Fastest Dinner Ever?

On Monday it was just me, myself and I at home since Alex was working and I wanted something simple, delicious and quick so I could get to perusing ALL of the food magazines I had waiting for me on the couch. As I searched for the perfect recipe I knew I wanted fish and I had some broccolini that had to be used that night or it was hitting the trash, and I hate to waste produce…hate, hate, hate.

After searching and searching I found this little gem on Bon Appetit’s Web site. This Seared Artic Char with Broccolini, Olives and Garlic was the perfect fit for my needs. After work I went to Central Market to pick up a fresh filet of artic char and wouldn’t you know it, the woman right in front of me took the last one. As I stood there moutbreathing in front of the fish monger he quickly recommended barramundi instead. I’ve had this delicious fish a few times in restaurants but never cooked at home. YUM. This was a perfect alternative to the char and very easy to make.

Not only was the recipe, simple, simple, simple and came together in a flash, but the garlic, olives, orange and white balsamic vinaigrette all played nicely together in the sandbox. If you want something fast and delicious give this one a try and if you do try it with artic char let me know how it turns out.

I have recipes marked for days including a possible Brinner (Brunch/Dinner) coming up next week so stay tuned…there might be homemade strawberry pop tarts involved. Strawberry homemade pop tarts…marinate on THAT for a while.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Last night we wanted an easy, breezy meal that would come together in a snap and for some reason I had a hankering for pork tenderloin. Enter this Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin from Cooking Light.

I was working late last night so the gentle Alex made the tenderloin from start to finish. I’ve got a trained chef totally following the Cooking Inside the Lines style, I love it! Alex mentioned she followed the recipe exactly (I’m so proud) and it turned out to be DELICIOUS. It was perfectly cooked and the spice-rub was just amazing.
Alex also made some sautéed asparagus and a creamy mushroom risotto and voila! an awesome Monday night meal that came together in a flash. I wish I would have saved some pork for today’s lunch to make a sandwich but we ate. it. all. Thanks Chef Alex for an amazing meal!

The Rogue Gumbo

When I think of a traditional gumbo I immediately think of Louisiana, sausage, chicken and/or shrimp, okra, rice and spice! You can imagine my surprise when I came across this Shrimp and Okra Gumbo in Cooking Light that of course has shrimp and okra, but also has smoked ham and instead of rice, creamy yogurt grits. I’m not going to lie, I think the creamy yogurt grits is what got me hook, line and sinker.

As my fun little Chef friends pointed out, the roux for this was very interesting indeed. It consists of canola oil, all-purpose flour and chicken broth (instead of the usual butter for the added fat). Making this together was a whole lot of fun and Alex even mentioned she liked it better over the creamy grits – awesomeness on its own or with the gumbo – than rice. Now that’s saying something.

This was pretty amazing gumbo if I do say so myself. The smoked ham, obviously, gave it a smoky flavor along with the paprika and all of the vegetables and spices blended together to create a lovely, spicy balance of flavors. One thing is that we did not have okra. Quelle horreur! I went shopping after work and they had everything BUT okra, not even frozen. Being good Southern girls we knew what we were missing without the okra but we still loved the dish.

I can’t find the recipe online so check it out below for a spicy gumbo night of your own!
Cooking Light
April 2010
Shrimp and Okra Gumbo with Creamy Yogurt Grits
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped onion
4 ounces smoked ham, chopped
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2/3 cup diced celery
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound fresh okra pods, sliced
1/4 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; cook 1 minute or until lightly browned, stirring constantly with a whisk until thick. Pour into a bowl; set aside. Wipe pan clean with paper towels.
2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and ham; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bell pepper and next 4 ingredients (through okra); cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally. Add broth mixture, water, and next six ingredients (through tomatoes). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in shrimp; cook 4 minutes or until shrimp are done. Spring with parsley. Yield: 4 servings.
Creamy Yogurt Grits
Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits; cover, cover reduce-heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until thick. Stir in 1 cup fat-free Greek-style yogurt, teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Mussels Time!

I think I’ve proven by now that I absolutely lurve making mussels at home. Typically the broth doesn’t take too long and then you cook the mussels for 10-12 minutes max and voila! delicious mussels in yummy broth and then crusty bread to sop up the rest in your bowl.
Bon Appétit features this fantastic Mussels Steamed in Spicy Tomato-Cilantro Broth recipe from Passionfish restaurant located in Pacific Grove, California. I’ve never been to Pacific Grove but it’s located in one of my favorite places in California, the central coast region where things seem to have a slower pace, the food is delicious anywhere and everywhere you go and they just happen to produce delicious wines too. Ahhhh, what I wouldn’t give for a bottle of Sea Smoke Pinot Noir right about now.

I couldn’t find the recipe online, but as you will see below it has a very short ingredient list with limited prep and steps. You know you are going to be a happy puppy when this is the case. I love tomato-based broths for mussels and this packed a flavor punch that went nicely with the mussels. Well, I guess with five tablespoons of butter it’s definitely got something going for it doesn’t it? Alex and I both loved this recipe with some nice, crusty bread and I was definitely slurping everything up when my mussels disappeared in about two minutes.
If you love mussels, you will love this recipe. Bon Appétit!

Mussels Steamed in Spicy Tomato-Cilantro Broth

Bon Appétit
Recipe adapted from Passionfish
4 first-course servings (or two entree)
1 1/2 cups bottled clam juice
3 ripe tomatoes, seeded, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 pounds of mussels, scrubbed, debearded
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
Crusty bread
Bring first five ingredients to boil in large pot, stirring occasionally. Add mussels and butter. Cover and cook until mussels open, about 4 minutes – poodles, we had to go about 10 minutes on this so watch your mussels! – (discard any mussel that do not open). Stir in cilantro and green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.