Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Apron Giveaway + Stuffed Sea-Bass Fillet Wrapped in Chard with Pomegranate-Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Well, my food photos for ths one really did not turn out well. So disappointing, as I had such high hopes for this, too! This is my Royal Foodie Joust entry for May! This month's Royal Foodie Joust, presided over as always by The Leftover Queen has been quite a challenge.
Rather than specific ingredients, tThe theme for this month's joust is Red, White, and Green. When I heard it, I instantly imagined snowy white fish filets wrapped up in ruby-veined chard. I guess there must be some slavic or scandinavian blood in this here Indian, because I am just crazy about beets and chard. Chard is actually a variety of beet that is raised for its leaves and yummy stems. Every spring I just seem to crave beets in all guises. I decided it would be colorful and fun to add some beet slices and a garlicky crabmeat stuffing to the chard packets as well.

I am quite fond of chard, even though it's a bit of a pain to wash and chop. It's really important to wash it well, as it is very sandy. I always drop the leaves into a sinkful of lukewarm water and let soak for 3-4 minutes, long enough for the dirt to sink to the bottom.

Then carefully lift the leaves out of the water. Wow, just look at all the sand that got left behind!

Here's my original recipe for

Stuffed Sea Bass Wrapped In Chard Leaves
with Pomegranate-Hazelnut Vinaigrette
by DomesticMuse

8 large Swiss Chard leaves, preferably ruby or rainbow chard

4 6 oz. sea bass filets

1 med. beet
8 T softened boursin cheese
zest of 1 lemon
1/8 c. fresh basil leaves
1 lg. shallot

4 0z. "crabmeat" (I used the fake crab flakes)
2 T freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1/2 t. Cholula or other hot sauce
1/4 t. cayenne pepper

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 c. pure pomegranate juice, such as Pom Wonderful
juice of 1 fresh lime
1 T red wine vinegar
2 T fresh basil leaves, preferably purple basil
4 T extra virgin olive oil
4 T walnut oil Salt and pepper to taste
2 T. chopped toasted hazlenuts

First, roast the beet. Preheat the oven to 400F. Trim away any leaves, leaving 1" of stem, and wash the beet well. Rub with some vegetable oil and add salt and pepper.

Wrap in foil and place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 30-35 min., or until the beet is easily pierced by a knife. When cool, remove from the foil and remove the beet skin gently with your fingers. Slice into paper-thin slices. (I used my food processor, fitted with the 2mm blade.)

To prepare the chard leaves for stuffing, remove the stems and reserve for another use. Dip the chard leaves in boiling water for 5-10 second to blanch, and drop into an ice water bath.

Dry on kitchen towels. With a sharp paring knife, carefull pare down the thick ribs on the back side of the chard leaves so the leaves are of even thickness.

Spread the leaves out and set aside.

To prepare the stuffing, place the boursin cheese, the lemon zest, the shallot (chopped), the basil leaves, hot sauce, cayenne, parmigiano-reggiano and the crab meat in bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth, and add salt and pepper to taste.
My fininshed stuffing:

To prep the fillets: Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread the 4 filets on a work surface.

Season them on both sides with salt and pepper. Cover 2 of the filets with beet slices. Then add a generous layer of stuffing, and top the stuffing with more beet slices.

Top with the remaining fish filets.

Cut each of the two stuffed filets in half cross-wise, to make 4 stuffed pieces.
Lay 2 chard leaves on the work surface to form an X. Place one of the stuffed filets on top of the chard leaves, and wrap tightly in the leaves.

Repeat with the remaining filets.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 T olive oil. Add the chard packets and sear for 1 minute. Then place the skillet in the oven and roast the chard packets for 12-16 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the pomegranate vinagrette. Place the pomegranate juice, the lime juice, the basil, the red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor. Turn on the machine and add the walnut and olive oils slowly. Taste and correct seasoning as needed.

When the chard packets are done, serve drizzled with the pomegranate vinaigrette and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.

Stuffed SeaBass Wrapped in Chard with Pomegranate-Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Sea-bass filets are stuffed with a mixture of boursin cheese ...

See Stuffed SeaBass Wrapped in Chard with Pomegranate-Hazelnut Vinaigrette on Key Ingredient.

To go with the fish packets, I made braised new potatoes and an old family favorite, that sounds weird but is quite delicious. I find myself craving it every spring: Balsamic Beet and Apple Puree.

It's an old standy-by from The Silver Palate that is really simple to make. For 3 servings. roast 2 medium or 1 large beet in foil at 400F, as descibed above, until very tender. Let cool, peel, and cut into several pieces. Meanwhile, chop one yellow onion and saute slowly in 2-3 T of butter with salt, pepper, and 1 T. of sugar. Add 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped, and saute until the onions and apples are very tender. Add 1-2 T balsamic vinegar. Puree the beet with the apple and onion mixture in the food processor.

We really enjoyed this meal, even if the entree didn't turn out to be as photogenic as I had hoped. It is actually pretty simple to prepare, and goes together quite quickly, once the beets are roasted. The pomegranate vinagrette and chopped hazelnuts added just the perfect tart, tangy and rich touch to the fiinshed dish. It was delicious!

