Saturday, August 30, 2008

Leftovers: Greek veggie pita

Greek veggie pita (makes 1 sandwich)

1 whole wheat pita

1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled

3/4 cup of Greek grilled vegetables (left over from grilled Greek vegetables over fava)

small handful of sprouts

1/4 cup (or more) of plain yogurt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

a bit of sliced red onion

salt and pepper, to taste

Warm up the vegetables if they are cold, and warm the pita, too. Put the sprouts in the middle of the pita, top with vegetables, feta, red onion, yogurt, and parsley. Add salt and pepper. Eat open-faced or rolled.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Grilled Greek vegetables with fava

Tonight I made something inspired by the new issue of Eating Well magazine -- no surprise to anyone who read this post.

The October 2008 edition has a recipe for Greek "fava," a puree of yellow split peas that serves as a polenta-type base that's the consistency of mashed potatoes. It can be topped with anything you want. I decided to grill vegetables seasoned with a Greek blend of herbs and spices.

This was my first attempt at making something Greek. I used to wait tables at The Trojan Horse, which boasts "Greek specialties and American favorites," and my favorite thing there was the moussaka, a casserole with beef, eggplant, and custard topping. It looked so very involved...but maybe I'll try that next time.

Anyway, the fava couldn't be easier to make, although mine turned out a little dry, so when I served it, I drizzled a little extra olive oil on top.

Greek fava, or yellow split pea puree (makes 2 dinner servings)

1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoon olive oil, divided

2 cups vegetable broth

3/4 cup yellow split peas, rinsed

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1.) Heat the tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan, and cook onion until soft. Add the split peas, stir, then add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer about 45 minutes, or until the peas are very soft.

2.) Transfer the peas to a food processor; add the lemon juice, remaining oil, and salt; and puree until smooth.

Grilled Greek vegetables (makes 4-6 servings)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dill

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small eggplant, cut into pieces about an inch thick and 2 inches long, and lightly salted

1 large tomato, cut into chunks

1 large zucchini, thickly sliced

1/2 large onion, chopped into fairly large pieces

1 green bell pepper, chopped

metal skewers (4 long or 8 short)

1.) Pre-heat grill to medium. Combine first nine ingredients, through the salt.

2.) Put the salted eggplant pieces in a colander and let them drain over the sink for a half hour. Pat dry with a paper towel.

3.) Put all veggies in a large bowl. Pour the olive oil over them and toss to coat evenly.

4.) Sprinkle the herb mixture on top of the veggies, and toss again to coat evenly.

5.) Thread veggies onto skewers and grill, covered, until browned and tender, about 7 minutes a side.

Patient: "Doctor, doctor! I keep thinking I'm a slice of bread."

Doctor: "You've got to stop loafing around." (from All the Jokes)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blog ambition

Some things I hope to make and share:

Dad's pepper steak and rosemary potatoes (pictured above)

Mom's chocolate mousse (after I lose the last 5 baby pounds...)

Mom's liver and onions --yep, you read that right

Mom's herring in sour cream with new potatoes and apples

lamb roast -- possibly a leg!

grilled pineapple and/or peaches

garlic chicken tandoori, inspired by Maharaja Palace

beef carpaccio (Kate, remember that all-you-can-eat place in Paris?? Heavenly.)

tapioca pudding (I tried to make it once and it was inedible. Yuck.)



Persian food, something with meat and saffron rice (Did you know saffron is supposed to be a mood lifter?)

carrot-rosemary scones

seared tuna

homemade pasta


Michelle's strawberry jam

cassoulet (when the weather is cold)

Japanese or Chinese hot pots

Kara's green chile pork

Things I'll be adding eventually because they are some of my favorites:


tarragon chicken soup

stuffed mushrooms

hummus (my version is packed with carrots for a nutritional boost)

Michelle's gazpacho

Kara's Asian coleslaw

I also have lots of favorite recipes from my cookbooks that I will share.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Leftovers: It's salsa time

I often find myself wondering what on Earth I'm supposed to do with leftover canned tomatoes. I usually only think of two things -- chili and marinara -- and I'm not always in the mood for those. Plus, you need lots of canned tomatoes for those, more than I have at this moment. I have a half can from the poblano enchiladas recipe.

Well, summertime is also salsa time, so (perhaps in addition to fresh tomatoes) you can throw together a batch of salsa in no time with ingredients that are easy to find right now.

I also have a little poblano pepper, green onions, and a couple tomatillos. Great salsa additions. And, last but not least, I'm going to make chips out of some of the leftover tortillas.

The recipe below lends itself nicely to alternative ingredients, and I've made some suggestions for you.

Salsa (this also makes a great fat-free marinade for chicken, fish, or tofu)

1-2 garlic cloves

1 green onion

1/2 poblano pepper

2 Anaheim peppers

1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (more if you want it extra spicy)

1/2 yellow or red bell pepper (left over from the garden-fresh rice pilaf)

half of a 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes

1/2 red onion

salt, to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin (I love cumin and use freshly ground seeds; you can use less)

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

2 tomatillos (or more, if you have them)

optional: cilantro (which I highly recommend using; I'm out at the moment), pineapple or mango chunks for a little sweetness, a half a serrano pepper, fresh yellow or red tomatoes

for the chips: 3 large tortillas, brushed lightly with olive oil on both sides, then cut into 6-8 chips each

1.) Chop all ingredients -- except tortillas, obviously -- into large chunks and combine them in a food processor. Process until almost smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours at least, so the flavors blend well.

