25 January 2010

Fish No. 2: Tangerine

I'm really enjoying experimenting with fish. It's amazing how quick they cook! I'd like to plan ahead sometime and marinate them to get more flavor in the meat. But this time I was cooking on the fly. A basket of slowly-disappearing tangerines was the inspiration.

Step one: Saute some garlic and onions in olive oil.

Next: add some tangerine slices and the juice from another
tangerine. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Add rosemary.
Shake on some salt and grind pepper into the pot. Add fish.

Step Three: Simmer, covered, until fish are cooked through.

I served mine over a bed of rice with soy sauce and
spinach greens with more balsamic vinegar. Don't waste
the tangerine sauce, but spoon it over the top.
Eat the onions if you like!

Taste-tester says: This is good, but I liked the other one (Fish No. 1: Tomato) better.

Cook's Word: Delicious light sauced fish. Could this be called "Asian fusion"--citrus soy, balsamic vinegar . . . ? I think oranges might give a brighter flavor than tangerines.

21 January 2010

Eggplant Bake

It started at the grocery store with a sideways glance at their reduced produce racks. Are any of you impulse grocery shoppers like me? Nah. Probably not. You all budget and menu plan and ONLY buy what you need for this week's meals. So you won't understand. I do make a list, mind you, it's just that whenever I get to the store, I find that my list was incomplete. Yes, last week I had forgotten to write on my list "one slightly-marred eggplant". But I found I needed it. Once I got to the store.

Next time, I won't forget. Because I found a great, easy, tasty way to cook up that forty-nine cents of slightly-damaged goodness. Searching the internet (I wonder how many times that phrase appears on this blog) I came across this. Eggplant cut into rounds, fried in a little olive oil, stacked in ramekins with tomato sauce, and baked.

Of course, I don't have ramekins. And I didn't exactly follow Tasty Palettes' way of making sauce, but it was pretty close, and we were pretty thrilled with the results.

(Just FYI: the smell of pumpkin cake is filling the house, and I'm about to remove some french bread from the oven too. I'm in cold & sleety-evening heaven!)

Improvised Eggplant Bake

olive oil for sauteing
about 1/3 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup crushed tomatoes
herbs (I put in a frozen basil cube I made in my ice-cube trays this summer)
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat and saute onions and garlic. Add wine and cook a few minutes. Stir in tomatoes and herbs. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat on low and simmer while you fry the eggplant.

1 - 2 large eggplant, sliced thin (1/4-1/2 inch)
olive oil for frying
lemon juice

Instructions: Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add enough eggplant to cover the bottom of the skillet, turning quickly as they will soak up as much oil on one side as you've put in the skillet. Fry on both sides until beginning to turn brown. Remove and hit eggplants with a spritz of lemon (I used a pastry brush to swab lemon on them since I didn't have any fruit on hand. Heat more oil and repeat until all slices are fried.

Putting it all together: Tasty Palettes suggests doing this in ramekins or a casserole. Basically, you want to spoon some of your sauce into the bottom of your baking dish, and then arrange layers of eggplant slices with the rest of the sauce, ending with more sauce on top. I baked mine in two small clay dishes at 350F for about 15 minutes because of a time constraint. It would probably be better to leave them in up to 30 minutes for more flavor-melding. If you like, add some parmesan cheese to the top close to the end of cooking time. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before serving. We ate ours with extra-virgin olive oil toasts and a spinach side salad. If you want to do it "right" just go to the other website and follow her instructions!

20 January 2010

Fish No. 1: Antepli

I'm calling this "Fish No. 1" because I intend to start cooking with fish more often, and I can't imagine cooking it the same way every time. Hence, Uncensored Kitchen material. =)

The sauce I put together for this fish was inspired by my time in Turkey. It seemed to me that most of Antepli* ("from Antep" or "Antep-style") cuisine centered around the same five basic ingredients: tomato, hot pepper, lemon, olive oil, and parsley. Any dish I make with these five I consider to be "Antepli" (which is why this entry has a "Turkish Food" label). Okay, enough quotation marks.

Here's the basic recipe for the sauce, which was pronounced "very good" (whoops! there are the quotation marks again!) by the Uncensored Kitchen's taste-tester.

Anita's Antepli Fish (for two pieces of fish)
(all measurements are approximate. sorry!)

