Tri-tip steak with a brussel sprout and pancetta side (and grilled corn! and tomato/cucumber salad!)

We eat a lot of grilled corn around these parts. Especially in the summer. It is a specialty of Hubs and often requested by friends and our extended family.

Our lovely au pair has family in town this month and, on the night her best friend arrived, we invited him to join us for dinner. I found a lovely looking tri-tip steak at the local natural food store, too. We also had some brussel sprouts and pancetta that was reaching its life limit. And, as said before, our tomatoes are abundant. With that, a meal was made.

Image

Ingredients:

The steak

  • one large tri-tip steak
  • soy sauce (about a 1/2 cup)
  • hoisin (two tablespoons)
  • tomato paste (about a tablespoon)
  • worchestshire sauce (about a tablespoon)
  • sesame oil (one tablespoon)
  • rice wine vinegar (one tablespoon)
  • brown sugar (two tablespoons)
  • lime zest
  • salt/pepper
  • lime juice (one lime)
  • grated fresh ginger (about one inch of a knob)

The brussel sprouts

  • one cup of cubed pancetta
  • one pound of brussel sprouts, ends cut off, outer leaves removed and cut in half
  • half of a vidalia onion, cut against the grain
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic
  • toasted pine nuts

The corn

  • as many ears of corn for as many people you have
  • one lime per four ears
  • sprinkling of salt

Tomato/cucumber salad

  • tomatoes from the garden, cut into rough chunks
  • two cucumbers peeled and cut into one inch chunks
  • basil to taste
  • balsamic to taste
  • salt/pepper

In a large glass baking dish, whisk all ingredients for the marinade (everything but the steak). Once thoroughly mixed, add the steak, fat side up, and let it sit, covered for as long as possible. Flip halfway through the amount of time you have available. I didn’t have too much time (about an hour) but it was still enough to get the flavors intermingled.

Image

While that marinates, cut your brussel sprouts and onion. In a saute pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil (or grapeseed) and add the onions. When softening, add the pancetta and cook until done. Take them out of the pan with a slotted spoon (leaving as much of their grease as possible) and put them on a paper towel to drain.

Image

Add in the cut sprouts, cut side down and let that cook until the cut side is browning. When you see a bit of brown, add a splash of wine and a splash of balsamic and mix until all are covered.  Once the sprouts are cooked, add the pancetta and onions back in to the sprouts. This is often best if it has been sitting for a bit in the pan, letting the flavors meld together. Heat up in the pan right before serving.

When ready to cook the tri-tip, turn on your grill to the lower temperature setting. You will use the burners for the corn and the steak will be on indirect heat, on the rack above. Grill the steak on the upper rack for 15 minutes on each side with the lid closed. When the internal temperature (using an insta-read) reaches 135, take it off and let it sit covered in tin foil for 15 minutes more.  While the steak is resting, turn the heat up on grill and put the corn on. Turn only when the kernels begin to char. When charred on all sides (about 15 minutes, but maybe quicker depending on the corn), squeeze a lime over the corn and sprinkle with parmesan.

Chop the tomatoes and cucumber and mix with basil and balsamic, salt and pepper. Turn the heat up high on the sprouts to quickly heat through. Add the pine nuts now (otherwise they can get soggy).  Slice the steak into thin slices and serve!  This tri-tip was so good that we made it again a few days later.

Image

Advertisements

Pea, Avocado and Mint Dressing Used Two Ways

image (9)-003

I’ve seen a few versions of this recipe floating around but I knew it wouldn’t be hearty enough on its own for a meal for my family (I kept on seeing it on toast or as a dip for chips). So tonight, as usual, I am going to MacGuyver that recipe and make it something the Suhlizis would eat.

As our au pair isn’t the biggest fan of chicken, I made two versions: veggie and chicken.

Ingredients (leave the chicken out if cooking the veg version):

  • Two large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • One bag of frozen peas
  • One avocado (peeled and seeded)
  • One cup of mint leaves
  • Jalapeno, finely diced, to taste
  • Half of a red onion, roughly chopped
  • One can of chickpeas (more will go into the veg version than the chicken version)
  • A few handfuls of fresh spinach
  • A few stalks of raw dinosaur kale
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Limes (both zest and juice)
  • Sriracha sauce to taste
  • Half a cup of toasted pine nuts

Chop the boneless, skinless breasts into one inch chunks. Add salt and pepper and marinate in yogurt, sriracha and lime juice, covered and in the fridge, for a few hours.

image (10)-002

Cook the peas as directed on the package. As mentioned previously, I like the steam in the bag kind. Cooks for five minutes and little to no mess. While that steams, in a dry sauté pan, toast the pine nuts and set aside.  The picture here shows the before and after. A lot of times I toast them up a bit darker as hubs REALLY likes that, um, burnt flavor. Not my thing. I went a bit less toasty tonight.

