Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Eating In

Sorry again about the hiatus... we all got sick- again! Anyways, last week me and Avi went to see In The Heights (great, by the way), and we ate at Wolf & Lamb, which, was totally overrated and we were very disappointed! The show definitely made up for the less than impressive anniversary dinner, our anniversary being, TODAY! It's FREEZING and 2 years ago on our wedding day it was sunny and 60 degrees. Yup, global warming? I think not (I think that reference makes sense. If not, just ignore it :-).

So, my goal was to recreate the meal but make it MUCH BETTER!!!!! I got chicken breast stuffed with mushroom and asparagus with "herb roasted tomato"- the chicken was basically a TOTALLY under-seasoned 4 biter, with one roasted cherry tomato on the side. Avi got a hangar steak with chimichurri, though there was barely any flavor there. 2 weeks ago I made stuffed chicken for the first time. I did it with dark meat chicken on the bone, and stuffed the stuffing (for lack of a better word) under the skin. The next week I tried the same method but on very thinly pounded white meat chicken cutlets- much better! It's a healthier take on chicken pastrami roll-ups. It came out delicious. So even though it was prior to our meal at Wolf & Lamb, I'd definitely prefer that over their stuffed chicken version any day. Then, for Shabbos I made hangar steak with my own version of chimuchurri and I think it came out great! So here goes:

Stuffed Chicken Breast
-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-1 onion, diced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
-salt & pepper
-Duck sauce
-Mayonnaise or olive oil
-Cornflake crumbs

-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
-Butterfly and pound the chicken cutlets until very thin
-Brush a light layer of mayonnaise (keeps the chicken moist) or drizzle with olive oil if you don't want the extra calories, salt & pepper
-Saute the onion and garlic until lightly browned, and then add the spinach, sprinkle of salt, and let wilt
-Evenly distribute the mixture at the end of the 4 cutlets, and roll up.
-Transfer to a baking dish, pour duck sauce on top and sprinkle cornflake crumbs
-Bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through (juices run clear)

[The exact same thing can be done using bone chicken. just under the skin with very little mayonnaise, and then stuff it. Pour duck sauce and cornflake crumbs on the top. I like to sit the chicken on orange slices.]

Stuffed Boned Chicken View #!:
 View #2:
 Stuffed Boneless Chicken Breasts

Chimichurri Sauce
Note: Chimichurri is a traditional Argentinian (I think) green sauce made with parsley, though many variations can be made using different base herbs like cilantro, for instance. It's traditionally made with red pepper flakes, though I chose to forgo the spicy. I used dried parsley because that was all I had (I keep a big Costco container in the fridge), obviously Julia Child is rolling in her grave but whatever! Next time I promise to use fresh parsley :-). My mini food processor came in SO handy for this recipe. If you have a mortar and pestle (I've always been meaning to get one, it looks so cool!) then that'd work for this too- for smashing the parsley and garlic together.

-1 cup packed parsley (not the stems), chopped
-4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped (the food processor will do the fine chopping)- I like it more garlicky, though you can play it by ear. Remember that the strong garlic flavor will cook off when you cook the meat.
-1/2 cup olive oil
-3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
-salt & pepper

-I used to hangar steak which is a great tender cut of meat, similar in taste to skirt steak, our favorite. On the expensive side, but so good. Usually it comes in one steak but for some reason mine unfortunately came butchered into pieces without me realizing when I bought it.
-Marinate the steak in the chimichurri for a few hours.
-Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium high heat
-Add the steak and all the sauce
-It will take approximately 6 minutes per side, but depends on the thickness of the meat and how you like it.
-(The meat can also be broiled, but I find it pulls the flavor out too much and can burn)

I love to eat out, even though I love to make my own delicious food. But sometimes it's just not worth it!! I'd give the place another chance, though, as long as they decide to season their chicken next time!!! Plus, any restaurant that has to ask you if you want complimentary bread 20 minutes after your order is taken, is not on my good list!!!!! 

Now, what should I make for dinner tonight????

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One Fish Two Fish...

I love WHITE fish, as in Tilapia, Wild Scrod, Halibut, Flounder, Seabass... Tilapia is my favorite to cook, and I don't really ever buy seabass only because it tends to be on the expensive side of things, but it is one of the most delicious of the white fishes out there!!

My first recipe I used on 2 different occasions, one with wild scrod, which I baked, and the other with tilapia, which I grilled. I have this Calphalon Panini Pan which doubles as a panini press, and a grill pan that I use for dairy/fish, or grilling vegetables. It's a great thing to have in your cooking repertoire, and not any harder to store than a frying pan. It's especially perfect if you like to grill, and don't have room for a double stovetop grill pan, or if you are like me and live in an apartment so grilling outdoors is impossible!

