Friday, June 12, 2015

Mediterranean Pasta with Mahi Mahi

There are sometimes when you innately miss something in life. You can't put your finger one it - but though your world is full of light, there is an ache. 

Now often, any ache I have going, I contribute to lack of food. But today it was a bit stronger than my normal hunger level and I found myself scouring images of my last trip to meet my Euro's. I realized I missed the adventure of traveling, the amazed-glassy-tourist 'look' I get when I am around amazingly old architecture, the butterflies knowing I am in a place of history and it is a once in a lifetime trip. I longed for the strange comfort of being in a completely foreign place but surrounded by amazing, long-known, widely scattered across the world friends. 

So tonight, sitting in my home surrounded by my pups,with people that are miles away on the mind, and glamorously decked out in sweatpants, in I decided to recreate a meal reminiscent of my weeks last summer in Milina. After cooking - another realization hit me. I miss sharing my food journeys. My happy place has always been feeding friends and talking about recipes. I have missed this blog - so here I am!

Tomato Basil Pasta topped with Mediterranean-style Mahi Mahi

Makes 2 servings. 
Ok. I need to be quite honest - I had fish in the freezer and all of these ingredients in my kitchen - so I threw this together for 2 (it came out more like 3). It took me all of around 30-45 minutes total. First I prepped everything, then cooked all at once.

8 ounces spaghetti-like noodles (I had a 16oz box of wheat linguine and used half)
Olive oil (probablly around 4 tablespoons total)
2 filets of mahi mahi (any white fish would be good. Skinless works, skin works too)
1 small onion chipped
1 pint cherry tomatos chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed/chopped
Balsamic vinegar (drizzles)
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh basil
2-4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Mix of herbs (I had basil so chopped a 1/8 cup, added dried dill and dried mint - fresh would rock here too)
2 lemons, one for juice and one sliced thinly
Other cheeses (parm/moz/etc - for yum)

As I mentioned, it is best to prep everything - chop basil/herbs, slice lemons, and get the onions and garlic ready.

Heat up broiler in over (mine automatically hits 500). Boil water for pasta. Cook pasta and drain. 

While that is going heating up, line a broiler pan or sheet pan with foil/parchment. Lightly oil fish, sprinkle with some lemon, and salt and pepper the fish. Put fish in pan (if you have skin, put skin side down). Whisk together mayo, feta, herbs, and lemon. I add a little pinch of spicy seasoning here. Throw the fish in the heated up broiler. Cover the fish and broil for 8-12 minutes until cooked. (if it gets to brown on the top before the fish is done, cover with foil to continue cooking.)

Now you have pasta cooking and fish broiling. In a large skillet, heat up oil and sauté the onions and garlic. Watch your pasta/fish. Add tomatoes to the onion mix, throw in a pinch of red pepper flakes to spice it up. Hopefully the pasta is done and drained and sitting aside - so add it to the tomato/onion jam. Toss in a sprinkle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and mix well, then crumble the goat cheese into the pasta and mix well. Fold in the basil.

At this point - I bet your fish is done. To plate - serve pasta topped with the fish, and sprinkle a bit of black pepper and parmesan on top. Yum!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Get Sauce'd and in the Kitchen

(written in March 2009 - when I was living up in Idaho)

As a newer transplant to the WRV, and for the first time living anywhere in the U.S. but the South—I am still amazed by the change of seasons and actually enjoy chatting about the weather. Indulge me as I’ve never before lived any place without 100% humidity. Besides, weather is such great conversation. No, really. I love to look up the 10-day report online and then talk about it. I love every minute of it but at the moment, it has me conflicted.

While I was over-the-moon with the 5 inches of dumping snow yesterday, today I crave to be outside of my office and on a patio, soaking up the sun and clear blue skies, hanging with my dog and enjoying the mild climate. I finally understand a rock and a hard place. It is this time between winter and spring in Idaho when neither you nor Mother Nature can make up your mind because either way you go, you would be thrilled. When the grass isn’t necessarily greener—because of the choices—because of the feeling of seasonal awe—because you live here. So though I find it hard to say goodbye to winter—my favorite season, the one I celebrate and relish as I enjoy our mountain every weekend—I also am looking forward to spring, to planting, to deck sitting and dog hiking. I can’t decide if I want in. Or if I want out. But I do know I have to sit back and enjoy the variety of this time of year—the ease of choice and beauty and some good quick cooking. Sauces. Dips. Dressings. Marinades. For either the oven or the grill—if you are staying in and hanging out—for dipping and topping…when whichever way you go, it is gonna be good. 

Uncle Robert’s Johnny Sauce
My uncle makes this for the holidays and we all count down until the revered Johnny Sauce is in our fridges. Dip anything. Top anything. Grill with it. It is yummy and Robert is sharing—we are lucky. My uncle rocks.
     1 cup mayonnaise (may use regular mayo, low-fat, fat-free or sugar free mayo)

     1/2 cup chili sauce
     1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola or corn oil)
     1 teaspoon Lea and Perrins (steak sauce)
     1 teaspoon black pepper 
     1 teaspoon paprika
     1 teaspoon yellow mustard (prepared, not dry mustard)
     1 tablespoon grated onion
     2-3 cloves garlic pressed (may use equivalent of chopped garlic)
     juice of 1 lemon or 2 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice
Mix together and chill.  It's better if made a day ahead. 

