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Fri Dec. 3, 2005

Panang salmon and pepper stew (peperonata)

 I started with the peperonata: about six or seven mixes color peppers (red, orange, yellow and friers). I started using  friers more often lately, because the meat is thin and cooks faster. First you chop a large onion very fine. Then slice the peppers in strips (after removing the core and seeds). Heat olive oil in a skillet until very hot, add the onion and about the equivalent of half a pepper. Let go for two minutes on high flame then lower the flame to medium and cover. Let cook for 5-6 minutes until the onion is completely wilted and begins to roast. Turn the flame to high, let cook one minute and pour a glass of white wine (red would also be OK). When the mixture resume cooking fast, add the rest of the peppers. Bring to a fast simmer again and add a vegetable bullion (better if pulverized). Let cook for about 15-20 minutes until the peppers are cooked thoroughly. Sprinkle with garlic powder and - optional - tarragon or marjoran. Let cook for a few more minutes, turn off the flame and let rest covered for about 10 minutes. You don't want to eat it too when it's too hot.

For the samon: start with 4 medium size fillets (skin off, preferably). Heat olive oil in skillet, when it's very hot add two or three teaspoons of panang curry paste, and stir to help it dissolve. Add the samon filets (if they have skin, place them in the pan skin up) and let cook for 5 minutes at least. Turn the salmon over, squeeze one fresh lime on the salmon and stir the juice. Cook on medium-high for another three minutes, sprinkle with powder lemon grass, pour the juice from the pan over, cover and lower the heat and finish in three or four minutes. Let cool a bit before serving.

Tue June 21
First day of summer.
Grilled salmon in tomato and tempura marinate.
In a bowl, one cup of strained tomato or puree (I use Pomi), a quarter cup of tempura sauce, an abundant sprinkle of granulated garlic, one quarter cup of white wine, olive oil.
In a mortar pound together dried thyme, sage, rock salt, cracked pepper. When it's pulverized, add to marinate (alternatively you can use a 'fish herb mix'.)
Mix the marinate and pour over salmon fillets. Put the salmon in the fridge for half an hour, then grill to taste.
Grilled mini peppers (or pepper friers).
Slice off the tops of the mini peppers. If you use friers, cut them open and remove seeds and white ribs. Place the peppers on the grill and turn them often to prevent burning. You want the skin scortched but not charcoaled. Remove from the grill and place in a large bowl, cover with a lid and let them rest half an hour. In the meantime you can grill your salmon.

 

Sun. May 8
Sauteed tuna steak with parsley garlic salsa sauce
WIth a little bit of salsa left over from salsa and chips snack, and with dinner coming up, I combined a few ingredients I found around the fridge. I started chopping very very finely about 1 cup of parsley (1 cup after chopping). I mashed six or seven big garlic cloves with a garlic press and added it to the parsley on the cutting board, chopping and mixing a little more. At this point I put the mixture into a bowl and added half a cup of salsa (medium). I splashed Worchestershire sauce and squeezed half a tube of Japanese ginger paste. Ground ginger would have worked too, and also finely chopped fresh ginger.
I heated olive oil in a skillet, added half a fish bullion, pulverized. When oil got hot, I threw in the tuna steaks, sauteed it for two minutes on each side, then added the mixture to cover the steaks and the bottom of the pan. I turned the flame to low and let it cook for 5 minutes. I served it with a small left over rice salad. It was well received.


