Archive for the ‘Sauces’ Category

A Perfect Evening for Curry …

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Perfect after a long, cold, wet day!

We’re finally getting some rain and a nice little storm has settled in. It’s windy, wet, and chilly out there this morning – perfect weather for a hearty, healthy, fragrant, spicy curry dish. Curry powder is a blend of spices widely used in Indian cuisine. Commonly used spices include turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, cinnamon, and ginger. Some blends may also include mustard seed, cayenne pepper, or cardamom. This recipe, by Alton Brown, sounds really good and I’m bookmarking it for future, but tonight I used a prepared curry powder because that is what I had.

Some of the health benefits associated with consuming curry powder include cancer-preventative benefits, cholesterol management, blood sugar control,  and detoxification.

You can easily make this vegetarian or vegan. I’m sure there’s a way to make it gluten free, also, but I like to thicken the sauce with a little flour.

I used lamb because I love it with curry, and because I had some leftover. You can use any meat or fish you like, or none at all. This is a great way to use up leftovers, just be sure to add lots of fresh vegetables to give it good crunch and brightness of flavor.

Be sure you have some freshly cooked brown rice to serve with this.

Lamb Curry

Saute just enough to warm through.

6-8 ounces leftover lamb
8 cups of assorted fresh vegetables*
A few tablespoons of olive or avocado oil
2-3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1-2 teaspoons good quality curry powder
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
2-3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Assemble all of your ingredients.

Cut the lamb and vegetables into bite-sized pieces.

Over a medium flame, heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucier pan.

Add the lamb and saute briefly to warm through. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Set the lightly sauteed vegetables aside and sprinkle with a little curry powder.

If necessary, add a little more oil to the pan. Saute the vegetables briefly in batches – they will cook more later and you will want them crisp-tender to serve. Set them aside for now and sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon curry powder.

If necessary, add a little more oil to the pan. Make a roux: sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of flour and about 1/2 teaspoon curry powder over the hot oil. Allow to cook and bubble a little, being careful not to scorch the roux. Whisk together until a smooth paste forms, then slowly whisk in the chicken stock.

Making the roux

Whisking to a smooth paste.

Whisking in the stock.

 

Bring to a gentle rolling boil and allow the sauce to thicken.

Thickening the sauce. 
Whisk occasionally.

Check the seasoning and spice – remember you’ll be adding a little more curry flavor when you add the vegetables. Check for salt – I did not add any salt to this dish. I found it to be quite flavorful with just the curry and cayenne.

Be careful not to splash - the sauce will be hot.

When the sauce has thickened, add the vegetables and meat and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook gently until the vegetables are crisp-tender and heated through.

Perfect night to make curry!

Serve in bowls over brown rice

 

* Use any vegetables you have on hand – I had cauliflower, asparagus, snap peas, and carrots. I also had a few roasted potatoes leftover, so I added them. You could also use frozen vegetables if that’s all you have – just remember to adjust your cooking time.

Enjoy in good health!

 

Dressing Up a Jar of Pasta Sauce

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Dressed Up Sauce

So, so glad to have the chance to ride yesterday! I logged only 56.6 miles, but it felt like a little more. More than anything else, I am sure this has to do with my not riding much recently, but we also encountered some of those “Davis Hills” again. The breeze picked up, but then calmed down a bit by the time we were headed back. The ride was nothing too exciting, just my normal warm up loop and then a jaunt out to Winters and back.

I did work up quite an appetite, though. On my warm-up loop I was already thinking about dinner. What to cook? I really did not want to run to the store yesterday – pre-SuperBowl crowds, you know? Hmm … what’s on hand? Greens, of course. Baby spinach and kale. Protein? Some beautiful, light, healthy cod. Shiitake mushrooms. How about a super healthy and light dinner of sauteed shiitakes with spinach, then some pan roasted cod? I picked up a jar of apricot-chile jam the other day and that sounded like it would make a lovely glaze for the fish. That sounded like a great plan!

After my warm-up loop, I grabbed the cod from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator to thaw.

Then we headed out towards Winters. It was a bit slow-going, but at least we were out in the abundant sunshine. There were only a few other cyclists out, so I was especially glad to have company on my ride.

