Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

It’s been non-stop for me over the past few weeks and although I’ve had a fantastic time, this gal was starting to feel a bit run down.

I needed sleep.

I needed to give my party pants a break.

And I needed to get back in my own {tiny} kitchen.

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

And that’s where I was all weekend long.

Well, it was where I was after I went to the store to stock up on fresh produce because I think the only green thing I consumed over our 4-day Vegas trip was the lime in my grey goose tonic.

Gluttony is my name.

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

To fuel up for the weekend of cooking, I wanted something light but fulfilling–definitely some fish. Now my default is usually sushi or fish tacos when I get a hankering for fish but I then remembered a nearby fishmonger that I’ve been wanting to try – Catalina Offshore Products. They get their product every day directly off the boat from the fishermen — cannot get any fresher than that!

So I popped on in….drooled over all of their premium grade uni, oysters, sushi grade fish and chopped it up with some of their staff. AMAZING!!! For all of you folks in the San Diego area who may be wary about seafood—come here! They’ll put to rest any fears that you may have.

I somehow practiced some self restraint and only picked up a few fillets of their gorgeous black cod for lunch. Black cod is a tender fish that is a bit on the fattier side –think of sea bass– and incredibly delish.

I chose to pan sear the fillets because it’s quick and gives the fish a lovely crunchy crust without overcooking the meat. And the secret to pan searing fish? You’ve got to get the skillet/pan screaming hot before adding the oil and do not —let me repeat…DO NOT mess around with trying to flip the fish around a gazillion times. You’ve got to let it crisp up on the first side and then when it’s ready, meaning when you can slide a spatula underneath it without any resistance, then flip it!

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

Because I’m obsessed with anchovy paste lately, I decided to make a quick herby vinaigrette with anchovy paste for that much needed acidity to cut the natural fattiness of the fish. And for all of you anchovy haters — get over it! The paste adds a subtle, salty, sea flavor that I’m sure you wouldn’t guess it was anchovy if I hadn’t told you.

For reals…..

Since I was aiming for a lighter dish, I served my fish with these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that I also tossed in some of the vinaigrette. They were beautiful and sweet. But if you’re looking for a little starch — a sunchoke puree or even garlic noodles would be the bomb-diggity.

Yeah….I just went there.

The finished dish is a show stopper if I dare say so myself. Crisp and tender fish with bright acidity from the vinaigrette. And guess what? If you get your act together, this beauty can be done in 20 minutes…..25 minutes if you want to take a leisurely approach.

Fantastic if you’re having folks over or just when you want to make yourself something delish. Because let’s face it, I don’t care if you’re just learning how to cook, an intermediate cook or chef extraordinaire —the food you create should make you want to smile and do a little happy dance.

And this little number made me do both….times 100.

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Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 champagne vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
2 black cod fillets, skin-on, de-boned (5-6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered

Combine the anchovy paste, shallots, garlic, herbs, lemon juice and vinegar in a blender and blend at medium speed for about 20 seconds. With the blender running on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the vinaigrette has become emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Score the skin side of each of the fish fillets and use paper towels to pat them dry. Season the fillets with kosher salt and pepper.

Choose a skillet that can handle a high level of heat (ie. cast iron, stainless steel, etc.) Heat the skillet over high heat so that it becomes screaming hot. Once it reaches the desired temperature, add the oil and swirl it around the skillet. Carefully place each fillet, skin side down into the oil. Using a spatula, gently press down on the fillets so that they don’t curl up on the sides. Toss the thyme sprigs into the oil on the side of the fish –this will help flavor the oil.

Cook the first side of the fish for about 3 minutes — depending on the thickness of the fillets. Be careful not to flip the fish before the skin has crisped up and formed a crust. Once the first side has cooked, about 2/3 way through, flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the fillets from the skillet.

Toss the tomatoes in a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette. Plate 1/2 of the dressed tomatoes on each plate. Top each mound of tomatoes with a cod fillet. Drizzle the fish with additional vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Almond Joy Milkshakes

Almond Joy Milkshakes

It’s been really hot these past few days.

How hot you ask?

HELLA hot.

Darn too hot to cook or even warm up food. So instead, I opted to make milkshakes for dinner the other night.

