Tag Archives: seafood

Family Therapy.

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of my father’s death. Part of me can’t believe it’s been five years; the other part of me can’t believe it’s only been five years: It feels like yesterday, and an eternity ago. When my phone rings on Friday afternoons, I still half-expect him to be on the other end of the line, wishing me a happy Friday — as he did every week, pretty much, from when I left for college until he went into the hospital that final time. When I hung pictures in my apartment a few days ago, I heard his voice telling me to measure twice and hammer once; when I found a note on the back of one of those prints, in his inimitable handwriting, with birthday greetings for a year with “a pure silver lining,” I cried as if I’d lost him all over again. The enormous, overwhelming unfairness of it still just floors me.

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I miss him, every day. Not as brutally as I did those first couple of years, and for that I’m grateful, but the ache is constant. I’m usually alone on his yahrzeit — previously, I’ve marked the occasion with too many martinis and/or Manhattans — but this year, my mother and I spent the weekend together at the beach. I hope it’ll be a new tradition.

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Maine Meal.

A weekend or two ago, I was passing through D.C. and, as is my new custom, took the opportunity to catch up with a friend over lunch. Strolling through the chi-chi streets of Georgetown, you’d hardly expect to come upon a New England-style lobster shack, but there, a few doors down from Coach and Tommy Hilfiger, that’s exactly what you’ll find.

Tackle Box was my friend’s recommendation, and, given that the menu is full of beach-vacation favorites, all sustainably sourced and reasonably priced, it was an easy sell.

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Quarterly Meal.

Remember a few weeks ago, when I bemoaned my lack of cooking inspiration and placed the blame on a mid-winter funk? Well, I’m about to confess something (yesagain) that may be damaging to our relationship. I feel like I can’t not tell you, though, so…here goes. Dear readers, I was lying through my teeth: I made that bake and saltfish back in October. OCTOBER. (I know. You can barely look me in the eye, can you?)

I’m sure I’ve cooked something in the past four months, but I can’t find the photographic evidence to back it up for the life of me. I was all set to declare this Tuscan seafood stew the first thing I’ve cooked since December; apparently, I’ve lost track of time. The good news is that this was the perfect transitional dish: easily comforting, with just a hint of indulgence.

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Stew Convert.

With so many recipes, food blogs, cooking magazines and cookbooks in the world, it’s rare that I’ll make something more than once. This seafood stew from the October 2000 issue of Bon Appétit is an exception. I’ve already made it twice this season; if it weren’t for the price of the ingredients, it would be 2010′s carrot soup, gracing the table nearly every week.

I typically consider stew-as-main-course to be a cop-out when entertaining, but, as it were, this guy has been the centerpiece to two recent dinner parties.

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A Shore Thing.

Well, I have to admit, that felt good. During my week at the beach, I squeezed in a little bit of work but managed to enjoy the hot sun and cold Atlantic without interruption, for the most part, at least. We ate well, practically living on crab—legs, steamed; cakes, broiled—and beer—Corona and Hefeweizen, so good after a day spent breathing in the salty air.

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In keeping with the mode we’d established, one of our favorite meals used fresh produce and seafood, prepared as simply as possible.

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Adventurous Palates.

Usually my menus are a little more cohesive. The one below, created last Friday evening for a girls’ night, was a bit disjointed, because I was easily swayed in the grocery store. With seasonal changes, new “exclusive” foods are showing up in the produce and seafood departments. Last Friday, I made a meal out of soft shell crabs, local “Easter Egg” radishes, local asparagus and tilapia. Somehow, it all worked out, if only because of the wine.

Soft shell crabs have made their way to Ohio. These little crustaceans are at the beginning (end?) of their molting cycle and they’re delicious. (And a whole lot easier to eat without having to extract them from their hardened shell a few months from now.)

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I bought three of the little guys for our dinner. I did a little research about soft shell crabs and learned that like another seasonal delicacy, most recipes recommended pan frying. So simple.

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Delayed Gratification.

Last month, I mentioned a mouth-wateringly tempting recipe for a risotto with leeks, peas, and grilled squid, which I would’ve made in a heartbeat if not for the precarious act of keeping my checking account in the black.

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If I were really serious about shopping for seafood on the cheap, I’d make the trek to Chinatown, but the allure of pre-cleaned fish and the convenience of one-stop shopping is almost always too much to resist; I hate to admit it, but I usually default to the closest Whole Foods. (I can almost hear Jill gasping at the horror.) At the overpriced megastore cost of $7.99 a pound, there still hasn’t been room for that particular cephalopod in my budget, so you can imagine my excitement to find an inexpensive, appropriate substitute (albeit one I’d never used before) in one of its cousins—baby octopus.

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Relative Virtuosity.

It’s been unseasonably warm here lately—the kind of weather that teases with hints of spring and makes me think it might be time to start weaning myself away from heavy, rib-sticking winter fare. There’s still an underlying chill to the air, though, especially at night, so the cravings for something comforting are hard to shake, even with the knowledge that tank tops and bathing suits are closer than they appear.

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This hearty salad (from Suzanne Goin’s fantastic Sunday Suppers at Lucques) bridges the gap between the two: slick, spicy chorizo and crisp breadcrumbs mingle with seared, meaty squid and briny olives; a sharp vinaigrette cuts the richness and spinach provides just a hint of virtue.

And, really, in February, who needs more than a hint?

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