Thursday, May 29, 2008

Grilled Steelhead Trout Vinaigrette

Want something simple for supper?

Something you don’t have to think twice about doing? Can do with your eyes closed?

It’s this. Could not be easier.

Could not taste any better.

And it’s good for you.

Eat your fish.

Grilled Steelhead Trout Vinaigrette

2 good sized pieces steelhead trout fillets, skin on
Season with a bit of coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Grill for seven minutes skin side down and flip over and grill for 2 minutes.
These were fat pieces, therefore the longer grilling time.
When you bring the trout in, flip it over and pull the skin off.

3 tbsp champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons wild honey
1/2 cup fruity olive oil

Combine in a small jar and shake to combine.

When ready to serve dinner, put a serving of fresh arugula on the plate and top with the grilled trout. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of the vinaigrette over and serve.

Serves 2.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Poached Shrimp Dumplings with Sesame Broccoli Slaw

What’s in a name?

What would you call something that puts orangey shrimp with toasted sesame oil and garlic and ginger in a wonton skin, seal it up and poach it in a seafood stock?

Shrimp Stuffed Wontons?

Poached Shrimp Dumplings?

That might work.

Either one would.

So, if you are of a mind to have Shrimp Stuffed Wontons on a weeknight, knock yourself out. If you have company, Poached Shrimp Dumplings.

Whatever floats your boat.

Be prepared.

Once you make these you won’t care what they’re called. You’ll just want more.

Thanks to Emeril for the inspiration.

Poached Shrimp Dumplings with Sesame Broccoli Slaw
a good swirl extra virgin olive oil
½ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined and cut in small pieces
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp grated orange peel
Tsp honey
3 tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 fat garlic cloves, peeled and minced
½ sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 good dash fish sauce
1 good dash Worcestershire sauce
3 green onions, chopped
20 wonton skins
4 cups seafood stock
1 lime
Freshly ground black pepper
Coarse salt

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When shimmering, add the shrimp and stir-fry for one minute. Add Vidalia onion, garlic and ginger and stir fry for another minutes. Stir in chopped green onions and cook one minute and remove from heat.

Put this in a bowl. Add tbsp sesame oil, almonds, egg, soy sauce, Worcestershire, orange zest, cayenne, dash of fish sauce, a tsp honey, freshly ground black pepper. Stir well.
This should make about 2 cups.

Put wonton skins on counter and brush top side with a bit of water. Put tbsp filling in middle of each wonton. Bring corners up to center, twist and seal the edges with water.

Combine the seafood stock with tbsp sesame oil in large saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Slip the filled wontons into stock, reduce to simmer and poach til tender, usually takes about four minutes.

Remove to plate. Do this in a couple of batches.

Sesame Broccoli Slaw

1 pkg broccoli slaw,
2 tbsp Toasted sesame oil,
Tsp honey,
1 tbsp rice vinegar,
Dash fish sauce

Combine dressing ingredients and pour over the slaw. TOO easy but so good.

Serves 4.
This is my 100th post on Feeding Groom. Who knew I had so much to say and much more to share!!! Stay tuned!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cold Zucchini Cucumber Soup

This is the beginning of a major batch of cool soup.

Summer may officially be a month away, but it’s in full swing here at the Red Brick Ranchero.

Tomato plants have blossoms, basil is in full swing.

Mint is in abundance to go in sun tea. It’s getting hot and we love it.

Hot times mean cold soup around here. It’s Groom’s specialty. And he has got this one down to a fine art.

Cool zucchini and cucumbers. Jalapeno pepper…just a touch. Sweet Vidalia onion. A dollop of crème fraiche.

It’s " too good."

Cold Zucchini Cucumber Soup
Adapted from a recipe in Gourmet Magazine

1 lb zucchini, chopped
¾ lb seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped about 2 cups
½ cup chopped Vidalia onion
¼ cup Champagne vinegar
¼ cup water
1 tsp chopped fresh jalapeno
Good pinch salt
1 tsp ground coriander
½ cup crème fraiche

Puree zucchini, cucumber, onion, vinegar, water, jalapeno, salt and ½ tsp ground coriander in blender until very smooth.