The second way I generally like to prepare tilapia is breaded & baked at a very high temperature to get that "fried" look and taste. Tilapia is a very light, mild, and delicate fish so it holds up really well with a breading, and adds a great flavor to it.

*If you are short on time, you can't go wrong with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh lemon juice salt, and pepper. For a simple no-fail addition of crunch, go for slivered almonds on top towards the end of the baking process.*

FYI: The easy way to tell if fish is cooked through is if it easily flakes off

That's it for my introduction, and here goes...

Grilled Tilapia
-2 tilapia filets
-2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
-2 tbsp. Earth Balance margarine, melted in the microwave
-salt and pepper
-Chopped parsley (can substitute for dill or basil)

-Heat up grill pan on medium-high, spray with non-stick cooking spray
-Pat the tilapia filets dry on both sides with a paper towel- if not dry, it will not grill well.
-Sprinkle with salt & pepper
-Add the minced garlic and chopped parsley to the melted Earth Balance
-Brush one side with the margarine mixture, and add it seasoned side down to the grill.
-Brush the other side
-Since tilapia is pretty thin, it only takes 4-6 minutes per side
-Sprinkle with more fresh chopped parsley & serve with pesto mayonnaise (just combine pesto and... mayonnaise!!! Proportions to your liking)

Baked Wild Scrod
-2 filets wild scrod, sliced in half across (they tend to come pretty thick)
-Same mixture as above recipe (Earth Balance, garlic, & parsley)
-2 tsp. lemon juice
-Sesame seeds
-Panko crumbs

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
-Top the bottom half with some of the margarine mixture, and then lightly brush the top half with the margarine and coat in the mixture of panko, sesame seeds, and lemon zest. Put on top of the bottom half
-Spray the top lightly with olive oil spray 
-Transfer to a glass baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

Honey Dijon Panko Crusted Tilapia
-2 filets of tilapia
-2 tbsp. seasoned flour (flour, garlic salt & pepper)
-1/4 cup dijon mustard
-2 tbsp. honey
-1 tsp. lemon zest
-1 tbsp. lemon juice
-1 tbsp. chopped dill
-Panko Crumbs + Sesame Seeds mixture

-Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
-Create "dredging station" [the traditional dredging process is usually flour, egg, and breading. The flour allows the egg to stick easily, and the egg allows the breading to stick. However, I like to replace the egg step with flavor. The breading still sticks pretty well]- 3 plates: 
1) seasoned flour 
2) honey/dijon/dill/lemon (zest & juice) 
3) panko+sesame
-Coat the filets in seasoned flour, then dip in the honey dijon mixture, then in the panko mixture, and put into a baking dish or tin
-Spray the tops
-Bake 15-20 minutes, and then flip and bake for an additional 10 minutes
-Top with extra fresh dill & more dijon mustard

Here is a fried version of the above recipe, though for this I split the tilapia filet in half to create an adult version of my favorite kid food---yes, fish sticks!!!
-Here I used basil in place of the dill, and cornflake crumbs in place of the panko sesame mixture (the sesame burns faster, and the panko tends to flake off faster than the cornflake crumbs, which holds up really well to frying) and fried it in a little bit of canola oil for a few minutes per side. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Go Fish!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

That's What HE Made!

Breakfast Galore!

Sorry for the break, me and Rosie have both been under the weather, but hopefully getting better soon!!! Anyways, today my blog will be dedicated to Avi in honor of our Hebrew 2nd Anniversary, (hence the title of the blog today- get it? That's What "HE" Made- cheesy? I think not!) which falls out tonight & tomorrow, the 2nd of Tevet, zos Chanukah. Aka 2 years ago today, hebrewly of course (well, it's a word now), I was on my way to the wedding hall!!!! Those 2 years spedddddd by to say the least!

Though I basically take charge in the kitchen and food department, food shopping, cooking etc., Sunday morning breakfasts are left up to Avi, who makes a mean French Toast, pancakes, waffles, & eggs (which are also his go-to dinner meal when I am too lazy to make dinner, it happens to the best of us! When Avi is lazy, it's a million bowls of honey nut cheerios. Yes I get the super economy huge boxes after the regular size boxes would disappear in a sitting or two). You name it, Sunday morning comes, he'll make it. Well, actually it basically stops at pancakes, french toast, waffles, and eggs- sorry Av, stick to the griddle instead of tackling noodles again, please! In any event, he is also great at eating everything I put in front of him, though, and he is my toughest critic! Needless to say, mushrooms are no longer in my cooking repertoire. Something about eating a fungus that grew by the trees in his old house. Well obviously those aren't the EDIBLE ONES! It's a battle I lost looooong ago. And here is one time my sister-in-law is NOT helpful. Though I love them both.

