Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sometimes I Amaze Myself - Part Deux

This is another one of those meals that I was like, wow...I came up with that?  Friend Kassie informed me that there is a Greenmarket each Wednesday at 49th/1st just across from the UN.  This is very exciting to me, as I no longer have to schlepp down to Union Square to fight with the crowds (not to mention a baby).  The market was excellent.  It obviously isn't as huge as the Union Square market, but the selection is excellent.  Last Wednesday I was in a "spending" mood and couldn't resist the fish stand.

Fish isn't super popular in our house.  I absolutely love fish, but usually do not purchase it as hubby will not touch fish with a ten foot pole.   This time I decided to rebel against the norm of  chicken, pork and beef, and splurge on the fresh caught mahi mahi.  The gentleman at the stand suggested broiling or grilling as method of preparation.  Since grills are a bit difficult to come by here, I chose to broil.  I also picked up some delightful vegetables while I was there, and was able to put together a healthy, colorful quick meal.  This was my result:

Broiled Mahi Mahi with Fresh Summer Harvest Salsa

Coat baking dish with a small amount of olive oil (to prevent sticking).  Sprinkle fish with creole seasoning or other seasoning of choice.  Place under broiler.

Meanwhile, sauté chopped red onion in a bit of XV olive oil, add fresh corn (cut off the cob) and fresh diced tomato (I used the yellow heirloom variety).  Cook together until tomato and corn are soft.  Then add desired amount of fresh chopped cilantro.  Continue to cook just until cilantro is slightly wilted, but still bright green, 1 - 2 minutes.  Place fish on plates, spoon abundant amount of salsa over fish.   Enjoy!

Cook's Notes:
I did not add extra salt, as I felt the creole seasoning on the fish contributed enough salt to the dish.
Since hubby does not like fish, I made him a grilled chicken breast, marinated in tomatillo salsa and extra lemon juice.
Also would work well with tilapia or other white fish.
Total prep and cooking time was about 30 minutes.

P.S.  If you don't have Tony Chachere's Famous Creole Seasoning in your collection of spices, I suggest you buy some pronto.  It adds an extra bit of flavor to everything.  Throw it on chicken, fish or other meat for quick flavor, sprinkle on homemade french fries, etc.  Serious.  Buy it.  I swear by it when I need a little extra in a meal without a ton of work.

Sometimes I Amaze Myself

Somedays I am in a total funk with what to make for dinner, the food is good, but I don't always feel like it's amazing (although sweet hubby always says otherwise).  One day I was confronted with lots and lots of veggies that needed to be used.  This was the result:

Roasted Fall Harvest Vegetables with Pan Seared Pork Chops

Toss your choice of vegetables with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and olive oil to taste.  Place in baking dish and roast in oven for 25 - 40 minutes at 425 degrees.

Pork Loin Chops:  coat frying pan with olive oil, fresh minced garlic, kosher salt and chopped herb of choice.  Sautée until fully cooked.

Cook's Notes:
Length of cooking time depends on what types of vegetables used (i.e. potatoes take longer than say squash or eggplant)
I used fresh carrots, asparagus, eggplant, fresh sage, potatoes and whole garlic cloves.  The beauty of this dish is it enables you to use whatever you have on hand - it's a great way to NOT waste food!

Easiest Tomatillo Salsa...ever

A few weeks ago we were blessed with two pounds (!) of tomatillos. The thought did cross my mind to make a load of the famous Cafe Rio tomatillo ranch dressing, but decided to go with something that would be a bit kinder to my hips and the few remaining stubborn post-partum pounds.

After a bit of searching, I came across this lovely recipe from Martha Stewart (my second favorite recipe source). Everything was popped in the food processor - no roasting, cooking, etc. This would be an excellent recipe for summer (no cooking required) and in addition to our household staple of tortilla chips, would be great served over fish or chicken. I'm am the only one in our house who eats salsa, so I've frozen it for a rainy day. The amount of spice is perfect - just enough zing, but not over powering.

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

1 pound tomatillos (husks removed), washed and quartered
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno chile (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat), coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Coarse salt

In a food processor, combine tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro with lime juice. Pulse until finely chopped; season with salt. Serve with chips, over seared fish, or with eggs.

*beware: don't use your fingers to remove the ribs and seeds of the jalapeno like I did. My fingers burned for days. Lesson learned!


A bit ago I had some delectable currant oatmeal cookies at Mangia in Midtown with good friend Nikki. I had never though about replacing raisins in oatmeal cookies with currants, but the concept was delightful! Currants are very popular in Europe, but in the states they are harder to come by, at least in grocery stores.

This summer we had the pleasure of getting many currants. One week I made Blueberry Currant Jam, which I posted about here. Another week I decided to dry the currants in a very low oven temperature (150 degrees F) on parchment paper. After about 48 hours, they became raisin-like and can now be used as an ingredient in oatmeal cookies or traditional current scones.

I haven't decided what to use mine with (I'm storing them in the refrigerator until I do), but most likely they will be in either my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe from the Gourmet cookbook or in traditional scones. I love the following oatmeal cookie recipe because it focuses on the oats, and not so much the flour.

Oatmeal Cookies

1 3/4 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 TBS) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter two large baking sheets. Stir together oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add oat mixture and beat until just combined.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart onto buttered baking sheets and flatten mounds slightly with moistened fingers. Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 12 minutes total. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.

Cook's Notes:

Add 1/2 to 1 cup raisins, dried cherries, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or any combination to dough if desired.
Sometimes I substitute half of the white flour with whole wheat flour. This makes me feel like I'm eating something a bit healthier.

Love Affair with Gourmet

I won't lie...I live by my Gourmet Cookbook. The recipes always come out wonderfully and impressive. Even if they aren't difficult, it makes me look like a stellar chef (which isn't always true, but is nice to have my guests think).

Gourmet just came out with a new cookbook, Gourmet Today. I'm coveting it. It will definitely be on my Christmas list along with the duo, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child (volumes I & II, which have been on my Christmas list for literally 3 years). If Santa doesn't bring Gourmet Today, maybe the Amex & Amazon fairies will have to take care of this need.

images courtesy of

Warm Herbed Bean and Endive Salad

This recipe was given to us by our CSA through the Just Food organization. It is very simple, fast and has become one of our favorites (and mine when a last minute meal is needed).

Warm Herbed Bean and Endive Salad (serves 4)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 TBS chopped fresh or crushed dry rosemary
1 (15-ounce) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
Fresh ground black pepper
2 TBS red wine vinegar
1 bunch curly endive or escarole leaves, washed and dried
1/2 cup red onion
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

In a large skillet, heat oil, garlic and rosemary for 5 minutes over low hear until garlic is fragrant. If garlic begins to color, turn off heat. Add beans, vinegar and pepper. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, until beans are warm Tear greens into bite-sized pieces; arrange on 4 plates. Spoon beans over greens. Garnish with red onions and cheese. Serve with warm whole-wheat bread as a main course.

Cooks notes: I usually use any white bean ("kidney shaped") that I have on hand and will also use whatever lettuce or other green that is in the fridge or part of the weekly CSA. This meal literally takes about 15 minutes to make. It's also a great way to use some of your food storage.
Add a bit of grilled chicken if you would like something more substantial, although it is not needed. Yes, that is coming from a true carnivore.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Have you ever seen cucumbers like this?

We got these cucumbers one week from the CSA. They are more oval in shape, have a yellow peel and pale green inside. The official name is Boothby Blonde Cucumbers-heirloom. The farmer actually calls them white, not yellow.

All I can say is they are delicious...I prefer this variety to the standard green cucumber. They were delish tossed in salad, and a few may have become pickles.