PicShells

In a food processor or using a stick blender (whichever is handy…I made the mistake of being TOO handy and using my vitamix. NOT the best tool suited for the job), puree the cooked peas, the avocado and mint and a few pine nuts until smooth. Tasting it along the way, I also pureed in some jalapeno, lime juice, some lime zest and salt and pepper.

Put two tablespoons of olive oil and a pat of butter into the pan over medium high heat. When the oil is glistening, add the half of the red onion and then, a minute or so later, the chicken. Turn the chicken once the panside is slightly browned. If the yogurt becomes too liquid-y in while you are cooking, drain it out and put it back on the stove. The more liquid, the less browned. Continue to turn and cook through (using a instaread thermometer if needed) and remove to a separate plate. Dollup on a few spoonfuls of the pea/mint/avocado mixture to the chicken.

image (5)-004

Add a bit of olive oil to the pan and add the rest of the red onion and the chiffonaded, stemmed kale, cut into small pieces. If you have any handy, pour in a 1/4 cup of wine (any color) when the kale starts to turn color. It really adds a depth of flavor and cuts the sharpness of the kale. Add the cherry tomatoes whole and chickpeas to the pan to warm. Cook the kale until tender but not wilted.

image (3)-005

(This is when I add the wine…when it looks like this)image (4)-005

Because two plates of the three will be non-veg, put this together on/in the plates/bowls you will be using. Chop the spinach into one inch pieces and then put the fresh spinach on the bottom of the bowl. Top with a bit of the pea/mint/avocado mixture. If you are adding the chicken, add it now. Then top with the veg mixture. More chickpeas for the veggie dish. Then add some more of the pea/mint/avocado mixture and top with a boat load of toasted pine nuts and more sriracha.

This was INCREDIBLY filling. I could have had half a bowl and been satisfied. But it was so GD healthy, that I stuffed it back guilt free. This would be fantastic for a group of people (luncheon, shower, etc.) and could probably be improved by grilling the chicken instead of sauteeing it. I might also consider thinning out the pea/mint/avocado mix by making it more of a dressing…maybe some vinegar/olive oil? More like a salad dressing. It was so thick, it was a bit difficult to mix.

Overstuffed Yellow Squash Boats and Sauteed Red Wine Kale

I went all veg last night. I don’t do this THAT often (though I know I should) because, without any starches, M and I often don’t get full without a protein. I combated no protein with a tiny bit of farro. And I think it was a success. I was satiated and enjoyed the meal. And the girls LOVED it.

Image

As I often do, I took what I had and interpretted another recipe to make it fit my fridge. Last night I made yellow squash boats stuffed with mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese (topped with toasted pine nuts, balsamic glaze and a bit of sriracha). I also made kale sauteed with red wine and yellow onion.

Squash Boats

  • 1 large squash per person
  • package of frozen spinach
  • two cups of dried mushrooms, chopped finely
  • finely sliced shallot
  • red pepper flakes
  • thyme
  • salt/pepper
  • goat cheese (frozen)

Kale

  • 1 large bag of kale, washed, torn into 1 inch pieces and rid of tough stems
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • butter
  • 1 small lemon

I made the kale first as I wanted it to sit in its juices for as long as possible. After washing and trimming the kale to rid it of the stems, I tore any large leaves into small, bit size pieces. I put them into a bowl lined with a kitchen towel and let them drain while I chopped and cooked the yellow onion.

P actually helped with most of this portion of the meal. He loved “showering” and tearing the kale and stirring the onions cooked over medium heat. He has also started to have the dexterity to grind the salt and pepper over the food so I let him do that over the onions as they started to become translucent.

Once cooked, I piled in the kale and, over medium/high heat, wilted it until to became bright green. As there was so much kale in my saute pan, I had to turn the kale often and use a large pan lid to weigh down the leaves to keep them all in. As soon as the kale was bright green, I poured in the cup of red wine left over from a few nights previous and turned the heat to low and let all of that yumminess simmer. It was also at this time that I added 1 tablespoon of butter, cut into smaller pieces, and squirted it with the juice of a small lemon. This really added a depth to the flavor. Once this was all melded together, I poured the mixture and ALL of the juice into a large bowl to sit and absorb.

Image(oops, I missed a stem!)