2.) Pre-heat oven to 350. Spread the tortilla pieces on a cookie sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, turning once or twice, until lightly browned and crispy. Remove from the oven, salt them, and let them cool.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Leftovers: Garden-fresh pilaf

I have exciting news to share. There's butternut squash growing in our yard! We found it where our compost pile once sat. It's a great addition to the rice pilaf I am making to use up the leftover rice from the poblano enchiladas in green sauce.

This "garden-fresh pilaf" also has a generous amount of parsley and sage, and if you want, you can throw in other fresh herbs of your choosing, such as chives, cilantro, or mint. I think it tastes great on its own, but you can use it to stuff tomatoes (then bake at 350 degrees until heated through) or as a side dish.

A note about butternut squash: It's a sweet squash that tastes great as a dessert with a little brown sugar and butter, and it's great in soups and baked goods. It's also fairly low in calories, with just 82 calories per cup of cubed pieces.

Garden-fresh rice pilaf (makes 2 large main servings or 4-6 sides)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2-3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (you can substitute pecan or walnut pieces)

1 medium butternut squash

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped

2 cups cooked wild rice blend

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/3 cup golden raisins

salt and pepper, to taste

1.) Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until tender.

2.) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, and red pepper, and cook for about three minutes, stirring frequently. Turn heat down to medium-low.

3.) Scoop out chunks of the squash when it's cool enough to handle. Add the chunks of squash, rice, parsley, sage, raisins and almonds to the skillet, and heat through.

4.) Salt and pepper to your liking.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Poblano enchiladas in green sauce

When I first started making this Mexican-style dinner, I lamented the fact that I still have baby weight to lose and so must watch my caloric intake closely. Cheese really seems like such a necessity on warm tortillas and refried beans.

But it doesn't have to be used in globs and globs to add a nice cheesy touch. So I decided to compromise and use a little cheese just to top the dish, instead of using it in the sauce or as part of the filling.

I made poblano enchiladas because I wanted to keep this meatless and give it a bit of a kick, and I left the cream out of the green sauce (those calories again) but reduced it and made sure it was packed with flavor.

Poblano enchiladas in green sauce (serves 4)

juice of 1 lime

a handful of fresh cilantro

a handful of fresh parsley

6 tomatillos, husked and quartered

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon vegetable (or chicken-flavored) powdered broth

2 poblano peppers, seeded and cut into strips

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

flour for dredging

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups cooked rice (I used a wild rice blend)

4 large tortillas, any kind

half of a 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1.) Combine the lime, cilantro, parsley, tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, green onions, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper in a food processor, and process until smooth.

2.) Transfer the green sauce to a saucepan and add 1/2 cup water and broth and cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes, or until it's reduced by one-third.

3.) Meanwhile, dip the poblano strips into the beaten egg white, then dredge in flour. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, then fry the strips for a few minutes until they brown a little on both sides.

4.) Place the poblano strips and inside the tortillas, with a couple tablespoons of rice in each. Roll them up and put them in a non-stick baking pan.

6.) Sprinkle the tomatoes from the can on top of the enchiladas, then coat with the green sauce.

7.) Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake 10 minutes more.

8.) Serve with refried beans.

Coming a little later this week: Greek grilled vegetables over a puree of yellow split peas.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bundles of basil: Tomato salad

Here's another basil recipe for you, one that also will help you make use of those fresh, plump tomatoes that are so plentiful this time of year.

Tomato salad

1 large yellow tomato, cut into sections

3 Roma tomatoes, sliced

a handful of grape or cherry tomatoes

25 medium basil leaves, chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

drizzle of olive oil

drizzle of white balsamic vinegar

salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Arrange the tomatoes on a platter. Top with basil, salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and vinegar.

Coming up next week: My friend Courtney suggested I make something Mexican -- a great idea, I think, considering that's one kind of food I really know nothing about cooking. I love to eat it, though. Jonathan has requested more vegetarian and vegan recipes, so I will make something very veg, too.

I won't have any recipes on Saturday or Sunday because I'll be out of town. Check back on Monday!

Q: Why don't vegetarians eat clowns?

A: Because they taste funny.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bundles of basil: Pesto

I'm not a big fan of super hot weather and humidity, and I don't care much for hanging out at the pool or in the sun. Exercising outside, for me at least, has to be done in the early morning hours, and the pollen count makes that somewhat difficult even then.

As you can surmise, summer is not my favorite season.

But it does bring us basil, and basil makes me happy.

Today I made a pesto with the basil that's growing like mad in our garden. I changed it from my usual recipe a bit: It has walnuts in place of pine nuts. I realized at the last minute that I didn't have any pine nuts, but I had been wanting to try walnuts in the recipe for a while.

However, not that all is said and done, I have to say the pesto tastes better with pine nuts. (I did once try a cilantro-walnut pesto, and that was superb.)

Here's my recipe. I like to use it on grilled vegetables, on crackers, as a sandwich spread, and on pasta or gnocchi. You can cut it in half, of course. I made a large batch to get rid of some of the basil we have.

Basil pesto (makes 2 cups; a serving of pasta needs about 2 tablespoons)

3 ounces fresh basil, washed and trimmed

3/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or walnuts in a pinch)

3/4 cup olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shredded parmesan (packed)

black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until almost completely smooth.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Best blackening mix ever (if I may say so myself)

I frequently buy blackened tofu in the deli of Bloomingfoods, sometimes just on its own, sometimes on the yummy sandwich they make that has red onion, lettuce, tomato, and vegannaise.

I wanted to make my own blackening spices at home, and when I searched the Internet for recipes, a huge array of them turned up, featuring all different kinds of herbs and spices and widely varying degrees of spiciness. I'm really picky about how spicy something is. So I tried a few of them out and came up with my own recipe, and if I may say so myself, it's damn fine. The best, I think.

