Tag Archives: Light Meal

Thai Inspired Tomato Soup, Roasted Corn with Manchego, and Cabbage Wrapped Whitefish

29 Aug

What a mouthful! It has been some time since I devoted a whole evening or afternoon to cooking, so I decided to change that, especially when all this amazing produce is fresh and ripe and at my fingertips. After I spent a few hours looking through a few year’s worth of Bon Apetit magazines, I settled on 3 recipes I wanted to try. Two of them really worked together, and one was not quite the same flavor profile, but whatevs.


Tomato and Crab Soup – Roasted Corn with Manchego and Lime – Savoy Cabbage Rolls with Halibut }

Stop me if you’ve heard this, but I don’t have the best of luck when it comes to fish at home. I always make the wrong decision at the heart of cooking (at the store) because whatever I’m looking for they don’t have, and then they don’t have a suitable substitute, or what I’m looking for is $30/lb and let’s be honest, there’s no way I can bring myself to spend that kind of money (especially since I’m sure I’d end up over thinking the actual cooking process, and end up ruining the fish…THE FISH I JUST SPENT $30 ON). But I digress…

Let’s make some soup! So this is an interesting take on a tomato soup, using fresh Thai-like ingredients like coconut milk, fish sauce, and lemongrass. When using lemon grass in the past I’ve smashed it, and added it to soups, only to be taken out before serving. This soup called for it to be sliced (not smashed, mind you), and sautéed with some onions as a starting base.



One your aromatics are softened up, add your beautiful fresh and vibrant tomatoes



Cook until those are starting to soften, then add your liquids (fish sauce, coconut milk, stock, and orange juice)



Let simmer for about 15 minutes for all the flavors to incorporate, then blend with a handy immersion blender. Add the juice of a lime and taste to adjust seasoning. Easy peasy.

For the corn, pop unhusked corn in the oven for about 15 minutes to give it a crisp-tender consistency



Unhusk corn (please wait until it cools, don’t try to be a hero like me….there is no way to look “cool” while trying to shuck hot steaming corn), and add to pan with heated oil. Season with salt and pepper



Take off heat, and add a diced jalapeño, some red pepper flakes, and squeeze a lime over the whole thing. When cooled and ready to serve, grate some tasty TASTY Manchego cheese over the sweet bounty. I know I’ve sang the praises of the Plum Market cheese counter in the past, but man, they’re just the best. They were able to cut me down a nice $4 portion and it was plenty for this meal, and you know what, you can just tell they really love cheese!

And lastly, the fish. Peel off about 6 leaves of a Savoy cabbage and let simmer in salted water for about 2-3 minutes, until soft. Take out and plunge in ice water to stop cooking



Sidenote: I now realize why my approach last September for stuffed cabbage wasn’t working. The recipe called for boiling water to be poured over the cabbage and let to sit for about 10 minutes…well that didn’t really do anything to soften up the leaves, yielding in snapping leaves and a frustrated Erica. Next time I’m definitely taking this approach of boiling the individual leaves…the more you know.

Now take your boiled/iced leaves and slice the thick part of the veins off (oh, and dry them off, no one wants a watery-fishy-stuffed cabbage situation). Mix some unsalted butter with chopped capers, salt, and pepper. Layer the leaves with a portion of fish and a healthy dose of caper butter



Now gently GENTLY fold burrito-style until you have neat little packages



Take you reminding caper butter and place over high heat



Give each of the little cabbage-fish-pouches a nice little sear on each side (about 2 min per side)



Full disclosure, I was going to skip this part because doesn’t that just seem like a recipe for disaster? These rolls aren’t tucked, just placed together, but it was fine…somehow…I didn’t ask questions, I just seared and gently placed back on the baking sheet. Now finish in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the fish is fully cooked. Now, being that I don’t often cook fish at home, I’m always unsettled at the cooking process because IT’S SO QUICK and I’m convinced that I’m going to be giving everyone who is eating some type of fish-related sickness from their underdone fish, but hey, I have a clean track record to date, so let’s not look into it.

