Tag Archives: Weeknight 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.

Meal

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.

Lemongrass

 

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

Tomatoes

 

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

Soup

 

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

CornHusk

 

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

CornStir

 

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

CabbageIce

 

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

FishButter

 

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

Wrap

 

Take you reminding caper butter and place over high heat

CaperButter

 

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

CabbagePan

 

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)

CabbageFish

 

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

Corn

 

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

TomatoSoup

 

And you got yourself a god damn meal

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.

Asparagus and Arugula Pasta with Almond Butter Crisp

29 May

Overhead

’twas a rainy [Memorial Day] Monday, and I had done a bit too much “celebrating” over the weekend. I needed something that was hearty, appetizing, and didn’t involve too much effort because man was I tired. Extra points for including asparagus. I went back and forth between 2 pasta dishes: one had a pork and apple ragu, one had an asparagus and an almond crisp. After what seemed like months of deliberation, I settled on the asparagus.

{ Asparagus and Arugula Pasta with Almond Butter Crisp – Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izzard }

Why did I make that decision? Well it involved a topping that was made up of butter, toasted almonds, roasted garlic, and parmesan. Wowza, I think that’s what I want my tombstone to read (“Here lays Erica, she was a big fan of the following products: butter, toasted almonds, roasted garlic, and parmesan”…but then again “Here lays Erica: Breakin’ necks and Cashin’ checks since 1987” has a nice ring to is as well, just rolls off the tongue really). 

So the first thing to tackle was the whole head of roasted garlic (I get chills every time I write/think/say that). The one time I’ve tried to make a whole head of roasted garlic I put it in the microwave with some type of garlic roasting apparatei, and the whole thing started smoking and I was upset because my entire head of garlic was ruined, the kitchen smelled like weird smoke for 3 days, and I was out $0.75. I was determined to turn things around. I followed instructions.

Take your head of garlic and slice off the top 1/4 exposing the cloves

GarlicPlace on tinfoil, and drizzle with olive oil and salt

GarlicDrixxleWrap tinfoil into a Hershey’s Kiss-like teardrop around the garlic, and roast at 400F for about 40 minutes (feel free to pop in some almond slices for the last 5 minutes of roasting to get them a nice toast)

Now combine room temperature butter, the whole head of roasted garlic (no skins, please), bread crumbs, some chili paste, parmesan cheese, and the newly toasted almonds (be careful, don’t you crack those almonds)

AlmondMixIt’s okay to sneak a taste of this, because sweet jesus I would eat this out of the garbage. I will now find excuses to make this as a “garnish” for upcoming dishes

AlmondCrispPop this in the fridge to harden up. Oh, it’s hard now? Throw it in a pan over med-high heat and let’s crisp this sucka (and yes, it smelled JUST as good as you’re imagining)

AlmondCrispCookNow: Asparagus Time.

AsparagusCookSaute for a good 3-4 minutes to get a nice vibrant green color (think a cartoon character getting sea sick), and add some chicken stock, soy sauce, and water. Hell, let’s throw in some more chili paste because I just can’t get enough

AsparagusStirLet the liquid cook down to about half and add some fresh peppery arugula

ArugulaGive it a good stir to wilt, top with some cooked linguine (I opt for whole grain because it’s good for you you guys), fresh lemon zest and the glorious almond butter crisp

MixDig in.

ForkTwirlJust. Delightful. And hey, one more for the road: whole head of roasted garlic.

