Sunday, September 28, 2008

grilled tuna over white bean puree with roasted tomatoes

while looking over my pile of garden goods, i tried to figure out how to use things in dishes other than spicy egg scramble. i hadn't been to the grocery store (which seems like a theme in these posts, but i swear i do go there quite often. it must be that my best dishes, those "worth" blogging about, come from random recipes that i match with items already in my pantry.)  and so i was searching for something to do with tuna and tomatoes. i've been trying to branch out in the fish world, making new recipes that include more than rice, veggies and dill and lemon salmon. i came across this and since everything but the tapenade could be found in my house, i forged ahead. in all honesty, i really don't think i could put olives with fish yet, even though i love me some olives. 

garlic-y white bean puree

now i know the recipe seems long and involved, but it's not. it's very simple and just has few steps per element...and trust me, it's totally worth it. i'll break down each part.

white bean puree (adapted from a tyler florence recipe)
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans white cannellini beans, drained
1/2 to 3/4 c chicken stock, heated
2 tsp white wine vinegar
kosher salt and ground pepper

1. heat olive oil over a medium fame, add garlic and sweat for 1 minute
2. add the beans followed by the warm chicken stock and cook until thoroughly warm
3. transfer to a food processor and puree with white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper
4. add extra chicken stock to thin if necessary
5. set aside and keep warm

roasted tomatoes with orange chili oil

roasted tomatoes and orange chili oil (adapted from a tyler florence recipe)
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
1 1/2 tbsp dried red chili flakes
1-2 tbsp orange marmalade
1 1/2 c olive oil
15 or so cherry or grape tomatoes

1. heat oil and add thyme, rosemary, chili flakes and marmalade
2. cook on low for 5 minutes and cool slightly
(the original recipe does not include cooking, but i didn't have an hour to wait for natural infusion)
3. lay out tomatoes on a roasting pan or cookie sheet
4. drizzle with orange chili oil and roast in oven for 8-10 minute until tomatoes are wilted and slightly burst

easy grilled tuna

sear the tuna over a hot grill pan, cooking for 45 seconds to a minute on each side. if you're like me, you bought tuna from trader joe's and it really isn't fit for searing with a rare center. you can go ahead and cook that all the way through. just don't tell tyler florence. to flavor, i drizzled the fish with olive oil and added salt, pepper, and a sprig of thyme. i used my griddler press to cook both sides at once.

assembling the dish

the assembly is part of the "wow" factor. how often do you put everything in the center of your plate, all dressed up and fancy looking? since i usually make meat, starch, and veggie dinners and i don't like to mix them together, my answer is next to never. but this stuff is meant to be layered. so spoon a generous portion of the puree onto a plate and carefully place the fish atop that garlic-y goodness. then add tomatoes and a bit of the juices and oil mixture over the fish.

ta-da! a dish fit for a restaurant

i'm not kidding, this was amazing. it really was easy and tasted like a real restaurant quality meal. good layer of flavors and if the fish had been more expensive, i would have served this for guests. and trust me when i tell you that i practically licked my plate clean of white bean puree. and then i licked the food processor clean. i'm going to turn that recipe  into a white bean soup it was so good. and i was right when i thought olives just don't fit here. the spicy chili oil and the creamy garlic beans were the right flavor match for the basic fish and i don't see myself liking a tapenade in this dish. but i do see myself making this again. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

the last of the summer garden 2008

husband and i took a final trip to the community garden to harvest the last of the season's bounty. i will admit, here and now, that things went well and the garden gave us some decent produce in it's last few weeks. it's not that i'd take back all of my complaints about the lack of red tomatoes because not much had changed on that front, but we did come home with a few bags of fresh veggies. i didn't help with the picking, though, because i was wearing brand new wine colored suede booties with a 4 inch heel...they had just come in the mail and i couldn't wait to put them on. so husband gardened solo while i sat in the car and took pictures of my feet. but then i came home and took pictures of the goodies.

and look how pretty! lots of little yellow pear drop tomatoes and even a few warm-hued full size tomatoes. tons of hot peppers, some banana peppers, and even a whole bunch of green peppers! plus, we've been drying peppers from the last month or so and now we've got beautiful reds, too. 

a bebe pepper!

so if you need peppers, i'm your gal. and i've been trying to use them in everything. husband has made omelets (for dinner), i made spaghetti (um, for breakfast. today.), and we've used the goods in just about every other dish to leave the kitchen. and i've got a seriously good recipe to post using the tomatoes that might just be the best thing i've made in a long, long time. 

so in the end, i've got to give some props to the garden. overall, it did it's job and really, i can only blame the local animals for ruining my grand plans to have homemade sauce for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

looks like torture, tastes like chicken

i bought a whole chicken the other week because i love how they taste when properly cooked and you can properly cook one in so many ways, it's pretty hard to mess up. plus, i get so burned out on chicken breasts and just isn't the same when it comes piecemeal. i've done the lemons, onions, oranges, herbs, etc. stuffed in the skin and cavity, but i was looking for something new. since grilling season is coming to a close and i'd heard about bear can chicken, i though i'd give it a go.