We stopped for snack at Steady Eddy’s for a water refill and snack. It’s under new ownership and they’ve made just enough changes to make it feel different. They moved a few things around. Not to be so picky, but … there is  no more Coca Cola in bottles. Cans, yes, but it’s just not the same. I don’t know why, but it just isn’t. And … no oat cakes?! Hopefully they were just sold out. Oh, well … I guess I just need to come up with my own oat cake recipe. The good news is that there were still lots of familiar, friendly staff faces there.

Oh, yes … the sauce … you’re wondering when I am going to talk about pasta sauce. I got sidetracked.

When we got home from our ride, I made a few snacks. A handful of mixed nuts. A half cup of low fat Greek yogurt. A big bowl of heirloom cherry tomato, cucumber, and avocado salad loaded with fresh thyme and parsley, lightly dressed with a touch of olive oil and balsamic glaze and a sprinkle of pink sea salt. A bite (okay, two) of dark chocolate. Lots of water and a Zevia ginger root beer. I am not much for diet soda, but this one is sweetened with stevia, an all natural and zero calorie sugar substitute. It’s pretty good – light and refreshing. I’m not entirely used to the flavor of stevia, but it’s better than those nasty artificial sweeteners.

By the time it got to be dinner time, the cod was still frozen. Hmm … now I really did not want to go to the store and I was hungrier than I expected to be, so what else could I make?

There is always pasta in this house and a box of whole grain thin spaghetti practically jumped out of the cabinet into my arms. I haven’t made spaghetti in ages! There was also a jar of prepared sauce. Jarred sauce, even really good jarred sauce, just won’t do. I have to dress it up.

Dressed Up Sauce

1 jar of your favorite prepared tomato-based pasta sauce
1 splash of olive oil
4-6 ounces fresh mushrooms
1 large carrot, grated
6-8 small fresh tomatoes
3-4 handfuls of baby spinach
fresh herbs
freshly grated good quality Parmesan cheese
1 box of your favorite pasta

Prepare all of your ingredients – clean the vegetables and herbs. Chop the herbs and set aside. Set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil for the pasta.

In a large, non-reactive skillet or saucier, heat the olive oil until it starts to shimmer. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat. I like to brown them just a bit. Add the shredded carrot and saute a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook down just a bit. Add the spinach, cover with a lid, and let it steam a few moments to wilt, then add the sauce. Give it a little stir, then cover and cook gently. You don’t want this sauce to boil – that will destroy the texture of the vegetables and make it acidic. You just want it to bubble gently. I like to add about half of the herbs to the sauce when it is cooking, and use the other have for garnish. I used fresh thyme and Italian parsley for this dish. I love fresh thyme with mushrooms.

Grate the cheese and set aside.

Cook the pasta. Drain. If you want, drizzle a little olive oil on the pasta.

Assemble your dinner. This is best served in a large, flat bowl.

Building the Plate

Dinner is Served!

Portion the pasta into warmed bowls. Sprinkle with a bit of cheese and fresh herbs. Top with sauce and a little more cheese and a generous sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Whenever possible, I use whole grain pasta. Spinach pasta would be fantastic with this sauced. If you’re gluten-intolerant, try this with a gluten-free brown rice pasta.

You can make this vegetarian, or it is also great with sausage. To keep it healthy – choose a low fat chicken or turkey sausage loaded with herbs. I had about 1 tablespoon of leftover chopped bacon that I added to the sauce and that added just a nice hint of flavor.

Like Pasta Primavera? Simply add more vegetables. This would be wonderful with zucchini, squash, eggplant, onions, whatever vegetables you like.

Want to make this entirely from scratch? Skip the jarred sauce and use homemade tomato sauce. (That will have to be a different post.)

Enjoy!

Now it’s time to get ready to ride today before the rain starts.

Roasted Whole Chicken

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Sunday night I just really needed to make some comfort food. Not having had a “traditional” Christmas turkey this year, I felt myself longing for roasted chicken. I stopped by my neighborhood market and picked up a free range chicken, some fresh lemons, mushrooms, herbs, and salad makings.

