Baked Whole Fish With Tomatoes, Fennel & Fresh Herbs

August 5, 2013

I am obsessed with summer produce, and I find myself stopping by the open-air market in our town every other day to see what’s new (bonus: I’m learning all kinds of new words to butcher in Italian).

Pozzuoli is also a port town, so the seafood is fresh, abundant and inexpensive. Swordfish, octopus, clams, mussels, tuna – the options are endless. I used to be intimidated by the idea of cooking a whole fish until I realized how easy it is. Well, it’s incredibly easy when your fish guy will clean and scale the fish for you in about two minutes. I still haven’t mastered that art, and I’m happy to leave it to the professionals.

Brian and I have been experimenting with different ways to combine fresh produce with fresh fish, and this recipe is a new favorite. I love the sweetness of the tomatoes, the saltiness of the capers and the earthiness of the fennel. It’s adapted from a Jamie Oliver sea bass recipe – we used dorado. We also roasted vegetables in the same pan as the fish – starting the potatoes (skin on, chopped in large chunks) 20 minutes before the fish and adding the green beans with the fish.

baked fish

Ingredients

Sauce:
Olive oil
1 lb. fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
Fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
A glug of white wine
A pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper

2 whole fish (we used dorado), cleaned and scaled
3 T. Butter
½ bulb fennel, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1-2 T. capers, roughly chopped
Chopped fresh herbs (we used rosemary, oregano, thyme and parsley)
1 lemon, sliced
Aluminum foil

1. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

2. In a separate frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and butter. Add the fennel and cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for another 5 minutes until golden brown.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

4. Mix the rest of the butter and the fresh herbs together in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, mix half of the tomato sauce with the fennel mixture.

5. Rinse the fish inside and out and pat dry with a paper towel. Place each fish on a large piece of aluminum foil.

6. Make three diagonal cuts down to the bone into one side of each fish. Stuff the cuts with herb butter. Stuff the inside cavity of the fish with the fennel-tomato mixture and two lemon slices.

7. Spoon the rest of the tomato sauce on top of the two fish. Add a splash of white wine and a little salt and pepper. Seal the foil packets, and place in a roasting pan.

8. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes, then carefully open the foil and serve. Pairs well with a crisp white wine. (One large fish should be enough to serve two people; we made two and saved one for leftovers.)


Booze-Braised Beef Short Ribs Two Ways

June 11, 2013

I don’t know why I’m so late to the party on braised short ribs. Did you know that they are delicious? Yes, you probably did, because I’m apparently the last one to figure it out. How have I been missing out all these years? Short ribs are also often slow-cooked in wine or beer, which makes them my new favorite food to cook. I do so love pouring an entire bottle of wine into a pot and letting it work its magic.

Here are two ways to make braised short ribs; both are incredibly tasty and surprisingly easy. They take about three hours to cook, but most of that is hands-off time in the oven. Ingredients and cook times are also very forgiving, so feel free to adapt, tweak and get a little crazy with your own version.

red wine-braised short ribs

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients

3 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs
Small package of pancetta, diced
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
2 carrots, diced
Flour
1 T. tomato paste
1 bottle of red wine
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 cups beef or chicken stock
1 can pureed tomatoes
1-2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
Salt & pepper
Dried or fresh herbs – I used bay leaves, rosemary and thyme
Olive oil

1. In a large Dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove from pot and set to the side. Reserve drippings and add a little olive oil.

2. Dredge short ribs in flour and shake off excess. Sear ribs on all sides until browned, working in batches if necessary (about 10-15 minutes total for each batch). Remove ribs and let rest on a plate.

3. Add onion, shallot and carrots to the pot and cook for 2-5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Add 3 T. flour and 1 T. tomato paste to the mixture and cook for another 2 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour in the bottle of wine (yes, all of it) and deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits and mixing them into the sauce. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until it is reduced by half.

5. Add herbs, garlic cloves, cooked pancetta and salt and pepper to the liquid. Place the short ribs meaty side down in the sauce, then stir in stock.

6. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours at 350, then turn down to 325 and cook for another 30-45 minutes. Meat should be falling off the bone, and your mouth should be watering.

7. Serve with mashed potatoes or creamy polenta (this Pioneer Woman recipe is simple and delish). Feeds four people (or two with leftovers).

Beer-Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients

3 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
Flour
1 small can tomato paste
2 bottles of dark beer (I used a homebrew porter)
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 cups beef or chicken stock
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
Salt & pepper
Dried or fresh herbs – I used bay leaves, rosemary and thyme
Olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Dredge short ribs in flour and shake off excess. Sear ribs on all sides until browned, working in batches if necessary (about 10-15 minutes total for each batch). Remove ribs and let rest on a plate.

2. Add onion and shallot to the pot and cook for 2-5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Add 5 T. flour, tomato paste and garlic to the mixture and cook for another 2 minutes.

3. Pour in both bottles of beer and deglaze the pan. Let the sauce simmer until it is thick and bubbling, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in balsamic, Worcestershire sauce, cocoa powder, herbs, salt and pepper.

4. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours at 350, then turn down to 325 and cook for another 30-45 minutes.

7. Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta. Feeds four people (or two with leftovers).

Recipes I used for inspiration:


Roast Pork & Almond Sauce over Noodles

August 5, 2012

Been trying to cook some healthy options and I’ll be posting a few I’ve found that are really good.  We had grilled up a pork tenderloin and had leftover pork.  So I used that pork with this recipe.  Super quick and easy since the pork was already cooked.  I’m sure their way is super tasty too.

