Eric Ripert’s Seafood Chowder

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The New York City restaurant, Le Bernardin, a seafood restaurant, is constantly on top of the world’s ten best restaurant lists. In May of 2021, the chef-owner Eric Ripert was proud to advertise his long-standing 3 Michelin star rating.

In 2010, when my daughter went to New York City for an interview, I volunteered to meet her there. Of course, I made reservations at some great restaurants, including Le Bernardin. I’m a good mom like that!

This is a photograph of the dining room, from the restaurant’s website. In person, that painting seemed like it was 100 feet wide!

We had the most helpful sommelier while we dined at Le Bernardin. It could have been because my daughter was 24 and gorgeous…

In any case, our meal was exceptional, not surprisingly. If you’ve watched or read anything about Eric Ripert, you are aware that he’s a perfectionist.

In 2009 I purchased his just published cookbook, “A Return to Cooking,” about Eric Ripert and his culinary passion and skills, written by Michael Ruhlman.

As an homage to Eric Ripert’s love and respect of seafood, I chose a seafood chowder to make from the cookbook. It was excellent, and could easily be enjoyed during warm months. The hardest part was cracking crab legs for the meat, but so worth it.

Salmon, Crab, and Scallop Chowder
Printable recipe below
Serves 6

2 slices double-smoked bacon, sliced crosswise into julienne
3/4 cup sliced leeks
1/2 cup dry wine
3 cups fish fumet*
1 cup water
1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon canola oil
One – 6 ounce salmon fillet, cut into 3/4” cubes
4 ounces crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage
6 large sea scallops, cut horizontally in half
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Cook the bacon julienne in a large pot over medium heat, until it has rendered its fat and is crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot. Add the leeks and sauté until limp and lightly caramelized, about 4 minutes.

Deglaze the pot with the white wine, stirring to incorporate the browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Return the bacon to the pot, cover with the fumet and water, and bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat and boil gently until the potatoes are tender, 10 – 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Add the cream to the fumet and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat until ready to serve.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and brush it with the canola oil. Place the salmon, crab, and scallops on the sheet and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Place in the oven for 2 – 3 minutes, until just barely heated through. The salmon and scallops should still be quite rare.

Meanwhile, gently reheat the soup. Add the dill and lemon zest and stir to incorporate. Adjust the seasoning.

To serve, divide the warmed salmon, crab, and scallops among warmed bowls. (This is so French – my mother always heated dishes before serving!)

Ladle the soup over and serve immediately.

* From the notes of Michael Ruhlman: Fumet is very easy to make once you have good bones. The bones of the turbot are the best for fumet because of their high gelatin content, but generally any white bones from a non oily fish can be used. To make a fumet, you sweat sliced onion and fennel until they’re tender, add the bones and cook them gently, then add water to just cover and a bouquet garni and simmer very gently for 10 – 15 minutes. Let the fumet sit off the heat for another 15 minutes, then strain it through cheesecloth.

This is what I used, purchased at Amazon, of course. It was delicious; all you have to do is add it to water just like a demi-glace.

 

Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

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A while back when I was choosing ingredients to make a Mediterranean-inspired ivory lentil salad, I discovered a fun product – canned artichoke bottoms.

Now, I’m just as particular about canned foods as much as the next guy, but these are high quality; there’s no tinny taste. There is a tang to them, however, but still easier than collecting bottoms from actual artichokes.

I discovered these bottoms on Amazon, and have tried a few different brands. All have been good.

The first time I looked at these, my mind went to a stuffed artichoke bottom, similar to a stuffed mushroom – filled with flavorful Italian sausage, baked ricotta and Parmesan.

Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms
Makes 14 appetizers

2 cans artichoke bottoms, 14 bottoms total
16 ounces Italian sausage
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
Cayenne pepper flakes, to taste
8 ounces whole-milk ricotta, at room temperature, drained if necessary
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and white pepper to taste
Finely grated Parmesan or other hard grating cheese, about 4 ounces
Chopped parsley, to garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Drain, rinse, and dry the artichoke bottoms on paper towels.

Cook the Italian sausage until no pink remains, making sure it’s well crumbled. Add the bread crumbs and cayenne pepper flakes. Let the sausage cool.

You will have extra sausage mixture. Save it for meatballs!

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta cheese with the egg yolks along with salt and white pepper and whisk until smooth.

Fold in the parsley. Taste for seasoning.

Place the bottoms on a jelly roll pan, curved side up. Slice a little of the base if they don’t sit upright properly.

Using a teaspoon, place a little of the cooked sausage in each bottom, diving evenly.

Top with the ricotta mixture And press down slightly with the spoon.


Bake for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle on the Parmesan. Raise the oven temperature To 400 degrees and continue baking for 10 more minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

In retrospect, I think the filling should have been all three components mixed together. They didn’t “layer” as well as I’d hoped.

And, the artichoke bottoms should probably dry in paper towels overnight. They were still a little wet.

These would be good with some crab or lobster as well, also mixed in with the ricotta mixture.

I might roast these next, just with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little cayenne pepper flakes.

They would be good on a charcuterie and cheese platter as well, marinated first in good olive oil, lemon, and chile peppers.

So I have a feeling I’ll be using them fairly often, for different purposes.

Campechana

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I had a favorite menu item at our local country club’s restaurant that sadly disappeared when the chef moved on. It was campechana – a combination of shrimp and avocados in a zesty tomato sauce, served chilled with tortilla chips.