I put some water into my electric kettle and let it boil while I dried out the pan with a paper towel. I chopped the dry mushrooms into 1/4 inch pieces and rinsed them in my mesh colander  When the water was boiling, I put the mushrooms in the pan and poured the hot water over them, letting them absorb the moisture. Once they were well soaked, I put them back in the mesh colander and let them drain over the sink. This last part used no heat…just reduced the number of bowls I’d have to clean later 🙂

At this time I preheated the oven to 350. The spinach was next. I popped a box of frozen chopped spinach into the pan and, after pouring a bit of hot water from the kettle over it, let the spinach defrost, stirring often and breaking it apart slowly. Once heated, I poured the spinach and its juices over the mushrooms that were still in the sink in the mesh colander. Those sat and dripped while I prepared the squash.

ImageI trimmed the ends off of the squash and cut them in half. After removing with a spoon the seeded center and setting that portion aside, I sliced a thin portion off of the bottom so that they would sit flat.

Image

On the hulled squash boats I added salt and pepper, a sprinkling of dry thyme and a tiny bit of finely chopped red pepper flakes. The other flavors are so subtle on this dish that it definitely needed that zing…so don’t exclude the red pepper flakes. I then sprayed it with smart balance cooking spray…but this was mostly for convenience as it was right in front of me and my olive oil was across the room. Lazy, yo.

Back at the saute pan, I toasted a handful of pine nuts and set them aside. I put a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan, heated it up and tossed in the shallot and the squash innards, letting them cook over medium high heat. I pressed the remaining liquid out of the spinach and mushrooms and then added them to the mix. I had the goat cheese in the freezer to make even distribution into the filling easier. I crumbled about three tablespoons of goat cheese onto the filling and stirred it in. Add sriracha sauce to taste at this point. I don’t like my food too hot so I just did a tiny bit and then let the others heat their food up at the end as they wished.

On a silpat lined cookie sheet, I placed the empty boats and then overstuffed them with the filling.

Image

I squeezed a bit of balsamic glaze over the top and put them in the oven for 30-35 minutes, turning once during cooking to allow for even temperature in my horrible stove. Test for doneness with a sharp knife. When it goes into the skin of the squash easily, it is ready.

While the squash is cooking, I used 1/2 a cup of the Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro and 1 cup of chicken stock and simmered that on the stove, after bringing it to a boil, for 10 minutes. Once cooked to chewiness, I added back in the kale  mixture to heat for serving.

image (6)

Serve the kale with a slotted spoon and portion two squash boats per person. Top the squash boats with toasted pine nuts, a bit more of the goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze and/or sriracha and you have yourself a delicious and incredibly healthy meal.

Image

Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi and Mama’s Asparagus Salad

Last night was another “experimenting” with what is available kind of night. In my freezer I had frozen Trader Joe’s Mahi Mahi filets and a knob of ginger. In my refrigerator I have three bunches of asparagus. And on my counter I had a handful of “on the brink” basil and some “starting to shrivel” cherry tomatoes. I wanted to use that basil. I didn’t realize when I started that the tomatoes would really make this meal.

The Salad:

  • 3 bunches of asparagus
  • large handful of basil
  • tablespoon  of pine nuts
  • table spoon of good olive oil
  • table spoon of balsamic glaze
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt/pepper
  • 10 cherry tomatoes

The Fish:

  • 2 small filets per person, so 8 small filets
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
  • salt/pepper

Knowing that my kitchen would turn into a madhouse at 530 when the kids came up to eat, I decided to roast the asparagus early and then reheat it at the end. I cleaned and broke the asparagus, lining it up on a pan as so:

20130424-080307.jpg

I salted and peppered and oiled them up and placed them in a 425 degree oven on the top shelf.

While those cooked I marinated the fish. In a bowl I whisked the soy, honey, balsamic reduction, olive oil and ground ginger. In a Pyrex dish I poured the mixture then placed the fish, skin side down, covered and refrigerated until I was ready.

20130424-080714.jpg

Next was the sauce for the salad. I knew I wanted to use the basil but wasn’t sure how. So, I thought, maybe a pesto of sorts? I chopped up a bit, added some pine nuts and a bit of olive oil and, using my immersion blender, puréed the ingredients. It tasted bitter so I added a bit of lemon. Better, but not quite right. Salt and pepper? Better still, but not 100%. Balsamic reduction?! Almost there! A few overripe cherry tomatoes?!! By Jove! It was delicious. But I needed more of this…so I did it again in a bigger bowl.

20130424-081135.jpg

I had to stop myself from drinking this concoction. I could eat that every day.

When the asparagus were close to done, I removed them and set them aside until we were at the end.

While the kids ate, I toasted 1/3 cup of pine nuts and set them aside.

