Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Good for You Pasta

What a busy week! That said, I still managed to make up a few good, albeit quick meals.

After a weekend in L.A., it was nice to come home to the kitchen and make up a healthy meal of fresh fettucine, poached chicken (the result of my labors from a lazy Sunday afternoon last month), spinach, broccoli, navy beans, garlic (lots), and fresh tomato. One bite, and all the sins of the weekend were absolved.

1/2 lb fresh fettucine
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts, poached and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup white wine (see Wine Note)
1 1/2 cup fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup frozen leaf spinach, thawed and drained
1 can navy beans, thoroughly rinsed and drained
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/8 tsp Italian herbs
fresh parsley, chopped (to taste)
sea or kosher salt (to taste)
pepper from the mill (to taste)

Boil fettucine 3 -4 minutes. If using dry fettucine, cook according to package directions. Drain.
In large saute' pan (NOT non-stick), coated with PAM or other oil spray, saute' garlic over medium heat until aromatic. Add chicken breast and let brown for 1 - 2 minutes. Set aside chicken/garlic mixture on a plate. Deglaze pan with white wine. Scrape up brown bits and let liquid reduce to about 3/4 cup. Add the broccoli, spinach, beans, tomatoes, and chicken/garlic mixture to the pan and let warm through. Approximately 2 minutes. Add fettucine and herbs, tossing thoroughly to mix. Add seasonings to taste.

Wine Note: I used Smoking Loon Viognier here. It's an intense and fruity wine for such an application, but there was about one cup left in the bottle, so I thought I'd try it out. Surprisingly, it added a nice contrast to the dish without competing with the other flavors.

By the way, this is probably much better with fresh spinach. Unfortunately, I didn't have any on hand. :(

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Gone fishin'!

J and K awoke at dawn and headed for Lake Miramar to try their hands at catching some of the freshly-stocked rainbow trout. They came back with plenty of fish to make up a fish fry.

I did the dirty work of cleaning and fileting the fish, and later fried them up in a nice traditional, Southern cornmeal coating. I coated the fish with Lousiana fish fry mixed with a bit of flour and plenty of seasonings. I added some oven fries (I was already feeling guilty about the other fried things) on the side and made up a nice batch of coleslaw, too. Too bad I didn't remember to put the slaw out on the table at dinner time. Ah, well. J enjoyed it as an after-dinner snack.

Light and Crunchy Coleslaw
1/2 head of green cabbage, finely chopped
1/4 head of red cabbage, finely chopped
1 to 2 carrots, grated or julienned
1 shallot, minced (optional)
3 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
3 Tbsp light mayonnaise or non-fat plain yogurt (or any combination of the two)
Seasoned rice wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all except rice wine vinegar and pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine. Season to taste with vinegar and pepper. Chill for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Also good with some cayenne pepper or salt-free Cajun seasoning (there's plenty of salt in the seasoned vinegar), Diced red or yellow sweet peppers make a great addition, too.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Recreating a favorite restaurant dish at home

On Thursday nights, hubby and I often dine out at a local restaurant that features a wasabi-seared steak. Today, I tried my hand at creating the dish at home.

I dusted two top sirloin steaks with wasabi and pepper. Grilled them till medium, and sprinkled them with sea salt as they were resting. I made a wasabi "sauce" from thinned wasabi powder. I also reduced balsamic vinegar and soy sauce to a near caramel state. I drizzled both sauces over the steak and added a cucumber salad dressed with sesame seeds, chili paste, and rice wine vinegar on the side.

And the other side dish, grilled garlic potatoes, is where I veered away from Asian flavors. (Who doesn't love meat and potatoes, anyway?) The potatoes made a nice accompaniment to the steak and cucumbers and didn't detract from or clash with the other flavors on the plate. Next time, I might try a nice dish of brown rice with scallions for a change of pace.
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