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Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Salmon and Mangos and Avos….oh my!

I could eat Hawaiian poke (pronounced poe-kay) every day, it is so light and fresh, perfect in the summer. Poke is a raw fish salad seasoned with flavors common in Japanese cooking. Ginger salmon poke is flavored with a dressing of fresh ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Sriracha. Once the cubes of salmon are coated with the dressing, onions, sesame seeds, mango and avocado are added to poke.

There are a few things to consider before attempting to make poke at home. First, buy your fish from a reputable fish monger or a grocery store which carries high-quality fresh fish. I recommend mentioning that you plan to make poke with the fish when you are buying. Also, you will want to use a very sharp knife to cut the fish into cubes. A knife that isn’t super sharp will tear the fish so be sure to sharpen your knives before cutting up the fish.

Do you have a good knife? The single most important kitchen tool for me a sharp chef’s knife. This is the knife that I use to cut almost everything while preparing recipes. I have a serrated bread knife for slicing bread and a paring knife that I occasionally use to slice up a peach or remove the segments of oranges.

Having a solid chef’s knife is the first step, keeping the knife sharp is the second step. You should invest in a steel to sharpen your knife. The video below will show you exactly how to use the steel to keep your knife in perfect cutting condition.

With this in mind, you will become a poke-making master in no time. I love to serve poke in a bowl with steamed rice (brown or white). Then, I like to add some fresh vegetables like shredded cabbage or a lightly dressed cucumber salad to round out the bowl.

If poke is your thing too, you may want to check out my post on Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke too.

How to Make Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Ginger Salmon Poke with Mango and Avocado

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Poke is a raw fish salad. In Hawaiian, poke means ‘to cut or slice’. The fish is cut into cubes and seasoned with ingredients that are common in Japanese cooking such as soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions.

This summer has become the summer of poke in my kitchen. I am not sure how it happened but suddenly I find myself craving it all the time. Perhaps it is because the temperatures this summer have been unbearably hot and I can’t stand eating anything hot or even turning on a burner most nights. Or, maybe it is just that I have come to appreciate the simplicity of chopping up a few quality ingredients and combining them into an incredibly tasty dish. Whatever the reason, I can’t stop making and eating poke. Today’s recipe for spicy ahi tuna features fresh ahi tuna with a little kick.

I get my fish from a local fishmonger which has fresh fish flown in every day. Many of the local sushi restaurants in town order their fish from them too so you know it has to be good. I always ask the fishmonger which fish that they have in that day would be good to use to make poke. On my last visit, I picked up some ahi tuna and salmon.  I will have a few more poke recipes coming your way in the coming weeks.

Figure that you will want between 4 to 6 ounces of fish per person. I always serve poke with rice and either shredded cabbage, a cucumber salad, or seaweed salad to round out the meal.

The beauty of poke is that you make a simple, flavorful dressing that will lightly coat the fish. The fish is cut into small cubes which maximizes the surface area available to soak up the flavorful dressing. Then, you simply add rice (either brown or white) into a bowl, top with the spicy ahi tuna, and some vegetable matter and you have a perfect summer meal. I will often make a little bit extra of everything so I have leftovers for lunch the next day!

How to Make Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke Pin

Somen Noodle Salad

Somen Salad

I cannot stop making Somen salad this summer.  I think I have made it three weeks in a row. My friend Liz gave me the recipe years ago. Over the years, I made it from time to time when I needed an easy but tasty salad. But, then the recipe sort of dropped out of my brain and rotation. I hadn’t even thought about making it in forever.

Then, Liz recently mentioned that she was making Somen salad for dinner. And, just like that I had Somen salad on the brain again. Somen noodles are thin, white Japanese noodles made from wheat flour. They can be found with the Asian foods in most grocery stores. They cook very quickly and are typically served cold.

Somen salad combines somen noodles, lettuce, green onions, and scrambled eggs with a sesame seed dressing. The original recipe called for iceberg lettuce but I often will substitute Romaine since I typically have it in the fridge. Vegetarians will find this to be a satisfying meal but you could also serve it as a side dish alongside grilled flank steak or with pork tenderloin.

