Seared Tuna with Peach Salsa

Posted in fish, food, home cooking at 10:52 pm by wingerz


Sometimes you just let the ingredients at the market determine what’s for dinner. Everything but the olive oil and kosher salt were from this morning’s visit to the farmer’s market. In general I’m not a huge fan of tuna but I was pretty happy with the way this turned out – the salsa is great, especially when made with good ingredients.

Seared Tuna with Peach Salsa
2 tuna steaks, about 1/2 lb each
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
kosher salt
1 tbsp oil

Peach Salsa
2 small peaches, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice

1. Place the tuna in a ziplock bag with olive oil and 2tbsp lemon juice. Let it marinate for 1-2 hours. Right before cooking, take it out and sprinkle some kosher salt on both sides of the steaks.
2. Mix all of the salsa ingredients in a small bowl. Add more lemon juice/salt/pepper to taste.
3. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet at high heat. Add 1 tbsp of oil to the skillet and wait until it smokes.
4. Place the tuna in the skillet. Flip it over in 1-3 minutes, depending on how much you want it to be cooked. I usually look at it from the side and flip when it looks like it’s cooked 1/4 to 1/3 of the way through. After flipping, let it cook for another 1-2 minutes.


Pan-roasted halibut

Posted in fish, food, home cooking at 1:14 am by wingerz


Between my traveling and some rainy Sundays it’s been a few weeks since I got fresh fish from the farmer’s market. Today I snagged a 1lb piece of halibut. Pan-roasted it and served it with a concoction of olive oil, butter, shallots, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley (sort of like this).

As with all fish, keep a close eye on it. There’s a very fine line between perfection and very slightly overdone. Mine was perfect, Jen’s was very slightly overdone. She should have said something before I gobbled up my piece.

Pan-Roasted Halibut Steaks
from America’s Test Kitchen

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 halibut steaks , each about 1 1/4 inches thick and 10 to 12 inches long (about 2 1/2 pounds total), gently rinsed, dried well with paper towels, and trimmed of cartilage at both ends
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. When oven reaches 425 degrees, heat oil in 12-inch, heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over high heat until oil just begins to smoke, about 2 1/2 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of both halibut steaks generously with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-high, swirl oil in pan to distribute; carefully lay steaks in pan and sear, without moving them, until spotty brown, about 4 minutes (if steak is thinner than 1 1/4 inches, check browning at 3 1/2 minutes; thicker steaks of 1 1/2 inches may require extra time, so check at 4 1/2 minutes). Off heat, flip steaks over in pan using two thin-bladed metal spatulas.
3. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into steaks reads 140 degrees, flakes loosen, and flesh is opaque when checked with tip of paring knife, about 9 minutes (thicker steaks may take up to 10 minutes). Remove skillet from oven and separate skin and bones from fish with spatula. Transfer fish to warm platter and serve immediately, with flavored butter or sauce (see related recipes), if desired.


Thick-cut Pork Chops

Posted in food, home cooking at 4:14 pm by wingerz


A few weeks ago while we were discussing the heavenly Bi-Rite ice cream, Joy mentioned another one of her favorites: Niman Ranch Pork Chops. I picked up a package of two at Trader Joe’s. They were juicy and delicious, especially with this sweet, spicy sauce.

I didn’t get much of a fond when I seared them, but I imagine that the adobo chilis and molasses would have overpowered the meatiness. The brine doesn’t have to be as involved as it is below – aside from sugar and salt the other ingredients are optional.

Pan-Seared, Oven-Roasted Thick-Cut Pork Chops with Spicy Citrus Pan Sauce
from Cook’s Illustrated

