Saturday, March 22, 2008
There it was, behind the glass case, for $14.99 per pound. I asked for 1/3 lb. of the fish, and to please remove the skin (very important to me). The woman behind the counter asked me if I wanted the thicker end of the fish, or the thinner end, closer to the tail. I told her I had no idea, and then told her I planned to saute it and serve with a citrus sauce. She decided to give me the thinner end.
She cut off a piece, which ended up weighing just under 1/2 lb. When I saw the size, I told her that was fine. The fillet cost $7.35. I was okay with that - especially since I know how good the stuff is, and how much it costs to have someone else make it for you.
Sea bass is really good! While you may think it looks like haddock ad probably tastes like it, it's so much finer than haddock. I have nothing against haddock, but it is truly inferior to sea bass. Sea bass, when cooked right, is moist and flakey at the same time. It's soft, but holds its shape. It tastes really good (did I mention that?).
Well, I was pretty upset when I opened the package today to make the fish and the skin was still on it. But I will say that it was a fine piece of fish. It had absolutely no smell to it and it was as fresh as could be.
Some people probably like the skin. I'm sure some people think it's pretty. But I want nothing to do with it. So I set out to remove the skin. Honestly, it wasn't that easy.
I have a pretty decent set of knives - Wustoff Trident knives that my brother bought us for a wedding gift. I used the boning knife to try to closely shave off the fish from the skin. But the skin didn't remove very easily and it wasn't the cleanest cut. Here's a picture of what it looked like. I think that if I had done a good job, there wouldn't be any fish flesh left on that skin.
While having a clean skin removal looks good, I wasn't upset with my hatch job just because of the looks - that fish is expensive and I didn't want to leave it on the skin. Oh well! Perhaps it will be easier next time.
Here's what the skin looks like on the other side.
My sea bass experience turned out to be really successful in the end. I chose a recipe for sea bass with a citrus butter sauce. Here's the final product, which I served with sauteed spinach.
Adapted from Italian Food Forever (Deborah Mele)
1 1/2 to 2 Pounds Sea Bass
1-2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ shallot, finely minced
3/4 Cup White Wine3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Recipe Sautéed Spinach
Zest the lemon and orange using a microplane before juicing them.
pictured above with Chilean Sea Bass with Citrus Butter Sauce
One bag spinach
one large clove garlic, finely minced
1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
As it cooks down, add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Continue to stir around with a spatula as it cooks.
It will cook down a lot. This was the little clump of cooked spinach that was left:
It was just enough for one serving.
Here it is, the microplane zester and its two victims: Mr. Lemon and Mr. Orange.
I have no idea where this zester came from. I think I got it for free from some cooking-type of purchase. A magazine perhaps? Either way, I'm so glad to have it. It makes getting the zest an effortless pleasure. Not only that, but it's designed so that you only get the top layer, and therefore you have a better quality zest. They say that if you get the pith (what is just under the zest), it will be bitter.
You can see in this picture just how little is taken off the surface of the fruit:
Just look at that beautiful, paper-thin zest:
You just can't get that with a knife, or with other types of zesters.
Like I wrote, mine was free. But if I were to buy one on Amazon.com, I could get this basic type with no handle for $8.00. The same one with a handle is $10.00. Totally worth it!
Friday, March 21, 2008
But I have a secret to share with you. Psst..... I have a bit of a clutter problem. Actually, I’ll admit that “a bit of a clutter problem” is a gross understatement. And to make it worse, I have a constant battle going on inside of me, a little devil who encourages me to hate doing something about it.
Let’s put it this way. My husband, Joe, wants me to tell you that I have a high tolerance for filth and squalor. It’s true.
So, things build up, and my inner battle explodes, and I go on a rampage from time to time. A couple of years ago, my cookbooks were at the receiving end of my battle, and I through almost all of them away.
It wasn't that I had a problem with the contents, I just had a problem with their physical existence.
