Thursday, September 30, 2010
It was over 100 degrees today, so I was craving something cool. Mint sounded cool. No meat, maybe fish or chicken? Hmm...decisions. So I opted for fish. Probably because I wanted to stay indoors, and the idea of broiling fish sounded appealing.
But what to do with the mint? I've been craving a pesto for a while, but was also craving some North African flavors. I needed red peppers in there somewhere. Ah ha! A red pepper sauce, and something like Chermoula on the fish. But not real Chermoula, the idea of it, because I wanted something that crossed between Chermoula and pesto. Something with mint, but no cheese. Something with almonds too.
Right, got it.
Broiled Mahi Mahi:
I wanted a basic salt and pepper, and a bit of olive oil, season. Let the sauce and pesto do the talking and use the fish as a palette. So, season it up and let it sit for about 10 minutes on the counter or 30 minutes in the fridge. Heat up your broiler, and broil on a wire rack for 4-5 minutes, then flip and broil another 4-5 minutes.
The fish was cooked, but I wanted a bit more blackening on it, so I busted out the torch. 30 seconds of flame and it was good to go.
Red Pepper Sauce:
You need a good 30 minutes to make this sauce, so I'd start it way before you even pop the fish in the broiler.
You need a jar of roasted red peppers, drained. Puree in a processor and set aside. Meanwhile, bring 1 cup of white wine and 1 large, minced shallot, to a boil, then reduce heat for 5 minutes. Add red pepper mixture and simmer for 10 minutes on lowest setting. Use an immersion blender and blend. Add salt and pepper, and continue simmering.
You'll notice when you blend a vegetable or fruit, like tomato, red peppers, etc., once you use the sauce, the solids will release liquid onto the plate (see picture for liquid escaping the solids in the sauce). The flavor was great, but I think I'd do one of two things next time - either strain the mixture, discard the solids, then using only the liquid, finish with butter, or keep everything, but thicken with a roux. A sauce like I made is only good for about 15 second before it starts to release liquid and destroys your plating. Salt and pepper to taste before plating.
I grow fresh mint in my backyard. It's like a weed, and right now I have a ton of it. I grabbed about 1 smashed handful of it, shoved it into a processor, along with about 1/4 cup sliced almonds, 3 pressed garlic cloves, 1/4 cup olive oil, juice from 1 lime, and salt and pepper. Process that into a chunky paste. The garlic gives it a wonderful bite!
Mix 1-2 Tbs honey with 2-3 Tbs soy sauce and about 1 Tbs chopped mint. Add salt and pepper. Mix well into shrimp and let them marinate at least 20 minutes. Before cooking, drain them well. Heat a small amount of oil and pan fry the shrimp for 2-3 minutes. Top with a small amount of fresh mint.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I'll be honest, I took 10 or 12 pictures from all different angles and couldn't find a single image that made this dish look appealing! Sorry, it was excellent, but I just couldn't capture it. It was my plating...I just didn't know how to present this dish. Maybe I should have roasted it open faced, but I didn't. Instead, I roasted the peppers standing up, then sliced them down the middle and opened then sideways.
Anyway, let's start with the onions...
I sliced 2 yellow and 1 red onion. Placed them in a steel pan with a small amount of olive oil on medium-high. Stirred for a few minutes, then lowered the heat to medium, stirring every few minutes for about 30 minutes. I tossed a small amount of sugar into the onions the last 10 minutes for added sweetness. These were perfect and could accompany many, many things.
Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers:
I was craving wheat bulgar, so that's where I started. A cup of bulgar, 1.5 cups of chicken broth. Cooked it for about 15 minutes, then set it aside. don't worry if it's done cooking, because it's going to cook plenty inside the pepper.
I also sliced up some crimini mushrooms and sauteed those with white wine, garlic and olive oil. Mixed those in with the bulgar.
I chopped some vine ripe tomatoes and added those to the bulgar mix.