I use this mix on tilapia fillets and tofu*. It makes great sandwiches. I plan to try it on catfish sometime soon.

*If using tofu, get a refrigerated, water-packed block, and weight it down with a plate while draining it on a paper towel for about 20 minutes before slicing into quarters, lengthwise.

Blackening spices (makes 3/4 cup mix; store in an air-tight container)

2-4 teaspoons salt, depending on how salty you like your food

2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika

2 teaspoons garlic granules

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 packed teaspoon rubbed sage

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1.) Mix all ingredients together with a fork or wire whisk. Pat the fish or tofu dry (rinse fish first). Spread the spice mix onto a shallow pan or plate, and lightly press both sides into it, so they gets evenly and completely coated.
2.) Fry, covered, over medium-high heat in a pre-heated, non-stick, oil-misted pan, about 3 minutes per side.

Today's question: Do you have any suggestions for interesting dishes I can make?

A correction!

I accidentally included vegan and vegetarian in the categories for the steamed eggplant dish yesterday. The dashi stock is actually a fish stock, so that was a mistake. I have corrected the labels. I'm sure it's possible to just use a veggie stock, but the flavor certainly would be slightly different.

My apologies!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


One of the things I love about cooking is that just when you think you've exhausted every option for making something interesting with a particular ingredient, you'll find a recipe or eat a meal that surprises you and puts that ingredient in a whole new light.

This is one of those meals. Not only does it have fun with such healthy staples as brown rice and salmon, it uses green tea -- who'd have thought of that? -- and eggplant, in a veggie-packed side dish.

The first dish is one that traditionally was served to guests "as a polite way of saying the party was over," according to the beautiful book "Japanese Cooking," by Emi Kazuko and Yasuko Fukuoka. It's a very basic dish but with a little soy sauce sprinkled on top -- and a tiny dot of wasabi, too -- it's super tasty. It's more of a snack than a meal, but with a generous side of vegetables, it will fill you up. And don't worry, the green tea is very subtle.

Both of the following recipes are from the book mentioned above, but adapted to suit my needs (i.e. I used a little more salmon and rice, I couldn't find shimeji mushrooms, etc.) The eggplant dish is extra tasty, and it would be great as a main dish, served over rice.

Rice in green tea with salmon (serves 4)

8 ounces of salmon fillet, 1 inch thick


1/4 nori sheet (that's the dried seaweed that comes in sheets), sliced in 2-inch-by-3/4-inch strips

4 cups cooked short-grain brown rice

1 tablespoon sencha (green tea) leaves, brewed for about a minute in 2-1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon -- or more -- of wasabi paste

4 teaspoons soy sauce

1.) Put salt on the salmon and let it sit for 30 minutes. Wipe the salt off, and broil or grill the fish until cooked through. I broiled it on high for about 8 minutes. Remove the skin and flake into chunks with a fork.

2.) Put equal amounts of hot rice in bowls. Divide the salmon on top. Pour evenly over the rice and salmon. Top with the nori slices and wasabi, then drizzle with soy sauce.

Steamed eggplant with sesame sauce (serves 4 -- and would be even better as a main dish over rice than as a side!)

2 large aubergines (eggplant -- the long, light purple ones you can find at Asian markets)

about 2-1/2 cups dashi stock (that amount of water mixed with dashi-no-moto, also found at Asian markets), divided

3 tablespoons extra fine sugar, divided

1 tablespoon plus one dash of soy sauce, divided

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, ground with a mortar and pestle

2 tablespoons sake, divided (sake is Japanese wine; I bought cooking sake)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed

1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut in half

1/4 teaspoons salt

1.) Peel the aubergines and cut in quarters, lengthwise. Prick with a skewer or fork and put in salted water for a half-hour. Drain them, cut them in half, and steam them until tender.

2.) Mix 1-2/3 cups dashi stock, half the sugar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large pan. Carefully put the eggplants into the mixture, and cook at a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.

3.) Take 3 tablespoons of that stock and mix it with the ground sesames. Pour that back into the pan with the veggies.

4.) Mix 1 tablespoon sake and the cornstarch together, and add that to the pan, stirring quickly to mix it in. When it starts to become very thick, remove the pan from the heat. (I don't think I let my sauce get quite thick enough.)

5.) Mix the remaining dashi stock, sugar, sake, salt and soy sauce in a large, shallow pan, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender.

6.) Serve the aubergines in sauce, with the mushrooms and beans on top.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A few of my favorite things (part 1)

Last night my husband and I consumed far too much pizza and Kozy Shack chocolate pudding -- two of my all-time favorite things -- so today will be a salad day. Shucks.

Although I won't be posting a new recipe of my own, I'll provide some links to delicious recipes that have become regulars in my house.

Here are two recipes I tore out of magazines; lucky for you, they're online: Red chile and pecan slaw, from Self, is worth the prep work, for sure. This became an instant fave of mine. It's sweet and hot, just the way I like it. ... and potato salad with cornichons, from Domino. Fresh tarragon and those itty-bitty pickles make this delicious.

If you haven't visited Enlightened Cooking yet, you really should check it out. Camilla Saulsbury is an award-winning recipe creator -- and I mean, BIG-time wins, including a $100,000 Food Network chicken challenge award. I frequently try out the recipes she posts. Two of my favorites are energy bars (I like to make them with dried apple, cinnamon, and walnuts) and edamame dip with fresh lime and cilantro, which I just made over the weekend. It is fabulous and super healthy! I plan to try Camilla's red pepper and almond spread later this week, if I can easily find smoked almonds.