In my personal opinion, bookshelves are ugly. You get a mishmash of books that don’t go together. You squeeze them on these shelves. Loose papers end up between them, magazines, 3-ring binders. Then you end up with a wall that is full of uncoordinated dust-collectors, and I'm very allergic to dust.
But throwing away all my cookbooks was a good thing, and that’s because of computers and the Internet. I was already using the Internet much more than my actual books. The variety of recipes is tremendous, and just a click away. And I can copy and paste them into a Word document, and store them in the clutter-free file cabinet on my hard drive. I can even store them in multiple locations. Oh, and if I still can’t find what I’m looking for, I can do a search. It’s just great.
Not only did the computer help me get rid of the clutter and dust, but there are such great sites to visit. An original recipe is posted, and then all of the people who make it can rate the recipe and comment on it. They can tell us the things that worked, and the things that didn’t. And they can tell us about the changes they made to the recipe and make further suggestions.
My favorite recipe sites are:
This site is where all of the recipes for Bon Appetit and Gourmet Magazine are stored. They allow you to rate and comment on all the recipes. When a picture is available from the magazine they post it.
This is a recipe community where people post their recipes and pictures. Then everyone can try them out and rate and comment. And, they give you all the nutritional information. That’s cool!
A sophisticated collection of recipes. I just started hanging out here, and subscribing to the magazine. The only bummer is that you can’t rate the recipes. But I think they are trying to stand apart and I respect them for it.
A friendly recipe community. People post their recipes, others comment, rate, and even add their own photos of the finished product.
There is one other site that used to be a favorite. I’m posting it here with a warning:
I’ve been subscribing to Cooking Light for many years now. Recently, however, their online collection has been merged with their sister magazine, Southern Living. I don’t like that. If I’m searching for Cooking Light recipes, I don’t want the high fat and calorie recipes of Southern Living coming up in my search. If I wanted that, I’d go to their site. So all be warned. I am visiting this site a lot less often since they changed it.
This is a perfect spring dish. It’s light, it’s green, it’s got sweet cream butter, which is yellow like the sunshine. It’s only got a few ingredients and it’s fast and easy to prepare, leaving you with more time to enjoy the extra sunlight. And the best part, it tastes terrific!
I think the last scallop dish I prepared was so good, that I had to find more I could do with scallops. When they are fresh, they are sweet and perfect little mouthfuls.
My first stop on the Internet in my scallop recipe search was Epicurious (www.epicurious.com). And that was my only stop. In fact, I now have a backup of scallop recipes I want to try.
This recipe, in particular, caught my eye. It’s a good contrast to the last scallop recipe I tried which had a sauce base of crème fraîche. And the asparagus is an early spring vegetable, which is perfect today, the first whole day of spring.
A lot of the changes that I made to the recipe came from the suggestions of the people who had already tried the recipe and wrote their comments on Epicurious (one of the reasons that I love that Website).
I eased up a bit on the amount of oil, and cut back a good deal on the original ½ stick of butter that was called for. I also used slightly less wine, but if I were to make it again, I would probably use the entire 1/3 cup. I don’t know why I stopped at a ¼ cup. Well, maybe it’s because I love vinegar, and with slightly less wine, there would be a slight bit more vinegar in proportion. Oh, and I doubled the sauce to scallop ratio. I like having extra sauce (which was described as a form of beurre blanc).
Scallops With Asparagus
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
1 lb medium asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb large sea scallops (tough ligaments removed from their side, if attached)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
1-2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
Trim asparagus, then cut stems into 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices, leaving tips whole.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté asparagus, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate, reserving skillet off heat (do not clean).
Pat scallops dry and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté the scallops, turning over once, until browned and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes total. Transfer scallops with tongs to another plate and cover it to keep it warm.
Carefully add wine and vinegar to skillet (mixture may spatter) and boil, scraping up brown bits, until liquid is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 1 minute. Add any scallop juices accumulated on plate and bring to a simmer.
Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Who ever would have thought they'd see a tattoo post on a food blog?
Here it is, folks. A memorial cheese tattoo. And I have to say that I think it's totally cool!
