Thursday, March 25, 2010

Peruvi-ish seafood and potatoes

Last weekend I visited Maryland, where my best friend Erin lives with her fiance Nathan. My cousin Dan and his fiance Suzanne also live in Maryland, in Baltimore. I thought that I would make a big giant travel post about my visit, as it was a whirlwind trip with visits to all kinds of great sites and restaurants in the DC and Baltimore areas. There is so much to talk about, though, so I am going to focus on certain experiences in several posts instead.

My BFF lives in the Rockville, MD area. As we were driving around town, I noticed several Peruvian restaurants. We're talking, like, 4 or 5 within a 3-mile radius. I think that St. Louis and it's counties only has 1 Peruvian restaurant total (correct me if I'm wrong?) Anyway, my first night there, when discussing where to go eat, I expressed my interest in the plethora of Peruvian joints, so they took me to La Canela, which got approval up from one of their friends who is from Peru. It was my first experience with Peruvian food besides the No Reservations episode. It was inspiring... unique yet familiar and comfortable-feeling.

Tonight I decided to try to attempt to ad-lib a Peruvian dish based solely on my one visit to one Peruvian restaurant. I didn't look up a recipe... I just knew that I wanted to use certain elements that stood out to me. Potatoes were a must. Lots of dishes on the menu involved potatoes, and it is a huge crop for Peru. A lot of the dishes also had hard boiled eggs. And ohhhh, the ceviche. Now, here in the STL, fresh seafood is not really an option, so I used a frozen seafood mixture, and I cooked it instead of serving it raw (technically ceviche is "cooked" because of the chemical reaction to the acid in the lime juice, but I used actual heat to cook mine). As far as flavors... well this threw me for a loop. The dish I had was similar to a paella with lots of Spanish flavors. My friend's dish seemed to have curry-like qualities. When I looked up Peruvian flavors, I found that due to the location, the cuisine is quite diverse. So... I just kind of winged it. And it worked out well! I'm not claiming this is authentic, but I will claim that it is tasty. And quite easy!

Peruvi-ish Seafood & Potatoes

-1 lb. tiny little potatoes (or larger golden potatoes but into about 2 inch pieces)
-1 lb. frozen seafood mix (mine had shrimp, scallops and calamari... use any combo you want)
-4 garlic cloves, grated with a microplane
-1/2 medium red onion, sliced
-3 teaspoons curry powder (divided)
-2 teaspoons smoked paprika (divided)
-1 teaspoon cumin (divided)
-1 teaspoon oregano (divided)
-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (divided)
-3-4 Tablespoons olive oil (divided)
-juice of 1 lime
-salt & pepper
-hard boiled eggs
-smoked salt for garnish

-Preheat oven to 375ºF. Use your hands to toss together the potatoes, onion, garlic, 2 teaspoons of the curry powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper in a glass casserole dish. Roast for about 30 minutes until potatoes are soft but not mushy.

-Meanwhile, toss the seafood with the lime juice, remaining spices and olive oil, and let marinate while the potatoes are cooking.

-Once the potatoes are cooked, add the seafood to the dish, marinade and all, and stir to combine everything. Cook everything for another 10 minutes or so until the seafood is opaque but not chewy. Remove from oven, serve on greens, garnish with a quartered hard-boiled egg and some smoked salt.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

warm roasted cauliflower salad

Spring is here.... but there is still a chill in the air. Therefore, there is still time for roasting!! Roasting may be one of my favorite cooking methods... the ease, the scents, the brown bits! For some reason I wanted cauliflower. And I always want capers. So... I made this "warm salad," which is a weird term, but describes this dish as best as I can come up with.

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

-1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
-olive oil
-Salt & pepper
-1/2 medium red onion, chopped fine
-a nice fistful of capers (about 1/3 - 1/2 cup)
-small handful of pine nuts (about 1/4 cup)
-juice from 1 lemon

-Toss the cauliflower with about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a pre-heated 375ºF oven for about 30-40 minutes, stirring a couple times throughout, until there are some nice golden-brown spots and the florets are soft but not mushy.
-While cauliflower is still hot, toss in the onion, capers pine nuts and lemon juice. Add More olive oil, salt and pepper to taste (I added about 1 more Tablespoon of olive oil). Serve warm.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Avocado Crab Salad

Spring has sprung. And it's my birthday week, which means much splurging and eating out. So, the Sunday prior, I decided to make something light and colorful. Avocados were on sale, so I came up with this salad, which could also be used as a salsa (this recipe makes quite a bit...). Richness from the avocados and crab, a bit of spice from the pepper and hot sauce, crunch from the bell pepper, bright freshness from the lime & cilantro... a truly good salad that I will be making again.

Avocado Crab Salad

-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
-1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
-1 small red onion, chopped
-3 ripe avocados, cubed
-juice of 2 limes
-1 8 oz. tub of crab claw meat
-2-3 Tablespoons Tapatillo hot sauce (or your favorite Mexican hot sauce)
-1-2 teaspoons cumin
-handful of fresh cilantro, chopped fine
-salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together. Serve over olive oil-dressed salad greens with crunchy baked corn tortilla strips. Or serve with tortilla chips as a salsa.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Iron Stef Elsewhere

Just in case you don't follow me on twitter, here are some other projects I have been working on/involved in recently....

• I've mentioned Food Blog Mafia. Well a couple of weeks ago, I was given some Balut, and coerced Kelly's fiance Jerad into trying them with me. Kelly took video... here is the post on the Food Blog Mafia Blog. So very Andrew Zimmern.

• Also, in Mafia news, my friend Corey Woodruff took some awesome pictures of us! Check out his blog post about the shoot. It's so fantastic to bad-ass professional photos on our about page.

• I also had the pleasure to attend this years second Church of Burger meet-up. The Church of Burger is the brainchild of blogger Andrew Veety. He polled St. Louisans to see what their favorite burger was in town, and every month of 2010, he and his clergy will visit one of the places and try the burger and judge it. Fun, right? But controversy broke out over some of the negative tweets! Is it fair to publicly review a restaurant negatively? My fellow mafia member Kelli covered the controversy in this post. What do you think? Weigh in with a comment! For more insight and info on the drama, the Riverfront Times' Robin Wheeler also wrote a good article with additional comments from the parties involved.

• And, because I am ridiculously addicted to the Internet, I started yet another blog... this one is for all my other hobbies outside of food, called Daydream Believer.

• And you didn't forget about Skank Ham, did you? :)