Friday, July 21, 2017

Sicilian Grilled Swordfish

Last Year's Post: Chinese Chicken Salad
Two Years Ago:   Grilled Salmon with Kale and Maple Mustard Vinaigrette



If you like swordfish, you're going to love this recipe.  Relatively thin swordfish steaks are quickly grilled and then soaked in a lemon, olive oil and oregano sauce.  Since they're thin and pierced with a fork before pouring the sauce over the hot fish, the flavor permeates throughout the fish while the sauce keeps it wonderfully moist and tender.  If you can't find thin swordfish steaks, just ask you fishmonger to cut a thick one in half horizontally (or do it yourself).



Because it's easy to overcook swordfish until it becomes dry and tough and particularly if it's thin, I strongly recommend buying an instant thermometer if you don't have one already.  They're invaluable for testing the doneness of meats and poultry in addition to fish.  The new thermometers read the temperature within a second or two after insertion so you don't need to fool with one of those thermometers that stay in the food in your oven or grill and you can quickly test the temperature in multiple spots which is particularly helpful with something like chicken or turkey.



I served the swordfish with an orzo salad on the side with black olives, roasted tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and lemon dressing to continue the Sicilian theme.  Leftovers made a great lunch salad the next day.




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Sicilian Grilled Swordfish
Serves 4

Note: If you can only find thick swordfish steaks have the fishmonger cut them in half horizontally for you.

4 relatively thin (1/2” or so) swordfish steaks, 5-6 ounces each
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into quarters


Preheat a grill (or indoor grill pan) to medium-high.

For the sauce, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Set aside.

Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes on the first side, then flip and turn for another 1-2 minutes until almost cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 120d.  Remove to a flat dish, prick holes in the fish with a fork, and pour the lemon sauce over the fish while it’s hot.  Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes to soak up the sauce and finish cooking.


Serve the fish with sauce poured over and a lemon quarter on the side.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Spanish Chicken Salad with Manchego and Smoky Almonds

Last Year's Post:  Spiced Carrot Soup (Hot or Cold)
Two Years Ago:   Baked Falafel

This is a sophisticated salad that's incredibly easy to throw together in the time it takes to toast some almonds.  But there are a few somewhat unusual ingredients that are key:  Manchego cheese, smoked paprika, piquillo peppers and really good sherry vinegar.  Manchego cheese is a Spanish cheese similar to Gruyere that you can find in most good cheese shops.  Smoked paprika can be found in some spice aisles and at Penzeys, my favorite spice store.  Smoked paprika is very Spanish and makes the salad much more interesting so don't be tempted to substitute regular paprika.  Piquillo peppers can be found in most grocery stores next to regular jarred roasted red peppers.  I think they have a brighter and more interesting taste than regular roasted red peppers but if you can't find them, regular roasted peppers would be fine.



And finally, sherry vinegar.  Sherry vinegar is my favorite vinegar ever since I had the opportunity to sample a really good quality one from Spain, and I'll never go back.  Please don't buy one of those little bottles from the grocery store.  Take the time and effort to get a high-quality bottle from your local gourmet store or online - the difference in taste is amazing.  I bought this one online from iGourmet.





Anyway, after you buy the Spanish ingredients it's a very quick salad to assemble because you use precooked deli chicken.  The only cooking you do is to toast the almonds.  Stay nearby and stir frequently while they toast because they can burn fast.







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Spanish Chicken Salad with Manchego and Smoky Almonds
Serves 4


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup sliced almonds
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 cups salad green, preferably red and green
½ cup drained piquillo peppers from jar, cut into thin strips
4 cups shredded deli chicken meat
1 cup Manchego cheese, cut into cubes or strips


Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add almonds and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes.  Watch closely so they don’t turn too dark.  Transfer almonds to paper towels and sprinkle with smoked paprika and salt.  Let cool.



