Tag Archives: food

sushi-seared tuna, edamame “risotto,” seven-spice brussels sprouts recipes

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In addition to regular recipe posts, I’m going to be posting snapshots of what we’ve been eating at home, along with loose recipe guidelines. I hope you’ll be inspired to try something new. Also, I’m doing this for selfish reasons! Most of the time, I just make up whatever we’re eating for dinner. Weeks or months later, when that meal is requested again, I don’t remember how I made it! So, I’d like to remember how to prepare the big hits.

Today’s dinner is: sushi-seared tuna, edamame “risotto,” and seven-spice Brussels sprouts.

I call the tuna “sushi-seared” because it incorporates many elements of your favorite sushi roll: soy, ginger, wasabi, and sesame seeds. Missing the rice and edamame? Well, they’ll be on the other side of the plate, looking something like risotto. I added roasted brussels sprouts, sprinkled with Japanese seasoning, because they’re healthy and delicious.

Let’s get started!

You might need to buy:

  • Ahi tuna steaks (one per person)
  • Edamame (shelled, or whole)
  • Green onions/scallions
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Japanese seven-spice powder (I got mine from SpiceHouse.com, http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/japanese-seven-spice)
  • Sesame seeds (black and white, or whichever you have on hand)
  • Prepared wasabi

What you’ll need that you should have in your fridge or pantry:

  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper, ground
  • Arborio rice

To make the whole meal, which comes together startlingly fast:

First, make the marinade for the tuna, being sure to grate double the ginger so you’ll have some for the risotto. Marinade it while you do the rest.

Preheat the oven, then trim and prepare the Brussels sprouts.

Prepare the rest of the aromatics (garlic, scallions) and mise en place.

Stick Brussels sprouts in the oven, then start risotto.

Towards the end of the risotto’s cooking time, heat up the pan for the tuna.

Everything should finish around the same time.

For the sushi-seared tuna:

Ingredients:

  • Ahi tuna steaks
  • 1 one-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoons wasabi
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Sesame seeds (black and white, mixed together), 2-3 tablespoons per tuna steak

First, prepare a marinade. In a bowl that will hold the tuna steaks, stir together the grated ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, wasabi, and salt. Add tuna steaks, coat well, and allow to rest covered at room temperature for about 30 minutes. The idea here is to let the steaks warm up so that the chilled insides don’t cool off the entire steak when it’s pulled from the pan.

(If you’re making the other dishes, prepare them here).

Preheat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high. Immediately before cooking, sprinkle both sides of each tuna steak with sesame seeds. Press into tuna to coat.

Add a tablespoon of canola oil to the pan. When hot, add tuna steaks. Sear on each side for 1-2 minutes max, flipping when brown and the sesame seeds have become a crust.

Serve immediately.

For the Brussels sprouts:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese seven-spice powder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Just enough sesame oil to coat

Preheat oven to 450F.

Prepare Brussels sprouts by trimming tough stem end, removing loose leaves, and slicing into halves or quarters.

Toss with salt, Shichimi Togarashi, and sesame oil. Spread on a baking sheet, careful not to overlap – you want them to roast, not steam.

Roast for about 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout – when they are beginning to brown and crisp up, they’re done.

For the “risotto:”

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 one-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin, separated
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup sake
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup edamame (shelled – so you have ½ cup of little beans, not ½ cup of whole pods)

In a medium saucepan, heat the sesame oil over medium. When hot, add ginger, garlic, half of the sliced scallions, and salt. Saute until fragrant, about one minute, then add rice. Cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute.

Pour in sake and stir to coat. When almost all of it has evaporated, add water until the rice is just covered. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost evaporated. Again, add more water and repeat. Continue adding water and stirring until rice is tender and creamy. Add edamame towards the end. The whole process should take 15-20 minutes.
Garnish with remaining sliced green onions.

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tasso carbonara recipe

Creamy, delicious pasta

Growing up, I was spoiled rotten by my mom’s cooking. She made us amazing meals, from scratch, almost nightly. The food was so good that my brother and I would battle over leftovers, going so far as to sneak into the kitchen late at night to snag the last fajita or a serving of Moroccan chicken.

