Seared Halibut

Knowing how to expertly sear a piece of fish is a great skill to add to your cooking repertoire. While fish is expensive, it’s a terrific source of nutrients. So, find the best source you can for the freshest fish and keep an eye on sales. Halibut is a great choice to feed your family, and can often be found at a good price.

Below is a template for cooking halibut, but feel free to substitute other fish. Try one of my savory marinades to amp up the flavor. Simply brush a tablespoon of marinade on each fillet before searing. Serve additional marinade on the side for an instant and delicious sauce.

Brushed with my Oregano Marinade and served with Spinach & Ricotta Pappardelle

To sear halibut:

You need a 6 oz piece of halibut (each about 1 1/2 – 2 inches thick) for each person. Don’t cook more than 4 fillets at a time (crowding the pan would steam the fish instead of searing)

Heat 2 tbsp Olive oil in a large skillet.

Season the halibut on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the fish for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn and cook about 5 minutes longer, or until the fish is opaque in the center and browned on both sides.

Happy cooking!

My Oregano marinade is delicious with seafood http://whatskatecooking.com/2017/04/oregano-marinade/

For a Southern-inspired dinner try http://whatskatecooking.com/2017/02/vidalia-onion-vinaigrette/

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Grilled Sesame Tuna

Seared ahi tuna is one of those fabulous meals that exists somewhere between dreams and reality…this recipe was born from a sushi craving. I love to feed my kids as much seafood as possible, but the reality is that means frozen shrimp or seafood on sale. I saw yellowtail on sale at Wegmans last week, so I snapped it right up. My kids really like seafood, so it wasn’t hard to get them to try tuna. However, the sesame seeds are completely strange to them and I definitely got some pushback, so I adjusted accordingly. I made one of the tuna steaks sesame seed free – and everyone ate their dinner. You have to pick your battles….

Shown here with Wasabi Sauce

Wasabi Sauce


Grilled Sesame Tuna
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
If you aren't sure your kids will eat sesame seeds then play it safe and make one tuna steak sesame seed free. To introduce them to the flavor give them a small piece from your plate and let them try it. For my kids I try to have realistic expectations...eating sesame seeds is less important than enjoying a happy and healthy dinner. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 Tuna steaks (1¼ - ½ lbs total)
  • 4 tbsp Canola oil, divided in half
  • 2 tsp Sesame oil, divided in half
  • ⅔ cups Sesame seeds, mix of white and black seeds, divided in half
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt, divided in half
Instructions
  1. Spray grill with canola spray and turn to medium high.
  2. Pat tuna dry.
  3. On one plate combine half of the canola oil and sesame oil.
  4. On a second plate combine half of the sesame seeds and Kosher salt.
  5. Dip tuna in the oil mixture, making sure to completely cover the tuna.
  6. Transfer to the plate with the sesame seed mixture and throughly coat the tuna, pressing the sesame seeds to adhere to the tuna.
  7. Grill tuna on medium high for 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and slice thinly to serve.

Grilled Baby Bok Choy

 

Grilled Asian-Style Portabello Mushrooms

 

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Roasted Shrimp

What’s for dinner? It’s the question we all struggle to answer on a busy weeknight. Shrimp answers that question and delivers in spades – quick, tasty, cost-effective and kids love it! I personally love any recipe I can make in the oven, it’s hands-off and I know I won’t burn anything while I’m helping my kids with their homework. Consider this less of a recipe and more of a guide, once you master this technique, you can tailor the flavor of the dish to suit your family’s preferences.

