Seafood Sunday

We’ve done the butcher shop for meat before, but we’ve never really purchased seafood from a quality fresh fish shop (a fish monger?). I’ve been meaning to check out Empire Fish for a long time, and I finally did on Saturday. Awesome store really — very friendly staff and a great collection of sea critters. Lots of fresh options and some frozen stuff available too. I may have been a little over-excited though because I left with some scallops, some shrimp and a haddock filet.

All of that led to Seafood Sunday!

Using recipes from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (btw, if you don’t own this cookbook, buy it from Amazon now — at less than $24, it’s a bargain) as a guide, our lunch meal consisted of a little Ginger-Hoisin Shrimp.

On the side, we ate some more of the quinoa, and enjoyed some European Peasant Bread from the Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day book. Overall it was a tasty, speedy, albeit slightly-more-extravagant-than-your-average-noontime-meal lunch.

Then, when it came to dinner time, I put the awesome Saints victory on hold to cook up the rest of the fishy stuff. With only about a single serving each of scallops and haddock, I decided to make both. For the scallops, I pan-seared them with the lemon, shallots and capers recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. For the haddock, I kept it simple. A little salt and pepper followed by a quick dredging in some flour. That’s just basic white rice on the side.

The lemon/caper/shallot combo was a little overpowering. I think we both ended up pushing most of it to the side and focusing on the scallop-ey goodness. As for the haddock, for such a simple preparation, it was quite tasty. I mean, Kelley, who doesn’t really like fish, gave it a favorable review. I believe her words were along the lines of : “I would go to a fish fry if they used this recipe.”

Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounce keen-wah) is the seed of the Goosefoot plant. It cooks much like a grain and has a fantastic nutty flavor, with a little bit of a crunch (due to its seed nature). It’s also healthy:

The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids typically low in other grains. It is a good complement for legumes, which are often low in methionine and cystine. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids.

(from Chet Day’s Health & Beyond)

I owe this new discovery to this post on the kitchn blog, which led to a recipe for Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Dried Fruit, Toasted Almonds, and Lemon-Cumin Vinaigrette at Fine Cooking.

Note: The picture over there looks a little different than the ones at those two links. It’s not just the Polish pottery. Those linked-to photos used red quinoa, but all I could find was the white version.

If you’ve never tried quinoa, I can highly recommend it. Try the recipe here, it’s healthy (containing not only the benefits of quinoa, but also a healthy dose of the good fats in avocado). And it’s delicious.

Next step for us is finding more quinoa recipes to try.

Finally — that fruit you see on the left side of that photo over there? That’s the fruit of the pummelo, another new food we gave a try to. It’s like a grapefruit, but has a really thick, super-spongy membrane around the fruit, and it’s nowhere near as bitter as grapefruit.

Monday Night Lasagna Party

Catching up a little bit here as we time travel back to Monday night’s dinner.

Our friends Ed & Carolyn were in town with their son Patrick, so we had them over for a little dinner party. Dinner was delicious if I may say so myself, but I think the highlight of the night for both Kelley and I was getting to meet little Patrick for the first time. He’s a pretty darn cute kid!

Our Dinner Menu

Mike and Jackie also brought over a tasty polenta dish with a ranch/bacon sauce. Ed & Carolyn added a bottle of wine and we all had a great time.

We couldn’t have pulled off the dinner on time if we didn’t make the bread and assemble the lasagna on Sunday night. That left us with the perfect amount of prep and oven time for the two of us to make the croutons, salad and dessert on Monday and bake everything, including the lasagna.

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Packer Playoff Loss Dinner: from Cooking Light magazine

Quick weekend-closing post.

During halftime of a fairly exciting, but ultimately somewhat heartbreaking, Packer playoff loss, we whipped together a recipe from this month’s Cooking Light magazine.

The Menu (as suggested in the magazine – follow that link for a great picture)

Seared Lamb with Balsamic Sauce

Cracked Wheat–Currant Pilaf: Sauté 1½ cups quick-cooking bulgur in 2 teaspoons butter over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add 1½ cups water and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 25 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in 3 tablespoons dried currants and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley.

Spicy Chard: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves; sauté 30 seconds. Add 8 cups chopped Swiss chard and ¼ cup chicken broth; cover and cook 8 minutes.

The Verdict

This is probably only the third or fourth time that I’ve even cooked lamb chops, but given their ease of cooking and their great flavor (even without the sauce), I won’t hesitate to make them again. I will, however, wait until they’re on sale since this is not a cheap meat.

As for the side dishes, the cracked wheat-currant pilaf had a nice flavor, but it was definitely the base in this meal. The spicy chard, on the other hand, had a really nice kick to it.

Saturday Night Calzone

What we ate: Spinach & Cheese Calzone from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking

How it looked:

This is the calzone right out of the oven. It was huge! A look inside.

Thoughts:

  • This recipe was EASY! Assuming you have some dough in the refrigerator, you can have this on the table in under an hour (roughly 15 minutes to prep, 25 minutes to cook, 10 minutes to cool)
  • While mixing the filling, I kept thinking, “There’s no way this is going to be enough to serve 2-4 people” – mainly because it only called for 1/2 cup of spinach
  • On the other hand, when it came out of the oven, I was stunned at how large it was. My first fear was that it was going to be too “bready,” and while the edges were maybe a little thicker than they needed to be, it certainly wasn’t the case flavor wise.
  • Our main comment after dinner: “It would be interesting to make this with some other ingredients.”

Links:

The companion website for the book has this post from almost two years ago featuring a discussion about packing slices of these calzones in school lunches.

Would we make it again? Absolutely!