Dear Readers...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Apologies for blog postings not being up as often. Whereas I intended this to be a daily blog, with a new post every day during the week, clearly you've noticed that hasn't been the case of late. The good news is I'm pregnant with Little Girl #2. The bad news is it's been fraught with complications that's forced me on bed rest for the foreseeable future. This includes, unfortunately, not cooking. I've had a disproportionate amount of take-out the last few weeks, and it's depressing me. I'm just looking forward to getting off of bed rest (hopefully) sooner than later, and getting back into the cooking groove that makes me happy, makes me focused, makes me otherwise zen.

Because of the condition, I'm going to reduce blogging to once a week, probably with a new posting around Fridays. I thank you all for the support, the readership, I welcome all of you new readers I see on Facebook, and hope you know I feel so shitty, like I'm letting you all down not blogging. But it's something I have to pull back on for now.

I thumb through cookbooks now, just chomping at the bit for when I can reconnect with Ina and Mario, and explore more ingredients and techniques. I hope to come back in time for the holidays with a cooking vengeance.

Thanks to you all.


Week Night Yum Yum: Fish Tacos with Citrus-Peach Salsa and Arugula

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fish tacos are one of those super easy meals that can come together in literally 5 minutes. It can also be a super flavorful dish, limited only by your imagination. The traditional and most commonly known fish taco involves grilled or battered then fried white fish, stuffed into a corn tortilla with thinly sliced cabbage, with or without a sprinkling of cheese, and some sort of fresh salsa on top (usually pico de gallo) or spicy creamy sauce. That's great for a basic, starter taco. But who says there are rules to fish tacos?!

Try using different fish, even shellfish for starters. You can certainly use shredded lettuce instead of cabbage, and freshly made guacamole will go just as well as any salsa. The tacos I made the other night used cheap but flavorful rockfish -- a mild semi-firm white fish that holds texture but can go with pretty much any flavor profile. Another plus? They're super cheap -- no need to splurge on halibut or sea bass; rockfish will get the job seriously just as well, if not better. I seasoned the fish simply with salt and pepper and fresh lime juice, then grilled it quickly on the grill. To top the tacos, I used peppery arugala for a spin on the classic greenery and made a peach and citrus salsa using fresh local and seasonal fruits. The end product was super light, extremely flavorful, and the whole thing start to finish took me 15 minutes to make, making it an extremely week night friendly meal.

Use this recipe as a start-off point. Use what you have on hand in the fridge and garden. Play with ingredients, add spiciness if you like (some sriracha would be killer on top!) and create your own signature fish taco!

Fish Tacos with Citrus-Peach Salsa and Arugala
for the fish:
4 fillets white fish, such as rockfish
olive oil for brushing
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper (preferably set to courser ground)
juice of 1 lime

for the citrus-peach salsa:
1 large firm but ripe peach, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 large orange, peeled then segmented and cut into small cubes
1 scallion, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, very finely chopped (seeded for less heat)
2 Tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lime or lemon
drizzle of olive oil

for the tacos:
corn tortillas
2 cups arugala
finely shredded cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)
fresh lime wedges

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Brush both sides of the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Next make the salsa. Combine the peach, orange, scallion, jalapeno, cilantro, and garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the lime or lemon juice and a drizzle of oil. You want enough oil to just moisten the salsa, not saturate it. Give it a good toss to combine and set aside.

To grill the fish, place on grill and cook on both sides until firm and fish comes off the grill easily. Do NOT constantly flip the fish; this will cause the fish to break! You need to flip the fish one, then take it off the grill and that's it. Total cook time will be about 5-7 minutes, depending on size and thickness of the fish. So go by the touch: when the fish is firm to the touch it's ready. Remove from grill and immediately squeeze the lime juice on top. Roughly chop the fish into large chunks using a spatula or knife and set aside.

I like heating the tortillas on the grill since it's on anyway. Simply throw the tortillas on the grill for 30 seconds each side and remove. Conversely, you can wrap a stack of tortillas in a kitchen towel or paper towel and microwave for 1 minute. Assemble your tacos with the fish, some cheese if desired, the arugala and salsa to taste and serve with more lime wedges.

