Archive for August, 2007

Broiled Flounder with Salsa

Recently I bought Rick Stein’s Complete Seafood cookbook, full of great pictures and good looking recipes. At least half of the book is also devoted to technique, which is very good for those unskilled (like me) in things like fileting fish, cooking mussels, squid, etc. The techniques also cross-reference the recipes, so you can actually use the techniques he discusses.

I bought the cookbook because I wanted to cook a whole fish, but I am still trying to figure out where I can actually buy a whole fish here in Little Rock. So, with a sigh, I had to settle for cooking already cut fish. Everything looked so good, and I couldn’t decide what to make, so I went with my favorite decision-making tool: letting my husband decide. He decided on broiled flounder with toasted tortillas and salsa.

For the flounder, I made an easy marinade with paprika, cumin, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper, and let it sit at room temp for about 2o minutes. The recipe for the salsa called for tomatoes, red chilli peppers (I used jalapenos because we couldn’t find red chillis), red onion, lemon juice and cilantro, but I added some grilled corn left over from the other night. The salsa was light and refreshing and down-right delicious, and I could have eaten it for my entire meal.

 I cooked the flounder under the broiler for around 7 or 8 minutes. The recipe said 3-4, but our gas broiler is a little slow. I also might have had the fish too far away from the broiler. While the fish was good, I’m not sure if I cooked it long enough (although it flaked away very easily) because it was too oily and watery. Combined with the tortilla and salsa the fish tasted fine, but it basically served as a base for everything else. On its own, however, the fish was not flavorful.

I am not discourage from cooking from this book, and a lot of this could be attributed to cook’s error, but I doubt I will try to make this again. When I cook seafood, I want the seafood to be the star, but here it took a second-hand role to a really good salsa.

Trout with Shitake Mushrooms and Veggies, and Caprese

 (Note: I am publishing this two weeks after making it. There are a couple of things I meant to add, but honestly I don’t remember them. Nevertheless, I wrote this soon after I cooked it, so what I have written was fresh on my mind). 

Sunday night! That means it’s time for me to cook. Up tonight is a baked trout topped with shitake mushrooms, tomator, green onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Recipe courtesy September 2007 Bon Appetit.

ingredients.jpgtrout.jpg

The only hard part about this dinner was figuring out what side dish to make. I looked through the magazines, but nothing looked good enough, or if it looked good enough it was loaded with oil or had some other protein in it (like shrimp), which I just didn’t want on top of fish. I found a recipe for grilled eggplant caprese with mozerella and tomatoes (along with a oil-laden dressing that I modified …. unsuccessfully) so I decided to grill me some eggplant.

eggplant-pre-grill.jpg

Being new to the grill, I had some problems with the charcoals, and my grill ended up getting way hot, which meant my eggplants got overcooked. I also put too much salt on them, which, duh, made them too salty.

eggplants-grilled.jpgtrout-plus.jpg

In the end, the trout was good, but next time I will try it with a flakier white fish, either rainbow trout like the recipe calls for or something like flounder (I knew I should have gone with the flounder …. I felt it in my gut). All in all it was flavorful, just a little too oily. The eggplant in the caprese was completely too salty and my dressing was mediocre (I would call it bad but my husband liked it … it’s better when it’s with veggies and not on its own). Luckily I had lots of tomatoes and mozarella, so the lack of eggplant didn’t really make a difference. This just goes to show that sometimes recipes are made to be followed.

Lunch at Satellite

For Friday lunch day, my husband and I met at Satellite Cafe in the Heights. Generally I am very impressed with Satellite: their coffee always tastes great and their steak salad is (or when I’ve had it before) phenomenal.

This time I beat Jay to the restaurant, so I had some coffee, which was wonderful. For an appetizer, we decided to split a bowl of the white bean chili. Clearly, I am not the kind of person who discriminates on whether I eat cold or hot food based on the weather (it was a cool 98 or so outside). The chili arrived without its promised bread, but that didn’t matter. The flavor was deep and complex and reminded me of Indian food, but not too spicey. The chicken came in huge chunks and was flavored very well. Overall, it was very good, and ended up being the best part of the meal.

While I knew I couldn’t go wrong with the steak salad, I decided I wanted to go a little lighter, so I ordered the seared tilapia on the plate, which the menu said was served on top of baby spinach with a tomato reduction. Jay ordered the steak and brie sandwich, which is his no-wrong go-to.

Unfortunately my plan to stay light for lunch was thwarted when I received my meal. The fish and spinach (much more spinach than fish to my unpleasant surprise) were soaked in some kind of oily concoction, with tomatoes sprinkled around (was this the tomato reduction?). The fish looked like it had lots of kinds of seasoning on it but just tasted too completely salty. I couldn’t finsih my meal because it was so oily, and later on after lunch I felt sick because of the salad. Jay didn’t really enjoy his lunch either: he couldn’t bite through his steak and it was tougher than usual. Because my lunch wasn’t exactly filling, I ate the crust of the bread on his sandwich, which I must say was excellent.

