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Archive for April, 2008

fish tacos

These fish tacos with salsa verde and radish salad are light and wonderfully delicious for a spring weeknight dinner. Tasty and incredibly healthy.

What makes these distinctive are the tart and crunchy toppings: a fresh cilantro, lime, green chile salsa and a radish-celery slaw with jalepeño and green onion.  (Leave it to Martha Stewart!)

The salsa verde is prepared in a blender with a touch of olive oil, a bunch of fresh cilantro, a small can of chopped mild chiles, the juice of one lime, salt/pepper, and a little mined onion and garlic.

The “slaw” of thinly sliced radishes, celery, green onions, and half a jalepeño is mixed with a touch of olive oil, juice of one lime, and salt/pepper.

Put together on warmed corn tortillas atop chunks of broiled, seasoned tilapia creates an unbelievable flavor. We also added a little diced avocado as well.

This and a couple previous posts might suggest that we cook with fish all the time. Unfortunately, cooking fish is somewhat of a special meal for us.  Finding fresh and affordable seafood in Atlanta is surprisingly difficult.

The major chains – Kroger and Publix – do carry three or four types of fish, but in nearly every case the fillets are previously frozen, farm raised, and foreign – from Chile or Thailand. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with frozen or farm raised; but when you see those filets in the case – compared with the fresh, more local, wild-caught offerings in upscale stores like Whole Foods – they don’t look entirely appealing. (Maybe I’m a fish snob? :o) 

Lately, however, we’ve found some good fish on sale at a reasonable price – and the tilapia in this recipe is a case and point. $6.99/lb, fresh USA farm raised from Whole Foods. Can’t beat it. 

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Nate and I just returned from a glorious spring weekend in South Carolina. One of the highlights of the trip was our Sunday night meal with his brother and sister-in-law in Charleston.

Maggie is an Italian by blood – and boy does it show in the way she cooks. Her pan-fried chicken breasts wrapped in prosciutto and fresh sage topped a bed of homemade asparagus risotto, blended with fresh garlic and onion, white wine, chicken stock, parmesan cheese and a touch of butter.

The beautiful salad of spinach, sliced strawberries, goat cheese and candied pecans was tossed in a light balsamic vinaigrette.

And for dessert… a famous Simmons Seafood homemade key lime pie from Isle of Palms on the coast.

I am now inspired to wrap everything in prosciutto. That was an incredible flavor!  Look for more of that to come. 

Up next: Tuesday night tilapia fish tacos with homemade cilantro-lime salsa and a radish slaw.

-Devin

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Stir-fry Wok


For Christmas, my mother sent me a cast iron wok. And I must admit, I was not enthusiastic at first. The metal cookware weighs 25 pounds, it doesn’t fit in a cabinet, and it seems like it would create a clean-up nightmare.

After one use, however, I was bought and sold on the value of a wok and a cast iron piece of cookware. No more stray veggies and pieces of meat flying out of the pan when I’m tossing a stir-fry! And, since cast iron radiates heat evenly and quickly, the entire pan (including the wide sides) cooks the ingredients, meaning a fast preparation.

Clean up has also been much easier than I anticipated. After the pan cools, I scrub it with a stiff brush and hot water. No soap is necessary (in fact, using soap can damage the pan). It’s way cool.

Recently, I improvised a stir-fry with fresh Georgia white corn off the cob, baby carrots, button mushrooms, green pepper and water chestnuts. The chicken was pan seared (in the wok) in olive oil, touch of sesame oil, and soy sauce. To bring everything together, I added a half cup of store-bought General Tso’s sauce, a sweet and tangy coating that went well with the corn, peppers and carrots.

-Devin

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Chilean Sea Bass

It’s Wednesday, it’s the middle of the week, food is almost certainly doomed to be boring.

BUT, for whatever reason, tonight I found myself in the spirit to produce a Saturday-level meal in the middle of the week. (On a side note, Devin and I normally alternate cooking nights, so it works out nicely. Obviously, tonight was my turn. 🙂 ) I found this great recipe from Rachael Ray for a baked Chilean sea bass with tarragon , shallots and cherry tomatoes. I’m normally not a huge fan of tarragon but the shallots and cherry tomatoes won me over. By the way, you’re bound to see a lot of Rachael Ray material here. Lord knows she’s got a polarizing personality and a lot of her dishes aren’t really our style, but she has a lot of simple delicious dishes that really are doable the day of. Which is important for us, since we often decide what we’re cooking the day of. If I didn’t have a job but DID have millions in the bank, you can bet I’d be poring over Barefoot Contessa’s recipes all week long, constantly soaking things in marinades for 36 hours. As things are, Rachael works a bit better for me most of the time. (But don’t worry, the Contessa will make several important appearances!)

So, I went for a nice short run and then got to work chopping fresh tarragon, slicing a bell pepper (for one of Devin’s magnificent homemade made-up salads), slicing a lemon and chopping a shallot.

You see the Royal Blend wild rice mix in the back? Oh it’s my favorite accompaniment to fish. It’s light but flavorful, not sticky, easy to make but tastes far better than a plain rice. I highly recommend.