LA Ink is on TLC with new episodes on Thursday nights. With each tattoo they do on the show, the owner of the tattoo explains the story behind it. The tattoos that end up on air are usually emotional, as was this one.
This nutty looking guy (with a personality to match) who looked like he stepped right out of 1978 asked Kim to do this tattoo. The story behind it was interesting. If I remember correctly, he worked at a supermarket and he was hit by a car behind the store one day. The crash crushed his small intestines and he had to have 19 inches of intestines removed.
Well, his favorite food was cheese, but the operation left him lactose intolerant. So he decided that somehow it would help him to see this memorial tattoo on his inner arm. Personally, I think it would only make me want it if I always saw it on my arm, but that's just me.
This guy was a complete barrel of laughs and they showed several photos of him posing with cheese. I was cracking up. It was quality entertainment.
By the way, this was not his only food tattoo. He also had a cute little cheese taco on his calf.
I'm all about the Matzo right now!
It's that time of year, when the International isle of the supermarket is chock-full of matzo. I was drawn toward my semi-annual box of Streitz.
Let me just say, I had a little quandary as I selected it. I will share it with you - I felt ripped off. One box of Streitz matzo (lightly salted) cost $3.29. But two isles over, where the seasonal stuff is, a package of six boxes of another brand was only $3.99.
I started out putting the single box in my grocery cart. I know that I'm the only one in my home who will eat it (Joe is doing Weight Watchers). But when I saw the large packages for just 70 cents more, I put the individual box back and loaded the jumbo pack into the cart.
But then my brain started telling me to go back to the original box. What on earth will I do with 6 boxes of matzo? I don't know that within the box the matzo there is plastic to keep it from getting stale. In fact, I do know that the box of Streitz doesn't plastic-wrap the matzo.
So I went back to the International isle and got the single box back. But I felt so gypped at the same time. Yet I know it was the right thing to do.
I love matzo. Did I mention that? I like it plain, with butter, with butter and jelly, with cream cheese, with cream cheese and jelly, and cooked up as matzo brei.
Matzo brei is a simple thing. This is the way I've always made it:
- 1 piece of matzo
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbs. milk
- salt & pepper to taste
- sour cream
Remove a big, square piece of matzo from the box. Trust me, when I say to run it under the tap in your sink. It needs to be softened some with liquid. You don't want the matzo to be mush, and running it under the tap won't do that. I don't soak it, I simply get it wet.
Break the matzo into small peices. Mix those small pieces in a bowl with the 2 eggs and the milk. Season it to taste with salt and pepper.
I like my matzo brei to be separate pieces, so as soon as I drop it into the hot pan (on medium-high), I begin moving it around with the spatula. If you don't do that, it will all cook together like a cake. I am sure that some people like it that way as well. It's a matter of preference.
Serve with sour cream.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Did I change, or did Everyday Food change?
I’ve been getting the magazine since it’s first issue. I would hurriedly scan through it and mark the recipes that I wanted to make. Then I’d put it down and get back to it, perhaps making a recipe in the meantime. My second time through, I’d go cover to cover, examining the pages more deeply and removing the recipes that I really planned to make someday, to save them inside a sheet protector that I’d store in a big 3-ring binder of the keepers.
I know what you are thinking, just look at the title! Everyday Food! Well, duh! But for some reason, I think it is more everyday and plain Jane now than it was. I just about lost it when I saw the recipes for a romaine salad and a breaded pork chop.
Isn’t the point of getting a food magazine to learn to cook new and interesting things?
I was completely offended by the recipe for silver-dollar pancake sundaes with chocolate hazelnut sauce. When it comes right down to it, that recipe is Nutella, Biscuick, and Bryers.
Okay, I’ll admit that the whole issue wasn’t like that. They devoted a page to saffron – but only used it in one recipe. It was a basic risotto that they gave a few variations of, one of which was Milanese (with saffron). There was a beef satay, but I don’t generally eat beef. There was a cherry-lime jam, but with frozen cherries?
