Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pan Roasted Line Caught Halibut with Soy-Lemon Sauce

I guess I'm into a bit of a Ming Tsai mood lately. Again, I saw a recipe that he prepared on Simply Ming which I needed to try. This time I was compelled by the browning then roasting of the fish and cherry tomatoes together. I like starting off in a pan and then finishing up in the oven.

However I has put off from making this because it called for preserved lemons. And of course Ming had a huge jar or preserved lemons with some jalapenos and lemongrass in there... but I was on my own. I couldn't find them at any of the three specialty stores I went to, but read how easy they were to make online. The problem is, they take about a month. It did seem that you could eat them after about a week so I decided to give them a try. I used Claudia Roden's recipe that I found online with Meyer lemons as a basis for mine:

Preserved Lemons
2 meyer lemons
1/3 cup sea salt
1/2 cup lemon juice

Scrub lemons very well and then cut up the long way into 8 wedges each (you eat the rind so make sure to clean them good). Cover them with 1/3 cup Coarse Sea Salt and 1/2 cup juice of a regular lemon. Stir well. Covered them up nice and air tight and let them sit out on the counter for a week. Stir them and re-cover every night for one week. On the 8th day add 1/2 cup of olive oil, stif and recover. Store in refrigerator for up to six months.

But after the first week I was ready to try this recipe. The rinds were soft so I figured they were ready. I was unsure about the lemons because they tasted so salty, but after a bit of research, I decided to give them a rinse and then trim that so that I was only using the peel. I used almost all of the lemons in this recipe, but the few that were left sat it the fridge for a few more weeks and I can confirm they get better with age. In fact, I'm getting ready to make another batch.

Pan Roasted Line Caught Halibut with Soy-Lemon Sauce
Serves 4

4 6-ounce center-cut halibut fillets, skin off
2 large minced shallots
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tablespoons white wine
2 Tablespoons low sodium organic soy sauce
1/3 cup chopped preserved lemons
1/4 cup chopped chives
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat over to 400 degrees. In an large saute pan or cast iron skillet, coated lightly with olive oil, season the halibut with salt and pepper and sear until brown on top side, about 2 minutes. Flip halibut and add shallots and tomatoes in between the pieces of fish, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top and place in oven. Roast for about 12-14 minutes until cooked through. Transfer fish to a plate and place pan on high heat. De glaze pan with win and add preserved lemons. Reduce by half and add soy sauce. Check for seasoning. Plate fish and encircle with sauce. Garnish with chives.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Garlic-Braised Chicken with Olives and Mushrooms

Can anything with at least 16 cloves of garlic be bad? I say no - especially if it's roasted. And even through it's braised, the garlic turn out soft and sweet, just like it was roasted. In fact, one of my family members said "I like the little white mushrooms" because they aren't used to eating whole cloves of garlic and didn't recognize them. But it was the garlic and I agree, it added alot of nice flavor. And of course the house smelled wonderful too.

I was a bit curious about this recipe because it is a braising technique but uses so little liquid. But it turned out just fine. I did end up having to cook the chicken closer to 30 minutes, maybe because I didn't have the burner turned up high enough.

The flavors are gentle but super tasty. I left the olives whole because it looked prettier that way. And there is a wonderful sauce so make sure to serve this with some type of side or crusty bread to soak it up. We ate it with farro.

Garlic-Braised Chicken with Olives and Mushrooms
Serves 4

1 small chicken (about 2½ pounds), cut into pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 heads garlic (at least 16 cloves), smashed and peeled
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and halved
½ cup white wine
½ cup green olives (preferably picholine), pitted or left whole
1/3 cup chicken stock

Heat a large straight-sided skillet (about 12 inches) over medium-high heat. While it's heating, season chicken with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and swirl. Add chicken, skin side down. Let brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove chicken from pan; set aside.

Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan, followed by garlic and mushrooms; let brown, stirring occasionally, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add wine to mushrooms and garlic and bring to a boil, then cook for 1 minute. Return chicken to pan.

Add olives and chicken stock to pan; bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover; simmer until chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Panko and Dijon-Crusted Trout on Cucumber-Quinoa Salad

I saw Ming Tsai making this recently on an episode of Simply Ming. I love how he instructs to pre-heat the cookie sheet in the oven before placing the fish on it. The fish cooks nice and evenly with this technique. I am a big fan of fish but don't always have success in cooking it. This was easy and very impressive. The crust on top made it turn out like a restaurant quality dish.

Also fun is that he serves it over a quinoa salad. This is becoming a popular grain and this salad is the first time I have prepared it. It is light and a great compliment to the fish.

The recipe on his site doesn't instruct you how to actually cook the fish so I have added that inline below.