From Eating Well, my #1 recipe source: A dip I could eat every day -- this will knock your socks off -- is garlic and white bean dip. Yes, there's a ton of garlic in it, but you cook it slowly for so long, it just makes it sweetly garlicky. It truly is well worth the time it takes to make it, and the somewhat laborious procedures.

That recipe started me on a major cannellini bean kick, and I found this EW recipe for baked cod with chorizo and white beans -- a huge hit with my sister and mom, so don't just take my word for it.

Another EW recipe I use for parties is chocolate fudge pudding cake. It's quite easy but tastes like a fancy dessert you've been busting your butt to get on the table. Very decadent -- but with only 220 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving.

Last one from EW, although there are so many more: Pesto-stuffed chicken breasts. (Later this week, I'll be making homemade pesto, and I'll post that recipe.)

Lastly, the sharp-as-a-tack Dr. Zorba Paster is someone whose Wisconsin-based radio program I listen to every week. Zorba gives free medical advice to callers, and he always provides a heart-healthy recipe, such as these two scrumptious ones, African peanut soup and Turkish spinach with rice (some raw garlic in that one!).

I hope you enjoy those as much as I do.

Tomorrow I'll be working on that Japanese feast I promised.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mom's tortellini salad

The first time my parents tried this tortellini salad, they were stationed with the Army in New Jersey. In the small town of Little Silver, an Italian deli named Giovanni's sold the salad, and my parents loved it so much, they started making their own version of it it when they had to move away.

A quick Google search for the store told me it is still alive and well on Oceanport Avenue, just next to the train station that takes commuters to and from New York City. I couldn't find a Web site for it, just lots of mentions on business sites -- and one in a New York Times article about Little Silver.

Here's the recipe my mom created. If it tastes exactly like Giovanni's salad I can't say, but my mom is an incredible cook, so if there's one person who can copy something well from scratch, it is she. It's important to note, she says, that the salad should sit overnight in the refrigerator, so the oil and vinegar can really soak into the ingredients.

Mom's tortellini salad (makes 8-10 side servings)

10 ounces of spinach and cheese tortellini, cooked and cooled (I used pesto tortellini because it's what I had in the house, and it turned out just as good)

1/2 onion, thinly sliced (I used a red one)

a handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered (optional)

three green onions, chopped

3/4 sweet red pepper, diced

a generous amount of Italian herbs (I used about 1-1/2 tablespoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and lots of chopped, fresh basil and parsley -- but dried is best for this recipe, I think)

fresh chives (optional -- I left them out)

white balsamic vinegar and olive oil (it's hard to give the measurements because I just poured them on, but if I had to guess, it's 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup olive oil)

salt and pepper, to taste

Toss ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Today's question: Are there any recipes from a deli or restaurant that you have tried to recreate at home?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Coming up this week

Tomorrow I will be sharing another of my mom's many delicious recipes. Her tortellini salad has the perfect blend of herbs, veggies, and pasta, with a basic oil-and-vinegar dressing. It's always popular at family gatherings and wonderful for summer picnics, the latter being the reason I've decided to make the colorful dish this week.

The other recipe of hers I posted was for her Dijon vinaigrette. There will be many more to share via this blog in the future.

Also this week: Because I'm on an Asian food kick, I figured I should make something from my favorite Asian cuisine, Japanese! "Rice in green tea with salmon," served with "steamed aubergines in sesame sauce," will be on the menu.

Check back soon for the recipes!

Today's question: Do you have a favorite salad dressing recipe?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bonus weekend recipe: Fried rice

To go with the lemongrass beef, I fried a little broccoli and carrot with brown rice left over from yesterday. Here's a basic recipe for fried rice, and you can substitute different veggies for the ones I used. I like to pass a little hot chili sauce on the side for this one. (Otherwise, I hate to admit, it tastes a little dull.)

Vegetable fried rice

1/8 cup peanut or canola oil

1/2 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup sliced carrot (about 1 medium carrot)

1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 cups cooked brown rice

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Heat the oil on high heat. Add the broccoli and carrot and cook, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and heat through. Turn the heat down to medium, add the beaten egg, green onion, and soy sauce, and cook until the egg sets.

Lemongrass beef

One word to describe tonight's recipe: YUUUUUUMMMM!!! This was absolutely delicious. I used all-natural sirloin steak from Fischer Farms instead of tri-tip or sirloin tip.

The recipe is from Quick & Easy Vietnamese: 75 Everyday Recipes, by Nancie McDermott. She also has a Web site,

Lemongrass beef (serves 4 to 6)

1 pound boneless beef, such as tri-tip or sirloin tip
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lemongrass
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped shallots or onion (I'm partial to shallots)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
15 to 20 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

Below are instructions from McDermott's book. I hope you can enlarge it by clicking on it, but I'm not sure. In a nutshell, though: Put all the ingredients except the beef and the skewers in a small food processor or hand blender, and blend until fairly smooth. Cut the beef into 2-inch strips, thinly, and cover them in a medium bowl with the marinade for a couple hours in the refrigerator. Then thread the beef onto the skewers and grill over high heat for 1-2 minutes per side.

Serve with vegetable fried rice.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lots and lots of lemongrass

I know I like the taste of lemongrass, but if you asked me to tell you what the plant looks like, or how to use it in recipes, until just the other day I wouldn't have had an answer.

As I looked for a fun recipe involving beef and the grill, I came across Nancie McDermott's grilled lemongrass beef in Quick & Easy Vietnamese: 75 Everyday Recipes. It looked so delicious in Caren Alpert's photo, I immediately added a couple of things to my shopping list.

When I asked my husband if he knew where I could buy fresh lemongrass -- it's not something I've noticed at the store -- he looked at me as if he thought I was kidding. As it turns out, we have plenty of lemongrass in our garden, just next to the raised plot that's currently drowning in basil (a nice problem to have, by the way, especially if you like pesto as much as we do).