Whisk remaining ½ tsp ground coriander into crème fraiche.

Serve soup topped with seasoned crème fraiche.

Makes about 4 cups.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nashville One Pan Fudge Cake

This recipe comes from the original Junior League of Nashville cookbook called Nashville Seasons.
Originally published in 1964, this is a treasure trove of special Southern recipes.

One Pan Fudge Cake is one of them. Dark, chocolaty, nutty and sweet. Something you should make and keep on the counter top in the kitchen, just in case you need something sweet.

Don’t mess with the ingredients.

Don’t get all chocolate snob on me here.

It says one and one half squares Bakers unsweetened chocolate for a reason.

If you use anything else, you won’t have a One Pan Fudge Cake.

Nashville One Pan Fudge Cake

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1-½ squares Baker’s unsweetened chocolate
1 pinch salt
¾ cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts, your choice

Preheat oven to 325.

Melt butter, sugar and chocolate together. Sift flour and baking powder into the melted chocolate mixture. Add eggs vanilla, nuts and salt. Blend and pour into well greased 8x8 baking pan.

Bake for 35 minutes exactly. Cut into squares while hot. Don’t remove from pan until cooled.

Makes 12 pieces.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fennel and Olive Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

Fennel is so good this time of year.

So sweet.

Just out there looking for the right partner to show it off.

Enter the olive.

Salty and spunky. Full of flavor.

Get these two together in a salad and you have a marriage made in heaven.

Cut fennel into matchstick pieces, mix it with pitted green Picholine and black Nicoise olives and toss with a sweet/garlicky sherry vinaigrette, you have got something here.

Try this with bone in pork chops or chicken, seasoned with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a bit of coarse salt, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of ground fennel, grilled to perfection.

Fennel and Olive Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette
Adapted from an old Bon Appetit recipe

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp aged sherry vinaigrette
1 tsp garlic confit
½ cup mixed pitted Picholine and Nicoise olives
1 small fennel bulb, sliced into matchsticks
A handful of mixed baby greens

Whisk oil and vinegar together in small bowl. Add garlic confit, squish it against the side of the bowl to smash, and whisk til blended. Season with a bit of coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Put greens, fennel and olives in large bowl. Add enough dressing to lightly coat the salad. Toss well and adjust seasoning.

Serves 3.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Frank's Grouper with Mango Salsa

Our good friend, Frank, he of the to die for short rib post, does a mean grouper. He does it so well, it’s all you want to eat for the rest of your life.

Or at least you think so while you’re eating it.

The original recipe was created by Frank and his sister in law, Margaret, on a family trip to Florida where the weather was rainy,the children were wild and grouper was plentiful. Late one evening while enjoying libations, they discovered they were starving and the following recipe was born.

Grouper fillets coated in crushed peanuts and garlicky bagel chips sautéed til golden brown on both sides and run in the oven for 10 minutes to cook to perfection, then topped with a bright mango, yellow pepper salsa. What a combination.

Final pics of this dish exist but I can’t get to them. So you’ll have to put up with teaser photos and imagine how beautiful it was…nutty brown with bright yellows and oranges on top of the perfectly cooked fish.

Growing up, my mother always said you should leave a little bit on your plate to be polite.

Not with this dish.


Won’t happen.

Frank’s Grouper with Mango Salsa

8 good sized grouper fillets, seasoned well with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, beaten with a bit of milk…enough to coat sides of the grouper
A cup of all purpose flour
Extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces dry roasted Spanish Red Peanuts
½ bag New York Style garlic flavored bagel chips

Preheat the oven to 375.

Chop the peanuts and the garlic chips in a food processor well mixed.

Put in large roasting pan.

Put several large oven proof skillets on stove over medium-medium high heat. Swirl extra virgin olive oil in each pan and add large pat of butter.

While that melts, dredge the grouper in the flour, egg mix and the peanut mix on both sides. Put grouper in the pan as you finish and cook til golden brown on both sides. Put skillets in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Top with mango salsa and serve.

Serves 8.

Mango Salsa

2 large mangos, peeled and chopped
1 large yellow pepper, chopped
1 large orange pepper, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 fat garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix and let sit and think while you do the grouper.