Almond Joy Milkshakes

I rummaged through the freezer and found some chocolate and coconut ice creams which I threw in the blender with some other goodies. And some how, I inadvertently made the most delicious milkshake with the flavors of Almond Joy. ‘Cause….

Sometimes you feel like a nut…
Sometimes you don’t…..

It was decadently yummy and helped keep me cool during the .5 seconds it took me to inhale the whole thing.

I love it when I make delish things by accidents.

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Almond Joy Milkshakes
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 heaping scoop chocolate ice cream
1 heaping scoop coconut ice cream
½ cup almond milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon coconut extract
1 ounce creme de cacao (optional)
2 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes
1 teaspoon toasted almond slices
1 teaspoon cacao nibs or chocolate chunks

In a blender, add both ice creams, almond milk, both extracts, creme de cacao (if using) and 1½ tablespoons coconut flakes. Blend until the shake is smooth and frothy. Pour the contents into a glass and sprinkle the top with the remaining coconut flakes, almond slices and cacao nibs (or chocolate).

Enjoy!

 

 

Our Big Fat GREEK Sunday Family Dinner – OPA!!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

As it turned out, the only Sunday we could have our June Family Dinner was on the same weekend of our big seester and B.I.L.’s wedding anniversary party………..

The same event that we were slated to cook/bake the entire menu as well as prep the decor and floral arrangements.

No big deal right? Good thing we’re robots.

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

 

But our monthly Family Dinners have become a tradition and I was determined to still make it happen without having to add any extra stress.

An easy, low-key menu was a must…..especially if we could prepare things in advance.

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

Enter Ina Garten to save the day!

I happened to catch an old episode of hers on TV where she was fixing up a Greek/Mediterranean spread to enjoy at one of her friends’ fabulous new homes. Nearly everything was made in advance and she just carted it over to the house when it was dinner time.

PERFECT!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

And on another note, that woman has some pretty spectacular buddies in some amazing industries! Lighting specialists, florists, chefs, cheese makers,  vintners —I need to run in her crowd!!

But I digress….back to the food.

So with a loose Greek themed menu, we were off to the races.  For appetizers, we snacked on flaky, buttery, golden Spanakopita. I actually made them 2 weeks beforehand and stored them unbaked in an airtight container in the freezer. The day of our dinner as we sipped on chilled vino, I put them directly from the freezer into a preheated oven. 35 minutes later, our tummies were doing a happy dance.

 

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

As for the main menu, what’s easier than grilling? Especially if we can task the boys to do the grill work!

MAN LIKE FIRE. <insert curmudgeon caveman voice>

And since we were going Greek, we marinated chunks of lamb and chicken in Greek yogurt with tons of lemon juice, rosemary and garlic. The proteins bathed in the marinade overnight which I think helped to reduce any extra gaminess lamb is known to have as well as keep the meat tender.

Of course, the recipe is Ina’s and can be found here but I added about 1/4 cup of minced garlic to the recipe. No garlic?! Not me!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

We served the chicken and lamb with an easy cucumber and fresh dill tzatziki sauce.

 

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

And how could we have a Greek outdoor feast without Pita Bread? Pita is something that is surprisingly easy to make (despite my first apprehension) and also can be made in advance. We ended up grilling the Pita to warm them but I think next time it would be better to toast them lightly in the oven because they got a tad crunchy for my liking. The recipe I used can from The Kitchn  can be found here.

I’d also be doing a disservice to the sis if I didn’t talk about the light Greek Salad she whipped up with feta, cucumbers, olives, fresh dill, tomatoes and red onions –it was our MUCH needed veggies!

 

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

As for dessert, we kept things relatively light –especially since we all inhaled a TON of desserts at the anniversary party the night before. So we opted for a simple Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta and topped it with a fresh fig & berries compote.

The panna cotta was a cinch to make and had similar tart flavors to Vietnamese yogurt. As for the compote, it was nothing more than cooking the figs, strawberries, and raspberries down with about 1/2 cup white wine, sugar and a bit of vanilla.

Truth be told, I was surprised how much I did enjoy dessert considering it was a last minute addition to the plate but it was  yuuuummmmmyy!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

All in all, despite how crazy tired we were from the night before, Sunday Family Dinner was quite the success.