For those of you who don't know how to spot the green herb, it basically looks like tall grass with green onions at the bottom. (In my photo, it's the grassy thing in the middle of the two blooming plants.) It has a pungent taste and is used commonly in fairly small amounts in Thai and Vietnamese dishes.

I won't be posting a recipe today; I have made the difficult decision to do some deep kitchen cleaning today instead. I feel this is certainly more unfortunate for me than for you readers...

Check back tomorrow for the beef recipe.

The question of the day: What's your favorite thing to grill?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Spring rolls

These days I'm really liking the spring rolls that have started popping up next to the ready-made sushi in supermarkets. They are filled with such fresh ingredients as cucumber and lettuce, making them super low-calorie and low fat -- the diet-conscious person's answer to egg rolls. Plus, they're fun to eat. (I'm a sucker for a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.)

But it pains me to spend $5 on something I'm sure I could make at home. So yesterday, I decided to give spring rolls a whirl.

I'd never worked with rice paper before and wasn't sure what to expect. I found it at Saraga, an Asian market on the east side of Bloomington. One 12-ounce package of 8-inch sheets -- they were available in three sizes, and they are dried -- cost me $1.99. That's a steal. There were 43 sheets in all, and I used two for my lunch.

I used avocado, cucumber, lettuce, carrots, cilantro, green onions, and shrimp in my spring rolls, but you can substitute tofu for the shrimp, add sprouts or bell peppers, mint... anything you want, really. They would even be good with a little wasabi inside the wrap.

Next time I make these, I am going to use marinated chicken breast slices, cucumber, cilantro, rice noodles, peanuts, and a plum sauce for dipping. Yum!

Spring rolls (makes 4 rolls)

4 eight-inch (medium) sheets of rice paper

1 medium cucumber, cut in julienne strips (that's roughly matchstick-size)

about 20 cilantro leaves, separated

1 small carrot, cut in julienne strips

16 cooked shrimp

1/2 avocado, sliced

4 leaves of lettuce, chopped into big pieces
4 green onions, halved

1.) Drop a sheet of rice paper into lukewarm water. I filled a rimmed baking sheet with water and put the sheet in for about 15 seconds. The sheet should be pliable, but not too fragile, or it will tear easily. You can work around very small holes, though.

2.) Put the paper on a large plate. Line a quarter of the filling ingredients in the middle of the paper, stretching almost totally across it. Whatever you put on the bottom will show through the top of the roll, so if you care how it looks, keep that in mind. (See the photo: I put shrimp and cilantro on first.)

3.) Fold the wrap around the filling, first rolls up the bottom so it covers the ingredients, then folding in the sides, then continuing to roll the wrap, so it's completely covered. Repeat with the other sheets of rice paper.

Cut rolls in half and serve with a side of sweet chili sauce and a cup of miso soup.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Spanish tortilla

I will never forget the first time I tried a real Spanish tortilla. I was visiting a friend in San Francisco, and her Spanish boyfriend's mother had made us all a snack to take to the beach one afternoon. My friend said it was a tortilla, so what I expected was a flat corn or flour wrap. Not too exciting to eat without being stuffed.

Well, the tortilla in question was in fact a typical Spanish one, made with eggs, potatoes, onions, salt and pepper, and the skill that comes with many years of making the common dish. It was fantastic! We ate it with our hands, like we would a chunk of bread.

While the ingredients may sound like a potato omelette, tortillas really have a distinct taste, probably from all the olive oil. Pre-made tortillas can be found in supermarkets in Spain, and while they taste OK, they don't compare to the homemade ones.

My sister Michelle, who lived in Madrid for several years, makes a mean homemade tortilla, which I tried for the first time earlier this summer. This is my first attempt at using her recipe, and though it reads as if it's pretty straight forward, there are a couple of things I'm concerned about: 1) I am not supposed to let the potatoes get crispy, and 2) I have to flip the tortilla onto a plate toward the end.

Michelle's tortilla (makes 4 servings)

5 eggs, beaten
3-4 medium potatoes, washed, peeled, and thickly sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
lots of olive oil (I used about 3/4 cup)
salt and pepper, to taste

1.) Fry the potatoes and onions in the olive oil over medium heat, stirring often so they don't get crispy. I covered them between stirs.

2.) Chop the potato pieces as they are cooking; this will allow you to see how soft they are and make them more bite-sized. When they are cooked, take them off the heat and drain the olive oil.

3.) Add the potatoes to the eggs and stir. Then pour them into a non-stick pan over medium-low heat and cook until the eggs are almost completely cooked through. (This is where I added salt and pepper.)

4.) Loosen the tortilla from the pan with a rubber spatula. Put a plate over the pan and turn the tortilla onto the plate -- surprisingly easy! -- then slide it back into the pan, allowing the other side to cook. I continued cooking it for about 4 minutes because my pan was small, so the tortilla was thick.

5.) Let the tortilla cool. Serve it at room temperature.

The question of the day: What's the best egg-based dish you've ever had?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sesame-crusted chicken breast

When I'm really hungry, the last thing I want to make is a salad and some dressing. There's just too much washing, grating, slicing, and so on. But it's not so hard to get a good meal of leafy greens if the salad is ready and waiting to be eaten -- and if there's a delicious piece of protein to top it.

I usually make an extra-large salad, then divide it into three portions. It's a cinch to grab on my way out the door so I don't have to buy lunch somewhere, or to pull out for dinner after a long day, when I don't feel like cooking. (I store the dressing on the side.)