Indian ginger paste
Click to find out where you can buy it

Japanese ginger paste
Click to find out where you can buy it

Sat. April 30
Poached salmon with curry sauted asparagus
Last week's asparagus was a hit so I was asked to repeat it. This time I used the same recipe with the exception of lime, which I decided to leave out.
I also decided to explore furhter the poached salmon realm, and here is what I came up with. In a small bowl I mixed tamari sauce, ginger paste (I buy it in Japanese grocery stores), ground lemon grass, garlic paste (I suppose butter garlic spread works too) and half of a pulverized fish bullion. In a skillet I poured about half a centimeter of water, brought it to a boil and added the mixture. I immediately placed the salmon in the skillet turning it once after about 4 minutes. Total cooking time 7-8 minutes. I wish I had used less water so the mixture could have thickened in a syrupy sauce. I served the salmon with fresh homemade pesto (actually only olive oil, basil leaves and walnuts, no cheese and garlic).
Sun. April 24
Green-tea poached salmon with curry sauted asparagus
For the asparagus: cut off the hard lower part of the stems and steam covered for about 7-8 minutes, not too tender. Drain. In a skillet, pour olive oil, when it begins to sizzle, turn flame lower and add panang curry paste (two teaspoons) stirring to dissolve. Put in the asparagus and saute for about 5 minutes until they begin to crust a bit. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime (optional), stir a bit and serve.
Salmon: I prepared about two cups of green tea (actually I used two bags of green tea and one of jasmin tea). I let it cool and mixed about one cup and a half with the juice of two limes, olive oil, fennel seeds, ground ginger and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. I poured the mixture over the salmon and placed it in the refrigerator for about 4 hours (a couple of hours shoud suffice.) I removed fish from fridge and drained the marinate into a fish steamer with half of the fennel seeds. On the steaming platform I placed the salmon with the rest of the fennel on top. I turned on the flame on high and as the liquid dries up I added the remaing green tea. I poached for 8-10 minutes and served with the asparagus.
Fri. Dec. 3
Bacalao and peperonata
For Bacalao, scroll down.
Peperonata: chop a red onion, slice half a dozen of peppers of various colors (green, red, yellow, orange) after seeding and coring them. Make thin slices, strip like, of half or even less white cabbage. Two or three garlic cloves, minced. Throw everything in a pot or deep skillet. Add half a wine glass of good quality olive oil and three or four TBSP of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt (I grind Italian "sale grosso" in a salt mill) and freshly ground pepper corns. If you want, add dry mint. Turn on the heat, when it begins to sizzle, turn the flame down to low. Stir occasionally until the peppers are tender, up to 45 minutes (depends on how low your low flame is.) Do not overcook or the peppers will lose all the meat and you will be left with peels only.
It's perfect with goat cheese, but not tonight. Goat cheese and bacalao don't mix.
Thu. Dec. 2
Fennel, ceci, tuna and cheese salad
Very easy. Good quality tuna packed in olive oil. Open two or three cans, drain the oil and reserve. Cut up the tuna and place it in a bowl. Next, cube two fennel bulbs after discarding the tough outer leaves. If the fennel came with green tops, keep them, don't throw them out (I did, I wasn't thinking.) Add the fennel to the tuna and start tossing. Add one can of ceci beans, drained (if I had planned ahead I would have used dry beans, let them soak overnight blah blah blah.) Toss them with the rest. Same thing with cheese. Cube it in small cubes and toss it in. Mash the mixture a bit with a fork to merge the flavors. Sprinkle with the fennel tops or with dill. Add the oil you reserved and extra olive oil if it needs it (I save the oil from anchovies and other oil-preserved foods for this kind of dishes), balsamic vinegar, pepper and salt. Let it rest in the fridge for half an hour and serve with good bread.

Wed. Dec. 1
Sauteed talapia with herbs and lemon butter and fennels gratinee.
In a coffee grinder, pulverize dry thyme, sage, kosher salt and black pepper corns. Sprinkle generously talapia fillets. In a skillet heat olive oil (two TBSP) and when hot add two TBSP butter. Before butter turns brown, add talapia fillets. Cook on one side for 3 minutes, lower flame to mid, flip the fish, add around the fish, not on top, the juice of one lemon. Cover and let simmer on lower flame for 3 more minutes at max.

Cut four medium to large fennels fist in half along the long axis, then in slices along the short axis. Toss them in a bowl with a little olive oil, fresh pepper and coarse salt. In a large skillet add 3 or 4 TBSP of olive oil until very very hot, add one TBSP butter (optional) and immediately throw in the fennel. Do not turn for several minutes until they begin to form a nice brown crust at the bottom (10 minutes or more.) This is important to let the water content of the fennel evaporate. If you turn them too soon, they get soft, mushy and soupy. When browned, turn them, lower the flame and let simmer on medium then low until soft. Then turn up the flame to high and add very thin slices of parmigiano cheese (or Asiago, Manchego, Fontina, Monterey Jack etc. I think parmigiano is best). Sprinkle with additional pepper if you want. Serve hot before the cheese congeals.