Lounging in the backyard, dangling our toes in the hot tub, sipping on vino, naps in the sun and good food with the family. The perfect way to spend a Sunday FUNday and nothing to it but a bit of work ahead of time.

Until next month - OPA!!!!!!!!!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

 

Chimichurri Skirt Steaks for ‘Murica!

Chimichurri Skirt Steak

Okay gang…it is that last minute push to scrub down those grills….. stockpile on hotdogs, hamburgers, coleslaw, ribs and bust out your RED WHITE and BLUE…..

Because tomorrow the country will be celebrating ‘MURICA!

Chimichurri Skirt Steak

But if you’re looking to grill up something different to please your crowd, try throwing some flavorful skirt steak smothered with THE BEST chimichurri sauce. It’s super easy to make and is dang delicious with some lightly grilled tortillas.

And with that folks, enjoy the fireworks, some BBQ goodness, and have a fantastic 4th of July!!!

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Chimichurri Skirt Steak

 

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh cilantro
½ small white onion
4 large garlic cloves
1 jalapeno pepper
zest of 1 lime
½ cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup olive oil
2 pounds skirt steak
vegetable oil
1 cup chimichurri sauce

In a food processor or blender, add the first 14 ingredients. Pulse several times until the fresh aromatics have broken down. Place the skirt steak into a gallon size resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the steak and massage it through. Be sure to get most of the air out of the bag before sealing it. Put the steak in the refrigerator and marinate 4-6 hours.

An hour before you start cooking the skirt steak, pull it from the refrigerator to take the chill off of it. Heat your grill to medium-high. Brush the grates of your grill with the vegetable oil. Cook the steaks for about 1-2 minutes on each side –depending on the thickness of your steaks. Remove to a platter and cover with foil for 10 minutes.

Once rested, slice the steak thinly across the grain of the meat. Spoon the chimichurri sauce over the steak and serve with warmed tortillas, if desired.

Sunday Family Dinner turns Steakhouse!

May 2014 Fam Dinner

I am a bit behind on our Sunday Family Dinner recaps — and not because the menus weren’t memorable. But late spring-early summer is always a crazy time.

But SHAME ON ME because May’s menu was my choice — Steakhouse inspired fare!

Now I have to admit that we were all over the place that day and were running so behind on dinner. We usually get together around 3-4 pm to prep/cook/drink together before dinner is actually done. But our niece had her semifinals (that turned into finals) lacrosse match (GO PIONEER!!!) so we didn’t get to big seester’s casa until after 6:30.

Things were a bit rushed when we finally got home so we definitely needed a moment to breath and enjoy a cocktail. And my go-to at steakhouses are always an extra dirty Grey Goose Martini followed by some red vino.

A MUST!

 

May 2014 Fam Dinner

For appetizers, I had initially wanted to go with roasted shrimp with homemade spicy cocktail sauce. But when we had gone to the store that morning, we saw these GORGEOUS and GI-NORMOUS Alaskan King Crab Legs –so the poor shrimp were scratched off the menu.

Big seester steamed the incredibly sweet crab and we dunked them into cocktail sauce and liquid love (aka melted butter).

I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E.

May 2014 Fam Dinner

For the main course, I convinced the sis to make Thyme Popovers because I’m obsessed with popovers. They were so light, crisp and buttery –just lovely. Popovers aren’t too difficult to make but they do take some time to bake and you need to inhale them straight from the oven. And since we don’t own a score of popover pans nor have multiple ovens to bake them all at once, you don’t see them too often at our dinners.

May 2014 Fam Dinner

And let’s face it….we needed a bit of greens–even if we drenched them in cheese and dressing. Since the majority of the fam aren’t fans of blue cheese, we opted for Caesar Salads instead of a Wedge Salad.

My niece, Nina, used Martha Stewart’s dressing recipe that can be found here. That’s right kiddies—there’s anchovies in traditional Caesar dressing! It’s what gives off the briny, salt, deep flavor.

May 2014 Fam Dinner

Since baked potatoes and mashed potatoes are standard fare at steakhouses, I decided to combine the two and made a huge bowl of The Ultimate Loaded-Baked-Mashed-Potatoes!

Red potatoes, roasted garlic, sour cream, cream cheese, butter, heavy cream, garlic salt, cracked black pepper–all topped with tons of crispy bacon and chopped scallions.

