Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Seared Albacore Tuna/Smokey Tomatillo Sauce

Even though we aren't on the coast, we are fortunate enough to have a couple of places that get good quality fish once in awhile.  Albacore happened to be the catch of the day and I couldn't pass it up.

Tomatillos were also calling my name and I knew a smokey tomatillo sauce would go perfectly with the tuna.

If you have a problem with raw fish, this might not be for you.  You absolutely cannot eat tuna well done.  It has to be rare or medium rare.  The tuna will get too dry and you will loose the delicate flavor.

Seared Tuna w/Smokey Tomatillo Sauce

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 lb. tomatillos, quartered
2 -4 tsp. cumin
1-2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
6 tuna steaks

In a saute pan over medium heat, add the oil and onion.  Cook the onion until it starts to caramelize, about 7-10 minutes.  Add the tomatillos and continue cooking until they are soft and tender.  Remove the onions and tomatillos and place in a blenders.  Increase the heat to medium high and add an additional 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Add the cumin and coriander, stirring frequently, until fragrant.  Return the onion mixture back to the pan and stir well.  Put the mixture back in the blender and mix until a smooth sauce.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add additional cumin if you prefer.

When the sauce is finish, heat a grill pan (or grill) over high heat.  Coat the grill with coconut oil.  When the grill is to temperature, add the tuna steaks and cook about 3-5 minutes, or until you see about 1/4 inch of cooked tuna,  Turn the steak over and sear an additional 3-5 minutes so it is evenly cooked on the other side.

Serve immediately with a dollop of the tomatillo sauce and fresh squeezed lime.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Garlic Mushrooms

I can't imagine there are people out there that don't like mushrooms.  Boy are you missing out.  I suggest you learn to like them.  Once you do, you'll wonder how you ever ate without ever enjoying them.

Don't think that is possible?  Let me tell you, it is!  When I graduated high school last year (ha ha), I liked carrots, celery, and potatoes.  That's it.  Pretty simple.  But I LEARNED to like everything else.  And now there really is only one thing I don't like.  Olives.  Have over 15 different olive oils, but hate olives.  You figure that one out.

Anyway, I was craving steak last night and nothing goes better with steak than either mushrooms or a nice Roquefort sauce.  But right now I am on Day 4 of the 21 day sugar detox and I can't have dairy (which, on a side note, as a mostly paleo follower I do have raw dairy on occasion).  So mushrooms it was.

And delicious they were!

Garlic Mushrooms

1 tbsp. olive oil
12 cloves garlic, whole
16 ounces baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and stem removed*
1/4 c. brandy
2 tbsp. ghee
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, minced

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium low heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until the garlic turns golden brown.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Increase the heat to medium high and then add the mushrooms.  Stirring often, cook about 7-10 minutes or until the mushrooms are almost cooked and are caramelized.  

Reduce heat to medium and slowly add the brandy (especially if you have a gas stove).  Cook until the brandy is almost reduced.  While the brandy is reducing, mince the garlic.

When the brandy is almost reduced, reduce the heat to low and add the garlic, ghee and thyme.  Cook and stir until the ghee is melted and blended with the remaining brandy.

Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

*A note on mushrooms.  I do not wash mine, but I used a lightly damped towel to clean them off.  I have found that when you wash them with water, they take on the added moisture and then it takes too long to caramelize them and makes them too soft and mushy.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lemon Pepper Chicken

I often talk about favorites, but lemon is really at the top of my list.  It's so versatile.  I am still in search of the perfect lemon dessert.  Might have to work on that this week.  

But in the meantime, chicken is a perfect match for lemon and pepper.  You could add spices to this, or other accompaniments, but honestly, the minimal flavors in this dish are what make it so perfect.  They don't contend with one another, but compliment each other.  And you really can't beat a dish that is made in one pan.