My favorite salad to make ahead has:
red leaf lettuce
halved cherry tomatoes or chopped Romas
grated carrot
thinly sliced red onion
toasted sliced almonds or walnut pieces (add just before eating)
sliced kiwi (add just before eating)

Today, I'm going to make a sesame-crusted chicken breast for the salad. I don't like to cook chicken breast on the stove, so I usually just bake it in the oven, either brushed with a little oil or covered in salsa or a yogurt sauce. I'm not a fan of dredging in flour or coating with breadcrumbs; it seems too time-consuming, and it's hard to tell how hot the pan should be.

Taste-wise, though, a crusted piece of chicken -- or fish, for that matter -- is really a nice change once in a while, so I thought I would see how it went to make this at home.

I marinated the chicken for a couple hours before cooking it in a marinade I usually use for fish.

Asian marinade (for fish, chicken, or tofu)

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/3 cup cooking sherry

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

Whisk ingredients together in a shallow dish, and add the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for two hours, turning the breasts once to coat.

Remove the chicken from the fridge and from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Use the chicken immediately for the following recipe.

Sesame-crusted chicken

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2/3 cup sesame seeds

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (preferably marinated)

1 tablespoon canola oil

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. (Make sure it's a NON-STICK skillet... I ruined two chicken breasts by cooking them in a cast-iron pan today! The sesame seed coating just stuck right to the bottom.) Combine the first three ingredients, and dredge the chicken breasts in them. Cook, covered, for about 7 minutes per side, or until there's no pink in the center of the meat.

The question of the day: Do you have a favorite dish to cook?

Tomorrow is Tortilla Tuesday! I will be making my sister's Spanish tortilla. You can, too, if you have 5 eggs, 4 medium potatoes, an onion, and plenty of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Simon & Garfunkel mushrooms

As I look forward to a second day of not making dinner -- my husband's cooking tonight, and last night, we enjoyed tasty pulled pork and beef brisket at a wedding -- I thought I'd quickly share one of my favorite easy recipes.

My sister-in-law Kara, who's an amazing cook, gave me a spice mixture from Findlay Market in Cincinnati a while back, and it's delicious sprinkled on vegetables, chicken or fish, or in creamy soups. "Simon & Garfunkel" is a mixture of dried herbs -- equal parts parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (get it?!). I liked the name so much that I forgave the fact that Garfunkel was mispelled on the (somewhat suspicious-looking) plastic baggie.

I particularly like it on mushrooms. These are really good as a warm side to chicken or fish with sauteed greens, or as a cold salad topping.

Simon & Garfunkel mushrooms

1/2 pound white mushrooms, washed well

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons Simon & Garfunkel herbs

salt and black pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic (optional)

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Arrange the mushrooms, stem side up, in a baking dish. Roast at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender but not mushy.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bonus weekend recipe: Spiced mixed nuts

Your weekend bonus: Here's a super easy recipe that's equally great for a party or just for a healthy snack.

Spiced mixed nuts

1-1/2 cups raw nuts of your choosing

3 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
salt and black pepper

Mix ingredients together, spread on a cooking sheet, and roast for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Cool completely before serving.

The question of the day: What's a junk food you love? Unfortunately for my waistline, I'm a donut fan. Who isn't, though?

Next week, I'll be tackling a Spanish tortilla.

Leftovers: Trout gumbo

My husband is not a huge fan of dill, so while my first inclination was to make a chowder with the leftover trout, some potatoes, celery, milk or soy milk, and lots of fresh dill, I had to reconsider. Then I remembered I had some frozen okra, a little bell pepper, and onion, so gumbo became the planned dish of the day.

Gumbo is a lot like chili in its versatility. Every year I make turkey gumbo with the Thanksgiving leftovers; after one leftover meal that resembles Thanksgiving with all the fixin's, I'm done with all that until the next time. But there's usually just so much turkey, and a large pot of gumbo is a hit in my house.

You can make gumbo with just about any kind of fish, seafood, poultry, or sausage. Adding a little sausage to any gumbo is especially yummy, but because I'm going with what's already in my house, I'll be leaving that out.

Thickeners used include flour, gumbo file (sassafrass leaves), and okra, but not all at the same time. This makes it easy for people who don't like the texture of okra to leave it out. You can also choose to leave out tomatoes.

While bases such as Zatarain's are easy and tasty, it's also super easy to make gumbo from scratch. Here's my new recipe for trout gumbo.

Trout gumbo (makes 4 servings)

1-1/2 to 2 cups cooked trout, pesky bones carefully removed by hand, chopped into 1-inch pieces (although it might fall apart, and that's OK)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-1/2 tablespoons flour

1/2 large white or yellow onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1/2 red pepper, diced (optional)

2 cloves garlic, minced

8-10 ounces cut okra (I use frozen)

1-1/2 cups vegetable or fish stock

1 cup diced tomatoes, preferably the fire-roasted kind

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

plenty of freshly ground black pepper

salt, to taste, only after cooking if you're using the trout left over from the salt-crusted trout

lots of hot sauce (I use Melinda's)

gumbo file to sprinkle on individual servings (optional)

1.) Heat the flour in a small, non-stick pan over low heat, stirring, for about 6 minutes. Put aside.

2.) Heat the oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and peppers, and cook until the onion softens, 4-5 minutes or so. Stir the flour in, making sure to coat the vegetables evenly with it.

3.) Add the vegetable or fish stock and okra, and let it gently simmer so it thickens.

4.) Add the tomatoes, thyme, pepper, and hot sauce.

5.) Add the fish. Take the gumbo off the heat, allowing the fish to heat but not continue cooking.