Somen Salad

Somen salad makes a terrific weeknight dinner as it takes very little time to prepare. Pluls, if you only dress the salad that you are eating, somen salad leftovers make a great brown bag lunch the next day.

Asian Noodles

Asian Noodle Guide

photograph: Vicky Wasik

The Serious Eats website has a great guide on shopping for Asian noodles which you can find here. Somen noodles are listed in the article if you want a visual of the type of noodle you will need for this recipe. The article includes descriptions and photographs of the most popular noodles. The article also features link to recipes using the various types of noodles. I encourage you to read up and then visit an Asian market and pick up a few new types of noodles to try.

Somen Salad pin

If Asian food is your jam, you may want to check out these recipes too:

Ricotta Toast with Morel Mushrooms and Asparagus

Ricotta Toast with Asparagus and Morels-4

If you have become a bit tired of avocado toast, you may want to consider swapping out the avocados for ricotta. Don’t get me wrong, no disrespect to avocado toast. I love it, I eat it often, but sometimes I want something a little different. Ricotta is light and airy and perfect with so many different topping.

Ricotta toast is something that I have eaten since I was a kid. Every Italian family keeps ricotta in the fridge. You still get the rich, creamy spread you are used to from avocado toast but a whole new universe of flavors opens up for you. Ricotta can easily be used either in sweet or savory dishes, think lasagna versus cannoli.

In New York, you can find fresh ricotta at many Italian markets. Have you had fresh ricotta? It is so creamy and delicious. I die. Literally. Well, I guess figuratively but still you cannot even at how good it is. I haven’t tried making it at home although I have been told (and this video confirms) that it is really easy to make.

How to Make Fresh Ricotta

I like to use a hearty, rustic bread for the toast. For the toppings on this ricotta toast, I used morel mushrooms which were foraged from the woods near my friend Rachael’s home in Missoula, Montana. I was so excited to get a package from her with bunches of morel mushrooms. What a treat! I made this Pizza with Morel Mushrooms and Green Onions using some of the mushrooms from that same haul.

If Rachael didn’t send you any morels and you couldn’t find them locally, I would swap them out for cremini or button mushrooms. Not quite the panache of morels but still a nice meaty texture to complement the ricotta. I also used some beautiful, medium-sized asparagus chopped into bite-sized pieces to top the Ricotta toast.

Ricotta Toast with Asparagus and Morels-1

Ricotta toast with morel mushrooms and asparagus can really be eaten for any meal. I prefer savory foods in the morning and devoured the toasts on Sunday morning for brunch with coffee. But, served with a green salad or soup, the ricotta toast would also make a perfect light lunch or dinner. Plus, it is so quick and easy to make. Basically, you a few minutes to chop the mushrooms and asparagus, a few minutes to sauté them, and the time it takes to toast the bread. Brilliant when you don’t want to fuss in the kitchen on a weeknight.

Ricotta Toast with Morels and Asparagus

 

 

Pizza with Morel Mushrooms and Green Onions

Morel Mushroom and Green Onion Pizza-1

A few of my favorite signs of spring are the incredible vegetables that pop up early to remind us of the rich bounty of produce that is heading our way. This list includes asparagus (yes!), peas (nothing like ‘em), greens of all varieties, and for those fortunate to live near cool, damp forests, morel mushrooms.

For those of us who live in the high desert, the morel mushroom is a bit of unicorn, amazing to behold but rarely seen in person. But, this year, through a unicorn trick of her own, my friend Rachael, who lives in Missoula, Montana had a banner year foraging the forests and brought home sixteen pounds (!) of these woodsy gems.

That alone is amazing but she generously shared her haul with me. Isn’t that incredible? I was beside myself when she sent them to me. I have eaten morel mushrooms in restaurants before but I’d never worked with them before.  So, once I opened up the package, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work researching how to store and looking for inspiration on how to prepare them.