Never did I realize it was an actual “thing” until I googled it. Turns out, recipes for campechana are commonplace! By definition, it’s a seafood cocktail from Campeche, a coastal state in Mexico.

I immediately grabbed one of my Rick Bayless cookbooks, Mexico: One Plate at a Time, published in 2000, and if you look closely at the cover photo, there is the shrimp cocktail!!!

I have a soft spot for Rick Bayless for many reasons. He’s a passionate chef and student of Mexican cookery, who been married to his wife forever, with whom he’s collaborated on books. (As well as with their daughter!) So I respect that. He also does a lot of charitable work in Chicago and in Mexico and is a total nerd.

But mostly for this.

Fifteen years ago I took my daughter to Chicago for her 18th birthday. It was all about shopping, visiting the sites, and enjoying great meals. I had made reservations at Frontera, and Charlie Trotter’s for our two big nights out.

At Frontera, which was outstanding in every way, I saw that Rick Bayless himself was in the kitchen, and asked if we could say hello. And he was kind and took this memorable photo with Emma.

I decided to make the shrimp cocktail recipe that’s pictured on the book cover. It’s not called campechana but a ceviche, which seems odd because it doesn’t fit my definition of ceviche. But Mr. B. Knows his stuff, so I will not quibble.

Ceviche de Camaron
4 hefty servings

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 generous pound smallish shrimp, peeled, de-veined
1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup ketchup
1 to 2 tablespoons vinegary Mexican bottled hot sauce
About 2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin (optional, but recommended to smooth out sharpness)
1 cup diced peeled cucumber or jicama (or 1/2 cup of each)
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

Bring 1 quart salted water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Scoop in the shrimp, cover and let the water return to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat, set the lid askew and pour off all the liquid. Replace the cover and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes.

Spread out the shrimp in a large glass or stainless steel bowl to cool completely. Toss the shrimp with the remaining 1/2 lime juice, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

In a small strainer, rinse the onion under cold water, then shake off the excess liquid.

Add to the shrimp bowl along with the cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, optional olive oil, cucumber and/or jícama and avocado.

Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately. Spoon the ceviche into sundae glasses, martini glasses, or small bowls: garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of lime.

Serve with tostadas, tortilla chips or saltines to enjoy alongside.

The ceviche is best made the day it is served.

If you want a more Southwestern-inspired Campechana, I found one on Epicurious that I’m trying next. It has roasted green chiles and includes crab meat!

So what I’ve gathered, whether it’s called Campechana, or a seafood cocktail, or a ceviche-style shrimp cocktail, the basic ingredients are similar, being shrimp and avocado in (typically) a red sauce. And from there you can get as spicy and zingy and creative as you wish!

The campechana I remember had no cucumber or jicama, but they added a great texture.

The only other difference I can detect from my campechana that I loved and this and other similar shrimp cocktail recipe is the amount of red sauce and the viscosity of the red sauce. I have to say I prefer a bit more sauciness than what’s in this recipe.

Roasted Veg Vinaigrette

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Vinaigrettes are equally as important to me as their salad counterparts. With a proper choice of ingredients, one can really make a salad burst with flavor with a perfectly paired vinaigrette.

I’ve posted before on vinaigrettes made with reduced beet juice ( think salad of crunchy vegetables, lentils and goat cheese) and a vinaigrette made with a fresh pear (think baby greens with apples, bacon, and blue cheese).

I’ve posted on a vinaigrette made with strawberry vinegar, one made with pineapple juice, vinaigrettes with parsley or curry powder… the list is really endless because the possibilities are endless.

Recently I was inspired by a vinaigrette recipe made with roasted onion and shallot. And I got to thinking what I could add to that… because I can’t leave a recipe alone. This is one I created.

Beyond roasting the vegetables, which is left to your oven, the rest is easy!

Make a triple batch! You’ll love how versatile this is not only as a vinaigrette but as a marinade, or served with grilled leeks or asparagus.

Roasted Vegetable Vinaigrette

1 purple onion, peeled, quartered
1 red bell pepper, trimmed, de-seeded, cut into 8ths
6 shallots, peeled, halved
6 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive oil, divided
Salt
Pepper
Red wine vinegar
Tabasco sauce (optional)

Preheat the oven to a roast setting, or 400 degrees F.

Place the onion, red bell pepper, shallots and garlic cloves on a jelly roll pan or rimmed roasting sheet. Generously drizzle olive oil over the vegetables, about 1/4 cup. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast until vegetables show some caramelization and are tender. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool.

Place all of the vegetables and olive oil into a blender jar.

Blend until smooth, adding another 1/4 cup or so of olive oil.

Then add the red wine vinegar. I’m not offering amounts in this recipe, only because I like my vinaigrettes strongly vinegar-flavored. Most people I’ve cooked for do not.

If you want some zing, add some Tabasco sauce, taste away, and season more if necessary. I added more salt.

Make sure the vinaigrette is smooth. If you use cruets for your vinaigrettes, you are familiar with the problem with one little piece of garlic clogging the spout!

The salad I created to showcase this vinaigrette was simple. Butter lettuce, crab, avocado, green onions, and black sesame seeds.

It was a perfect pairing of tastes and textures.

I was lucky enough to have frozen crab legs left over from the holidays, so I used that crab. But grilled shrimp or scallops would also be divine.


Note: This recipe actually makes a fabulous dipping sauce if you omit the vinegar.