I was very disappointed about my experience at Satellite. I was about to swear off the place and never go again, but Jay suggested that I just go for the steak salad. And at least the coffee’s good. I’m glad we ordered the white bean chili; if it wasn’t for that, I would have left hungry.

Rating: 2.5 – 3

By: Jenny

Small update

It’s been a while since the posts have been regular, but never fear. A few events have come in the way of me making regular posts, including: (1) going to DC, (2) losing my camera in a cab, (3) starting a new job, (4) starting a new year of law school. I even have a cooking post that has been written but not completed yet but which was prepared before I left for DC. That will be coming shortly, as well as some restaurant reviews.

The simple things in life

Hi everyone, Jay here. Jenny’s gone to Washington, DC for the weekend, so I’m home alone. She cooked an amazing dinner for me last night, which I’m sure she’ll want to write about when she gets back, so I thought I’d start out in my first real post with something simple.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to cook complex, tasteful dishes. But when I’m home alone, I often find myself not wanting to do anything very involved when cooking. I seem to have a lot of sandwiches, be they egg with cheese, a hamburger, etc. My childhood favorite of peanut butter and jelly always hits the spot. For some reason, just the simple act of making a double decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich makes it taste so much better. Maybe it’s the extra chewiness that the extra piece of bread gives… I’m not sure, but there’s a significant difference between this version and the traditional single-decker sandwich that just gives me more satisfaction.

Does anyone else indulge simple tastes when they are alone? Or do you prefer to make something special for yourself that you wouldn’t normally have?

Grilled Peaches and White Balsamic Syrup

I was feeling adventurous today after lunch and wanted a little bit more than just a piece of fruit as my sweet fix, so I decided to try something out.

The other day I bought some white peaches, so I thought I would grill those. I wanted to put something on them other than just sugar or honey, so I decided to make a syrup. I remember watching Giada de Laurentis make a balsamic syrup by reducing it down and adding sugar, but I didn’t want that much potency in my syrup. Then I remembered I had some white balsamic vinegar left over from another dessert, and I made up my mind of what to do:

White Balsamic Vinegar Syrup
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs sugar
squeeze honey

First, combine vinegar and sugar (I used Splenda and it turned out great) in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer, letting the mixture thicken. I’m not too good on the time here, because I was watching TV at the same time, but I think it was around 10 minutes (the heat was pretty low). After mixture has reduced, raise heat to medium-low and add a squeeze of honey (the honey we have comes in a squeeze bottle, it might have been 1/2-1 tsp). Continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so.

I cut the peaches in half and grilled them on the grill pan. I don’t really remember how long they cooked (remember, tv), but I basically seared the cut side on the really hot pan and then cooked the skin side on a little lower heat for a little longer.

After the peaches were ready, I drizzled the white balsamic syrup over them:

peachbvr.jpg

The syrup was excellent. It was sweet, but the white balsamic added a saltiness and a warmth that kept the syrup from being too sweet and too bland. After sharing this peach, my husband grilled another for us to eat with the remaining syrup/peach juice on the plate. Needless to say, this is a recipe that will be used again and again.

 By: Jenny

Boscos lunch

I just got back from lunch at Boscos and couldn’t wait to sit down and write this review. Why? Because I was so disappointed by both the food and service. Generally I SWEAR by Boscos and recommend it to other people (the whole reason we went there was because a guest from out of state was visiting), but today was a sad, sad day.

First off, service: we sat FOREVER waiting on our food. I realize this happens, and that’s no big deal, but at least TALK to us and give us an update. Also, this is a place frequented by business-lunchers (like myself) who need to get in and out in a reasonable amount of time. I found the wait to be plain too long and just unacceptable.

Second, food: I will start on a positive note at least and say that the black bean soup was great. I thought I would only have a few bites but found myself eating the whole thing. Furthermore, my lunch companions very much enjoyed their club and muffaletta sandwiches. My salad, however, was mediocre, and by the time I was half way through my dressing was cold and gelatinizing. Nasty. I think my salad was made first and then sat around for about 20 minutes before I received it, evidenced by the fact it’s supposed to be a hot spinach salad but was in fact served cold. The chicken was overcooked and tough, but it was the best part of the salad. Thank god I ordered the soup or I would have been a hungry girl. And just so everyone knows, I do have a frame of reference for today’s meal, having ordered this salad at another business lunch.

I will of course go back to Boscos and recommend it to others, but maybe only for dinner … and be wary of the salads.

By: Jenny


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