Roasting a whole chicken is actually pretty easy. You want to be very organized and tidy when working with any raw meat, especially chicken. It’s important to assemble all of your ingredients and equipment first and to keep your hands and work surfaces clean. You will need:

Ingredients:

Whole chicken
A few sprigs of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley)
1-2 lemons
2 large carrots
2 large stalks celery
2 large crimini mushrooms
salt, pepper, or your favorite grinder seasoning

Equipment:

A large cutting board
A good knife
Roasting pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. There are different schools of thought on this – some like to start roasting chicken in a hotter oven (425), but I usually just stick with the 350 degree oven and have good results with this.

Wash and dry the lemons, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and herbs. You will want to prepare these and set them all aside before you start handling the raw chicken.

  1. Slice one lemon into about 1/4-inch thick slices. Depending on the size of your bird, you’ll want 4-6 lemon slices. Cut the second lemon into halves. Remove and discard any seeds from the lemons.
  2. Cut one of the carrots and a stalk of celery into 2-4 pieces, again depending on the size of your chicken. You want these pieces to fit inside the bird. Cut the remaining carrot and celery into about 1 or 2-inch chunks and scatter these in the bottom of the roasting pan.
  3. Cut the mushrooms into quarters.
  4. Leave the herbs whole – you don’t want to chop them for this step.

Ready to roast

To prepare the chicken, the first thing you want to do is to remove the packet of giblets and set these aside for now. Remove any excess fat and rinse the bird inside and out with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Season the bird inside and out with salt and pepper, or your favorite grinder seasoning (ex: Trader Joe’s “Everyday Seasoning” is my favorite). With your fingers, carefully loosen the skin on the breast, then work 2-3 slices of lemon on each side, gently working the slices as far down towards the legs as you can. You’ll want to do this gently so you don’t tear the skin. Then, place a sprig of each herb under the skin.

Some recipes call for butter under and/or over the skin, but I did not do this and this chicken came out beautifully moist and delicious. Maybe it wasn’t as shiny and pretty as it would have been with some butter, but I prefer it without the added fat and calories.

The bird is now ready to roast. This was about a 4-pound chicken and it took about an hour and 15 minutes to cook. You’ll want to cook to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

My mother always made giblet gravy, so of course this was a must to truly satisfy that comfort food craving. Mom would always place the giblets in a little water with some carrot, celery, onion, and herbs, and simmer gently to make a little broth. You don’t want to cook the liver in here or the resulting broth will be bitter. Save the liver for another use, if you like.

While the chicken is roasting, prepare your giblet stock, side dishes, salad, etc.. We had roasted potatoes and a light, refreshing salad of baby spring greens, heirloom tomato, kalamata olives, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil.

Herbed Roasted Potatoes

Baby Spring Greens Salad

After I put the chicken in the oven, I got things cleaned up and started on the side dishes. I scrubbed, rinsed, and dried the potatoes. Simply drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle on some fresh herbs, a little salt and pepper, and put them in the oven. These were about 1 1/2-inch diameter gold, red, and purple potatoes, and the timing was just right. They took about 1 hour to roast to perfection, so by the time I got them in the oven, they finished about the same time as the chicken.

If you want mushroom gravy, prepare your mushrooms while the chicken is roasting. I used about 5 ounces of crimini mushrooms for my gravy.

Prepare any side dishes while the chicken is cooking. We had a light, refreshing, and simple salad of baby spring greens, heirloom tomato, kalamata olives, with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil.

Roast the chicken to an internal temperature of 165-degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from the oven, place chicken on a large dish, cover with foil, and set aside. Check the juices in the roasting pan. Depending on your chicken, you may want to pour the pan juices into a separator and pour off excess fat. The chicken I roasted had so little fat that I did not have to do this, which made me very happy! You will want to let the roasted chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

This is a good time to strain your giblet stock. Discard the vegetables and herbs, and if you desire, chop the giblets to add to the gravy.