I cut the tops of the red peppers, and cleaned out the insides. I stuffed then with the bulgar mix, then drizzled some white wine and olive oil on the top. Into a pre-heated oven on 400 degrees until they looked done - maybe 40 - 60 minutes.
This meal was healthy and have amazing flavor development. Just needed to figure out plating and this would have been amazing.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
There's a brilliant chef in Tustin and her name is Zov Karamardian. Her restaurant, Zov's, is amazing. She also came out with a book, Zov: Recipes and Memories from the Heart. I picked it up at Costco earlier this year and am glad I did.
Anyway, I was craving Greek, Middle Eastern or something along those lines, and was trying to figure out a good meat recipe. I flipped through Zov's book and found one for skirt steak. I noticed it combined flavors of Asia and the Mediterranean...I was sold.
I pretty much stayed true to the recipe, which is very rare for me, but I was way to curious about her execution on it. Topped that on a pita, along with chopped red onion, red leaf lettuce, cucumber, and a simple yogurt sauce (greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic).
Healthy and quick.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Here you see the setup. Sure, it sounds appealing, maybe even looks appealing. It certainly did to me. But let me break some things down for you before you try this recipe.
First, my intention was to get a massive amount of smoke directly onto the chicken. In theory, this would have been great. And, the smoke from rosemary is nice and compliments chicken well.
The setup, as you see, had a blanket of rosemary on top of aluminum foil. I coated the base with olive oil. Then, on top of the rosemary, I added some sliced apples. On top of that, the chicken. Here's a quick detour for the chicken flavoring: A handful of chicken breasts or chicken breast tenders, coated in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. I love paprika, so you see I coated it with a solid amount.
Now onto the setup.
When I placed the setup on the grill, it started working right away. Smoke! After a couple of minutes, though, the rosemary was breaking down and it became apparent that the chicken was soon going to be resting directly on burnt rosemary. I figured I'd let it play out.
As I suspected, the rosemary completely broke down into burnt matter and oil. It did not stick to the chicken as I thought it would, but that doesn't mean the flavor wasn't overwhelming.
The finished result was visually appealing, but the rosemary fragrance and oils were overpowering- to the point of being disgusting. The apples were worse, since they soaked up even more of the fragrance and oil.
Next time, I think the idea would succeed if I built a true barrier between the rosemary and the chicken, but allowed some - not all - of the rosemary smoke to penetrate the chicken. What I'm thinking is that I'd completely cover the rosemary with apple slices, since they imparted a natural sweetness to the chicken and helped defuse the power of the rosemary on the chicken...I just didn't have enough apples to create a barrier. I would not let the chicken rest directly on the rosemary.
You might be wondering why I just didn't set up my smoke box with rosemary and keep it simple...I wanted the direct smoke, that's it. Perhaps a better solution would have been to add some wood chips to the rosemary (or even put the chicken directly on top of the wood chips - that would be interesting).
Anyway, give it a shot. Here's the finished plate.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I love dishes that come purely from need. Like the need to use up that can of tomato sauce, or that need to free up some freezer space by using those frozen fillets. I also love to build meals off a single ingredient, so let's begin.
If you follow me at all, you know I eat a lot of fish. Mahi Mahi is pretty much a staple in my house, so when I felt like eating some fish, it was the clear choice. I didn't feel like turning on the BBQ, and I love the crispy exterior texture of a good pan-fried fish, so that part was done.
On to the side.
My wife is always asking me why I don't cook more vegetables. Probably because I don't want to eat them, but I do try...for her, at least. I open the fridge, and guess what? No vegetables. So, I'm thinking that the fish should go on or with something and I literally have nothing that sounds good.
Pasta? Hmm? Interesting, because a pan fried Mahi Mahi with a cream pasta sounded great. But no cream, so that was out. It crossed by mind to do a Vera Cruz style, which I love, but something about that just didn't sound good.
