Tuesday, April 12, 2011

White Fish with Lemon, Capers, and Parsley served with Broccoli (Easy, Quick, Healthy Dinner)

So this recipe may be a little boring compared to my last two, but this is a pretty typical weekday meal for me. It meets my requirements: healthy (enough), quick, requiring few ingredients or easy substitutions, and most importantly it is delicious and fills me up. I made white fish (in this case pacific red snapper--because it was on sale) flavored with lemon, capers, butter/olive oil, and parsley and served it with steamed broccoli. Any white fish will do---sole, tiliapia, snapper, cod, ect. (Also--remember, recipe is at bottom of post)

I would highly recommend cooking with fish (even if--no, especially if you are a beginner) because:
1) It tastes great--and feels like a treat
2) Healthy
3) FAST - Fish takes less than 10 minutes to cook and doesn't need to be marinated to become flavorful
4) Flexible portions--cooking for one? no problem, just buy one fillet!
5) Cost effective---if you are a smart shopper. I check out the butcher shop every time I go to the grocery store, and I usually find a good deal. For example, for two fillets (half a pound) of pacific red snapper, which is generally enough for two people, was just $2.50 (on sale for $5/lb).

Now to the recipe....
First things first...Wash the broccoli and cut off the stems. Cut into bite sized crowns, if desired.

Boil water for steaming the broccoli. If you have a steamer, use that. If not, boil about an inch of water in a medium/large sized pot. Place in steamer or bowl of boiling water and cover. Leave for 10-15 minutes, depending how firm you like vegetables. I like it on the soft side so steamed my broccoli for a full 15 minutes.

Next clean the fish. Get as many small bones out of the fish as you can. I just like to feel the fish, especially around where there are lines and feel for any bones. Then just pull them out, they will be pretty small, around 1 inch but as thin as a tip of a sharp pencil. But it's better to get them out now. 

Next, season with good ole' salt and pepper.

Heat around 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan. Place the fish on the hot saucepan and cook on one side until it turns brown. This will happen FAST--around two minutes for thin fillets and 3-4 for thicker ones.

Flip over and brown the other side. Also, don't be skimpy on the olive oil. I probably only added 1-2 tablespoons (didn't measure) but my fish stuck to the pan and it was really hard to flip the fillets (that is what I get for trying to save fat/calories from extra olive oil). If you have a nonstick pan, then you can get away with less olive oil.
The fillet on the bottom right is a good brown color, the other fillet on the top should be a little browner

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine in a saucepan. Add juice from half a lemon, 1 tablespoon of capers, add a handful of chopped (Italian) parsley. If you don't have a lemon on hand, using store bought lemon juice is a great substitute. Lime also can be substituted. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. 

Side note - capers are a great thing to keep in your fridge because they last for a long times (2+ years) and can be used in a variety of dishes (chicken, fish, pasta).

Pour butter-lemon mixture over fish just before it is finished cooking. Add another tablespoon of margarine/butter. And then serve with some more fresh squeezed lemon and parsley (if desired). 
My fillets kind of fell apart (especially the top one) because I didn't use enough olive oil and don't have a nonstick pan. But it still tastes delicious! 

Take broccoli out of steamer or drain from pot. Add a little salt and either some margarine or a sprinkle of cheese. Vegetables are healthy...you can add a little (but just a little) salt/butter/cheese to reward yourself for eating your healthy veggies!

Yum, yum--there you have it! QUICK (literally under 20 minutes), delicious, and healthy meal that can be made for one or six!

Oh and don't forget some white wine! Pretty much the only times I drink white wine is when I'm eating fish, when it's sunny, or if it's before 1 pm.

