Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pan Fried Wild Flounder with Dill and Garlic Baby Potatoes

This is one of my favorite times of the year! Not only because it's warm and I can BBQ on my patio and talk late into the night...but because all of my favorite fruits and veggies are finally in season! Particularly, baby potatoes; baby potatoes have a different texture than other varieties. They are more tender and require much less cooking time, which makes it perfect for summertime quick cooking.

Back in Russia, when I was a child, my grandmother would always fry up fish and cook up some of these potatoes. Finished off with a simple salad of tomatoes and cucumbers our meal was complete. She dredged the fish fillets in corn flour which gave a much crispier and sweeter crust. The baby potatoes were boiled until tender and tossed with creamy butter, fresh dill and garlic. The scent of those garlicky dill potatoes still makes me salivate. These potatoes are a secret recipe of any Russian grandmother and I pass them on to you and your family! Please enjoy!

Pan Fried Wild Flounder with Dill and Garlic Baby Potatoes

2 Lbs Wild Flounder Fillets or any other Mild Flavored Fish
1 Cup Corn Flour
1/2 a Lemon Zested
2 Lbs White Baby Potatoes
3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
A Handful of Freshly Chopped Dill
1/2 a Stick of Butter, Cut Into Slices
*No one said this was low fat :)*
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

1. Season fish fillets with salt and pepper on each side.
2. Add lemon zest to corn flour and mix to combine.
3. Dredge fillets with corn flour on both sides and coat well. In the meantime, preheat a non-stick frying pan with enough olive oil to come up about 1/4 inch up the pan.
4. Fry the fish on medium-high heat or about 5 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Place on paper towels to allow some of the oil to come off before serving.
5. Rinse potatoes and place them in a pot of salted water and let them come to a boil.
Cook until fork tender.
6. Once they are done, drain the potatoes well in a colander, allowing all the water to drip off of them.
7. Place back into the pot and add butter, garlic, salt and dill. Close with lid and let stand for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, combine the potatoes with the rest of the ingredients and toss carefully with a spatula.
8. Serve with a nice summer veggie salad and enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2009

EZ Breezy Chicken and Veggies: Teryiaki Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggie

I have reached that point...the point that I can no longer look or eat another boneless chicken breast (at least for this week). So I invested in some boneless, skinless chicken thighs that were on sale at my grocery store this week. When I got the chicken thighs home, I looked through them and cut away some of the pieces of fat that were left behind (the last thing anyone wants to do is bite into a yucky piece of chicken fat.) After that step, there really is not much to do with this recipe! That is how simple this is! In fact, it is so simple that I am not even listing my ingredients!

Just choose your favorite teryiake marinade, soak over night and grill the chicken thighs until juices run clear. Roughly chop 2 red onions and 4 carrots and roast in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper for 25 minutes at 450 degrees. That's it! Now set-up your outdoor table, pour two shots of Sake and sip, serve, bite, chew, swallow and repeat! I promise that this will not only be easy but one the most tender chicken dishes you eat!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Galuptsi: Ukranian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Every Eastern European country has their own way of making stuffed cabbage. My mother used to make it the Moldovian/Romanian way, with lots of greenery like parsley, dill, scallions and cubes of beef and she incorporate a bit of the middle eastern influence and used grape leaves and cabbage leaves to wrap the filling in. When I started dating my fiance, I realized how different the food was even though we spoke the same language. His parents made the "Galuptsi" using only cabbage leaves and stuffed it with ground pork, a bit of rice, cooked carrots and onions. Whereas my mother's galuptsi fell apart when you cut into them, my fiance's parents' were one big oval shaped ball, but they were so tender and delicious! Completely different but sooo good! Since my fiance grew up on this food I decided to please his palate and make them for him this way.

Many times when I tried to keep it healthier, I did substitute brown rice instead of white and used ground turkey instead of ground pork. BUT the result is not quite the same. I actually put my recipe into a calorie evaluator and it turns out each roll has about 145 calories. So honestly, it really was not that much of a difference when it came down to it in calories...but a HUGE difference in flavor!

I know the recipe may seem a bit daunting...but I promise it really is easy once you get the hang of things. Not to mention filling and delicious! Serve them with a dollop of sour cream, some crusty bread and a simple cucumber, tomato and red onion salad and I promise you will be asking for more!

"Galuptsi" Ukranian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

1.5 Pounds Ground Pork
1/2 Cup Rice
6 Large Carrots
2 Large Onions
1/2 Cup Tomato Puree
1 Head of Cabbage
Salt and Pepper to Taste