Fri. Nov. 19
(
I can't believe the last entry was almost two months ago... Not that I haven't eaten in the meantime. Quite the contrary, I put on weight too. I don't know if I have been too busy or I just have been slacking off.)
Marinated flounder and sauteed artichoke hearts
I sprinkled four flounder fillets with salt and pepper (I use Italian "sale grosso" -- coarse salt and pink peppercorn, both ground with mills), placed them in a glass pan, sprinkled olive oil and the juice of one lemon. I added thyme just for a bit of extra flavor and placed the pan in the fridge for a couple of hours (one hour would have been sufficient.) I heated oil in a frying pan to a medium temperature -- flounder is so thin that there is no need to sear it. I placed the fillets in the pan, let the fish fry for maybe a minute and immediately poured the marinate over, turning the flame all the way up. 30 second later I flipped the flounder, let the marinate come to a simmer and immediately turned off the flame.
I opened two cans of
artichoke hearts and drained them well. In a frying pan I poured flavored olive oil (I used the oil drained from sun dried tomatoes jars). When it got hot, I added two whole garlic cloves and let them fry for a couple of minutes. I added the artichoke hearts, three thinly sliced garlic cloves and minced sundried tomatoes. After three minutes, I added half a cup of dry white wine and a generous sprinkle of good quality dried rosemary leaves (sometimes I like the dry stuff better than the fresh sprigs.) I tossed the artichokes a couple of times, regulated the flame to prevent burning, for a total of maybe 8 -10 minutes. And that's it. Other times I had used sliced red peppers instead of sundried tomatoes (once or twice I used fresh sliced tomatoes,) but I have been using peppers too much lately and I am kind of sick of them.

Tue. Sept. 21
Bacalao Porto-Style with potatoes
I hacked this recipe trying to reproduce one of the most fabulous dinners of my life. It was in Portugal, in the city of Porto, in a restaurant called A Filha da mae preta (The daughter of the black mother), a dive of a place on the city docks. Actually the place was not a dive, just the ultimate homecooking hole in the wall. I ate upstairs, in a room tiled with, well, typical Portuguese tiles, near an open  veranda door that led to a small balcony overlooking a salt-water canal where boats loaded with barrels of Port wine where docked. I know it sounds kitschy but it was a trip. Anyway, the bacalao I had that night is etched in my memory. I have tried  to reproduce the experience several times and although I have never really come close to the real thing, I am not too unhappy with my version. One of the 'secrets' is to avoid de-salting the dry cod too much. As usual, I started with a pound of good quality dried, boned cod. I rehydrated it by immersing it in cold water and leaving it in the refrigerator for two days changing the water only once. This way the salinity stayed high. I started with chopping a red onion, pitted kalamata olives, green gaeta olives, and two very juicy tomatoes, all separately. I poured olive oil in a skillet and when it got hot, I added the onion, left it on high for two minutes, turned to mid, covered and let simmer for 6 minutes. I uncovered, turned the flame to high, added half a cup of dry white wine (other times I did it with red, and it was even better.) I let the alcohol evaporate for about 5 minutes and added the cod in big pieces. I cooked it for two minutes on each side, then I added, in order, the black olive, green olives, capers and the tomatoes. When it started bubbling, I added a fish bullion, previously crumpled. I covered, lowered the flame and let cook for 5 minutes. I removed the lid and continued cooking for 5 more minutes. The sauce evaporated and thickened enough. In case it did thicken too much, I would have used either tomato sauce or water.
On the side I peeled a bunch of r
ed potatoes, boiled them for about 9 minutes until not quite completely done. I drained them and let cool. The cooler the better. I should have actually started cooking the potatoes first, a couple of hours earlier. When the potatoes got cold enough that I could handle them with my fingers, I cut them in half. In a skillet I placed ghee, the Indian clarified butter. I like it better than butter, at times, because it is lighter. I added the potatoes and fresh rosemary, finely chopped. I could have added herbs to the bacalao too, but I was more interested in bringing forth the full flavor of the fish stew.
 


