Saturday, January 23, 2010

Zanzibar Mahi, An Adventure

Remember That Cookbook Thing? It was a couple of years ago, but some bloggers around these here 'nets got together and we reviewed an awesome cookbook called "Where Flavor was Born" by Andreas Viestad.* Well, I hadn't pulled it out in a while, and today I was in the mood for fish so I dug it out of a box and flipped through to see what wonders the people around the Indian Ocean can do with a fish fillet.

I had gone to the store for swordfish, but my choices were Mahi Mahi or Tilapia. Which is the same thing as having no choice, because The Professor hates Tilapia to the very marrow of his bones. Since this recipe is basically just some cooked fish with a delectible relish** on top, I figured Mahi would work. The original recipe called for Kingfish, so the author needs to be glad I even stayed with the correct protein at this point.

Hmm. I wonder how this sauce would be in a baked chicken recipe...

*Hey, I think I'm supposed to make sure you know that I was given this cookbook (back in 2008) by the publisher to review it. I finished my part of that deal almost 2 years ago, but the last thing I need is some anti-blogger fed blowing up my blog. So yeah. It was free. I kinda liked that part.

**I don't know what this substance actually was. I was expecting a sauce, but I must have cooked it down too much. Doesn't matter, it was awesomely awesome.

***Oh, also, the name of this in the cookbook is "Kingfish with Oranges, Cloves & Ginger", but that just gives too much away, and you wouldn't even need to read the recipe if I named it that. And the book names from where the recipe hails. Thus, Zanzibar Mahi.

  • 2 8oz Mahi fillets
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 1/2+ tsp grated orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (I juiced the orange I zested, and it was perfect)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped very fine
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar, divided
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a small bowl, mix together the ground ginger, ground cloves and half of the orange zest.

They really need to find a way to add scent to blog posts

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a small pot and saute onion until it has softened, about 2 minutes.

Add the orange juice, fresh ginger, whole clove, half of the brown sugar and the remaining zest. Bring to a boil, and boil until it has reduced to 1/3 of original liquid, about maybe 10 minutes. Remove the clove, reduce heat to low and let it simmer until the fish is ready.

It was almost sauce like when I started

Season the mahi with the salt, pepper and the remaining brown sugar.

Aside: how do you season something with brown sugar? It doesn't sprinkle lightly over the fish like salt or pepper. I tried to sprinkle it, got crumbs of sugar on it and then mashed it in.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in a skillet using medium high heat. Cook the fish until golden brown - about 5 minutes - and then flip and cook until it is done, about another 5 minutes.

When you flip the fish, turn the heat back up on the simmering sauce/relish/substance and return it to a boil. The author adds that if you like a thicker sauce, you can whisk in a half teaspoon of cornstarch and boil for 1 minute. If mine had gotten any thicker, it would have been an orange/onion cupcake, so I ignored the cornstarch. Another note says that you can add a Tbsp of butter to make it richer.

Here's the official Sauce/Relish/Substance

I served this with wilted spinach and Rice Pilau (recipe to come, I hope), then spooned the sauce/relish/substance over the top.

I loved everything about my plate. The Professor liked it fine, but finally decided the sauce/relish/substance was too "something" for him. I'm guessing the ginger was too concentrated for him, but I absolutely loved it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Experiment: Cheese Crisps

I have a thing for cheese. It's genetic, really, but the end result is that I usually have about 5 kinds of cheese in my fridge. Since cheese = happiness, my fridge is almost heaven. If I kept all of the alcohol in one place, and put it all in the same fridge as my cheese, it WOULD be heaven and I would have to move in.

Right now, 3 of those cheeses are shredded. Not sure how that happened, but I don't ask for detailed history before I eat cheese, I just eat it. Except that a few nights ago, I had memories of these awesome Parmesan cheese crisps I made to go with a butternut squash soup once upon a time. And suddenly that was nothing more important than ANYthing in the world. I must have cheese crisps!

Since I couldn't decide which cheese to use, I went with a variety pack: a couple of Parmesan, a few Mozzarella, and a few "taco blend". The Parmesan ended being my least favorite, so I made some bigger ones of the other flavors and munched happily on cheese for awhile. And then the happiness was inside me and I didn't have to move in the fridge, and we (the cheese & me) lived happily ever after. Amen.

Cheese Crisps.

Shredded Cheese

Get your oven up to 400.

Make small mounds of shredded cheese.

Bake until it's completely melted and has been bubbling along and starting to get dark.

These are not done:

These are:

Blot up the grease and then forget that you had to do that, because you just made your cheese better for you by cooking out the grease!

Let cool on a rack, or drape over a rolling pin to get perfect cups for dipping.

Next time these babies will be filled with some guacamole

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chicken Capri

Ricotta cheese...I could eat it by the spoonful. Throw a few herbs and some pepper in it, and it's a great celery dip. Slather it on anything, and "anything" just got 642% better tasting. Just get a spoon, and it's better than eating peanut butter out of the jar (mostly because peanut butter is DISGUSTING, moving on).

So chicken + tomatoes + cheese makes my stomach very happy. Plus, the leftovers are good for lunch the next day. It's a lazy blogger's dream come true!

Did I mention it's relatively healthy? Ok, you can forget I said that if you want, if that will make it taste better. Deception often makes my stomach happy. Like when I bite into a lentil dish at the Indian lunch buffet, only to discover that it's actually peas, and I have to curse myself because I was too impatient to take the time to read the labels above the food. Which is why I also burned my tongue when this came out of the oven (because of the impatience, not the peas, you can keep up if you try).

Chicken Capri

2 chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
garlic powder, to taste
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
1/2 tsp oregano
fresh ground pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons diced tomatoes
4 slices Mozzarella cheese (except that I was out and used Muenster)

Heat olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold your chicken breasts. Add the chicken to the pan and season with garlic powder. Cook for a bout 5-6 minutes on each side, until they're just browning.

Aside: I picked up the trick of cutting the chicken breasts like this from my sister; I used to just hack them in half, but slicing them like this makes dinner-cooking go much faster.

Back to recipe-izing.

Preheat your oven to 350.

Mash (yes, mash, don't just mix) the ricotta, Parmesan, oregano and pepper together.

When the chicken breasts are ready, put them in a shallow casserole - I used my 11x7 pan and it was the perfect size.

Top each breast half with 1/4 of the ricotta mixture and spread out a little.

Top each piece with 1 Tbsp diced tomatoes - I used fire-roasted, because, really, have you tasted fire roasted tomatoes?

Bake for 10 minutes.

Top each piece with 1 slice of cheese.

Bake for about 5-6 minutes or until the cheese is melty and delicious and will burn the ever loving heck out of your tongue because you're too impatient to wait.