Makes 2 cups.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chicken Lettuce Wraps...Unwrapped

Reality is hard to get used to.


Ten days at the beach and back to work, dinner, routines.

Still opting for easy, so tonight was back to basics.

Red and orange bells, garlic, fresh ginger, Vidalia onions.

Throw in some quickly sautéed (aka stir fried) thinly sliced chicken breasts, a bit of hoisin sauce and seasoned rice vinegar, a bloop of crushed red hot chili pepper and a cool head of butter lettuce, just made to hold all the ingredients and to be eaten by hand.

Or on a plate with a fork.

That’s up to you.

Get creative.

Wrap ingredients, unwrapped.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps....Unwrapped

A couple of good swirls peanut oil
½ to ¾ pound very thinly sliced boneless chicken breasts
4 fat cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
1 sweet yellow onions, sliced thin
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
Very good pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
One good tbsp hoisin sauce
One good splash tamari sauce
A couple of splashes of seasoned rice vinegar
1 head fresh butter lettuce, separated into whole leaves for wraps

Heat peanut oil in cast iron skillet over moderate-high heat. Add onions, peppers and cook down til soft and turning brown. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, ginger and cook til you can really smell the garlic.

Remove from pan, add a bit more peanut oil, moderate the heat and add the chicken cooking quickly. Add the hoisin and the vinegar and a good splash of tamari sauce and cook down til chicken is done. Doesn’t take long.

Usually I put the chicken in one bowl and the pepper mix in another and serve with the lettuce leaves.

Or you can plate with the lettuce and the chicken on the side if you want.

Serves 3.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Grilled Lamb Chops with Salsa Tapenade

We’re back.

Vacation was filled with good food, friends and family.

It was better than ever.

Coming home to a gorgeous Middle Tennessee spring with summer on the way was even better.

We’re taking a brief respite from seafood.

For about a day.

But what a way to take a break by having some grilled lamb chops, fresh asparagus and a great salsa to top the chops, using my homemade Tapenade with some happy additions.

It’s good to be home.

Salsa Tapenade

2 tbsp black olive Tapenade*
½ cup roasted red bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tbsp capers
A good splash of balsamic vinegar
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped

Makes about ¾ cup.
Combine and serve on top of the grilled chops.

The Chops
4 good sized lamb chops, seasoned with a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grill 4 minutes per side.
Serves 3.

Black Olive Tapenade

¼ cup toasted pine nuts
1-¼ cup pitted Nicoise olives
1 tbsp garlic confit (or 4 fat garlic cloves, peeled)
4 anchovy fillets
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Put pine nuts, olives, garlic, anchovies and olive oil in food processor and pulse off and on til thick but not mush. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

Makes about 1-½ cups. Keep top covered with olive oil and this will last indefinitely in the refrigerator.
Yes, this appeared several weeks ago. Versatility is its middle name!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mary Herbert's Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

We are still in the celebratory mode here at the beach.

All Groom wanted for his birthday was one of Mary Herbert’s chocolate cakes.

And this one is a winner.

Easy to bake in a kitchen Herbs has never seen before and the end result is one of those cakes we’ll talk about in the years to come.

It’s the kind of cake that gets better with time and smaller with time, because someone’s mother keeps going past it and straightening up the sides. It’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, morning snack, midnight snack, come up from the beach because you think no one else will be up in the kitchen eating the cake but they are kind of snack. Or just dessert.

Be prepared. This is a very thin batter but rises to heights unachieved by many cakes. It’s moist, deep chocolate flavor gets better as it ages. It truly is best made a day before you serve it.
If it lasts that long!

Mary Herbert’s Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


2-½ cups all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1-1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2-¼ tsp baking powder
2-¼ tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1-½ cups whole milk
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp real vanilla extract
1-½ cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease three 9-inch round cake pans. Cut three pieces parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pans, place in pans and spray with vegetable spray, like Pam.

Combine flour, sugar, soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Blend well with electric mixer on low speed. While on low, add eggs one at a time until mixed well. Slowly add milk, oil, vanilla and put mixer on medium and blend well. Put speed on low and add boiling water in slow stream.

