Saturday, September 23, 2006

Blueberry Oatmeal

While in all honesty I previously held the opinion that oatmeal was only a step up from canned catfood - I was pleasantly surprised by blueberry goodness that filled up my breakfast bowl.

1 cup Old Wessex Scottish Style Porridge Oats
1 3/4 cup water
Couple of handfuls of frozen blueberries
Splash of milk
Dollop of honey
Pinch of cinnamon

Bring the water and frozen blueberries to a boil. Stir in oats. Leave at a low boil and continue to stir frequently for 6-10 mins. Add remaining ingredients to taste and dig in.

Serves 2

3 1/2 solid stars for the blueberry oatmal - very tasty, but not exactly gourmet. Lolita gives the Iams Ocean Fish Entree 2 stars - she'd much rather have a bowl full of Tartar Control Pounce Cat Treats. Fickle.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sesame Broccoli

The sauce:
4 T soy sauce (I like reduced-sodium)
1 T Sriracha (or other chile-garlic sauce)
1 T rice vinegar
1 t sesame oil

The veggies:
1 T fresh ginger, grated
2 large cloves garlic
1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
3 T sesame seeds
1 sweet (or mildly hot) red pepper, sliced
1 head broccoli, chopped into florets

Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside. Stir-fry the ginger, garlic, and mushrooms in a large pan over high heat until the mushrooms give up most of their liquid. Add the sesame seeds and red pepper and fry a couple minutes more, stirring constantly so the seeds don't burn. Add the sauce and broccoli, cover the pan, and let steam for a few minutes. Once the broccoli is cooked, take the lid off and let the sauce cook down if necessary (the mushrooms will absorb a lot, so you may not have much liquid left). Serve with rice.

This was a nice accompaniment to Shrimp and Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce, which tonight I made with a jarred sauce (Sharwood brand, quite tasty). Adding pressed marinated tofu would turn it into a great entree.

4 1/2 star side dish.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Grilled Rainbow Trout

A few whole trout (no guts if you can get it that way)
4 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. soy sauce
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cracked peppercorns

I marinated the fish before cooking for about an hour in a plastic bag with some olive oil and lemon juice.

Melt the butter in small saucepan. Add lemon juice, soy sauce, ginger and pepper. Brush inside and outside of fish generously with the butter mixture.

You can place the fish on aluminum foil or directly on the grill and cook on medium or indirect heat. It's a tricky proposition turning the fish on the grill - I'd recommend flipping from the head to the tail. Cook until fish flakes easily.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Meatballs with Roasted Tomato Sauce

I made this to accompany a bottle of wine Jeff and I bought on our trip to the Fingerlakes region of New York last month. It's a fantastic red blend called Synergy, produced by Shalestone Vineyards. It was my favorite of all the local wines we tasted, so I wanted to make something really good to enjoy it with on a lovely, just-starting-to-think-about-fall evening. This simple dish, served over fresh pasta, fit the bill.

Roasted Tomato-Pepper Sauce
2 lbs fresh tomatoes (I used romas and some of our German Johnsons)
3 or 4 sweet or mildly hot peppers
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
4 to 6 large garlic cloves, crushed
small handful fresh basil, chopped
salt & black pepper

Grill the tomatoes and peppers until skins char; try to keep them whole on the grill so you don't lose all the juice. Let cool enough to handle, then peel. Core the tomatoes and remove seeds from the peppers, then chop or puree. (I pureed most of them but kept some big chunks to give the sauce texture.) Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent, then add the tomatoes, peppers, and their juice. Cook this down for a while, tasting for salt and pepper. Add the basil just a little before serving.

Turkey Meatballs
1 lb ground turkey
3/4 c fresh ground breadcrumbs
1/4 c grated parmigiano cheese
salt & pepper

Mix all ingredients together with your hands. Chill in the fridge for at least half an hour, then shape into balls. I like mine about the size of big walnuts, but you can also make big ones or little-teeny ones depending on the presentation you want. Fry the meatballs in a little olive oil at fairly high heat until browned all over, then add to the sauce. Bring to a simmer, cover, and finish cooking the meatballs in the sauce.

Serve over pasta. Leftovers freeze well, or make a great meatball sub.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb brussels sprouts (the smallest, freshest available)
2 slices bacon (I use turkey, but pork or veggie would be fine)
1 t lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T olive oil
salt & pepper

Trim the sprouts and cut them in half. Dice the bacon and fry it until starting to crisp. Toss the sprouts with bacon, lemon zest and juice, oil, and salt & pepper. Roast at 425 F for about 15 minutes or until turning brown and just tender-crisp.

