Monday, December 31, 2012

Seafood Chowder

5 strips bacon (I love to use the pre-cooked to save time and mess)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons white flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine (Optional – you may replace with milk)
2 cups unpeeled and diced potatoes (Frozen Southern Hash Browns work great and save time)
½  pound whitefish fillets (cod, haddock or fluke)
1 can of baby clams with juice
1 small bag frozen shrimp
1 bag frozen mixed seafood (squid, crab, shrimp mix that I pick up at Wal-Mart)
1 cup heavy cream (You may also use half and half or milk if you want lighter)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large, heavy Dutch oven, fry up the bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels and add the butter to the pot. Sauté the onions in the bacon drippings and butter until transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add flour, stirring constantly for a few minutes, until the roux turns slightly golden (You may also use a corn starch slurry if you prefer, but add it at the end after everything has come to a simmer). Stir in the stock, wine, potatoes and simmer until potatoes are tender.  Stir constantly to keep the soup from burning or sticking to the bottom of the soup pot. Cut the whitefish into chunks and add to the pot. Add your detailed shrimp, can of clams with juice and seafood mix.  Simmer on low for 10 minutes or until the fish is just opaque. Turn heat down to low.  Stir in the cream and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on low until just heated through, making sure not to let the soup boil (you do not want it to curdle).

Ladle soup into bowls and top with bacon bits.  Serve with oyster crackers or toasted garlic bread.

Variation:  Steam mussels and add to the bowl of soup just before serving.  You may add any seafood you wish even lobster if you wish to go wild.  This is a thick soup and serves beautifully in a bread bowl.  Another option is to add some frozen corn if you like.

Have a safe and happy New Year.   Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fixin’ White Fish

It has been awhile since I blogged.  I took a little break and focused on a Christmas FB page I was sharing.  I shared a lot of Christmas recipes on it so did not want to duplicate work.  Now that Christmas is over, I'm going to start sharing some recipes I have been gathering lately.  Today I fixed fish for Sunday dinner.

I love fish of all kinds.  I love all seafood and it is so good for you.  I bought some Tilapia and made it in a white sauce today.  I thought I would share two great ways to fix it.  My white sauce is nothing more than  a seasoned béchamel sauce.  

5 small tilapia fillets  
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Brush fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill fish for 4 minutes per side, until golden brown and fish flakes easily with a fork.  If you prefer you may also poach the fish, but I prefer it fried with a little olive oil.  I use my old favorite cast iron skillet.

Tilapia with White Sauce

½ cup dry white wine (If you do not want to use wine, just add same amount in milk)
½ cup half and half
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons corn starch
¼ tsp. salt
1 bay leaf
Pinch of nutmeg 
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 finely chopped shallot or ½ tsp. onion powder
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
Chopped chives
1 tsp. thyme (I used my dried thyme I dried last fall)

In a small, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat.  Add ¼  teaspoon of salt.  Slowly add ½ cup half and half and ½ cup of a dry white wine, stirring constantly.  Add a slurry of 2 tablespoons of corn starch and a little water. Continue cooking slowly until smooth and thickened.

After making the standard Béchamel, add 1 a bay leaf, and pinch of nutmeg.  Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, the chopped shallot and 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley and/or chopped chives for more flavor.

Other options:  a pinch of paprika or garlic powder would also be nice.  What is your favorite seasoning with fish?  Flavor it with your favorite seasonings you like with fish. Do not over season it though.  White fish is quite delicate and you'll not be able to taste the fish.

Pull your bay leaf out and add the grilled fish into the white sauce just to keep warm until you serve.   Serve it with rice pilaf or wild rice.

Grilled Tilapia with Garlic, White Wine and Butter Sauce

Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

Juice both lemons and set aside. In a small pot, whisk together lemon juice, wine, shallot and garlic.

Cook over high heat until reduced to half. Remove from heat, cool slightly. When lemon mixture is warm, cut in butter and whisk together. Add parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Bring to room temperature before grill them. Heat grill over high heat.

Brush fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill fish for 4 minutes per side, until golden brown and fish flakes easily with a fork.

Place fish on plates and top with lemon butter sauce. Serve immediately over warm pasta.  You can also use sauce with shrimp instead of fish.

Have a great week.  Making a seafood chowder for New Years Eve.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.