Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pan-Seared Tuna with Mediterranean Wine Sauce

This is courtesy of a Cooking Light recipe. I omitted the orange juice.

Pan-Seared Tuna with Mediterranean Wine Sauce

1 cup dry white wine, divided
8 sun-dried tomato halves, packed without oil
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 (6-ounce) tuna steaks (about 1 inch thick)
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons chopped pitted Greek olives
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 cups hot cooked angel hair (about 4 ounces uncooked pasta)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Combine 1/2 cup wine and tomato halves in a 1-cup glass measure. Cover with plastic wrap, and vent. Microwave at high 1 1/2 minutes or until mixture boils; let stand, covered, 15 minutes. Strain tomatoes through a sieve into a bowl, reserving liquid; chop tomatoes. Add chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup wine, and orange juice to the reserved tomato liquid; set aside.

Place fennel seeds and peppercorns in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground. Pour into a small bowl; stir in 1 teaspoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, orange rind, and garlic. Spread spice mixture evenly over 1 side of each tuna steak. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat; add steaks, crust sides down, to skillet. Cook for 5 minutes on each side or until fish is medium-rare or desired degree of doneness. Remove from heat; keep warm. Add wine mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt, olives, and black pepper to skillet; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes). Combine pasta, 1 teaspoon oil, and cheese in a bowl; toss well. Serve tuna over pasta; drizzle with wine sauce.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Homegrown Red-Wine Marinara Sauce

One of the most brilliant things of having a garden is being able to make all sorts of lovely vegetable bases, like marinara sauce, veggie stock, etc., on top of having fresh vegetables for dinner every night.

This is due to a glut of tomatoes, onions and basil. The only ingredients in here that are not from our garden is the garlic, wine and the tomato paste.

Red-Wine Marinara Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 head garlic (6-8 cloves), crushed and chopped
1 1/2 onion, diced
12 medium sized tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine
12 basil leaves

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare another large bowl with ice water. Core the tomatoes and score the bottom with an 'X'. Add tomatoes in batches to boiling water. Boil for 20-30 seconds, until the skin starts to peel away. Transfer to ice bath. Remove skin, halve tomatoes and remove seeds.

Heat large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, swirl pot to coat. Add onion, garlic salt and pepper and sautee 5-10 minutes until onion is soft and translucent. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and red wine. Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened. About 45 minutes in, shred and basil leaves into the sauce. Taste sauce, adjust spices as needed.

If you prefer a less chunky sauce, add to food processor or blender (let cool first if using a blender). Pulse a few times until sauce reaches desired consistency.

You can serve immediately or spoon into containers and freeze for later use.

Shrimp Quesadillas with pico de gallo

You could go quick and easy with this recipe. However, The Spouse made his famous homemade pico de gallo. However, I don't know how he makes it, so I can't post his recipe. My best guess at it would be 4 tomatoes, cored, de-seeded and diced, 2 bell peppers, cored and diced, 1 large onion, diced, 1-2 jalapeños, diced, salt and lime juice to taste.

Shrimp Quesadillas with pico de gallo

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup lime juice
chile powder
pico de gallo

Combine shrimp, lime juice, salt, cumin and chile powder in a bag. Marinade 30-60 minutes. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Empty contents of bag into skillet and sautee until shrimp are cooked thru.

Place tortillas on a baking sheet. Layer on half: cheese, mushrooms, shrimp and pico de gallo. Fold over and broil for 5 minutes, turning halfway thru, until cheese is melted and tortilla lightly browned. Serve with more pico de gallo and chips.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pork Chops with Guinness Mushroom Gravy

This weekend in Milwaukee is Irish Fest! Milwaukee is known as the City of Festivals for all the ethnic and music festivals that run all summer long at the Henry Maier Festival Grounds at the lakefront (bit of history: The festival grounds used to be a Nike missile base). Several festivals are the nation's largest ethnic festivals, including Festa Italiana, Polish Fest, Mexican Fiesta and, of course, the world's largest music festival - Summerfest.

But my absolute favorite is Irish Fest. It's not nearly the drunken debauchery that Summerfest has turned into and the music, food and beer is much better, IMO.

So, in honor of Irish Fest, I decided to make a Guinness gravy to go with the pork chops last night. The Spouse kept going back for more gravy - and he's not a huge sauce/gravy fan, so that's a pretty big compliment.

Pork Chops with Guinness Mushroom Gravy

1 tbsp olive oil
4 thick-cut pork chops
grill seasoning (such as the Spice House Back of the Yards Butcher's Rub)
beef broth
1 12-oz bottle Guinness Draught
8 oz mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 1/3 cup milk
3 tbsp flour
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Heat large pan over medium heat. Add oil to pan and swirl to coat. Lightly season chops and brown in pan, about 3-5 minutes each side. Set aside.

