Friday, August 18, 2017

Crab Pasta in Lemon and Wine Sauce

Bursting with fresh, lemon flavor, I chose this Dungeness Crab pasta as the main course at our Gourmet Group dinner last month.  Even though Dungeness Crab isn't in season right now, thanks to Costco, and many other good seafood departments of major grocery stores, you can find them frozen or already thawed. Costco has the best pricing on these gems and they are usually found in the seafood 'road show' on Fridays and Saturdays.

It was the first time I had ever tasted Dungeness crab and we really enjoyed the delicious, sweet flavor. Getting the meat out of the shells takes a bit of time, but well worth it if you aren't cooking for a crowd. You can also shell them the day before you use the crab meat. If you do a web search on how to shell a Dungeness crab you'll find several helpful YouTube videos.

Along with the Prosecco, lemon juice and crème fraîche; shallots and red pepper flakes give the pasta sauce a lovely depth of flavor.  Everyone loved it!  If you can't find Dungeness Crab you can use the crab meat of your choice or even substitute lobster or shrimp.

We served the crab pasta with sauteed green beans and almonds. It's a fine dish worthy of company or a special weekend meal.  The left-overs still tasted great the next day with squeeze of more fresh lemon juice.

Most of you already know how much as I love my garden but sometimes it can be a dangerous place! I was weeding in my garden last week and got a nasty sting! It took a full week for the pain, swelling and itching to subside. Please be aware of aggressive yellow jackets and wasps building their nests at this time of year if you are a gardener or simply enjoy being outdoors. 

It's hard to believe we are only one month away from the beginning fall!  In some areas school has already begun.  My garden is brimming with tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant right now. Enjoy the harvest season!

Crab Pasta in Lemon and Wine Sauce

Printable Recipe

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
1 large shallot, chopped
1/2 dried red pepper flakes 
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1-1/2 cups dry Prosecco sparkling wine
1/2 cup crème fraîche 
Zest of 2 organic lemons 
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 
1 pound shelled cooked Dungeness crab 
1 pound linguine 
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 

Using medium heat, warm oil in a large saucepan. Cook the chopped shallot until softened, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pepper flakes and salt, then stir in the Prosecco and crème fraîche. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce about 1- 1/2 cups. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, get the pasta water boiling in a large pot. 

Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and shelled crab into the Prosecco sauce and remove from heat. 

Boil pasta until just tender, according to package directions. Drain pasta, return to pot, and gently toss with crab sauce and parsley. Taste; add more salt and lemon juice if you like.

Adapted from Sunset Magazine.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Baby Romaine Salad with Creamy Pistachio Dressing

Can it be August already? I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful summer!

A couple of weeks ago, we hosted our Gourmet Group of 5 couples.  It's always a challenge to come up with a delicious and unique menu from year to year as everyone loves to cook and the menus are always top-notch.  The host and hostess send each couple the entire menu with recipes. Each couple is assigned one recipe to prepare and bring to the dinner and the host and hostess provide the main course, a side dish and all the wine and beverages.

After the first course, which was a refreshing Spanish almond, cucumber and grape gazpacho, this delightful salad was served. Not too difficult to prepare, it was not only delicious but the baby romaine, or Little Gem lettuce, looked adorable on the plate.  The creamy pistachio dressing, toasted pistachios and sliced radishes added even more crunch and was a delightful combination of flavors.

I found the salad recipe in the cookbook "Taste and Technique" by Naomi Pomeroy, which was a birthday gift from a friend this past spring.  The cookbook is loaded with great recipes that I can't wait to try and I was delighted when I found this special salad recipe to add to our Gourmet Group menu!  I hope to bring you at least one or two more recipes from our gourmet menu soon!

So what else have I been doing since my last post?  Hosting our three grandsons numerous times for swimming and overnights...

Celebrating our anniversary at a wonderful seafood restaurant on the lakefront in downtown Milwaukee.  It was a lovely summer evening on the patio with a view to the west of the Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Art Museum and, to the east, of the inner Lake Michigan harbor...

And, of course, I've been enjoying my garden and all the sunny yellow blooms this year :)

Baby Romaine Salad with Creamy Pistachio Dressing

Serves 4

For the Vinaigrette:

3 teaspoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup raw, unsalted shelled pistachios (regular salted, shelled pistachios work fine but cut back on additional salt)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1-1/4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup aioli (mix 1/3 cup mayonnaise with 1 minced garlic clove and 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice)
3 tablespoons pistachio oil (optional)
1/3 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
1-1/2 teaspoons minced tarragon
3 teaspoons minced chives
3 teaspoons minced flat-leaf parsley
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar

To make the vinaigrette:

Preheat the oven to 325F. Place the shallot in a small mixing bowl, cover with the vinegar. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and set aside to macerate for about 10 minutes.

Spread the pistachios on a small baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Roughly chop the pistachios and divide them into two batches of 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the macerated shallot and its liquid, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, the lemon zest and juice, the aioli, the pistachio oil, and the crème fraiche or sour cream.

At this point, the salad can be refrigerated until ready to use.

Before serving, add the minced herbs and whisk again. Taste and season with pepper and sugar, if necessary.

For the Salad:

2 large or 4 small heads Little Gem Lettuce (regular romaine would also work using the pale, inner head)
2 radishes
Flaky finishing salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To make the Salad:

Trim off the base of each lettuce leaving the head intact. Cut each head of lettuce in half vertically and place in a large bowl of water to clean thoroughly. Drain on paper towels and spin out any remaining water in a salad spinner.

Slice the radishes thinly and place in a bowl of ice water. Store in refrigerator. Dry well with paper toweling before serving.

To serve, stir 1/2 cup of the chopped pistachios into the vinaigrette. Arrange lettuces on plates and spoon the vinaigrette equally over each lettuce half. Top with the radish slices, remaining chopped pistachios.  Add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and some freshly ground pepper and serve.

Adapted from Taste and Technique by Naomi Pomeroy.