Carbonara was a lazy-night meal for my mom, and as I’ve spent the last years living on my own and then cooking for others, it’s become the same for me. Carbonara is fast and easy to prepare, but yields fabulous results every time. All you need is a little bit of pork, a few eggs, and cheese. There are fancy ways to make carbonara, but it’s just as good when you keep it simple. When I got some tasso – a Cajun cured ham – from Teet’s, it was a Thursday night and as much as I wanted to experiment, I really just wanted to get dinner on the table. So carbonara was an easy choice, especially when I thought of adding some Slap Ya Mama seasoning to the mix to complement the ham.

The sauce in carbonara results from scrambled eggs heating just enough to thicken. So pull your eggs out of the fridge to take off the chill before you do anything else. If they’re cold, they’ll take longer to thicken, and you might be tempted to turn the stove back on – not a good idea, as it will almost always end in scrambled eggs, not creamy sauce. (That has happened to me on more than one occasion. I eat it anyway – it’s delicious).

Teet’s Tasso Carbonara, as seen on 37 Cooks

  • 1/2 pound pasta, such as linguine or fettucine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces Teet’s tasso, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon Slap ya Mama seasoning, or other Cajun seasoning
  • Fresh salt and pepper to taste

Before you get started, do a little prep work: in a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, cheese, and Slap ya Mama seasoning. Set aside.

Set a large pot of water over high heat to boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, add pasta and cook until almost done.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium. Add tasso and saute until slightly crispy and fat has begun to render. Add garlic and turn the heat down to low.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with tasso and garlic. Toss for a moment so the flavors mingle, then take the pan off the heat. Whisking quickly, add the egg mixture to the pasta. Toss and stir constantly until the eggs have thickened into a creamy sauce. (If the eggs scramble instead, exhale and eat it anyway – it will be tasty, and you can try again some other time).

Garnish with black pepper and a little more cheese, then serve and enjoy.

pancake bread pudding

pancake bread pudding

For whatever reason, over the years, I’ve never abided by the taboo about only eating eggs, bacon, or cereal for breakfast. I wake up starving, and if there’s curry in the fridge, I’d much rather grab that then make an omelet. During the week, I sleep until the last possible second and usually wind up eating last night’s leftovers for breakfast. It gives my coworkers great pleasure to tease me about our office smelling like stuffed peppers at 8:30am.

On the weekends, there’s time to eat and prepare a real breakfast – or brunch. But weekends are also when there’s time to polish off random leftovers that have accumulated in the fridge over the week. That’s when things can get creative. Thrifty chefs will often advise you to repurpose those tidbits into a frittata or hash. That can result in an unexpectedly delicious brunch, sweetened by the success of transforming leftovers into a wonderful, good-as-new meal.

But what happens when you don’t have meats and veggies to fold into your eggs? What should you do when your only leftovers are a giant Tupperware full of past-their-prime pancakes?

When faced with that challenge recently, I didn’t want to serve leftover pancakes. As delicious as they’d been on their day of birth, I knew that a trip down Reheat Lane would only dry them out. They’d be picked at, not eaten.

Then it hit me. When you have an old, stale loaf of bread, what’s the best way to deal with it? Bread pudding. Why couldn’t I do the same thing with these pancakes?

If you follow the recipe below, you will remove from your oven a delicious treat. Whoever finds it on their plate will eat happily. You can, however, jazz it up with just a little creativity. Check out my ideas below. Oh yeah, one last thing – use a shallow, wide baking dish if you’ve got one; you’ll love the contrast between the pudding’s crunchy top and creamy interior.

Recipe: Pancake Bread Pudding
Ingredients
6 cups leftover pancakes, torn into chunks
1 1/2 cups half and half (substitute milk if you don’t have it)
3 eggs
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the bottom and sides of a baking dish (I used an 8″ round one).

In a large bowl, beat half and half, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add pancake chunks and allow to soak in mixture for about ten minutes.

Pour pancake mix into baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set and browned on top.

Spoon onto individual plates and serve with maple syrup.

Creative options:
– Make maple syrup whipped cream by mixing a few tablespoons of maple syrup with a cup of heavy cream. Beat until firm, and serve with the pudding.
– Fold a few tablespoons of maple syrup into creme fraiche and serve alongside.
– Add crumbled cooked bacon or sausage to the pancakes after the soaking time and before baking.
– Top pudding with crumbled bacon or sausage before baking.
– Bake in ramekins or individual serving dishes (just decrease the baking time by 10-20 minutes). Add a raw egg to the top about 5 minutes before finished. Bake until whites are set.
– Mix in chocolate chips, bananas, strawberries, blueberries: anything you like on your pancakes!
– Substitute or supplement smoky ancho chile powder for cinnamon and top with chocolate sauce for a Mexican chocolate-inspired breakfast.

