Monday, August 16, 2010

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Alright.  We all know how to do this (for the most part).  There is, of course, the debate as to whether you should grill with the husks on or off.  Or, if it is just better boiled.  I like it all ways. But, I made this last week (and again tonight) and it was really spectacular. This recipe was inspired by Steve Reichman's technique for grilling corn.   I used the fresh herbs I had in the garden.  And, because I served it with meat, I used Earth Balance margarine instead of butter.  However, it is amazing with butter.

4 ears of corn - husked
1/4 cup margarine (I like Earth Balance)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp chopped herbs (I used parsley and basil)
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Heat the grill.
2. Mash together the margarine, salt, pepper, herbs and garlic.
3. When the grill is hot, put the corn on the grill and brush with the margarine mixture.  Turn occasionally and brush with more of the margarine mixture.  Keep doing this until the corn is browned well.  This will take about 15-20 minutes. (You may hear some popping from the corn kernels.)
4. Eat. Spread more herbs on it.  Sprinkle paprika.  Whatever you like! 


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Watermelon, Mint, Chive and Feta Salad

My daughter came home last week very excited.  They had made salad with "sheep cheese" at pre-school.  Yes, you heard me - salad at pre-school.  Anyway, apparently this salad had watermelon and sheep's cheese and some things they mixed together (according to my 4 year old).  They chopped things and mixed them, then tried them. I was able to coax most of the ingredients out of her (she told me she didn't like tomatoes) - and every day she bugged me to make this salad with her.  So we did!  Both kids tried it - I loved it.  Here is my interpretation of a classic Greek watermelon salad (is watermelon Greek?)

Watermelon, Chive, Mint and Feta Salad

1 small seedless watermelon - cut up in chunks
3 oz good sheep milk feta cheese - crumbled
2 Tbsp chopped chives
2 Tbsp chopped mint leaves
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
1 Tsp Fresh Ground Pepper

1.  Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
2. Gently mix everything together with the vinagrette.

YUM!  This will keep for a day or so in the fridge - but is best served right away.  Also, you could substitute balsamic for the apple cider vinegar and add in some chopped tomatoes. 


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Olive Oil Poached Halibut

I made this on Sunday evening - and it was AMAZING.  I had never tried poaching fish in olive oil, but had bought a couple of beautiful halibut fillets from the fish market and figured - why not?  I had been looking at various recipes for years - and they all seem about the same - season the fish, place in baking dish - cover with about 2 cups of olive oil (sometimes a bit more - sometimes a bit less) - bake on 250 for approximately 1 to 1 1/4 hours until fish flakes easily.   Note: I was looking at the recipe in Gourmet Cookbook when I was making this for temperatures/technique - my recipe is modified slightly to accommodate family's tastes, what I had on hand, etc.

Truth be told, the children didn't like it that much (they were also tired) - but I loved it.  I flaked the leftovers with some of the olive oil and have been using it this week for sandwiches for work - much like tuna. 

2 lbs Halibut Fillet
2 lemons sliced thinly
2 cups fresh basil and parsley (you can use other fragrant fresh herbs - I like these 2 together - also the 2 cups is an estimate - I just grabbed big handfuls from the garden)  - chopped coarsely
salt and pepper to taste (if you are using something like halibut, be somewhat generous since this is a relatively mild fish
2 cups olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 250.
2. Season the fish with salt and pepper. 
3. Place 1 layer of lemon slices in the bottom of a baking dish (I used a 9 inch square brownie pan.  You want to use something between 8 and 9 inch square so the olive oil covers the fish)
4. Place seasoned fish on top of lemon.  Cover with rest of lemon slices and chopped fresh basil and parsley.
5. Cover pan with tin foil.
6. Bake in center of oven for between 1 and 1 1/4 hours or until it starts to flake easily.  (Don't forget that the fish will continue to cook once it is removed - so even if it is still slightly underdone, it should be finished by the time you get to the table.)
7. Remove fish from olive oil and serve with some of the oil spooned over the top.

I served it with paparadelle and green beans/green salad.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pan Sauteed Fluke

We are really fortunate to have terrific access to the wholesale fruit and food markets as well as plenty of farmer's markets here in Chicago.

One such place is Isaacson and Stein Fish Company - located on the corner of Fulton and Halsted.  They supply fish to many restaurants in the city and have a retail store open to the public.  The prices are terrific - the fish is beautiful - and for me, at least, it is on the way from my office to my car - so I pass by it every day!

