Archive | August, 2012

Ponzu-Marinated Seared Yellowfin Tuna

21 Aug

This seared tuna was a very special treat for us.  Though we often throw out tuna steaks as an option when we’re headed to the store to buy some fish, ahi or yellowfin tuna can be almost prohibitively expensive.  These tuna steaks were pricey, but they were so fresh looking and smelling that we couldn’t resist.  It is extremely important when you are searing tuna to choose fresh, high quality fish.  The center of the fish remains raw, so you have to be confident in your fishmonger to feel comfortable eating it.

Because the high quality fish was intended to be the star of this plate, I kept the marinade fairly simple – some ponzu, a bit of sesame oil, and a few aromatics.  All of the flavors are present in the finished dish, but the predominant flavor is that of ocean fresh tuna.  Served with some simple spinach and white rice, this was a delicious, healthy, and filing meal.

Ponzu-Marinated Seared Yellowfin Tuna

2 yellowfin tuna steaks (also known as ahi tuna), each weighing approximately 1/2 lb.

1/4 cup ponzu

3 tbs. sesame oil

2 scallions, white and dark green parts only

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. ginger, grated

Freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbs. canola oil

Whisk together ponzu, sesame oil, scallions, garlic, ginger, and black pepper.  Place tuna steaks in a large ziplock bag and pour marinade over.  Marinate at least an hour, turning often to ensure even marination.

Coat either a cast iron grill pan or cast iron skillet with canola oil.  Heat over high heat until oil is shimmering and a drop of water placed on the pan evaporates.

Place tuna on the grill.  Cook roughly one minute and fifteen seconds per side per 1/2 inch of thickness to ensure a seared outside and cool center.

Serve immediately.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

16 Aug

Every year for the Fourth of July, Zak and I visit one of his best friends in Amagansett, New York.  We always have a great time.  One of the highlights for me each year is a trip to La Fondita for tacos and watermelon agua fresca.  La Fondita is known as having killer fish tacos (per Serious Eats – you can even see the agua fresca in the background!).  I was too enamored with the idea of soft shelled crab tacos to test their claim to fame.  One of my favorite things about the place, though, is their watermelon agua fresca, which is to die for.  The liquid from watermelon is combined with water and sugar to produce a delightfully refreshing summer beverage.

So when we got watermelon two weeks running from the CSA, I knew I would have to create my favorite Hamptons beverage.  This yielded about 1 and a half gallons of the stuff, which we drank in short order.

In other news, Zak and I are getting married on Saturday, so I’ll be taking off from posting for a few days to finish final preparations and recover a little bit, especially since I start law school classes back up on Monday!

Watermelon Agua Fresca

2 medium watermelons, removed from rind, seeds removed and cubed, rinds saved

3-4 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

Place watermelon in a large bowl.  Don’t worry if you don’t get all of the seeds.  Using the back of a knife or large spoon, scrape remaining moisture from the watermelon rind.

Using an immersion blender, puree the watermelon.  Strain through a cheesecloth or a paint strainer bag, being sure to squeeze the remaining pulp thoroughly for any excess moisture (mine went from the size of a football to the size of a baseball).  Discard pulp.

Add water and sugar.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Serve chilled.

Onion Ring and Egg “Volcano”

13 Aug

Have you ever heard of Swenson’s?  Zak introduced me to the local fast food chain not long after we moved in together, and since then I have not been able to get enough.  We make excuses to drive from the Cleveland area to the Akron area so we can order Galley Boys (a Salad Boy for Zak, now that he’s pescatarian), an order of potato teezers (a combination between a tater tot and a jalapeño popper and the best damn fast food side in the world), fries, potato puffs, and/or onion rings.

We don’t eat fast food often, but Swenson’s is an old school drive-in type fast food place, where the servers run from car to car taking and filling orders.  And it’s so, so, so good.  Whenever I have a semblance of a reason to travel toward Akron, a stop at a Swenson’s is in order – whether it’s to go the Akron-Canton Airport, Bow Wow Beach with Roo Bear, the Metroparks for a hike, to meet with the videographer for the wedding … you get the idea.  Anything.

And because sometimes we do the “and” in that order rather than the “or,” once in awhile we have leftovers.  And sometimes, while taking the MPRE, you are hungry.  And sometimes while you are trying to focus on remembering specific details about attorney ethics that would escape the logic of even the most fastidious lawyer out there while hungry, you think to yourself, “I want to eat those leftover onion rings, and I want to do it with an egg.”

And when you want to do that, you want to do it like this.  Because it’s crunchy, salty, savory, spicy, yolk-y and unimaginably delicious.  Plus, it’s easy and quick.  The crispy, crunchy, salty onion rings are the perfect thing to dip into a creamy, molten egg yolk, and the sriracha adds a spiciness that pulls the whole thing together.

Onion Ring and Egg “Volcano”

3-4  leftover onion rings in a variety of sizes, from small to large (they should stack fairly neatly)

2-3 tbs. sriracha

1 egg

Non-stick cooking spray

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400º.

