Posts tagged ‘lemon’

April 9, 2012

Dry Rubbed Seared Salmon

It’s officially springtime, and with Easter passing I’m beginning to go through my lighter dishes to go with the change of seasons.  I get giddy thinking about fresh grilled corn on the cob, summer salads full of fresh veggies, pears, apples and toasted nuts, and most of all the selection of fresh fish in the local market.  One of my all time favorites is salmon, however, one badly cooked salmon can turn me off for months, so I have to choose wisely when I dine out.  The dry, chalky taste of overcooked salmon is one of the most devastating things you can be met with at the dinner table.  Similar to a burnt cookie, overcooked pasta, or a hockey puck steak, overcooked salmon is a major offense in my book.  But when it’s done well, you’ll want to have it every day of the week.  The beauty of salmon is that it can pick up a variety of flavors, teriyaki, garlic, white wine and butter, and its meaty texture lends itself to a variety of cooking methods.  I don’t recommend cooking Dover sole on the BBQ, but a salmon can stand up to this summer time classic.

The delicate crispy, golden crust that forms on the outside is a perfect contrast to the juicy, meaty flesh.  It’s a symbol of summer and health, and gets you on the track to looking stunning in your new summer swimsuit.

Perfect pan-seared salmon demands on a very hot pan. Use a heavy cast-iron skillet, which heats evenly. Warm the pan before you add the oil – either extra light virgin olive oil or vegetable oil; this trick allows the pan to get it really hot without burning the oil. A preheated pan also requires less oil.  Once you master this method you’ll be able to whip up a gourmet dinner in less than 10 minutes – golden brown outside and tender inside.   I like to serve salmon with a fresh mixed green salad with a tangy vinaigrette, a refreshing contrast to the rich, yet delicate fish.

Ingredients

  • 2 6 oz. salmon fillets (skin on) one per person
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, coarse grind
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. extra light olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

Method

  1. In a small bowl, mix garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, seal, pepper, lemon pepper, and ginger.
  2. Brush the salmon with olive oil on all sides.
  3. Take the spice mixture and generously coat both sides of the salmon.
  4. Set a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When a drop of water skitters on the surface, add the oil.
  5. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom evenly and heat until the oil is almost smoking, about 30 seconds.
  6. Place the salmon skin side up in the cast iron skillet.
  7. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes.
  8. Turn the salmon and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes on the other side.
  9. Then lower heat to medium, place lid over skillet to trap heat and finish cooking an additional 2-3 minutes.
  10. With a minute to go, add a tbsp. of butter and let is melt in the pan, spoon it over the top of the salmon right before you turn off the heat.
  11. To check if the salmon in ready, stick a thin knife in the thickest part and gently look at the color inside.  It should be juicy and barely turning opaque.  If you over cook the fish it will be extremely dry and very white in color.
  12. When salmon is cooked enough to eat safely it will lose its translucency and become opaque. It should also flake easily when tested with a fork.
  13. Serve with a fresh salad and enjoy your very healthy yet tasty dinner!

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November 9, 2011

Hummus with Homemade Pita Chips

Hummus is one of my go to’s when organizing my list for party snacks.  It’s far healthier than the traditional ranch dip (although that does have it’s place at times) and packs huge flavor in a small bite.  It’s also an impeccable match for vegetables, breads, chips…. pretty much anything you like to dip.  It’s one of those dishes that will leave you with a perfectly clean bowl and happy, full stomachs after every party.

Hummus is a Middle Eastern spread or dip made with chickpeas, which are also known as garbanzo beans.  By themselves, I’m definitely not a fan, in fact, I hate them.  I pick them out of soups and salads, and toss them away without the littlest thought.  I find them mealy, dry and flaky and have no need for them.  But all blended up in the food processor with some other goodies and they make a fantastically good dip!  I can’t resist the creamy deliciousness that makes simple pita turn into a delicacy.  Serve it with some olives and a glass of wine and you’ll feel like you’re on a Greek vacation… ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but it will make your ordinary Tuesday something special.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice, about 1/2 lemon
  • Handful fresh cilantro

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line baking tray with foil, and spread the pine nuts out
  3. Once oven is preheated, toast pine nuts for 10 mins.  Keep your eye on them; if your oven runs hot or it’s touchy, you’ll want to check on them after 6-8 minutes to make sure they don’t burn.  You can also do this in a dry skillet on medium heat.
  4. Once they turn golden remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes
  5. Add all ingredients with the exception of 1 tbsp. pine nuts and cilantro to the food processor.  The reserved pine nuts will be your garnish
  6. Pulse on high for 30 seconds until mixture is well blended
  7. Add cilantro and pulse a few more times until cilantro is incorporated
  8. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more water or olive oil, this is the time to taste it to see if the salt and spices are at the right level.  Add a little more salt if needed but be careful, you can’t take back
  9. Scoop hummus into serving bowl and garnish with the remaining pine nuts and a little olive oil
  10. Serve with chips, pita bread, jicama, or carrots…. Anything you like to dip!

If you’re feeling like really treating yourself, you can make homemade pit chips to go with your hummus.  They beat the ones from the store any day.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag fresh pita (white or whole wheat)
  • 4 tbsp.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut pita bread into 8 wedges
  3. Pour olive oil into a bowl and brush pita chips with olive oil on both sides.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Arrange pita chips on baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown

 

September 25, 2011

Seared Petrale Sole

Growing up in San Francisco I was lucky to have access to come of the best fish in the country, one of my favorites is Petrale sole.  It’s a lean white fish about ½ an inch thick, with a mild favor that’s easily enhanced with mild spices and warm butter.  Petrale sole is exclusively found in the Pacific Ocean, but it’s close relative the Dover sole is more common on the east coast.  Both are beautifully delicate fish, perfect for a light dinner as we near the end of summer.