Mushroom Gravy

To make the gravy, set the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat. If you want, you can remove and discard the carrot and celery that was in the roasting pan, but I chose to leave them in this time just to try that. Add the mushrooms and saute a few minutes to cook out some of their moisture. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour in the roasting pan and whisk to eliminate any lumps of flour. Let this cook for a bit, then whisk in your giblet stock. You will probably need to add additional liquid, so be sure to have some prepared stock available, or if you have steamed any vegetables, you can use this liquid, also. Growing up, we always had some sort of steamed (or boiled, ugh!) vegetables with roasted chicken, and my mom always used this liquid in her gravy. Continue whisking and cooking your gravy until you reach the desired consistency. If you like, add the giblet meat. Adjust seasonings with fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste.  As you can see, my gravy had a lot of texture because I kept the roasted celery and carrot, and it wasn’t necessarily the prettiest gravy I have ever made, but it was loaded with flavor, but also very light for a gravy.

I hope you have a wonderful day! It is now time for me to get off the computer and get outside for a ride! Happy New Year!

Roasted Chicken

Heart Healthier Christmas

Monday, December 30th, 2013

This year a heart-healthier Christmas menu was in order for Mom.

Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Port-Cherry Sauce
Twice-Baked Yam
Roasted Herbed Potatoes
Sautéed Baby Kale with Mushrooms
Fresh Blackberries with Light Orange Curd

Sadly, this is best photo of this meal.

Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin

1 to 1 ½ pound pork tenderloin
1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A few grinds of fresh ground pepper
About 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  1. Measure herbs, olive oil and seasonings in a large zip top bag. Stir or whisk to combine.
  2. Trim any excess fat from the pork tenderloin and place in the zip top bag. Squeeze any excess air out of the bag, seal it, and with your fingers work the marinade around the meat.
  3. Place the sealed bag in the refrigerator and allow to marinade at least a few hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  5. Remove tenderloin from the marinade, place in a roasting pan, and roast in the preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 145° Fahrenheit.
  6. Remove from oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Port-Cherry Sauce

Ever so slightly modified version of Port and Dried Cherry Sauce, p. 58, Williams-Sonoma SAUCE  

1 cup ruby port
2/3 cup dried cherries, soaked in water for 20 minutes and drained
½ cup chicken stock or prepared broth
¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional: 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

In a heavy bottomed non-reactive saucier pan, bring the port and cherries to a simmer over medium. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half (2 or minutes). Add the stock, vinegar, rosemary, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and a grind or two of fresh pepper. Simmer until the sauce is syrupy (about 2 minutes). Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove pan from heat. If desired, whisk in the butter, one piece at a time. This will help to slightly thicken the sauce.

Twice Baked Yam

On a recent shopping trip to one of my favorite local markets, I found the largest yam I have ever seen. I sit here now wondering why in the heck I did not take a photo of it before cooking it. It was HUGE. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Scrub the yam(s) and trim the ends. Pierce them a few times with a sharp knife. You can bake these all the way in the oven, or get a jumpstart by par cooking them in a microwave. When the yams are fully cooked and soft, remove from the oven and cut lengthwise in half. You may need to let them cool a little before handling them. Scoop the flesh out of the skins, leaving about a ¼ inch shell in the potato skin. Place the skins in a baking pan. Place the cooked yam into a large bowl and add about 1 tablespoon shredded reduced fat cheddar per serving. Stir to combine well and then return the mixture to the skins. You can use a piping bag and fancy tip, if you desire, or you can just scoop them in with a spoon and smooth the top. Return these to the oven to heat through and melt the cheese.

Roasted Herbed Potatoes

These are so delicious and simple once you make them you may wonder why you don’t make these every day.

Use your favorite waxy potatoes (red, golden, purple) or fingerling potatoes. Scrub and dry, place in a baking dish, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, etc.. whatever you like!), and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast at 350° Fahrenheit for about 1 hour. The size of the potatoes will determine the actual baking time.

They make great leftovers, too. You can just reheat them for an easy side dish, or add them to a frittata for a simple and comforting breakfast, brunch, or dinner!

Sautéed Baby Kale with Mushrooms

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 6 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, rinsed, trimmed, and sliced into ¼ inch slices
8 to 12 ounces of baby kale, rinsed and spun dry

On medium-high, heat oil in a large cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed skillet. Add mushrooms, stir frequently. You want them to brown a bit, but not burn. Place greens on top, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to steam until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired. Watch carefully – these can quickly go from tender and perfect to bitter and overcooked.

