Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vacation and Salmon

We just returned from a week long vacation from Aruba.
It was wonderful! It was exactly what I wanted: white sand and clear turquoise water. Here is the picture of me sitting on the deck and (probably) thinking about something very important:

The only downside of the vacation was the food. I am used to eating good food. I made my husband love good food. And resort where we stayed, unfortunately wasn't able to provide us with a healthy, tasty food.
For a really unknown reason the one thing I missed the most was a Caprese salad.
Why? Why caprese?? Its not even my favourite dish. I don't know the answer, to tell you the truth. And once we got home, back to NYC, the first thing I eat was a fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil :-)

Ironically, I missed salmon as well (on a beach vacation, yeah).
So to cook a nice salmon dish back at home, isn't a bad idea at all. I managed to find a well priced wild salmon in Trader's Joe. I also got a new cast iron dutch oven which I wanted to try. But you can use any pot for this recipe.
This recipe is adapted and slightly changed from Giada De Laurentiis HERE.
Ok, it REALLY tastes better than it looks!
Wild Rice citrus salad with salmon:

2 lbs of salmon fillet, trimmed ( no skin needed) and diced
3 tbsp of soy sauce
Lime juice from one lime (approx. 2 tbsp), you can substitute with lemon juice
3 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

Rice Salad:
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups black wild rice, rinsed
3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 lime, zested
1 lemon, zested
1 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

Whisk together the soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil and black pepper in a bowl, and pour over the salmon Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

In a blender, combine the olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, soy sauce, honey, and cumin. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Now, there are two ways of cooking this dish: frying and baking. I tried both of them and prefer the frying one more.

Frying method:
While the fish is marinating cook the rice. Black wild rice takes much longer to prepare, but it is so worth it!
In your pot or saucepan (I used enamel cast iron dutch oven), bring water, salt and oil to a boil over medium-high heat Stir in the rice. Cover the saucepan, reduce the heat, and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 50 minutes.
Once the salmon is done marinating, fry it in a skillet with a little bit of olive or coconut oil for 10-15 minutes total. Or you can broil salmon in the oven  (6-8 minutes). To save some time, you do the fish while the rice is cooking. Well, really, this recipe is much simpler than it looks..I don't know how to make it look easier..seems like too many words,but its really not that long and hard to prepare.ok, back to the cooking.

Remove the pan with rice  from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Using a fork, fluff the rice and place in a large serving bowl. Add the cooked salmon, parsley, lime zest, half of the lemon zest, green onions, and 1/4 cup of the almonds. Toss well.
Pour the vinaigrette over the rice mixture and stir well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with the remaining lemon zest and almonds.

Baking method:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Marinate the fish, as described above.
Make the vinaigrette and set aside (no changes here).

Cook the rice approximately for 20-25 minutes. We need the rice not to be fully cooked (there will probably be some water left in the dish). Add the marinated fish to the pot with the rice (please use oven safe pot or casserole dish). Cover with a lid.
Bake for  30-35 minutes.
Once it is baked and fish is fully cooked and flaky, pour the vinaigrette and almonds over the rice. Mix in the parsley, lime and lemon zested and green onions

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Brunch: Eggs and beans

Lately I've been extremely lazy. No cooking for me, even thinking about being in a hot kitchen doesn't really make me excited (c'mon guys... it is about 93 degrees outside). The one and only thing which is stuck in my head is the frozen margarita, and maybe lying somewhere on the island feeling the fresh breeze from the turquoise ocean all over the body.
In my case, I've been lying on my bed like a lazy turtle, close to the AC (pretending it's a breeze) while ordering dinner from Seamless. You know, it's really bad you can not order drinks online along with your food, I really miss that frozen margarita with my quesadilla. Is there any law which doesn't let you order drinks delivery? Why then there is no problem ordering bottles of wine for example?

Anyway, I found few lonely items in my empty fridge which should be used asap otherwise it's going to be tossed the next day.So here what I had: defrosted ground beef, beans, eggs, few slices of cheese and eggs = perfect brunch for meat lovers!

I'm not sure if I have mentioned before that my husband almost hates eggs (isn't it RIDICULOUS?). No frittata, no omelett, no poached eggs...every time I have to add steak to his eggs, so he can feel that he eats a "real food" (an omelette with spinach seems like a grass to him).