I go to the cupboard and see a tiny can of plain tomato sauce- purchased for some reason months ago that went unused. Boom, the thoughts come pouring in...tomato-based pasta, but not just any pasta, Farfalle. And then it hit me...I had some frozen artichoke hearts, I had some sun dried tomatoes, plenty of garlic, a red onion. Done deal.
Pan Fried Mahi Mahi:
Two fillets, thawed and towel dried
Season the fillets and fry them in a mixture of olive oil and butter for about 4 minutes per side until done.
Cook farfalle according to instructions. Strain, toss with a light amount of olive oil and set aside.
Finely chop 1/2 red onion, and saute in olive oil on medium for 5 minutes.
Add 1 finely chopped red chili, cook another 2 minutes.
Add 1 cup thawed frozen artichoke hearts (or drain some from a can/bottle).
Add 5 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press, cook another 30 seconds - 1 minute.
Add about 1 cup of white wine (I used a Savignon Blanc), bring to a boil, then reduce to low and cook for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, drop about a handful of sun dried tomatoes into a glass mixing bowl. Add really hot water and let sit for 10 minutes. When they're soft, drain them (reserving the liquid), chop them course and add them to your diavolo. Pour about 2-3 Tbs of the liquid into your diavolo. Continue cooking.
Add a small can of plain tomato sauce to your diavolo. Stir and cook for about 5 more minutes on low heat. Add the farfalle, stir to combine.
Depending on the amount of red chili you use (and you can replace that with crushed red pepper, cayenne, or other peppers if you like), this should be a spicy dish.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Ok, so that's a mouthful...not the sandwich (actually, yes, it's a mouthful too). I mean the title. But sometimes you need a little from here, a bit from there, and so on. Let's back up first.
For this meal, I needed to consider some food 'softies.' They were coming over for dinner, and I knew I needed to stretch them without breaking them. Well, your idea of stretching might be different than mine, but I wanted to take them up to the ledge and dangle them over it. No one comes to my house to eat boiled water.
I know they both like Korean BBQ. Actually, I know one of them likes Korean BBQ...the other one is scared by the process (raw meat on grill), but enjoys the results. I've done BBQ for them before, so I didn't want to have the same thing. Instead, I built backwards, from the Korean flavor and style, and backed it into a nice, end of Summer experience.
People always think of burgers as a Summer food, but I also didn't feel like making burgers. Sandwiches are a great choice, but sometimes they feel a little weak on the "experience" end of things. A ha!! Korean meat in a sandwich. To me, Lee's Sandwiches does a great job of this, although they're a bit to Disneyland for me. Anyway, Vietnamese-French sandwiches have been a hit with me for a long time, so that was all I needed.
Let's start with the meat. I used my basic Korean BBQ recipe, but on flap meat, and added some Sake. Why? Flap meat looked good at the butcher and I know it's good for sandwiches. Adding Sake? I wanted a hint of that flavor, that's all. Meat, check.
The bread? French roll - no questions asked. I picked a crappy one, though. It looked good through the bread and didn't even have a brand name. Imagine that, "French Bread." No brand. Nothing.
I chopped some red leaf lettuce, because I wanted the soft, cool texture, without the excess moisture found in Iceberg, or the excess crunch from cabbage.
I needed a pickle! Kimchi was the obvious choice. But I love the big crunch of radish (as opposed to napa kimchi). I chopped, and chopped, and chopped. Drained it, then added back in the thick part of the sauce that remained in the strainer.
Green onions? Of course. Sesame seeds, yep.
But, I wanted a twist in there. Something unexpected. I found some beautiful Shitake mushrooms and sauteed them in butter and sake. Perfect match for this!
And last, but not least, you always need a spread. Mayo is a great spread for any type of sandwich, and with the addition of some chili sauce (I used Sriracha)- it was perfection.
So, you build the sandwich, you test the waters with your friends and it works.