The key to this dish is not only the correct amount of seasoning, but also the technique in cooking the chicken.  I probably shouldn't admit it, but I love chicken skin..turkey and duck too.  There is something about the salty, fatty taste of crisp skin that is comforting.  Maybe nostalgia from days gone by of big family holiday dinners and fighting over who gets the skin.  Luckily in my house, nobody else quite appreciates it the way I do.  Anyways, I cook them uncovered.  They are perfectly moist and the skin is perfectly crisp.  

Lemon Pepper Roasted Chicken

2 lbs. chicken thighs
3 lemons, cut into slices (about 2 inches thick) and then cut in half
6 shallots, sliced into quarters
fleur de sel
freshly ground pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken thighs in the pan.  Place the lemons and shallots evenly over the chicken, lightly squeezing the lemons before you place them in.  Generously salt and pepper and then lightly drizzle with olive oil.

Place in oven and cook for about 20 minutes, then rotate the thighs so they cook evenly.  Cook an additional 20-25 minutes or until the thighs are done, around 160 degrees if using a meat thermometer.  If you don't have one, 40 minutes really should be sufficient, especially if your oven temperature is correct.

Remove thighs and scoop out some of the shallots to enjoy with them.

Salt and pepper additionally if you choose.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Grilled Peaches/Vanilla Mascarpone

I have a love affair with chocolate, but there is one dessert that I think takes the blue ribbon.  Period.  No questions.  No discussion.  

It's that good.  Seriously.

Just asked anybody who I have ever made them for.  They are coveted.

And I will hunt you down and kill you if you try to pass this off as your own.  Got it?

This is MOSTLY the recipe I use in my home, but I am leaving out a couple of ingredients, but these still are delicious.  If you want to try the real thing, you'll have to be invited over for dinner.

One more thing, I know it's not strictly paleo, but the mascarpone is from grass fed cows.  So there.  

Grilled Peaches with Vanilla Mascarpone

4 peaches, cut in half and pit removed
1 c. hot water
1/3 c. raw honey
1 vanilla bean, cut in half and seeds scrapped out.  
4 ounces mascarpone
2 tbsp. raw honey
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed

In a 9 x 13 pan, lay peaches cut side down.  In a small bowl, whisk together water, honey and vanilla seeds.  Cut the two bean halves into 1 inch pieces and then put in marinade.  Pour over the peaches and allow to marinate for about four hours, turning the peaches about every hour.

Preheat grill to medium heat.  While grill is heating, mix mascarpone, honey and vanilla seeds with hand mixer until well blended.  

When the grill is ready, remove peaches from marinade and place cut side down on grill.  Grill about 3-5 minutes or until they have caramelized grill marks.  While they are grilling, brush peaches with marinade.  Turn peaches and brush cut sides with marinade, and grill about 2 minutes.  Turn the peaches one more time and grill about 2 more minutes.

Remove and set on a serving plate.  Scoop about 1 tbsp. of the mascarpone filling in each peach center.  Allow to set for a couple of minutes so the cheese starts to soften.

You're welcome.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Perfect Caprese

Summer just wouldn't be summer without a Caprese salad.  You really can't go wrong with a mixture of perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella and balsamic.  Such simplicity for a meal, but it can easily be ruined by under or overly ripe tomatoes, cheap cheese and store brand balsamic.

I love quality ingredients, and although I know not every one will understand the importance of them, there are a few things in your cooking arsenal that can't be compromised.  Balsamic Vinegar is one of them.  It should be smooth, with slight fruit and woodsy undertones, as well as having a light sweetness, without an overly powerful tartness.  It will be hard to find one, but my recommendation is to find a place where you can taste the varieties on hand.  Don't ruin it by using bread to try it.  You should use a small sample cup and sip the balsamic alone, without anything marring the true taste of the vinegar.

This is one of my favorites, Giuseppe Giusti.  It's perfection.  Truly.

3 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into large dice
1 ball fresh mozzarella, cut into large dice
1/2 c. basil, chiffonade
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsps. Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil together in a large bowl.  Drizzle the vinegar and fold into the tomato mixture until evenly distributed.  Allow to set for at least 15 minutes so the flavors combine with one another, then salt and pepper to taste.  

Caprese, in my humble opinion, is best eaten at room temperature.