Panko and Dijon-Crusted Trout on Cucumber-Quinoa Salad
Serves 4

¼ cup Dijon mustard plus 1 tablespoon for vinaigrette

1 cup panko on a plate

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 scallions, sliced thinly, white and green separated

4 skinless rainbow trout fillets

juice and zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons Wanjashan ponzu

¼ cup grapeseed oil

1 English cucumber, washed, mostly diced, a portion thinly sliced into coins for plating

1½ cup blanched quinoa

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to high broil and place oven-proof plate or cookie sheet in middle of oven.

In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup Dijon mustard with panko, olive oil and scallion whites. Season trout and spread seasoned panko mixture on top of trout. Place trout on heated cooking dish skin side down (it should be hot enough that the fish sears when placed). Broil about 8 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.

Meanwhile, make vinaigrette by mixing lemon juice with ponzu and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Whisk in the grapeseed oil. Season and check for flavor. Add diced cucumbers and quinoa. Check for flavor and season.

To plate, arrange overlapping circle of cucumber coins, then spoon quinoa salad in center. Top with trout, drizzle extra vinaigrette around plate and garnish with reserved scallion greens.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Yangshuo Style Eggplant

I saw Ruth Reichl making this on Gourmet's Adventure's with Ruth recently and it looked so good I went straight out to the store to get me some eggplant! I experimented with Asian food quite a bit a few years ago and I still find it one of the most intriguing types of food to make. Partly because of the interesting and unfamiliar ingredients, but also because of the interesting cuts of the vegetables and how fast everything seems to cook. It's like 90% preparation and 10% cooking and I just find that neat.

You can find the recipe for Yangshuo Style Eggplant here.

It says it serves four as a side dish, but that's a really tiny side dish. I doubled the recipe for the four of us to enjoy as a side. I wish I quadrupled it. We couldn't get enough of it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pork Medallions with Miso-Mushroom Sauce

I thought this was going to have an Asian flavor since it uses miso, but this is not so. Too bad because I made a few Asian side dishes and they didn't really blend all that well together. No one complained though because all of the food was so damn good!

For some reason, this dish reminds me of a classic roast beef type dinner my mom usually makes - with browned mushrooms. It's a nice hearty meal for a cool winter night. I used some organic, local, humanely killed pork I got from the farmer's market but you couldn't really tell with this one because the sauce is so heavy. At least it feels good to use those types of meats even if you can't always taste it.

Pork Medallions with Miso-Mushroom Sauce
Serves 4

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
14 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (6 cups)
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (3 cups)
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup sake, (see Ingredient notes)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 scallions, sliced
1 tablespoon miso

Place 1/4 cup flour on a large plate and dredge pork slices in it, shaking off the excess.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until golden, crispy and just barely pink in the center, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add shiitake and white mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until softened and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons flour over the mushrooms; stir to coat. Add broth, sake, vinegar and pepper and bring to a simmer over high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and slightly reduced, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in scallions and miso. Return the pork to the pan, turn to coat with the sauce, and simmer until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve the pork topped with the sauce.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Chicken & Barley Soup

There is snow on the ground but the sun is out. That's Spring in Chicago! So today I made a batch of this Spring Chicken & Barley Soup for lunch. This is definitely one to make on the weekend because it too about 90 minutes from start to finish. But it is really flavorful and I have a batch of leftovers that I can take for a healthy lunch throughout the week.

I love the ideas of fresh asparagus and crisp peas in this soup. It is different that regular "chicken noodle" types. But the really stand out part is the sprinkling of basil, orange zest and raw garlic on top. That bit of orange really made the freshness pop.

Spring Chicken & Barley Soup
Makes 4 servings, about 2 cups each

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, divided
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 large bone-in chicken breast (10-12 ounces), skin removed, trimmed
1/3 cup pearl barley
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup trimmed and diagonally sliced asparagus (¼-inch thick)
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
½ tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup lightly packed torn fresh basil leaves
1 strip orange zest (½ by 2 inches)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, 2 to 4 minutes. Grate or finely chop 1 clove garlic; add to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, chicken and barley. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon. Return the broth to a simmer and cook until the barley is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, shred the chicken or cut into bite-size pieces; discard the bone.

When the barely is done, add the chicken, tomatoes and juice, asparagus, peas, salt and a grinding of pepper; return to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes more.

Coarsely chop the remaining garlic clove. Gather basil, orange zest and the garlic and finely chop together. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle each serving with a generous pinch of the basil mixture.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans

Surprised at how fast this yummy, gooey, Italian gnocchi dinner came together! I did have a bit of a problem though... the recipe calls for "package shelf-stable gnocchi" and but I couldn't find any so I purchased a bag of frozen potato gnocchi from Whole Foods. I let it defrost before using because they were to go right into the skillet. Directions on package said to defrost and boil. So they ended up being pretty mushy. They didn't want to brown either. But I just cooked it all a bit longer and didn't care when the gnocchi all mushed together - the end taste is so satisfying and no one even noticed.