Place your NON SICK INDUCING cabbage fish packets on your plate (oh yeah….really selling these aren’t I)



Add some corn (with freshly grated Manchego) and some extra lime wedges



Ladle your soup into bowls and garnish with fresh sunflower shoots you grabbed at the Market, and grab a chunk of baguette or other crusty bread



And you got yourself a god damn meal



Now the fish was tender and tasty, but in no way matched the flavors of the other items….so I think I was just over excited to try the cabbage wraps that I overlooked the flavors. I also had every intention of adding cilantro to the soup and corn, which I totally forgot about. But you know what, this made a TON of food, so I was able to add some in future sittings.

This soup is now one of my favorites, and it’s good hot or cold. An out-of-this-world meal is the tomato soup, sunflower shoots, fresh cilantro and some of this corn all mixed together. Wow, I gorged myself on that for about 5 straight days. I also just made a HUGE batch of the soup to freeze for the winter months when fresh tomatoes are a thing of yore. This recipe also calls for a fun crab salad topping (reminiscent of my “Lobster” corn soup) but I opted out since I was making the fish. Next time, it’s crab time.


{ Tomato and Crab Soup – Bon Appetit, July 2008 }

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 stalks lemongrass, peeled, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 Fresno or Thai chile, seeded, minced
  • 2 1/2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound fresh lump crabmeat
  • 3/4 cup pea tendrils or shoots, trimmed
  • 6 snow peas, trimmed, thinly sliced on diagonal
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add scallions, lemongrass, and chile and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until softened, 5-6 minutes. Stir in chicken stock, coconut milk, orange juice, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  • Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute per batch. Stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice. Season to taste with salt and more lime juice, if desired. Chill, if desired. Or ladle hot soup into wide shallow bowls. Garnish with crabmeat, pea tendrils, and snow peas.

{ Roasted Corn with Manchego and Lime – Bon Apetit, July 2011 }

  • 6 ears of sweet yellow corn, unhusked
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 cup finely grated Manchego cheese
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced chives
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • Preheat oven to 450°. Roast unhusked corn on a baking sheet, turning occasionally, until heated through and crisp-tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Shuck corn and cut kernels from cobs. Discard cobs.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add corn kernels and sauté until heated through and light-golden in spots, 3-5 minutes. Add butter; stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer corn to a large wide bowl or deep platter; sprinkle jalapeño and crushed red pepper flakes over. Squeeze lime wedges over; sprinkle with cheese, chives, and lime zest.

{ Savoy Cabbage Rolls with Halibut – Bon Appetit }

  • Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Fill large bowl with ice cubes and water; set aside. Add cabbage leaves to boiling water; cook 2 minutes. Using slotted skimmer or large slotted spoon, transfer leaves to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain. Gently pat dry.
  • Place 4 tablespoons butter in small bowl. Chop 2 tablespoons capers and mix into bowl with butter, then stir in parsley. Season caper butter to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Place 1 cabbage leaf, vein side up, on work surface. Using small sharp knife, trim off some of thickest part of large center vein so that leaf will lie flat. Turn leaf over, vein side down. Place 1 fish fillet on bottom third of cabbage leaf. Sprinkle fish with coarse salt and pepper. Spread 1 tablespoon caper butter over fish. Fold bottom, then sides of leaf over fish. Fold tip of leaf over, enclosing fish completely. Place fish packet, seam side down, on rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cabbage leaves, fish, coarse salt, pepper, and caper butter. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle fish packets with coarse salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish packets to skillet and cook until cabbage is light golden, about 2 minutes per side. Return fish packets, seam side down, to same baking sheet. Bake until fish is just opaque in center and firm to touch, about 7 minutes.
  • Transfer fish packets to platter; cover with foil to keep warm. Place baking sheet over 2 burners on medium heat; add remaining 3 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons capers to baking sheet and cook until butter is golden brown, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons water to butter mixture and swirl to blend. Season sauce to taste with coarse salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over fish and serve.

Summer Corn Salad with Toasted Grains

1 Jul


CORN! Hello there, you sweet crunchy yellow temptress.

I don’t know about you, but even this rain–which is an understatement to refer to it simply as “rain”--is not enough to get me down…I’m on full Summer  mode. Chilled soups, raw veggies, fruit as dessert, beer drinking as much as possible, weird sports bra tan lines from running, random bug bites that you can’t imagine how they got to that part of your body….mmmm yeah, drink it all in!