1/4 med. onion, diced
A LOT of garlic powder (by mistake) maybe 1 TBSP?!?
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 TBSP hot pepper paste (or 2 more TBSP tomato paste & dried hot pepper)
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
TBSP or so of minced fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Instructions: combine ingredients in bowl and stir until mixed well. Spoon over fish in baking/cooking dish. Bake/cook until fish is done (3-5 minutes). Well, that was easy!

Cook's Word: While my taste-tester and I both enjoyed the sauce as-is, the onions could be sauteed in the olive oil first if you really don't like slightly crunchy onions. And I think I would add more parsley the next time, too. I wrote "bake/cook" because it really depends on how you want to cook your fish. I couldn't justify heating the oven for two pieces of fish, so I did mine in a clay dish on the stove top. Delicious served with rustic hand-mashed potatoes (with some ground rosemary, butter, and milk added in!), and a simple spinach salad with vinaigrette and goat cheese. Yum!

just because: dinner by candlelight

* "Antep" is a shortened version of Gaziantep, the city in southeastern Turkey where I lived. The suffix "-li" means "with" or "from".

13 January 2010

French Toast, Revisited

Mixing up the ingredients: I used 2 eggs, 2/3 cup milk,
a splash of vanilla, some salt, and 2 TBSP brown sugar

Slicing the bread

For those of you who may complain that there's
too much censoring on the Uncensored Kitchen

Yes, the whole messy thing, complete with clothes-drying rack!

and a violet on the plant bench beneath the window

back to the toast, sizzling away . . .

I tried several topping options for my little toasts:
plain syrup, vanilla yogurt and syrup, and whipped
topping with pecans. Winner pictured below.

I didn't really follow a recipe, but was comparing it to the Doughnut French Toast I made a few months back. I missed the vanilla-y, egg-y quality of that toast, which, looking back had a much larger ratio of eggs to milk as what I made this week. I did appreciate having the salt and sugar added into the mix, though. My bread was white and wasn't very stale to start with this time, so it seemed a bit soggy to me and improved in texture the following day. If I ever perfect this, I'll post a recipe. Promise.

Little Women

It's a Christmas/winter tradition. Watching "Little Women" with Mom and whichever sisters are around. Since we were having dinner first, I thought we should eat "period" foods. Mom supplied a lentil/ham soup and salad. Bek brought bread. And I brought dessert.

only a few cookies made the cut
for the women-only party

I left some at home for my taste-tester. He so tirelessly and unselfishly puts up with all this.

Thanks, Esther, for the recipe (page 179 in "Mennonite Country-Style Recipes")! My only complaint this time is the sexist recipe title. I did wonder about heating the molasses. I skipped that and thought my cookies tasted just fine. Anyone know why heating the molasses would make a difference?

03 January 2010

Venison Steaks

A few weeks ago I had got "Babette's Feast" from the library with the intention of introducing my husband to this amazing film about art, passion, and food. On the night we'd set to watch it, I wanted to make a meal befitting the mood (and satisfying enough that we wouldn't drool while we watched Babette cook). My idea was to cook something French or at least French-inspired. I settled on a menu of Cabbage and Bacon Salad, Pureed Sweet Potatoes, and Venison Steaks in Wine with Carrots and Mushrooms (sounds gourmet, right?). We both enjoyed the venison so much that I wrote down my recipe right away. David also commented that the lingering aroma from dinner created extra ambiance for our movie.

It's hard to make a slab of meat look appetizing in a picture, but press on past the image for what I thought was a pretty great recipe for the venison tenderloin steaks.

Venison Steaks in Wine with Carrots and Mushrooms
(that doesn't sound a bit pretentious, now, does it?)

Venison steaks (we had 6)
3 TBSP Olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup medium sherry*
Sprig of fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 or 2 carrots, thinly sliced into ovals

Instructions: Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pan. Add garlic and saute over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, rinse and dry the venison steaks. Place steaks in hot oil and sear a few minutes on both sides. Add wine, sherry, rosemary, sage, and black pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn steaks over and simmer another 30 minutes. Add onions, mushrooms, and carrots, and cook until carrots are tender (about 5 minutes depending on the thickness). Some of the liquid may be drained off and used to make a gravy if desired. Bon Apetit!

*I used a mixture of wine and sherry because that's what I had on hand. It seems like using all wine or cooking wine would do just as well. Alternatively, you could experiment with apple juice or beef bullion.