Monday, August 27, 2012

Moroccan Salmon

This is a great, flavorful recipe that helps you put a lot of veggies in your diet in a non-traditional way. It makes a great main meal, but its also good to make as an appetizer (with smaller pieces of fish) for a Shabbat meal as an alternative to gefilte fish, or any sort of company meal where you may want to do a fish course as well as a meat course. This can also be made with tuna steaks, or any other type of thick fish. It probably would not work as well with a flaky white fish, as the fish would fall apart.

One thing you will need to make sure you have in advance, and if you have a Middle Eastern food store in your area, you are lucky, but if not, you can purchase the magic ingredient here. Israeli Fish Seasoning.

Seriously, this is a MAGICAL ingredient. Not only for this dish, but any time you feel like sauteeing, baking, or grilling ANY type of fish--this seasoning works. It has paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and who knows what else in it. It's inexpensive and a little goes a long way. You will NOT be sorry you've added it to your spice cabinet if you make seafood at all!

So, down to the brass tacks of the recipe.

Total Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Cook Time: 30 minutes

What you will need:

1 lb salmon filets (when you shop for salmon, I recommend trying to buy fresh, never frozen, wild caught salmon if it is available and affordable. If only farmed salmon is available, then try and get the leanest pieces you can, as farmed salmon is notoriously fatty and often doesn't have the same great flavor as a wild salmon. Also try and get thinner pieces, as the thicker it is the harder it is to get an even cook time).
3/4 of a yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
handful of cilantro, chopped roughly
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can chickpeas, drained
Israeli fish seasoning!
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil (not pictured, I know, I know)

Rinse the salmon filets and pat dry.

Chop your onions and bell peppers roughly, in large strips.

In a 12 inch non-stick frying pan (with a lid), heat your olive oil on medium high heat. When it is hot, dump your onions in and sautee for approximately five minutes, until they begin to become translucent. 

Toss in one or two shakes of the fish seasoning to coat the onions, then stir and let cook for an additional minute. Then add the red and green peppers, and continue to cook for approximately five additional minutes, adding another shake of the fish seasoning and stirring.

After the peppers begin to soften, pour in the drained chickpeas. Mix well in the frying pan so the vegetables are evenly distributed. Let cook for an additional 5 minutes.

In a measuring cup with approximately 3/4 cup of water, mix 2 tbsp of tomato paste. Pour over the vegetables, and stir to make sure the vegetables and sauce are evenly distributed.

Lay your salmon filets on top of the vegetables, then give some generous shakes of the fish seasoning on the salmon. Put your roughly chopped cilantro on the fish and sprinkle on other vegetables.

Reduce the heat to a medium or medium-low heat, and cover tightly. Let cook without disturbing it for approximately 10-12 minutes. Return, and check the fish to make sure it flakes in the thickest part and is done.

If it's done, then serve and enjoy!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bubbe's Tuna Salad

This is nostalgia at its finest. My grandmother (Bubbe Elaine) made this tuna salad recipe, and taught it to my mom. In turn, my mom made me sandwiches (like the one pictured above) with the tuna salad from the time I was a little girl...and truth be told, the tuna sandwich was the only thing that would get me out of the pool in the summertime! This recipe is foolproof, and I've even fed it to one of the world's pickiest children, and he liked it. So you will, too.

Total Prep Time: 15 minutes (not counting the time it takes to hardboil your own eggs if you choose)

What you will need:

2 cans of solid white albacore tuna packed in water
1/2 cup of Hellman's light mayo (brand specific to make sure it's just like Bubbe's!)
2 hardboiled egg whites
2 tsp dill
1 tbsp minced onion
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt

Note: This dish is infinitely easier if you have a hand-held chopping blade. I actually have one of my mom's, and can't imagine life without it.

If you are hardboiling your own eggs, a tip: Peel them after letting them sit in cold running water for at least five minutes. And if you can, peel them underwater; it keeps them intact. All you need is the egg white for this dish.

Open and drain the two cans of tuna. Dump them into a large shallow mixing bowl, along with the egg whites.

Using the chopping blade, chop the tuna and the egg together until it is a fine mixture. 

You will have to constantly move the bowl around and toss the tuna/egg mixture, but ultimately it should look like this:

 Dump in 1/2 cup of mayo, the dill, garlic salt and the minced onion.

Mix well using a wooden spoon (again, the wooden spoon is a Bubbe tried-and-true trick).