When combined, pour into the prepared cake pans and bake 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

Cool then remove from the pan. You can wrap these individually in saran wrap and freeze for later use.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

8 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/3 cup whole milk
2 tsp real vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt

Place butter and the cocoa powder in large bowl. Blend on low with electric mixer til soft and well combined. That takes about 30 seconds. Stop mixer. Put the confectioner's sugar, milk, vanilla, salt in bowl and beat with mixer on low speed til the frosting lightens and is fluffy. Add more milk if it’s too thick and more confectioner’s sugar if too thin.

Makes enough to frost a 3 layer cake.

The cake will serve 16. Or one person, who shall remain nameless, 6 times, and 10 others.

Thanks to Mark for the "rc" decor on top of the cake!


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Where the Group Sallies Forth to Celebrate at Avenue Sea

Birthdays come and birthdays go. Some celebrated with extreme style and others take on no special meaning.

Not so with Groom’s.

Every year we are at the beach with a dear group of people and every year we celebrate his day in style.

This year, the celebration took place on my dad’s birthday as well.

So our celebration doubled in meaning.

And style.

Avenue Sea is a gem in the land of fried seafood.

It’s one of those places that you want to tell people about and then again you want to keep it to yourself. But not so much that no one will go there and not so much that everyone will.

Chefs David and Ryanne Carrier direct this wonderful place located in the Gibson Inn in Apalachicola, Florida. A large dining room with creamy walls and dark wood flooring, it’s the perfect room to enjoy food prepared by these talented chefs. David Carrier was chosen by Thomas Keller to work at French Laundry after he graduated from the French Culinary Institute. After several years he moved to Illinois and then, with his wife, Ryanne, a noted pastry Chef in Chicago, to Apalachicola to take over the dining room at the Gibson Inn.

And take it over they did.

Concentrating on locally grown ingredients these two talented people have created one of the best dining experiences you will ever have. They state on the menu that “all of our food is prepared a la minute. Please take advantage of the time spent preparing your food to enjoy those who are in your company.”

Not a problem.

I took pictures finally at dessert. I was too busy enjoying the seven course tasting menu and a delicious Hubert Brochard Sancerre.

This was our second visit to Avenue Sea. It won’t be our last.

Happy Birthday, boys.

Avenue Sea Seven Course Tasting Menu

Sunchoke Veloute with Marjoram and Curry Scented Crème Fraiche..served warm in espresso cups, this was at once buttery, earthy and rich.

Sashimi of Cobia with Bok Choy and Thai Peppercorns…three diamonds of fresh cobia, a fish that is sweet and lemony, on top of shredded bok choy and fleur de sel flavored with seasoned rice vinegar and florally Thai peppercorns…like nothing I’ve ever tasted before.

Olive Oil Poached Oysters with Garlic, Nicoise Olives and Sourdough Crisp Topped with Shaved Fennel…tiny poached oysters, roasted garlic and Nicoise olives in a warm, fruity olive oil..the fennel stirred in at the last minute.. The sweet crunch of the fennel just the perfect touch.

Roasted Alligator Harbor Clams with Roasted Garlic, Chorizo and Preserved Lemon..face down in this one, the clams tiny and sweet, the chorizo hot and spicy and the preserved lemons..ohhhh mama.

Sweet Grass Dairy Chevre Agnolloti with Golden and Red Beets and Chervil…tiny puffs of fresh pasta filled with creamy chevre on top of the roasted golden beets and a red beet reduction topped with chevre was sheer bliss.

Roasted Rib Eye with Young Onion, Pomme de Terre Puree and Sauce Bordelaise..a beautifully braised young onion on the side of slices of perfectly roasted rib eye that melted in your mouth on top of a creamy buttery puree of potatoes..the bordelaise rich and brown.

Soft Shell Crab atop Creamy White Grits with Country Ham and Sauteed Kale..just when you think you're done, out comes the tiniest soft shell crab perfectly cooked served with the most familiar ingredients.