Devin ended up making a fresh salad out of romaine, red bell pepper, sunflower seeds, strawberries and blue cheese with a lemon vinaigrette. Yum-o, to quote Rachael. Rounding out our royal Wednesday meal was a simple but delicious bake-it-yourself loaf I picked up to bake with the fish. I love hot, fresh-baked loaves of bread to finish off a meal.

Oh, and the fish! The fish, the fish . . . Since the other ingredients weren’t terribly breaking my piggy bank I opted to get a gorgeous cut of Chilean sea bass at Whole Foods (even though I bought all my other ingredients elsewhere). I figured why not spend the money of the meal on the fish rather than the sides. I can’t stand a fishy taste!

Before getting my gorgeous fish out, though, I mixed the shallots, tomatoes, and tarragon with a little EVOO, salt and pepper. Doesn’t it look mouthwatering on its own?

Then I built little piles on tin foil, lemons + fish + tomato-tarragon mix.

Once it was all done and arranged with the salad, wild rice and bread, there we had our Saturday-on-Wednesday meal!

What I loved about this meal was that it was elaborate and very not middle-of-the-week, and yet it was simple and quick! Whaddyaknow, a 30-minute-meal that actually comes close to 30 minutes.

And for dessert, I was planning to make crepes again and take pictures for the blog, but Devin surprised me by making a new batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, and boy do I hope he blogs about them! They are indescribably good. They don’t taste like most chocolate chip cookies to me . . . they are small and thick and have a rich flavor I can’t quite put my finger on, so I’m hoping he’ll share his secrets in a post soon!

On that note, I’m out for the night. 🙂 – Nate

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The Wingless Buffalo Pizza

A few weeks ago I saw this recipe on Rachel Ray’s show 30-Minute Meals.

I was intrigued by the flavors — buffalo sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, Blue cheese — all melded together on top of a thin pizza crust. I also love creative takes on the classic buffalo wing, of which I’m not a huge fan because of the low meat-to-work ratio. (Too much work pulling apart those little bones only to end up with a bite of fatty skin coated chicken meat… but I digress.)

This pizza is the best of buffalo wings without the bones paired with the comfort of gooey cheese and crispy pizza crust. 

I used a cast-iron indoor grill to roast organic chicken breasts seasoned with McCormick Montreal seasoning. The chicken was thinly sliced and tossed in a homemade buffalo pizza sauce, consisting of Frank’s Red Hot sauce, tomato sauce and a dash of Worcestershire.

Then, the sauce and coated meat is poured over a thin Boboli pizza crust and topped with a mixture of Monterey Jack and blue cheeses. I also added a handful of shredded Mexican quesadilla cheese. 

After 15 minutes in the oven, the cheeses melted together and blended with the homemade buffalo pizza sauce. The flavors were very tasty – and not too hot.

Although this “30-Minute Meal” took its standard hour plus  — with significant clean up time from the grill, sauce pans, etc. — it’s definitely a keeper for weeknight dinner.

-Devin

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Heaven in parchment

Black Cod with Olives and Potatoes in Parchment

We were both in the mood for a foodie Saturday night but neither of us felt the itch to explore a new restaurant. Instead we decided to raid Whole Foods and come up with something glorious on our own. Well, sort of — with a little help from our Gourmet Magazine subscription!

I was in the mood for fish, and since I’m the more finicky one with fish Devin jumped at the chance to make it. There was a great-looking recipe in Gourmet for a Black Cod with Olives and Potatoes in Parchment.

We went to the local Whole Foods and they didn’t have any fresh black cod so we settled on a nice fresh Atlantic cod. We also picked out a new Cab we had never tried before and paired it with a new cheese we’ve never had before, a soft and tangy thing that went very well on a crostini with the wine.

Okay back to the fish! Everything about this recipe is fresh fresh fresh! Most of my time was spent peeling and chopping . . . yukon gold potatoes, fresh oregano, lemon, loads of garlic, kalamata olives and parsley. Once everything was properly chopped or sliced I cut out three big squares of parchment paper and laid them on the counter. I tossed the yukon gold potato slices with olive oil, fresh oregano, sea salt and fresh pepper. I made a thin layer of potato slices on each piece of parchment paper and then laid a generous piece of fish on top of the potatoes. Next came a little sea salt and black pepper before loading up on the lemon slices, garlic, olives, parsley, oregano and a teeny little bit of oil. I wish I’d put even less oil though . . . since there is oil with the potatoes this dish really doesn’t need much more added in!

After the piling, I just grabbed up the parchment to form a pouch, tied it with some kitchen string and popped it into my nice-n-hot oven for 20 minutes. The result: delicious and delicately-flavored fish just as moist as can be. Devin cooked up a medley of corn, green beans and fresh spinach leaves and I added a pot of wild rice mix to create a meal that was exceedingly tasty but left us feeling light and wonderful.

For dessert we made crepes stuffed with Nutella and banana slices . . . but that’s a whole ‘nother post!

– Nate

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