Out to Lunch and Out to Sea

August 24 – August 30, 2020

Tuesday:                   Grilled Hot Dogs with Beans and Cole Slaw

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Watermelon, Ricotta Salata and Basil Canapes

Thursday:                 Crudités with Green Goddess Dip /Leftovers

Friday:                       Creole Shrimp on Fresh Creamed Corn

This hot dog appetizer – grilled sliced wieners with Dijon mustard was a staple at Dr. Fred and Jean Duffy’s – it is irrisistable and brings back a lot of memories

Saturday:                  Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

                                                August 31 – September 6, 2020

Wednesday:             Penne with Sauce of Raw Tomatoes, Olives, Capers and  Anchovies

Friday:                      Pan-Grilled Swordfish Steaks with Warm Salmoriglio and Capers

I’ve been pondering how to explain the gap between our last post and this one (the last was August 26th, today is September 11th – which is 2 weeks and three days, unless you live in Margaritaville where it is pretty much the same day all year long).  Kidnapping by aliens was implausible and faking an illness is simply out of bounds during the pandemic.  “Out to lunch” is the best diagnosis

So, here’s the deal.  At my time of life, even as I slow down, time somehow speeds up.  Once, I was on a catamaran off the coast of Florida.  I was not aware of how fast we were sailing – the pontoons smooth out that bicycle on cobblestones effect and occasional big thump that speedboats give you – until I spotted a coconut floating in the ocean and moved to the front of the catamaran to pick it up, by which time it was half a football field behind us.  Well, that’s what happened with last week. 

So we’ll take a look at the better meals from the last two weeks and, by way of atonement, I will offer two absolutely three-star Michelin recipes.

The grilled hot dogs on the 25th were natural casing wieners from Wagner’s Market in Allison Park and, served on a lightly toasted bun with relish, mustard, onions and a pickle took SWMBO and me out to the ballpark where we’re not allowed to be this season.  Some of the Pirates are convinced that this is why their record is so bad (although better than the Rangers).  Anyone who puts ketchup on a hot dog – you know who you are, UFR – is allowed, but not welcome, to do so.

The Green Goddess dip was spectacular for crudités and crackers and probably would work on old baseball mitts.  You can find a recipe for it somewhere on the NYT website – it was featured as one of the recipes offered in the “At Home” section a few weeks ago.

The tomato soup we now make – adapted from Ree Drummond – is even more comforting than the Campbell’s my mother used to serve to us, along with grilled cheese, when we came home from grade school for lunch.  (No one born after the 50’s has had the experience of going home for lunch, I think.)  Ree uses a lot of sugar – we use a little – to cut the acidic taste of the tomatoes and enhance the creaminess.

Marcella Hazan’s pasta with raw tomatoes, olives, capers and anchovies is as deceptively full-flavored as all of her simple sauces, including the scallion, cherry tomato and chili pepper sauce we had this week.  Maybe we’ll share them both with you next week.

And I can never say enough about our barbecued chicken – although some friends and relatives may think so. 

Which brings us to the two “keepers” for this week, both involving seafood.

Creole Shrimp on Fresh Creamed Corn. Any recipe using sweet corn from Pennsylvania at this time of year (Jersey corn comes in sooner) is fine by me.  And usually, we just boil or grill the ears or use them in a salad.  But this corn-forward preparation topped by cajun-spiced shrimp will make even Louisianans put their grits back into the cupboard.  And if you don’t have time to make the creamed corn, then just boil some while the shrimp are cooking.

The swordfish with salmoriglio sauce is beyond tasty – it’s one of those combinations that make you slow down to savor each bite.  It’s another recipe from the great Marcella Hazan and, while perfect for swordfish, would work on any dense fish with a mild flavor.

I’d head to Penn Avenue Fish Company as soon as you write down the list of ingredients for the recipes below.

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Pan-Grilled Swordfish Steaks with Warm Salmoriglio and Capers

(from Marcella Cucina – Marcella Hazan)

Salmoriglio – a blend of olive oil, lemon juice and oregano – is brushed on grilled swordfish in Sicily.  You can do this in Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, Annapolis, Cape Cod or Philadelphia, as well.