Pork Chops
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/2 cup kosher salt (or 1/4 cup table salt)
10 medium cloves garlic , crushed
4 bay leaves , crumbled
8 whole cloves
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns , crushed
4 bone-in rib loin pork chops (12-ounces each), 1 1/2-inches-thick
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest from 2 limes
1 cup orange juice from 2 large oranges
2 medium cloves garlic , chopped
4 chipotle chiles en adobo
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 2 pieces
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. For Pork: In gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve sugar and salt in 2 cups hot water. Add garlic, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, (if using) and 4 cups cold water; cool mixture to room temperature. Add pork chops, then seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour, turning bag once. Remove chops from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place shallow roasting pan or jelly-roll pan on oven rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. When oven reaches 450 degrees, heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Place chops in skillet; cook until well-browned and nice crust has formed on surface, about 2 minutes. Turn chops over with tongs; cook until well-browned and a nice crust has formed on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Using tongs, transfer chops to preheated pan in oven. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each chop registers 125–127 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes, turning chops over once halfway through cooking time. Transfer each chop to platter; cover loosely with foil (be sure not to wrap foil tightly around meat), and let rest about 5 minutes. (Check internal temperature; it should register about 145 degrees).
3. For Sauce: In bowl of food processor, puree molasses, lime juice and zest, orange juice, garlic, and chipotle chiles until smooth. Transfer to small bowl; set aside.
4. Pour off fat from skillet used to brown chops; place skillet over medium-high heat and add molasses mixture, scraping pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Simmer until thickened and syrupy, about 2 minutes. Whisk in butter, one piece at a time; season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with pork chops.


Weekend in Sonoma

Posted in food, personal, photos, sloan piggybacking at 2:54 am by wingerz


We spent the past weekend in Sonoma to celebrate our friend’s completion of the California bar exam. Ten of us (Sloanies, significant others, and Meatball the dog) shared a fantastic house (back of the house, backyard view) in Guerneville.

Spent most of Saturday wine tasting, highlights included the beautiful gardens at Ferrari-Carano (I didn’t sample the wine there) and a few hours lounging around on the back patio of the Harvest Moon Winery. Harvest Moon, a tiny winery, was our favorite of the bunch – we all had a really pleasant time, got along well with our hosts, and bought several bottles of wine. We had brought along our own bread, prosciutto, and cheese, and also sampled their chocolate and olive oils.

On Sunday it was rainy but that didn’t stop a few of us from heading to the beach. We strolled along Goat Rock Beach, catching a break in the rain. We spent a lot of the day lazing around from the comfort of our house.

Of course, the eating was fantastic. We cooked one breakfast, one brunch, and three dinners together. Meal after meal, we all ate far beyond the point of being full. The nine of us fit comfortably around the dining room table. It was warm, cozy, and homey.

Congratulations, Amy!



Braised Short Ribs

Posted in food, home cooking at 3:48 am by wingerz


A few weekends ago I discovered the Holding Ranch meat stand at the Menlo Park farmer’s market. It’s got a lot of different cuts of beef, whole chickens, and sometimes pork and lamb. Everything’s frozen so you don’t have to worry about using it right away. I picked up a few pounds of short ribs (and all of the vegetables I needed for the recipe). The woman warned me to be careful of overcooking the grass-fed beef; it cooks faster since it’s got less fat.

(Incidentally, this is one of the cases where the healthier, more expensive option may not be the best one for the environment. I haven’t done a lot of research on this yet.)

I’ve reproduced the recipe unchanged below, but when I made it I lowered the temperatures. For the browning I had the oven at 430 deg F (instead of 450) and braising at 275 deg F (instead of 300). There was very little fat rendered by the browning process so I used a bit of canola oil to soften the mirepoix. After an hour and a half I checked the meat with a fork every 20-30 minutes; it ended up taking about 3 hours.

The end result was quite delicious, and the sauce had a nice, full body.

Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine with Bacon, Parsnips, and Pearl Onions
from Cook’s Illustrated

6 pounds bone-in English-style short ribs , trimmed of excess fat and silver skin, or bone-in flanken-style short ribs
Table salt and ground black pepper
3 cups dry red wine (full-bodied)
3 large onions , chopped medium
2 medium carrots , chopped medium
1 large rib celery , chopped medium
9 medium cloves garlic , chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon tomato paste

