Month: March 2015

Friday Fish — Grilled Tuna Salad with Spicy Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette

Friday Fish — Grilled Tuna Salad with Spicy Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette

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I never pass the fish and seafood in the store without seeing if something’s on the fire sale.  $9 OFF a pound is a fire sale for fresh tuna.  It means they have to get rid of it that day, preferably immediately. I’m willing to eat that tuna. I’m happy to run home and cook it straight away.  This is a typically summer meal, but you can squeeze it in for Friday Fish this month if your’e dreaming.

We’re in the last week of Lent; Palm/Passion Sunday was last Sunday and that means Easter’s on its way.   I’m always amazing how Lent takes us from the dredges of winter to the cusp of spring, and sometimes mixes it all up in one day. Just about how my life sometimes goes, I think, and maybe yours, too.  Here’s Holy Monday and Tuesday’s  single post from my Lenten blog, Praying in Saint Paul and here’s Holy Wednesday’s.  You can check out the rest of the week’s posts by going to the upper left-hand corner of the black bar at the top and clicking on Sidebar or if CLASSIC is up, click on that and then click on Sidebar in the menu.

Anyway, here’s what I did with that sale tuna–and what you might do, too, on Good Friday if that’s part of your faith tradition. Otherwise, save it for that first warm day.  What I did was all dependent on what I had in the fridge and on the counter after a visit to the market …

grilled tuna salad with vegetables &
spicy lemon-basil vinaigrette
serves 4

The vegetables for this salad are grilled (inside or out), but could also be oven-roasted for 20-30 minutes or so at 400 degrees F.  No matter how you cook it, you’re eating quickly and happily.

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled, and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds or lengthwise into1/4″ thick slices
  • 2  3/4-inch slices of a very large yellow onion
  • 2 6-8 ounce thick tuna steaks
  • 1/2 cup each cherry tomatoes and boccocini (small mozzarella balls)–about 12 each
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup Nicoise or kalamata olives
  • Juice of half-lemon
  • Spicy Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Preheat indoor or outdoor grill over medium-high heat.  Brush eggplant, zucchini, and onion with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Grill about 8 minutes, turning once at mid-point.  Remove to a plate and set aside.  After a few minutes, slice into one-inch pieces.
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Brush tuna with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill 2 minutes on one side until there are dark grill marks; turn and grill other side about 2 minutes for medium rare – rare, depending on the thickness of the tuna. Cook another minute or two for medium-well.   Remove and let rest 1-2 minutes.  Cut into one-inch chunks.
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To a large bowl, add tomatoes and boccocini (small mozzarella balls), spinach, olives, and sliced eggplant, zucchini, and onions. Stir gently and drizzle with a bit of lemon juice; add tuna and stir again.  Drizzle with remainder of lemon juice and then generously with vinaigrette.  Divide between four pasta or shallow bowls, placing cherry tomatoes in one section, cheese in another, and so on. Garnish with olives and reserved basil julienne. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Cook’s Note 1. If you’ve a large enough grill, grill the vegetables and add the tuna during the last few minutes.  I made this on a big cast iron indoor grill that covers two burners (Lodge), but it still wasn’t big enough for everything. Add to that, I’m only an indoor griller and like things in manageable batches. I leave the big gas or charcoal grill to Dave or whomever I can lasso into firing it up.  2. If you’d like a bit heartier salad, stir in a 15-ounce can of drained cannellini beans (season first pepper and with a bit of the vinaigrette) along with the grilled vegetables.
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spicy lemon-basil vinaigrette
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • generous pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons shallot or red onion, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons basil julienne, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, spices,  mustard, shallot, and two tablespoons basil.  Slowly add the olive oil, whisking all the while, until vinaigrette is well mixed and emulsified.  Taste and adjust seasonings. (Rest of basil is for garnish)

Wine:  Go American and drink a great big California Chardonnay or an Oregon Pinot Noir.
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Note:  Recipe previously posted on this blog August, 2013.
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Sing a new song; make a new salad,
Alyce
Friday Fish — Sole Cooked on Kale-Basil Risotto with Green Beans Almondine

Friday Fish — Sole Cooked on Kale-Basil Risotto with Green Beans Almondine

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Upcoming Cooking Classes 3rd+4th Thursdays of April, May, and June, 2015,  5-8pm at Shouse Appliance, Colorado Springs, Colorado. $55 adults; $30 kids.  $5 discount for cash/checks.  Includes French Night, Make a Great Pizza+ Salad at Home, Kids make dinner/dessert, Spring Brunch (Master quiche/homemade sausage!) Can’t wait to cook with you. Click here for list and sign-up info.