1/2 pound pork tenderloin
8 oz uncooked pasta (I used a whole grain angel hair)
1/4 cup almond butter
2 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 cup thinly sliced green onions

For the pork, you can do what they did or what I did.  We grilled up a pork tenderloin the day before and only ate half.  I took the other half and cut into thin strips and heated in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes or until warm.

While cooking the pasta, you can start making the sauce.  Mix all ingredients together and once pasta is done, add 2 tablespoons of the pasta water.  Top each bowl of pasta with pork, sauce and sprinkle some sliced green onions.  Serves about 4.

Note, I was worried that our pork tenderloin was pre-seasoned with lemon and garlic and would make the dish taste funny.  It did not.  It was crazy delicious and maybe more enjoyable since this whole process took practically no time when you don’t have to cook the pork.

Here’s a crappy picture of the tasty dish:

 


Barbecued Pork Banh Mi

July 7, 2012

I love, love, love Vietnamese food. This banh mi is (almost) as delicious as the sandwich at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in NOLA. The meat is incredibly tender, and it’s wonderful on french bread or in a lettuce wrap.

Ingredients

2-3 lbs. pork tenderloin
1 minced shallot
6 cloves minced garlic
1/3 cup of minced lemongrass
3 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/3 cup of brown sugar
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. salt
1/2 tbsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 tbsp. of vegetable oil
2-4 tbsp tamari (regular soy sauce will also work)
French bread
Jalapenos
Pickled carrots, daikon and cucumbers
Fresh cilantro

Slice the pork tenderloin into 1/4-inch-thick slices. In a large bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Add the sliced pork to the bowl. Toss the pork to coat it in the marinade, then cover the bowl and refrigerate it for about 24 hours.

Skewer the pork slices or lay them in a single layer in a meat cage for the grill. (We tried both methods, and they worked equally well.) Grill the meat over medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, just long enough to get a nice, caramelized char. Serve the barbecued pork on french bread with sliced fresh jalapenos and pickled carrots, daikon and cucumbers. (You can buy them at the store or make your own. This recipe is easy and delicious: http://userealbutter.com/2011/08/22/vietnamese-pickled-vegetables-recipe/) Top with fresh cilantro.


Mashed Potato & Cheddar Casserole

January 4, 2012

Tonight was a cold night, and I was craving comfort food. Potato and cheese casserole sounded wonderful. I adapted this recipe based on what I had in the house. It made just enough for two servings as a main dish, so double the recipe if you’d like extra helpings.

2 large Russet potatoes
1 tbsp. butter
1 carrot or a handful of baby carrots, shredded
1/2 zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onions or leeks (the white part, washed well)
1 1/2 cups sour cream*
1 cup cheddar cheese, divided in half
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in salted water. When tender, peel and mash until mostly smooth. Sautee the vegetables in the butter until tender. Combine vegetables with the potatoes, sour cream, half of the cheese, the parsley, and salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into a buttered 8×8 baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until cheese browns on top.

* I didn’t have any sour cream, so I made my own. I whipped a bit more than 3/4 cup of cream, pouring in lemon juice little by little as I whisked so it wouldn’t curdle. I kept tasting along the way and stopped adding lemon juice when the cream was tart enough. Eventually, the cream nearly doubled in volume.


The Best Thing About Black Friday- Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Omelets.

November 25, 2011

What did you do with the image?

I don’t need to tell anyone here the merits of having leftovers, but Thanksgiving is one of those occasions where the leftovers are almost as good (if not better) than the original meal itself.

What you’re looking at here is a turkey omelet with stuffing, cranberry sauce and a little parmigiano reggiano; the first of many meals made from the enormous quantity of leftovers our Thanksgiving celebration created. The beauty of the omelet is that it can be filled with just about anything, so feel free supplement with whatever you’ve got in your refrigerator.

  1. Heat skillet on low.
  2. Combine egg in bowl, mix and add a small handful of parmesan.
  3. Position turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing nearby for quick access.
  4. Pour egg on skillet, spread around for even coating if necessary.
  5. While eggs are soupy on top, add turkey and accompanying ingredients down the center one-third of your eggs.
  6. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  7. When eggs are firm on the bottom (but not cooked completely through), fold the two sides up and over the fix’ins in the middle. Cook for another minute or so.
  8. Flip omelet to ensure cheese is melted. It will help keep the folds ‘glued’ down. Depending on how big your omelet is, I recommend using two spatulas.
  9. Remove from skillet, plate and enjoy.
  10. Calculate the number of hours before making another one of these would be appropriate.

Crock-Pot Greek Chicken Pitas With Tzatziki Sauce

October 25, 2011

I am obsessed with tzatziki sauce. It’s gotten to the point where I will actually plan entire meals around it. Mmmm. Delicious tzatziki sauce… and whatever I’ve drowned in it.

This recipe was super easy and turned out finger-lickin’ delicious.

Ingredients

1 lb. to 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

1. Throw all of the ingredients into the Crock-Pot, mixing so the seasoning is evenly coating the chicken.

2. Cook on low for about 8 hours, or until the chicken is tender and falls apart easily when you touch it with a fork.

3. Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred it on a plate using two forks. Put the chicken back in the cooker with the juices and leave on warm until you are ready to eat.

4. About 1-2 hours before you eat, make the tzatziki sauce and refrigerate to let the flavors mingle. This has been my go-to recipe lately; it is so tasty, especially when you make it with white wine vinegar.

5. Spoon chicken and tzatziki sauce onto warm pita bread and serve with tomato, lettuce and feta (I like it with hot sauce as well).


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