This Clos du Bois pinot grigio was fabulous--got it on sale from Safeway! Clos du Bois is also a Sonoma certified green business

(2 servings, easily doubled)
2 fillets of white fish around 1/2 pound (red snapper used in this recipe--some good substitutes include cod, tilapia, flounder, sole, ect.)
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 tablespoon capers
Juice of half a lemon (approximately 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon of chopped Italian parsley
2 crowns of broccoli

1. Boil water, steam broccoli for 10-15 minutes.
2. Season fish with salt & pepper
3. Heat oil in nonstick pan (if available--if not use more oil) over medium heat.
4. Cook one side of fish until brown. Flip over and brown other side.
5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of butter, lemon juice, capers, and parsley. Simmer 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. 
6. Add butter-lemon mixture to fish just before finished cooking. Add another tablespoon of margarine. Serve fish and squeeze some lemon juice on top of the fish. 
7. Remove broccoli from steamer and serve with fish.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Vegetarian County Captain - A Delicious Vegetable Curry Stew

"Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable." - Ina Garten, 'The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook'

Ina Garten's quote rings true! It's not about how fancy your food is or how difficult the cooking techniques required are, but about bonding with new people or old friends over a good meal.  I love cooking to bond with friends, whether that is cooking together or just eating together.

Which brings me to today's dinner, which I was making with two friends for eight people in total. I wanted to make something Vegetarian and with a lot of vegetables, so Maryn Juergens recommended this recipe to me (via Cooking Light) and I can't thank her enough! The recipe is Vegetarian and could also easily be gluten free! It's called Vegetarian Country Captain, but is pretty much a curry based vegetable stew served over rice and I also served it with naan. 

My cooking partners! From Left: Sarah (me), other Sarah (who took many of the photos in this post), and Loren

So I usually don't make things that require me to buy this many ingredients (or have them on hand), but it was for a big dinner with friends! So, I doubled this recipe and also served it with naan, so it easy made 8 servings, but probably closer to 10. Which definitely served as justification for all the extra preparation and ingredients. Easily fed 8 people...and made some good left overs! 

So let's get started...there is lots of CHOPPING to do.  

3 cups diced and peeled granny smith apples (about half a pound or 4 large apples) - Sarah McKibben gets credit for this photo
When it comes to cooking whether it is baking pies or making casseroles, Granny Smith is often the best type of apple to use.

 Finished Product--3 cups chopped, diced, and peeled apples

 3 Cups of White onion (I'd probably use yellow if I did this recipe again)

6 Minced Cloves of Garlic 

So now on to the actual cooking! The rice will probably take the longest to cook. So prepare rice in a rice cooker or according to instructions on package/box. I bought a rice pilaf mix, and it was very good! It just needed around 35 minutes to cook--so start that first. 

Step 3 (after chopping and preparing rice), heat oil (vegetable, olive, canola--whatever you have on hand) in a large skillet. Add chopped onion and cook for 7 minutes, until tender. Tip...wait until the pan and oil is hot before you add the onions--then they will be tender in right around 7 minutes.

Onions on their way to tenderness
Add the apples...

And cook for another five minutes.

 Make sure to stir frequently so the onions or apples don't get burnt!

Next add the flour, curry, and garlic; and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. [This step is not pictured]. To make this recipe gluten free, substitute flour for gluten-free flour. 

Add broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes or until slightly thick. If it isn't thick enough add more flour. 

The mixture of apples, onions, flour, curry, garlic, and broth simmering.

Stir in chutney, cream (milk is a fine substitute), and salt. Add cauliflower and edamame; cook until cauliflower is tender, stirring occasionally. The recipe said 8 minutes, but I had to cook mine for around 14 minutes to get the cauliflower a good amount of tender. 

Added milk, cream, chutney, edamame, cauliflower

Letting this simmer for a while, and frequently stirring!

Dolce Vita Prosecco--my necessary cooking accessory

How to serve the dish....place a piece of naan on a plate, then serve the rice pilaf over it, and top with the Vegetarian Country Captain mixture. 
And ta dah...

 Then just add the raisins (or currants), sliced almonds, and cilantro....
There you have it, Vegetarian Country Captain!

