Category Archives: Fish

Winner Winner Lobster Dinner: Steamed Maine Lobster 101

Steamed Lobster. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Steamed Lobster. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Despite growing up in a land-locked state, I have had the great fortune of having extended family who dwell along the seacoast in southern Maine.  Every childhood visit there involved a trip to the lobster pound to buy a dozen of the live little crustaceans followed by a casual family feast of the delicious delicacies. We sat around a table, excited with white plastic bibs tied around our necks and claw-crackers in hand. The Vermonters at the table would always ask the Mainers to show them how to efficiently extract the meat from the tail, claws, legs and torso. My cousin Ty would explain that her Aunt Wendy always ate the “green stuff” and as kids we would squeal with disgust and fascination. Now, like the legendary Aunt Wendy, I too eat the “green stuff.” This internal part of the lobster, called Tomalley, is actually the liver and pancreas of the animal. So that explains why I find it so flavorful, which it is, FYI. Aunt Wendy is a smart woman. A big bucket in the center of the table served as a sort of basket ball hoop for shells to be tossed after the precious meat had been consumed.

These lobster dinners, which were served with a 1/4 cup of drawn butter for dipping, toasted English muffins, corn on the cob and a fresh garden salad were all I ever knew of eating lobster. For many years I rolled my eyes at over-priced lobster on restaurant menus. In truth because I just couldn’t bear to eat it outside of this nostalgic familial context. And thanks to a recent tutorial from one of my favorite Mainers, I finally learned how to make it.

Enjoy!

Heather

live lobsters. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Live Lobsters. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Classic Steamed Maine Lobster Dinner

Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Dinner, Fall, Fish, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Spring, Summer, Winter

Summer Seafood: Seared Scallops with Chickpea Couscous, Warm Summer Tomatoes, Hazelnuts and Tarragon Aioli

Seared Scallops with Chickpea Couscous, Warm Summer Tomatoes, Hazelnuts and Tarragon Aioli. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Seared Scallops with Chickpea Couscous, Warm Summer Tomatoes, Hazelnuts and Tarragon Aioli. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

I ate too many snails once. I don’t regret it. They were delicious. It was 2003. I was a young, naive étudiante américaine  living in Paris and traveling with an utterly fabulous group of cooler-than-I-will-ever-be French bohemians to a man named Nico’s  oceanfront house in Bretagne. It’s a long story. And  it’s  also called Brittany if you’re American, but I like to pretend that I’m French. America had just begun the guerre en Iraq (war) and I had spent the winter in Paris bundled in French-looking jackets and a blue beret (no joke) that matched the color of my eyes in an attempt to blend in so as to avoid the angry questioning that many Parisians had for Americans at that time.

Nico and his girlfriend Celine were the kind of people who I simultaneously did not understand and yet totally admired. They spent half of their time in Madagascar. They did not want to live in the U.S. because it was not enough of a “bordel” (translation: whorehouse) for them. When asked what she does for work replied “we work with oils,” and one time handed me a plate of the most delicious ratatouille I have ever tasted in my life which we ate while watching the sunset on the balcony of her Paris apartment. Needless to say, a weekend in Bretagne with them was a privilege. And as I quickly learned, Bretagne is like the Vermont and Maine of France, speckled with cows, delicious cheese, cider and fresh seafood all-in-one. Did I mention that Nico was a chef?

On our first morning there, he woke everyone up and insisted that we walk down to the water because the tide was low. Using the given tools we dug up  treasures from the sea. Coquilles St-Jacques (sea scallops), Les huîtres (oysters) and my favorite of all; bulots (sea snails) were caught  for lunch. Bulots are different than the escargot you’ll find at your neighborhood French restaurant. Bulots are meatier, tougher and chewier. We ate the oysters raw and Nico steamed everything else and made a simple homemade aioli for dipping. On that beautiful sunny day in Bretagne, I ate more than my fair share of bulots mayonnaise.

I haven’t eaten bulots since then, been back to Bretagne or spoken to anyone on that holiday in about ten years. It was one of those trips where the only souvenir I have of it are the memories and the occasional really strong craving for homemade aioli with my seafood. So a few nights ago while preparing to make scallops with summer tomatoes and hazelnuts, I just couldn’t stop thinking about those bulots and Nico’s delicious aioli. So this quick summer dish of pan-seared sea scallops gets a special flourish at the end. A dollop of fresh made aioli as a tribute to Bretagne.

