Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cod with Tomato, Olive and Caper Tapenade

I was watching the Food Network HD a couple of weeks ago (seriously insane in HD and jumbo-tron) and caught a bit of Ellie Krieger's Healthy Appetite. She made this great looking cod dish. Unfortunately I wasn't paying too much attention to all the ingredients (thinking I could find it later online -- not the case). I made a pretty close knock-off but it still needs a little umph. I'll keep working on it and update if I come up with a better recipe.

In the meantime, Ingredients:
1 lb cod
1/4 cup kalmata olives, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 small can chopped black olives
1 tablespoon capers
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes salt pepper

1. Sprinkle cod with salt and pepper. Saute in lightly oiled pan for a couple of minutes on both sided (until cooked through). Transfer and set aside (in a low heat oven -- do not let continue to cook)

2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, saute onion, add garlic, black olives and kalmata olive and toss until heated, add the entire can of diced tomatoes. Let simmer until extra liquid evaporates. Add capers and serve on top of fish. Other things I'm considering next time I make it: only use one type olive, shallots instead of onion, add a bit of balsamic vinegar with the tomatoes, and take notes next time I'm watching the show!

Layered Eggplant and Polenta Casserole

Man, I love the smell of basil. I killed the basil plant I bought last fall but I'm thinking of getting another so I'll think to cook with it more often (but I'll probably just kill it too). This recipe made me happy because it was a great excuse to use basil, plus it was a nice vegetarian alternative to the meat lasagna I usually make. Also, I got to use my polenta recipe and my grill pan! Yes, it's the little things...

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds fresh or canned plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh oregano
3/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

One 16-ounce log precooked polenta, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds (or, make your own polenta).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in upper third. (I don't do this until 15 minutes out.)

1. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly golden, about 8 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Stir in vinegar, oregano, and basil; season with pepper. Remove sauce from heat.

3. Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Lightly brush eggplant slices with the remaining tablespoon oil. Working in batches, lay slices in skillet in a single layer; cook until browned and they begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. (Start step 3 while you're sauce is simmering.)

4. Spoon about A cup tomato sauce into a 9-inch square baking dish, spreading to coat evenly. Arrange eggplant slices snugly in a single layer. Spoon about 1 cup tomato sauce over eggplant, and arrange polenta rounds in slightly overlapping slices on top. Repeat with sauce and another layer of eggplant. Finish by dotting with remaining tomato sauce.

5. Cover with foil; bake until bubbling and juicy, about 30 minutes. Remove foil; continue baking until sauce is lightly caramelized and eggplant is tender, about 15 minutes more. Remove from oven; let cool slightly, and serve.

I made this in two pyrex dishes and froze the second. It's a lot of eggplant and polenta for two people and I'll look forward to reheating it one night that I don't have time to cook. Next time I make it I'll probably add some mozzarella on top.

White Christmas Chili (a.k.a White Chicken Chili)

I make soup about once a week and throughout winter we'll throw chili in the mix. When we get tired of regular chili we'll make this version. Typically I'll half the recipe but only cut the seasoning by 1/4 so it still has a lot of flavor. It's great topped off with some sour cream and a few tortilla chips.

8 skinned and boned chicken breast halves (you can also use boneless, skinless breasts)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans chicken broth
4 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and mashed
2 (4.5 ounce) cans chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces
2. Saute chicken, onion, and garlic in hot oil in dutch oven over medium-heat for 10 minutes or until chicken is done.
3. Stir in broth and next 10 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

P.S. Sorry for the lame, blah, picture. My camera kinda sucks. I tastes a lot better than it looks!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fish Tacos and Red-Cabbage Slaw

I love a good fish taco. I've always been a fan of Guerro's and Z-Tejas' (though I haven't had either in awhile). Recently I tried the Fish Tacos at El Chile and was very unimpressed because they used a lot of red cabbage and it tasted pickled. I realize while making this recipe (and remembered from making sauerkraut my college biology lab) that if the cabbage sits too long in vinegar it will pickle and that must have been what happened at El Chile. That or they're serving an Irish Pickled Red Cabbage Fish Taco.

