Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Basil Cream Sauce

I'm pretty sure that I've written a post about my love for gymnastics in this blog before.  But it's my blog, and I REALLY love gymnastics and we are in the middle of the Olympics after all, so we're going to talk about it again.  If you only care about pan seared Halibut with lemon basil cream sauce, then by all means, scroll on down and knock yourself out.

I've been looking forward to the Olympics for months now, especially gymnastics because that is the best part.  I have the whole schedule saved on my computer and I'm determined not to miss a minute of it.  I can't imagine what we did before DVR.  Actually, I know what we did before DVR.  When I was 12 (during the 1992 summer games), I taped the gymnastics on the trusty old VCR and watched those tapes over and over and over again.  Like, obsessively.  I think I was convinced that I would miraculously shrink 10 inches, lose 40 pounds, and become coordinated and flexible and bendy and I'd be an Olympic gymnast just like the girls on TV.  Alas, it never happened and frankly, the thought of myself doing even the simplest of somersaults on a balance beam is quite frightening indeed.  Plus, I don't think those leotards would look very good on me.  It would be best if I could do my gymnastics in sweats and a T-shirt.

Anyway, tonight is the beginning of the women's competition, and I can't wait.  Now that my dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast has been forgotten and buried where it belongs, I can watch at my leisure with a tasty glass of red.  Can't beat that.

Now, on to food.  I wanted to do this fish dish with grouper, but the grouper at the store didn't look so good and the halibut looked amazing.  So, you gotta do what you gotta do.  I think it still turned out great, and it was fresh and light and super tasty.  I served it with roasted brussels sprouts, white beans with roasted tomatoes, and a tasty rose.  I am obsessed with rose lately....the dry kind.  At first I felt self-conscious ordering pink wine at a restaurant because I feel like it has a "unsophisticated wine drinker" stigma attached to it, but I'm over it now.  And its not like I'm ordering white zin from a box or anything.  Anyhow, enjoy!

Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Basil Cream Sauce
Source: adapted from Eclectic Recipes

4 halibut fillets
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
4 tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, grated
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Evenly sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of fish fillets. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a pan over medium high heat.  Add fish and sear on both sides.  Cook 4-5 minutes unit opaque and remove from pan. Set aside and cover with foil.

While fish is cooking, preheat a large skillet over low heat. Add 2 tbsp. butter, grated garlic and black pepper to the pan. Cook over low heat until garlic is fragrant. Add white wine and bring to a boil. Boil over medium low heat until sauce reduces by half. Add heavy cream and fresh chopped basil. Simmer until thickened.

Serve cream sauce over fish.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Grilled Broccoli with Chiptole Lime Butter and Queso Fresco

Earlier today, I was trying to count the number of days in July that I get to sleep in my own bed, but then it got really scary and I stopped.  Needless to say, its far less than half.  All this travel leaves little room for cooking and blogging, but I'm determined to keep this little gem of a blog going, so here we are. 

We eat a TON of broccoli in this household, and I'm always looking for new ways to cook it.  I'd never thought to put it on the grill until recently when I treated myself to an issue of Food and Wine (along with 8 other magazines) for a long plane ride.  I love the idea so I decided to give it a try.  Plus, it has chipotle lime butter and queso fresco on there....can't beat that with a stick.

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet since I have a lot to do this afternoon.  Like drink a glass of wine while watching House Hunters on DVR and then go to a baseball game.  Wonder if they have wine there?

Grilled Broccoli with Chipotle Lime Butter and Queso Fresco
Source: Food and Wine

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 garlic clove, finely grated on a Microplane
2 heads of broccoli—stems trimmed, cut into large florets
Olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco

In a bowl, stir the softened butter with the lime zest, lime juice, Tabasco, honey and garlic and season lightly with salt.

Transfer the broccoli to a platter and toss with the lime butter. Garnish with the queso fresco and serve.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Summer White Wine Sangria

The best sangria I've ever had was 7 years ago in Barcelona when I took an impromptu trip to Spain with someone I barely knew.

Yep, I went to Spain with a friend of a friend that I'd hung out with in a group setting a few times but we weren't close by any means.  She wanted to go and was looking for a travel companion.  I wanted to go somewhere cool and she seemed nice and fun.  Plus, she's fluent in Spanish, where my skills were somewhere on par with a third grader.  So, we took the plunge and decided that we'd go to Spain, and either realize we hate each other or become close friends.  Luckily it was the latter and we're still great friends to this day.  We had quite an eventful trip, and while I can't cover it all, there are some especially delightful highlights....

