Monday, February 25, 2008

Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger and Lime

I got some fresh fish over the internet! Yup, fish over the internet. The sucker was caught on Monday or Tuesday and at my house on Thursday. How cool is that? I'm a big fan of tuna so when I heard about Kona Kampachi from Kona Blue I knew I wanted to try it. Within a few days I had the most amazing sushi-grade Hawaiian yellowtail sitting right in my fridge. Now, what to do with it . . .

I sliced a few pieces and made up a dipping sauce. MMMmmmmm, good. But I had three pounds of the sucker so I also decided to make Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger and Lime. I found this Tyler Florence recipe online at Food Network. Pan-searing is a perfect way to cook this high quality fish because it just gets seared for a bit on the outside and the inside is still pretty raw. I doubled the recipe since it is only for a single serving. We served it over a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach. The avocado and the yellowtail played off of each other so well. It was a really simple and tasty meal. And very healthy too!

The recipe was really good but it was the fish that stood out. I wish I had some more time this week so that I could play around with some sushi rolls. I'll have to order some more and try that next time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The "most fun" $12 in Chicago

Tonight we went to Brasserie Jo for dinner. They had a special menu for Valentine's Day and they also had a few drink specials. I ordered the "champagne flight" which was to be prepared table side. I assumed this champagne would be like other wine or champagne flights - 4 half-glasses of 4 different types of champagne. I only got 3 different drinks but they were the most amazing creations I have ever seen!

The sommelier wheeled a huge brown cart over to our table. It had candles all over it, a silver wine bucket and a silver tray with three class bottles on it. This is where it got fun! 3 different champagne cocktails were made, each using some very special ingredients. The sommelier explained each ingredient and let us sniff and taste the alcohols separately before mixing together. One was had an apple flavor, one was more orange tasting, and the third one was made with cognac. It truly was a unique experience and I think one of the best values for $12 in all of the city!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dinner for a Chinese New Year

I made a small feast for dinner tonight. My CSA box contained bok choy and snow peas so I found two recipes to use these fresh vegetables. Since it is Chinese New Year's I turned to My China and Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong. She is one of my favorite Asian cookbook authors.

The shrimp in the picture is with a packaged sauce that I got at the Asian market. Basically just stir fry the shrimp with the sauce. But with the veggies I got to make my own sauces. I love playing with Asian ingredients and I think they both turned out well.

Stir-Fried Snow Peas with Garlic

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
8 oz. snow peas, trimmed
4 garlic cloves, roughly crushed
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1/4 tsp. sesame oil

Heat vegetable oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add salt and snow peas and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly to ensure garlic does not burn. Add sugar and stir-fry for 10 seconds.

Pour in stock or water and simmer for 2 minutes or until snow peas are tender. Lastly, stir through sesame oil and serve immediately.

Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce

1 bunch bok choy, cores removed
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
dash of sesame oil
1 Tbsp. peanut oil

Separate bok choy leaves and wash thoroughly.

Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Stir vegetable oil, add bok choy and simmer until bok choy i sbright green and tender - this should take about 1 minute. Using tongs, immediately remove bok choy from water and place on a platter. Drizzle with oyster sauce and sesame oil.

Heat peanut oil in a small frying pan until moderately hot and carefully pour over bok choy. Serve immediately.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Mom's Grilled Cheese

A few weeks ago Meeta at What's For Lunch Honey? posted the next Monthly Mingle challenge of Comfort Food on her blog. I have been thinking about it all month. I realized that "comfort food" for me is food that was made by my mom when I was growing up. My mom has these amazing recipes for homemade spaghetti and gravy, homemade bread, and even the most amazing Roast Beef and Pot Roast. I don't know any of the recipes and it is kind of hard for her to convey them to me because it is almost like they are in her blood.

Today my mom made me the most simplest of sandwiches: grilled cheese. Now, everyone knows how to make grilled cheese, right? Not me. I only eat grilled cheese that was prepared by my mother, my grandmother or my ex-husband. I have tried if a few times and just ended up burning it. So I decided that the ultimate comfort food, for me, is something that I don't even make myself!

The secret to my mom's grilled cheese is the bread. She almost always uses an artisan bread. I never grew up with "wonder bread" or anything like it in the house. So the bread gets buttered and then fried in the pan. It ends up being a bit crispy on the outside but still chewy. It doesn't matter what cheese is used, the buttery fried bread gives it the amazing comforting feel that should be. As it happens, today my mom used a combination of Kraft singles and a few slices of some habenaro cheese. It was nice and spicy which balanced the richness of the other cheese and the buttery bread. For me, it is pure heaven.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

#32: RJ's Natural Licorice

I am NOT a black licorice fan. In fact, I usually stay away from anything that reminds me of black licorice - even fennel. So I was a bit disappointed that RJ's Natural Licorice was listed as an example for Old-Fashioned Candy Makes a Comeback, #32 on Food and Wine's 100 Tastes to Try in 2008. But I went ahead and ordered it anyways.

I was a bit surprised that when I took a bit I the "gag reflex" I usually get with black licorice did not kick in. The licorice was very fresh and slightly chewy. It was almost like the black licorice flavor was on the outside, or even in just the smell. It tasted pretty good with a simple black licorice after taste. So I am quite pleased. I'm not sure if all "old fashioned" licorice is this good or just this manufacturer from New Zealand, but it was interesting to try all the same.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Chipotle-Lime Chicken Thighs

I LOVE chicken thighs. And I LOVE preparing dinner in my slow cooker. So when I found this recipe for Slow Cooker Chipotle-Lime Chicken Thighs Jamaican Rice and Peas on the Food Network's website I just knew I had to try it. And I'm glad that I did. I made this on a very cold Friday night. I had been snowing non-stop for the previous 36 hours. Three of us ate it and we all loved it. Adding the chopped avocado and lime wedges finished it off perfectly. The chicken was so tender it basically fell apart. The rice was a bit plain but it worked perfectly with the juices leftover in the crock pot. What a perfect winter dinner!