Don’t ask the calorie count because I don’t want to know. But needless to say–it was worth the mini heart attack.

May 2014 Fam Dinner

And the heart of our steakhouse themed menu? Our seester’s black pepper/fresh rosemary/salt crusted standing rib roast studded with whole garlic cloves.

DROOLS!

Now despite what most folks do, I almost always order the prime rib at a steakhouse. And you better believe I go to town at The House of Prime Rib in San Francisco. MAN- can my seester make a friggin’ mean  Prime Rib!?

May 2014 Fam Dinner

 

I seriously wish I had this plate in front of me right now…..

 

May 2014 Fam Dinner

 

As for dessert, I requested that Nina make our favorite chocolate layered cake topped with berries. I kid you not, it’s one of the best cakes ever!!
May 2014 Fam Dinner

 

So despite our limited prep time, our Steakhouse Dinner was an incredible success. Here’s hoping my siblings will let us do the same menu again soon! :)

Slow Cooker Kālua Pig

Kālua Pig

 

It’s ALOHA FRIDAY and what better way to kick off the weekend with some island grindz? And it sure doesn’t get any easier or more ono-licious than Kālua Pig made in a Crock Pot!

 

Sure, you could go traditional and dig an imu in your backyard to channel the Hawaiian spirit. And heck – I would definitely be the first to give you mad props if you did! But as my family have continually denied my pleas to dig a large hole in their yards, I’ve had to settle for conventional methods and use slow cookers.

Kālua Pig

It really is a fool proof method of creating delicious Kālua Pig since you throw everything into the pot and then twiddle your thumbs for the next 10 hours. But the secret is the addition of banana leaves and liquid smoke which truly impart the authentic flavors an imu provides.

I like to serve my Kālua Pig over sticky rice with mac salad or sandwiched in my beloved Kings Hawaiian rolls with a tangy slaw. However you choose to serve it, your loved ones will adore you for channeling the flavors of the islands onto their plates.

Alohas!!!

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Slow Cooker Kālua Pig

Ingredients:

5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
sea salt (Hawaiian sea salt if possible)
black pepper
3-4 banana leaves
½ small white onion, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
4-5 dashes liquid smoke
Using paper towels, dry off the pork and generously season with the sea salt and black pepper.

Line the bottom of the slow cooker with banana leaves, setting aside one to top off the pork. Place the seasoned pork shoulder in the cooker and top with the onions, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves. Wrap the remaining banana leaf over the top and cover the slow cooker. Cook the pork on low heat for 10 – 12 hours.*

Once done, carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a platter or large dish. Using two forks, shred the meat into pieces.

Skim and discard the fat and oil from the liquids left in the slow cooker. Pour the liquid over the shredded pork and stir in the liquid smoke. Taste and season with additional sea salt as needed.

Serve over rice or my favorite Kings Hawaiian sweet rolls.

*You can also cook the pork over high heat for about 5-6 hours but I prefer the texture of the low and slow method.

Cobb Salad – Taste the Rainbow

Cobb Salad

I made a Rainbow.

Well….a huge salad that looked like a Rainbow.

Cobb Salad

And the thing is….I wasn’t intending to write about it but after I assembled everything, I said to myself:

“Damn. That is a good-looking bowl o’ goodness.”

Cobb Salad

So here it is.

My Cobb Salad.

Nothing crazy, nothing shocking but darn delicious. And like all great Foodies and Nutritionists will tell ya –each meal should cover the Rainbow.

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Cobb Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Salad
5 cups roughly chopped Romaine lettuce
1 cup arugula leaves
1/2 cup diced cucumbers
1 small avocado, diced
1/2 cup diced bell peppers (I like to use orange and yellow peppers)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup diced grilled chicken
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 crispy bacon strips, roughly chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients of the vinaigrette. Taste and add more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. (I also like to add the ingredients into a mason jar and shake it up–it’s a wonderful alternative to emulsify the vinaigrette but it serves as the perfect storage vessel for the remaining dressing.)

In a large bowl, add the Romaine lettuce and arugula. Add enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens. Toss to evenly cover and plate between two bowls.

Divide the remaining ingredients between the two bowls. Serve additional vinaigrette alongside each bowl. Enjoy!