6.) Refrigerate and let the flavors combine for at least a few hours before reheating and serving, with a sprinkle of gumbo file on each bowl.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fish dish, part 2: Salt-crusted trout

OK, making a salt crust for a whole fish really IS simple. Fun, too.

It's the rest of the mess that's tricky!

First, I must say that the salt crust really created fish that was super flavorful; I stuffed one with fresh dill and two others with a combination of fresh sage, tarragon and parsley. They were delicious. They also cooked relatively quickly -- 35 minutes at 400 degrees. (That's always a plus for people who like the idea of slow food and cooking something all afternoon but know the reality of it doesn't fit into their lives.) The whole process, from the time I unwrapped the fish to the time I had them on a platter, took less than an hour.

But... I didn't realize how tough it was to cut away gills and fins. Literally tough, yes, but I also got pretty squeamish. These things have heads with faces! Yikes. Plus, it was all a bit slimy.

Another difficult aspect was getting the fillets off the bones. Can one ever really get rid of all the bones before serving such fish? I don't know. I do know that the surprise of finding little bones in my mouth has always been an unwelcome one, and it's a reason I've stayed away from whole fish all these years.

All in all, I'm not sure I will repeat this dish. It's just so much easier to get fillets at the store, totally boneless and ready for the oven, the grill, or a marinade.
If you're up for trying a whole fish roasted in salt, have a go at it. I would request a fish that already has its gills and fins removed. Any small, whole fish will do. Here's how I made mine. It's adapted from "Fish: Without a Doubt," by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore.

Salt-crusted trout (serves 4)

3 whole trout, about 2 pounds in all, gutted and scaled, with gills and fins removed

5 egg whites

3/4 cup water

5 cups of sea salt

fresh herbs

1.) Whisk together the egg whites and water until they are very frothy. I whisked by hand for a few minutes.

2.) Add the sea salt into the mixture; it should feel like coarse, wet sand.

3.) Stuff the fish with the fresh herbs.

4.) Scoop about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of the mixture onto a baking sheet that's covered in foil. Lay the fish on top. 5.) Cover them completely with the rest of the salt mixture, and roast at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. When you remove it from the oven, it will look something like this:

6.) Crack the salt crust off, and let the fish cool for about 4 minutes. (My crust cracked off nicely in some spots, but crumbled in others. Not sure why.) Peel off the skin, and lift the top fillets off the bones.

7.) Pick up the bottom halves and do the same on a different surface. (This part is tricky; turn the bottom halves around, so the skin is on top again.)

Serve with lemon slices.
The question of the day: What's your favorite dish to make for a party?

Fish dish, part 1: Mom's Dijon vinaigrette

I'm thinking about what to make tonight to go alongside the salt-crusted trout. A simple green salad with grape tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion and my mom's Dijon vinaigrette is a must, and some warm, whole-grain bread with olive oil for dipping.

Mom's Dijon vinaigrette

1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (not all are created equal -- try to get a pretty spicy one)

2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk all ingredients together until it looks creamy. Cover and store in the fridge for up to one week.

And check back later for a trout update!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Leftovers: Yuck or yum?

I get so excited to try out new recipes and to change recipes I like to suit my personal tastes even more. But... leftovers? I struggle to eat them. They sit in the fridge, eyeing me coldly, sensing I am just not happy to see them.

Well, I resolved long ago that they must be eaten. It's just not cool to waste food. If it's something I can turn into a wrap for lunch -- blackened fish or grilled chicken -- I just throw a little avocado and sprouts on top and enjoy it. Soup is no problem, either; if I don't freeze it, I don't mind having it the next couple days. I find that it generally tastes better the next day, anyway.

What's problematic is things like... the quinoa from the night before last (minus the zucchini shells)! The novelty has worn off, and now the grains are about as exciting to me as plain rice that's two days old.
I found a way to turn the dish into patties, using various recipes for grain-based veggie burgers as a starting point. Here's the result.

Quinoa patties (10-12 small patties)

2 cups of the quinoa mixture from quinoa-stuffed zucchini

1/2 small carrot, shredded

1/2 medium zucchini, shredded

1 green onion, sliced

2 eggs

a 15.5-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

olive oil for misting

1.) Combine ingredients through the eggs, and beat with a wire whisk.

2.) Put half of that mixture into a food processor with the chickpeas and process until smooth. (I only process half because I like to see colorful bits of veggies in my burgers, but you can process all of it if you prefer.)

3.) Stir those mixtures together.

4.) Mist olive oil generously into a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.

5.) Make patties by hand just before putting into pan -- they will be sticky and wet -- and fry for three to four minutes per side.

Serve with a side of tahini sauce, yogurt or a sweet dip.

The question of the day: Do you have any suggestions for jazzing up leftovers?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A white chili kind of day

Chili is one of my favorite things to make. It's so versatile and packed with healthy ingredients. It's great for lunch, great for dinner atop some rice. You can dress it up with sour cream and green onions, or just add a dollop of yogurt to tame the spice.

I don't usually make it with ground beef (although my friend Stefanie makes the best of that beef kind -- I'll see if she'll give me her recipe to post). I usually make veggie chili, something that seemed so unusual to me in the mid-1990s, when I began working at the now-defunct Bloomington spot, Encore Cafe, where they served a delicious veggie chili packed with chunks of colorful vegetables and loads of cumin.

Since then, I've experimented with all kinds of the hearty soup (or is it technically a stew?). They are so simple to make, really, and they can just sit in the crock pot all day, intensifying in flavor. My top two recipes are white chicken chili and southwestern black bean chili. Tonight, we'll be having the white kind. I'll post the other recipe sometime soon.