Taste and if necessary, adjust the seasonings (sometimes I like to add more dill and minced onion, as it gives it a little bit of a crunch). Although it tastes good just after you make it, it's REALLY delicious the next day when all of the flavors have had a chance to meld together. So, then, just serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Balsamic Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

This recipe makes boneless skinless chicken breasts very juicy and flavorful. You get the taste of the balsamic but the cooking takes away a lot of the tart mouth-puckering qualities, and the vinegar marinade really helps the chicken retain its juice during the cooking process. The herbs (fresh, of course) also infuse flavor during the marinating process. Best of all, it's an extremely convenient recipe as long as you remember to put the chicken in the marinade the night or morning before you plan to cook it! It pairs nicely with any green vegetable cooked with just some olive oil, lemon and garlic, or a salad, or even a small serving of pasta or potatoes.

Total Prep Time: 15 minutes (not including the time you marinate the chicken)

Total Cook Time: 20 minutes

What you will need:

1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts (anywhere between 1 - 1 1/2 lbs)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
dried italian herbs
5 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled but not minced
fresh herbs (when I made this, I only had rosemary in the house, but this would taste wonderful if you put in fresh thyme, basil or sage as well)
red pepper flakes

To Prepare for Marinade:

Cut the chicken breasts so that each breast is two pieces. You can do it either through the horizontal or vertical plane of the chicken, however you prefer.

In a gallon size freezer ziploc bag, pour your vinegar and soy sauce. Then add the garlic cloves, and add your fresh herbs as well (I used two sprigs of whole rosemary, but a few leaves or stems of each type of herb you want to use is all you will need. It will take a lot to go too overboard with them). Cut the herbs roughly so that they release their oils into the marinade. Then add two or three good shakes of the dried italian seasonings, and as much red pepper as you'd like (that is very much to taste).

Add the chicken to the bag, close tightly, then move the chicken around in the marinade, trying to get the marinade to cover as much of the chicken as possible. If you find that you truly do not have enough marinade to get all over all of your chicken, then add just a splash more balsamic and soy to the bag; be careful, because the chicken does not need to go swimming! I really think of this as giving the chicken a nice spa bath, more than anything else; enough liquid to relax it, but not enough so it can do laps.

You can marinate the chicken in the refrigerator anywhere between 3 hours and 24 hours. I typically make up this mixture the night before I want to cook it, or sometimes I'll do it right before work, since it really takes no time at all. When you marinate the chicken in the refrigerator, try and lay it as flat as possible so all of the chicken stays in its little spa. 

To Cook:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, take the chicken out of the refrigerator, crack the bag a little bit, and let the chicken come up closer to room temperature. When you cook meat, it's always better to try and let it warm up a little bit from the refrigerator; you will get a much more even cook on it, and the inside and outside of the meat will cook at the same rate.

Place the chicken pieces on a roasting rack. If you don't have a roaster, then you can lay them flat on a baking sheet covered in tin foil or even a glass baking dish. Try not to crowd them in the baking dish, they need some room to breathe and for the juice to evaporate.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turning the pieces once during the cooking process.

Serve, and enjoy!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Florida Avocado Guacamole

Florida avocados are different only in size and shape from their more expensive cousins, the Hass avocados. I've also read that Florida avocados have a little less fat in them than the Hass avos do, but the taste difference is minimal. This is a quick dip/spread that is full of good fats, veggies, and flavor!

Total Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Cook Time: NONE!

What you will need:

1 Florida avocado, very ripe
1 tomato (vine ripe is good)
1 lime
1/4 of an onion
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
chili powder, to taste
salt, to taste

Remove your avocado from the skin. The easiest way to do this is to cut it in half, remove the pit, and then use a knife to loosen the avocado from the skin.

Dice your tomato and 1/4 of a sweet onion, and add to the bowl with the avocado.

Add all of your spices, and salt and add chili powder to your own tastes. Squeeze in the juice of the lime.

Mash and combine using two forks.

Serve, and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chicken Schnitzel

Ahhh, schnitzel. It's Jewish fried chicken. I won't even pretend this recipe is healthy, but I'm so nostalgic for it.

Total Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Total Cook Time: 20 minutes

What you will need:

1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast
3 eggs
Breadcrumbs (I used plain here, Italian is good too, and if you want, Panko, but it's hard to get a good crisp with those)
Canola Oil

Wash the chicken breasts, pat dry, and slice into thin chicken cutlets (not strips)

Prepare two large plates and a bowl. In the bowl, crack the three eggs and lightly beat (do not WHIP the eggs). Pour a generous amount of breadcrumbs on one of the plates.

Take each chicken strip, and dip it in the bread crumb mixture on both sides, then dip in egg mixture, then dip again in the bread crumb mixture. Set aside on the second plate until you have coated all pieces of chicken.

In a frying pan, heat up canola oil on medium high heat. You want it to be about 1/2 of an inch deep in oil.

When the oil is hot, but not crackling, place chicken pieces. You don't want the pan to be overly crowded, so you will have to cook your chicken in shifts.