Timing:                                  20 minutes or so

Ingredients:

½ – ¾ lb. of swordfish steak per diner

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4 garlic cloves mashed and then peeled (we grated ½ clove)

Oregano – 2 teaspoons of fresh or 1 of dried (we used dried)

¼ extra-virgin olive oil

Salt

Ground Black Pepper

1 tablespoon chopped capers

Prep:

Take swordfish out of refrigerator at least ½ hour before cooking

Measure out other ingredients

Make the salmoriglio:

Put the lemon juice, garlic, some salt, a good amount of black pepper and oregano into a bowl and beat with a fork until the salt dissolves. 

Add the olive oil in a slow trickle while beating with a fork, as if you were making mayonnaise.

Prepare a very warm platter by letting hot tap water sit in it.

Cook:

Heat a cast-iron skillet or griddle on medium-high.  Give it five minutes or so – you are going to put the swordfish into it and want it to sizzle, immediately.

Lay in the swordfish steaks and, as soon as they have formed a thin, dark crust, turn them over and get a crust on the other side.  Remove to a warm plate.

Into a regular skillet that can hold the swordfish without having to overlap the pieces, put the swordfish and pour the salmoriglio mixture over the pieces.  Turn the heat to high and cook for 60-90 seconds, turning the steaks half-way through. 

Turn off the heat or move the pan and add the capers.

Transfer the swordfish and the sauce to a very warm platter and serve immediately.

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Creole Shrimp on Fresh Creamed Corn

(adapted from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 20, 2020)

Timing:                                             

30 minutes, provided you have the shrimp thawed out, peeled and deveined already.

Ingredients:                                Serves 4-6

7 ears of shucked sweet corn

1 cup milk

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter, divided (1 ½ tablespoon and ½ tablespoon)

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided ¼  teaspoon and ½ teaspoon)

1 pound raw shrimp (13-15), peeled and deveined, tails-on (you can buy shrimp this way and, while it is more expensive, the peeling and deveining is incredibly time-consuming and you have better things to do).

1 teaspoon creole seasoning (we used Emeril’s “Cajun Seasoning”)

¾ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

A sprig or three of thyme leaves

5 garlic cloves, minced (we used one large clove, minced)

½ cup sliced scallions

¼ cup white wine or chicken stock

Prep:

Assemble all ingredients, cut tomatoes, strip thyme leaves into a bowl, mince the garlic, measure out the white wine or chicken stock, the milk, the cream, the cornstarch, and the butter, the seasonings, and slice the scallions.

Cook the Creamed Corn:

Cut the kernels from the cobs and reserve the cobs.  You should have 3-4 cups.  Reserve ½ cup for garnish.  Pulse the remaining kernels in a food processor until almost creamy – 6 times or so.

Now, using the dull side of a knife, scrape the milk and pulp from the cobs into a medium saucepan.  Add the processed kernels, milk, cream and cornstarch and bring to a simmer over medium, stirring often – you don’t want anything to burn on the bottom of the pan.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring from time to time, until thickened – maybe 5 minutes.  Stir in 1 ½ tablespoons of butter and 1/3 teaspoon of salt.  Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.

Cook the Shrimp:

In a large bowl, mix the shrimp with the Creole seasoning, paprika and pepper until fairly evenly coated.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high, then add the oil and the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter.  Once the butter melts and begins to bubble, add the shrimp and do not disturb for 1 minute.  Now add the tomatoes, thyme, garlic and another ½ teaspoon of salt.  Cook, stirring from time to time, for another 3 minutes.  Now add the green onions and the reserved ½ cup of corn and cook, stirring from time to time, until the shrimp are done – maybe 90 seconds.  Now add the wine or stock and cook, stirring and scraping the pan for about 30 seconds to loosen up any brown bits.

Fill shallow bowls with the creamed corn, top with the shrimp mixture and serve.