Friday, July 27, 2012

kale and seafood soup

The funny thing about this is that I did everything completely wrong and backwards, but in the end it tasted pretty good. I actually started by steaming some mussels in white wine and butter with onion and garlic. When they were done, I removed them from the liquid and then used the cooking liquid as the base for the soup. I chopped up some linguica sausage and added it, along with some chicken stock. I chopped up some kale pretty finely and added that, then let it cook for 5-7 minutes. In went some shrimp and some chopped-up cod, a splash of sherry and a little salt and pepper. I let it cook for about 5 more minutes, until the fish was cooked through.

Wait, you're saying...what happened to the mussels? Funny thing about that, actually. I kept picking at them as I was cooking everything else, because they were sitting right there in front of me and I was hungry. By the time I got to the end of the soup-making, they were gone. It's ok, though...they gave the stock plenty of their tasty goodness, and they made an excellent snack!

beef and broccoli

Pretty much what it says on the tin. I had some chuck steak to use up and a craving for Chinese. I cut the steak up and marinated it in a mixture of tamari, ginger, garlic, and a splash of sherry. While the meat marinated, I sliced up some white button mushrooms, some white onion, and cut up some broccoli florets. I stir-fried the veggies in some coconut oil first, then dumped them into a bowl (it was truly an unceremonious dumping, I promise you) and stir-fried the meat. When the meat was almost done, I added a cup of beef broth with a tablespoon of corn starch stirred in, and let that come to a boil. I added the veggies back in and tossed everything well to coat, then it was done! And tasty!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

eat more fish

I'm making it my mission to eat more fish. Fish is what we evolved eating, and it's what our bodies and especially our brains need to run effectively. Fish is like jet fuel for your brain. A serving of fish a day can lower blood pressure, improve your resting heart rate, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, improve your insulin sensitivity, and on and on. Seriously. Start eating more fish...your life will be better for it!

The fish of choice tonight was cod. I was wandering around the produce aisle, wondering what I'd have with said cod, when something slightly alien-looking caught my eye. Broccoli rabe! I almost never see it available at my local grocery store, so I snapped a bunch up. Never mind that I'd never actually cooked it or even tasted it before. When has that ever deterred me?! I knew it was meant to be fairly bitter, but that was about it. I put it in my basket anyway, thinking to myself  "this is what Google is for, clearly".

Turns out one of the traditional Italian ways to cook broccoli rabe is to blanch it in some boiling water, and then sautee it in some olive oil and garlic until it's tender. Well that was certainly do-able! I gave it all a good rinse, then cut off the tough ends of the stalks. In retrospect, I should have cut more off, but now I know for next time. I dunked it all into a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes, then drained it. I added some olive oil and sliced garlic to the pan and let it warm up, then added the rabe and gave it a few good tosses before shutting the heat off.

Before tackling the rabe project, I had preheated the oven to 425. I cut up about 1 3/4 pounds of cod filets, placed them on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and drizzled them with olive oil. A little black pepper completed the picture, and into the oven they went, for about 12 minutes (as the pieces were pretty thick. I checked at 10 minutes and they weren't quite done). I scrubbed and cut in half a sweet potato and put it in the microwave for about 8 minutes while everything was cooking, as well. Everything basically got done at the same time - fish came out, greens were wilted, sweet potato got scooped out of the skin and mashed up with a little Kerrygold butter (it's made from milk from grassfed Irish cows. Very tasty, and super good for you too) and a touch of salt. I also added a touch of salt to the greens, plated everything up, and it was time to eat!

Cod, sweet potato, garlicky broccoli rabe
The rabe and sweet potato actually made really nice counterpoints for each other - sweet, rich and velvety potato against bright, nutty, slightly bitter, almost floral-tasting rabe...and all against a background of tender, juicy fish. YUM!

So there you go. Fish can be quick and easy, and it's super good for you. EAT MORE FISH!

spanish-style chorizo and shrimp

Monday afternoon at work, I was trawling on Ravelry during my lunch break, as I am often wont to do. Someone had posted a thread asking what to do with Mexican chorizo for dinner. I suggested chorizo, kale and runny-yolked eggs, because that dish makes my heart go pitter-pat...but it also got me thinking about chorizo. Pretty much all afternoon, I was dreaming of it - fried, scrambled with eggs, in tacos, in name it, I probably thought about eating it. Unfortunately, my local grocery store only has the Spanish / Portuguese style of chorizo, not the Mexican kind....but the more I contemplated, the more I decided I wanted chorizo enough that I could make due with the cured Spanish kind.

Toward the end of the afternoon, an idea struck me: I bet chorizo would be good with shrimp! A little Googling brought me round to this recipe. I ended up following it pretty much to the T, except that I only put in half the salt it called for, and instead of serving tapas-sized portions with bread, I loaded plates up with sauteed spinach and served big portions.

This came out really well, and I'd absolutely make it again, though I WILL say: I only used half of the salt the recipe called for and it was still VERY salty. I would knock the salt back even further next time, for sure.

Shrimp and chorizo sausage

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I had a hankering for mussels, and there were some nice-looking ones at the grocery store tonight. I brought them home, trimmed the "beards" off, gave them a good bath and scrub in cold water, and then set them to steam in a bit of chardonnay laced with olive oil and garlic. When the mussels were done (about 8 minutes), I scooped them out with a slotted spoon and set them aside while I reduced the cooking liquid and then added some butter and black pepper to it. I ran the sauce through a strainer into a little bowl, then sat back and happily nommed on mussels dipped in butter sauce. If you were a pasta person, you could pick all the mussels out of the shells and toss them with the sauce in some linguine...but I liked them just fine plain, with a nice cold beer. The only thing better would have been eating them on the beach up in Maine with my toes in the sand.

Maine wild-caught mussels with butter sauce

every day I'm trifle-in'

Not every day at all, actually...more like once a year. Making trifle for the 4th of July has apparently become a tradition for me. Everyone in my family really likes it, and I enjoy making it, so it's just kind of an automatic for the big family get-together on the 4th, now.

This year, I couldn't decide whether to do blueberry and lemon or strawberry rhubarb, so I did both - one in each layer - and it was awesome. I will admit, the finished product wasn't exactly pretty. I didn't have the patience to be meticulous with my layers and so it started to look kind of like a tie-dye session gone awry, but sweet monkey overlords, was it tasty!


The only part of this trifle that wasn't home-made was the anglefood cake, because it was WAY too hot to bake a cake. The blueberry layer was made from local blueberries, a little sugar, a little butter, some corn starch and the juice of a lemon. The custard was made from scratch as well - no Jell-O boxed mixes, thank you! It was made of eggs and cream both from a local farm, and a bit of sugar and vanilla. The strawberry layer was made from strawberries from the farm just up the road, rhubarb from my dad's garden, and a bit of sugar. The top layer is, of course, more cream, whipped with just a tiny bit of sugar. I'd have soaked the cake with sherry as an homage to my Welsh mother-in-law, but I didn't make it to the liquor store in time and thus was sherry-less (the SHAME, I KNOW!).

Next year I think I'd like to try making my own sponge cake rather than using a store-bought angelfood cake. The anglefood cake works fine, but it's just...I don't know. It just doesn't quite GO with the rest of it somehow, if you see what I mean.

Also, for any of my Paleo-diet friends or low-carb'ers reading this, no...this is clearly not compliant. Holidays happen. :)