Sunday, June 24, 2012

Shark Kebabs w/ Orange Avocado Salsa

For his birthday dinner this year, my seven-year-old requested two things: shark and broccoli. Happy to oblige, I came up with this simple and fresh meal. Grown-ups and kid were equally pleased (and there was very little clean up).

  1. I cut the shark steaks into 1" cubes and marinated them in orange juice, guajillo chile powder, salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil for about an hour. Then I threaded the cubes onto skewers and broiled them for about 12 minutes, turning once.
  2. While the shark broiled, I toasted some Israeli couscous in olive oil, then finished cooking it in a mixture of chicken broth and water. I would have added saffron if I'd had any lying about.
  3. While the couscous cooked, I steamed a head of broccoli, cut into large florets, and stirred together a salsa of chopped orange, avocado, cilantro, and onion with a bit of salt and pepper. I set some aside for Max, then added some finely chopped serrano pepper for the adults. I may have added a squeeze of lime; I don't recall.
That's it. The shark was more tender and juicy than I've ever had it; broiling small cubes was the key! This salsa would also be good on any seafood or grilled chicken. So simple; so healthy; so delicious.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Black-Eyed Peas with Citrus Chile Vinaigrette

I stole this recipe from Tyler Florence, but I first heard about it on my favorite food blog, Thursday Night Smackdown. It's amazing. The dry rub for the shrimp is great on anything, but the shrimp themselves don't add much to this salad. I make it in big batches, then eat it all week. I pretty much stick to the recipe as posted on the Food Network site, but I do add more veggies: diced cucumber, bell pepper, more tomato, etc. I think you could put anything in there and it would rule. I also don't bother cooking the black-eyed peas with ham hocks, because the ones available where I live have no meat or flavor on them. But, do what you will: the dressing is outstanding, and will make any combination of veggies delicious. I suspect it would also be nice drizzled on fish, grilled chicken, or any kind of taco.

Fake-and-Cheese Subs

A month or so before I made this, my sister called to gush over a Rick Bayless recipe for a warm salad involving chorizo roasted with mushrooms and onions. She had also made one of  his soups that week, with more mushrooms and some zucchini, and it occurred to me as she talked that those things could pair really well together. So this is what I did.
  1. I made fresh chorizo (it's so simple, you'll wonder why you've never done it before) from The Homesick Texan's recipe. It wasn't my absolute favorite recipe--I usually follow Rene Valenzuela's recipe from the Tampa Taco Bus--but I did like the added heat and the subtle cinnamon.
  2. I scattered the chorizo in lumps over a baking sheet, then sprinkled about a pound of various sliced mushrooms and a few shards of sliced onion on top. Salt and a very light sprinkle of olive oil over all, then roast the whole pan at 375 for about 15 minutes. Rick Bayless says to stop there, but I like my veggies really roasted, so I stirred it up and roasted for another 15 minutes.
  3. I halved and hollowed out some mammoth zucchini that I'd picked up at our new amazing farm stand, sprinkled with olive oil and salt, filled the cavities with the chorizo mixture, sprinkled the top with a vinaigrette of olive oil, lime juice, and oregano, and then added a bit of grated Parmesan. Baked the whole thing for maybe 30 minutes, covered, then another 5 to brown the cheese.
These were so, so freaking delicious. And fairly virtuous, compared to an actual steak and cheese sub. I can think of about a trillion things to do with that roasted chorizo/mushroom mixture, and I encourage you to try it as soon as possible. Rick Bayless, you pretty much win Food.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes

These are the ever-popular Sprinkles cupcakes, and you can find the recipe anywhere on the interwebs, so I have no qualms about reposting it here. The cake is perfect: dense, not fluffy, and not very sweet. The frosting is too sweet on its own, but on the cupcakes, it's ideal. Pro tip: you really have to beat the crap out of the butter and make sure it's super-fluffy before adding the wet ingredients; then, when you add the berry puree, beat again, on high, for several minutes. If it looks like it's all congealed and nasty, be patient. It /will/ come together.