I think this vinaigrette is one of the best uses I've found thus far for the case of Pom Wonderful that the company generously sent me. I will be experimenting with it more this week, now that we are mostly settled into the new house. (Not that there isn't still plenty of unpacking to do, LOL!!)

Happy Spring, All!

Just found out about a great APRON giveaway!! A Wrestling Addicted Mommy is giving away a Carolyn's kitchen hot pink sweetheart apron, deadline is May 5!

Get the details here. As you all know, I am wild for vintage aprons, and Carolyn's Kitchen's aprons are sizzlin'! So don't miss Wrestling Mommy's giveaway!

Yours in culinary love,

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shrimp Pasta Biscayne Parke and an Award!!!

Last year when I lived in Chicago, I was fortunate to live just 2 blocks from one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. While I didn't eat there often, LaDonna was a favorite for DS and me, and my fabulous friend Gwendolyn and I had our Christmas celebration there. They have a create-your-own-pasta section of the menu and I was always fascinated by, but never tried, the Mona Lisa sauce, drescribed on the menu as saffron cream with shrimp.

I made Reeni's wonderful Cajun Shrimp Alfredo last week, and have been dying to try my hand at creating my own shrimp pasta ever since. (The whole family was crazy about Reeni's SPICY shrimp pasta dish-- I'm telling you, Reeni is a genius!)

Having the idea "saffron cream sauce" in my head, I decided to see what I could come up with. It was so good, we could not stop eating it!!!

I don't talk much about work, seeing as I'm all about the food here, but I have so much to be thankful for. I just finished a job for a wonderful library that I have been working with for many months now. They are a fantastic group of people and I am really going miss them. My clients are the greatest-- they all represent the best ideals of library service. They are all dedicated, and they all inspire me. Especially this very special group of people from Florida. So, this recipe is for you: you know who you are!! I named it in honor of all of you.

Here is my original recipe.

Shrimp Pasta Biscayne Parke
by DomesticMuse


1 lb. shrimp, peeled, shells reserved
1 t. saffron threads
1 t. red pepper flakes
3 T
unsalted butter
1 onion
2 T vodka
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 t. best-quality curry powder
1/2 c. white wine
2 T. tomato paste
1 t. sugar
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. whole milk
1/3 c. sundried tomato strips
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry with paper towel
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb. spaghettini, cooked al dente


Spray a large skillet with non-stick spray and heat over medium heat. Add the butter.

Add the shrimp and red pepper flakes, and saute the shrimp until pink. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and place on a plate; reserve.

Meanwhile, place the shrimp shells in a saucepan and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and boil uncovered until the shells turn pink.

Remove the shells from the broth and continue to boil until the liquid is reduced to about 1/2 c. or less. Add the saffron threads to the hot shrimp broth and remove from the heat. Allow to steep at least 10 minutes.

Without wiping out the skillet the shrimp was cooked in, add the onions and more butter if needed. Cook the onions over medium-low heat until soft and sweet. Increase the heat, add the vodka, and cook, stirring, until the vodka is mostly evaporated and reduced to a thick liquid.

Add the sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring, about 5-7 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released their liquid and it has mostly evaporated. Add the curry powder and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring, to take the raw edge off the curry spices.

Add the saffron broth and the white wine to the mushroom mixture and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is evaporated.
Whisk in the tomato paste and sugar. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the heavy cream and milk, and the sun-dried tomato strips. Bring the mixture to gentle boil, and simmer until reduced by half. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from the heat and stir in the crushed garlic. Add the shrimp and the artichokes and stir gently to combine.

Serve over the cooked spaghettini. Garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley.

!Buen provecho!!

I am so, so excited to tell you that I have just received a real honor, a blog award called the Premio de Oro (Gold Medal) from my best pan pal, Nathan at La Cocina de Nathan.

Nathan received this beautiful prize from Cuban cooking star Marilyn and is passing it along to me! I am really, truly thrilled, honored, and humbled-- without Nathan, I would have given up on my blog long ago. Thanks for the award, the encouragement, and the friendship, Nathan!! Of course, as with any good award, it's meant to be passed along-- which I will do, once I've had a chance to collect my thoughts! This award also asks you to list 7 things about yourself, so don't miss Nathan's list!

Nathan's blog is just amazing, for anyone interested in authentic Latin American foodways and cooking. He makes a lot of heritage recipes honoring his Spanish, Cuban, and Mexican roots. Not only does his blog serve to preserve and promote his cultural heritage, it is some seriously good eats! We are addicted to many of Nathan's recipes in our home, in particular his porkchops, meatballs and his grandma's rice pudding! Please check out La Cocina de Nathan-- a fabulous, fabulous blog! I've learned so much from reading Nathan and Marilyn's blogs that I can make Cuban food at home that is 10 times better than anything we can get in a Cuban restaurant around here.

Muchisimas gracias, Nathan, por este premio y por su amistad.

Chi miigwetch SCL: thank you to my son for creating this logo
CLICK to enlarge image