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The day began beautifully–a little chilly, but gorgeous.  I went to Bible study and when we finished had to run for the car as a white-out snow storm had hit. No hat, no scarf, no boots, I was frozen by the time I started the engine, found the snow brush, got the car cleaned off, and jumped in to head for home. (Channel Saint Paul, Minnesota.) Did I say the temperature was by then 10 degrees colder than when I’d left the house?  Brrr…. Of course the dogs were thrilled with the weather.

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Definitely a soup day today, I’m glad I made this fun one-pan fish meal last night preparing for Friday Fish.  (One more to go after this.)

If you follow a tradition of Lent, you might be interested in reading my Lenten journal (blog), written three years ago and chronicling the entire 40-day journey. Here’s the link for days 33-34; we’re a week away from the end as this Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday and next week is Holy Week. Sigh.

About the fish dish…I’d thought about this meal for a while and just never got around to making it until last night. As Dave asked, “How long does something like this perk in your brain?” (Who knows?)  The crux of it is you make a pan of risotto with a few vegetables and, when it’s done, add a layer of seasoned, thin fish fillets and lemons.  Put the lid on and let it cook just a few more minutes until the fish is firm and opaque and there’s your one-pan dinner.  As far as I know it’s an original dish, but who knows?  If you wanted to do this on a simpler rice preparation (say long-grain white rice cooked in chicken broth), I think it would work with some extra liquid.  If you do want to make the risotto and haven’t ever made it, read Mark Bittman’s article on “Laid Back Risotto,” and fear not!  I did make a pound or so of green beans, too, but just because I love them.  Try this:

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SOLE COOKED ON KALE-BASIL RISOTTO

Continue reading “Friday Fish — Sole Cooked on Kale-Basil Risotto with Green Beans Almondine”

Friday Fish — Crab Cakes on Fresh Greens with Lemon Vinaigrette

Friday Fish — Crab Cakes on Fresh Greens with Lemon Vinaigrette

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Upcoming Cooking Classes 3rd+4th Thursdays of April, May, and June, 2015,  5-8pm at Shouse Appliance, Colorado Springs, Colorado. $55 adults; $30 kids.  $5 discount for cash/checks.  Includes French Night, Make a Great Pizza+ Salad at Home, Kids make dinner/dessert, Spring Brunch (Master quiche/homemade sausage!) Can’t wait to cook with you. Click here for list and sign-up info:  

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During the past two weeks of Lent (if you’re interested, read my Lenten blog here), we’ve gone from cold/snow to 75F/sunnyIMG_2360, then back to 40F with nasty freezing rain.  While we have about one gray day a year, it’s here as I write today.  My good friend Roberta is visiting from the Twin Cities and I know she came for spring sunshine walksIMG_2362 with our puppies.  Instead she’s practicing her Bach on my piano in the living room and the dogs are in jail with wet feet from their fast foray out into the wetlands.

Even so, I’ve chosen a salad –-albeit a warm one–for Friday Fish and I’m a thief as I’ve stolen the idea for this Friday’s dinner from one of my favorite local restaurants– Marigold’s. Who knows from whence it originally came as there are a bunch of versions on the internet.  I don’t have the recipe from Marigold’s and have no idea how they make the salad except that it’s good.  My idea for any crab cake is lots of crab, not so much filler and a big lemony punch.  Cue this salad I figured out as I went along catch as catch can. Because I had it,  I served the salad with a cup of leftover Colcannon Soup from St. Patrick’s Day, along with a wedge of Irish Soda Bread. It’s pretty fine all on its own, though, or just with some biscuits. And butter. Try this:

CRAB CAKES ON FRESH GREENS WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE

Serves 3-4 for a main course.  Serves 6 for a first course.

Crabcakes (Makes 6):  

  • 1 pound crabmeat–lump or claw-picked over for shells (in a 1# can, already cooked)
  • 8 Ritz crackers crushed finely*
  • 2 slices baguette crumbs (or other bread)*
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 scallions minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley minced
  • Several drops hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil

Mix all ingredients together well; taste and adjust seasoning.  Heat butter and oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet.  Form crab mixture first into 6 balls, patting together, and then into patties 3-4 inches in diameter. If mixture won’t form balls or patties, let sit a few minutes so that the crumbs absorb the moisture. You can even stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes if needed.  Carefully place in pan. Fry on one side 3-5 minutes until very brown; gently turn over and cook other side another few minutes until it, too, is well-browned.  Serve hot or warm on greens.