raw, cleaned chicken. mmmmm

you start with a whole chicken. wash it off , dry it and take out all the innards and feed the good stuff to your dogs. side note: a tiny chicken liver does not take a whole minute to cook in the microwave. also, if you put a tiny chicken liver in the microwave for a whole minute, it will explode.

all rubbed up

basic beer can chicken (recipe adapted from the splendid
1 whole chicken
1 can of beer, half full 
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c paprika
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil

1. wash and dry chicken
2. mix dry ingredients
3. rub oil all over bird and cover with dry rub - coat heavily
4. stand bird upright and stick bear can into cavity
5. grill upright until golden brown and 180 F, about 1 1/2 hours (allow to rest before carving)

grill baby, grill (omg rnc ::pokes eyes out::)

this chicken with its oil coating got a little too toasty. its backside fired right up and crisped in matter of minutes. so husband removed the bird form the grill and we finished him off in the oven. i kept the thermometer in and took the chicken out when it was about 180 F...i have no idea how much time it was on the grill and in the oven.

you might also see that the chicken is sitting on a pink can - specifically, it's a grapefruit soda with cane sugar can. we don't have canned beer, only bottles, so i bought a single can of soda and drank it. then husband drank half a bottled beer and poured the rest into the soda can. i'm not sure that this is important for you to know, but just in case that pink "beer" can was getting you confused, i thought i'd clear things up.


the burned skin wasn't super tasty, but this chicken was some of the best i've ever had. i don't drink beer and cannot stand the taste, but that half full can of beer did magical things to the bird. seriously, finger licking grood. plus, you don't need to eat all that skin anyway. and if it wouldn't have burned, i know i would have ripped it all off and done just that.

even if it's winter and you can't grill, this is worth doing in the oven. just posting these pictures makes me want more. we had the leftovers the next day in chicken on white (whole grain!) bread with mayo and salt and pepper and i was in heaven. in fact, i'm licking the computer screen right now.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

cute la!

sunday night. not this one but similar and i start perusing food blogs. lots of cupcakes to be seen and then i want one, too. but all the local cupcake places were closed and i had not been out shopping for ingredients in a while. then i came across a pretty picture of a flower topped cupcake. it was so cute and had very few ingredients, making just a small batch of low fat cupcakes. perfect for a late sunday evening urge to bake (and really, to eat cupcakes). 

i grabbed everything i needed from the cupboard and checked on the status of my powdered sugar and butter levels (no low fat buttercream round these parts). done and done, it was go time for this new, quick recipe.

smooth, glossy cocoa

low fat chocolate cupcakes (4goodnesscake)
3/4 c flour
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
6 tbsp buttermilk
1 egg
1 egg white

1. combine flour, sugar, baking powder & soda, and salt, set aside
2. with an electric mixer, combine cocoa and 3 tbsp hot water until a thick paste forms
3. add butter, buttermilk, egg and egg white and beat until combine
4. whisk in flour mixture until smooth
5. spoon into 12 baking cups and bake at 350 F until toothpick comes out clean (about 20 min)

ready to bake!

some things to note: i had no buttermilk so I added vinegar to regular milk and stirred it up. it was haphazard and i can't say exactly how much was added in the end because my first ratio was way too sour so i poured some out and added more milk. i guess it was probably 5 tbsp milk and 1 tbsp vinegar (or a little less). 

i also used new "nut cup" style papers. tres chic in the cupcake word, i guess. i filled them slightly too full and wound up with only 11...then a few of them overflowed while baking. in the future, i'll fill them up only half way rather than close to 3/4. you can get these papers at joann's right in the baking aisle now, so the trickle down factor has occurred.

a good fill amount makes a perfect little dome

these baked up quite nicely. they had nice, rounded tops that didn't deflate much out of the oven. the nut cups don't need to be in cupcake pans because they are freestanding, so i just put them on a cookie sheet - it was possibly easier and result in more uniform domes because i didn't have titled liners to mess with.

i allowed them to cool and topped them with basic vanilla buttercream. since i have yet to purchase large star tips, i am still piping from a snipped-top ziplock. i do have "real" bags and small tips, but sometimes it's just as easy to get the ziplock out. then, because i like candies and husband likes chocolates, i made some with rainbow non perils and some with shaved milk chocolate. le cuteness!


low fat verdict: pretty good. as far as difficulty (none) and simple ingredients (check), these were decent cupcakes. they don't taste as rich and almost gooey as others i've made, but it was still cake. i also really liked the nut cup paper and had no problem rolling up the edge and tearing it off before eating. i did get feedback that these are much taller, both in cake and then buttercream and true enough, they weren't easily stuffed into the mouth in one bite. that problem did not keep people from eating them, so i'm sure its a small price to pay to be in the "in" cupcake crowd. then again, can the most basic chocolate and vanilla be chic or even comparable to the edamame-snowflake with cheddar and shrimp buttercream cupcakes of the world?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