Shown here with my Oregano Marinade

Oregano Marinade


Roasted Shrimp
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
Try any of my marinades with this technique. If you are using a marinade then you can skip the ingredients below and just follow the cooking instructions. The choices for how you put this meal together are endless and your kids will love the chance to assemble their own plates. Rice bowls or tacos would be fun. And how about some mouthwatering dinner salads for the adults? Try my Vidalia Onion, Caesar or Feta Vinaigrettes...each would work beautifully with the shrimp. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. Shrimp, large, uncooked, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil or Canola oil (see note)
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp Garlic powder (see note)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Toss shrimp with oil, Kosher salt and garlic powder and/or pepper if using.
  3. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  4. Roast 8 - 10 minutes until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.
  5. Immediately remove from the baking sheet (so the shrimp don't continue to cook).
  6. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Notes
What type of oil to use? It really depends on what type of flavors you are highlighting in your meal. Olive oil will work for everything except for Asian flavors. Mexican themed meals will work with either olive or canola.
Garlic powder - I love garlic powder. Used in small quantities like this recipe, it adds just a hint of flavor that really enhances the shrimp.

 

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Shrimp & Grits

A favorite of Jeff’s, and one of those dinners that I get excited to make AND eat! I love shrimp and grits and I know I’m biased, but I think my version is one of the best. This dinner is a great choice when you are entertaining – but don’t increase this recipe to serve more than 6…it’s fine to have to sauté the shrimp in two batches but beyond that you will feel chained to the stove, and what’s the fun in that? If you are looking for a perfect side, look no further than a salad with my Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette. My dear friend Carol from Brentwood, Tennessee, always made the BEST shrimp and grits. This is my version, adapted from my taste memory, of the many delicious dinners enjoyed at her table.


Shrimp & Grits
Author: 
Serves: 4 plus extra shrimp
 
This dish comes together really quickly, so try to have everything prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. I wrote this recipe in a sequential order, so if you just follow the steps you will be fine. A note on the shrimp - I buy a big bag of frozen, organic shrimp whenever its on sale, I always have chicken broth and grits in my pantry and shredded sharp cheddar is a fridge staple, so I‘m only a few ingredients away from pulling this meal together. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 6 Bacon slices
  • 32 oz Chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 1 cup Half and half
  • 1 cup Grits, uncooked, regular
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, sharp, shredded
  • 2 tbsp Butter, unsalted
  • 8 oz pkge Baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 lb. Shrimp, large, peeled and deveined
  • ½ cup Flour, all-purpose, divided
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder, divided
  • ½ cup Olive oil, divided - optional
  • ½ cup White wine
  • ½ cup Chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1 Lemon, zest and juice
  • ¼ cup Green onions, minced
  • Lemon wedges for serving
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon slices in a large skillet until crisp, remove and drain on paper towels. Turn off heat and leave bacon drippings in the skillet. Once bacon is cooled, chop into small pieces.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth, half and half and Kosher salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the grits and reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.
  3. Once grits are thickened, add cheese and butter. Remove saucepan from the heat, cover and keep warm.
  4. Heat skillet to medium and warm up the bacon drippings. Add mushrooms and sautéed until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  5. While mushrooms are cooking, divide flour between two plates and stir in Kosher salt and garlic powder. (this step eliminates having too much clumpy flour - a typical breading challenge that I seek to correct with this step).
  6. Dredge shrimp in flour mixture. If the skillet is dry you can add ¼ cup olive oil (this will depend on how much bacon drippings are left - they might have been all absorbed by the mushrooms). Over medium heat, warm bacon drippings or olive oil. Once drippings or oil is hot, add ½ of the shrimp - carefully making sure each shrimp is laying flat and is not steaming. Depending on the size of your skillet you might have to do this in three batches. If so, adjust olive oil (if using) quantities accordingly.
  7. Sautéed shrimp until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes per side. As shrimp are cooked, remove to a plate. While shrimp is cooking, rewarm the grits over low heat, add a bit of chicken broth if necessary to lighten the texture.
  8. Once shrimp is finished cooking, add garlic to the skillet and sauté over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add wine to the pan, carefully deglaze, loosening particles on the bottom of the skillet. Add chicken broth, lemon zest and lemon juice, cook for 5 minutes, allowing flavors to meld.
  9. Plate it up - in the center of each dinner plate or shallow bowl, start with grits, then add mushrooms and shrimp. Add sauce and finish with a sprinkling of bacon and green onions.

