Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rachel's Chimichurri Sauce


Rachel’s Chimichurri Sauce


If you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating Argentinean beef, you’ll no doubt remember its traditional accompaniment; Chimichurri Sauce. This delightful sauce, made with a variety of fresh herbs, is truly a wonderful compliment to red meat. However, I find it just as tasty on Tuna Steaks, and quite possibly pork. Here you will find my version of this traditional favorite. Whether you’re a long time fan of Chimichurri, or brand new to the experience, try it; I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed!



Ingredients:


-Equal amounts of fresh Cilantro and Italian Parsley 
(I used an overflowing handful of each)

-Small bunch of fresh Mint (about ¼ cup whole)

- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 cloves Garlic

- The juice of ½ Lemon

- ¾ teaspoon soy sauce

- 1 teaspoon Agave Nectar (or honey)

- ¼ teaspoon Smoked Paprika

- Ground Black Pepper to taste

- Salt (if needed)










Pour the olive oil into a food processor and add the garlic cloves, pepper,
 soy sauce and lemon juice.




Puree until the garlic cloves are well processed and the mixture is relatively smooth.




Add the parsley, cilantro and mint to the food processor in 2-3 stages. Each time, process until the herbs have been incorporated into the liquid.  




Taste to see if the sauce needs more salt. If so, add it to the mixture along with the smoked paprika. Process once more. The sauce should have a smooth consistency, but you should still be able to see the chopped herbs.




To use as a marinade: Spread about 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture into the bottom of a glass baking dish. Place your meat (in my case I used Ahi Tuna Steaks, but regular Steaks would also work wonderfully) into the dish and spoon another tablespoon or two over the tops of the steaks. Gently press the Chimichurri sauce into the meat using the back of the spoon. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (I recommend ½ hour for tuna steaks and at least 1 hour or overnight for regular steaks). Reserve the rest of the Chimichurri sauce for serving.




Cook the meat in your desired fashion (I pan seared my tuna steaks over medium heat for about 1 minute per side). Drizzle some of the Chimichurri sauce over the meat and serve with sides. I made baked sweet potato fries (*see note*) 
and sautéed vegetables as my accompaniments. 







*Note: I didn’t take pictures of my baked sweet potato fry making process, but here is my recipe if you are interested.*

Ingredients:

-2 Large Sweet Potatoes

-1 teaspoon Chili Powder

-1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin

-1/2 teaspoon ground Coriander

- ¼ teaspoon salt

- 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

- Sprinkle of Cinnamon



Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice your sweet potatoes into wedges. Place in a large bowl and add olive oil, chili powder, cumin, coriander and salt. Toss with tongs until the potatoes are evenly coated with the oil and spices. Pour onto baking sheet in one even layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 20 minutes, flip the wedges with tongs and bake an additional 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cornbread Stuffed Eggplant Rolls with Mole Sauce



Cornbread Stuffed Eggplant Rolls with Mole Sauce
 (for two)
 
The sweet and tangy cornbread stuffing and rich Mole sauce combine to create a dish that is bursting with flavor. Serve with your choice of meat and a leafy green salad for an exciting, well balanced meal. This is also a great dish for entertaining because both the cornbread and mole sauce can be made in advance.

Ingredients:

- 1 large Eggplant
- Olive oil for brushing

Filling:

- About 2 cups crumbled Cornbread (you can find our favorite recipe here)
- 3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
- 1 Tablespoon Light Mayo
- Ground Black Pepper to taste
- Generous handful of Cilantro (chopped)

Mole Sauce:

- 4 Guajillo Peppers (dried mild chile peppers)
- 1 medium Onion
- 2 cloves Garlic
- ¼ teaspoon Fennel seed
- ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground Coriander
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- Sprinkle of Nutmeg
- 1 cup Water
- Juice of ½ Lime
- Milk chocolate to taste (the amount I used was equivalent to about 6 squares of a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar)
- Olive oil for the pan


Prepare the cornbread. Place pan on a wire rack and allow it to cool.

Cut the eggplant lengthwise into thin slices (try to get 4-6 slices about ¼ of an inch thick). Salt both sides of the slices and place in a colander to “sweat”.

Once the cornbread has cooled, remove a quarter of it from the pan and crumble it into a large bowl. Add the chopped cilantro, heavy cream, mayo and pepper, stirring to combine.




Preheat the broiler to low.