I guess it’s time to just let go.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
This recipe comes from Food And Wine Magazine (April 2008)
I’m hoping that this blog encourages me to experiment more in my cooking. I did just that when I made this next recipe. It is another recipe that comes right out of this month’s edition of Food and Wine Magazine. I made it as it is presented on page 67 (and it’s online as well). There were no pictures to go with this recipe, so now there are.
Borscht inspired this chef to create this recipe. I’ve never actually had borscht, but I remember watching my grandfather eat it when we used to visit. He was a Russian immigrant. I’ll admit, I was rather grossed-out watching him eat the funky purple stuff. It looked like a purple version of Pepto Bismol. But now, in my forties, it looks appealing.
What exactly do this dish and borscht have in common? The beats, the lemon, the onion (or in this case, shallot), and the sour cream (in this case crème fraîche).
I’ve made this dish twice now. The first time it was a deconstructed version. I made the beets one night. And they were so good, that I ate them all before I got around to buying some scallops. I never made the “salad,” I just ate them plain and cooled. Fresh beets are so good!
Then, two nights later I made the rest. I got huge, fresh sea scallops. They were expensive, and I only bought three. One of them didn’t make it into this picture:
Then, I went to make it again. After all, I still had crème fraîche, lemon, and scallops. And I was more than happy to get the beets and scallops again. Too bad the huge ones weren’t available, so I got the medium sized scallops instead.
Not only is this recipe a delicious one, but it is easy to make. There are really few ingredients. And you can roast the beets days beforehand. They don’t go bad so quickly! And the sauce and the scallops are ready in minutes.
Seared Scallops with Beet Salad and Horeseradish Cream
1 pound large unpeeled beets, cut into 1-inch wedges
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon drained prepared horseradish
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
12 jumbo scallops (about 1 pound)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Put the beet wedges in a medium baking dish, season with salt and pepper and add the water. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the beets are tender. Let cool slightly.
Peel the roasted beets and transfer to a food processor. Pulse several times, just until coarsely chopped. Transfer the chopped beets to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup of the olive oil, the raspberry vinegar and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
In a small skillet, combine the minced shallot with the horseradish, crème fraîche and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, just until the crème fraîche is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until nearly smoking. Using a paring knife, score a shallow crosshatch pattern into one side of each scallop. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet, scored side down. Cook over high heat until the bottom is browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until the scallops are lightly browned on the second side, and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes; don’t let the scallops become opaque.
Spoon the roasted beet salad onto plates and top with the seared scallops. Drizzle the warm horseradish cream all around and serve right away.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
These days, that kind of rice cooker looks like this:
These rice cookers can cost several hundred dollars. But I wasn't up to spending that kind of money.
I did a little bit of research on rice cookers. They say to make sure to get one that is nonstick and that has a removable pan so that you can clean it easily. I ended up buying this rice cooker:
It was only about $31 on Amazon and it's nice and small (holds 3 cups of rice). It got good ratings. I've used it quite a bit now and it's perfect.
It makes cooking the rice so easy. It comes with a cup measure. Then you don't have to measure the water. You just put the inside pan under the faucet and fill it to the appropriate mark on the inside wall which is based on how much rice you are cooking.
Then you just click the button and 20-30 minutes later you have perfectly cooked rice.
Luckily, I have a great fish market one town away. They have good prices and nice fresh seafood. It's also a restaurant, so someday, I'll have to go and get some steamers or fried clams. I digress.
If you want to learn to make sushi - especially if you want to actually see how to roll it, I recommend viewing this video in addition to reading the rest of this post: http://video.about.com/japanesefood/Spicy-Tuna-Roll.htm
When I order the fish at the counter, I ask for sushi grade tuna. This steak was 1/3 pound. It was enough for a good-sized roll with plenty of tuna in and on top of it. I also asked the fishmonger to cutt off the skin. Don't expect that they will do that until after they have weighed the fish. That dark spot is a blood vessel and it needs to be cut out.