You can cook almost any cooking green this way – spinach, chard, collards, kale, or any combination of them.

Light Orange Curd

This recipe is in development and not ready to post yet. It needs work! I am not sure about the Monk Fruit In The Raw. I haven’t quite figured it out and I am not sure how much I like the taste. It is expensive, so I need to do a bit of recipe research before I just try to substitute it like this. I don’t know if it’s the corn dextrose filler they use in the Monk Fruit, or the egg whites from a carton, but the consistency was off.

I might try this orange curd with the C&H ½ & ½. It’s half stevia and half cane sugar. I liked that much better in the low-sugar version of lemon curd I made a few weeks ago.

Heart Healthier Christmas Menu

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Here’s a very basic outline of what to expect … I’ll have to do a full post later with recipes and photos. The menu will be along these lines, but I’m going to have to sort of “wing it” a little on some things:

Smoked Wild Salmon with Organic Light Cream Cheese on Rye Toasts
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cherry-Port Sauce
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Yams
Baby Kale Salad with Granny Smith Apples, Candied Pecans, and Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette
Low-Fat & Low-Sugar Orange Curd with Fresh Blackberries

The curd turned out a bit looser than I had hoped, but it will work nicely as a sauce for the big beautiful fresh blackberries I found this week at the store. I don’t think this curd would work well in a tart, though, because it’s not quite thick enough. Perhaps next time I’ll try 1/2 whole eggs and 1/2 egg whites, and I need to play a bit more with the Monk Fruit. I guess I could also use some corn starch, but that seems like cheating, but we’ll see. I think this recipe has promise, but it’s not just right yet.

I also wanted to make meringues to serve with this, but there is just so much going on right now that I did not have time to do so.

I will have limited Internet access over the next few days, so it may be the weekend before I get a chance to post any pictures or follow-up.

Merry Christmas! May your hearts be filled with the joy and warmth of the season, and your bellies be nourished by delicious and wholesome food!

 

Merry Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Start your holidays with a super healthy green smoothie!

Baby Kale, Kiwi, Banana, Mango, Oats, Whey Protein

 

This year’s menu is going to be a little different – a little heart-healthier and lighter – but it will still be festive and delicious!

Pork Tenderloin with a Port-Cherry Sauce
Roasted Yams
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Baby Greens Salad with Organic Apples, Spicy Candied Pecans,  & Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Dessert may be a low-sugar & low-fat orange curd with blackberries. That is, IF my curd sets. I used half sugar & half Monk Fruit. I used one whole egg and replaced the other with egg whites (the ready-to-use kind you get in a carton). The juice of 1 1/2 Cara Cara oranges and one lemon, plus the zest … it tastes OK, we’ll see how it sets when it cools. I’m not 100% sure about the taste of the Monk Fruit yet. I need to play with this a bit more. I tried using 100% Monk Fruit in the last batch of curd I made and it was dreadful. We’ll see how it is with 1/2 sugar & 1/2 Monk Fruit.

If the curd does not set, I’ll have to figure out a way to use it as a sauce for something.

Here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I’ll have limited Internet access, but will do my best to get a few posts in here and there.

Please be SAFE – remember – NO drinking and driving!

P.S. Santa brought me a very cool new helmet! A Rudy Project Technically Cool and super comfy green/blue helmet – it’s like the one that one of the cycling teams wears that every time I see it I say, “I have to find one of those!” And, it will go great with the Ireland jersey Santa brought me last year!

Thanks, Santa! You’re the BEST! I’m looking forward to riding with you again soon!!

Pasta Primavera

Monday, November 4th, 2013

I first discovered Pasta Primavera in the mid 1980’s, at Boskos in Calistoga. Spinach fettuccine smothered in a flavorful marinara loaded with fresh vegetables. The vegetables were always crisp-tender, never overcooked. What I loved most about it was that it was light, but hearty. I just knew that I was eating something healthy. I always left feeling satisfied, but never stuffed.

Today, I needed to make a quick, comforting and healthy meal. I had some brown rice pasta, loads of vegetables, and a prepared marinara sauce.

