Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fish Tacos with Cantaloupe Salsa

This week's seafood box brought rock fish. Rock fish usually arrives skinless and while it's a lovely white fish, I sometimes get a little tired of white fish. The CSA newsletter suggested fish tacos which seemed reasonable, but I didn't want to run to the store to pick up more ingredients for a slaw (red cabbage slaw was recommended with the fish), salsa, or guacamole. Luckily, we had a cantaloupe waiting on the counter and some feta hiding in the fridge. The slightly spicy tequila-lime of the fish paired great with the cantaloupe for a quick, refreshing weeknight dinner (or it would've been quick if I hadn't made my own flour tortillas ...).

Two years ago: Nutty-Tart Bell Peppers with Peanuts
Three years ago: Black and Blue Buckle
Four years ago: Chicken Tikka Masala

Fish Tacos with Cantaloupe Salsa (from Good Fish and Smitten Kitchen)

1 lime, vested and juiced
2 tbsp tequila
1/2 tsp salt
2 small jalapenos, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb halibut, skinned
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Feta or cojita to taste
flour or corn tortillas
1 cups diced (1/4 inch) cantaloupe (from a 2 1/4-lb piece)
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) sweet onion (such as Vidalia) or red onion
1 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 (2-inch-long) fresh hot red or green chile, minced
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Combine lime zest, lime juice, tequila, 1/2 tsp salt, sliced jalapenos, sliced red onion, and olive oil in bowl.
2. Place halibut in large bowl and pour marinade over fillet. Set aside for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, chop the fruit for your salsa and mix together.
4. Heat saute pan over high heat and add vegetable oil.
5. Add halibut to pan, reserving marinade with onion slices and cook 3 - 4 minutes per side until cooked through. Transfer to a platter.
6. Add marinade to pan and cook over high heat until liquid evaporates and onions are lightly charred. Pour over fish.
7. Fill tortillas with fish, cantaloupe salsa, and cheese to taste. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sopa Seca de Fideo con Tomatillo y Queso

The Bay Area is a pretty magical place for fresh produce, but even with nearly year-round abundance, late summer is a pretty magical time of year. I had initially passed over this recipe while flipping through this cookbook, but while searching for a way to celebrate the availability of fresh tomatillos at the market, I looked at this one with fresh eyes. Tomatillo salsa, chorizo, pasta, chevre, and avocado! How had I passed over this one? If you want to simplify this recipe into quick and easy territory, I think you could easily replace the homemade tomatillo sauce with 1 cup of quality jarred stuff. Not that it's difficult to make, but it is sometimes hard to find fresh tomatillos depending on your location and it will save 20 minutes (and the first 2 steps), moving this into a quick weeknight meal. The author suggests Hoja Santa for the chevre, but I didn't feel like hunting for it. I also went with a slightly thicker pasta than the recommended capellini.

Two years ago: Chilled Cucumber Soup
Three years ago: Gooey Ginger Chicken
Four years ago: Pearl Couscous with Olives, Roasted Tomatoes and Feta

Sopa Seca de Fideo con Tomatillo y Queso (from Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese)

12 ounces tomatillos, husks removed
1 - 2 serrano chiles, stems removed
1/4 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
5 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
4 ounces Mexican chorizo, crumbled
7 ounces capellini, broken into 1/2" pieces
1 tsp sea salt (less if your stock is on the salty side)
2 1/3 cups chicken stock
1 (5 ounce) round of Hoja Santa or other chevre, chopped and broken apart
1 avocado, seeded, peeled, and diced
crema fresca or sour cream (I omitted because I forgot to buy some!)

1. Place tomatillos, serrano chiles, and onion on a sheet pan and broil for 15 minutes until charred.
2. Place broiled vegetables along with garlic and cilantro in blender. Puree.
3. Place 3 tbsp of oil in large saucepan and heat over medium-high. Add chorizo and cook 3 - 4 minutes until crispy. Use slotted spoon to remove and set aside.
4. Add pasta to saucepan and return to medium-high heat. Cook in chorizo oil until well browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
5. Add remaining 2 tbsp of oil to pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add tomatillo salsa and salt. Allow to reduce for about a minute (only a 1/4 cup reduction).
6. Add pasta and cook until it absorbs the liquid.
7. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook undisturbed fro 15 - 17 minutes or until pasta is soft, but not mush and liquid has mostly been absorbed.
8. Scoop into bowls and garnish with fried chorizo, chevre, avocado, and crema fresca. You can also garnish with more cilantro if desired.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Grilled Arctic Char with Arugula and Cherry Tomato-Anchovy Brown Butter

This dish is a celebration of summer with two types of tomatoes, basil, and peppery arugula. Grilled arctic char is served on top of a tomato and arugula salad and covered with a cherry tomato-anchovy brown butter sauce. Goin's recipes tend to be on the complex side, but this one is relatively simple and comes together fairly quickly.