Place onion rings on a tinfoil lined baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes, flipping once, until crispy and heated through.

Drain slightly on paper towels.

Spray a nonstick pan with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat.

Place largest onion ring in the pan.  Holding edges down with a set of tongs or your fingers (be careful!), crack an egg in the middle.  If any whites overflow, gently push back with a rubber spatula until as close to the edges of the onion ring as possible.  Season with salt and pepper.

Throw a half teaspoon or so of water into the pan and cover.  Cook egg 2-4 minutes.  Check whites for doneness, and repeat as necessary until whites are set and cooked through but yolk is creamy.

Place a ring of sriracha around the top of the bottom onion ring.  Top with next smallest onion ring.  Add another layer of sriracha and repeat until smallest onion ring is stacked.  Top with another squeeze of sriracha.

Serve immediately.

Mushroom and Ricotta Stuffed Hungarian Hot Peppers in Fresh Tomato Sauce

12 Aug

I love stuffed Hungarian hot peppers.  My old favorite was stuffing them with sausage, but since I wanted Zak to be able to enjoy these, I decided to try a version with ricotta and mushroom.  The filling here was really good.  The creamy ricotta paired well with the meaty mushrooms and salty Parmesan.  The salty little capers were a fun surprise.  The fresh flavors of the tomato sauce paired well with the cheesy filling and spicy peppers.  The anchovy and tomato paste added a nice depth of flavor.  I really enjoyed these, and they heat up great in the microwave as leftovers.

Mushroom and Ricotta Stuffed Hungarian Hot Peppers in Fresh Tomato Sauce

Mushroom and Ricotta Stuffed Hungarian Hot Peppers:

6 Hungarian hot peppers

2-3 tbs. olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic

1/3 cup white button mushrooms, rinsed and roughly chopped

1 can oyster mushrooms, drained and roughly chopped

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/3 cup Parmesan, grated

1 egg, beaten

1 tbs. capers

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 325º.

Carefully cut around 3/4 of the top of the peppers, leaving a small portion attached.  Cut a slit lengthwise down 3/4 of the length of the peppers, running perpendicular to the cut around the top of the peppers.  Carefully remove all seeds and, if desired, cut out the ribs of the peppers.  Set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, until cooked through and lightly caramelized, about 8-10 minutes.

Transfer mushrooms, ricotta, beaten egg, and seasonings to a small bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Using a spoon, fill the prepared peppers with 2-3 tbs. of the filling until stuffed.

Spray a Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of the fresh tomato sauce (see below) on the bottom of the pan.  Place peppers in the bottom of the Dutch oven, layering if necessary.  Cover with remaining sauce.  Cover.

Transfer to oven and cook 30-35 minutes until peppers are tender and filling has set.  Serve with bread.

Fresh Tomato Sauce:

1 very large yellow beefsteak tomato, roughly chopped

1/2 cup heirloom cherry and grape tomatoes, halved

3 anchovy fillets

2-3 tbs. olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic

2-3 tbs. fresh basil, finely chopped

1/3 cup white wine

1 tbs. tomato paste

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Add olive oil to the bottom of a medium sauce pan.  Heat over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook about a minute until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and mash with a hand masher until mostly smooth.  Add anchovy, basil, white wine, and tomato paste.  Stir and simmer over medium heat until reduced to sauce like consistency, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.

Geauga Family Farms Summer CSA – Week Five

11 Aug

Geauga Family Farms – Week Five

In this week’s CSA, we received two heads of lettuce, a green bell pepper, four juicy looking tomatoes (I think beefsteak), two onions, a cantaloupe, and a watermelon.

My only real gripe about the use of last week’s ingredients is the fact that I didn’t use up any of the lettuce.  The patty pan squash is also still knocking about, along with a few of the redskins and the watermelon.  The amount of lettuce hanging around means I really, really need to make a salad.  I’ll probably do some greens with a poached egg for a light lunch one day this week, but a big salad definitely needs to happen for dinner one evening.

I’m glad the watermelon is still around, because we received another one this week and I plan to make some agua fresca out of it.  I became addicted to the stuff after I had it a few years back at La Fondita in Amagansett and will be super pleased to have a nice big pitcher of it in the fridge.  From last week, the corn went into making another batch of esquites, as well as the corn and tomato chowder I recently posted.  Some of the tomatoes also well into the chowder.  I stuffed the Hungarian hot peppers, the recipe for which will be posted shortly.  A lot of the tomatoes also got used up in that dish as a bright, fresh, tomato sauce.

For this week, my plan includes watermelon agua fresca, a salad, and perhaps some breadcrumb stuffed tomatoes.  I plan to keep things simple and easy, since we are getting married a week from today and I am going to be busy with last minute preparations and moot court boot camp.  The weather has cooled down significantly and is supposed to stay relatively cool, so I’ll probably roast some potatoes (probably in the olive oil I saved from confiting duck wings awhile back).  As for the cantaloupe, I’ll probably just cut it up and eat it as a snack, since it’s one of my favorite melons.

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