I sent my dear husband off to Frank’s Seafood Market with instructions to purchase “whatever Mr. Fishmonger would choose to take home for dinner tonight.” He returned with a slab of sushi-grade tuna so gorgeous it begged to be licked and then devoured raw. I couldn’t wait to crack open my bottle of Sicilian olive oil I had been saving to drizzle over supremely fresh fish.
Although the tuna could have easily been enjoyed as is, I did decide to give it a nice crust with a quick sear in a hot cast iron skillet. I then thinly sliced the tuna, placed it on a bed of wilted spinach and topped it with one of my favorite seafood sauces from Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue. A riff on his recipe for Livornese sauce and photo follows.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. (Use your good stuff for this recipe as it shines)
Handful of pitted kalamata olives — feel free to chop them if you wish
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, sliced paper-thin
Handful of drained capers
Several chopped fresh tomatoes or good quality canned tomatoes in the winter months
Several tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley or other herbs
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Quickly saute the garlic, capers, olives and parsley until garlic turns golden brown and crisp. Add tomatoes and a few squeezes of lemon juice and boil until reduced just a bit — 2 to 3 minutes should be plenty. Season with salt and pepper and spoon over fish. Drizzle additional olive oil over fish if needed.
Viola, that is all! Light, healthy and satisfying. All you really need is fresh fish and high quality olive oil to turn this into a fabulous dinner. Enjoy!
Seared ahi with Livornese sauce and roasted butternut squash
Dining High: Munching charcoal-grilled pork chops with mounds of fresh Greek salad on a sailboat in the Caribbean Sea. Really, who cares what we are eating? Could have been Beef a Roni out of a can given the spectacular views.
Dining Low: Said pork chop. It was still raw and gelatinous and jiggly inside. Ah well. Once again — the view. Who wants a belly full of pork anyway when a bikini and a dive into the warm blue waters are on the afternoon agenda?
Dining High: Enjoying a rich, tender, if-I-were-at-home-I-would-pick-up-and-gnaw-the-bone-braised lamb shank. I am not usually even a lamb girl, but I most definitely want to try this at home. And soon. So expect a braised lamb shank on my menu shortly.
Dining Low: Gluey hunks of fried plantain. Greasy, limp, fried plantain chips. Heavy (and fried yet again) patties of mashed plantains that tasted (and felt) like kindergarten paste going down.
Dining High: Milk-fed veal chop. I actually did pick up the chop and go to town on this one. Couldn’t help myself.
Dining Low: Overhearing 4 pesky women interrogate an extremely patient waiter about WHY, WHY, WHY their turkey Parmesan (as listed on the menu) indeed had Parmesan cheese on it. Actually, this should really be a highlight — pure comedy.
Dining High: The cheese cart at a French restaurant on-board the ship. Oh the cheese!
Week of January 28th
We just returned from a cruise yesterday, so expect a very stream-lined and easy menu this week.
- Slow-cooker pork chile verde (I made this before our trip and kept it in the freezer so I wouldn’t be scrambling for dinner our first week back).
- Freshly made guacamole
- Crisp green salad with feta cheese, toasted pepitas and a spicy lime vinaigrette (whisk lime juice, oil and sriracha sauce to taste. Add salt and pepper and there is your salad dressing).
Pork Chile Verde Recipe:
This is crazy easy and is open to all sorts of interpretation:
Toss into a slow cooker the following: 1 to 2 pounds cubed boneless pork loin, several cans of diced green chile peppers, 1 diced white onion & 1 to 2 jars of your favorite green salsa. Add a sprinkle or two of ground cumin, 1 cup of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of beer. Stir. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6. I like to serve it with loads of fresh chopped cilantro, cubed feta cheese, warm corn tortillas and sliced pickled jalapenos.
- Whole wheat pasta with a quick pomodoro sauce
- Shaved fennel and butter lettuce salad with garbonzo beans and sherry wine vinegar
- Pan-seared fish (whatever looks fresh at the fish market on the way home from work)
- Wilted garlic spinach
- Roasted spiced butternut squash
- Leftover chile verde
- Green salad
No menu this week as I am currently lounging on the beach, beverage and book in hand. I will return to my postings next week. Be prepared for a light and slimming post-vacation menu.
This recipe was my first foray into playing with duck and it’s one I go back to again and again. It’s truly easy enough for a weeknight meal and elegant enough for a dinner party. The sauce can be made days ahead so you aren’t stuck trying to monkey around with a pan sauce while guests are seated at your dinner table. In fact, I have made the sauce in double batches and often freeze half to pull out later when I spot a fresh duck at the market.
The only trick with this one is coaxing out all of that quack fat to render the skin crispy crunchy, which, let’s face it, is the best part of any feathered creature on our plates. What I love about this dish, however, is that the fabulous sauce makes up for just about any mistake with the duck. Limp duck skin? No problem, ladle on that sauce. Just past the perfect rosy medium rare? Sauce to the rescue. Skin charred black? Peel it off and dump on the sauce. This is nearly a fool-proof recipe. Whether you’ve tackled duck 100 times in your kitchen or have shied away from our web-footed friend, give this dish a whirl.
I know some of you are wondering why the remoulade is fluorescent yellow. If you are not wondering, you should be. Alas, Whole Foods did not have celeriac available and thus, I substituted golden beets and rutabagas. I do not recommend trying this at home.