How Morel Mushrooms Grow

<In your best Elmer Fudd voice> ‘Be very, very quiet, I am hunting morel mushrooms…’

Typically, Friday nights are not the most productive nights in my kitchen. I am usually tired and likely to be in the mood to put my feet up and enjoy a glass of wine. But, the allure of these mushrooms was just too great. I decided that pizza would be the perfect vehicle for these meaty mushrooms. If you can’t find morels you can substitute any other mushrooms in their place.

Turns out that they are easy to work with so if you happen to spot some at your local farmers’ market, grab them. I cut the stem ends off, split them down the middle vertically and gave them a good rinse. They are pretty dirty because they were plucked from the dirt in the forest. Hey-o! Keep in mind, you don’t want to rinse or wash them until you are ready to use them.

Morel mushrooms-7

How to Make Morel Mushroom and Green Onion Pizza

I sautéed the mushrooms for a few minutes in a little butter and olive oil with pieces of green onions (red or yellow onions would work too). Then, I removed the veggies from heat and rolled out the pizza dough. Note: you can make your own dough from scratch if you are feeling inspired but I like to keep a few packages of Trader Joe’s pizza dough in the freezer at all times.

Roll out the dough into a thin circle and drizzle a little olive oil over the top. Spread the oil around the dough evenly. I also like to sprinkle some salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes over the dough. Then, top with shredded mozzarella, the sautéed morel mushrooms and green onions.

Morel Mushroom and Green Onion Pizza-9

Pop the pizza in the oven for 15 minutes. Take the pizza out of the oven and carefully crack a raw egg into the center of the pizza. I cracked the egg into a small ramekin first to make the process easier (and in case I needed to pick out any egg shell fragments). Cook five more minutes. Take pizza out of the oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and chopped basil. When you cut into the pizza, the egg yolk breaks and becomes a rich, creamy sauce for the pizza.

The pizza was delicious and special thanks to Rachael for her generosity. I had a ball playing with the mushrooms.

Morel Mushroom and Green Onion Pizza

Grilled Veggies and Halloumi Cheese

Grilled Veggies and Halloumi

Can we agree that cooking outdoors is approximately 110% better than cooking indoors? The food always tastes better, outdoors > indoors, and your kitchen stays cool. Grilled vegetables are a summer staple at my house. Whatever ripe vegetables I can find in my garden or the farmers market typically makes onto my grill.  The addition of Halloumi takes this grilled veggie dish up a few notches.

Are you familiar with Halloumi? From Cyprus, halloumi cheese is an unripened goat and sheep’s milk cheese. Eaten before grilling, halloumi is a bit bland but once your grill it or cook it in a skillet, a golden crust forms with soft delicious interior. Halloumi can be found in many grocery stores with the fancy cheeses, Mediterranean markets, and at Trader Joe’s.

For this recipe, I made a simple, Mediterranean-inspired dressing to marinate the Halloumi and veggies prior to cooking. Both the vegetables and the cheese will soak up the flavors of the dressing so be sure to allow enough time for the marinade to do its work before you are ready to cook.

How to Grill Halloumi on the BBQ

If you can’t quite wrap your head around grilling cheese on the BBQ this video by Curtis Stone will show you how it is done and what the Halloumi should like when it is done.

If you plan to cook outside on the grill, you can either thread the cheese and veggies onto skewers or use a grill basket (I like this one). If you use a grill basket, be sure to not overfill the basket with vegetables and cheese. You are looking to get a char on the veggies and cheese. If you overcrowd the grill basket you will find that some of the veggies will steam. I would cook half the veggies and cheese first and then the other half if space is an issue.

I like to serve the grilled veggies and Halloumi cheese with warmed pita bread and Greek Tzatziki sauce. You could also add a bowl olives or perhaps some hummus and cut cucumbers to round out the meal.  My favorite way to entertain is to place all the components of this recipe on a large platter or board. Then, your dinner guests can help themselves and take exactly what they want.

Grilled Veggies and Halloumi

Like Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food? Check out these other recipes:

 

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

If you keep pizza dough in your freezer (you do keep pizza dough in your freezer, right?), then weeknight dinners are a breeze. All you need is sauce, a few vegetables, and cheese and you are good to go.