As the broiler is pre-heating, use the time to dice the onion finely and grind the 
fennel seed in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.




Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Spread some olive oil on a baking sheet and place the eggplant slices on it. Brush some olive oil on the tops of the slices. Broil 4-5 minutes on one side, flip and broil 3 minutes on the other side.




Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray. *Note: The dish should be large enough to comfortably fit the amount of rolls you are making (I used an 8x8in). You don’t want to stack the rolls on top of each other in the pan.*

When the eggplant is done broiling, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Assemble the rolls: Lay a slice of eggplant on a clean, flat surface. Use clean hands to mold about 2 tablespoons of the cornbread filling into an “egg” shape. 





Place the ball of filling at the large end of the eggplant slice. 




Roll up the eggplant, starting from the bottom. If you wish, stuff a little extra filling into the ends of each roll. Place, seam side down, in the glass baking dish. 
Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.




Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes. 

Take the Guajillo chiles and break off the tops. Shake the seeds out of the bottoms of the peppers (if there are still a few left inside don’t worry). 




Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. 
Add the onion and cook until softened.




As the onion is cooking, break up the peppers and place them in a food processor. Process until they are ground up into flakes.




Add the garlic to the pan with the onions, then add the ground chile peppers.




Pour the water into the pan and stir, allowing the mixture to come to a simmer. Add the fennel seed, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, paprika and nutmeg.





Add the chocolate to the sauce (I used 3 chunks about this size), stirring until 
thoroughly melted. Squeeze the lime into the pan.




Allow the sauce to reduce over medium-low heat until it reaches your desired consistency. It should be bubbly and have a rich, thick texture. *Note: You can add a little more water (about ½ a cup) and allow the sauce to reduce again to intensify the flavors and give you more time to complete the rest of the meal. You can also use this method to re-heat your sauce if you have made it in advance.*


  

To serve: Drizzle the rolls with the Mole sauce and garnish with sprigs of Cilantro. 



Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sweet and Savory Eggplant Spears


Sweet and Savory Eggplant Spears
(for two)

Ingredients:

- 1 half extra large Eggplant (or 1 whole medium sized Eggplant)

- 1 medium-large Onion

- Handful of baby Carrots (1 used 8)

- ½ lb of Ground Beef
-1-2 teaspoons whole Fennel seed
 
- 1 teaspoon dried Oregano

- ½ teaspoon ground Coriander

- 2 cloves Garlic

- 3 large Dates (or substitute 2-3 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries)

- ½ cup rice (brown jasmine or regular white)

- Dry White Wine (I used Chardonnay)

- Olive Oil

- 1-2 cups of Water

- Salt and ground Black Pepper to taste



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.



Halve eggplant, sprinkle salt on the cut side and place in a colander to “sweat”.





Dice the onion and baby carrots. Mince the garlic (or use garlic press) 
and chop the dates (note the size).







Place the ground beef in a large pan with a tight fitting lid. Season it with salt, fennel seed and a generous splash of white wine. Break up the ground beef in the pan over medium heat. Cover and cook until the ground beef has very little pink left and the 
wine has been absorbed. 






Add a little bit of Olive Oil to the pan along with the onion and carrot. 
Cook over medium-low heat until softened. 



 

Adjust the salt and add the oregano, coriander, garlic, dates and pepper to taste. 
Stir to combine.


Add the rice to the pan and allow it to “toast” for a few seconds while stirring. 



Add 1 cup of water to the pan and cover. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer. Keep covered and cook for about 25 minutes. *Note: If your pan has a tight fitting lid, this should be sufficient liquid to cook the rice, but keep an eye on it. If the rice is not cooked and the liquid has evaporated, add more water to the pan 
and continue to cook (covered).



Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Brush olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a foil lined baking sheet, cut side up. 



Loosely cover the eggplant with a second piece of foil, pinching it at the ends. This will keep the eggplant from drying out in the oven. Bake 30-35 minutes, checking on it half-way through the cooking time.





To serve: Cut the eggplant in half to form two “spears” (or if using medium sized eggplant simply put one half on each plate). Spoon some of the rice mixture over the larger end of each “spear”. Garnish with a sprig of fresh tarragon. 













Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cajun "Lily Pads"



Cajun “Lily Pads”
(for two)


If you don’t care for seafood you can still enjoy this dish. Omit the scallops and make it a meatless meal (quinoa is a great source of protein), or use slices of chicken or pork (made with thyme and lemon or your choice of seasoning) as a substitute.