Any more ideas? Please feel free to share.

Eating like Tourists in New Orleans

My amazing boyfriend had a birthday a couple of weeks ago. Of course I wanted to do something fun for him – he had me making pizza at Antico on my big day this past year, after all. He’s a difficult person to buy gifts for, so there was really only one option: an adventure. We love road trips and in surveying the cities we can easily reach by car from Atlanta, there was really only one option. Neither of us had been to New Orleans. Shocking, right? I think NOLA is a city for those who love to eat and drink, two activities that Xavier and I excel at. A quick trip to Priceline resulted in an amazing deal for a birthday weekend. Shockingly, I managed to keep this information to myself for approximately six weeks. Birthday surprise!

Then we made the mistake of whipping up frozen beverages to enjoy with homemade tacos al carbon, whereupon Xavier learned that my threshold for keeping his birthday surprise under wraps is a lowly two margaritas.

We reached New Orleans in late afternoon. There was plenty of daylight left, but thanks to some traffic in Mississippi, Central Grocery closed as we were pulling into town. We would have to wait until our next trip to try the best muffaletta in town. But our disappointment was quelled as we drove down Decatur Street to the hotel. We couldn’t believe how many people were milling around the streets, watching street performers, looking at merchants’ art on display, and drinking. Everyone had a beverage in hand, and most were the alcoholic variety.

I couldn’t believe that people were allowed to drink in the streets here.

Our first night in the city was a Saturday. The hotel was right down the road from Bourbon Street, so we decided to walk around and check out the scene. But first? Dinner.

Two iconic oyster bars were so close that we literally stumbled across them. Then I said, “Hey, I know this place – we’re supposed to eat here!”

The line to Acme was really long, so we checked out Felix’s across the street first. They were cash-only and had just lost their liquor license. It seemed generally sad and sketchy. So we braved the Acme line, which stretched down the street.

Were we ever glad we did! We were seated at the oyster bar, right in front of a shucker. As we waited for our food, he kindly handed over freshly shucked oysters that couldn’t be plated. In this moment, it did not bother me one bit that Xavier doesn’t care for raw oysters. I got them all!

This is the face of a happy oyster eater

If you find yourself in New Orleans, do yourself a favor and order charbroiled oysters. Our shucker recommended them so enthusiastically that we couldn’t say no, despite the fact that – honestly – the description didn’t appeal to us very much. But how wrong we were! Oysters, garlic butter, and Romano cheese – that’s all they were, but how amazing they were. We demolished the plate in approximately three seconds, sopping up every last drop of garlic-butter sauce with the French bread.


Our other choices were a “New Orleans Medley” with gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and sausage. It was a good opportunity to sample a few of the local specialties, but I was disappointed in the rice to other stuff ratio. The shrimp po-boy was fine, but nothing special.

The next morning, we meandered over to Cafe du Monde for a meal I’d been anticipating for approximately four years.

Beignets did not disappoint. 

We discovered, as so many tourists to New Orleans have learned over the years, that cafe au lait and beignets make the perfect breakfast combination. They are the perfect combination of crispy, yet light and fluffy. An avalanche of powdered sugar on top seals the deal.

At lunchtime, we made another attempt at a po-boy. At Johnny’s, where this stuff was heralded as the best po-boy in NOLA, we tried a shrimp sandwich. It looked delicious.

It was here at Johnny’s that we finally sadly admitted to ourselves the truth: po-boys just didn’t do it for us. Don’t get me wrong, they are perfectly decent and definitely tasty. But they had been built up as the Michael Phelps of sandwiches. To me, it tasted pretty similar to a sub from Wegman’s or a hoagie from anywhere in Philly. Delicious, yes, but not worth driving 450 miles to eat one. In typical fashion, Xavier slathered mayo on his and proclaimed it delicious. I ate mine plain and was satisfied.

The most exciting story about eating in New Orleans comes from our pursuit of the muffuletta. Have yo heard of a muffuletta? It’s a sandwich consisting of Italian meats, olive salad, and cheese. It basically sounded like the perfect food for my boyfriend. We’d heard about a place called Central Grocery from everyone – my mom to Serious Eats. Unfortunately, Central Grocery closed approximately ten minutes before we rolled into NOLA, and they weren’t to reopen until after we left. We were forced to find other options for this treat.