A few years back I found a recipe on a blog for smoked mozzarella pizza with lemon.  The recipe and picture caught my eye because the lemon was sliced into paper thin rounds and used as a topping. Lemon rinds? Can you eat them? Would you want to?

Since I am always game to try new things, I made the recipe and fell in love with it! Since then I have realized that thinly sliced lemon on a salmon sushi roll is also delicious. But, this post is about pizza and over the years I have riffed variations of the original pizza based on whatever is in season or in my refrigerator.

This time around I had spinach that I needed to use and the end of a bag of pistachios. I find smoked mozzarella at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, ask at your local grocery store. Smoked mozzarella can sometimes be challenging to find. You can use fresh mozzarella in a pinch if you can’t get your hands on the smoked variety.

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Pizza Dough

I take the pizza dough out of the freezer the morning I plan to make pizza. The dough will be thawed by dinner time. A few tips on pizza dough. Many grocery stores stock fresh pizza dough in their refrigerated aisles. I particularly like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. You can also hit the freezer section and get bread dough (like Rhodes) and keep that on hand. If you have some time on the weekend, you can make a delicious no-knead pizza dough and use it for this recipe or place it in the freezer for future use.

I also love making pizza on a pizza stone. You put the pizza stone in the oven as you start to preheat the oven. Once the oven comes to temperature, then set a timer for at least fifteen minutes and let the stone get nice and hot.

I roll the dough out on a parchment paper-lined pizza peel. Roll the dough out thin if you want to achieve a crispy crust. Then, drizzle the crust with olive oil and spread it around with your fingertips until there is even layer over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes over the top of the dough.

Next, place slices of smoked mozzarella on top of the dough, followed by lemon slices (rind and all). My sweetie doesn’t love the lemon rind so I do cut the rind off half the lemon slices and put those pieces of lemon on his side of the pizza.

Finally, place spinach leaves over the top and sprinkle with the pistachios. Slide the pizza and parchment onto the pizza stone and let the magic begin.

I usually check the pizza halfway through cooking time and rotate the pizza 180 degrees to ensure even baking.

Let me know if you try this unusual but delicious pizza!

This recipe is inspired Alexandra Cooks recipe for Pizza with Lemon Smoked Mozzarella and Basil  

Smoked Mozzarella Lemon Pizza

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Summer is coming! Summer is coming! I cannot believe that we are less than two weeks out from Memorial Day weekend and the official start of summer. BBQs and margaritas are two summer staples that I look forward to during the cold, gray days of winter. These grilled margarita shrimp tacos hit the mark on both counts.

Firstly, the recipe was inspired by an almost full picture of margarita that was left over after a recent party. Who ends up with leftover margaritas? Usually not me. But this time, I had so much leftover and I couldn’t bear to throw it away. So, instead I improvised.

I had shrimp in the freezer that I thawed out and then marinated the shrimp in the leftover margarita making sure that all the shrimp were submerged in the liquid. I let them marinate for an hour or two in the fridge and started making the avocado and mango salsa, as well as, the spicy slaw.

The ingredient list may seem a bit daunting but I promise that this recipe comes together pretty quickly.

Pickled Red Onion

I had the pickled red onion in the fridge and recommend that you make up a batch to keep in your fridge too. I used this recipe. In addition to being delicious on tacos, the pickled red onions also tasted great on burgers (or veggie burgers as is the case in my house). Thinly sliced red onion will do in a pinch if you don’t want to make the pickled version.

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

I actually had the rest of the ingredients on hand and drew inspiration from what was already in the refrigerator. You can improvise with this recipe too. Don’t want to make the avocado and mango salsa? Then, consider using jarred salsa and avocado slices. Lettuce or cabbage shreds can replace the spicy slaw if you want, but it is really good.

I used flour tortillas but corn works too if that is your preference. If you feel like doing some prep work on the salsa and slaw ahead of time, these margarita grilled shrimp tacos are a great dish for entertaining. Make a big batch of margaritas, use some of it on the shrimp and serve the rest to your guests while you man the grill.