Let the chicken cook undisturbed for a few minutes. After approximately 5 minutes, use a fork to lift a piece of chicken and check to see if the other side is becoming crispy and golden brown. If so, flip the pieces of chicken to let the other side cook.

Make sure you pay attention to the heat of the oil. The oil will continue to heat up and retain heat, so you will have to reduce the power of the stove every now and then. You want the oil to continue to sizzle, but be very mindful of how fast your chicken is cooking. You want it to take approximately 5 minutes per side.

Toward the end of the cooking you may have to flip the chicken again to get the first side to a matching level of crispiness as the second side. Try not to move the chicken too much as it cooks as that prevents the chicken from forming the delicious crispy coating.

When you pull it out of the oil, put it on a paper towel-lined plate. Layer schnitzel and paper towels.

Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Parmesan

This is a great side dish that is SUPER QUICK to make, and I'll admit, it tastes so good that sometimes I make a couple of broccoli florets like this as a snack! From start to finish, 25 minutes! Extremely low calorie too, and a great way to get some fiber and good green-veggie vitamins into your diet.

Total Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Cook Time: 15 minutes

What you will need:

2 large broccoli florets (mine are from Black Hog Farm, woohoo local agriculture!)
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
1 tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Preheat your oven to 400.

Cut the large broccoli florets into small florets. You can eliminate this step by buying the broccoli pre-cut. Place into a good-sized bowl.

Pour the olive oil in with the broccoli florets, then sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Squeeze the lemon juice from 1/2 lemon over the florets, then mix well with your hands so the oil and juice and seasonings are evenly distributed over the broccoli.

Spread the broccoli over a baking sheet (I cover mine in tin foil for easy cleanup). Put in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Approximately halfway through, stir the broccoli around to ensure that it is evenly cooking.

When the broccoli is ready, it will be tender to the fork and the edges will start to brown and crisp a bit. Put it into a bowl and sprinkle your parmesan cheese over it. Serve, and enjoy!!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lemon Rosemary Roasted Whole Chicken

Mmm, once again, I return to my basic roots of impressive, gourmet-ish cooking: large pieces of meat, all cooked at once. This is the most impressive thing you can do for a guest. And it makes a ton of food. Sometimes I'll make a big chicken on a Sunday and then use the leftovers for sandwiches and lunches the rest of the week. 

Total Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Cook Time: 1.5-2.5 hours depending on size of bird

What you will need:

A whole roasting chicken (I typically buy somewhere around 6 pounds)
Olive oil (not pictured)
Fresh rosemary
One lemon
Black Pepper
Sea Salt

Preheat your oven to 350.

Rinse the chicken well, removing all of the giblets and other good things they sometimes pack in the cavity (they are typically wrapped in paper). Cut any excess fat around the neck cavity and around the tushie cavity. Set on a cutting board and pat it dry with paper towels. It's very important to get the chicken as dry as possible.

Next thing you will do will be to put rosemary sprigs between the skin and the meat of the chicken. Essentially, you will stick your fingers between the skin and the meat to loosen the skin a bit, and then take small sprigs of fresh rosemary and scatter them underneath the skin in a variety of areas. It should look something like this:

After you do that, put a whole stalk of rosemary in the big cavity of the chicken. Put the chicken into its roasting pan, breast side up.

Next, cut your lemon in half, and squirt the lemon juice of both halves over the entire chicken and a little into the cavity. Put one half of the lemon into the chicken cavity along with the rosemary; the other half, toss down your kitchen sink garbage disposal to make it smell good.

Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top of the chicken, along with some salt and pepper.

Next, sprinkle the chicken liberally with paprika. Paprika is going to give the chicken that nice color you see in the first picture, and you really cannot go overboard with the paprika, so don't be afraid of it. Rub the paprika around a bit so that there is an even coating on the top of the chicken. You can even put a little on the bottom, just pick it up on the sides and rub some in, but don't worry about seasoning the bottom as much as a lot of the juice and flavoring will run down into the bottom part of the meat.

Put it in the oven and let it roast! Timing is approximately 20 minutes per pound. I typically like to peek in every 20 minutes and baste the chicken a bit. On one of your rotations, feel free to turn it over and let the bottom get toasty. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature and when it gets to 165 degrees. Don't cook it any more than that, as the temperature will continue to rise a bit after it comes out of the oven, and the worst thing in the world is dry, overcooked chicken!

Pull the chicken out, and let him rest a little bit, because after all, being cooked is hard work. 15-20 minutes, and I like to tent some tin foil over the chicken to keep the heat in, but don't wrap it tightly as that will just start to steam your delightfully crispy skin.

Serve and enjoy!!!!