Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pan-Seared Swordfish Steaks with Dijon Cream Sauce

  • 2 (6 oz.) swordfish steaks, about 1-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 shallots, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper. 
  2. In a heavy skillet, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat until butter is melted.
  3. Sauté shallots with salt to taste, stirring, 1 minute. Push shallots to side of skillet. 
  4. Add swordfish and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. 
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, vinegar, and mustard until combined.
  6. Using a long flexible spatula, turn and sear the fish. 
  7. Add the balsamic Dijon cream mixture and the capers. 
  8. Simmer until the fish is cooked through, about another 3 minutes.
  9. Remove the fish from the skillet and set aside. 
  10. Stir parsley into sauce. Spoon sauce over fish to serve.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chesapeake Crab and Beer Festival

Ready for round two of steamed crabs? On Saturday, a few of us broke out the mallets and Old Bay for another seafood adventure.

After finding a great deal on tickets to the 3rd Annual Chesapeake Crab and Beer Festival out at National Harbor in Prince George's County, Maryland, we ventured over to waterfront for what ended up being a beautiful, random afternoon of good food and even better people watching. 

The Festival boasts over 50 beers and wines, 40,000 crabs, plus steamed corn on the cob, and cole slaw. And, of course, other tried-and-true fair favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, barbecue, pit beef, funnel cakes, and deep fried candy bars. Mmmmm. Can't you just feel your arteries clogging? It was delightful.
This is, according to the event website, the WORLD’S LARGEST CRAB FEAST! Who knew that this even existed?? Well, I do now.

The Crab and Beer Fest also featured show booths with local products and goods, ranging from the mildly related Beer Lasso (a hilarious and classy addition) to the downright odd - one vendor was selling bathtubs. Seriously. So, when you had your fill of crabs and beer, you could check that new bathroom off of your to do list too. How convenient?
Jared, our friend Elizabeth, and I stuffed ourselves with delicious steamed crabs, cold beer, and fried desserts - yes, I admit it. We wandered around taking in the scenery on the waterfront and enjoying the live music. It was a pretty great way to spend the afternoon. I would definitely recommend this to anyone in the area that likes seafood and beer and street festivals. But maybe not if you only like one of the above.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Supper - Grilled Chicken and Corn Salad with Cilantro Dressing

After a not-so-brief hiatus, it's back to blogging! I have spent the last week or so traveling and catching up on work, and unfortunately not cooking very much. But, now I'm back with some great recipes and travel finds to share.

Tonight, we are back out in the burbs for a Sunday supper with the in-laws. And taking advantage of the last few weeks of summer with some outdoor grilling.
Corn Salad with Cilantro Dressing

Marinated Grilled Chicken
  • 6 (5-6oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon creole or whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup light olive oil
  • warm water as needed
  • 2 tablespoon Lawry's season salt
  • 2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 2 tablespoon celery salt

Corn Salad with Cilantro Dressing
  • 2 bunches fresh cilantro, stemmed
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 jalapeño, chopped
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 9 ears of fresh corn, husked and cleaned (or 1 lb. bag of frozen corn)
  • 1/4 cup corn oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced


Marinated Grilled Chicken
  1. Place the egg yolks, mustard and vinegar in a food processor. Blend on medium speed for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Slowly drizzle olive oil into the mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, add 1-2 tablespoon warm water.
  3. Once all the oil has been incorporated add season salt, garlic powder, white pepper, lemon pepper, and celery salt until well incorporated.
  4. Store covered in refrigerator until needed.
  5. Using a pastry brush, coat chicken breasts with marinade. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Prepare the grill.
  7. Cook chicken breasts over direct high heat for 10-12 minutes, turning once during the grilling process.
* This recipe is adapted from Robert St. John's New South Grilling. 

Corn Salad with Cilantro Dressing
  1. Combine the cilantro, oil, vinegar, lime juice, jalapeño, shallot, and salt in a food processor and purée. Set aside.
  2. Boil corn in a large pot until tender, about 8 minutes. (If using frozen corn, prepared according to package directions.)Allow to cool. Cut the corn off of the cob.
  3. Heat corn oil in a large sauté pan. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add ginger and bell peppers and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Add corn and sauté until heated through.
  6. Transfer the corn mixture into a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to combine.
  7. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made up to a day in advance.
* This recipe is adapted from Ambrosia - The Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary Cookbook.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Classic Margarita

Today is one of my oldest and dearest friend's birthdays! Rachel has put up with me for around 20 years now and I love and appreciate her for that. So, I'll raise a glass in her honor, since we won't be able to celebrate the final year of our twenties together until she come to visit DC later this month.
Rach, the snake tamer, circa 1992.
Now, when Rachel actually does drink, she typically sticks to shots (to avoid the sugary-induced hangovers of most girly cocktails). BUT, she has a soft spot for margaritas. And I don't blame her one bit. They are delightful.

