We ended the old year and welcomed in the new with some great culinary excursions, included catching some of the ingredients for some of the food! Here is Steve working at getting crappies. We had some luck and I made a fabulously yummy crappie chowder. It was such a hit, Steve asked for it again yesterday, so that's what we had for New Year's Eve supper.
While we were fishing this group of young people along with a sled dog and an adult-looking person trekked by. They had been camping a few lakes up.
We took an overnight trip to Minneapolis to dust off the woods and see shiny things, like washed cars. I did my usual Priceline hotel hunting and scored a four-star hotel right downtown for $50! Here is our bed - so cushy!
I found a restaurant where the chef had challenged Iron Chef Morimoto last year on Iron Chef America! The restaurant is called "Saffron" and was only five blocks or so from our hotel. The waiter asked if we would be willing to let him choose our food for us. We agreed! Here's a list of what we ate:
Octopus “A La Plancha” cooked on a hot plate with toasted garlic, smoked paprika and sherry
Crispy Potato Chips with za’tar yogurt and spicy piquillo pepper sauce
Chicken & Porcini Mushroom Croquettes
Middle Eastern Sausage (Na’anik) house made beef/lamb/pinenut sausage with lemon
Red Lentil Soup with paprika, aleppo chili, squash and mint yogurt
Foie Gras with mejdool date-almond birouat and bitter orange
Orzo & Mussels with ouzo, dill, fennel and cow’s milk feta
Whole Roasted Branzini “mediterranean sea bass” with crispy grape leaves, olive oil, lemon and herbs
We shared everything and most plates weren't very big, but we still got very, very full. By far my favorite dish was the Red Lentil Soup. I would have never chosen a lentil soup, so I'm glad the waiter did the choosing. It was the dish that I thought an Iron Chef would prepare and tasted as if an Iron Chef prepared it. The rest of the food was good, but not as good as I had hoped. You can't say we didn't try, though!
I did try to impress the water guy with my Spanish and instead of saying, "I am quite full", I managed to say something like, "I am a very fat man." I totally lost it in the restaurant and had to go to the restroom to recover. Best work harder on my Spanish.
In my next post I'll tell you about the Vietnamese restaurant where we stopped for lunch the next day. I am now in love with Pho and will attempt to make it tomorrow. Will let you know the results.
Meanwhile, here is a yummy risotto dish we made during the holidays.
Chorizo and Shrimp Risotto with Red Beans
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 T olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pinch saffron threads (if you don't have this, don't worry)
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
salt and freshly ground pepper
crushed dried chiles
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups boiling water
1 or 2 chorizo sausages, thinly sliced
14 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 T chopped fresh cilantro (substitute chives if you don't like cilantro)
Get the water hot in a small pan on the stove and keep it hot on a low simmer.
In a large pot, heat 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shrimp shells and cook until the shells are pink. Transfer the shells to a flat plate to drain briefly. Return the excess oil to the pan and discard the shells. Add the prawns to the flavored oil and saute until they are pink. Remove and reserve.
Add the onion and garlic to the flavored oil and saute, stirring, until the onions have turned translucent. Add the saffron threads and cook for another minute.
Add the rice to the pan and season with a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and the crushed chiles. Cook over a moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring so that every grain of rice is coated with the flavored oil.
Add the white wine, stir and let it sizzle, then begin adding the hot water 1/2 a cup at a time stirring and letting the water absorb into the rice before adding the next 1/2 cup. Continue adding water and stirring until the rice is tender to your liking (I like mine just a bit chewy). This takes 20 to 30 minutes.
In a large frying pan, saute the chorizo slices in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until lightly colored. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute, then add the drained red kidney beans and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.
Put some risotto on a plate and top with the chorizo, prawns and red beans. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.