Anyways, everyone knows Avi is very creative and handy so he always brings that to the breakfast table. Exhibit #1:
 A heart pancake ala Avi, from a mold which he fashioned out of tin foil. For those of you not so fortunate enough to have this utter talent, go spend $12 on these pancake molds from Bed Bath & Beyond. Or just call Avi, he'll be glad to oblige for a small fee. ;-)

Exhibit #2: Awwwwwwww

For Avi's birthday last year I bought him this Waring Pro Waffle Maker, (which is wayyy cheaper at Costco). Apparently I struck gold, because as you can see in exhibit #2, he's been making waffles for quite some time. Very cute!!! :-) Then, for one of the nights of Chanukah last year, I bought a glass syrup jar, which I broke the first time we used it. Oh well: RIP syrup jar, never again- glass + sticky maple syrup is not a fun combo to clean up. 

Speaking of syrup, here's a vital tip: whether you stack it...
...plate it...

...or set it all out on the table... (is this getting out of hand yet?)

...ALWAYS USE THE REAL MAPLE SYRUP!!!!!!!! It's gotten much more expensive than it used to be, but it's worth it. Leave the sugary, liquidy, fake-maple-syrup behind, and get a bottle of pure maple syrup! (My own tip: I use it in marinades, for chicken or salmon, & the fake stuff just doesn't even come close to being a substitute. It's also great in oatmeal cookies, just swap out a little sugar. So, it's a great versatile ingredient to have on hand in the fridge). You can go for the giant Costco container, or Trader Joe's sells glass jars of maple syrup for a decent price (yes, I dropped and broke one of those too- apparently I don't have luck with glass and syrup).

There are millions of recipes out there for pancakes & waffles, but Avi's go-to "recipe" comes from the breakfast queen herself, Aunt Jemima! I buy the Whole Wheat Blend Pancake/Waffle Mix, which is Pareve (whereas the plain mix is Dairy, just FYI) and you basically just follow the directions on the back of the box, and add egg, milk, & oil. I think the proportions are different for the waffles. This is a great easy way to make pancakes and waffles in a flash, though as Avi says, "it's not just the box. It takes skill & practice"- and patience might I add, because I sure hate making them! He is very methodological (worst word to say) when he makes them. And even though you're using a mix, you can still be creative & add whatever you want. Avi's choice: chocolate chips & cinnamon. Me: blueberries. You can add to the waffles just the same, and the waffle maker is really easy to use (well, what do I know, I never used it). Here is my CRISPY waffle ala Avi (he likes them soft, I like them crispy) with raspberries, blueberries, maple syrup, and granola. I think the only thing it's missing is ICE CREAM!! 

I will share our French Toast recipe, though some may say that there's really no wrong way to make it. The key is just good bread (aka leftover Challah)!!!
Cinnamon French Toast
-Leftover challah
-3 eggs (depends how much challah you are using, but assume 1 egg per 3 slices of bread. It's all relative)
- 1/4 cup milk
-2 tbsp. cinnamon sugar (to make cinnamon sugar I usually use these proportions: 1 tbsp. cinnamon to 3 tbsp. sugar)
-1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

-Whisk all the ingredients together & coat each slice of challah in the egg mixture, and let sit for a minute or two while you heat up the griddle (we have one similar to this by Simply Calphalon) sprayed with a little cooking spray. 2-3 minutes per side, until egg is cooked through.
-Avi likes to sprinkle his with a lot more cinnamon sugar and maple syrup, though I prefer a sprinkle of plain sugar, or a dusting of powdered sugar if you want to get fancy. I also love to eat it with sweet ricotta cheese on the side: mix ricotta cheese with cinnamon sugar, just a sprinkle of orange zest (optional), and you can add a tiny bit of milk just to thin it out a bit- yum! Adjust the proportions to your liking.
So as you can see, Avi loves breakfast, and hopefully one day Rosie will enjoy her Tatty's delicacies. As you can see, she already does! Avi made her French Toast for her 1 month birthday. She seems to be enjoying, whether she is sleeping or not! (P.S. she is way cuter now, at 7 months).

So, Happy 2nd Anniversay Av, I love you sooooo much and may we have millllions more Sunday morning breakfasts together (mid-April through January only, of course) for maaaaany more years to come.