::kicks tomato::kicks ground::

um, if you haven't guessed yet, we ended up with no red tomatoes. none. all of that work. 22 plants. carefully weeded and watered and me, hanging out with disgusting bugs (more than just a praying mantis!) for nothing! ok, for 500 peppers and a single zucchini. i hate even admitting that on here. husband did everything right, planted those baby seeds, tended to them in early spring indoors, and planted them in cute rows outside. we watched them grow and thrive. and we saw them produce hefty green tomatoes...anticipating pico de gallo galore and tomato sauce coming out of our ears. 

our hopes were crushed. visions of homemade marinara dashed from my dreams. gah, life is hard! but all was not lost. when tsquared visited our garden for basil, he said why not fried green tomatoes? and why not? well, mostly because i've never had them, never wanted to have them, and have no idea how to make or eat them. but i picked a few green tomatoes anyway and set them atop our large pile of jalepenos to bring home. and that very same day i pondered what to make.

i knew they needed to be cooked. yes, obviously. they were hard as rocks and their stupid green skin not even a little separate from the flesh inside. and then i thought of green salsa and tomatillos. could my annoying lack of red tomatoes help me to make a spicy dipping sauce? mebbe. and then i found this. and sure, it was a small slap in the face with it's mention of 1 red tomato...but why blame the interwebs for our garden's problems? so without any reds and with no cilantro in the house, i did this make-shift style.

baby yellow tomatoes i do have (and a red chili pepper)

green salsa (adapted from allrecipes salsa verde)
3 green tomatoes
2 fresh jalepenos
8-10 ripe cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (or, if you're lucky, 1 red tomato)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 c lime juice
1/2 c chopped cilantro

1. put tomatoes  and jalepenos in a medium pot and cover with water
2. bring to a boil and cook until light green, about 15 minutes
3. cool slight and drain well
4. place in a blender with onion, lime juice, small tomatoes, cilantro and salt and pepper and puree

boiled bounty

easy to boil, but these darn things were so green they resisted softening after 20 minutes. i took them out anyway and used them after slicing each one just a bit. i also took the seeds out of the jalepenos but i think you could leave them in. 

i didn't boil those little yellows because they were already so nice and ripe. plus they would have cooked and split in just a few minutes, so i didn't think it was worth it. i'm not exactly sure you'd have to boil a ripe red tomato, either.


so i dumped everything in and blended and it was a bit...watery. this was surprising because my greenies had hardly any seeds and tomato innards. anyway, i'd suggest adding the lime juice in a slow drizzle and seeing how much you need. and as a note, without cilantro this was really just green tomato sauce with a bit of a kick. it sure needed some more flavor, so don't skip it.

no, it's not pea soup

so while this wasn't the best thing i'd ever made or had, it was still good with tortilla chips. (from rite aid, no less.) and if nothing else, i found a way to use some of the "goods" from the garden. i imagine adding some avocados (insert knee quiver here) might be magical. keeping the nice green color and getting some creamy guacamole out of the deal? sign me up. just don't sign me up for community garden summer 2009.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

quick and easy plum crumble

on a recent costco trip i bought a giant container of plums. husband and i ate one each almost everyday for a week and we still had plums. i got sick of my plum-a-day routine and let them sit and ripen. ripen they did until they were really no longer fit to eat plain. not in the mood to waste perfectly good, sweet plums, i searched online for a dessert that could be made in a short time frame without a lot of additional ingredients. i found a pretty good one at the southern food area within

basic ingredients, prepped crumble

i actually had less plums than what this recipe called for, so i adjusted my amounts and used a smaller dish. below is the original recipe.

plum crumble
about 5 c plums, pitted and quartered
1/4 c brown sugar
1 c flour
1 c sugar 
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c butter, melted

1. combine plums and brown sugar, stirring well
2. pour into a greased 11x7 baking dish
3. sift together the flour, sugar, salt  and cinnamon
4. add beaten egg and stir lightly until crumbly
5. sprinkle mixture over plums and drizzle with melted butter
6. bake at 375 F for 40 minutes or until lightly browned

this was pretty good - the plums were super juicy and sweet. i didn't think the topping was overly "crumbly", more like dough but in smaller quantity than dumplings.  i used even less sugar in the topping than my almost halved recipe called for and that may have contributed to the dough-like texture, but it didn't really matter because it tasted fine. 

husband has since tried to put plums in the cart on 2 separate shopping trips in hopes that i'm still off plums and these will "sadly" ripen before we eat them...just so i can make this again. apparently he really enjoyed it. i have to agree that it was a nice change from the traditional berry or rhubarb crisp/crumble i so often have. and just in case you're wondering, it is good for breakfast. ;)