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Spicy Shrimp – Pan Fried

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Spicy Shrimp - Pan Fried

Time: 5 -8 minutes

Serves: 2 – 4

Inspired by: Minimal ingredients in the kitchen and being so hungry that I want to make something yummy in minutes! These are great on salad, pasta and quinoa or just to nibble on their own. Normally I prefer not to cook during a party, but I hosted a party last night and it was so easy to make these while everyone was hanging around the kitchen because it just took minutes.


Preparation: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet or saute pan. Once it is hot, add the shrimp. Sprinkle with the spice (any amount to your liking – a small amount goes a pretty long way) and cook for about 2 minutes on each side and serve.

Wine Suggestions: These are yummy with any off-dry white such as a Riesling or possibly a Viongier or Condrieu. They are also nice with a medium-bodied red with some nice fruitiness or spice such as a fairly ripe Spanish Rioja, Southern Rhone or Merlot.

Crab Cioppino

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Crab Cioppino

Time: 60-75 minutes

Serves: 4  – just the two of us had this tonight with fresh whole grain bread and roasted brussel sprouts. We could have easily had two more people join us – we ate way too much and we’ll still have awesome leftovers for tomorrow.

Inspired by: It’s the end of December and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been seeing Dungeness crab at the fish counter. I’ve been thinking that I must get some of these before the season is over! I LOVE crab and it brings with it a lot of memories for me – mainly related to my dad. I remember as a child going out for crab with my family, and my brother and I would leave the restaurants still playing with the claws. I also think of my dad ordering crab cioppino at restaurants and wearing a bib because it was so messy. When I started thinking about what I wanted to have for dinner tonight, crab and tomatoes came to mind… and that got me googling crab cioppino recipes. The first one I found was “Judith’s Dungeness Crab Cioppino Recipe” from Food and Wine (Judith was chef Michael Mina’s late mother-in-law who apparently used to make it for Christmas Eve dinner). It looked great and easy, but I had to make a few modifications based on ingredient availability and the fact that I was cooking for 2, but it turned out so amazing, I’ll do it exactly the same way next time! This recipe makes a very thick soup with a LOT of kick! Yum.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper – chopped
  • 1 small onion – chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno – minced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves (2 minced; 2 whole)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 14 oz can of fire roasted organic tomatoes – diced
  • 1 10 oz can of whole baby clams
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 – 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 steamed Dungeness crab
  • 8 mussels
  • 8 littleneck clams
  • 12 shrimp – shelled and deveined
  • some small scallops or halibut pieces (optional)


  • In a large soup pot, sauté the onion for about 2 minutes on high heat. Add the red bell pepper and sauté for about 2 more minutes. Add the minced garlic and jalapeno and sauté for another 6 minutes or until it is all very soft and beginning to brown.
  • Add the tomato paste, stir well, and cook for another minute.
  • Add the tomatoes, wine and bay leaf and cook for another 5-10 minutes – until thickened.
  • Add the can of clams with their broth and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile – in a food processor – combine the basil leaves, whole garlic cloves, and red pepper flakes – chop well. Add 1/8 cup of olive oil and puree until smooth. Then prepare the crab by removing the top shells and the flap on the undersides – pry out any brownish insides and feathery lungs and discard. Rinse the crab bodies in cold water and break them up into pieces that are a few inches in length – or however you’d like to see them presented in your dish when serving.
  • Now it’s time to add the clams, mussels and shrimp to the pot – be sure to push them into the hot broth. Once the shells of the clams and the mussels open (about 2 minutes), add the crab pieces and push into the broth as much as possible – put the lid on the pot and continue to cook for another 2-4 minutes until everything is hot.
  • Use tongs to take out all the shellfish and distribute evenly into bowls – then scoop out broth evenly into bowls.
  • Drizzle/spread the basil puree over the top of each and serve with fresh bread.


Notes: I would have liked including some scallops, but they weren’t available. White fish, such as Halibut, would have been good too. If you like your broth thinner – replace the can of clams with 16 oz of clam broth (I wasn’t able to find it – the stores were probably sold out from Christmas, but it’s what the original recipe called for). I’m sure you could also double the diced tomatoes without losing flavor – this is a VERY flavorful and spicy dish! It can also be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Wine Suggestions: We drank this with a 2003 La Spinetta Barbera d’ Asti Superiore. It needed some decanting, but it was a fabulous pairing with the rich tomato and spice of the dish.