*If you have a food processor, you can throw the bread and crackers into it and process using the steel blade until you have very fine crumbs.

Prepare the greens

  • 6-8 cups arugula or other fresh greens
  • 3 radishes sliced very thinly
  • 4 small tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 lemons–1 cut in half and 1 quartered
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Spread greens on a large platter and scatter radishes along the perimeter.  Add tomatoes and quartered lemon to corners of dish.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Squeeze 1/2 lemon over all and drizzle with the first two tablespoons olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more olive oil if necessary.

Put the salad together

Top greens with hot or warm crab cakes. Add a little more lemon juice to each cake.  Serve immediately.

Optional Garnish:  Dab  a teaspoon of mayonnaise on each crab cake and garnish with a bit of chopped parsley, cilantro, dill, or scallions.

Cook’s Note:  You can make the crab cakes ahead ( even the night before), cool and chill them, and briefly warm in a buttered skillet before serving the salad.

{printable recipe}

Sing a new song,

Alyce

Colcannon Soup–Bacon or Vegan– for Saint Patrick’s Day

Colcannon Soup–Bacon or Vegan– for Saint Patrick’s Day

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Colcannon, that adoring Irish and Scottish mash of buttery potatoes and cabbage or kale, is the inspiration for my soup that’s feisty without being overblown. The bacon is a salty, crunchy touch that you can easily leave out for a vegetarian or vegan version. You might add some toasted, sliced almonds or crispy croutons instead.  Make sure you have a pepper grinder at the table–or a bottle of hot sauce — for those who like spicy.  Scroll down for recipe or enjoy a few of my photos from Ireland first; there are some way at the bottom, too.

Below:  At the cathedral in Down Patrick, Northern Ireland  August, 2014

IMG_1198Below: outside Waterford, Ireland

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Below:  pub in Waterford.  Dave’s first Guinness in Ireland.  Definitely not his last.

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Below:  Shredded kale (Remove kale stems and slice in 1/4-inch ribbons for soup; sauté sliced stems separately for a salad addition.) Continue reading “Colcannon Soup–Bacon or Vegan– for Saint Patrick’s Day”

Friday Fish — Tuna Melt with Sriracha Thousand Island  for my Sister Helen

Friday Fish — Tuna Melt with Sriracha Thousand Island for my Sister Helen

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I have a sister who just loves tuna fish.  Also green beans.  Also tomatoes.  If you put them all together as in Salade Nicoise, she’s already entered heaven. We don’t live near to one another, but I often think of her as I cook and that’s what happened today.   This sweet old school favorite pumped up with the addition of a spicy thousand island sauce would be her order for lunch if she saw it on Friday’s menu.

Below: We always go out for lunch when we’re together.

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If you’re like Helen and love tuna, this is your Friday!  Fast and homey, great to serve on trays in front of the tv while you watch Chocolat, that quintessential Lenten film.   (Well, it is to me.) You’ll remember when Vianne opens her chocolate shop in the little French village, she’s in trouble for many reasons, but one of the largest is that she opens it during LENT, for God’s sake. What was she thinking? Continue reading “Friday Fish — Tuna Melt with Sriracha Thousand Island for my Sister Helen”

Friday Fish–Garlic + Ginger Shrimp and Broccoli with Sticky Rice

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I made my Friday fish on a cold day in Colorado where we’ve had weeks of snowy weather that I’m only beginning to tire of. Rosie, on the other hand, misses the more frequent walks of sunny days. She spends a lot of time in front of the windows–which are about to be replaced. (These freeze and melt inside the house–very cold and very sad.) You’ll also see Tucker-scroll down- on our in-process new staircase.IMG_2354

 

The beginning ideas for my shrimp, broccoli, and sticky rice meal originate in a book you’ve heard me tout before:  Quick & Easy Chinese by Nancie McDermott. I’ve simply appropriated a few methods and added them up into dinner; I think Nancie would like this meal.  If you don’t own this book, you really might like to buy it.  You’ll still get Chinese take-out, but you’ll also be quite happy with the meals you create right in your own little wok. While I cook many things –most, really — without recipes, I’m not comfortable enough with Asian techniques to go rogue. Nancie’s clear, simple, and concise instructions — along with fine photos — are perfect for me. (This would make a beautiful wedding shower gift and you could give a gorgeous set of rice bowls, a wok, or a tea set for the wedding gift.)

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Halfway down the stairs is the stair where I sit. Tucker:

IMG_7317 Continue reading “Friday Fish–Garlic + Ginger Shrimp and Broccoli with Sticky Rice”