That brings us to Sunday evening. Walking around the Bourbon Street area, we happened upon somewhat of a street fight in front of Acme Oyster House. An angry gentleman was screaming and cursing at another man down the road. He looked like a local, and I enjoyed his creativity in unleashing insults. So when he finished fighting, I asked him where to find the best muffuletta in New Orleans.

He immediately cheered up. “Oh, I can show you that! It’s right down the road. Just follow me.”

Thus began our six-block power-walk down Royal Street.

“Where are you taking us?” we asked, struggling to keep up.

“Just a little ways up,” he answered. We learned that he has a daughter in Atlanta, but has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He did stay in Atlanta during the hurricane, and he really enjoys Piedmont Park. He’s still married to his wife, although they haven’t spoken in years. Getting divorced is a pain in the ass, he said. He fired a line of questions at us: what did we do for work? Were we married? Why were we in New Orleans? And silently, we wondered what was going on, what game he was running, and where the hell he was taking us.

Finally, we arrived to the hallowed location that serves the best muffulettas in New Orleans: a grocery store.

“This place?” we asked, doubtful.

“Yeah! The ingredients here are so fresh, and the girl working in back is really cute!”

We perused the shelf of sandwiches. No muffulettas to be found. He led us to the back, where a grizzled old lady curiously sporting pigtails asked what we needed.

“Muffulettas!”

“Is that the girl you think is cute?” I asked.

He shook his head empathetically. “Hell no!”

We received the muffuletta in a plastic clamshell box, and our friend – whose name, we had learned, was Richard – began his next campaign.

“Man, I need to ask you something. I got you this great muffuletta. Will you guys buy me a Bud? I need something to get this night started!”

“A beer? Really?” I asked, already knowing I was going to buy him one.

“Yes! Come on, Coach, put me in the game!”

“Okay, fine,” I allowed. “But we’re here on a weekend trip, and I want to have some memories. So can I take a photo of you guys?”

“Let me see that,” he requested when I’d taken the photo. “Oh man, I look like OJ Simpson!”
And so he did.
The muffuletta was decent, but I think we’ll make it a point to plan our next trip around Central Grocery’s hours of operation. Although an adventure is always fun.
Eating like a tourist in New Orleans was fun. Since it was our first trip and time was limited, we had to check out the big-name places like Cafe du Monde and Johnny’s. Next time, though, we’ll have to go beyond the beaten path. I have so many food recommendations from friends that our next time in New Orleans is already planned!
Have you been to New Orleans? What were your favorite food experiences? Do you think asking a local for recommendations is always a good idea?

shrimp tostadas recipe

Shrimp tostadas are what happens when you’ve got a little bit of extra shrimp in the fridge and you are dying for an afternoon snack. They’re what happens when there are a few amazing handmade corn tortillas left over from the market, and when you’ve got an avocado and a tomato that are just dying to be eaten.

They’re an amazing snack, if a little bit naughty. Hey, my excuse? It was a Sunday. If you’re adverse to pan-frying a tortilla, perhaps bake it instead. Just keep it at 250 or so and let it bake until crunchy. But I would recommend the whole shebang.

Shrimp Tostadas for Two

1/8 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp vegetable oil, separated
Large pinch salt
Large pinch chipotle chile powder
Large pinch cumin
Large pinch paprika
2 corn tortillas
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 shallot, minced
Fresh-squeezed lime juice, to taste
Cilantro to taste
Salt to taste

In a small bowl, mix the shrimp, 1 tbsp vegetable oil, salt, chile powder, cumin, and paprika. Allow to rest.

In another small bowl, toss together the avocado, tomato, shallot, lime juice to taste, and salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro.

In a heavy saute pan over medium high heat, heat the vegetable oil until very hot and shimmering. Fry the corn tortillas, one at a time, until crispy on both sides. Turn as necessary. Drain on paper towels.

In another preheated saute pan – or the same one, wiped clean of excess oil – cook the shrimp on medium-high heat, stirring as needed. They should be done in just a couple of minutes.

Assemble the tostadas: place half of the shrimp on each fried tortilla. Top with a scoop of avocado mixture. (The rest of the avocado salsa, you ask? Eat it with tortilla chips).