Speaking of cutting, the knife is important. Don't attempt to try to make sushi with the steak knives you bought at Target! You need good, sharp knives.
The first thing I did was I sliced several thin slices from the nicest area of the steak. I sliced them on a slant, going against the grain. I then set them aside to save as a garnish. Each piece will have a pretty slice of raw tuna on top.
Spicy Tuna Roll
1/3 pound sushi grade tuna
1-2 scallions, chopped very finely
1 heaping Tbs. Japanese style mayonnaise (I used Kewpie brand)
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot chili sauce
1 sheet nori
prepared sushi rice (recipe at end of this post)
In a separate bowl mix the mayonnaise and Sriracha. Taste it to make sure that you have added the right amount of Sriracha for your taste. When it’s ready, pour it into the tuna and scallions and mix it up.
The sheets of nori that I have are large, and I noticed that in the video I linked to earlier, the sheet of nori is much smaller. So I removed the top 1 ½ inches from the nori.
Spread the rice out and press it into the sheet of nori. The moisture in the rice will glue it to the nori.
If you want an inside-out sushi roll (like the one in my picture), then flip the sheet of nori with the rice pressed into it so that the rice side is face-down.
Here's what it looks like head on:
You can see my pictures of rolling a different kind of sushi in this post: http://mylittleworldoffood.blogspot.com/2008/03/recipe-meryls-surimi-maki-sushi.html
Roll the sushi and cut it. I like to cut into eight pieces, personally.
You could serve this sushi in two different ways. One way is to stop here and simply display them like this with the cut sides facing up:
But I wanted to do it the way my favorite restaurant does it. Lay the cut pieces on their sides. Top with the nice slices of sushi that you saved from earlier. Top with the beautiful slices of tuna and the chopped green part of the scallions. Serve with wasabi and soy sauce.
I cook one cup rice according to directions.I empty the rice pot into a bowl. While it’s still hot, or after it’s cooled some, I add:
1 ½ Tbs. rice vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
Mix well and let the rice cool, covering it to keep it moist.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs: Culinary in the Country
(http://desertculinary.blogspot.com/). And he had changed it from the original recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. It looked good and the ingredients were very available. Joe mentioned that it was kind of bland when he made it, and I was out to take is suggestions on making it better and come out with a masterpiece.
But in my haste to get going, I did just the opposite! I completely forgot to season it! Narf!
Truth be told, however, it was still pretty darn tasty. I will make this recipe again, and I will remember to season it.
The cooking time is 35 minutes, but I would suggest that when you make it, leave hourse before you have to serve it. Here's why. When I first took it out of the pan and cut into it, there was a lot of liquid on the bottom of my plate and the shape of the frittata wasn't very firm. But in a couple of hours, all the liquid was soaked up and the frittata held it's form well. And I thought it tasted better the next day anyway.
But if you want to eat it while it's still warm, maybe it would be less liquidy if you were careful about getting the liquid out of the jarred roasted red peppers. They had a lot of liquid.
One last note. I wanted to make it in a springform pan, but I couldn't find the right sized one in my cabinets. So I made it in an 8" cake pan. Because it was only an 8" pan, it was thick and needed extra cooking time than what the recipe calls for. I checked for it being set by just slightly jiggling the pan and seeing how it reacted.
Chicken and Orzo Frittata
(Adapted from Culinary in the Country who adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)
3/4 cup dry orzo pasta
4 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1/3 cup milk ricotta
1/4 cup crème fraîche
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup diced roasted red bell peppers
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Preheat the oven to 375.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil - add orzo and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and let cool slightly.In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, ricotta and creme fraiche until well combined.
Add cooked orzo, chicken, scallions, parsley, red bell peppers, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper - stir until combined.Scoop the mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish coated with nonstick spray. Bake just until set, about 25 to 35 minutes.
Turn on the broiler and let the top turn golden, about 5 more minutes. Remove and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Makes about 6 servings.
So I dedicate this blog to food, my longest love. Food I prepare and cook, food I buy, food I read about, food I crave.
Here’s to you, my love!