Assessment: A delicious dish with a low calorie count per serving (473 calories per serving not including the naan). And no meat but lots of veggies and protein (edamame is filled with protein). The sweetness of the raisins and apples juxtaposed with the spicy curry is just  delectable! Almonds and edamame adds great texture. I also thought serving this dish with Naan was imperative. You need something to soak up the juices! And when using naan (or whole wheat pita) it just helps to emphasizes the  flavor of the dish because it is not overpowering.  It was also nice to individually add the almonds, raisins, and cilantro---so each person could get exactly the type of flavor they wanted!

I will definitely make this dish again, and was craving it for days after I ate it. I think this is a great thing for someone who cooks for one to make on a Sunday night, and then have dinner and lunch for the next two days--or all week if you double the recipe. And you shouldn't feel any guilt while enjoying it because it's low in calories and fat! 

My Recipe (with modifications) and the Original Recipe
Servings 4 (I doubled the recipe described in the blog post...but to make it easier I just posted the 4 serving recipe instead of the 8 serving one)
  • 1  tablespoon  canola oil
  • 1 1/2  cups  finely chopped onion (white or yellow)
  • 1 1/2  cups  diced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1  tablespoon  curry powder
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 2  cups  vegetable broth
  • 2  tablespoons  mango chutney
  • 2  tablespoons  milk (or whipping cream)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 3  cups  cauliflower florets
  • edamame
  • 3  cups  hot cooked rice pilaf
  • 1/4  cup  dried currants (or raisins)
  • 1/4  cup  sliced almonds, toasted
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 4 pieces of Naan or whole wheat pita
Heat a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add chopped onion, and cook for 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add apple; cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add flour, curry, and garlic; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes or until slightly thick. Stir in chutney, milk (or cream), and salt. Add cauliflower and edamame; cook for 8 minutes or until cauliflower is tender, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice, and top with currants (or raisins) and almonds. Garnish with cilantro  if desired.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lox Bagel Breakfast

A favorite easy Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast for me. I didn't make this one, I just ate it! (Food blog also includes just eating for me).

Fresh bagel covered in cream cheese, slices of lox (cured salmon that is thinly sliced), tomatoes, red onions, and topped with capers. The salmon and cream cheese go perfectly together and adding the sweetness and tanginess of the red onions and capers, it makes a great mixture of flavors.

Lox Bagel Sandwich at Mac's Kosher Style Delicatessen in Santa Rosa, CA

I was introduced to this as a great brunch dish by Maryn Juergens, who hosted many parties at her house with this delicious treat! It's very easy to make and great if you want to have a delicious brunch for a lot of people with a short amount of preparation time.

You just need:
Bagels - toasted or untoasted
Cream Cheese - flavored or not
Cream Cheese
Red onions (and thinly slice)

And you're done! Such a delicious, filling, quick breakfast or brunch! 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Welcome to Miss Foodista with Spaghetti con Carciofi (Artichokes) e Pecorino

miss: def; a title prefixed to a mock surname used to represent a particular attribute of the person, especially one excessively prominent
foodie: def; noun, informal term for someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food
-ista: def; suffix, added to words to form nouns denoting one who follows a principle

Together we have Miss Foodista. Welcome to my blog! Like my title suggest, I am very passionate about food and wanted to share this love with friends, family, and fellow foodies! My blog will focus on cooking, baking, and eating (restaurant reviews and sharing delicious things my friends have made). I am very new to cooking, a little bit better at baking, and excellent at eating!

I am living on my own for the first time in my life, so am learning a lot generally about how to cook, cooking for one, and cooking quickly! I generally start out with recipes but don't follow them to a "t," either because I don't like ingredients or think something will work better, but more often because I don't plan ahead and don't have the ingredients required on hand! Also, this will be a learning experience...both for my cooking and my writing. But I won't post anything that isn't delicious (unless it's a funny cooking story--but I'll make sure to let you know that it isn't delicious). So that's enough background let's get to my first dish!

