Monday, November 30, 2009

Mediterranean Fish Soup (Cacciucco/Bouillabaisse)

My husband and I replaced our old electric range / oven with a gas range / oven just a few days ago. Also, we changed from a microwave with hood to a professional hood. One of the reasons why I have not been updated my blog for a long time is that I was too hectic looking for good products and a good plumber to make the installations. Luckily, we found all of them. Then, I become busy admiring these fabulous range / oven and hood. Time flies fast and here I am writing a new update.

I love a gas oven, which cooks food evenly and keeps moisture inside of any meat. The day our new range / oven was installed we decided to bake lemon chicken using a whole chicken. I noticed that it did not produce much grease. Most of the grease stayed inside of the meat. Therefore, the chicken was extremely juicy and delicious.

I also love my new gas range. It is easy to adjust the temperature and simmer well. So, when I saw mussels, clams, and other seafood piling up on a seafood market, I decided to cook this fish soup on my new gas range.

This soup is a typical fish soup / stew in the Mediterranean region where various types of fresh fish and shellfish are available. The key to make this soup successfully is adding as many kinds of fresh seafood as possible. This delicious soup makes you warm throughout your body and mind. After a big Thanksgiving turkey, try this fish soup which can make you feel cheerful.

1 lb mussels wish shells
4 big clams wish shells
¼ lb cod filet (if the one with the bones and head cannot be found)
½ red snapper with the bone and the head, if possible
1 lb squids
1 lb shrimps with their heads and shells on
1 big onion, chopped
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
4 rip tomatoes, chopped
1 pinch of saffron
1 chill pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup of extra olive oil

1. Wash the mussels and clams very well. Soak them into salty water for about 30 minutes.
2. Put the mussels and clams in a large pot and add the white wine. Cover and bring to a boil. 3. After boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the shells are open. Remove them from the pot. If a clam is not open, discard it. Reserve the white wine.
3. Put 4-6 cups of water in a large pot. Add the onion, carrots, celery, tomatoes, chill pepper, bay leaf, and saffron. Add the reserved white wine. Cover and bring to a boil. After boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
4. Add the cod, snapper, squids and shrimps and simmer them for 10 minutes. Add the mussels and clams. Season with salt and black pepper.
5. Add the parsley and extra virgin olive oil and turn off the heat. Serve it with crispy bread to wipe out the delicious soup.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Banana Bread

We have seven big banana clusters in our yard. This is like a total of 20-30 individual trees. Every year they produce a few bunches of bananas.

For the first few years my husband promoted his bananas and gave away most of them to his friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, our bananas are not sweet but very sour. So people who appreciate our bananas become fewer and fewer every year. These years none of them eats our bananas including my husband and I.

So, this year when I first tried this delicious banana yogurt bread, I was extremely pleased that our bananas are certainly valuable. Because our bananas are not sweet, I added honey, which enhances and gives them an extra flavor. Also I put yogurt to make the mixture smooth. Perhaps, adding some liquor brings extra richness on this delicious bread.

It is already November, but a few clusters of bananas will be ready for Thanksgiving and even Christmas! Indeed, Louisiana is a semi-tropical place.

2 bananas, smashed
2 eggs
80g sugar
2 tablespoons of honey
1 cup and 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/3 cup of yogurt
4 tablespoons of butter, soften
Optional: ¼ cup of crashed walnuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins and/or etc.

1. Preheat the oven to 320 F degrees.
2. Put the eggs in a large bowl and beat them well.
3. Add the sugar and mix them well.
4. Add the honey, flour, baking powder, yogurt, butter, banana and walnuts and stir them well.
5. Bake it in the oven for about 30-40 minutes.
6. Take the banana bread out of the pan and let it cool off. Slice to serve.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rice with Spinach (Spanakorizo)

As I mentioned a long time ago, I cook for our cat, Ragus. He was a more-than-20 lb heavily obese cat. Recently, my husband and I took him for his annual check up. The doctor congratulated that he was healthy and in a perfect shape with 12.5 lb. I felt rewarded. He will be 15 years old, soon, which means the oldest pet in our neighborhood but perhaps the healthiest one too.

Each time I bake Ragus’ food, which contains beef, chicken, pork, turkey and catfish, the aroma from the oven drives us crazy. I do not know how many times I saw deeply disappointed my husband when I revealed that the food was not for us but for Ragus,

Usually, my husband and I eat simple vegetable / bean dishes during weekdays. Then, we eat meat / poultry dishes during the weekends. From time to time when I find a fresh fish and other seafood, we enjoy them no matter what day it is. However, Ragus enjoys gorgeous meat, poultry and fish every day. I became jealous and then thought of using Ragus’ food wisely. Making broth from Ragus’ food looked to be a fantastic idea.

This rice with spinach was made with the flavorsome broth. Onion, garlic and spinach plus mushrooms give enough taste. But using this broth becomes more tempting. My husband and I appreciated this simple yet delicious dish while Ragus enjoyed his food. I felt like I “kill two birds with one stone”.

1 bundle of spinach
1 1/2 cup of rice
1 finely diced small onion
1-2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of chopped dill
4-5 cups of broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese or feta cheese
Optional: ½ cup of diced brown beech mushrooms

1. Wash the spinach very well and drain it. Cut the spinach into inch long pieces.
2. Heat the olive oil in a fry pan and fry the chopped onion and garlic until they become translucent.
3. Add the mushrooms and cook for about a minute. Add the spinach and cook until the pieces become soft.
4. Add the rice. Pour the broth little by little and stir the rice until they become soft. Add salt and ground black pepper to taste. Then cook it until most of the broth is absorbed. Turn off the heat and add the dill and stir them gently.
5. Transfer to a saving plate and sprinkle Parmesan cheese or serve it with feta cheese and olives.