Bacon, Pearl Onion, and Parsnip Garnish
6 slices bacon (about 6 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
8 ounces frozen pearl onions (do not thaw)
4 medium parsnips (about 10 ounces), peeled and cut diagonally into 3/4-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange short ribs bone-side down in single layer in large flameproof roasting pan; season with salt and pepper. Roast until meat begins to brown, about 45 minutes; drain off all liquid and fat with bulb baster. Return pan to oven and continue to cook until meat is well browned, 15 to 20 minutes longer. (For flanken-style short ribs, arrange ribs in single layer in large roasting pan; season with salt and pepper. Roast until meat begins to brown, about 45 minutes; drain off all liquid and fat with baster. Return pan to oven and continue to cook until browned, about 8 minutes; using tongs, flip each piece and cook until second side is browned, about 8 minutes longer). Transfer ribs to large plate; set aside. Drain off fat to small bowl and reserve. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Place roasting pan on two stovetop burners set at medium heat; add wine and bring to simmer, scraping up browned bits with wooden spoon. Set roasting pan with wine aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons reserved fat in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour until combined, about 45 seconds. Stir in wine from roasting pan, chicken stock, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil and add short ribs, completely submerging meat in liquid; return to boil, cover, place in oven, and simmer until ribs are tender, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Transfer pot to wire rack and cool, partially covered, until warm, about 2 hours.
3. Transfer ribs from pot to large plate, removing excess vegetables that may cling to meat; discard loose bones that have fallen away from meat. Strain braising liquid into medium bowl, pressing out liquid from solids; discard solids. Cover ribs and liquid separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (Can be refrigerated up to 3 days.)
4. To prepare garnish and finish dish: In Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until just crisp, 8 to 10 minutes; remove with slotted spoon to plate lined with paper towel. Add to Dutch oven pearl onions, parsnips, sugar, and salt; increase heat to high and sauté, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Spoon off and discard solidified fat from reserved braising liquid. Add defatted liquid and bring to simmer, stirring occasionally; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Submerge ribs in liquid, return to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook, partially covered, until ribs are heated through and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes longer; gently stir in bacon. Divide ribs and sauce among individual bowls, sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon parsley, and serve.


Shrimp fra Diavolo

Posted in food, home cooking at 12:13 am by wingerz


We picked up some shrimp from the weekend seafood guy at Costco. They were humongous and already de-veined. I used about half a pound in a half portion of this pasta dish, which was wonderfully garlicky and robust. I didn’t have cognac or brandy so I substituted vermouth with a dash of vanilla extract. I have no idea of whether this is a legitimate substitution, but I wasn’t able to get it to flame up (see instruction 2).

Shrimp fra Diavolo with Linguine
from Cook’s Illustrated

1 pound medium-large shrimp (preferably 31 to 35 count), peeled (and deveined, if desired), preferably Gulf or Mexican Whites
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons table salt
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
4 tablespoons minced garlic (about 12 medium or 8 large cloves)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes , drained
1 cup medium-dry white wine , such as Sauvignon Blanc
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 pound linguine or spaghetti

1. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in large Dutch oven or stockpot.
2. While water is heating, heat 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, toss shrimp, half of red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Add shrimp to skillet and quickly spread in single layer; cook, without stirring, until bottoms of shrimp turn spotty brown, about 30 seconds. Off heat, stir to turn shrimp, and add cognac; let stand off heat until cognac warms slightly, about 5 seconds, and return pan to high heat. Wave lit match over skillet until cognac ignites; shake skillet until flames subside, transfer shrimp to medium bowl, and set aside.
3. Off heat, cool now-empty skillet 2 minutes; return to burner and reduce heat to low. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoons garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until garlic foams and is sticky and straw-colored, 7 to 10 minutes. Add remaining red pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon salt, sugar, tomatoes, and wine; increase heat to medium-high, and simmer until thickened and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Stir in reserved shrimp and accumulated juices, remaining 1 tablespoon garlic, and parsley and simmer until shrimp have heated through, about 1 minute longer. Off heat, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
4. While sauce simmers, add linguine or spaghetti and remaining 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water, stir to separate pasta, cover, and cook until al dente; reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta. Transfer drained pasta back to now-empty Dutch oven or stockpot; add about 1/2 cup sauce (without shrimp) and 2 to 3 tablespoons reserved pasta cooking water; toss to coat. Divide pasta among warm serving bowls, top with a portion of sauce and shrimp, and serve immediately.


Roasted Cauliflower

Posted in food, home cooking at 4:21 pm by wingerz


I picked up some cauliflower from the farmer’s market, thinking that I could roast it alongside some broccoli. Fortunately I checked Cook’s Illustrated before experimenting and discovered that cauliflower takes a lot longer in the oven.

Roasted Cauliflower
from Cook’s Illustrated

1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Trim outer leaves of cauliflower and cut stem flush with bottom. Cut head into 8 equal wedges so that core and florets remain intact (see photo). Place wedges cut side down on foil- or parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; gently rub to evenly distribute oil and seasonings. Gently flip cauliflower and season other cut side with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, salt, and pepper.
2. Cover baking sheet tightly with foil and cook for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to roast until bottoms of cauliflower pieces are golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, and, using spatula, carefully flip wedges. Return sheet to oven and continue to roast until cauliflower is golden all over, 8 to 12 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, drizzle with oil (or sauce), and serve immediately.