Enjoy!

Heather

 

Seared Scallops with Chickpea Couscous, Warm Summer Tomatoes, Hazelnuts and Tarragon Aioli

Serves 4

for aioli:

  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup grape seed oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup tarragon leaves

In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and salt to a paste. In a cold metal bowl place the egg yolk. Gradually whisk in the oil one drop at a time whisking constantly to make the mayonnaise.  As the mayonnaise becomes thick you may whisk in the remaining oil in a slow steady stream. If the mayonnaise becomes too thick, you may add a drop of cold water. Fold in the garlic paste, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Set aside and refrigerate if necessary.

 

for couscous

  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 3 large carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, bring the half of the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the chickpeas and cook until softened, about 30 minutes. Add the remaining vegetable broth and return to a bowl. Add the couscous and carrots, remove from heat and cover. Let stand while you make the scallops.

for scallops

  • 1/3 cup coarsely  skin-on hazelnuts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • pound large sea scallops, side muscle removed, patted dry
  • 1 pint mixed colored mini heirloom tomatoes
  •   2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast until fragrant and  golden brown, about  8 minutes. Remove from oven and coarsely chop. Toss them with 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Season scallops with salt and pepper and, using tongs, place in the pan. Sear on until golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Add tomatoes and shallot to the pan , season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 6 minutes. Mix in the red wine vinegar.

Place a large spoonful of the chickpea couscous on the center of each plate. Spoon the tomatoes and shallots over the couscous. Place the scallops on top of the couscous, sprinkle with hazelnuts and finish with a dollop of aioli and tarragon leaves.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Dinner, Eggs, Fish, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Summer

Suzanne Goin’s AOC Cookbook Preview: Grilled Snapper with Cous Cous, Apricots, Yogurt, and Pistachio Aillade

grilled snapper with cous cous, apricots, yogurt, and pistachio aillade. Photo credit: Heather Platt

grilled snapper with cous cous, apricots,
yogurt, and pistachio aillade. Photo credit: Heather Platt

Los Angeles Farmer's Market. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Los Angeles Farmer’s Market. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

In Suzanne Goin’s upcoming AOC cookbook, she explains the importance of combining flavors and ingredients in perfect harmony. “I am constantly working to integrate and unite ingredients so that the sum of a dish is greater than its parts.” This concept is something that has impressed me year after year at Lucques. When tasting new dishes I often notice our waitstaff’s eyes light up with amazement and delight. This dish of grilled snapper with saffron cous cous, apricots, yogurt and pistachio aillade is the perfect example of this notion. Delicious grilled fish, apricots roasted in honey, clove and star anise syrup and Suzanne’s famous pistachio aillade are all delicious on their own. But put them together atop a bed of saffron cous cous with spring onions and a dollop of yogurt and you’ve created something completely different, new and deliciously jaw-dropping.  Not to mention completely gorgeous on the plate! And I always recommend making extra pistachio aillade because you’ll want to eat it on everything, drizzled over salad or on a fresh baguette. Suzanne loves this sauce so much she even invented a sweet version of it for her desserts!

2 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Fish, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Spring, Summer

Suzanne Goin’s AOC Cookbook Preview: Alaskan Halibut with Carrot Purée, Asparagus and Pistou

Alaskan Halibut with Carrot Purée, Asparagus and Pistou. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Alaskan Halibut with Carrot Purée, Asparagus and Pistou. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

If you own Sunday Suppers at Lucques, you are already familiar with the best recipe for carrot purée ever. Suzanne’s recipe, which involves caramelizing the carrot coins in olive oil before puréeing  them into a smooth and silky consistency, is one of my all-time favorite things to make.   I’ve made it dozens of times in various contexts. So when I saw it pop up in her new AOC cookbook, this time with basil instead of cilantro, I couldn’t wait to make it again.

Although this recipe for Alaskan halibut with carrot purée, asparagus, and pistou is in the spring fish section of the book, it highlights something that Suzanne is famous for, dishes inspired by the best of what is in season, whatever that may be. And as Suzanne says in her book, “This is one of those recipes that really is a template, so feel free to substitute whatever vegetables are most beautiful in the market.” So you can feel free to make this delicious dish year-round. And, if you’re lucky enough to have any extra pistou left over after making this, you might find yourself putting it on everything else you eat, as a spread on sandwiches, tossed with pasta, drizzled over eggs or simply dipping some toasted baguette slices in it as the perfect pre-dinner snack. I certainly did.

