Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Steamed Fish with Szechuan Noodles

This is a fast, healthy, and very flavorful meal that you can probably make from things you have around the house-- I use broccoli and pea shoots here but any vegetable would work (peas, carrots, green beans, etc). If you don't have szechuan pepper, get some. It's amazing stuff-- peppery, tingly, and basically fantastic. It really changes the flavor of this dish. If I didn't have it, I'd probably put ginger in the sauce instead.

You'll need (serves 2, but doubles easily):
2 fillets of ocean perch or any other firm white fish
1/2lb fresh spelt pasta (we used Phoenix Pastificio's) or buckwheat/soba noodles
broccoli, cut into small florets
pea shoots
6 cloves garlic
4 scallions
1/4c soy sauce
2T mirin (rice cooking wine)
1T rice wine vinegar
sriracha, to taste
1t cracked szechuan pepper

Crush 4 cloves garlic. Slice scallions. Place in small bowl with soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, sriracha, and peppercorns.

Cook pasta until barely al dente. Drain and set aside.

Salt and pepper fish. Place in skillet with tight-fitting lid. Add 2T prepared sauce and 1/4c water. Cover and cook on low about 10 minutes, until fish flakes.

Steam broccoli in a large skillet; drain and set aside. Slice 2 cloves garlic. Add a little oil to the skillet and add pea shoots and garlic. Return broccoli to skillet with cooked pasta and prepared sauce. Cook until pea shoots wilt and noodles absorb sauce, about 2 minutes.

Remove fish from pan and reduce remaining sauce. Pour sauce over fish and serve with noodles.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Warm Caprese Sandwich

Although the weather staunchly refuses to admit that summer is near, I am starting to long for summer staples like fresh heirloom tomatoes, herbs and salads. I wanted a caprese salad today, and had all the ingredients ready, but the blustery wind made me crave a warm lunch. Here's what I put together. It was really good, both in flavor and texture-- the rich creamy mozzarella was offset nicely by the tangy, sweet tomatoes, and the radishes add a satisfying crunch.

You'll need:
1 handful cherry tomatoes
1t olive oil
1/2t salt
dried herbs, optional (I used herbed cooking salt)
1t balsamic vinegar
1 handful fresh basil leaves
4 slices fresh mozzarella
2 radishes
bread-- I used a "baguette piece", basically a small baguette roll, from the Cheeseboard

Cut tomatoes in half and cook in a small skillet over medium heat, along with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs/spices, for about 5 minutes, until wilted and mushy. Their liquid should start to thicken. In the meantime, cut basil into chiffonade and thinly slice radishes. When tomatoes are cooked, turn heat to high and add balsamic vinegar to deglaze. Cook 30 seconds until thick. Turn off heat and add basil.

Heat bread in oven, then slice in half.

Layer cheese and radishes.

Top with tomato mixture. Serve open-face.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Couscous & Sundried Tomato Salad

This is a great dish to bring to a potluck, because it's transportable, can easily be made vegan, and highlights any fresh summer flavors you care to include. It's also easy to make in enormous quantities. The recipe below fed two separate BBQs; adjust accordingly, but it stays good in the fridge for a day or two, longer if you don't use cucumber.

You'll need:
3c couscous
3c water
1t salt
2T butter or olive oil
1 jar sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 bunch mint
1 large or 2-3 small cucumbers
1 small red onion
feta cheese (optional)
1 large lemon (or 2 small)
olive oil

Boil water. Pour couscous into a large bowl; add butter or oil and salt. Pour boiling water on top. Stir and cover for 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff well with a fork.

Chop mint (you can use a food processor) and set aside in serving bowl. Chop tomatoes, reserving their oil, or pour the whole jar into a food processor and process for a few seconds (you don't want a paste). Add tomatoes and their oil to serving bowl. By hand, finely chop cucumber and red onion and add to serving bowl. Add couscous a little at a time, stirring well with a fork to combine. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Toss to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper and lemon juice if necessary.

Top with feta cheese, if you want.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Stuffed Zucchini

This is my grandmother's recipe, except she doesn't use recipes, so it's an approximation. If you don't like zucchini you can stuff bell peppers, tomatoes, Italian eggplants, or pretty much any receptacle-shaped vegetable. This is also a lot easier than it looks.

You'll need:
6 zucchini (you can use the normal long ones but I like the round ones, because you can put more stuffing inside, and obviously the stuffing's the best part)
1 onion
2-3 cloves garlic
a few tomatoes or a 1/2c or so of tomato sauce
juice from 1/2 lemon
mint for garnish

1/2lb ground beef or lamb
1/3c white rice
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
a few tablespoons tomato sauce
spices-- I used tomato flakes & baharat

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Start with the stuffing. Chop onion & garlic. Saute in olive oil with spices-- cumin-based flavors are good here-- until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Pour cooked onion into a large bowl. Add raw meat. Rinse rice until it runs clear. Add rice. Add some olive oil and tomato sauce to moisten, and generously season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Chop the end of the zucchini (small end if you're using rounded ones) and remove the insides with a corer or a spoon. Discard insides. Don't cut all the way through to the other side. You should have zucchini shells now. Stuff them will the stuffing but don't fill all the way (the rice will expand).

Heat olive oil in a large skillet (the same you used for the onion is fine). Chop onion and garlic; saute until translucent. Add zucchinis to pan and oil if necessary; saute briefly on all sides. Add tomato sauce and a bit of water if sauce looks very thick. Add lemon juice.

If you have extra stuffing, make little meatballs and add them to the sauce too.

Cover pan and cook in oven until rice is done, about 45 minutes. You can reduce the sauce on the stovetop, uncovered, if necessary at the end.

Serve garnished with mint.

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