Ingredients:

Scallops:

- 2 servings of Bay Scallops (raw)

- ½ Lemon

- Sprinkle of Thyme

- Salt to taste

- Baby Spinach leaves

Vegetable Sauce:

- 3 stalks Celery

- 1 large Onion

- 1 Large Red Bell Pepper

- 1 can diced Tomatoes

- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

- 2 Bay Leaves

- ½ teaspoon Thyme

- 1 Jalapeño pepper

- Salt and ground black Pepper to taste

- Dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)

- Olive Oil

Smokey Quinoa:

- 1 cup uncooked Quinoa

- 1 ½ cup Water

- ½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika

- Salt and Pepper to taste

- Sprinkle of All-spice


Place 1 ½ cup water in a small saucepan and add the quinoa, smoked paprika, all-spice, pepper and salt (to taste); stir to combine. Turn burner to medium-high heat. Once the quinoa begins to boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. The quinoa will need to cook for about 20 minutes; you should be able to fluff it with a fork.





Dice the onion and celery. Heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. During this time, dice the red bell pepper.






Once the onions and celery have softened, add the diced tomatoes, white wine (about one and one half times around the perimeter of the pan), Old Bay Seasoning, 
thyme and bay leaves.






Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover and reduce the heat to low. 
The sauce should continue to simmer under the lid. 






Cut the Jalapeño pepper in half.






Then take a small knife and cut along the ribs of the pepper to remove the seeds.






Taste the sauce to see if additional salt is needed. Add the Jalapeño
 halves to the pot and re-cover. 






Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet (medium heat). Add the scallops, squeeze the lemon over them, and season with salt and thyme. Cook until slightly firm and opaque (about 2 minutes, be careful not to overcook them). 







To serve: Make a bed of quinoa on the plate, spoon some of the vegetable sauce on top of it, layer baby spinach leaves over the sauce and finish with the scallops. 
Garnish each plate with a Jalapeño half. 




Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tilapia with Blackberry Lemon Sauce



Tilapia with Blackberry Lemon Sauce
(for two)

Ingredients:

2 Tilapia Filets (or substitute chicken breasts, but keep in mind that the cooking time will be longer)

Sauce:

- 1 cup of Blackberries
- 1 Lemon
- ½ teaspoon whole grain Mustard
- 1 tablespoon Agave Nectar (or honey)
- White wine

Roasted Potatoes:

- 4 small to medium sized potatoes
- 1 teaspoon of Dill (dried)
- 1 teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes
- Salt (about ¼ teaspoon)
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- Cooking spray

Broccoli:

-2 Broccoli Crowns chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil for the pan


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Dice 4 small to medium sized potatoes into chunks.






Place in large bowl and sprinkle with spices. Drizzle with Olive Oil.






Toss the potatoes with tongs to coat evenly with spices and oil. 






Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the potatoes on it in one even layer.

Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Then bump the oven temp to 375, stir the potatoes and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

 * Note: the potatoes may be done cooking before you are completely finished with the rest of the meal. If this happens, turn off the oven and leave the potatoes inside. A little extra time in the warm oven won’t hurt them, it will simply add to their crispiness. *






Cut two broccoli crowns for use later.








Cut ½ cup of the blackberries crossways. Leave the rest whole.






Cut the lemon in half. Cut off two thin slices for use as a garnish.






Place the cut blackberries into a pan and squeeze the lemon halves over them. 
Turn the burner to medium heat. 






After a minute or two, take a fork and press down on the berries, 
breaking them up in the pan.






Add the white wine (about 1 time around the pan) and the remainder of the blackberries. Add the agave and stir.






Allow the mixture to reduce over medium to medium low heat. 
It will start to thicken and become “syrupy”. 


Place the raw tilapia on a plate and season both sides well with salt and pepper. 






Once the blackberry sauce has reduced over half way, lower the heat a bit and add the mustard, stirring to combine. *Note: You will want to taste the sauce at this time to ensure that the balance of sweet and tart flavors suits your needs. If your blackberries are not very sweet, you may want to add more agave or honey. *





Heat some oil in a pan and add the broccoli, sautéing over medium heat until tender.



Heat some olive oil in another pan and add the tilapia. Cook until the fish is white and opaque (about 2-3 minutes per side).



Serve the tilapia drizzled with blackberry sauce and accompanied by the broccoli and potatoes. Garnish with lemon slices.