1. Place cabbage in a pot of water over medium heat and allow to parboil for about an hour. You want the entire head to be covered, if necessary weigh it down with a plate. *This can be done 1 day ahead of time and stored in the fridge until ready to use*
2.Once cabbage leaves have cooled enough to handle, separate the leaves, making sure to cut the center core out of each one.
3.Add all the carrots and the onion into the food processor using the shredder attachment. *This can be done by a box grater of coarse, but I find the result is the same in the food processor and is so much faster.*
4.On medium heat, add olive oil to a saute or frying pan and cook the veggies with salt and pepper until they give off their juices, about 15-20 minutes. You do not want them to brown. Just sweat them nice and slow so all the flavors come out.
5.Place the pork, rice and 1/2 of the cooked veggies into a bowl. I usually put rubber gloves on and start combining this mixture by hand.
6.Lay out the cabbage leaves and place about 3 tablespoons of the mixture into each leaf. Roll it up like a burrito. *The amount of mixture you place in each leaf will depend on the size of your leaves, just use your best judgement on how much to place into it when in doubt. Make sure that the leaf covers all of the mixture and none of it is peaking out.*
7.On the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot, pour in half of the tomato puree and sprinkle in half of the remaining veggies. Layer the rolls on top of this and continue to layer the tomato puree and veggies until all the rolls are done. I usually have one big layer because I have a huge pot.

8.Cover with enough boiling water to reach almost the top, as pictured above.
9. Place in a 325-degree oven and cook for 1.5-2 hours or until meat is nice and tender!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Soy Citrus Salmon and Thai Peanut Slaw

In the summer months when evenings are longer and the weather is nicer, I try and get out of the house as much as possible to enjoy those few warm months we are blessed with in Chicago. Therefore, my meals tend to be quicker and less fuss.
I always found that slaws can be easily made with minimal work and maximum flavor and vitamins. Salmon is always a good go to fish for something nice and quick.

I came up with this meal last week when I came home late from being outdoors all day! The fish only took 30 minutes to marinate and during the time that it marinated I made my slaw.

Happy Summer everybody I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do!

Soy Citrus Salmon and Thai Peanut Slaw

Soy Citrus Salmon

1.5 Pounds Fresh Salmon (preferablly wild) sliced into desirable portions
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 Orange, Juiced and Zested
1 Lemon, Juiced and Zested
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
Black Sesame Seeds to Sprinkle for Presentation

1. Combine all ingredients in a ziplock plastic bag and let stand for 30-60 minutes. (Any longer than this and the acidity in the citrus may start cooking the fish, much like in a ceviche)
2. Place in a 450-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until center is flaky and pink.

Thai Peanut Slaw

1/2 a Head Red Cabbage, Cored and Thinly Shredded
1 Head Napa Cabage, Thinly Shredded
1/2 a Red Pepper, Thinly Sliced
4 Scallions, Thinly Sliced on a Bias
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, Finely Chopped

Spicy Peanut Dressing for Slaw

1/4 Cup Peanut Butter
3 Tablespoons of Water (use as much as needed to get a thin consistancy)
2 Teaspoons Seasame Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 tsp Siracha Hot Chili Garlic Paste

1. Combine all in a blender until smooth and creamy. Toss with slaw veggies just enough to coat.

*This slaw is meant to be crunchy and fresh, do NOT over dress or you will end up with a soggy mess! Save remaing dressing for another meal!

Julienne Salad

With the summer heat here I am craving salads...salads for lunch...salads for dinner...SALADS SALADS SALADS!!!
In order to keep things interesting I like to play around with different ingredients and toppings. There is this one bar/pub close to our office that the girls always order salads from. There is one salad in particular that we all love! It's the most filling salad filled with veggies, deli meats and cheeses, all tossed in a creamy buttermilk ranch! I must admit this salad has turned many of my frowns upside down!!! When I make it at home, I try and use less cheese to take the fat value down.

When it comes to dressings I am quite particular. A good ranch is always hard to find and a low fat one is even harder to find! Every time I made this salad at home, it never tasted right...it had an artificial sweetness to it that I just was not a fan of. Then I realized that it was the Kraft Light Ranch Dressing. So instead of buying another mystery dressing, I decided to make my own ranch using the Hidden Valley mixes and light sour cream. I dumped the packet of seasoning into 12oz of light sour cream and had an amazing dressing that was almost guilt free!
When purchasing your deli meat at the counter for this salad, ask them to cut the meat a bit thicker so the strips of meat are substantial.

Julienne Salad

1.5 Hearts of Romaine Lettuce
2 Tomatoes, Sliced
1/2 a Large English Cucumber, Sliced
1/2 a Green Pepper, Sliced
4 Thick Slices of Your Favorite Ham, cut into strips
4 Thick Slices of Your Favorite Turkey, cut into strips
2 Slices Swiss or Havarti
2 Hard Boiled Eggs Cut into Quarters

*I tend to cook about a dozen eggs in the beginning of the week so that I have them for salads. There is one fool proof way to do it: Place eggs in a pot and completely cover with water. Once the eggs come to a boil, turn off the heat and cover with the lid; let stand for 12 minutes EXACTLY. After that, peel and you will have perfectly cooked eggs each time!*

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss together with your dressing of choice. Garnish with the quartered eggs.

Serves 4 as a side salad and 2 as main dish

Almost there!!!

Hey all! Well my new event planning business is almost ready to be launched and I could not be happier! My logo is done so I can finally order my business cards and my web designers should start working on website in the next week or so! I will definitley be linking my blog and my website...

In the meantime.... I am cooking up a storm...and I will be posting this week!