Whisk shallot, vinegar and oil in a small bowl (or shake in a small jar with lid) to blend.  Season dressing with salt and pepper.  Place salad greens in a large bowl.  Add dressing and toss to coat.  Divide among plates, then top with rows of chicken, peppers, cheese, and almonds.  (Alternately, toss everything together except the almonds and divide between plates, then sprinkle almonds on top.)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Grilled Korean Shrimp

Last Year's Post: Coconut Chicken Fingers
Two Years Ago:   Ravioli with Fresh Corn

If you like Korean food or spicy food in general, you'll love these shrimp.  The sauce gives them big, bold flavor with enough kick to make your lips tingle for a few minutes so be sure to serve them with a nice cold beverage. I particularly like the look of the shrimp and onions after grilling.

They're very quick and easy to make (no marinating) and would be perfect as part of a summer grilling party - serve one or two shrimp with green onions on mini-skewers for each person.  Larger skewers could be served over a big green salad, or with fried rice, or as I did over a tangle of noodles with garlic, olive oil and parsley.

The Lawyer said this picture looks like music.  :-)
The only unusual ingredient is Gochujang, which is a thick, dark red Korean spice paste that's essential to Korean cooking.  At one time I would have hesitated to post a recipe using it, but I recently found it in the Asian section of my local Fry's store so it's getting much easier to find.  If your grocery store doesn't carry it, you can find it at your local Asian market.



One of my favorite parts of the recipe is the green onion - crispy-charred and spicy from the basting sauce, they taste sort of like spicy fried onions.  This is a unique and unusual twist on grilled shrimp that's completely delicious.


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Grilled Korean Shrimp
Serves 4

16 colossal (U10-12) or 20 extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 green onions, trimmed, white and light green part cut into 2 inch lengths
Kosher salt

Gochujang sauce
1/4 cup Gochujang paste (Korean red pepper paste.)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Wooden skewers, soaked

  
Using 2 skewers side by side, alternately thread on pieces of green onion and shrimp, beginning and ending with green onions. Sprinkle the skewers lightly on both sides with the kosher salt. Whisk the Gochujang sauce ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (400°F).

Put the skewers on the grill over direct medium-high heat and cook for three minutes. Flip the skewers and baste with the sauce.  Cook for another two minutes, flip the skewers, and baste again. Cook for one more minute. Remove the skewers to a platter, and brush one last time with sauce (or serve with additional leftover sauce on the side).   Serve hot or at room temperature.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Spaghetti with Lemon and Walnuts

Last Year's Post: Grilled Lobster Tails
Two Years Ago:   Southwest Grilled Shrimp Salad

If spaghetti with marinara and meatballs is classic winter comfort food, then this is its summer cousin - spaghetti with a light but very flavorful sauce of lemon, garlic, parsley and walnuts. It's definitely an unusual combination for spaghetti, don't you think?  You can serve it either warm or at room temperature, making it even more appealing for warm summer months.  And of course you could add some grilled chicken or shrimp if you really want, but I find it very satisfying as a vegetarian entree.

I think of this recipe as being minimalist in concept but definitely not in taste.  Just because it doesn't have a long list of ingredients, don't be fooled.  Each ingredient plays an important part for big impact: fruity olive oil, fragrant lemon zest and bright juice, mellow garlic slices, grassy parsley, crunchy toasted walnuts, grated Parmesan, and freshly ground black pepper.  Because there are so few ingredients, be sure to use the best you can find.

The original recipe called for adding the parmesan into the pasta while it's still in the pan, and stirring to make a "creamy sauce".  I found it made big gooey clumps of parsley and half-melted cheese instead, so I adapted the recipe to add the parmesan later.  Same tastes, happier result.


Spaghetti with Lemon and Walnuts
Serves 3-4

May be served warm or at room temperature.

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Zest from ½ lemon
2 ½ ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 cup)
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, cut into quarters, for garnish


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon salt.  Add pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid, then drain the pasta.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook 2 minutes until pale golden-brown.  Place the pasta in the skillet, tossing to coat.  Add the parsley and toss, adding some pasta water if the pasta looks dry.  Taste and adjust salt if needed; sprinkle with pepper. 