This is super simple to make. Here is what you will need:

1 pound brown rice pasta (penne shown here)
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces crimini mushrooms
garlic (optional)
2 cooked chicken sausages (about 4-6 ounces)
1-2 zucchini, sliced & grilled, cut into bite-sized pieces*
1 small eggplant, sliced & grilled, cut into bite-sized pieces*
A spring or two of fresh thyme, stripped
16-ounce jar or can of your favorite prepared marinara sauce
Chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, just a touch

Brown Rice Pasta Primavera

Follow the cooking directions for the pasta you choose.

Saute the crimini mushrooms and garlic in the olive oil. While the mushrooms are sauteing, slice 2 cooked chicken sausages into about 1/4-inch thick slices. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. Brown the sausages, return the mushrooms to the pan, and add the  chopped grilled zucchini and eggplant. Add the fresh thyme and marinara sauce. Stir to combine and cook on low to heat through.

While the sauce is heating, cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Place cooked pasta in a serving bowl and grate just a little cheese on the pasta. Ladle some sauce on, and garnish with a touch more cheese and chopped fresh parsley. Enjoy!

*I used Trader Joe’s Misto Alla Griglia Marinated and Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini.

You really can use any vegetables you like in this. Experiment – have fun with it.

This makes for great cycling recovery food, or a dinner the night before a big ride, but it is also light enough that if you are responsible with your portion size, it’s great for a weekend like this that didn’t see too many cycling miles. It also makes for yummy leftovers.

Happy 3-Day Weekend!

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Can it really be Labor Day weekend already? Where did this summer go?

Quesadilla

The weekend got off to a good start with a nice, light dinner of an easy quesadilla and simple fish tacos.

Quesadillas

Fresh artisan corn* tortillas
Light cheddar cheese
Salsa Verde, warmed
Avocado
Fresh limes

Make a quick quacamole-like topping by mixing the avocado with some fresh lime juice and a little salsa verde. Heat the tortillas over medium-high heat on a cast iron griddle, turning once. Turn the heat down to medium. Top one tortilla with a little cheese, the avocado mixture, and a little salsa. Place the second tortilla on top and gently press down. Allow to heat through a couple of minutes, then turn to lightly brown the other side. You want the cheese to melt and the tortillas to pick up a light, golden brown color. Cut into wedges and serve with some warmed salsa.

*If you prefer, you can use flour tortillas.

Fish Tacos

Fresh artisan corn tortillas
Cod filets, or other light flaky white fish
Salsa Verde
Avocado
Fresh limes
Fresh cilantro

Fish Tacos

You can either slice the avocado or use the quacamole-like topping as above. Warm the salsa a bit, if you like. Heat the tortillas on a cast iron griddle over medium heat. Cook your fish – you can steam it, grill it, saute, or whatever method works best for the particular fish. I had some beautiful cod fillets, so I just cooked them in a little olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and seasoned lightly with just a dash of salt. For most fish, cook to an internal temperature of about 145-degrees. Assemble the tacos by placing some fish in the center of the tortilla, then top with some salsa and avocado. Garnish with some fresh cilantro (which was missing from these last night) and a squeeze of fresh lime.

If you are not a fan of fish, these tacos would also be yummy with chicken … especially if that chicken has been marinated with lime, fresh cilantro, a little Serrano chile, and if you are so inclined even a little tequila, then grilled and cut into bite-sized pieces.

These can even be made vegetarian or vegan. Grill up some portabello mushrooms and slice, or grilled onions and peppers, or zucchini … I’ll bet even grilled sliced potatoes would be good in these. Of course, there’s always tofu. The possibilities are nearly endless!

Here’s wishing you a great weekend! I hope you get the chance to ride. I know I am certainly looking forward to logging a few miles this weekend!

 

Fajitas: Lime-Cilantro Flank Steak & Salsa Verde

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

To follow-up on last night’s post, here are the recipes you’ll need to make these fajitas.

Fajitas

Not to toot my own horn, or anything, but I was told that these were the BEST fajitas ever.