 

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Parmesan Scallops

Friday night dinner for Jeff and I, and we fell in love with this meal. I retain vivid food impressions and I can almost taste . The first time I had truly great seared scallops was at Petit Louis Bistro here in Baltimore. They arrived at the table perfectly seared on a bed of sauteed spinach, and that one meal started my scallop obsession. Jeff and I always spilt our entrees and he knows that if scallops are on the menu, that’s what I’m ordering. Always. This is a special, restaurant quality meal to make at home, maybe with one other couple or just for your family. I love making a dinner like this…with music playing and a martini in hand, it’s just so much fun. Enjoy!

Literally one of the best meals I have ever made, it's that good.
Literally one of the best meals I have ever made, it’s that good.
Somehow the leftovers were just as good...and this succotash is delicious!
Somehow the leftovers were just as yummy…and this succotash is delicious!

http://whatskatecooking.com/2016/07/broccoli-with-a-lemon-dijon-sauce/

http://whatskatecooking.com/2016/07/summer-succotash/

Parmesan Scallops
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
The secret to great seared scallops is you have to pat them dry first. Even though you are going to dip these in olive oil, do not skip this step, it makes a big difference and helps you obtain that perfect sear. This is a just right amount of food for 4, but I make this many scallops just for us, and then we had the leftovers the next day while sitting at the pool. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Panko or fresh breadcrumbs, divided (see note)
  • ½ cup Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated, divided
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder, divided
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1¼ lb Sea scallops
Instructions
  1. On two plates divide in half the breadcrumbs, cheese, Kosher salt and garlic powder. Mix throughly. (see note)
  2. Pour olive oil into a small bowl. Pat scallops dry with paper towels and add to the olive oil, 3-4 at a time. Carefully press breading into both side of the scallop. Once a scallop is breaded, place on a large plate. Repeat, until all scallops are breaded. You might have some extra breading mixture, discard.
  3. Cover the plate holding the raw, breaded scallops with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours to set the breadcrumbs (do not skip this step it really makes a difference).
  4. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once butter is melted and the oil is hot, gently add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other. Sear the scallops for 3 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a ¼-inch golden crust on each side and be opaque in the center.
  5. Remove to a plate and serve warm.
Notes
Breadcrumbs - I know we all don't have time to make fresh breadcrumbs, so if not PLEASE use Panko breadcrumbs, they do not cost any more than regular breadcrumbs and they are soooo much better. If you do want to make your own, it is so easy - just pulse leftover bread in your food processor and put the breadcrumbs in a Ziploc bag. They freeze great and you can just use them up bit by bit.
Why divide your breading mixture in half? - Through many years of breading experience I have noticed that the breadcrumbs get lumpy the further you get into the breading process. The protein and the moisture - in this case olive oil cause the mixture to clump over time. My solution is to divide the breading in half - it makes a huge difference and gives you a much better end result - perfectly breaded ready to cook food.

 

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Pan Seared Grouper with Chorizo and Asparagus

Truly a one pot meal and the chorizo is a genius way to season the fish. I love to make this meal when it’s just Jeff and me. It comes together in a flash, looks beautiful on the plate, has incredible flavor…and leaves me plenty of time to enjoy my ice-cold, slightly dirty martini!