Deglace pan with a bit of beef broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits. Add mushrooms to pan and sautee until fragarant, about 5 minutes. Add in guinness, milk, flour and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, finish the pork chops on the grill until done.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rosemary and Peppercorn Encrusted Pork Tenderloin

I used a my mortar & pestle to crush the spices.

Rosemary and Peppercorn Encrusted Pork Tenderloin

2 tsp peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
½ tsp celery seeds, crushed
½ tsp mustard seeds, crushed
1 (1 lb) pork tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425.

Combine first 6 ingredients; rub over pork. Place pork in a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160 (slightly pink). Let stand 5 minutes; cut into thin slices.

Chicken & Barley Stew

1 cup quick-cooking barley
3 (14 oz) cans chicken broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped up into bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1 (10 oz) package frozen mixed vegetables
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp black pepper

Bring barley and broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes.

While barley cooks, heat skillet over medium heat. Add oil heat thru. Add chicken and onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add mixed vegetables; sauté 2 minutes.

Add vegetable mixture, chicken, salt, thyme, and pepper to barley mixture; simmer 4 minutes.

Margarita Chicken

Margarita Chicken

1 lb chicken breasts
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp tequilla
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp lime zest

Mix marinade together and add chicken breasts. Marinade in fridge at least 1 hour.

Remove chicken breasts from marinade, reserving the mix. Boil marniade for 1 minute.

Grill chicken breasts over medium-high heat until done (about 12 minutes), basting occasionally with the boiled marinade.

Wine Pairing: Margaritas, baby!

Lime Glazed Scallops on Creamy Wasabi Fettuccine

The nice thing about this recipe is you can make almost any substitution you want for some of the more basic items. Just use whatever you have in your pantry.

12 oz dry fettuccini or tagliatelle
1/3 cup pickled ginger
2 lbs large sea scallops
1 tbsp freshly grated lime peel
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp wasabi powder
1 ¼ cups skim milk (thickened it with corn starch)
¼ cup butter
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
chives, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well. Chop ¼ cup of the ginger and reserve.

Remove connective muscle (it looks like a little knob on the side of the scallop) from each scallop and discard. Pat dry. Toss scallops with lime peel, garlic and a little salt and pepper.

Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. Add about one-third of the scallops to the pan and cook, without disturbing, for 2 minutes or until deep golden. They may stick at first but will then release as they become brown. Turn and cook 2 minutes longer or until cooked through and deeply golden on the other side. Remove from pan and repeat as necessary to cook all of the remaining scallops.

Blend wasabi with 2 tbsp of milk to make a paste. Pour remaining cream into skillet used to cook the scallops. Add butter and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and whisk in wasabi paste, chopped ginger and Parmesan. Add noodles and cooked scallops.

Toss to coat in sauce. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to pasta bowls and garnish with rosettes made from the remaining pickled ginger.

Crockpot Coq au Vin

This was inspired by Chef Sandy D'Amato's Coq au Vin at Coquette Cafe. The secret? Let the chicken marinade overnight. Mine's not nearly as good, but I'm not a world-renowned chef. :D

Crockpot Coq au Vin

1 pkg frozen pearl onions - thawed
1 pkg mushrooms - sliced
1 clove garlic
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cups dry red wine
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tbsp all-purpose unbleached flour

Mix thyme, salt and pepper together. Trim chicken. Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the following order. onions, mushrooms, garlic, spices, chicken, wine and broth. Let sit overnight in the fridge.

Remove crock from fridge and let warm. Cover and cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours. Remove chicken and vegetables; cover and keep warm. Ladle cup cooking liquid into small bowl; allow to cool slightly. Turn slow cooker to HIGH; cover. Mix reserved liquid, tomato paste and flour until smooth. Return mixture to slow cooker; cover and cook 25 minutes or until thickened.

Creamed Spinach Gratin

I made this the first time for Thanksgiving 2005 for my ILs. Huge hit!

Creamed Spinach Gratin

1 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
1 clove garlic, halved
5 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise
5 10-ounce boxes frozen spinach, thawed
8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cup skim milk
1 cup grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 375° F. Rub the sides and bottom of a buttered 8-inch baking dish with the garlic; discard garlic.

In a skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Squeeze the spinach to remove any excess liquid. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, cream cheese, milk, cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and shallots. Transfer to dish. Bake, uncovered, until bubbling and lightly golden, about 25 minutes.

Chai Tea

This recipe comes from my sister. She and her husband spent 2 years in Kenya with the Peace Corps and introduced me to it well before it became a trendy drink to have. It's...pretty flexible. Below are the basic ingredients, you mix them to your taste. I put what I usually do in parentheses. Also, I make a large batch of just the tea and just store it in the fridge mix in the milk & sugar when I want a cup.

