Lobster Bisque

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 40 MINS

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This is the quintessential lobster bisque soup you will find in most fine dining establishments but it’s not as fussy to make as it sounds. It’s super simple to make and you can easily sub seafood stock for lobster stock. When we have lobster for a holiday meal, I save the shells, the little legs and tails and freeze to make lobster stock. Don’t have lobster meat or shells on hand? Consider making the same recipe using shrimp and shrimp shells.

INGREDIENTS

* 3 Tbsp. butter
* 1 cup yellow onions, chopped
* 1 medium carrot, chopped
* 1 medium stalk celery, chopped
* 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
* 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
* 3 Tbsp. flour
* 2 cups seafood or lobster stock
* 1 cup dry white wine
* 1/4 cup cognac, brandy or sherry
* 12-16 oz lobster meat, chopped
* 1 tsp. smoked paprika
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
* 1/4 tsp nutmeg
* 1/4 tsp. cayenne or more to taste
* 1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream
* salt and freshly-ground black pepper
* 1-2 sprigs flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a large pot melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and tomato paste, and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are cooked and translucent.
2. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and mix well and cook for 1 minute.
3. Add the seafood stock, white wine, cognac, lobster meat, paprika, bay leaf, thyme, nutmeg, cayenne, and stir to combine.
4. Simmer for 25-30 minutes over medium-low heat, be sure to stir a several times to prevent the bottom from burning.
5. Remove the bay leaf and sprig of thyme.
6. Remove a couple of small pieces of lobster, chop and set aside for garnish, optional.
7. Pour in the heavy cream, season to taste with salt and pepper and stir.
8. Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or pour, in batches, in to an high speed blender. Blend for 20-30 seconds and until smooth.
9. Pour into bowls and garnish with reserved, chopped lobster and parsley, optional.

NOTES

Grilled Clams with Poblano Pepper and Roasted Corn Relish

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 4-8 MINS

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This dish is as gorgeous to look at as delicious to eat and it makes an impressive and beautiful presentation. Farm raised clams are available year-round and you can find wild clams from October through June.
I have tried a few different versions of this recipe. I removed several steps and simplified the ingredients to make my version super simple.

INGREDIENTS

* 3-4 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
* ½ cup onion, any type, chopped
* 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped, seeds removed

* 2 medium poblano peppers, chopped, seeds removed 

* 1-14 ounce can premium sweet corn, drained
* 1/4 cup cider vinegar or more to taste

* 2 tablespoons honey
* 1-2 Tbsps olive oil
* 1 lime, 1/2 for juice and half cut into wedges for serving
3-4 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the grill to high.

1. While the grill heats up, heat the oil in a medium sized pan over medium high.

2. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until translucent about 6–7 minutes.

3. Add in the cider vinegar and mix well.

4. Add in the red and poblano peppers and sauté for another 10 minutes.

5. Add the corn and mix well.

6. Turn the stove off and add the honey. Squirt on the juice from half the lime and mix to incorporate. Set aside

7. The grill should be hot by now. Put the clams directly on the grill grates or a grill pan. Grill undisturbed for 4-8 minutes or until they open. Carefully place them onto a serving platter. Be careful not to spill the clam liquer. Discard any clams that do not open.

8. Spoon the corn and pepper relish all over the clouds. Sprinkle additional salt and pepper to taste and erve with lime wedges.

NOTES

You can use fresh corn but I substitute a 1-14oz can of good quality sweet corn for 2 cups fresh corn when I am running short on time which is almost always.

Pan Roasted Miso-Butter Sea Bass

YIELDS | 2 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 5 MINS

COOK TIME | 10 MINS

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This fish melts in your mouth and the sauce is a savory, decadent compliment to the dish and keeps the fish moist and bursting with rich, warm umami flavors. Plus it only takes a few minutes to put together thanks to the few ingredients. Serve it with simple stir fried vegetables or cauliflower stir fried Kimchi. ⁠

In a small bowl, combine the miso, butter, 1 Tbsp of the soy sauce and whisk until creamy.

Heat a pan large enough to not crowd the fish, over medium high heat, add the oil when the pan is hot.

Spread 1/2 the miso butter mixture on both sides of the fish and sprinkle with kosher salt and a couple of cranks of freshly ground pepper.

Place the fish in the hot pan with oil and cook over medium high. Cook the fish for 4-5 minutes and until the fish is golden brown. Flip the fish snd cook for 3 more minutes.

Remove the fish and place on a platter. Be careful not to over cook the fish as it will continue to cook.

INGREDIENTS

* 2  4-6oz pieces skinless, sea bass or other meaty, white fish
* 2 Tbsps butter, room temperature
* 2 Tbsps white miso
* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1 -2 Tbsp neutral oil such as Grapeseed or vegetable, etc
* 2 Tbsps soy sauce
* 1 small bunch chives, chopped for garnish optional

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a small bowl, combine the miso, butter, 1 Tbsp of the soy sauce and whisk until creamy.

2. Heat a pan large enough to not crowd the fish, over medium-low heat, add the oil when the pan is hot.

3. Spread 1/2 the miso butter mixture on both sides of the fish and sprinkle with kosher salt and a couple of cranks of freshly ground pepper.

4. Place the fish in the hot pan with oil and cook over medium-low. Cook the fish for 4-5 minutes and until the fish is golden brown. Flip the fish and cook for 3 more minutes.