Here's a recipe for simple, straight-forward, no-nonsense margaritas.

  • 1 1/2 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup (if the limes are too tart for your liking)

  1. In a small saucepan, combine one cup of sugar and one cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  2. Fill serving glass with ice. Add tequila, lime juice, Cointreau, and simple syrup (optional). 
  3. Stir a few times until chilled. Serve immediately.
Happy Birthday Rachie!! Here's to even more good times! (photo =2001)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quinoa Mac & Cheese

Ok, so there is actually no "mac" in this mac & cheese recipe, but it is legit comfort food with a twist. The quinoa pairs nicely with the flavors - as most things do when you are dealing with melted cheese and spices. It also gives the dish a wonderful texture and bite.

Quinoa is a high-protein whole grain (well, actually it's a seed) with a mild, nutty flavor. It is versatile and easy to prepare. And, as a bonus, quinoa is a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and it is high in lysine and iron.

Every now and then, I can successfully sneak a "weird health food" staple into the mix. Jared used to protest a lot more about eating grains and green things. But I don't know how much of that was him not liking certain vegetables, or just never having tried them. So, now I like to throw random things on our menus to see what sticks. And quinoa is definitely staying around after this dish landed on our plates.

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (or 1 tablespoon - if you want more kick) hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions. Typically, you combine 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water to a sauce pan and bring that to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the germ separates from the seed (which looks like a white thread curling around the seed).
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and hot sauce.
  4. Fold in the cooked quinoa and 1 cup of the grated cheese. Mix well.
  5. Transfer the mixture into a greased 8x8 baking dish.
  6. Top with the additional 1/4 of grated cheese and panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes for a little more heat.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until the toppings are golden brown.
* This recipe is adapted from Around the Table.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Supper - Mussels in White Wine

Here's another seafood-inspired Sunday Supper. This dish is simple and elegant. It's great for impressing guests or just for a weekday dinner for one. Make sure you serve these steamed beauties with a good, crusty baguette to soak up the sauce. Bon appétit!

  • 2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Clean the mussels by scrubbing them gently under cool running water. Discard any that are chipped, broken, or damaged. Also, the shells should be tightly closed. To test whether an open mussel is still alive, give their shells a tap to see if they close. Discard any that remain open. 
  2. To debeard the mussels, use a paring knife to scrape and pull off the black threads clinging to the shells. Be sure to debeard just before cooking.
  3. Melt the butter in a large cast iron pot.
  4. Add the minced shallot and sauté over medium heat until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Season gently with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the parsley.
  7. Add the white wine and bring the mixture to a medium simmer.
  8. Stir in the mussels. Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes, until all of the mussels have opened. Remove from heat.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tex-Mex Lasagna

This odd, culturally commingled dish will confuse and delight your friends and family. It's got the cheesy, carb-y goodness of a traditional Italian lasagna combined with all of your favorite Tex-Mex flavors. It feels wrong, you say? But it is so, so right.

Now just crack open a cerveza or pour yourself a margarita and have your own little fiesta.

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced (leave the seeds for extra heat)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 (8-inch) flour tortillas, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded 
  • 1/2 cup of Monterrey jack cheese, shredded 
  • 1/2 cup asadero cheese, shredded

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  5. Add garlic, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Add tomatoes and jalapeño. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Add ground turkey and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, paprika, and black pepper.
  8. Brown the meat for about 5 minutes.
  9. Add tomato sauce and simmer for an additional minutes. Reduce the heat to low.
  10. Combine the cheeses together in a medium bowl.
  11. Begin to assemble the lasagna in an 8x8 baking dish. Add a thin layer of the sauce. Top with cheese. Place 4 tortilla halves on top to cover. Repeat the process for two more layers.
  12. Drizzle the top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
  14. Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees F and bake for additional 5 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly.
  15. Serve with chopped green onions, sour cream, or any of your other favorite toppings.
To layer the tortillas, place them in the baking dish
round side facing inward.

Add the final two halves to cover the top and bottom
edges of the baking dish.