 

Adapted from { Asparagus and Arugula Pasta with Almond Butter Crisp – Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izzard }

  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 Tbs butter, warmed to room temperature
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs (I went with panko)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs Sambal or other Chili paste
  • 1 C. sliced almonds
  • 1 box linguine (1 lb)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb asparagus, sliced in diagonal 1-in pieces
  • 1/2 C. chicken broth
  • 1.5 Tbs soy sauce
  • handful of baby arugula
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  1. Place butter out on the counter to come to room temperature. Just forget about it now and be surprised when you stumble upon it later in the recipe when you need it.
  2. Roast your garlic. Slice off the top 1/4 of the garlic head to expose cloves and place on tinfoil. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and fold up tinfoil edges to a point. Roast for 40 minutes at 400F. Mince the garlic pieces that you cut off and set aside. Pop in the almonds during the last 5 minutes of roasting to toast.
  3. Mix you almost-forgotten-about room temperature butter, bread crumbs, 1 Tbs of the Sambal, and parmesan together to form a paste. Gently (gently!) fold in your almonds. Pop in the fridge to harden.
  4. Cook pasta in salted water and reverse 1/2 C of the cooking liquid.
  5. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add asparagus and reserved garlic mince. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add chicken broth, pasta cooking water, remaining 1 Tbs Sambal, and soy sauce to asparagus and simmer until cooked down(town) to about half.
  6. Add arugula and lemon zest to asparagus mixture and mix to wilt. Toss with pasta.
  7. Serve this as a Choose-your-own-adventure: mix the almond butter crisp right in with the pasta (like I did), or serve the crisp on top of the pasta (which gives more of a “wow” factor)

Overhead

 

 

 

 

Curry Chicken Salad with a side of Ow Everything Hurts

7 Mar

Recently I was at the gym, minding my own business, pumping some iron (naturally), when I heard a commotion. From one of the group workout rooms came lots of “C’mon!s” and “You CAN do this!s” while lots of rapid movement could be seen through the small window in the door. After about 10 minutes, out walked the most fit group of people I’ve ever seen. I had to get me some. Fast forward 4 weeks later, and I was ready to start my first CrossFit class. Well, that was last night, and today I’m so tired and sore it’s incredible. I tried to go running this morning because I know I’ll be in worse shape tomorrow, however I had to turn around after 5 minutes because my legs kept giving out. Anyhoo, that has zero to do with cooking and/or food, I just had to share my less-than-stellar current physical state. I should also mention that I got “exhaustion sore throat” that I haven’t experienced since the mile run in elementary school. Flashbacks of running laps around the playground took over most of my dreams last night.

Speaking of walking funny and cRaZy dreamz, let’s make some Curry Chicken Salad!

Now Entering Flavor CountryDo you have a simple dish you love to make, but for some reason you haven’t made it in a while? Well this is that dish for me. I LOVE deli salads, especially of the curry-persuasion. And they’re so easy to make at home, it’s stupid. Did you hear that? You’re stupid. 

I didn’t spend much time documenting what went into this salad (chopping, stirring), but I did get john to take some “action” shots of me ripping apart the grocery store-bought rotisserie chicken. I’d say the hardest part of this salad was waiting for the chicken to cool enough for me to handle it.

Tear

SaladSo what goes in this anyways?

  • 1 Whole Rotisserie chicken, skins removed and bones discarded (save for homemade stock!) — Shredded by Hand
  • 5 Stalks of Celery — Diced Small
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion — Diced Small
  • 1 Apple, cored — Diced Small
  • Lots of Red Grapes — Halved
  • 1 Small Container of Greek Yogurt — Non Expired
  • 2 Heaping Tbs Mayo
  • (at least) 2 tsp Curry Powder — I’m sure I used about twice as much, but I like it VERY curry-y
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • Salt and Pepper — to taste

 

 

 

 

 

How do you make it?

  • Mix everything together and eat right out of mixing bowl because you’re hungry after waiting for the chicken to cool.

I like making these salads at home because there are a few things I don’t like about deli salads: getting a bite that has nothing but a big cube of chicken, too many fruity aspects without enough savory to balance it out, too much dried fruit, waay too much mayo. This is the first time I’ve substituted so much of the mayo for greek yogurt, and if you’re using high enough quality spices (like me, because you know my standards are just SO high), it shouldn’t be very noticeable. In fact, I don’t think John even realized there was any switcharoo…until this post, when I gave everything up like a Bond villain who should have waited until they EXECUTED the plan, DAMN THIS EGO OF MINE!

Now Entering Flavor Country

 

 

 

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