5. Remove the fish, place on a platter and sprinkle with additional salt and fresh pepper.

NOTES

Be careful not to over cook the fish as it will continue to cook when it is removed from the pan.

Tomato Bread with Smoked Olive Oil-Lemon Ricotta and Sardines

YIELDS | 4-6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 15 MINS

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My son, Adam, and I created this recipe together. It is so easy to make yet it delivers a complex layers of flavors. The smoked olive oil gives the creamy ricotta an earthy flavor and pairs perfectly with the sardines. The lemon brightens the entire dish and is a delightful compliment to the overall umami profile. This tomato bread bursts with flavor. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself making it over and over again.

INGREDIENTS

* 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
* 2 Tbsps smoked olive oil plus more to taste
* 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
* 2- plump garlic cloves, peeled
* 1-2 large, fresh ripe tomatoes, halved
* 1- large loaf crusty bread, such as a French boule or baguette
* 1-tin, 3.735 oz skinless, boneless sardines, packed in olive oil
* 2 Tbsps room temperature butter or olive oil to brush onto the bread
* One small bunch chives, chopped for garnish, optional
* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices. Spread each side with butter or olive oil and grill or toast in the oven until golden brown, set aside.

2. Add the ricotta, lemon zest and juice to a food processor or high powered blender. Turn the machine on low to medium and slowly drizzle in 2 Tbsp smoked olive oil and blend until the mixture has a silky texture. Add more smoked olive oil as needed.

3. Pour mixture into a small bowl and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Set aside.

4. Rub the fresh garlic on to each side of the toasted bread.

5. Generously rub each side of the toasted bread with the tomato. Be sure to get the tomato into every nook and cranny.

6. Top tomato toast with the heaping Tbsp of the creamy ricotta-Lemon mixture.

7. Top each slice with 2 to 3 sardines, sprinkle with additional kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and garnish with chopped chives, optional.

NOTES

Use any leftover ricotta mixture to mix into mashed potatoes or stir into rice for a savory side dish. Top grilled chicken or fish with it and garnish with chives or another favorite herb.

Escargot

YIELDS | 2-4 APPETIZER SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 6-10X MINS

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As a small child, I fondly remember eating snails. These weren’t any average mollusks mind you, these escargot, were drenched in a garlicky, buttery sauce and dotted with parsley and shallot. This recipe is authentically French and designed for you to experience this dish the same way the French have been making escargot for centuries. Toasted, buttery baguettes and a good white wine are a must.

INGREDIENTS

* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
* 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened plus more to butter baguettes
* 2 teaspoons shallot, minced
* 2 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced plus more for garnish
* Freshly ground pepper
* 1 tablespoon dry sherry or white wine
* 12 snails, see notes
* 1 French baguette, sliced into thin rounds

Special Equipment
Porcelain Escargot Dishes or 12 to sterilized escargot shells

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 450°F.

1. Mince the garlic, shallot and parsley. Place the garlic and shallot in a medium bowl, add 1/2 the salt and mash into a paste.
2. Add the butter, parsley and remaining salt to the garlic shallot mixture and whisk together until well combined.
3. Add the wine or sherry and mix well. Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, slice the baguettes into thin rounds, butter both and place onto a baking sheet. Toast in oven on top rack until golden brown, about 5 minutes but watch to be sure they do not burn, remove and cover with a clean towel to keep warm.
5. Divide the butter, garlic, parsley mixture and place a small scoop on the bottom of each of the rounds in the dish or into the snail shells.
6. Place a snail into each round of the dish or snail shell and top each with the remaining butter, garlic, parsley mixture
7. Bake snails until butter is melted and bubbly, about 4 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
8. Place the buttery, browned banquette slices on top of the snails (if using dishes), garnish with minced parsley and serve piping hot.

NOTES

I found the perfect porcelain escargot dishes. You can buy them in the Shop on this website.

Lemony Ramp Pesto

YIELDS | 16 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 3 MINS

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Ramps, aka wild leaks, grow all-over Illinois and throughout the Midwest for a very short period of time in early spring. My son sustainably forages these beautiful, slender plants and blesses me with a bouquet of these garlicky gems. I have pickled them for the past couple of years and decided to try making pesto with this year’s bounty. The result produced a recipe for a fresh, garlicky and bright condiment that will complement almost every spring-time meal and of course is perfect on pasta too.⁠ Spread on bread and broil, or marinate fish or chicken to give it a nice zing.

INGREDIENTS

• 1 bunch Ramps leaves, rinsed and dried
• 3 tablespoons pine nuts, walnuts or hulled sunflower seeds, optional
• Juice from 1/2 lemon or more to taste
• 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
• 1⁄3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or Romano pecorino

Note: Garlic is not necessary in this recipe. The Ramps provide the garlic flavor.

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Remove the leaves from the bulbs by cutting the leaves above where the bulb begins. Wash and dry the leaves.
2. Combine the Ramp leaves, nuts or sunflower seeds, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor or high speed blender and pulse to process for about 1 minute or until a paste forms.
3. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture is creamy. You may need to add more olive oil to get the mixture to the consistency you like.
4. Keep the machine running, add the cheese and process for about 5-10 seconds or until the cheese is mixed through.
5. Toss with your favorite pasta. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.

NOTES

Be sure to trim, wash and save the bulbs to pickle or sauté to use in another dish. See Pickled Ramps on this website