So naturally I’m trying to emulate this fresh season in my culinary escapades, so when I came across this recipe I knew it was meant to be

Summer Corn Salad with Toasted Grains – Food52 }

Summer? Good. Corn? Great. Toasted Grains? Where do I sign up! Salad? Well, this probably the least exciting word in the title…

Let’s take our corn


And strip it of it’s dignity by cutting off it’s kernels. Now that your corn is down to it’s skivvies, you’re going to do the unthinkable: milk the cobs. I know, what the hell is that supposed to mean? Picture this: when you eat corn on the cob (with your face) many times when you bite into the cob you get the whole kernel, so the cob looks a little skeletal…however when you cut off the kernels the bottom portion is still on the cob. This “milking” process involves taking the back of your knife and sliding it along the shaft (I’m sorry) and “milking” the last morsels of kernel into a bowl. Think of it like corn pulp. It’s messy (I got corn pieces all over my microwave). I felt dirty the whole time (I’m milking the cob….filthy).


Now add enough milk to this to make up 1.5 cups (I just added 1 C plus a good additional “glug” and hoped for the best). Meanwhile, heat a dutch oven over medium heat and cook up some bacon


(the original recipe involved 2 strips of bacon…pshhht, I made it 5). Cook these up until they’re nice and crispy and remove with a slotted spoon, reserving the sweet sweet bacon grease. Now add some chopped onion, garlic, and jalapeño (seeds and all), and some Maple Syrup


And all that de-cobbed corn (not the milk, we’ll get to the milk)


Cook for about 5 minutes, or enough time for the onion to cook. Remove from dutch oven and set aside. Prepare yourself: the corn mixture at this point is one of the best thing ever. It’s spicy, it’s sweet, it’s crunchy, it’s savory. Just don’t eat it all before you need finish the dish! Now add 1 C quinoa and 3/4 C brown basmati rice (or in my case, hey there’s the last of a big bag of brown rice in the back of my pantry, let’s just use that up) to the dutch oven. Stir for about 5-6 minutes to toast the grains.


Add 1 3/4 C water and the corn/milk mixture, give a nice stir and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low, and cook for 30-40 minutes until the liquid is absorbed


Now add back in your bacon and corn mixture. Chop up some cilantro and toss that in too.


Now the original recipe calls for a Mexican cheese called cotija cheese, which is similar to a mild feta. I couldn’t find it, and was told I could substitute a hard aged cheese, so I opted for Parmesan. While it wasn’t “bad” necessarily, it was really overpowering and covered up some of the other wonderful sweet and spicy notes. Next time I’d go cheese free.


Now, never underestimate how much 2ish Cups of dry grains will make. I’ve been eating this for 2 meals a day for about 5 days now (hey, no complaints here, I love it!)


Adapted from { Summer Corn Salad with Toasted Grains – Food52 }

  • 5 strips of bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (with seeds and membranes – you want a little heat)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a large knife
  • 4 ears corn, shucked
  • 2% Milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1.5 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cups basmati rice (or however much is left in your bag in the back of the pantry)
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup snipped cilantro
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cut the kernels from your corn and set aside.
  2. Milk your cobs (tee hee hee) by scraping the cob with the backside of your knife into a large bowl/piepan. Continue on all sides of the cob. Add some milk to make 1.5 Cups all together.
  3. In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy and fat has rendered. Remove with slotted spoon and transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Add onion, flattened garlic, corn kernels and jalapeno to bacon drippings in dutch oven. Add a some salt and maple syrup. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring pretty frequently, until onion is cooked. Remove and set aside.
  5. Return Dutch oven to heat and immediately add quinoa and basmati to begin toasting, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Toast until grains are fragrant and golden/golden brown, about 6 minutes.  Add water and corn-milk, and bring mixture to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low to simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until liquid is completely absorbed and grains are tender (quinoa will be more cooked than rice, but this offers a nice toothiness to the texture)
  6. Gently fluff grains with a fork and transfer to a large serving bowl to cool.
  7. Once the grains have cooled a bit, fold in bacon, corn-onion-jalapeno mixture, and chopped cilantro.
  8. Top with additional cilantro, and some fresh black pepper.

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