How to Make Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Margarita Shrimp Tacos

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

The only thing that could make this dish more spring-like is if I stuck a tulip on the top of it. I would not do that because it would be silly. Instead, I took some of my favorite spring flavors and combined them into a beautiful asparagus and artichoke frittata.

Springtime is always associated with eggs (think Easter) and those tender spears of asparagus. For this recipe, I recommend selecting asparagus that is at least as thick as a pencil. You do not want to be trying to peel those skinny little stalks into ribbons. Unlike most preparations of asparagus, you don’t want to snap off the tough ends. You will use them as a handle and hold onto them as you are peeling the stalks into attractive ribbons.

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

I used canned artichoke hearts that were quartered. You will want to drain  and rinse them and then gave them a rough chop. I selected feta cheese mainly because I had some in the fridge. You could also substitute Parmesan or goat cheese if you prefer.

Frittatas are equally as welcome on the table for brunch served with roasted potatoes and fresh fruits, as they are on the dinner table with a salad and crusty bread. They also travel well as leftovers for lunch the next day. Alternatively, frittatas are perfect if you are having vegetarian friends or family over (ahem, Mom) and don’t know what to make.

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

Here is another idea; wouldn’t this be lovely as part of Mother’s Day brunch spread? Add some fresh fruit and mimosas and you have a brunch fit for a queen. Wouldn’t the asparagus and artichoke frittata also be perfect for book club? Most book clubs that I have been involved in could more accurately be categorized as wine clubs but the frittata would be great for that too!  I would recommend a Sauvignon Blanc to accompany this frittata because of the strong flavors of the asparagus and artichoke.

How to Make Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

Asparagus and Artichoke Frittata

Wait! There’s More

If you like frittatas, you may also be interested in these recipes:

Veggie Enchiladas

Veggie Enchiladas

My main goal in life is to incorporate more vegetables in the food that I prepare for myself and my family and friends.  Okay, calling it my main goal in life may be an exaggeration, but it is a very important consideration in my cooking. Vegetables are full of healthful nutrients. They are also proven to reduce the incidence of most lifestyle-related diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. These veggie enchiladas are delicious AND nutritious!

Veggie Enchiiladas

Eat Your Veggies

So, do you still need convincing about why sneaking adding vegetables into every meal is important? Okay, here it goes, vegetables are cheap. Who could argue with adding more budget-friendly food into your diet? Vegetables are also delicious. Stick with me on this one.

This veggie enchilada recipe is for you if you not a veggie lover. Or, it is also for veggie lovers who live with and cook for veggie-resistant people, I encourage you to try introducing new veggies to your crew and/or new preparations of veggies.

Veggie Enchiladas

For example, most people can behind the idea of eating a tray full of warm, cheesy enchiladas. Right? What if you added some delicious roasted vegetables to the beans and cheese that most people expect in their enchiladas? I tried this out on family and they gobbled up the enchiladas. As a result, I effectively and deliciously added an extra serving of vegetables to their day!

For this recipe, I roasted sweet potatoes, red peppers, and red onions in order to bring out the sweetness of the vegetables. By seasoning the veggies in in olive oil and chipotle chili powder, salt, and pepper, they take on a smoky, spicy flavor.

Veggie Enchiiladas

Once you are ready to start assembling the enchiladas, spread refried beans on a tortilla, top with roasted veggies, add finely chopped kale and cheese on top, and then roll up! Then, you slather on enchilada sauce and more cheese, no one will be the wiser about the big favor that you have done for them.

Leftover Filling

If you have any of the filling leftover, you can use it to make:

  • Huevos rancheros – warm corn tortillas, top with refried beans, leftover veggies, fried egg & salsa
  • Frittata – Beat eggs in a bowl, add leftover veggies to greased pan to warm, add egg mixture and cook until set
  • Quesadilla – Warm up leftover veggies, place a tortilla in pan, add veggies and shredded cheese, top with other tortilla, cook until golden on both sides. Slice into 6 pieces and serve with salsa

Here are a few other recipes that are chock full of veggies for you to consider:

If you would like other veggie-filled recipes delivered to your mailbox twice per month, sign up for my newsletter in the side bar to the right.

Veggie Enchiladas

 

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