So yesterday I went in, got my plastic gloves and a bag, and started looking to see what they had for dinner that evening.  And what did I find?  Fluke. Fresh.  Wild Caught in the Atlantic.  Whole and/or Filleted (their staff does an amazing job cleaning the fish - so for me, it is worth the extra money).  I bought 3 lovely fillets (a little over 1 lb.) for $8.00.  Enough to feed the family, plus maybe a little left over depending if the kids and Jay liked it.

Fluke (aka Flounder) is something we used to eat a lot when we lived in New York - it is mostly found in the Northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is a "flat" fish - so the fillets are relatively thin, but still meaty enough to not fall apart when cooking.

Fish like this just needs to be simply prepared, so I just sprinkled it on both sides with salt and pepper, then took about 1 tablespoon of butter, melted that in a saute pan and quickly browned the fish on either side (about 2 minutes on the first then 1 minute on the other side).  So easy to do.  You know the fish is done when it is just opaque and flakes a bit.

Just wonderful!  Buttery, flakey - even Jay (husband) loved it - and he doesn't like fish!

I served this with a crisp salad of bok choy, napa cabbage, sliced carrots, sliced scallions, watercress, sliced cucumbers and fresh parsley, mint and basil.  The dressing was asian inspired (see previous posts) but you could do anything.

Here is the link to Isaacson and Stein Fish Company - check it out if you haven't gone!


Friday, February 26, 2010

Pan Roasted Chicken with Fresh Parsley and Lemon

I used to spend lots of time creating very elaborate meals.  They were wonderful - and are wonderful (when I have the time.)

But for daily cooking, I still think simple is best.  With a few techniques it is easy to create a wonderful meal.  Pan roasting is a good example of this.

Here is a basic recipe for pan-roasted chicken.  You can vary the flavorings, use the juices from the pan and add a few fresh herbs and some lemon zest to liven things up.  But, for terrific chicken flavor - easy - this one can't be beat.

1 chicken cut up into 6 or 8 pieces (you can also split a small chicken in half and "flatten it").
Olive Oil (enough to coat bottom of heavy oven-safe frying pan)
Chopped fresh parsley and lemon slices for serving

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Dry off chicken parts and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.  Let stand for about 15 minutes to "marinate." 
2.  Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed frying pan that is large enough to fit all the pieces of chicken without crowding.  Make sure the oil and pan are REALLY hot so the chicken doesn't stick and you get a good sear on the skin. (Note: If the chicken is really close together, it will steam instead of crisping.)
3.  Place chicken skin side down into hot oil.  Be careful!!
4.  Let brown in frying pan for about 5-7 minutes or until really golden brown (take the time to make sure it really crisps and looks browned!)
5.  Flip chicken over and put pan into oven. 
6.  Roast chicken for another 10-11 minutes until juices run clear and chicken is done. 
7.  Transfer to platter and sprinkle with fresh parsley and lemon!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

My first pressure cooker brisket

The pressure cooker was an absolute revelation to me (thanks DAD!)

I cooked a brisket in under 1 hour in the cooker - and it was delicious!   Tender, flavorful - and on a weeknight - unbelievable!  The kids loved it, and I look forward to many happy meals together!

So - here is the recipe.

4-5 lb. brisket
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions chopped
3 carrots chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
4-5 whole garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup red wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

1.  In the pressure cooker, heat the olive oil and brown the brisket on all sides.  Remove brisket.
2. Put carrots, onions, celery, garlic and bay leaf in the oil/fat and saute quickly until starting to brown a bit. Season with salt and pepper
3. Put brisket back in the cooker.  Cover with liquid.  Bring to a boil.  Put cover on the cooker and lock it.  Cook at 15 lbs of pressure (setting 2 on my Fagor) for 50 minutes.  Cool down the cooker under cool water. 
4. Slice and enjoy!!

For those that don't have a pressure cooker - this can be made (of course) the same way - set oven to 300 degrees - brown brisket/saute veggies/cover with liquid and braise in oven (covered) for about 3 1/2 hours or until tender.

Serve over noodles, with a salad, etc.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pressure Cooker

I did it.

I bought one. 

6 quart Fagor Pressure Cooker. 

I will be making brisket in it tonight. 

I will let you know how it goes.

If you hear a really large explosion coming from a house near Bell School on Chicago's North Side - and the smell of brisket fills the air - you know what happened.