. Top with the fish, skin side up to keep it crispy. Dot with the aioli, serving the remainder on the side.

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Brazilian Style Banana Pudding

Based on this recipe for Sombremesa de Banana com Queijo (Banana and Cheese Pudding)

Ingredients

  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 4 ripe bananas, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces, then lengthwise into ¼”-thick slices
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, cubed
  • 14 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Boil milks and whole spices in 12″ nonstick skillet over medium heat until reduced by half, about 30 minutes; discard spices.
  3. Spread ⅓ reduced milk over bottom of an 8″ x 8″ baking dish; top with half the bananas and half the cream cheese. Repeat layering, ending with reduced milk; sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
  4. Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Shrimp & Sausage Tapas

A variation on a classic Spanish tapas, which is traditionally made with Spanish chorizo or Portuguese Chouriço .

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs extra large unpeeled shrimp*
  • 1 lb hot Italian sausage
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic,sliced thinly
  • 6-8 oil cured black olives
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 2 TB sherry or gin
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive Oil
  • crushed red pepper
  • hot paprika
  • smoked paprika
  • 1 TB chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. Start by marinating the shrimp. Wash and drain well, then drizzle generously with olive oil, season with crushed garlic, freshly ground pepper, salt (or Old Bay), red pepper, and paprika. Set aside for at least a few minutes, or refrigerate for a few hours.
  2. While the shrimp marinates, brown the sausage evenly on all sides in a bit of olive oil over medium hot. Remove from pan, slice into 1/2″ thick slices, and return to pan in a single layer, then flip and cook on other side.
  3. While the sausage cooks, pit and chop the olives, grate a teaspoon of lemon zest, and mix with the sliced garlic. Mix the tomato paste with the sherry or gin.
  4. Once the sausage is well browned on all sides, remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Add a bit more olive to the pan if needed, and sauté the shrimp in a single layer for a couple of minutes until no longer pink. Turn and cook on second side for two more minutes.
  6. Add the browned sausage to the shrimp, along with the garlic mixture. Then drizzle with tomato-sherry sauce.
  7. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and cook for a couple of minutes until the shrimp is fully cooked and the sauce is slightly reduced.
  8. Remove the shrimp and sausage to a decorative serving bowl, and finish with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a drizzle of the best EVOO, and a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley.

*I prefer to keep the shrimp with the peel, but you can also peel them first if desired. Frozen shrimp work fine, wash well and defrost first in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes. Then drain well.