The key to cooking fish is cook it fast and don’t mess with it.  Fish already has great flavor, so I try to keep my methods and spices simple as to not overwhelm the natural taste.  I like to add a little touch of heat with either red pepper flakes or cayenne, but be light handed.  Good luck, and I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Petrale sole
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup semolina flour
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • Slice of lemon for garnish

Method

  • Mix flour, semolina, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper on a shallow plate.  I find it easier to dust the fish on a plate vs a bowl, and you also use up less flour in the process.
  • Preheat non stick frying pan to medium-high heat and add butter and olive oil
  • While the pan heats, lay the fish in the flour mixture and coat evenly.  It’s not like a batter, so it won’t be a thick layer, just an even dusting
  • Once the butter begins to foam, add fish and cook for 3 minutes
  • Flip and cook an additional 3 minutes.  Petrale sole is very thin, so it doesn’t take long.  You’re looking for a golden brown color on either side, which will give it a nice crust
  • Remove from pan and serve with a salad and potatoes

While I always encourage grilling, I would recommend it in this case.  Petrale sole will fall apart on the grill as it usually comes without skin and won’t stand up on the wire rack.  Leave grilling for something more hearty like salmon or tuna.

September 19, 2011

Zesty Citrus Chicken

I was sitting in my kitchen trying to decide what to do with a bunch of skinless boneless chicken breasts.  That’s when I spotted the bowl of limes and lemons I keep behind the sink (mainly for decoration) but in this case it was my new recipe!  I took 2 limes and 2 lemons and wallah – I have zesty citrus chicken!

Not only is this easy, but it’s also very healthy.  You get great flavor from the citrus marinade, and not a lot of fat since you pan sear it in just a little olive oil.  It reminded me of the beginning of summer as the smell of fresh lemons sifted through my kitchen.  I also love all the specks of color you got from the citrus zest.   It’s easy, healthy and flavorful, and best of all I made it with my kitchen adornment!

Ingredients

  • 6-8 skinless boneless chicken tenders (if you get whole breasts, just slice them in half, this way they take less time to cook and they stay moist and tender)
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion flakes
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Method

  • Combine all the ingredients above (except the chicken) in bowl and whisk
  • Once mixed, add chicken and make sure each piece gets coated.  Cover with saran wrap and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours (I usually leave it overnight)
  • Remove chicken from fridge 15 minutes before cooking, so it can warm up just a bit
  • Heat non stick pan to medium high and add a tsp of olive oil
  • Once pan is hot, add chicken strips (it should sizzle)
  • Cook for 4-5 minutes and then flip; they’ll be slightly golden on the bottom, white half way up and the top will still be pink.  If you’re cooking full breasts, you’ll need to cook them for longer, about 8 minutes per side.
  • Flip and cook an additional 4-5 minutes
  • The chicken is done when it’s no longer pink in the middle (you can take one piece out and cut into it to check)  You can also use a meat thermometer; chicken is done at 165 degrees.
  • Serve with a side of rice or potatoes and some greens
  • Enjoy!
September 9, 2011

Pesto

Break out the food processor; it’s attack of the basil plant!

It all started with two small, innocent looking basil plants I picked up at Lowe’s.  I went with two plants, thinking they’d both be dead within a week based on my record.  The leaves would start to wilt on the way home knowing they were about to be subjected to over watering and lack of sunlight in my small apartment.  I’ll admit I do not have the necessary gardening skills to keep even a cactus alive.  So you can imagine my surprise when I found 3-foot plants with more basil than I knew what to do with?  I guess my luck changed in Houston… sadly not due to anything I did, but thanks to the hot, humid weather.

Basil’s pervading, clove-like aroma is intoxicating; it’s extremely aromatic with a scent of pepper, anise, and mint.  The minute the smell hits me I’m transported to an Italian café where I wait for a fresh margarita pizza.  The taste is sweet, but savory, and just like the smell it’s peppery with a hint of spicy mint.

In an effort to control my garden, I went on a pesto fest, and started making jars of herby goodness to share with family and friends.  Below please find 3 of my pesto recipes.  All you need to do it combine all ingredients in a food processor and process on high-speed till evenly chopped and mixed.

Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Walnut Pesto: Substitute pine nuts for 1/2 cup walnuts; it has a slightly nuttier flavor and can also help you stretch your dollar since pine nuts can be quite pricey!

Mint Pesto: Substitute 1 1/2 cup basil for 1 1/2 cup mint leaves


While basil is abundant at the moment, I also suggest that you experiment with other herbs.  Pesto does not need to be basil based; I’ve tried mint, cilantro, rosemary and arugula.  Each one has a unique flavor, and can be added to bread, fish, meat, or enjoyed straight from the jar with some cheese.  With a basic formula you can come up with a myriad of variations by replacing the basil and pine nuts. Try these combos:

  • Arugula & toasted walnuts
  • Mint & toasted almonds
  • Cilantro & cashews
  • Basil, Rosemary & toasted walnuts
  • Cilantro & toasted pumpkin seeds

The other great thing about basil is it can be frozen and stored successfully for a few weeks.  The best method I’ve found is to place a small bunch in a clean Ziploc bag, blow some air in to inflate it, and place in the freezer where it won’t get squashed. You’ll find it quite convenient to then snip off a few leaves any time of year to add to pasta sauce, salads, or dressings.

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