Like when I got pickpocketed on a train on like the first day.  A couple of sly little rascals (that is the PG-rated version of how I'd describe them) cornered me on a crowded train and stole my wallet out of my purse before I even know what hit me.  Then I cried and my friend Whitney had to pay for everything for the remainder of the trip until we got home and I could pay her back.  Then, after being robbed, I was almost mauled by a vicious dog named Bertoli at the first hotel we stayed in.  He had me cornered in the lobby, while the owner was screaming, "Don't move!  Don't move!" in Spanish, which of course I couldn't understand.  I almost peed myself.  It would have been sad to be killed by an ugly mutt on the second day.  Luckily, the trip improved tenfold after that, and we had a wonderful time traipsing around the country.  We took an overnight ferry to the island of Minorca and shared a room with a crazy little old lady who never stopped talking.  We danced at a club until the wee hours of the morning and then stumbled around Barcelona for hours, looking for Kentucky Fried Chicken (we never found it).  We ate paella and drank sangria on the beach and learned that although bathing suits are optional, the only people who choose to partake in the nakedness are the ones who need to be covered up the most. 

I have been a lot of places in the world since then, but it remains one of my favorite trips ever.  It was spontaneous and a little crazy but I wouldn't change a thing.  Except that now I know how not to get robbed, and I can very clearly understand "Don't Move!" in Spanish.

Anyway, this sangria isn't quite as good as the stuff you find in Barcelona, but it ain't too shabby.  I usually prefer red sangria, but in the summer we mostly drink white wine, and it was all we happened to have on hand.  I think it was a hit, too, since the pitcher was gone quickly.  You can really use any combination of fruit that you like....whatever is fresh and looks good that day....sangria is not picky.  Enjoy!

Summer White Wine Sangria
Source: inspired by Real Simple

1 bottle crisp white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
2 cups club soda
1/2 cup orange liqueur, like Cointreau
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
6 strawberries, sliced
1 peach, pitted and sliced

Mix all of the liquids and mix well.  Add the fruit, and let sit for at least an hour before serving.  Serve cold.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Thyme Pan Sauce

The day I was planning to make this recipe, I realized that I had forgotten a key ingredient at the grocery store.  It's kind of hard to make cherry thyme pan sauce without any cherries.  LUCKILY, I have a husband who LOVES to stop at the store on his way home from work to pick up the things that I forgot while I was at the grocery store for 2 hours earlier that day.  Once he agreed to pick up the cherries, I started thinking that I should have been more specific.  I mean, technically there are lots of different kinds of cherries that one can find at the grocery store, and I was a little worried that he would gravitate to the kind that you find in a bar.  Like, the bright red maraschino cherries in the sugary syrup that stain your fingers.  Call me crazy, but I have a feeling those wouldn't make the best thyme pan sauce for pork tenderloin. 

Luckily, he came through in the clutch and came home with the right kind of cherries.  Granted, it was an inordinate number of them, and we could have been eating cherries for years if we wanted, but beggars cannot be choosers, eh?

I was super excited about this recipe and it didn't disappoint.  I am always looking for new ways to cook pork tenderloin, as it's one of my favorite cuts of meat.  Its lean and tender and oh so juicy if you don't overcook it.  I could eat it every day.  This one is definitely going on the "make again" list, and it would be perfect for company or a romantic dinner for two.  I mean, it WAS pretty romantic when we ate this at the coffee table in front of the TV with reruns of "How I Met Your Mother" on.  I mean, there was wine!  Wine is romantic, yes?

Anyway, eat this however you want, with whoever you want.  Tastes good either way.

Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Thyme Sauce
Source: Adapted from Rock Recipes

1 large pork tenderloin, trimmed and silver skin removed
1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, cayenne, and blackening seasoning (sounds weird, but trust me)
1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste, use LOTS of black pepper

Combine the spices and rub on the pork.  Let sit for 30 minutes and then roast in a 425 oven for 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 150.  Remove and cover with foil to allow it to finish cooking.  Meanwhile, make the sauce:

2 cups fresh pitted cherries, quartered
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to season
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp honey

Simmer the balsamic vinegar over medium heat until it is reduced to a syrupy consistency. Set aside to cool or immerse bottom of the pan in cold water to cool down the reduction. Toss in the other ingredients and allow to stand for about a half hour before serving.

Slice pork and serve with cherry sauce on top. 

I'm Back!

Hey y'all! 

Have you missed me?  I've been in Northern California for the past week for work and fun.  I'd say more fun than work, though, if you held a gun to my head.

So I clearly haven't been cooking.  I've been enjoying delicious food that other people have cooked and been drinking tasty wine and having fun with friends.

I'm back now, and have a couple of posts forming in my head.  I'll share some photos for the four of you that care, and some recipes for the rest of you.

Stay tuned!