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I'm at a total loss

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OK, my husband is making a special effort to be home for dinner tonight after a week of late arrivals and I have absolutely no idea what to make. I have a good butcher, fishmonger and produce market so ingredients are not a problem, it's just that nothing comes to mind. I'll have a maximum of three hours to cook and we have no food allergies or health issues. No real aversions except that husband does not like anything braised because it has an unpleasant digestive impact. (What a shame, particularly during the winter!)

He really likes shellfish and fish but really will eat anything. He loves all ethnic foods and our son eats everything that we do. Maybe the reason I'm at such a loss is that there are so few parameters!!

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  1. Some ideas for fish/shellfish special dishes of three ethnicities:
    Zuppa di Pesce

    1 Reply
    1. re: Marge

      Funny, I was gonna say cioppino. If you want to make dinner romantic, you could make the first thing you ever cooked for him.

    2. This is the 1st thing that came to mind after reading your post:
      You said right away that he really likes shellfish and fish.
      Better cooks than I will shortly give you suggestions for both.
      Pick the most-likely-to-please, and put your heart into it.

      1. If he likes fish, maybe roast a whole fish. It's impressive looking, really tasty and still really easy. Or you could roast a chicken... also impressive, makes the house smell great, better gravy than turkey and great leftovers! I'm doing pork chops by request tonight and that could work well for you too. Good luck!

        1. Wrap individual sized portions of salmon or halibut filet with a few slices of proscuitto and roast in the oven at a fairly hot temp (375?) till desired doneness. Drizzle with a bit balsamic reduction.
          Serve with a white rice that has been tossed with corn kernals, finely chopped fresh basil and garlic oil.
          And a green salad of some sort?


          1. Keep it luxurious but simple so you have time to sit with hubby at table and not be in the kitchen all evening.

            If you can get them, start with some oysters and a bottle of Champagne or prosecco (and you know what they say about the aphrodisiacal properties of oysters!). Lacking oysters, maybe some smoked salmon with a nice honey mustard or horseradish cream on the side, or even some caviar with the usual accompaniments.

            I heartily recommend something which is terrific, expensive, and not very labour intensive: get the best filet mignon your butcher’s got, or some lobsters. With time at a premium, keep focused on quality of ingredient, and not on complicated preparations. Make it a treat for both of you!

            1. Fish Stew:


              With a nice green salad and some garlic toast or with a green salad and roasted sweet potatoes and squash?

              If you want something more ethnic, you could do a curry: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...
              Perhaps over basmati rice

              1. Shrimp sauted in garlic butter, breaded zuchini, rice pilauf, mix catsup and horse radish to dip the shrimp and zuchini, Edy's spumoni, and "fixed" coffee. It's kinda casual for the end of the week.

                1. I'd go shopping first, see what's fresh and available and go from there. The butcher or fish monger might have something just in that's fresh. Salmon is great but it might be hard to get good fresh salmon right now that isn't farm raised.

                  1. Someone posted this baked ziti recipe yesterday that looks amazing. You can have the Ziti in the oven before he arrives. Start with some fresh crab, add some chewy bread, a green salad and something chocolatey. Along with a nice bottle of red, of course...sounds perfect to me!

                    Baked Ziti

                    Brown 1 lb. sausage; if it's too fatty, drain some fat off. Add chopped onions and garlic and 2 or 3 bay leaves; saute until translucent. Add a large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, and whatever other Italian seasonings you like, and simmer.

                    Meanwhile, mix together ricotta (I usually go with two pounds) and at least 1 lb. shredded mozzarella (fresh unsalted mozz. is the best but supermarket brands also work) with chopped parsley and freshly grated parmesan (probably at least 1/2 cup -- I've never measured it).

                    When ziti is not quite al dente, drain and add to chesse mixture; pour sauce over and mix well.

                    Put in greased pan and bake at 350 until bubbling. This will take longer if your pan is a casserole, and not so long if you're using a 13x9x2" pan (I've usually used casseroles and figure an hour).

                    Quantities given are for 1 lb. of ziti. It's very cheese-y, and the heat from the ziti and sauce when you mix it all together melts the cheese so that some goes inside the ziti, giving a semi-manicotti effect.

                    1. Is there a particular cut of meat that he loves but you haven't made in a while? Steak Diane (flamed and all) http://homecooking.about.com/od/beefr... with fettucine alfredo and roasted broccoli or sauteed green beans. Rachel Ray (gasp!) makes a really good 30 minute boulliabaisse called Fool-i-ya-baise or something like that. Great meal for cold weather. That would leave you time to make dessert. And maybe a nice cheese or 2 to nibble with a glass of wine when he comes home. Enjoy your evening!

                      1. Make a seafood risotto (easy and fairly quick and great for cold weather). Serve with a small side salad and a bottle of Chardonnay.

                        1. Scallops! Though I agree you should go see what's the freshest.

                          1. Roast chicken over croutons

                            Salt Crusted potatoes

                            Caesar salad

                            and a bottle of sparkling wine ... surprise him with Guet NV from (drum roll please) NEW MEXICO! A steal at $14/bottle

                            1. I'm thinking the solution won't be found here on the board but at the market. There will always be something good, fresh and on sale that your butcher, fishmonger or greengrocer with recommend. Go with that.

                              1. Coquille St Jacques and a wonderful green salad.

                                1. Chicken Picatta and Angel Hair pasta. Smells great when you walk in the door, and easy to put together.

                                    1. re: nancyhudson


                                      First - thank you so much all - I just had that 'I have no idea what to make' feeling that can be hard to shake.

                                      OK - so I followed the general advice to head to the market and then decide AND because they had some really nice shrimp and mussels I wound up making a fish stew. I also found some tiny cipolline so I called my creation.... yes, cippoline cioppino. It turned out very well and I had even had some shellfish stock in the freezer that I was able to use.

                                      Husband really loved it and I was so happy to have gotten all of the good advice. I did tell him that I'd been at a loss and gotten the advice at CH so the next day when I asked what he wanted for dinner I got a concrete reply! : )