Cheese course

Sweet Grass Dairy Lumiere..with ash..creamy from Thomasville, Georgia
Sweet Grass Dairy Green Hill Cow, triple cream from Thomasville, Georgia
Berthaut Epoisse, Washed Rind Cow from Burgundy France stinky stinky cheese!No gray area like it or you hate it.
Haystack Mountain Queso de Mano Goat Cheese from Colorado.. A firm cheese, could be grated..parmesan like..
Roncal Sheep Valle de Roncal Spain..Manchego in the house
Cabrales Sheep and Cow from Asturia the blue family
Shropshire Blue from Nottingham England…
All served with toasted pecans, sliced apple and pear.

Then we died and went to heaven with the desserts.

Pistachio Mousse Crepes with Strawberry Compote..sugared berries along the side of small sweet crepes filled with creamy pistachio mousse

Panna Cotta, Apalachicola Elderberry Gelee, Elderberry Sorbet, Linzer Cookies..creamy custardy panna cotta topped with the gelee, sorbet on the top side, tiny linzer cookie..fabulous flavors .

Milk Chocolate Souffle Tart with Salted Caramel, Milk Chocolate, Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream..with candle aflame for the birthday boy…nothing like it in the world.

Apalachicola River Tupelo Honey Pecan Baklava with English Style Iced Tea and a Pecan Cream..
Sweet Iced tea with a frothy nutty cream on top to sip while eating the sweet baklava.

Thank God his birthday comes just once a year!


Friday, May 2, 2008

Soft Shell Crab Meuniere

It’s been said that whoever ate the first oyster had to be incredibly hungry. Same goes for the one who ate the first soft shell crab.

I’ve had fried soft shell crabs with coleslaw before, but I wanted to do something a little different and not fried. A quick search on Epicurious gave us direction. And our version below worked beautifully.

After cleaning the crabs, we soaked them in milk for about five minutes. Then they’re put into the hot clarified butter and cooked til they turn this fabulous reddish brown.

Then take them out of the pan and make a fast Meuniere sauce and you are good to go!

Soft Shell Crab Meuniere
adapted from an recipe

12 small live soft shell crabs, cleaned
2 cups milk
Pinch cayenne
2 cups white cornmeal
2 sticks unsalted butter, clarified
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 lemons
Fresh chopped cilantro, between a quarter to a half cup
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

To clarify the 2 sticks of butter, put in saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat and let sit til milk solids sink to bottom . Pour off butter into measuring cup, leaving milk solids in bottom of pan.

Put crabs in large pyrex lasagna pan and pour milk over. Turn to coat with milk and add more if you need it.
Let sit and soak for five minutes.

Put cornmeal and cayenne in Ziploc bag and shake to mix.

Heat clarified butter in two large skillets over medium - medium high heat.

Dredge the crab in the cornmeal mix, shake off excess and put in hot butter. Cook on both sides til the crab turns a reddish golden brown.

Remove from skillets and add the 4 tbsp butter to one of the pans. Melt til the butter starts smelling nutty and remove from heat. Squeeze lemon juice directly into pan and swirl. Add chopped cilantro and drizzle crabs with the sauce and serve.

Serves 6


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Shrimp Salad

What are the basics of beach vacations?

Sand, pelicans, sleeping late, eating later, pool volleyball showing off your best Esther Williams moves.

Then there’s shrimp.

You get to the beach .. You get to your seafood guy before he closes.

Cap’n Doug has the best fresh seafood in this part of the world.

Three pounds of beautiful extra large shrimp steamed with lemon and cayenne and salt…so good. Perfect dinner after 10 hours in the car.

The leftovers became another beach tradition.

Shrimp Salad.

Enter Nanny, the shrimp salad master to “whomp” up lunch.

And it was terrific. Cold shrimp, hard boiled eggs, sweet paprika, a hint of cayenne and horseradish in a spicy mayo dressing on top of ice cold romaine lettuce.

It’s gonna be a great vacation!

Nanny’s Shrimp Salad

½ pound cooked extra large shrimp, peeled and cut into three pieces
2 eggs, hardboiled, quartered and quartered again
1/2-1 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
3 little center stalks of celery, diced
1 green onion, diced (use up to the half of the green)
1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp horseradish sauce
Dash of cayenne pepper
A squeeze of lemon juice

Combine and serve on romaine lettuce leaves.

Should serve three but two people ate it all and the third person had to eat a smoked turkey sandwich.