Two years ago: Cucumber Cooler
Three years ago: Fig, Prosciutto, and Arugula Salad
Four years ago: Egg and Pancetta Stuffed Tomatoes

Grilled Arctic Char with Arugula and Cherry Tomato-Anchovy Brown Butter (from The AOC Cookbook)

1 lemon zested and 4 tsp juice, divided
6 fillets arctic char, skin on
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped thyme leaves, divided
1 1/2 lbs heirloom tomatoes
2 tbsp sliced basil
4 ounces arugula
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp minced anchovy
3/4 pint small cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1. Season char with lemon zest, thyme, and 2 tbsp parsley. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. (Goin recommends this for all of her fish recipes. I rarely marinate for more than 30 minutes and sometimes not even that much. Don't let time stop you from giving this a shot!)
2. Light the grill and while it's warming up, let the fish come to room temperature.
3. Core the heirloom tomatoes and cut them into 1/4" thick slices. Season with salt and pepper and scatter basil on top.
4. Toss arugula in a large bowl with 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
5. Divide half of the sliced tomatoes between 6 dinner plates. Add 2/3 of arugula on top. Place remaining tomatoes on plates and follow with the remaining arugula.
6. Brush char with remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and grill - 3-4 minutes skin-side down and a minute or so flesh side down. Place fish on arugula and tomato salad.
7. Meanwhile, place butter in medium saute pan. Cook over high heat a few minutes until brown and nutty. Add anchovy, cherry tomatoes, 3/4 tsp salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Cook for 30 seconds and add 2 tsp lemon juice. Stir in remaining parsley and spoon over fish and around the salad. Serve.

Long-cooked Cavolo Nero

Kale sometimes gets a bad rap, because it's so trendy, but it's a great green to work with. This preparation is time intensive (although not complicated), but it's worth the effort to infuse the greens with rosemary, garlic, onion, and just a bit of heat.

Two years ago: Japanese Noodle Salad with Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette
Three years ago: Blueberry Rhubarb Deep Dish Pie
Four years ago: Penang-Style Stir-Fried Kuey Teow Noodles

Long-cooked Cavolo Nero (from AOC Cookbook)

4 bunches cavolo nero, cleaned, center ribs removed
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small sprig rosemary
2 chiles de arbol, crumbled
1 cup sliced onion
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
kosher salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Blanch cavolo nero for 2 minutes, drain, let cool, and squeeze out excess water.
2. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and add rosemary and crumbled chiles. Let sizzle for a minute.
3. Turn heat down to medium-low and add sliced onion, 1/2 tsp salt, and a pinch of group pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
4. Stir in sliced garlic. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes, stirring often until onion is soft.
5. Add cavolo nero, remaining 2 tbsp oil, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring often.
6. Remove rosemary and serve.

Catfish with a Chunky Avocado-Tomato Sauce

One of the things I will never grow tired of living in California is the availability of perfect avocados. One of the vendors at the Saturday farmer's market sells bags of small avocados which are the perfect size for snacking on. Occasionally, I realize that I should maybe try to do something with the avocado abundance rather than just eating them. This recipe pairs creamy avocados with Indian spices for a refreshingly different (and spicy!) dinner.

I was using very thin sole for this dish instead of catfish, so I skipped the initial browning step entirely to avoid overcooking the fish and left the fish in filet strips.

Two years ago: Creme Brulee French Toast
Three years ago: Creamy, Lemony Eggs with Prosciutto
Four years ago: Corn and Tomato Gratin

Catfish with a Chunky Avocado-Tomato Sauce (from 660 Curries)

1 tsp ground turmeric
1 lb skinless catfish fillets, cut into 2" pieces
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
1 large ripe Haas avocado, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1" cubes
1/2 cup canned (or fresh) diced tomatoes
12 medium to large curry leaves
4 fresh green chiles, stems removed and cut in half
3 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (1.5"x1"x1/8"), cut into matchsticks
1 tsp coarse salt

1. Sprinkle turmeric over catfish and rub in. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes - overnight.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds, cover, and let pop like popcorn, ~ 30 seconds.
3. Add fish and cook until each side is lightly browned, ~ 15 seconds each. Transfer to a plate.
4. Add avocado, tomatoes, curry leaves, chiles, ginger, salt, and 1/2 cup water to skillet. Heat to a boil.
5. Return fish to skillet and spoon sauce over them. Cover and poach until fish is cooked. (You may need to reduce the heat a bit.)
6. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fish to a serving platter.
7. Simmer sauce uncovered for 1 - 2 minutes until it starts to thicken. Spoon over fish and serve.

