Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pan-Roasted Swordfish Steaks with Peppercorn Butter

When I work too much (which happens a LOT this time of year), I end up craving seafood and veggies.  While charging delivery from Seamless to the client sounds like an interesting way to try new restaurants without having to foot the bill, it gets pretty old after awhile.  There are a few decent restaurants that I order from on occasion, but after awhile all I want is a home-cooked meal consisting of less starch, less meat and more seafood and veggies.  Alex is pretty used to it by now and given that he eats toaster oven quesadillas, peanut butter crackers, pizza and fried rice while I am gone, I would imagine that he doesn't mind when I go on one of my seafood and veggie kicks.  My current veggie obsessions are broccoli and brussels sprouts.  I was on a cauliflower kick earlier this fall, but that ran its course by mid-November.  After I eat a few good seafood and veggie meals I then switch over to craving salad, but more on that later.  This swordfish recipe was one that I found online after coveting (and then buying) some really nice swordfish steaks at Fairway.  I originally wanted to make this Sicilian-Style Swordfish, but we decided to mix it up a bit.  The amount of butter originally weirded me out (and we did end up using less of the butter than called for), but I was intrigued enough to give it a shot.  And I'm glad I did because it was good.  The swordfish was nice and moist, which is always my first requirement for good swordfish.  There is nothing worse than dried out, leather-like swordfish.  It also had nice flavor - the compound butter is rich, but it retains a really fresh and bright flavor because of the herbs, the pepper and the lemon zest.  I think I slightly prefer the Sicilian-Style Swordfish, but this is a lovely, fresh alternative.

Recipe after the jump!

Friday, December 27, 2013

S'mores Pumpkin Bread

Given how well our S'mores Banana Bread turned out I have been contemplating making other s'mores breads for a little while now.  S'mores pumpkin bread seemed like the obvious next step.  This afternoon while working from home I had a break and all I could think was s'mores!!!!!!  I started rummaging through the cupboards and we literally had everything we needed, except eggs.  So I ran to the grocery store quickly for eggs and threw together a batch of s'mores pumpkin bread.  As I was stirring in the marshmallows and chocolate chips I started getting a little concerned about how much batter I was creating, but I decided that I was just being silly.  And then I started to fill the loaf pans and realized it totally wasn't going to fit.  So I abandoned about 1/4 cup of batter (which I made sure to taste and it was delicious) and filled the loaf pans as full as I dared.  I got a little scared at the last second and put the loaf pans on top of a sheet pan just in case there was an exploding/oozing pumpkin bread situation.  Luckily, nothing exploded (more on that later), but better safe than sorry.

As the pumpkin bread baked it smelled amazing and I kept getting more and more excited.  After the timer went off the first time I checked it, noticed it wasn't fully cooked and put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.  Alex then went and checked it out, stabbed it with a toothpick, which he brought over to me, and pulled the pumpkin bread from the oven.  After I finally finished up my work for the evening and ate some dinner at my laptop I decided that I deserved a slice of pumpkin bread for dessert.  And then I looked at the pumpkin bread and saw that my beautiful loaves of pumpkin bread were crazy and cratered.  Turns out the pumpkin bread wasn't fully cooked and it sank like the Titanic.  Womp womp.  But I promise that the end pieces that I did try were delicious.  And I promise that I will make the pumpkin bread again, but I will make sure it is fully cooked.
Recipe after the jump!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Uncle Lang's Three Tea-Cup Chicken

For a long time I had a strict no dark (poultry) meat policy.  Considering how much I love duck it made absolutely no sense.  Clearly I don't a problem with greasier, moister meat.  I just don't like dark meat chicken or turkey.  It's both a textural and a flavor issue for me.  I know it doesn't really make sense, but I just can't help it.  In the past few years I have discovered that I do like dark meat in a few limited applications.  When I order Indian or Chinese chicken dishes I try to plan my orders around those dishes that will involve chicken breasts, rather than chicken thighs or legs.  When I order fried chicken, I eat the breast and then give Alex the legs, thighs or drumsticks.  The Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs and Mario Batali's Leo Maya's Chicken with Green Sauce are among the only recipes we have made at home using dark meat chicken that I have enjoyed.  There are a few Asian stir-fries where I haven't minded the use of chicken thighs, but left to my own devices I would use chicken breasts and deal with the potential dryness if necessary.

So I guess it's not too surprising that I didn't love this dish.  Don't get me wrong - it was fine.  And the sauce was actually quite flavorful.  I was pretty happy with the sauce and would definitely use it to braise things in the future.  But the sauce didn't really penetrate the chicken legs.  If it had, the dish would have been immeasurably better.  Once you got past the surface layer it was just... dark meat chicken.  And maybe if you actually like the flavor of dark meat chicken that's not such a bad thing.  But I don't...  Like I said, it's no surprise that I didn't love it.

Recipe after the jump!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pressed Tofu and Peanuts in Spicy Bean Sauce (Hua Ren Dou Fu Gan)

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!  I don't know about y'all, but as much as I enjoy Thanksgiving, it wrecks me for weeks to come.  Too much starch, too much dairy, too much dessert, too much...well everything really.  Alex and I got back to NYC last night after spending Thanksgiving with his family and all I wanted for dinner was either straight up veggies or seafood.  We settled on sushi - low carb, no dairy and simple.  Well, I assume it's not that simple for the people preparing it, but it doesn't get much simpler for us than picking up the phone and ordering delivery.  Today we are having a very simple kabocha squash soup for lunch and some swordfish for dinner.  I can't even think about another plate of turkey, stuffing or corn pudding for at least another month.  

This tofu dish would have made a good weekend after Thanksgiving meal too - it is satisfyingly spicy and tasty, while still being pretty simple to prepare.  We actually made it the weekend before Thanksgiving, but I didn't have time to post it before the holiday.  If I have my way I will be digging into the leftovers shortly.  My favorite thing about this recipe was how the flavors of the smoked tofu and the 5-spice seasoned tofu combined with the sauce.  We used a combination of the two because we had both in the fridge and it just seemed like a good idea.  We also didn't have quite enough of either to make the full recipe - either we made a half recipe with one type, or we combined both and made the full recipe.  And as much as I love smoked tofu it can get a little overwhelming.  The sauce is assertive enough that you would probably be ok using just smoked tofu, but we figured why not combine the two?  I love the texture of pressed tofu, which is firmer and has more of a springy/chewy texture than even extra-firm tofu does.  We typically use smoked or seasoned pressed tofu in simple salads with celery and peanuts, like this Smoked Tofu with Celery and Peanuts.  Mark Bittman also has what looks like an interesting take on the classic Celery and Tofu Salad that I want to make the next time we hit Chinatown for groceries.  We served the tofu with some sauteed bok choy with garlic and it was a perfect, light and easy meal.  And it was about as un-Thanksgivingy as it gets.  Yum.

Recipe after the jump!