Shrimp with Sofrito and Manchego

Shrimp with Sofrito, Peppers and Manchego

1/4 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
20-24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 red onion, cut into wedges, about 1/4 inch wide
2 sweet red peppers, seeded and cut into strips 1/2 inch wide
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and chopped
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 cup Manchego cheese, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

Heat the oil and butter in frying pan until butter foams, then add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp and sauté them over a fairly high heat for about 1 to 2 minutes, until colored. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add onion and peppers to the pan, cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes until softened.

Stir in the tomatoes, cayenne, and paprika and cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to break down. Return the shrimp to the pan and stir together, adding Manchego and sauté for 30 seconds. Season to taste, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Yields 4 servings


Baked Halibut with sides

Baked Halibut with sides

Halibut is not a cheap fish — in fact, here where I live, it goes for upwards of $20/lb. However, it’s well worth it, and the ease in preparation makes this most likely the closest to a Non-Recipe you’re going to get on The Wannabe Gourmet, so… here goes!

1 six-to-eight ounce halibut fillet
1 tbsp butter, cut into small squares
1/4 tsp dill, minced
1/4 tsp fresh finely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp fleur de sel
lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking dish with foil, and spray with a non-stick spray. Place halibut fillet, skin side down, on the foil, and sprinkle dill, pepper, and salt (I recommend fleur de self for the subtleness). Dot with butter and spritz with lemon juice.

Bake for 20-25 minutes (check after 20 minutes — the halibut should flake easily with a fork. Be VERY, VERY careful not to overcook the halibut, as it dries out amazingly quick, and that ruins the flavour.)

Serves 2 (or, 1, if you’re really hungry). This dish multiplies well. Serve alongside oven-roasted frites, and haricot verts with shallots.


Slow Cooker Corned Beef

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

2-3 lb whole corned beef
2 lb white potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 lb carrots, peeled, cubed
1 lb turnips, peeled, cubed
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 1/2 c water

This recipe is very simple:

Trim the fat from your corned beef (if desired). In a large slow cooker, add your vegetables, then your corned beef. Add water, then sprinkle with cracked black pepper. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Remove corned beef and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve with cornbread and veggies. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Boiled Custard with Blueberries

Boiled Custard with Blueberries

2 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp cold water
1 tsp real vanilla extract
2 cups wild blueberries (if frozen, allow to thaw in a colander to prevent the juice from discolouring the custard)

Using a double boiler,  fill the lower pan 1/3 full of water and bring to a simmer. Pour milk into upper pot, and place over boiling water. Heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the milk. Stir in sugar, and continue to stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
Beat the eggs in a bowl until light yellow but not frothy. Slowly dribble in about 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the eggs, stirring with a whisk constantly. Once the eggs have been tempered, pass through a sieve to remove any coagulated egg particles, and then slowly mix the strained egg mixture into the remaining milk in the pan.
Mix together cornstarch and water; slowly stir into custard. Bring custard to a boil, and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Layer in glasses with blueberries.
Serves 2


Gingerbread with citrus sauce

Gingerbread (sauce recipe below)

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup boiling water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cloves

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, again, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in the molasses until incorporated.

Dissolve the baking soda in the boiled water. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cloves. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternately w/ the boiling water. Mix only until blended, making sure not to over mix the batter.

Spoon into a greased 9 inch pan and bake at 350 F 45-55 minutes (until cake tester comes out clean).

Cut into squares and serve warm w/ a lemon sauce (below).

Lemon (or lime, or orange) Sauce:

½ cup sugar
2 tbsp Corn Starch
1 cup water
¼ cup butter
1 tsp lemon peel (finely grated or lime or orange depending upon the citrus you are using just substitute it for the lemon)
¼ cup lemon (or lime, or orange) juice

In small pan bring water to a boil over medium heat. Add the sugar and cornstarch, stirring well to avoid lumps. Reduce heat and stir until mixture is thick and translucent (5 mins.).

Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients until well mixed. Cool slightly and serve over the warm Gingerbread.


Savory Crab Cake

Savory Crab Cake

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
1/4 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1 large egg
1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 lb fresh crab meat
1 cup panko bread crumps
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Vegetable oil spray

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil until it shimmers. Add minced onion and sauté until translucent but not coloured. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and zest. Stir to combine.

When mixture has cooled, place in a mixing bowl and add yogurt, egg, Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Carefully fold in breadcrumbs and crab meat (attempting to keep crab in as large of pieces as possible.

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Using a medium sized scooper (not as large as ice cream, not as small as truffles), dish out individual crab cakes and gently flatten in your palms before placing on cookie sheet. This recipe should make about 24-26 crab cakes of the smaller size.

Spritz the top of each crab cake with cooking spray. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

Serves: 4 with a salad. Also may be served with cocktail sauce, tarter sauce, or a rouille (see below note)

This recipe has been lightened up by the inclusion of non-fat yogurt versus the regular mayonnaise that you would traditionally find in a crab cake recipe, and by baking instead of deep fat frying the cakes.

Note: Rouille Sauce (adapted from Julia Child’s “The Way To Cook”)

6 large cloves of garlic, pureed
1/4 tsp salt
18 large leaves of basil (or 1 1/2 tsp dried savory, oregano or thyme)
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 to 3 tbsp hot milk
3 large egg  yolks
1 roasted red pepper (seeds, core, and stem removed)
3/4 to 1 cup olive oil
5 drops of Tabasco sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

N.B.: If you are making this in a food processor, it is imperative that the garlic be pureed. A food processor chops instead of pureeing, and you’re wanting a smooth sauce. (If you’re using pre-purchased pureed garlic, you may make this in a food processor from this point forward, as long as you are careful to make sure each step is followed as closely as possible for a smooth sauce.)

Puree the garlic in a heavy bowl (or add purchased pureed garlic, if you are familiar with the quality of the product) and add salt, pounding into a paste. Continue pounding while adding the herbs. When well mashed and blended, add panko and milk to form a paste. Add egg yolks, one at a time. Now, using a whisk or electric mixer (hand mixer preferred over stand mixer here so that you keep the sauce in motion), beat for 1-2 minutes until it thickens slightly. Then, start beating in the oil in a series of slow additions (almost dribbles to begin with), as if you were making a mayonnaise. The sauce will be thick and heavy. Season to taste with Tabasco, salt and pepper.

Rouille is perfect for use on crab cakes, in fish soup, on pasta, on potatoes, broiled or grilled fish, in fact, anything that you would sauce, as long as you’re wishing for the flavour of garlic and peppers.