Snapper with Creamy Almond-Chipotle Pesto

You may be noticing a theme of quick and easy recipes in these posts. The best thing about having less energy/desire to cook during my time at home in between trips was it pushed me towards quick and easy recipes and reminded me that food doesn't have to be complicated or time-intensive to taste great. This dish is full of flavor with smokey chipotles and tangy cream fraiche, but can be on the table in less than 30 minutes with very little effort.

(Note this recipe is from a relatively new to me cookbook. I managed to pick up an e-book edition for a couple of dollars and the few recipes I've made have made it worth that small investment. If you're looking for something a bit simpler than Rick Bayless, but full of flavor, this may be a good book for you, especially if amazon puts it on sale again.)

Two years ago: Lentil Salad with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Three years ago: Pesto and Proscuitto Stromboli
Four years ago: Pad See Ew

Snapper with Creamy Almond-Chipotle Pesto (from Pati's Mexican Table)

8 red snapper fillets
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan or cotija
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce plus 1 - 2 tbsp adobo sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1. Place fish fillets in container large enough to hold them in a single layer. Sprinkle with lime juice, salt, and pepper. Cover and marinate for 15 minutes - 2 hours in the fridge.
2. To make pesto, combine cream, almonds, cheese, chile, adobo sauce, and salt in a blender and puree.
3. Preheat oven to 375F and butter a large baking dish.
4. Arrange fillets in a single layer in dish. Spread 2 tbsp of pesto on each fillet. Bake 15 - 20 minutes.
5. Garnish with almonds and serve.

Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo

While I was gone, the peak of interesting berry season came and went, so I find myself back in San Francisco at the peak of stone fruit season instead. You can't wander through the markets without admiring the beauty of a wide range of stone fruits - peaches, pluots, apriums, oh my! This pasta salad captures the beauty of the summer season and pairs it with one of my favourite nuts here - pistachios! We paired it with a grilled rib eye for a low-fuss summer meal. If you can't find Humboldt Fog, substitute with another chevre of your choice.

Two years ago: Farro and Roasted Pepper Salad
Three years ago: Chocolate Gravy
Four years ago: Peppers Stuffed with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo (from Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese)

3 yellow peaches
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
10 ounces orzo
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
6 ounces Humboldt Fog, rind removed and coarsely crumbled

1. Preheat grill. Scrub the peaches of extraneous fuzz. Cut peach in half lengthwise and discard pits.
2. Combine honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt in a ziplock bag. Add peaches and marinate 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook orzo in salted boiling water. Drain and set aside.
4. Reserving marinade, cook peaches on grill for 5 - 8 minutes until soft and they have grill marks. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
5. Combine peaches, reserved marinade, orzo, parsley, spearmint, and pistachios in a bowl and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently mix in cheese, trying to maintain the chunks and serve.

Slow-roasted Salmon with Spring Herb Sauce

I've now been at home for more than two weeks straight! Ordinarily, this might not seem exciting, but since it's the first time it's happened since May, this feels nothing short of extraordinary. While I cooked off and on during my brief visits home, it took a while to feel excited by recipes and even longer before the thought of reporting back on recipes didn't seem like a tremendous amount of effort. Luckily, time seems to have healed my cooking malaise.

Slow-roasted and quick and easy may not seem to go together, but even roasted slowly, salmon cooks quickly and this recipe is incredibly simple. (Yes, I'm cheating on quick a bit because the salmon should sit out for 30 minutes or so before baking, but you don't need to do anything while that happens!) The end result though is restaurant-quality: incredibly moist fish with an elegant sauce. For the herbs, please feel free to use a mix of whatever you have on hand.

One year ago: On hiatus to prepare for some important life events!
Two years ago: Edamame, Shrimp, and Snow Pea Pasta Salad
Three years ago: Pork in Adobo Sauce
Four years ago: Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper and Basil

Slow-roasted Salmon with Spring Herb Sauce (from The Herbal Kitchen)

1 1/2 lb fresh salmon fillet
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup mixed coarsely chopped soft-leaved herbs (basil, dill, mint, etc.)
coarse sea salt

1. Cut salmon into 4 wide slices, about 3/4" thick. Lay in shallow baking dish and pour in olive oil, rubbing the fillet to coat the sides. Let sit in oil as it comes to room temperature, 30 - 60 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 225F. Lift fillets from oil and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle with salt and bake 15 - 20 minutes. The color will still be vivid, but the fish should flake slightly when nudged and it will be fully cooked.
3. While the fish is roasting, make the sauce. Boil wine, shallots, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt in small saucepan until reduced by half. Turn to medium-low and whisk in butter 1/3 at a time until incorporated. If you have an immersion blender, blend for 10 seconds to make it even creamier. (If not, that's okay too!)
4. Transfer salmon to plates. Stir chopped herbs into sauce, ladle sauce around the fish, sprinkle fish with coarse salt, and serve.