Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sole with Seafood Stuffing in a Lime-Cilantro Broth

I don't even know how to write about this because it was so good.  Literally, we ate slowly, savoring every bite, and were still left wanting more!!  We were full, sated, and wanting, begging, for more.

Too bad.

My Mom (being the awesome person she is) has sent me a case of meat from Omaha Steaks for the past 2 Christmas'. Say what you will about online meat purveyors, but Boyfriend and I can use all the free food you can throw at us.  I try very, very hard to purchase sustainable, local food with my own money (yeah CSA!!), but I'm not going to deny a gift, especially not a gift of meat.

This year we got a couple Stuffed Sole Filets along with some pork chops, beef tenderloins, and hamburgers.  I was in the mood for something healthy and crisp, so I decided to bake the Sole in the oven and serve it in a lime-cilantro broth with roasted cauliflower.

Stuffed Sole
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp ginger, fresh grated with juice
5-7 cilantro sprigs
2 tsps red pepper flakes
2 tsps chinese 5-spice powder
zest of 1 lime and juice
1/2 C white wine (I used Gewurztraminer)
1/4 C Asian fish sauce
2 C water
salt and pepper, to taste

To make the broth:
1. In a large saucepan, heat the butter and add the onion, celery, garlic and ginger.  Cook until softened (5-7min).

2. Add the cilantro, red pepper, chinese 5-spice powder and lime zest and cook for 1-2min.
3. Add the wine and cook over medium heat until reduced by half.
4. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and water and bring to a boil.
5. Turn down the heat to a simmer, and let the flavors develop for about 15min.

6. Strain the broth into a small saucepan and taste for seasonings.  Add salt and pepper if needed.

To make the fish and cauliflower:
1. Set the oven to 375F and place the frozen stuffed sole onto a foil-lined baking sheet when the oven is ready.  Bake for 40min.
2. Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt and pepper and put into the oven (on a baking sheet) for 20-30min, depending on how crispy you like them.  Boyfriend likes his roasted veggies to have burnt edges so we err on the longer cooking times.

To serve:
Place the cooked sole in the middle of a bowl and pour the lime-cilantro broth all around it.  Serve with roasted cauliflower on the side.

If you want to make this a little more hearty, I think it would be great over rice as well.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lobster Mac n' Cheese

Decadent?  Yes.  Within my New Year's Resolution to cook healthier?  Not in the least.  The good news?  I made this in December 2010 so it doesn't count against me.  Muwah-ha-ha!

Thank God lobster grows in New England, making it relatively less expensive than if I were living in, say, Kansas.  I say "relatively" because lobster is still considered a luxury here, but I managed to get a pound of lobster claws and meat for $7.99 and I don't care where you live, that's a steal!  Especially since I didn't have to deal with the steaming/cracking/picking/time consuming part of it.

Ingredients (serves 2 plus leftovers):
1/2 lb Campanelle pasta
4 C 1% milk, room temperature (look at me, tryin' to be healthy n' stuff)
1/2 stick (4tbsp) of butter (just kidding!)
4 tbsp flour
1 C shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 C shredded Fontina (only because I had a hunk of it getting old in the fridge)
1/2 lb lobster claw and tail meat, cooked
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
Zest of 1 medium-sized lemon
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 C panko-style bread crumbs
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Start boiling water for the pasta, don't forget to salt it!
2. Preheat the oven to 375F.
3. Make a bechamel sauce:  Heat the butter until it is melted but not browning.  Add the flour to the butter, whisking the whole time, and cook it for about 5-6 minutes, or until it is a light, golden color.  Add the room temperature milk (you can also heat the milk over a low flame to speed this step up a little), and continue to whisk until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
4. Remove the bechamel from the heat, and add the shredded cheeses, lobster meat, salt, pepper, lemon zest, tarragon and nutmeg, stirring to incorporate and melt the cheeses.
5. Toss the al dente pasta with the cheese/lobster sauce, then pour it into an oven safe dish.  I used little individual gratin dishes.
6. Mix the bread crumbs with the olive oil and sprinkle them over the top of the pasta.
7. Bake for 20-30min, or until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta/bread crumbs are browned on the top.

I chose a 2008 Chardonnay to serve with this because I thought a medium-bodied, slightly oaky and acidic Chardonnay would help cut through the richness of the dish.  I chose wisely. 

All in all, this dinner was pretty easy to make and felt very luxurious for a weeknight meal.  I would definitely do it again for a dinner party or if I was trying to impress people.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Turkey Agrodolce

Sorry its taken me so long to post anything after the holidays.  I've been cooking plenty, but haven't had time to sit down and write.  I'm not sure if it was writer's block or laziness or what, I was just lacking inspiration I guess.

This post is a little late, and by a little, I mean like 2 months.  This is the last of the Thanksgiving-Turkey-Overload recipes.  It was super-simple and was a perfect use of some of the last of the leftovers, namely turkey and cranberry sauce.  

Agrodolce is a traditional Italian sweet (dolce) and sour (agro) sauce.  The dolce is my favorite part, especially "la dolce vita".  In fact, dolce is so important to me that my nickname for my bike is "Vita", because riding around this great city in the summer truly is "the good life".

I created this dish because I would have had a nervous breakdown if I opened the fridge and saw anything related to Thanksgiving one more day.  Luckily, this finished the turkey AND the cranberry sauce off.

1 C leftover turkey, shredded or chopped into bite-sized pieces
3/4 C  leftover cranberry sauce (whole berry)
2-3 tbsp of honey (depending on how sweet your cranberry sauce is)
1 bay leaf
1/2 C balsamic vinegar
1/4 C red wine
1 medium shallot, diced
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper, to taste
Pappardelle pasta, cooked al dente

Get ready for how easy this is:

1.  Cook the shallot until soft in a lightly oiled pan, about 3min.  
2.  Add the turkey, cranberry sauce, honey bay leaf, vinegar and red wine to the shallot and turkey mixture.  Let this cook low-n-slow, about 20min.  My turkey was mostly dark meat so this worked great, if you are using white meat you might want to add the turkey to the sauce a little later to prevent it from getting tough.

3. Taste your sauce, does it need something?  If so, add it (you love those vague directions dontcha?)
4. Top the cooked pasta with the turkey-cranberry agrodolce and ring the bell 'cuz its dinner time.

Boyfriend and I really enjoyed eating this, it was tart and sweet and different.  I enjoyed cooking it because I really didn't have to do anything.  I especially loved cooking this because IT USED UP ALL THE LEFTOVERS YEAHHHHHHHH!!!!!
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