Roasted Broccoli

Posted in food, home cooking at 2:45 am by wingerz


Jen went out of her way to compliment this recipe, so I think it’s a keeper. I think Ceida and Nick do this in their cast iron pan, but cooking it in the oven is a good way to scale it up and free up the stovetop.

Roasted Broccoli
from America’s Test Kitchen

1 large head broccoli (about 1 3/4 pounds)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper
Lemon wedges for serving

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place large rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Cut broccoli at juncture of florets and stems; remove outer peel from stalk. Cut stalk into 2- to 3-inch lengths and each length into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Cut crowns into 4 wedges if 3-4 inches in diameter or 6 wedges if 4-5 inches in diameter. Place broccoli in large bowl; drizzle with oil and toss well until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pepper to taste and toss to combine.
2. Working quickly, remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully transfer broccoli to baking sheet and spread into even layer, placing flat sides down. Return baking sheet to oven and roast until stalks are well browned and tender and florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and serve immediately with lemon wedges.


Lentils and potatoes with curry

Posted in food, home cooking at 3:48 am by wingerz


Here’s how you turn something pedestrian into something sublime.

1. Make these lentils.
2. Trade Joy for two slices of her amazing quiche (recipe from Bouchon).

Much to Jen’s chagrin, I’ve been experimenting a lot with beans lately. It’s part of my effort to eat less meat and to find some easy-to-cook stuff at home. Like Mark Bittman says, beans are easy, healthy, and don’t require a lot of maintenance or precision in preparation. Lentils are nice because they don’t require soaking ahead of time. Fortunately, even Jen liked these, and she liked them even more when some of them turned into two slices of decadent, buttery, bacon-y quiche. Affectionately named the f’ing quiche (for taking 3 days to prepare), it’s custard-y and wonderful and I can’t believe Joy gives it away so willingly. I’d at least stick around to watch people eat it.

Lentils and potatoes with curry
from How to Cook Everything

1 cup dried brown lentils, washed and picked over
3 1/2 cups water, coconut milk, or stock, plus more if needed (I used 1 can of coconut milk, will probably use 1/2 next time)
1 tbsp curry powder
2 medium starchy potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
yogurt for garnish (I left this out)
chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

1. Combine the lentils, liquid, and curry powder in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils start to absorb the liquid a bit, about 15 minutes.
2. Add the potatoes and cover the pan complete. Cook undisturbed for 10 minutes or so, then stir gently and check to make sure the lentils aren’t too dry. If they are, add a little more liquid. Add salt as the lentils become tender.
3. Cover and continue cooking until the lentils are soft and beginning to turn to mush and the potatoes are tender at the center, another 5-10 minutes; add liquid if necessary. The mixture should be moist but not soupy. Add lots of black pepper, stir, then taste and adjust the seasoning and serve, garnished with yogurt and cilantro.


Chicken in a pot

Posted in food, home cooking at 2:57 am by wingerz


This struck me as a cute and simple recipe, so I decided to give it a try. It smelled amazing (what doesn’t, as it’s sizzling in a dutch oven?). The end result was a moist chicken with a soft, silky texture (like boiled chicken). Was hoping for more intense chicken flavor, but I didn’t use premium-quality chicken; maybe next time.

French Chicken in a Pot
From Cook’s Illustrated

1 whole roasting chicken (4 1/2 to 5 pounds), giblets removed and discarded, wings tucked under back (see note)
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion , chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
1 small stalk celery , chopped medium (about 1/4 cup)
6 medium garlic cloves , peeled and trimmed
1 bay leaf
1 medium sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Add chicken breast-side down; scatter onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary (if using) around chicken. Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird, flip chicken breast-side up and cook until chicken and vegetables are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove Dutch oven from heat; place large sheet of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid. Transfer pot to oven and cook until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 80 to 110 minutes.
2. Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with foil, and rest 20 minutes. Meanwhile, strain chicken juices from pot through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids (you should have about 3/4 cup juices). Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan and set over low heat. Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to saucepan. Stir lemon juice into jus to taste. Serve chicken, passing jus at table.

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