Sun. Sept.19
Ratatouille
I sliced a bunch of zucchini. Unfortunately they were very watery. The best kind should not be slimy after you peel them. Anyway. I put olive oil in a skillet and after it got VERY HOT, I threw in the zuks. The secret is to let them fry without touching them until the water comes out and evaporates. When they begin to form a fried little crust on the bottom of the pan, you can start tossing them so that they all cook well. Depending on how much zuks you are cooking and the size of your pan, it can take up to half an hour before you can toss/stir them.
While the zuks were cooking, I chopped a
red onion, four garlic cloves and sliced two red peppers very thin. In a second skillet, I added olive oil, let it get hot, and added a crumpled vegetable bullion stirring well. At this point I threw in the onion, stirred a bit, turned the flame to mid, covered and let it simmer for about 5 -6 minutes. I turned up the flame to high, waited a couple of minutes and added the garlic and pepper. I covered again and let cook on high for 5 minutes, then turned the flame to mid for another 10 minute and lowered the flame to low for 5 minutes. (I use a timer all the time, actually I have three with different beeping sounds, so I remember  what I am supposed to check -- early signs of pre-senile dementia made  this remedy necessary.)
When the zuks were ready, meaning they dried up and are toasty, I added the onion-pepper mixture and mixed it all up. Then I added half a big can of
good tomato sauce -- my favorite is Muir Glen, either the yellow or blue label. I stirred the mixture again and let it dry up for about 15 more minutes. I served it with an abundant sprinkling of real parmesan cheese (I use Parmigiano Reggiano but the cheaper Grana Padano will do). We are going to eat it again tomorrow night since I will get back late and I won't have the time to cook. But for the next day I am planning Porto-style bacalao.


I use the bigger can


 

Sat. Sept.18
Tuna Steaks Asian style with quick fried tomatoes
I prepared the marinate for the tuna steaks with the fresh juice of three limes and one lemon. I wisked it to emulsify then I addes 1/4 cup of Vietnamese fish sauce (other times I used Thai fish sauce, in which case I will add 1/2 cup.) I strained the mixture to get rid of lemon seeds. I added some water to make a total of one cup of marinate.I chopped about 1/4 cup of lemon grass stalk and 1/4 cup of parsley and added them to the juice. Normally instead of parsley I would use cilantro, but tonight 's guest does not like cilantro, so I changed the recipe. I could have added some crushed hot pepper too, but I decided to stay light on the spices. I poured the marinate over the tuna steaks that I had placed in a shallow baking dish, making sure the solids were spread on top of the tuna, then I placed it in the refrigerator for about one hour (I could have used the freezer, for 10-15 minutes.) When the tuna was ready, I poured some olive oil in a skillet and while it was warming up, I added two teaspoons of Thai Panang curry paste, stirring to dissolve it in the oil. Immediately after, without waiting for the oil to get hot, I placed the tuna steaks in the skillet and poured the marinate. With high flame, I let the tuna cook without turning it for approximately 12 minutes (may sound like a lot of time, but remember that it was refrigerator cold.)
As the tuna was cooking, I sliced some great
heirloom tomatoes, I heated olive oil in a skillet and as the oil was hot I put in the tomatoes. I sprinkled them immediately with abundant garlic powder and dry oregano. I flipped them once and took them out. Total cooking time for the tomatoes, 2 minutes max. If you let them go too long they turn mushy.
And that was it.

Thu. Sept.16
Salad - mixed greens and condiments
In a mortar, crush a cup of walnuts until almost pulverized. Open two cans of anchovies, and pour the oil into the mortar. Mix with a spoon and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime, chop the anchovies; open a can of VERY GOOD tuna fish packed in olive oil, drain and reserve the oil, and coarsly chop/flake the tuna; chop three or four scallions, and slice six or severn baby carrots.
Place the ingredients, one by one on top of the mixed greens, toss gently and drizzle with the olive oil from the tuna. For dressing I used good olive oil (cold pressed extra vergin) and balsamic vinegar.