Simple Herb Sauce
This is a basic parsley sauce that is easily varied. Use mint, basil, etc. Special equipment: food processor

     2 ounces flat-leaf parsley, stalks removed 
     1 clove garlic, peeled
      juice of ½-1 lemon
      5 oz extra virgin olive oil
In a food processor, add the parsley, garlic, and juice of ½ lemon and whiz to chop. Season with salt and pepper. Then, with processor on, pour in enough oil till sauce is to your liking. Taste, and add more lemon juice is you wish. 

With this sauce: You can make a stuffing by adding 2 ounces breadcrumbs and 1 ounce pine nuts to spread over a pork fillet. Or you could add chopped anchovies and gherkins pickles, stir in some smooth mustard, and mix into beef casseroles. Add some mayo to make a dip or add more herbs and olive oil to drizzle over tomato, avocado and mozzarella.

Watercress Sauce
Watercress is so packed with nutrients and totally good for you. Serve with salmon. Special equipment: food processor.

     1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped 
     1 tablespoon olive oil
     7 ounces watercress, washed
     ½ pint vegetable stock
Whiz onion in the processor until chopped. Heat oil in a pan and cook onion for 10 minutes til softened. Whiz watercress in processor till finely chopped, then add to onion and cook for five minutes. Stir in stock and bubble for 15 minutes. Serve or cool and refrigerate.
With this sauce: Mix in 2 beaten eggs and 2 ounces of heavy cream. Fill a ready-made tart shell and bake. Make a soup cooking 9 ounces of finely peeled and chopped potatoes in 15 ounces of stock. When done, stir in sauce and heat throughout. Make a stuffing for lamb by adding 4 ounces breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and 2 ounces of parmesan cheese. Make a pesto by adding toasted pine nuts, lemon zest and grated parmesan and processing till combined. Add to pasta.

Red Pepper Sauce
This sauce freezes well and is great with fried chicken breasts. Special Equipment: food processor.

     3 red peppers, seeded and halved
     1 onion, peeled and chopped 
     2 tablespoons olive oil
     14 ounce can chopped Italian plum tomatoes
In processor, whiz peppers and onion till finely chopped. Heat oil in a shallow pan and add pepper mixture. Simmer over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, then add tomatoes and cook on a low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
With this sauce: Make a great sauce by stirring in mascarpone and mix through hot pasta. By adding a chopped red chili pepper (or flakes or paprika), one pint of stock, a can of chickpeas and fried chorizo; you have a great soup. Do a thicker sauce for pork chops or tuna steaks by mixing in 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, the zest of one orange, and 2 ounces ground almonds. Make a dip for shrimp or fish sautés by adding a dollop of the sauce to garlic mayonnaise.

White Sauce Recipe
I put on shrimp tacos. But you could top fish or chicken as well. This makes a TON.
     2 cups Miracle Whip or mayo
     ¾ cup milk     ½ tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes     1 ½ teaspoon cumin     ½ teaspoon salt     1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder     1 ½ teaspoon oregano
Measure dressing in bowl. Gradually stir in milk. Season with pepper flakes, cumin, salt, garlic powder and oregano. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend. If you taste right away—it will taste like mayo or dressing.

Peanut Sauce
Great on chicken sauté, as a dip, or over pasta. My sister-in-law gave me this recipe about 4 years ago and I am a pb lover so I keep this around. It is so good I can actually dip bacon into it. Thanks Erica for sharing!
     1/2 cup chunky peanut butter     1/2 cup  peanut oil     1/4 cup white wine vinegar     1/4 cup soy or tamar sauce     1/4 cup lemon juice     4 garlic cloves, minced     8 cilantro sprigs     2 teaspoons dried red chili pepper     2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger 
Blend all ingredients. Serve. 

Italian Dressing
I use this to marinate meat, fish, and veggies before I grill them. Also as a dressing for salads.  To make this a creamy Italian dressing—add 1 teaspoon mayonnaise and 3 teaspoons of water.
     ½ cup olive oil     ¼ cup white wine vinegar     1 teaspoon dried Italian spices     1 ½ teaspoon salt     1 teaspoon sugar     black pepper     ½ teaspoon fresh minced garlic
Combine all ingredients in a blender on high until combined—about 30 seconds. Cover and refrigerate.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Elvis is in the Building

Y'all. Cochon NOLA don't play. It brings the Elvis to us, for Carnival Season, in Kingcake form. I live 2.5 hours away. I had to have one.

The Mission = the Elvis.

The parcel was purchased by a fellow from the DA's office in New Orleans. It was then driven in a climate controlled vehicle to the Attorney General's office in Baton Rouge. From there, it was transported to a house near the lakes in downtown Baton Rouge where it waited.

I left my house at 5:48 on a Friday night headed to the capitol. After a bit of stop-and-go traffic, I found the hide a key and 'broke' into my sister's house. I grabbed my bit of heaven, some Zapp's, and an Abita beer. Ahhh . . . Louisiana Carnival Season and treating deserted homes of family like a Quick Stop. 

The Elvis. A legendary carnival staple transformed into a culinary masterpiece. Banana and peanut butter stuffed king cake topped with a melted marshmellow icing and artisan, thick-cut bacon crumbles. A thing of dreams. And it was mine. Like the true excited foodie I am, I immediately cut a slice and threw it in my face. I ain't scared to say I licked the marshmellow off my fingers.

No lie - the stuck-in-traffic drive back didn't even faze me. My inner-fat-kid was satiated. And 2.5 hours later, back in the haven of home - I had my second piece and savored it all. This time I used a fork. Holy yum.