Pan Roasted Branzino
Best way I’ve found to get good at a recipe is to practice. Here’s my 2nd attempt at a branzino recipe I made just a few weeks back (here’s attempt #1). This time used some fresh oregano instead of rosemary. As a side, I roasted some diced potatoes for about 25 minutes. You can use the same oven temp as the fish - just get the potatoes in while you’re prepping the fish and they’ll be done about the same time. After the fish came out of the oven I used the same pan to wilt spinach with dried cranberries tossed in for flavor. What’s the verdict of this 2nd attempt? It’s hard to be to prescriptive since it was delicious both times!
It’s a warm early spring day here in NYC, and I’ve been craving gazpacho. This recipe worked great. Since tomatoes still aren’t at their peak I followed the recipe’s advice and used canned fire roasted tomatoes. I also roasted my own red pepper, which gave a great bright red color to the soup. Finally, I had some nice mango salsa sitting in my fridge that added a great hot / sweet flavor. I saved a little bit of the chopped veggie mixture (along with some chopped avocado) for garnish. The soup went great with some black bean and cheddar nachos on the side.
Spicy Thai Shrimp with Cucumber Raita
Red Thai chili paste made these shrimp very spicy! Next time I might try mixing in some tomato paste just to get a good coating on the shrimp without too much heat. The dish was still pretty tasty, though. And I liked it with the cucumber riata and rice on the side (I added a little vinegar and fish sauce to the rice to amp the flavor). I’d make this one again.
Beef and Sweet Potato Chili
Winner, winner, chili dinner: a delicious, quick weeknight dinner that’s also great for leftovers. I got home from work just in time to get this prepped and on the stove in advance of a late work call (we’ve been trying to coordinate with co-workers in Hong Kong, so there have been a lot of calls at odd hours!). Only substitution was using ground beef instead of ground pork (since that’s what I had on hand). By the time the call was done, the sweet potatoes were tender so we could sit down and eat. Not quite sure if this is what people are referring to when they talk about “work / life balance,” but I suppose it works for now!
Pasta Paella with Clams and Spicy Sausage
I’ve tried several recipes recently that feature the awesome combination of littleneck clams and Italian sausage (see my last post for steamed clams with spicy sausage here). So far, this is my favorite! You start of by toasting your noodles (vermicelli if you’ve got it, spaghetti if you don’t). I used canned fire roasted tomatoes instead of plum tomatoes. The zucchini was a nice touch. Oh, and the recipe calls for just 12 clams to feed two people, but I don’t like to skimp, so I added a dozen clams to each bowl (half in shells and half without). I’d definitely make this dish again.
Derby Day 2013
Our annual Kentucky Derby party has become a favorite tradition for me, my husband and our friends. I keep the food simple: deviled eggs, benedictine dip with crudites, tea sandwiches, fresh strawberries, chips with salsa, and a mint julep bar (of course!). For the tea sandwiches I sauteed green onions in butter and folded that into softened goat cheese. Then I spread the goat cheese on both sides of bread, add a layer of sliced radishes in between, and cut into crust-less triangles. For the benedictine dip, I actually skip the traditional cucumber and use a package of grated tomatillos - I did this on a whim last year when the Derby fell on Cinco de Mayo, and it was so tasty that I’m going to keep doing it! I still need to work on peeling my hard boiled eggs (this is the most time consuming bit of the whole spread!), but other than that I think this party is almost perfected. Oh, and I also need to work on my horse picking skills (I had Orb to win, but lost to my friend Ted in the tie-breaker with my second place pick of Itsmyluckday, who came in 15th!).
Black Bean Soup
Here’s a rif on my go-to black bean soup recipe. I had some time on my hands, so I mothered the ingredients a bit. I roasted and chopped the red pepper and sauteed the onion and jalapeno before tossing all the ingredients in a crock pot. Towards the end I added some diced ham that I’d saved and frozen from Easter dinner and served the soup over rice. The basic recipe is great, but these extra steps helped with the depth of flavor and made for a tasty Saturday dinner.
Grilled Goat Cheese Panini
I made these lovely little sandwiches for lunch today. Didn’t follow a recipe, but it all came together pretty intuitively. I sauteed some green onions in olive oil and then folded the warm onions into some goat cheese. I spread the goat cheese on bread that I’d buttered on the outside, and then added some strips of roasted red pepper. I used a grill pan to toast the sandwiches and then added arugula before slicing diagonally and serving with green olives.
Pasta with Fiddle Heads, Ramp Pesto and Avocado Cream Sauce
Ramps and fiddle heads are both in season now. It’s spring on a plate! The ramps added a great tang to the pesto. And I’d never heard of an avocado cream sauce before, but it actually worked out (avocados just melted into into the butter and milk). It’s hard to add this to the “regular rotation” since ingredients aren’t available for long, but this was a fun spring recipe to try.