Santa Monica Farmer's Market Carrots. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Carrots. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

3 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Fish, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, In Season, Main Course, Spring

Suzanne Goin’s AOC Cookbook Preview: Alaskan Black Cod with Kabocha Squash, Golden Raisins, and Pedro Ximenez

Suzanne Goin's Alaskan Black Cod with Kabocha, Golden Raisins and Pedro Ximenez. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Suzanne Goin’s Alaskan Black Cod with Kabocha, Golden Raisins and Pedro Ximenez. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

After reading through the final draft of Suzanne Goin’s  soon-to-be-published AOC cookbook, I felt a) starving and b) inspired to cook EVERY delicious recipe in it. I would scroll through it over and over again reading through the recipes obsessing and thinking, “That one sounds good….oh that sounds so good too. Wait, actually I think I have to make that one first.”

Like Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Suzanne’s AOC cookbook is conveniently divided up into seasons which helped me narrow down my culinary indecision to fall and winter recipes, recipes for which I knew I could find ingredients at the weekly farmer’s market. And as much as I wanted to make EVERYTHING all at once and eat it immediately, I couldn’t stop thinking about this one black cod recipe that involved Suzanne’s favorite of squashes, kabocha, golden raisins, and something called Pedro Ximenez, which she describes as “one of the worlds greatest uses of grapes.” Given that description and my weakness for any recipe involving golden raisins (I love snacking on them while I cook. It’s the same with Marcona almonds, which aren’t in this, but thankfully Suzanne loves Marconas too.) I had to make it. I love recipes that introduce me to new ingredients!  Or in this case, a pantry staple. Everyone should have a bottle of Pedro Ximenez sherry in their kitchen. And after an easy trip to my local wine store and  a pleasant trip to the farmer’s market, I found myself eating one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever tasted. Now the only question is, what to cook next?….

Santa Monica Farmer's Market Kabocha Squash. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Kabocha Squash. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Pedro Ximenez Sherry.Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Pedro Ximenez Sherry.
Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Alaskan Black Cod with Kabocha, Golden Raisins and Pedro Ximenez. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Alaskan Black Cod with Kabocha, Golden Raisins and Pedro Ximenez. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

2 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Fall, Fish, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, In Season, Main Course, Uncategorized, Winter

Prosciutto-Wrapped White Seabass with Summer Vegetable Broth and Spicy Aioli


Summer is the best and the worst time of year for cooking. Here we are with our garden’s bounty of tomatoes, basil, corn, squash, zucchini and other delicious offerings overflowing on our kitchen counter-tops.  And though our appetites are hearty from long days of hiking, swimming, boating and concert-going, those long days come with a desire to be outside, enjoying them, not trapped inside of our hot kitchens, prepping for dinner. (Not to mention that scorching-summer-heat-induced feeling of utter laziness that has at times made me think my brain might actually be melting.) But it would be too sad to let all of those beautiful vegetables go to waste. So when the sun finally begins to set and a cooler breeze flows in through my kitchen windows, I start thinking about those lovely vegetables. And this is what I make.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Dinner, Fish, Heather Platt, In Season, Main Course, Summer

Summer Salmon: Green Harissa Salmon with Avocados and Cumin Rice

I love salmon, but I couldn’t eat it for years. My sister had the same problem. Our mother is and was an excellent cook who was always aware of the latest and greatest in food trends. I remember if not fondly, very clearly the kale phase, when I would eagerly accept an invitation to stay for dinner at my best friend Lauren’s house. “My mom’s going through a kale phase.” I announced to her parents as I happily chowed down on Lauren’s mom’s London Broil. I remember the homemade salsa phase, the chicken phase, the homemade tomato soup phase, but nothing lasted quite as long as the salmon phase in the late 90s. Eventually, my hiatus from salmon ended, and this salmon phase is much spicier! This green harissa is a wonderful summer topping for grilled fish, chicken or meats and is delicious with rice or couscous.

Enjoy!

Green Harissa

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Fish, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Summer, Uncategorized