Chai Tea

Black tea leaves (I usually do enough to fill a tea diffuser)
Cinnamon sticks (2-3 sticks)
Cardamom, whole (4 or 5 pods, crack them open)
Ginger (about...1 tsp, diced)
Sugar, to taste

Steep tea and spices in proper amount of water to brew strong tea. Strain out spices and tea leaves (if you don't use a diffuser). Serve half and half with milk or cream. Add sugar to taste.

Tunisian Vegetable Stew

I made this one summer when The Spouse was on a chickpea kick (yet the man hates hummus. go figure). This could easily be made vegetarian/vegan by removing the chicken and subbing vegetable stock instead.

Tunisian Vegetable Stew

fennel seeds
1 lb chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
1 thinly sliced onion
1/4 cup vegetable stock (or more)
3 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1 dash kosher salt
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (16 ounce) can chickpeas
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
kosher salt

Add olive oil and a few fennel seeds to pan. When fennel seeds start popping, add chicken. Brown chicken on all sides for 10 minutes, turning halfway. Remove chicken from pan, set aside.

Add onions to pan and sautee. Add stock, cabbage, sprinkle with salt; saute for another 5 minutes (add more stock if needed).

Add spices; saute another minute. Stir in tomatoes and chickpeas. Add chicken and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes till vegetables are tender.

Serve over couscous (or rice, or another grain).

Chicken Stroganoff

Ever since I was a kid, I'd never really enjoyed stroganoff. I didn't like onions or peppers, the beef was always tough, and it was really kinda bland.

Then I discovered a recipe in Real Simple that changed my mind. I've made a few changes to it over the years though.

Chicken Stroganoff

1 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 cup sour cream

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and the mushrooms. Continue cooking until the mushrooms give up their liquid, about 6 minutes, and are tender.

Place the vegetables in a colander, reserving both vegetables and liquid. You should have about 1/2 cup of liquid.

Return pan to heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season the chicken with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add it to the vegetables.

Pour the wine, broth, and vegetable liquid into the pan and bring to a boil. With a wooden spoon, loosen any brown bits stuck to the pan and let cook in the sauce. Add the barbecue sauce, Worcestershire, mustard, and hot sauce. Whisk until smooth. Boil until the liquid has reduced by half, to about 11/4 cups. The liquid should thicken slightly.

Reduce heat and whisk in the sour cream. Do not let the sauce boil. Return the vegetables and chicken to pan and simmer until heated through. Serve over egg noodles or rice.

Shrimp Curry

This isn't exactly authentic, but it's incredibly tasty.

Shrimp Curry

2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic
3 stalks celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 tbsp flour
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
~1 cup water or maybe vegetable broth (I used 1/2 the can)
2 tsp curry
1 tsp soy sauce
1 lb cooked shrimp (DH picked up tiger prawns instead. mmmmm)
Kosher Salt to taste
White rice

Melt butter in the skillet. Add onion, garlic and celery. Cook until soft (you may want to add the celery first as it takes longer than the onion).

Mix in flour until incorporated. Add tomatoes, water/broth, curry and soy sauce. Stir well until bubbly. Taste, add other spices as needed/wanted (I added a bit of salt since I used low-sodium everything). Add shrimp. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Chap Chee Noodles

In an effort to beef up my blog, here are some recipes that I made ages ago and posted elsewhere

Original recipe here. Below are my modifications.

Chap Chee Noodles

3 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoon sesame oil
6 green onions, finely chopped
3 1 clove garlic, minced
3 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
dash of chili sauce

1 pound chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup sliced bamboo shoots, drained
1 cup napa cabbage, sliced
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
3 ounces cellophane noodles, soaked in warm water
soy sauce, salt & pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine marinade ingredients. Stir in sliced chicken, and marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Heat wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, then drizzle with oil. Cook chicken & marinade until evenly brown. Stir in carrots, bamboo shoots, and napa cabbage. Sautee until veggies are tender, about 15 minutes. Add spinach and cellophane noodles, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until heated through.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Is there anything more beautiful than an organized spice cabinet? I think not.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Muffins

Growing up this was one of my favorite recipes of my mom's. A year ago, when we bought our house and had room for a garden, I had a couple huge zucchini that were only good for bread. So I emailed mom for the recipe. In her response, she swore me to secrecy - seriously or not, I'm not sure.

So, what follows is actually a re-interpretation of the recipe she sent me.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Muffins

3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 cup Splenda
3 sq melted and cooled baking chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups zucchini, grated
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
skim milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Beat the eggs until lemon-coloured. Beat in sugar and oil. Stir in chocolate, along with zucchini & vanilla. Sift flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder together. Assess the mix and add in skim milk to achieve proper consistency. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Bake 20 minutes at 375. Let stand 10 minutes before removing from tins. Cool on wire racks.