Thursday, October 9, 2008

Black and White Sesame Tuna

Carolynn's brother is a fisherman, so when he has a great fishing weekend, we get free food.  This weekend he caught a ton of tuna.  This is a simple recipe with nice results.

Black and White Sesame Tuna

1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger**
1 1/4 pound tuna
4 tablespoons Black sesame seeds
4 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Mix sesame oil, peanut oil, garlic and ginger in a small bowl.  Place tuna in a Ziploc bag with marinade for 20-30 minutes and refrigerate.  Place black and white sesame seeds, salt and pepper on a plate.  Remove tuna from bag and press into seed mix.  Flip over and press again to coat.  Place tuna on a flat skillet or fry pan over high heat for 3-4 minute per side depending on the desired doneness (i like my rare, so 3 minutes).  Slice tuna and serve over soba noodles with wasabi and soy sauce.

** I freeze my fresh ginger whole.  When I need it I remove it from the freezer peel and grate.  This is so much easier.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Blond Bouillabaisse

If you make only one dish I post on this site, make this one!

I don't remember where I got this recipe, it's handwritten on a piece of note paper, but I have six copies so I don't lose it! I made this for Carolynn's Dad and Step Mom on Sunday and it was a home run. It is also super good for you. 

Blond Bouillabaisse

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions diced small
1 bottle Lea & Perrins White wine worcheshire sauce (also called chicken marinade)
2 cans (12-15oz each) stewed tomatoes (italian version)
1/4 teaspoon each; thyme, pepper, paprika, and saffron
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1.5 pounds white fish fillets (you can use almost anything red snapper, halibut, trout, whatever. I use 2 kinds at 3/4 pound each)
1/2 to full pound medium shrimp (small work best)
dozen clams or mussels, or both

In a large 3qt pot, heat oil add onion and saute until soft.  Pour the cans of tomatoes in a bowl and cut the tomato pieces in half.  This is a personal thing, I don't like huge chunks of tomato competing with the fish.  Add Lea & Perrins, 2 cups water, tomatoes and seasonings (dried seasoning works fine, except for the parsley, make that fresh if you can).  Bring to a boil and simmer for 8 minutes.  
Cut fish into sections about 2-3 inches long.  They will break a part and that's ok.  Add fish to pot. Add shellfish.  Cook 6-8 minutes longer or until fish flakes with fork and clams are open.  Serve with crusty french bread!

I take a lot of liberty with the type of fish I use.  This last time I used halibut, cod, shrimp, mussels, and quartered sea scallops.  I have used flounder, clams, orange roughy, and even tilapia.  The magic of this dish is the saffron.  If you can't get saffron - don't make the dish.  Saffron is quite expensive (usually about 6.00/.25 oz) but it is well worth it.  I know that this might not be the best dish to serve if you are watching you budget, but if you need a showstopper that is easy, gourmet, and healthy, it is worth the splurge.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Where has the week gone?

Carolynn and I went out to dinner tonight.  We stopped at a really great (and very reasonable) Italian place in Oyster Bay.  Over dinner we talked about this little food project and although I can't really say this past week was an accurate reflection of a $125.00 food budget, after all I only cooked once, it is obvious that we have saved quite a bit simply being mindful of what we buy.  I think I finally (after 36 years) get the phrase, "A penny saved is a penny earned."  I always thought it was referring to interest on the penny ;)  Not spending is as good, if not better, than making more.  Especially when making more is not an immediate option.

Tomorrow night is a showcase night.  Carolynn's dad and step mom are coming for dinner and I love to cook for them.  They really appreciate good food so I take to opportunity to show off a bit.  I haven't decided on what I'm serving yet, but here are my choices:

Blond Bouillabaisse (saffron and tomato based fish chowder), fresh french bread, and a tossed salad

Stripped Bass with a Mushroom Leek Risotto and asparagus

Asian Salmon with bok choy and mushrooms (the same recipe I made last week)

I'll decide tomorrow......

Friday, October 3, 2008

Honey Oatmeal Bread

Simply amazing.  Makes the store bought stuff taste like Styrofoam.  For extra credit, when you knead the dough, do it mindfully.  Think about the person you are making the bread for and knead into it good thoughts, love, and peace.  I know, it sounds corny, but it makes the bread taste better.

Honey Oatmeal

3 cups hot water
2 1/4 cup regular rolled oats
3 tablespoons of honey
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
6 1/2 cups unbleached flour (plus more for kneading)

Pour hot water over the oats, honey, and oil.  Allow to stand until it returns to room temperature.  Proof the yeast in the 3/4 cup warm water.  The water should not be hot on the wrist when tested.  If the yeast is good, foam will begin to form.  This will take a few minutes.  Add the whole wheat flour to the oat mixture and stir.  If you are using a standing electric mixer attach the dough hook and place the oats and flour in the bowl.  Turn the mixer on low or stir by hand for 50 strokes or so.  Mix the salt and flour together and begin to add 1 cupful at a time.  This is much easier in a mixer, but not impossible by hand.  It will get progressively harder.  Once all of the flour is incorporated, flour your hands and turn the dough out on to a floured work surface.  This is the fun part.  Begin to knead the dough by lifting up one side, folding it toward you, and using the palms of your hands push it down.  Turn it a 1/4 and repeat. and repeat. and repeat.  Add flour to the table and your hands as often as necessary to avoid sticking.  Put some muscle into it, use both hands!  Knead the dough for 10-12 minutes.  You will notice that it becomes very elastic and springy.  that's good.  It should be just ever so slightly sticky when you are done.  Shape it into a ball a place it in a large bowl that has been sprayed with a cooking spray.  Cover with a damp cloth and put it in a warm corner of your kitchen to rise.  Over the next 60 minutes it should double in size.  No touchy!
Once doubled in size, punch it down.  No really, drive your fist right into the center of it.  This will help release the gases that the yeast released.  Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and cut it into 3 equal pieces.  Shape the pieces into a ball and place into 3 separate sprayed bowls.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise again until doubled in size.  once more - No touchy!
OK after about 45 more minutes the individual doughs should be ready to go.  If you have loaf pans (you can use metal or pyrex), spray them.  If not, you can make loose rolls.  Place the dough on a floured surface (am i repeating myself).  flatten it out a bit into a rough rectangle with the smaller side toward you.  Roll the dough up, pulling slightly as you go until you have a nice tight roll.  pinch the seam and place the roll seam side down in the loaf pan.  To make a free form loaf (also called a batard, no really), follow the same procedure above, but roll it a bit tighter and make sure to pinch the seam well.  Place the loaf on a greased sheet pan.  Let the dough rise one final time in the pans.  they won't double in size, but should just peek out over the top of the pan.  this will take about 15-20 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 and bake loaves for 45-60 minutes until crust is golden and your house smells like heaven.  remove from pans and cool on a rack.  Trust me.  It is worth the effort.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Kaboom! Not the budget, but the menu

So this week got a little off track, not with the budget, but with the menu.

Carolynn and Katherine decided to head out to montauk for tuesday and wednesday so I didn't need to cook.  Woo Hoo! save money!  So I didn't cook dinner.  I did decide to bake though.  At eight o'clock at night, I decided to bake bread.  Honey Oatmeal.  I love to bake bread, it is almost a sensual experience.  You can knead a lot of love into a loaf of bread.  The thing is that you shouldn't start at eight at night!  I'm going to revisit the menu next week.  Tonight I worked late and the girls got a take out meal.  I came home and had a baked potato with some veggies on top.  Tasty for me.  I'm going to post the bread recipe, because it came out SO GOOD!  If you have a rainy saturday with nothing to do.  Bake bread.