I love brussels sprouts, and the lemon-bacon flavor is mighty tasty.
4 1/2 stars.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Habanero Chicken Pasta

Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Penne or some other kind of tasty pasta
Chopped tomatoes - either a 12 oz can or several fresh 'maters
Olive oil
Crushed garlic
Onion - maybe 1/2 of a small one
Habanero pepper - probably just one unless you're sadistic
Fresh thyme - about a teaspoon
Lime juice - from one fresh lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Five easy steps to prepare
1. Heat oil in pan. Rub chicken with lime juice, salt and pepper and cook until skin is brown. Remove chicken from pan and set aside to let it think about what it's done.
2. Add remaining oil to the same pan and cook onions, garlic, thyme and habanero for 2 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes and simmer for 2 minutes.
4. Add chicken breasts and simmer until chicken is throughly cooked. If sauce gets too thick, add a little water or chicken broth
5. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve whole chicken breast with sauce on a bed of cooked pasta.

This is a tasty, simple dish with a slow habanero burn. It's well accompanied by some wilted spinach or a salad. 4 solid stars.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Grilled Pizza

Prior to grill time ensure that the grill itself is greased down with some vegetable oil or olive oil. This will go a long way towards ease of preparation and ensuring your pizza gets into your mouth instead of becoming a cindery, blackened mess.

Brush one side of the dough lightly with olive oil and place the pie oiled side down on the grill until the dough begins to brown (between 5- 10 mins). Once browned - flip the 'za and apply sauce and ingredients. You'll need to take care to apply lightly as a set of soggy toppings may cause the pizza to hemorrhage.

Some suggested combinations -- generally, the rule of three applies to both pizza and omelets - limit your ingredients to maximize flavor. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating a muddled, soupy mess. In the case of pizza - the base cheese and sauce are excluded from the equation.

Ingredient combinations
Pineapple, Roasted Peppers, Feta
Kalamata olives, grilled mushrooms, rosemary
Grilled tomatoes, basil

You get the idea but it's hard to go wrong with good ingredients. The grilled goodness kicks up normal pizza consumption to a new level. 4 1/2 stars - deducting a 1/2 star for the grill burns I suffered as a neophyte pizza flipper. Use your spatula.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fig Apple Tart

Nut crust:
1 1/3 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar
1 c cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 T ice water
1/2 t apple cider vinegar
2/3 c chopped nuts

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in large bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix 3 tablespoons ice water and vinegar in small bowl. Pour over flour mixture. Stir with fork until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 12-inch round. Remove top sheet of paper and sprinkle crust with nuts. Replace paper and roll to 13-inch round, embedding nuts in dough. Invert crust onto baking sheet. Remove top paper and cover crust with fruit, leaving 1-inch border. Fold edge of crust over fruit filling.

Bake at 400°F until crust begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F; bake until crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Loosen tart from parchment paper with spatula. Cool on baking sheet.

The crust recipe is from Epicurious; it has a wonderful crisp and delicate texture. The embedded nuts are a fantastic (and very easy) touch. I always love the look of a "rustic tart" - and it's especially nice here, where the folded-over edge showcases the embedded nuts.

I wanted to use some fresh figs I got at the farmer's market for this dessert, so went for a middle-eastern feel overall: flavored the figs and apples with cinnamon and rosewater, then used pistachios and almonds for the crust. Saute the apples briefly, but don't precook the figs - they're soft enough already.

Perfect! Will definitely make this again, using different fruit and nut combinations (pears and walnuts come to mind, maybe with ginger). Ooh - I just had a thought: how about topping the nut crust with grated chocolate? Mmm...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Miso-glazed fish

We used amberjack last night, but any firm fish steaks would be good (tuna, salmon, cod, halibut). Grilling is the best way to go, but you could use the broiler if necessary.

The glaze consists of:

rice vinegar
sriracha (hot chile-garlic sauce)
sesame oil
grated ginger
sesame seeds.

Marinade the fish briefly in soy sauce, then brush it with the glaze as you put it on the grill. You'll want to the oil the grill first because there's very little oil in the glaze to keep the fish from sticking.

Tasty as the amberjack was, the side dish might have been even better: wasabi mashed potatoes with sake-butter sauce. Yum.

5 stars. Quick and delicious.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lobster tails!


Lobster tails
Garlic, minced
Olive oil
Black pepper
Lemon juice

After rinsing and drying, take a sharp knife and "butterfly" the tails down the center of the back leaving the bottom shell intact. Then gently pry open the tail to expose the meat.

Combine the garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil in a sauce pan and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool and marinate the lobster tails for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.


Melted butter
Garlic, minced

In the same sauce pan, combine the butter, garlic and basil and simmer 2-3 minutes. When ready to cook, coat the meat with your butter basil baste and grill meat side down for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned. Turn them over onto their shells and cook until meat has lost its transparency and is opaque. Do not overcook. You may baste several times with your butter basil baste while the tails are cooking. Serve immediately.

5 succulent, buttery stars