Divide among shallow bowls and garnish with lemon zest, parmesan and walnuts.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and add lemon quarters on the side for squeezing.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Thai Chicken Salad (Copy Cat Panera Spicy Thai Salad with Chicken)

Last Year's Post: Salmon Nicoise Salad
Two Years Ago:   Muffuletta

This is my favorite Panera salad by far.  I think it's the spicy peanut drizzle along with the crunch of Romaine, edamame, wonton strips and nuts that makes it so satisfying while still low-fat and healthy.  Although I found several versions of the recipe online that supposedly re-created the salad, a lot of them had strange variations (yogurt in the sauce?  I mean, really.)  I KNOW this salad and wanted to re-create it as faithfully as possible so I combined various elements from all the recipes and was very happy with the result.  (OK, true confession, I substituted peanuts for cashews because that's what I had on hand.  Same difference.)

As you go through the Panera ordering line, the server first tosses the greens with dressing, then adds a scoop of edamame/carrots/red pepper and another scoop of sliced chicken.  The peanut drizzle, wonton strips and nuts go on last.  Can you tell I've ordered it a few times?  This recipe mimics that process.  The only thing I couldn't tell is whether they marinate their chicken before cooking, but I found an interesting marinade in one of the recipes so I tried it.  The resulting flavor is delicate but complements the salad very well.  If you don't feel like marinating the chicken I don't think it will impact the salad much with all those other big flavors, which means you could make it quickly any night of the week using a grilled or rotisserie chicken breast from the deli.




The good news is that the only somewhat unusual ingredient is Thai sweet red chile sauce, which you can find in the Asian condiments at any grocery store.

Start by marinating and cooking the chicken, if applicable, so it can cool.  You could also do this in advance.  Then saute the veggies so they can cool which only takes a few minutes, or it can also be done in advance.  Make the salad dressing and peanut drizzle, then you're ready to assemble.


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Thai Chicken Salad (Copycat Panera)

Chicken Marinade:
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, grated
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 small lime, juiced
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

Salad:
Vegetable oil
1 small carrot, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup shelled edamame (defrosted if frozen)
8-10 cups Romaine hearts, chopped (about 3 hearts)  
½ cup chopped cilantro
4 green onions, sliced
1 cup wonton strips
½ cup chopped cashews or peanuts

Dressing:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup Thai sweet red chili sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Peanut Sauce:
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Thai sweet red chili sauce
2 tablespoons water (more if needed)


In a ziplock bag, combine all ingredients for the chicken marinade.  Add the chicken and massage the bag to coat the chicken on both sides, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Cook the chicken on a grill or in a 350d oven for about 30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165d.  Set aside to cool, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

Preheat a nonstick skillet to medium, and then add a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil.  Cook the chopped carrot, red pepper and edamame until charred and slightly soft.  Cool mixture and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients; taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  In a second small bowl, combine all the peanut sauce ingredients; thin with a little additional water if it seems too thick to drizzle. 

In a large bowl, combine the Romaine, cilantro, and green onions. Toss with enough dressing to barely coat.  Divide among serving bowls, and then top with chicken and vegetable mixture.  Drizzle with the peanut sauce and top with wonton strips and nuts.



Friday, June 16, 2017

Cubanos

Last Year's Post:  Tomatillo Salsa Verde
Two Years Ago:    Farro and Kale Salad

This is another installment in my occasional and erratic series of famous sandwiches of the world.  Past posts have included pan bagnatbanh miItalian tunachicken schnitzel, and buffalo chicken sliders to name a few.  Cubanos originated in Florida and are made with Cuban rolls, roast pork, ham, pickles, Swiss cheese and mustard, all pressed together on a griddle or grill until warm and crisp.  Outside of Miami they also often include salami.  Although the most authentic version calls for yellow mustard, I used a combination of both whole grain and Dijon mustards for different textures and flavors.  And again although Cuban bread is authentic, you probably won't find it outside of a Mexican market in most cities.  Any soft oblong roll will work - just don't use a hard crusty French roll because it won't compress and crisp they way it should.