I love you to the moon & back^1029832749832520.....!!!!
<3 (it's supposed to be a heart okay???)

Have a great rest of Chanukah, everyone, and in keeping with the Avi theme of this blog, it'd only be appropriate to close with this sequence of Chanukah pictures
Chanukah 2008
 Chanukah 2009
Chanukah 2010

And just because I have to...


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Latkes, Fritters, Pancakes, Patties...

Whatever you want to call them, they scream CHANUKAH!!! Is it just me or did December just creep up on us. Anyways, I love fried food... but I rarely fry at home- I save it for the occasional appetizer order when we go out :-) Tonight was a fried latke experiment for me- it was my first time making potato latkes. However, I decided to make my own spiced up version of the oily Chanukah boring Idaho potato tradition. I decided to make Sweet Potato Carrot latkes with sage & dill, and I lightly fried them in canola oil. I didn't know if they would come out good, but they DID! Dill is SO versatile, I use it in SO many dishes- fish, chicken, all kinds of salads, dressings, and apparently- latkes! Sage is my new favorite herb, because I bought a big package last week to add to my butternut squash soup for Thanksgiving. So, this is just an effort to use it up. It can be strong, and can be left out if it's not your thing.

My second recipe I call zucchini "fritters" and not latkes because they don't need to be exclusively associated with Chanukah! And when I think "latke" I think Chanukah. I first made them in summer after seeing a recipe in Food Network Magazine (I believe it was Ina Garten's), so my version is a spin on that. They can be made with Parmesan cheese (for that extra added kick), or without, to work them into a meat meal. Shocker- a bunch of dill! Plus, I bake them with a panko crumb topping, so that they get extra golden and crispy, without having to fry them.

Sweet Potato Carrot Latkes with Sage & Dill
-4 small-medium sweet potatoes
-2 small carrots
-1/4 cup panko or cornflake crumbs
-1/2 cup flax meal (preferred brand: Bob's Red Mill. Side note: this flax meal can be bought for a great price at Trader Joe's. It's similar to Wheat Germ, but it's gluten free. I use it in muffins, on top of roasted vegis such as brussel sprouts, combine it with panko or cornflake crumbs for breaded fish or chicken, even sprinkle some into yogurt. It is a great thing to keep on hand, and lasts a while in the freezer. It doesn't lend an enormous amount of flavor, yet it adds texture and a lot of health benefits). You can substitute with flour or more crumbs if you don't have.
-3 eggs
-3 tbsp. garlic powder
-2 tbsp. chopped dill
-4 sage leaves, finely chopped
-1 small onion, diced
-salt and pepper
-Canola oil, for frying

-Grate the sweet potatoes and carrots in a food processor, and combine with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. The best way to combine everything is with your hands!! (FYI you can use less panko/flax for a less dense latke).
-In a large saute pan, heat 2-3 tbsp. of canola oil, just enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Form patties and fry 2-3 minutes per side, until cooked through.
-Set the latkes on a single layer on paper towels.

-Serve with garlic dill mayonnaise with a sprinkle of fresh lime juice, or apple sauce to play on the sweet.
-Yield:  10 latkes

Zucchini Fritters
-3 large zucchinis
-1 tsp. Kosher salt
-1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
-2 tbsp. dried parsley
-1 tbsp. garlic powder
-1 tsp. lemon zest
-1 egg
-1/4 cup flax meal
-1/4 cup panko or cornflake crumbs
-1/4 cup Parmesan, optional (lessen the amount of crumbs used if use Parmesan, because it also works as a binding agent)
-Pinch of black pepper

-Preheat oven to 425 degrees
-Grate the zucchini with a box grater or in a food processor, put into a colander with a tsp. of Kosher salt, and let sit for 15 minutes. This is an important step because it drains the moisture out of the zucchini. Without this step, the fritters will be soggy.
-Once zucchini is drained, combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. Do not add extra salt, the salt from the draining process is enough.
-Obviously the fritters can be fried in oil, but I opt to bake them. Coat the fritters on both sides with panko crumbs, and lay the fritters on a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil spray. Then, spray all the fritters from far with olive oil spray (so that you don't spray the panko crumbs off the fritters), or drizzle with olive oil (this is when those squeeze bottles come in handy!). Bake 15 minutes, then flip them, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

-Serve with tomato sauce, or ricotta cheese with lemon zest & dill.
-Yield: 4-6 fritters
[my fancy dishes]

Now all I need is a jelly donut & my Chanukah will be complete. Zomicks here I come!
Happy Chanukah!!!