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans
Serves 6

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 16-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
6 cups chopped chard leaves, (about 1 small bunch) or spinach
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chard (or spinach) and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Creamy Lemon Shrimp

Tofu noodles! They might sound gross but they are light and yummy... perfect to eat cold. Who knew? And of course they were the reason I wanted to try this recipe because I love playing with new ingredients. I really like the taste of them, and they are super healthy, so I want to find more ways of using them.

The thing is, I tore this recipe out of some magazine months ago and I have no idea which one it was. So sorry I can't identify it here.

Creamy Lemon Shrimp
Serves 4

1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 medium lemons
1 pound cooked shrimp (any size)
2 cups broccoli florets, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups arugula
1 bag (8 ounces) tofu noodles, rinsed and drained (found in the Asian section of grocery store)

Place yogurt, sour cream, chives, tarragon, garlic, mustard, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Zest lemons over bowl. Juice 1 lemon into bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add shrimp, broccoli, arugula and noodles. Toss to coat and serve with remaining lemon, cut into wedges, if desired.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Barley Stew with Leeks, Mushrooms and Greens

I've been trying to make some type of homemade soup or stew every week for a while now - usually vegetarian too. This is because I'm trying to eat healthier and soups/stews are a great way to play with new grains and vegetables. And it's nice to take for lunch once or twice during the week or else just have around the house for a night when I don't feel like cooking. I love the classic barley and mushroom combo and this stew is a traditional take on those flavors.

Barley Stew with Leeks, Mushrooms and Greens
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (about 2 small stalks; white and pale green parts only)
1 8-ounce container sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup pearl barley
4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1 bunch kale (about 8 ounces), trimmed, center stalks removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 8 cups packed)

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add leeks; sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until leeks begin to soften, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, and rosemary; increase heat to medium-high and sauté until mushrooms soften and begin to brown, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice; stir 1 minute. Add barley and 4 cups broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until barley is almost tender, about 20 minutes. Add kale; stir until wilted, about 1 minute. Cover and simmer until kale and barley are tender, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls as needed for desired stew consistency, about 10 minutes.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cod with Chickpeas and Artichokes

This is one of those restaurant recipes that Food & Wine re-does to make affordable. And I'm glad they did because it is really great! The mix of carrots and shiitake with chickpeas is really amazing and would be a good meal - or side - on its own.

There were a couple of things I don't like about this recipe: the heavy use of oil and butter and frying the fish in oil. I'm terrified of frying fish and chicken and things in a pan... I have never mastered it and there's always a bunch of oil popping up in my face when I'm trying to get the stuff in the pan. But I figured it out and it came out edible so I was happy.

Cod with Artichokes and Chickpeas
Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
One 9-ounce box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and pressed dry
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps quartered
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons snipped chives
Four 6-ounce skinless cod fillets
Lemon wedges, for serving

In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion, artichoke hearts, shiitake caps, carrots and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 7 minutes. Add the chickpeas and stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is nearly evaporated, 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and chives and keep warm.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until almost smoking. Season the cod fillets with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and cook over high heat until well browned on the bottom, about 6 minutes. Carefully flip the fillets and cook until they’re white throughout, about 3 minutes longer.

Spoon the vegetables into shallow bowls and top with the seared cod fillets. Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Brothy Chinese Noodles

Brothy. Chinese. Noodles. Three yummy words - especially when they are all together. I think this recipe was highlighted as of the "must make" recipes in the January / February 2010 issue of Eating Well magazine, so of course I complied.

I wasn't clear, and am still not clear, about what "dried Chinese noodles" really are. After going back and forth between a few different options, I picked up something called Pancit Canton (wheat noodles) which are some yellow Filipino noodles that came in a 16 oz. package and used half of it. It came out great so it's quite convenient that I have this other half already because I plan to make this again soon.

The spicy sesame oil was a bit hard to find as well. I ended up getting a tiny bottle at Whole Foods that cost about $10. But that's okay because it's a really nice flavor and I'm sure I'll use a splash with other things that I want to add a little heat too. And because of this oil this dish does come out a bit on the spicy side, which I love but might be a little hot for those adverse to spicy food.

Brothy Chinese Noodles
Serves 6

2 tablespoons hot sesame oil (see Note), divided
1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
1 bunch scallions, sliced, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup water
3 cups thinly sliced bok choy
8 ounces dried Chinese noodles (see Note)
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 small cucumber, sliced into matchsticks, for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add ground turkey, all but 2 tablespoons of the scallions, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring and breaking up the turkey, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add broth, water, bok choy, noodles, soy sauce, vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Return the turkey mixture to the pan and stir to combine. Serve garnished with the reserved 2 tablespoons scallions and cucumber (if using).