If you can find roast pork in the deli, that's great, otherwise plan to make Cubanos with the leftovers next time you make a pork roast or tenderloin.  Use the best quality Swiss cheese you can find, and slice everything as thinly as possible.  Placing cheese on both the top and bottom of each roll ensure the whole thing sticks together as the cheese melts.







Cubanos are like the best ham and cheese sandwich you've ever had, all crispy and warm and gooey.  There's a reason they're famous.

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Cubanos
Serves 2

2 (8 to 10”) Cuban rolls (or soft Bolillo or hoagie rolls)
4-5 ounces roast pork, leftover or purchased from the deli
4 thin slices of smoked ham
6 slices best-quality aged Swiss cheese
Yellow mustard or Dijon mustard
2 medium dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons softened butter or olive oil


Preheat a Panini press or large skillet over medium heat.

Split the rolls lengthwise.  Slice the leftover pork as thinly as possible.

Spread a thin layer of mustard on the top and bottom of each roll.  Tear each piece of Swiss cheese in half and place 1 ½ slices (3 rectangles) on the bottom and top of each roll.  Layer the pork, ham and pickles on the bottom of each roll.  Close the sandwiches, pressing gently together.

Brush the top and bottom of each sandwich with softened butter or olive oil.  Place the sandwiches in the press, using moderate pressure, for about 8 minutes until crisp on both sides.  If using a skillet, use a second pan to press on the top of the sandwiches for about 4 minutes, then flip to crisp the second side.  Sandwiches should be somewhat compressed but not completely flat.

Slice sandwiches in half and serve.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Indonesian Grilled Swordfish

Last Year's Post: Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sliders
Two Years Ago:   Mini Shrimp Tacos

This recipe is from Ina Garten of Food Network fame.  She claims that it started as her famous Indonesian Ginger Chicken recipe and then she tried it with swordfish.  I've never tried the chicken version although I did notice several of the ingredients are different between the two recipes.  With the omission of honey (from the chicken recipe) and the addition of mustard I'm not even sure this would be considered Indonesian, but whatever.  That's what she calls it.  In any event, it's moist, tender and full of delicious flavors.  If you like swordfish, you'll love this recipe. The marinade doesn't overpower the swordfish but somehow makes the fish taste more delicate.  Don't ask me how that works!

If you happen to look at the swordfish recipe on the Food Network site, note that it has an error regarding the marinating time.  On the video Ina says to marinate no more than 6 hours or the fish will start to break down, but the printed recipe states to marinate at least 6 hours and up to overnight.  Many comments stated that the marinating time should be no more than 6 hours.  I marinated the fish for about 5 hours and it was great.

If you're making the recipe for less than 6 people, I suggest that you make the full amount of marinade and save a small amount separately, then brush it on cut-up vegetables and grill them along with the swordfish.  Onion, zucchini, red peppers and mushrooms are particularly nice and are easy to grill when cut into pieces and threaded on skewers.  Serve the swordfish and vegetables with rice or couscous on the side for a very healthy and delicious dinner.


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Indonesian Grilled Swordfish
Serves 6

1/3 cup soy sauce
¼ cup canola or peanut oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup minced ginger root
2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Six (6-8 ounce) swordfish steaks, 1” thick
Lemon wedges, for serving

Combine all ingredients except the swordfish in a gallon zip-top bag. Seal the bag and squeeze/massage ingredients to combine.  Open the bag and add the swordfish steaks; reseal and shake to coat the steaks thoroughly.  Refrigerate for 4-6 hours (no more than 6 or the swordfish will start to break down), turning the bag occasionally.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high.


Remove the fish from the marinade allowing some of the ginger to stick to the fish, and discard the marinade.  Season the fish lightly with salt and place on the grill.  Cook for about 5 minutes per side until the internal temperature is 125d.  Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving with lemon wedges on the side.