Grilled Flank Steak (recipe follows – best if you start to marinate the night before)

Salsa Verde (recipe follows)

1 red onion, sliced into strips

1 bell pepper, sliced into strips

1 avocado

8-12 shiitake mushrooms

1 package Artisan-style corn tortillas (I used blue corn tortillas here)

To assemble the fajitas:

  1. Prepare the salsa.
  2. While the salsa is cooking on the stove, grill the flank steak.
  3. Prepare the mushrooms for grilling. Rinse them well and allow to drain a few moments. Then skewer them, drizzle with a little olive oil, and grill.
  4. While the steak and mushrooms are grilling, slice the onions and peppers.
  5. For medium rare steak, cook until about 130 degrees. It is very important that you allow the meat to rest about 10 minutes before slicing. If you slice it too soon, the juices will run out of the meat and it will be dry.
  6. While the meat is resting, cook the onions and peppers in a hot cast iron skillet. You can cook them together, but since I cannot eat bell peppers, we had to cook them separately. You want the onions to caramelize a bit, but not get too soft. The peppers, you’ll want to get a little char on them, but be careful to not overcook them. They can very quickly go from bright, colorful, and tender-crisp to overcooked. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.
  7. While the onions and peppers are cooking, cut the avocado into slices or bite-sized chunks.
  8. Heat the tortillas either on the grill or in a cast iron pan.
  9. Thinly slice the meat. Thinly slice the mushrooms.
  10. To assemble your fajitas, place a corn tortilla on a plate, then top with a few slices of the steak, some onions and peppers, mushrooms, avocado, and a generous dollop of salsa.
  11. Chew, savor, smile, swallow, smile, repeat.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Red Onions

Bell Peppers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Flank Steak with Lime, Cilantro, & Serrano Chili

Marinated Flank Steak

2 limes, freshly squeezed
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1-2 tablespoons of agave nectar
1 large serrano chile pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 pound flank steak
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Whisk together the lime juice, cilantro, agave nectar, and chile pepper in a bowl. If you want more heat, then leave all or part of the serrano seeds. I prefer to seed chiles.
  2. Lightly salt and pepper the flank steak and place into a zipper bag. Pour in the marinade.
  3. Refrigerate and marinade at least a few hours or up to about 24 hours.
  4. Remove from the refrigerator no more than 30 minutes before grilling.
  5. Grill to desired doneness (I like medium rare, at most), which for beef is about 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Remove from grill and let sit for about 10 minutes before slicing.
  7. Thinly slice against the grain.

Roasting tomatillos, serranos, & onions.

Salsa Verde

1-1/2 pounds of fresh tomatillos
1 bunch green onion
4 (or more) large serrano chile peppers
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Husk the tomatillos, rinse well, and set to drain in a colander.
  2. Trim off the root end and about half of the green stem of the onions.
  3. Cut off the stem end of the chile, slice in half length-wise, and scrape out the seeds.
  4. Rinse the cilantro well, drain, and strip the leaves off the stems. Place the leaves on a towel to drain well.
  5. Place the tomatillos, green onions, and serranos in a roasting pan, and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  6. You can roast the tomatillos, green onions, and serranos on a grill or under a broiler. You’ll want to get a bit of char on them for flavor, but not too much.
  7. The tomatillos are ready when they’re softened and a little bit charred. Remove from the grill or oven and set aside to cool a bit. You don’t want to try to process them while they’re piping hot. I destroyed a blender one time by not waiting. It was a very sad and expensive culinary discovery that my KitchenAid blender was no match for piping hot tomatillos. It melted the base! Very sad, indeed.
  8. For this amount of salsa, you’ll want to blend it in 3-4 batches. It doesn’t really have to be evenly distributed per batch at this point because it’s all going to end up in one skillet to cook.
  9. Cook on medium-high heat until the mixture begins to bubble, then reduce the heat to low. You’ll want to stir frequently to avoid scorching the bottom. I cook it until it’s slightly thickened, but still a pretty green color. The color will vary a lot from batch to batch due to the natural variation in tomatillos, how much char you have on them, and how long you cook the sauce.
  10. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This salsa is really easy and incredibly good either hot or cold. I love it on grilled chicken, carnitas, with rice, with tortilla chips, on eggs … it is am incredibly versatile sauce.

My fajitas, no bell peppers!

The Final Product!

 

 

 

 

Fajitas!

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Coming soon …Fajitas.

... with peppers ...

and without!