Grouper with Chorizo and Asparagus

 

 

Pan Seared Grouper with Chorizo and Asparagus
Author: 
Serves: 2
 
Have all your ingredients ready to go (mise en place anyone?) before heating up your skillet, this dinner comes together quickly! Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 4 oz Chorizo (either thinly sliced or finely diced - I buy it already prepped)
  • 1 tbsp Shallots, minced
  • 1 lb Asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces sliced on a diagonal
  • 1 12-oz Grouper or Red snapper fillet, skin on, halved crosswise
  • 1 Lemon, zested and juiced
  • ½ tsp Anchovy paste (see note)
  • 1 tbsp Flat-leaf parsley, finely minced (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add chorizo and shallots, and cook until chorizo slices to curl or if a dice the edges start to harden, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Remove chorizo and shallots from the pan and transfer to a small bowl.
  3. Add asparagus to the pan cook until the asparagus is crisp-tender, 5-7 minutes. Remove asparagus and divide between 2 dinner plates.
  4. Sprinkle chorizo and shallots over the asparagus on each dinner plate.
  5. Check chorizo oil in the bottom of the skillet, this is where you have to estimate, but if you have less than approximately 2 tablespoons of chorizo oil you will need to add some olive oil and give the new oil a moment or two to heat up and swirl the pan to coat.
  6. Add the fish, skin side down, and cook without moving, for 4-5 minutes. The fish should be golden brown. Flip and cook the fish until almost opaque white, 4-5 minutes more. Remove from the skillet and immediately plate with the asparagus and chorizo. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.
Notes
Anchovy paste - do not be afraid of this ingredient! So many chefs laud the unami qualities of anchovy fillets...but I just could not get past their little bodies. I know, I am definitely not a true foodie - yet! Anyway, I discovered anchovy PASTE and it's a game changer. It add that little "something" to so many dishes and you don't have to deal with those fillets!
When is your fish done? So many people overcook fish. The trick is to, with practice, learn to pull the fish off the moment BEFORE it's done. All food continues to cook for a few minutes after it leaves heat, and fish is particularly sensitive to overcooking. Try to get in the habit of touching your fish as your decide to remove it from the skillet, with practice you will get a "feel" for when your fish is done. I also own a digital thermometer and it's a lifesaver - you want your fish to have an internal temp of 145.

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Grilled Lobster Tails with Prosecco Butter Sauce

Nothing says special dinner more than lobster…and for summer the best way to do lobster in my opinion? The grill! I do not enjoy picking food apart, hence my issues with wings and crabs, so I always do tails instead of a whole lobster. Don’t forget you have an open bottle of Prosecco to enjoy!

Grilled lobster

 

Grilled Lobster Tails with Prosecco Butter Sauce
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
This is such a special dish! The lobsters are delicious but what really makes this a WOW is the prosecco butter sauce - it is out of this world! Super easy to make and so much better than plain out drawn butter. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp Shallots, minced
  • 3 sprigs Thyme, whole
  • 1 cup Prosecco
  • 1 stick Butter, unsalted, cold, sliced into 1 tbsp pieces
  • 4 Lobster tails, uncooked (between 6-8 oz each)
  • 1 stick Butter, unsalted, softened
  • 1 Lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp Fresh chives, minced
  • 1 tsp Fresh thyme, minced
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan combine shallots, thyme and Prosecco. Bring to a boil and immediately turn the heat to a simmer. Let simmer until liquid is reduced to approximately ¼ cup (about 5-10 minutes).
  2. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve or colander, discard the shallots and thyme leaves.
  3. Return to the stove and bring to a gentle simmer, add the butter, a tbsp at a time, whisking until smooth. Set saucepan aside.
  4. Now for the lobsters! In a small bowl mash the softened butter, the lemon zest and juice, chives, thyme and Kosher salt.
  5. Place the tails, shell side down on a cutting board. Split the tails lengthwise. Spread the butter mixture over the lobster meat and between the shell and the meat.
  6. Grill the tails, shell side down over direct medium heat for 8-10 minutes until meat is opaque white, no translucence to the meat at all.
  7. Serve right away with the warmed sauce on the side.
Notes
I know this recipe calls for 4, but this is usually a dinner I just make for Jeff and me. In that case I buy three lobster tails - 2 for him and 1 for me. I don't adjust any of the ingredients - this is an indulgent meal and I just go for it!