This recipe is VERY spicy. If you are not into spicy food, use only half of the spices I used.
Spicy eggs and beans:
1/2 medium onion, chopped (ether red one or yellow onion)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbs coconut oil (you can use any oil, really)
1 lbs ground beef (I used extra lean)
1 little jalapeno pepper, chopped (no seeds)
1 can small black or red beans
1 can (28 oz), whole canned tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste
1/3 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp zaatar
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp any dry herbs (like dill or cilantro, or parsley)
1/3 tbs spicy red pepper flakes
1 tbsp red paprika
4-5 slices of spicy jalapeno cheese (optional)

I must confess: I try to cook everything in one pot, one skillet, one plate, etc. It might be extremely terrible thing to do, but I hate having a mess from a dozen dirty pots in my kitchen.
If you strongly disagree with me regarding this pot issue, I recommend you to fry the meat first in a DIFFERENT skillet. You can add it later to the rest of ingredients.
In case, you are on the same page with me, here is how I cooked this dish:

Add onion to the hot skillet, with hot oil in it. Cook it slowly for about 5-6 minutes, until it is tender and translucent, stirring occasionally, so it doesn't burn. Add garlic, cook 2 more minutes. Keep you heat on rather a low-medium heat.

Add beef (in case you already cooked it in a different skillet, still, this is a perfect time to add beaf). NOW you can increase the heat level to medium/ medium-high. Do not forget to stir the beef with onions: do not burn it. Also, you need to break your meat.
If you adding the already cooked beef to the skillet, omit this stage, go straight to "add jalapeno pepper...."

Once the water (or is it juices?) is evaporated from the meat, add jalapeno pepper and beans. Stir occasionally for 4 minutes or so, until the pepper is tender.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl combine canned tomatoes (break them into chunks with the fork or knife), add tomato paste and all spices you have (a lot of people will disagree with me at this point too, as you are supposed to add spices to the skillet when you fry onions (the stage one), but I do it in a different way (add spices in late stage 2 or early 3"""), and like it better).

Pour the tomato mixture in the skillet over the meat and onions, turn the heat to very low.Cover the skillet with a lid. Let it simmer for 15 minutes. I've heard the longer you simmer your meat-tomato sauce the dipper flavour it has.

Break the eggs on the top of the rest of ingredients. You can cook it to your liking, from 4 to 10 minutes. Garnish with cheese slices which will melt in minutes. Enjoy with spicy Bloody Mary!

"""there is no such meaning as a "stage" in cooking. I guess...Usually I just divide the whole cooking process approximately on 3 stages:beginning, middle of cooking and ending. This way, the whole cooking process seems easier for me.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Hay and Straw Fettuccine

Lets keep going with the Authentic Italian recipes. Cooking them is actually fun, and surprisingly I am not tired of eating pasta almost every day.

So here it is, Hay and Straw Fettuccine
Adapted from  http://www.mangiabenepasta.com/favorite7.html

My personal note: I would increase the amount of pasta at least twice, or decrease the rest of the ingredients by a half accordingly. Below is the original recipe. I did not change anything.

1.     4 tbsp unsalted butter
        1 cup heavy cream
        1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
        3 egg yolks
        1/4 tsp pepper

2.    6-8 button mushrooms, sliced
       1 tbsp butter
       1/4 cup chopped onion
       4 oz prosciutto
       1 garlic glove, minced
       1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed

3.   8 oz egg and spinach fettuccine (I used egg fettuccine)
      1 tbsp chopped parsley

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add 2/3 cup of heavy cream and Parmesan cheese, bring to a simmer.
In a bowl whisk together 1/3 cup of cream and the yolks. Slowly pour the hot cream (from the saucepan) into the bowl with yolks to temper it. Add pepper. Whisk to combine.

2. In a skillet saute the mushrooms with 1 tbs of butter, 2-3 minutes.
Add the onion, prosciutto and garlic. Saute until prosciutto is slightly crisp and the onion is golden, 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat.

3.In the meantime, cook the fettuccine al dente. Add peas to the cooking pasta, just to heat it through. Drain the pasta, add the egg-Parmesan mixture along with  mushrooms and prosciutto. Gently mix all together. Sprinkle with parsley.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Have you tried Pasta Carbonara, the authentic one?

Not being an expert in Italian cuisine (yet), I always thought that pasta Carbonara  goes with a cream in it. Mistake! 
My  food passion and curiosity lead me to a few websites with authentic Italian recipes.
I am so happy and excited to explore, learn and cook from it! And of course share my acquired knowledge, mistakes and achievements here! If you want to share your authentic recipes, go ahead, I would love to know which ones are you favorite and why.
This recipe is quick (15 minutes maximum), easy and very delicious.
I must confess, the eggs for some reason sat up a little while cooking, which definitely didn't make me happy, yet this pasta was soooo tasty, I almost licked my plate.
Worth trying! 
Here is the source I used: Please see the recipe here
My only substitution- whole wheat spaghetti.