Fast forward an hour and the family was close to being ready to eat. I put the oven at 400 and, after turning the fish to coat twice, they went into the oven for 15-20 minutes. When I turned them halfway through the cooking, I put the asparagus back in the oven below the fish. I also quickly cooked up the pancetta, draining it on a paper towel. Remove the fish from the oven when it starts to flake and put the fish on a plate. Pour the marinade into the pan in which you just cooked the pancetta and cook the mixture down a bit. Add a tiny bit of arrow root if it needs thickening.
Put the asparagus, pine nuts, pancetta and sauce in a large bowl and mix. I’m not kidding when I tell you that you may have to hold yourself back from devouring the entire thing right then and there.

20130424-081939.jpg

I maaaaaaay have eaten the leftover pine nuts and pancetta with a serving spoon, standing in the kitchen, right before going to bed. It was that good.

After plating the fish and salad, pour the reduced ginger glaze over the fish. Enjoy!

20130424-082217.jpg

Fish “Tacos” with Shaved Brussel Sprout, Apple and Pine Nut Salad

Hubs requested Fish Tacos last night and I was craving fish, too. But I had a MAJOR craving for something savory…so the side had to hit that note and still work with the mexican inspired flavoring on the fish. Also, since we are avoiding PPB&R, I decided to use lettuce “cups” as the torilla. The final meal? Cumin seasoned tilapia with cliantro and lemon wrapped in lettuce with shaved brussel sprouts, apple slices and toasted pine nuts.

Something you should know about me. I have ZERO issue with “short cuts”. If I find yummy “fixings” or frozen whatever that is healthy? I use it. Doesn’t apply here, but I have no problem with frozen broccoli, stir fry mix or peas, canned beets or corn, etc. And in this case? We’d just been to a great market and picked up delicious organic, fresh guacamole and salsa…neither of which were cooked by me 🙂

  • Brussel sprouts
  • 2 apples
  • 1 cup of pine nuts
  • 1 meyer lemon
  • 5 tilapia filets
  • Cilantro
  • Ground cumin
  • lettuce of choice for wrapping

Trim the brussel sprouts and then thinly slice lengthwise. Discard ends and outer leaves, put sliced sprouts in a big bowl and separate out the leaves. Toast pine nuts over medium heat, keeping constant watch until golden brown. I looked away for a second and burnt some of the pine nuts. Thankfully, only a few were inedible. Put them aside.

Image

Put a bit of canola oil in the pan (I didn’t want the olive oil to overpower the nuttiness of the pine nuts) and, once hot, add in the brussel sprouts. Let them cook down for a bit. While they are cooking, cut the apples halfwise, core and the slice into thin pieces.

Image

Meanwhile, sweat the tilapia with salt, pepper and sprinkle with cumin. This is also a good time to zest the lemon and set the zest aside.

Image

In batches, because the filets are usually quite large, saute the fish in olive oil until almost cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside. Cook the rest of the filets. Keep stirring the brussel sprouts, too. When those have wilted and are getting a more bright green, add a bit of balsamic and coat evenly.

Image

Once all of the fish is cooked mostly through, add all of the filet back in, breaking them into chunks. Add in the chopped cilantro. Squeeze the lemon onto the fish and add the zest. Mix thoroughly.

photo (48)-001

 

With the fish finished, I put the salad together. The apples, pine nuts and brussel sprouts were combined in a big bowl and garnished with freshly grated parmigiana.

I set up a serving area on our table for people to make their own tacos. The salsa and guac were front and center. I had lettuce for wrapping the tacos up, too. Here is the finished plate.

photo (49)

Mom’s Salmon

On Tuesday I made my “mom’s” salmon (she surely got it someplace fabulous but I don’t know the source) and it was easy and delish (and pleased my very picky with fish hubs):

  • skin on salmon filets (I cooked for 4 adults with some leftovers…so almost 3 lbs)
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup panko/breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoon ground flaxseed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons whole grain dijon
  • vegetable oil

First, preheat oven to 425. In a bowl mix panko, parsley, zest, salt/pepper. Drizzle mixture with oil until it is soft and combining. Heat vegetable oil in ovenproof pan (I had enough salmon that I had to use two pans — my cast iron and my stainless steel frying pan). With skin side down on a plate or cutting board, brush the salmon flesh thickly with mustard and then pat mixture on top (mine ended up about 1/2″ thick). Sear skin on the stovetop for about 3 minutes on med/high heat. Then put the pan in oven (being careful not the spill the oil) on a higher rack for 5-7 minutes (my salmon took a bit longer to cook but my oven SUCKS).

I sided it with sauteed brussels (with balsamic and white onion) and broccoli with parm, and all of the above covered with some toasted pine nuts.

No picture on this one (I stupidly deleted it) but let me tell you….it was GORGEOUS!