For cupcakes:
  1. I pureed a cup of washed strawberries, then set it aside. I put out the milk, eggs, and butter to get to room temperature.
  2. I turned the oven to 350 and put liners in my muffin pan.
  3. I whisked together 1 1/2 C flour, 1 t baking powder, and 1/4 t salt. In a liquid measuring cup, I put 1/4 C whole milk, 1 t vanilla, and 1/3 C of the berry puree (or maybe a bit more).
  4. With a stand mixer, I creamed 1 stick of unsalted butter for a LONG time until very fluffy. Then I added 1 C sugar and beat again until very fluffy. I turned the speed to medium and slowly added 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites, one at a time, stopping to scrape the bowl a few times.
  5. With the mixer on low, I added 1/2 the flour mixture. When it was incorporated, I added the milk. Same drill with the rest of the flour. 
  6. I divided the batter into my muffin cups, and baked for 25 minutes on the dot.
For frosting:
  1.  I creamed 2 sticks of cold butter with a pinch of salt until very light and fluffy. Then I slowly added 1 1/2 C of confectioner's sugar.
  2. Then I /very slowly/ added in 1 t of vanilla and about 1/4 C of the berry puree. Then I added a bit more berries, and a bit more, until it tasted super strawberry-ish. I kept the mixer running until it was all incorporated and airy, but it isn't light like a buttercream frosting.
  3. Then I frosted the cooled cupcakes and ate about 5 of them.

Grilled Pork Chop with Butternut Hominy

Ha! I tricked you! No recipe here. I brined and grilled some boneless, center cut pork chops. I also grilled some asparagus, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The real beauty of this dish is the perfectly balanced hominy with butternut squash and goat cheese, but I stole that recipe from my all-time favorite food blog, Thursday Night Smackdown and I refuse to steal her thunder. Go. Read her. Worship her. And make her food.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lemon-Rosemary Cobb Salad

I totally lifted this recipe from Bobby Flay, and it is one of the two ways I will eat steak. I monkeyed around with it a bit, and I never really measure stuff, and it's become a family favorite.

  1. I use that really thin steak for this, but if you actually like red meat, you can use any steak you like. Marinate it overnight in tons of garlic, salt, fresh rosemary, and olive oil. Grill it to your liking, but use a hot flame to get a nice char on the outside. Let it rest a few minutes, then slice or chop. Before you turn off the grill, halve two lemons and grill them for about 5 minutes, or until the sugars on the cut ends begin to caramelize. Save for dressing.
  2. Roughly chop the other salad ingredients: romaine lettuce, avocado, green onions, crisp bacon, and tomatoes. Crumble some good bleu cheese. If you like hard-boiled eggs, add them. I think they're disgusting, so I don't. Bobby Flay grills the scallions, and uses prosciutto instead of bacon, in case you wondered. I don't bother.
  3. Assemble the salad: a traditional Cobb places the ingredients in rows over the lettuce, as in my picture. I like it that way, too, so that every bite combines different flavors.
  4. Make the dressing: blend the juice of one grilled lemon, about 1/2 C olive oil, salt, pepper, and a T of minced garlic (Bobby Flay uses a few cloves of roasted garlic, which is delicious, but I usually forget to prepare in advance), plus some more fresh rosemary. Taste and adjust with more grilled lemon or olive oil. There is so much creamy stuff on this salad (cheese, avocado, bacon) that I err on the side of tartness--I usually use at least a lemon and a half in the dressing. Drizzle over salad.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Simple Ratatouille

I love Thomas Keller's recipe for Confit Biyaldi, which was the basis for the ratatouille Remy makes in the Pixar movie of the same name. It takes forever to make, though, and requires veggies that are all the same width, which never seems possible in South Florida. Luckily, I found that if I cook the veggies in the same pot, it comes out with pretty much the same flavors--as long as I add the secret ingredient.

Serves about 8.

  1. I cut the following veggies into rough 3/4" chunks: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers (red, orange, and yellow), sweet onion. In a Dutch oven, I sauteed the onion in a hefty amount of olive oil (about 1/4 C) until soft, then added the rest of the veggies, a pinch of red pepper flake, and some salt. I cooked the veggies, stirring occasionally, until they were softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. I added 2/3 of a large can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes (the sweetness of these tomatoes is key to this dish, and worth the extra money) and a handful each of chopped fresh parsley and torn fresh basil.
  3. I cooked the ratatouille for another 15 minutes, tasted, re-seasoned, and added a swirl of good balsamic vinegar. That last addition makes all the difference in the world.
  4. This time, I served the ratatouille over egg noodles, but it's amazing as is, and makes for fantastic cold or room-temperature leftovers.