My favorite tuna
TUNA A's DO MAR

Wed. Sept.15
Breaded talapia filets in honey-mustard sauce
I sprinkled the filets with a mixture of pulverized herbs (thyme, sage, tarragon) and salt. Then, I dipped them in an egg wash and breaded with plain bread crumbs. I sprinkled over about one tablespoon of lemon zest. I let it rest for about 15 minutes. On the side I mixed one teaspoon of mustard (Dijion etc), two teaspoons of honey and three of lime juice.
In a skillet, olive oil and half a fish bullion, crumpled. When the oil got hot but not too hot, I poured the mustard-honey sauce. Then I place the filets in the skillet, added three tablespoons of lemon juice to the pan, not on the fish. I sauteed the fish two minutes on each side, then lowered the flame and covered for one more minute. I turned off the flame and let it rest about 10 minutes. I served that with store-bought grape leaves stuffed with rice (Dolmathes, the typical Greek dish.)

Saturday Sept.11
Pan fried talapia filets in wine/tomato sauce with roasted peppers
Originally I was going to marinate the talapia in an Asian sauce, but I started too late, so I decided to go for something quicker.
Sprinkle the fish generously with
thyme. Coat with an egg wash and dredge in flour. Set aside. In the frying pan, olive oil, one chopped red onion. When the onion begins to wilt, add half a cup of white wine. With a knife pulverize half a fish bullion and add to the boiling mixture. When wine has evaporated, place the fish in the pan. Two minutes max for each side, then turn off the flame.
Take some of the onions and place them in another pan. Bring to a simmer, add half a cup, maybe less of
strained tomato or tomato puree. When it begins to simmer, add capers and olives. I only used black olives because I had run out of green, otherwise I would have used both. Add salt and pepper if you like, lower the flame, cook for 10 minutes. Turn on the flame under the fish, when it begins to simmer, pour the tomato sauce over it, let it cook for three-four minutes.
For the
peppers, I used left over peppers grilled a couple of days ago. [To grill the peppers, the barbecue, when the flame gets hot, add the whole peppers to the grill. Grill turning them until the skin is completely charred all around. Remove and place in a deep bowl and cover with a lid. Let them sit until they cool off and can be handled, at least half an hour. Cut in half, remove the seeds and the skin, which will come off like a breeze.]
I put the left over roasted peppers in the pan I had used for the tomato. Add a little
olive oil, add the peppers, sprinkle with tarragon or marjoram until warm.

You don't need to use
thyme, arragon or marjoram. You can use whatever herbs you like.


Talapia

Monday Sept. 6 == Labor Day
Barbecued salmon filets and roasted peppers.
I started thinking about cooking something fancy but I got caught up in a half a dozen little house projects (hanging up pictures etc.).
Pour 1/4 bottle of
beer in a deep serving dish. Add two/three tablespoons of powder ginger, stir. Add the salmon filets, cover with the rest of the beer (take a swig if you like beer. I don't), and marinate.
Start the barbecue, when the flame gets hot, add the whole
peppers to the grill. Grill turning them until the skin is completely charred all around. Remove and place in a deep bowl and cover with a lid. Let them sit until they cool off and can be handled, at least half an hour. In the meantime cover the grill with the lid for 15-20 minutes to reduce heat. Put on the salmon and grill to your liking. Discard the marinate. Remove the fish and start working on the peppers.
Cut in half, remove the seeds and the skin, which will come off like a breeze. Serve lukewarm with drizzled olive oil, balsamic vinegar and GOAT CHEESE.

 

Sunday Sept. 5
Heirloom tomatoes on fusilli.
I cut up in small pieces at least 4 or 5 pounds of fresh heirloom tomatoes bought yesterday at the farmers market. I used small green, medium-large orange and very large red. From my garden I added fresh basil (at least a cup, tightly packed) and three sprigs of rosemary. I chopped everything very fine. I also added at least six large cloves of garlic finely chopped, five or six pearl onions, two to three tablespoons of Italian coarse salt and 3/4 to one cup of decent olive oil. A sprinkle of pepper to conclude.
I let the sauce out on the counter covered with a lid for approximately 7 hours. After cooking fusilli, I just poured the sauce on the pasta. I added a generous portion of goat cheese. To go along, I toasted some rosemary bread.