 

 

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Shrimp Toast

My fiancé Jeff loves shrimp toast, but since we only get Chinese takeout a few times of year, it’s not something we eat often – and to me it tastes so heavy and greasy anyway. I show love through cooking and had so much fun creating this recipe for him! We had a great Asian dinner, lots of little plates and a few favorite rolls from our go-to sushi place.

Shrimp Toast

Shrimp Toast
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
I love mastering restaurant recipes at home - I hope you do too! This recipe definitely requires a food processor, you can't get the paste texture without one. Have fun - I had a great time working on this recipe. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 6 oz Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 ½ tbsp Sambal oelek (Asian hot chili paste)
  • 1 tsp Fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp Lemongrass, from a tube
  • 1 tbsp Ginger, from a tube
  • 2 Scallions, finely sliced, white and green parts kept separate
  • ¼ cup White sesame seeds
  • 6-8 slices White bread, ½ inch thick (I use the bottoms of potato rolls – see note below)
  • 1 cup canola oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients through the scallions (white parts only) in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  2. Spread the shrimp mixture on the bread and press the bread, shrimp side down, firmly into the sesame seeds, coating the shrimp mixture evenly.
  3. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. You will know you are ready to start frying when you add a pinch of shrimp mixture to the pan and it sizzles right up. Do not add the shrimp toast to the skillet until you get that crispy bit – otherwise your toast will seem oily not lightly fried.
  4. Place toasts, shrimp side down in pan and fry until golden, about 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. It will probably take 2 batches – don’t crowd the toasts – you want them to fry not steam, so they need surface area around each toast.
  5. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate for 1-2 minutes to drain. Cut each half diagonally and sprinkle with green scallions. Enjoy!
Notes
Whenever I see frozen shrimp – only farmed in the US – peeled and deveined but not cooked, I always big up a few bags. It is a great main dish ingredient when you don’t have anything else prepared. And while it’s always easy to pick up a great piece of fish for Jeff and me, that gets so cost-prohibitive when we have the 4 younger kids with us – or better yet – all 8! Shrimp is one of the only seafood options that is affordable for bigger families.

The first couple of times I worked on this recipe I had a challenging time with the bread. I could not really find bread that was both thick and dense enough to stand up to the weight of the shrimp mixture. I had a open bag of hamburger size potato rolls and in a moment of inspiration decided to give those a try. I only used the bottoms (I did not want the bread to be too thick) and after frying them up, cut them on a diagonal – they looked great and had a wonderful texture that matched the shrimp much better than anything else I tried.

 

 

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Oven-baked Shrimp

When you are having a fried shrimp craving make this recipe! These shrimp are super simple, healthy and delicious!

This is a very simple recipe with very little seasoning. I really was trying to develop this recipe with my kids in mind and they like simple food! You could jazz the seasonings up in so many ways, let your creativity run wild!

Oven baked Shrimp

Oven-baked Shrimp
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
This would be a great recipe to double for leftovers or if you are serving more that 4. I made this for myself and my three children and there was not a shrimp left, so 1½ or 2 lbs is going to be a better amount for 4 adults or a family of 5. Happy Cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, shells removed, tails left on
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray thoroughly with canola or olive oil spray.
  3. Set out two small bowls – in one combine the Panko breadcrumbs, Kosher salt and garlic powder, in the other bowl add the olive or canola oil.
  4. Holding each shrimp by its tail, dip into the oil and then gently roll in the Panko breadcrumbs.
  5. As you bread each shrimp line up in rows on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, the coating should be golden brown and the shrimp opaque.
Notes
Why Panko breadcrumbs? Panko breadcrumbs are different because they are made from bread without crusts included, so they are much lighter and I think they have a crisper taste.

Because I wanted a weeknight recipe, I opted to skip the traditional three step breading process, so the breadcrumbs will cling to the shrimp but not completely coat it.

These shrimp would also be delicious on a salad!

 

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