Chilled Shrimp with Basil Ponzu Sauce

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Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 8 as a finger food appetizer

Inspired by: The mother-in-law of one of my closest friends, Judy Sellers. Judy is food and wine savvy as well as being incredibly adventurous, fun and interesting – someone I’m thrilled to know. One thanksgiving when we hosted dinner, she and her husband joined us and brought this as an appetizer. Everyone loved it and I still make it for parties because it’s so yummy. That was my first introduction to Hugh Carpenter and this recipe is from his “Fast Appetizer” cookbook. After that a few of us girls took a “How to Cook Fish” class with him that was really well done.


  • 1 lb raw medium to large shrimp (deveined and peeled, but with the tail still on)
  • 2 tablespoons thin or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flavorless cooking oil (I use an extra light olive oil)
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (I’ve been using Thai Kitchen roasted red chili paste)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger (don’t forget this – it’s a key ingredient)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil (I substitute with Italian parsley when I can’t get fresh basil)


  • Fill a bowl with water and some ice to make very cold.
  • Boil water in a large pot and cook shrimp about 1.5 to 2 minutes – until done but don’t overcook.
  • Drain shrimp in colander and add to bowl with ice water so they don’t continue cooking.
  • When it’s cooled down, drain again.
  • Mix the basil Ponzu sauce ingredients together in a shallow glass bowl (this can be made up to 10 hours before serving).
  • When ready to serve, toss the shrimp with the sauce – can serve with toothpicks as “finger” food.

Notes: I purchased Hugh’s cookbook so this is the original recipe, but I recommend doubling or tripling the Ponzu Sauce ingredients so it covers the shrimp a bit better, or if you wanted to put some on the side for dipping. The shrimp taste best when they are freshly covered or dipped in the sauce.

Wine Suggestions: Because there is a slight sweetness and spiciness to this sauce, a slightly off-dry wine such as a Riesling is a nice pairing. Depending on what chili you use, if the sweetness and spiciness is only slight, the ginger and other aromatics make it a nice pairing with dry, aromatic whites such as a dry Riesling, Gruner Veltliner or Torrontes.


Chipotle-Lime Halibut Kabobs

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Time: 30 minutes active; 2.5 hours total. 10 minutes to prepare marinade and fish, 2 hours to marinate, and 20 minutes to skewer and grill kabobs.

Serves: 4

Inspired by: A friend of mine years ago, Linda, had me for dinner and made these kabobs. They are so easy, healthy and with awesome flavors!

Marinade Ingredients:

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle powder
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil

Kabob Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 pounds of halibut steak, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 1 small Japanese eggplant, 8-12 mushrooms  (or use your favorite veggies for grilling)


  • Mix marinade ingredients well and then put the fish into the marinade for about 2 hours.
  • When fish is ready, preheat your grill (or oven), cut the veggies and toss lightly with some of the marinade.
  • Put the fish and veggies on skewers (you can put them all on the same skewers alternating colors so they look pretty).
  • Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and put on a 350 degree grill for 12-15 minutes (alternatively you can bake these as well).

Wine Suggestions: I like this most with a Red Burgundy or California Pinot Noir, but the spicy contrast with an off-dry white would also be nice.

Pan Seared Robalo (Sea Bass)

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Time:  10 minutes

Serves: 2

Inspired by: I spend a lot of time in Mexico where my cooking is often limited to stove top only, but where I also have access to fresh fish daily. I can easily purchase fish hours after it is caught. I’ve learned that just about any white fish is quick and easy to cook stove top – even without a good hood/fan. This was an experiment with Robalo – a type of sea bass –  it was delicious.

  • 12 ounces of fish (I plan for 6 ounces per person, but on a big surf day perhaps a bit more)
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon or lime, herbs, salt and pepper

Preparation: Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan on medium heat. Once it is hot, add the fish seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs of your choice, and cover with a lid to keep the heat in. Cook for 4-6 minutes (depends how thick it is) and use a spatula to turn it over. Drip some lemon or lime juice over it and cook for another 3-5 minutes. When the fish feels firm to the touch it is done. When it is uber fresh, I tend to cook it a bit less.

Wine Suggestions: I prefer light white fish with Chablis or White burgundy, but any crisp white wine is a nice option, or when in Mexico, a light crisp beer such as Pacifico is often the best choice.

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