This recipe would be great for a dinner party. It's fresh, healthy and filling and really tasty. I recommend making the Red-Cabbage Slaw if you're making this for more than two people (or 1/2 the recipe for two) because it's also goooo-ooood.

¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
coarse salt and ground pepper
¼ small red cabbage, thinly shredded (about 2 ½ cups)
4 scallions, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1 jalapeno chile, halved lengthwise, one half minced
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound tilapia fillets (or other firm white fish), cut into 16 equal strips
8 flour tortillas (6-inch)
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves

In a large bowl, combine sour cream and lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Transfer half the mixture to another container; set aside for serving. Toss cabbage, scallions, and minced jalapeno with remaining sour-cream mixture. Season again with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil and remaining jalapeno half over medium-high heat; swirl to coat bottom of pan. Season fish on both sides with salt and pepper. In two batches (starting with larger pieces), cook fish until golden brown on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes. Discard jalapeno. Meanwhile, warm tortillas according to package instructions (or over a burner; see below). To make tacos, fill tortillas with slaw, fish, and fresh cilantro leaves. Drizzle with reserved sour-cream mixture. Serve immediately.

(In case you were wondering, per serving: 399 calories; 11.5 grams fat; 30.7 grams protein; 42.5 grams carbohydrates; 3.7 grams fiber)

Note: For a toasted flavor, quickly heat tortilla over a gas burner until blistered in spots, holding it with tongs and waving it from side to side

Red-Cabbage Slaw (serves 8)
½ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 small red cabbage (1 ½ pounds)
2 medium Granny Smith apples
coarse salt and ground pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together reduced-fat mayonnaise and cider vinegar. Mix in red cabbage, cored, cut into 8 wedges, and finely shredded, and apples, peeled and grated. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper; toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

(In case you were wondering, per serving: 76 calories; 5.2 grams fat; 0.9 gram protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 1.8 grams fiber)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Soft (or Hard) Polenta

Years ago, when I was a vegetarian, I bought the pre-made polenta logs and tried to grill and pan fry the slices but I never thought they tasted any good. Thankfully I ran into this soft polenta recipe and tried my luck again with the yellow substance because I love soft polenta.

It reminds me of malt-o-meal and it's a healthy alternative to pasta and rice. What? That's not enough? about the fact that it's cheap and easy to make? No? That doesn't do it for you? Well, it's also a lovely shade of yellow.

coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 cup corn meal
3 tablespoons butter

In a large sauce pan over high heat bring 4 coups water with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to a boil. Very gradually, add cornmeal in a thin stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer, whisking often, until thickened 8 -10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter until smooth.

Now, at this point you can serve it with you Shrimp and Tomatoes or as a side dish for your favorite meats and vegetables. Or, pour it in a bread pan, cover it and put in the fridge to use for Broiled Polenta with Mushroom Ragout or Eggplant and Polenta Casserole.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Shrimp and Tomatoes Over Soft Polenta

Q. What do you do if you're sitting around with some frozen shrimp, corn meal and a can of diced tomatoes?
A. This recipe.

This is another I found in Everyday Foods and I love it because it tastes good, it's healthy and it introduced me to soft polenta. The only suggestion I have is: don't make it for guests if they don't like tomatoes!

1 1/2 lbs frozen medium shrimp, thawed, peeled, and deveined (tails removed)
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoons red-pepper flaces
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 recipe Soft Polenta
green beans

1. Season shrimp generously with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add shrimp; cook until opaque throughout, turning occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl; set aside.

If you buy frozen shrimp skip step #1. Simply put the shrimp in a collandar and rinse with cool water until no longer frozen (just a few minutes).

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pan; cook garlic and red-pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their juices along with 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have broken down and become saucy, about 15 minutes. (I think this step actually takes 25 - 30 minutes but maybe it's just me.)

Meanwhile make Soft Polenta. Just before serving, stir reserved shrimp into tomatoes. Divide polenta among four bowls; spoon shrimp and tomatoes over polenta. Serve with green beans* if desired (and let me say, you desire).

*Green Beans:
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook 1 lb trimmed green beans until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain; return to pot. Toss with 1 tablespoon butter, if desired (and let me say, you desire). Season with coarse salt and ground pepper.

Make this! You won't be disappointed.