White chicken chili (8-10 servings)

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 Anaheim peppers
  • 2 cups of frozen corn
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed tomatillos (If I can't find tomatillos, I use mild salsa verde.)
  • about 1 cup of water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt, to taste
  • green onions, to garnish
  • optional: one diced zucchini or yellow squash
  • optional: 1/2 teaspoon or more cayenne pepper, if you like it really hot
1.) In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for five minutes. Stir in the chili powder and cook another minute or so.

2.) Put that mixture with the rest of the ingredients into the crock pot (or a large pot on the stove, in which case you can let the mixture simmer gently for about an hour). Stir to combine ingredients, and cook on high for 2.5 hours or on low for 5 hours.

The question of the day is: What's your least favorite part of working in the kitchen? I absolutely hate to empty the dishwasher of clean dishes. I have no idea why.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Question of the day

What's you favorite restaurant? Mine, at least when in Bloomington, is Samira. Yum! I particularly like the baked turnip.

Quinoa-stuffed zucchini

Tonight my husband and I are having quinoa-stuffed zucchini. I expected to make the fish, but I had to order it -- fresh trout, woo-hoo! -- from a supermarket. (It arrives Thursday.) So I decided to make something using up things I had in my fridge and on my kitchen counter from the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market.

Now, I'll admit it, I'm a by-the-book recipe gal. I'm not a very intuitive cook. It's only after I try a recipe exactly as it's written that I tweak it the next time. For me to decide to make something original means I need to find a little inspiration. I looked to one of my favorite cookbooks, The Wellness Kitchen, and specifically to its rice pilaf creator chart. The charts in this cookbook allow you to pick and choose ingredients, but they still guide you through the steps of making something. (There are charts for soups, poultry in parchment packets, and more.)

I replaced the rice with quinoa, a favorite grain of mine, and using round zucchini from the Farmers' Market, I made the following dish. It turned out pretty damn good!

Quinoa-stuffed zucchini

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 cups water

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon powdered, low-sodium vegetable stock

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 yellow or white onion, finely chopped

1 small carrot, grated

1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped

2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (walnuts would work, too)

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

salt and black pepper

4 round zucchini squash, about 8-10 ounces each

1-1/2 tablespoons Madras curry

two pinches of turbinado sugar (white or brown sugar will do)

a generous handful of golden raisins

plain, lowfat yogurt (or soy yogurt)

1.) Put the quinoa, water, bay leaf and veggie powder in a pot; cover and bring to a boil. It should take about 15 minutes for the quinoa to cook.

2.) In a separate small pan, cook the onion, red pepper, and carrot in a teaspoon of oil. About halfway through the quinoa cooking time, you can add the mixture of onion, red pepper, and carrot to the quinoa, along with the almonds, the sage and salt and pepper to taste.

3.) Slice the tops off the squash, and scoop out the zucchini meat. (I discard the watery, seedy parts in such a dish; I find they make it too watery. I use just the firm parts.) Put the zucchini with a teaspoon of oil, the curry powder and the sprinkle of sugar in the same small pan you used for the other vegetables. Cover, and cook for about five minutes over medium heat.

4.) Add the zucchini mixture to the quinoa. Add the raisins now, too. Stir, then cover the pot, but take it off the heat.

5.) Rub a little oil on the outside of the zucchini rounds. Fill them with the quinoa mixture. (You will probably have some quinoa left to serve on the side.*) Put their tops back on, and bake in a 350-degree oven -- I like to use a clay pot for this -- for about 30 minutes. The zucchini are done when they are tender but not mushy.

Serve with plain, lowfat yogurt or soy yogurt on the side.

* Don't know what to do with the leftover quinoa filling? See my recipe for quinoa patties.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fishing for info

My quest to find a recipe for salt-crusted fish was successful. I found a book at my beloved public library, the Monroe County Public Library, aptly titled "Fish: Without a Doubt." There's a recipe in there for "whole fish roasted in salt." Pretty perfect.

It seems the process is a very simple one. You basically make a paste with sea salt and egg whites, which covers the fish completely. Any small, whole fish will work. You roast it, then crack the salt crust off. The crust is supposed to seal in moisture and flavor. I plan to stuff the fish with fresh herbs from my garden.

Now, something tells me it might be hard to find a whole fresh fish in landlocked Bloomington, Indiana. If I can't find a fresh one, I'll look for the next best thing. According to a wonderful beast of a book called "On Cooking," if a fish is labeled "fresh," that means it has never been frozen. If it's labeled "chilled," it indicates refrigeration (and I guess is replacing "fresh" in some places). If it's labeled "flash-frozen," it was quickly frozen after being caught; "fresh-frozen" is not quite as quickly frozen as flash; and "fancy" means previously frozen. "Glazed" is a term I'd never heard, and it means the fish was dipped in water while frozen, creating a protective glaze that prevents freezer burn.

My goal is to find a fresh fish, or at least a flash-frozen one. We'll see!

The question of the day: What's your favorite kitchen utensil?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Question of the day

What food/ingredient do you think is underestimated? (I'd have to say yucca root.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Question of the day

OK, here's the first one of many:

What ingredient can you not live without, and why?


Welcome to Nico's Eats!

If you don't know me, you might be wondering what kind of food I like and make. I'm the kind of person who will eat any food once, and so far, there's not much I don't like (except andouillette and sea urchin). But I've always been too intimidated -- or lazy, maybe -- to venture out when my own kitchen is concerned.

I've steered clear of big roasts, whole birds (although I've recently started roasting chicken), whole fish, and laborious procedures in general. That's all going to change.

Sometime next week I will make a salt-crusted fish. The whole fish.

I hope you'll check back now and then to read up on how things are going! Any suggestions for where to find great recipes for the fish are welcome...