101 Ways To Cook F-ing Salmon: Miso-Glazed King Salmon with Oven-Roasted Asparagus and Baked Potato

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Apologies for my long delay in posting. On top of being pregnant, I developed a rather nasty kidney infection. So you could only imagine, sadly food was the last thing on my mind. The bad news is I lost 5 lbs. The good news is...I lost 5 lbs. Which means I  need to eat a lot to make it up for this pregnancy. Because my last two children were ginormous (at least for me because I'm 5'3 and 1/2) and this last kid can't be some puny dude/dudette.

Much has transpired since last we met. The Hubsters went on a week-long fishing expedition. And I do use the word expedition on purpose here. Nay, an odyssey in the quest for the finest fishery Alaska had to offer. Stay tuned for a posting and pictures of the trip itself, as it was gorgeous and the fish are both fascinating to see and impressive to catch. But for now, suffice it to say, I gotta make my way through 130 lbs of coho and king salmon, halibut, and rockfish in the next few months.

Thus I present to you a new feature on TES: 101 Ways to Cook Fucking Salmon. Because by the time November hits, my beloved salmon will be referred to as "fucking salmon."

The first night The Manly Man Brigade as I've officially dubbed them came back to the lodge and prepared king salmon for their meal. Man hunt. Man eat. Man happy. The resident chef de cuisine, Steve (a rather accomplished home cook I've heard is quite talented actually) was in charge and prepared a meal of miso-glazed salmon that was oven-baked, with asparagus and a simple but delicious (and extremely manly) baked potato. Last night I recreated the meal, adding my own interpretations. The miso glaze offers a spectrum of flavors from savory to sweet that hits you instantly yet retains enough restraint as to not overpower the fish. The preparation involves a little work mixing the glaze together, but you can prep your salmon in the morning or even night before and then bake it or grill it whenever you're ready.

Mis-Glazed King Salmon with Oven-Roasted Asparagus and Baked Potato
1 obscenely large king salmon fillet or 4 smaller portions, skin on
1 Tbsp white miso paste*
1 tsp mirin or rice wine vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp - 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce (to taste)
1 lime, juiced
about 1 Tbsp cold water (plus more if needed)
smallest dash (about 1/4 tsp) good quality, dark sesame oil

Wash the fish and pat it very dry. Place on a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the miso paste, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, water, and sesame oil and whisk to combine. Taste and add more water to dilute the glaze if you find it too strong. Adjust with more sugar for sweetness and soy sauce for saltiness to taste. Once you've achieved your desired balance (it's totally objective so go slow and taste as you go along!), then brush half of the glaze on top of the fish, coating the top. Reserve the rest for the baking.

Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish. Halfway through the baking process, glaze the salmon again with the miso glaze. Discard any left over. When the salmon is pink in color and firm to the touch, it is done.

Oven-Roasted Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed off
2 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Toss the asparagus spears in the olive oil then spread out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in 350 degree oven 10-15 minutes (thinner spears will be 10 minutes, thicker spears 15). Serve with the salmon.

Baked Potatoes
4 large Russett potatoes, washed and scrubbed clean then patted dry with paper towels
aluminum foil
butter, sour cream, thinly sliced scallions, salt, etc. for garnish

Simply wrap each potato in a piece of aluminum foil and place in a 350 degree oven for an hour. When you can easily pierce the potato with a fork or knife, they are done. Remove and carefully peel back the aluminum. Cut a slit down the length of each potato and gently press both ends towards each other to create the classic presentation. Serve with traditional acoutraments or desired garnishes.

*This can prove a little challenging to find. First of all, it will not be in the Asian aisle of your supermarket like you'd (and I had) assumed. Miso requires refrigeration, so check in the refrigerated section of the market. Whole Foods has it for sure. If not, try your local Asian specialty store. If you're desperate (as I've been on occasion), buy a bunch of those miso soup packages and use the miso paste inside.