Spaghetti con Carcofi e Pecorino (and the non-pretentious title--Spaghetti with artichokes and pecorino cheese)

So I LOVE Italian food--much to do with the semester I spent abroad their living with a professional Italian chef! But I am always looking for some twists on the American traditional italian cooking. I LOVE pecorino , which is a hard italian cheese made from sheep's milk. I bought pecornio on a whim at Trader Joe's, so I was in search of a good recipe to utilize this great ingredient.

I was inspired by Mario Batali's recipe, but I modified it so much that I won't even write it out. I'll list my final recipe with instructions at the end of this post.
First step, trim the artichokes down to the heart, steam, and most delicate leaves. Remove the middle and place in water. Or do as I did, and use frozen artichoke hearts (from Trader Joe's), which is much easier than preparing artichokes--and easy to have on hand in the freezer! Thaw the frozen artichokes hearts before use.
Next, grab and peel 12 cloves of garlic, yes 12! But leave them whole (yay, no mincing or having to clean the garlic press). I'm am excited about this becuase I'm probably going to like any recipe that starts off with 12 cloves of garlic!

that's a lot of garlic! (note: picture shows unpeeled)

Heat oil in a medium-sized saute pan. Cook garlic until golden brown, stirring frequently (only takes a few minutes). Then add a mixture of 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup water mixture and the (thawed) artichokes. Cook for about 12 minutes until the artichokes are tender (fork slides through them).

artichokes cooking in the balsamic vinegar

In the meantime, boil water and cook spaghetti al dente, which just means on the firmer side.

Also while the artichokes and spaghetti is cooking, start chopping the Italian parsley. Italian parsley is different from the more common curly parsley because it is used as a primary ingredient/herb in dishes, while curly parsley is most often used as a garnish. Italian parsley is easy to chop and has more flavor and is a little sweeter than it's curly counterpart. You can find Italian parsley at regular grocery stores (i.e. Safeway).

Italian Parsley Leaves
The second to last step (I told you I like to cook quickly) is to drain the cooked spaghetti and toss with the pan with the balsamic and artichokes. Then add the parsley and toss well. And serve into bowls. Or in my case...serve into one dinner bowl and two Tupperware containers for lunch and/or dinner the next day.
Spaghetti tossed with artichokes (before it was tossed with the parsley)

The last step concerns my favorite ingredient--pecorino! Take the pecorino and, if you have the option, use a really wide/extra course cheese grater to grate the cheese. This way you'll get some really big chucks and flakes of pecorino on your pasta.
The pecorino has this amazing aged taste but yet is buttery and nutty at the same time, and also retains a soft texture (for a hard cheese). It is delectable!

The FINAL step, is to add the pecorino on top of the spaghetti that has been tossed with the sauce and parsley. And ta dah....

Assessment: An easy pasta dish that is much different from the usual stuff you either make at home or order at Italian restaurants! What I enjoyed about this dish was the tangyness of the balsamic infused artichokes and spaghetti mixed with the fresh sweet parsley and soft pecorino cheese. The italian parsley was KEY in this dish and I wouldn't recommended making it without fresh parsley, the balsamic just would have been way to overpowering without the parsley. Oh, and don't forget to serve with a nice glass of red wine (I had a cab-merlot). But I thought it was pretty delicious! I make pasta a lot for dinner (around once a week), so it's nice to change it up every once in a while!

Here is the recipe I created & used:
6 Jumbo Artichokes or the equivalent Canned or Frozen Artichoke Hearts
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 cloves garlic, peeled & left whole
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1/4 cup water
6-7 oz of Spaghetti
1/2 cup Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup pecornio cheese (I used pecorino romano, but pecorino pepato can also be used)
  1. Thaw frozen artichokes or trim the artichokes down to the heart, stem and most delicate leaves. Quarter and remove the choke and place in water.
  2. In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat the oil and garlic over medium heat and cook until the garlic is light golden brown (around 3 minutes)
  3. Add the artichokes and balsamic vinegar/water mixture and cook until the artichokes are tender, about 12 minutes.
  4. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, until tender yet al dente. Drain and toss in the pan with the artichokes. Add the parsley and toss well. Pour into pasta bowls add shaven pecorino and serve.