Miso Glazed Fish, a Different Way

Are you afraid to tinker with recipes? 

Here's the deal folks. Very few recipes need to be exact. For the most part, if you stay within reasonable boundaries (e.g. -- you wouldn't mix ketchup into your chocolate ice cream mix) most of them are fairly flexible. 

So, if you don't have an ingredient it's okay if you use another. This is how new recipes are created. A change here and there and what do you know! Something tasty to eat.

That's why I wasn't concerned the other day when I was planning to make Miso-glazed black cod but there was no black cod to be found in any store near me. I could have used salmon, a familiar substitute for miso-glazing, but I wasn't in the mood. On the other hand, I did see some fresh, good looking codfish for sale, so I chose that. 

When I got home and began preparing the glaze I couldn't find the Sake. And I wasn't about to go out again and buy another bottle.

So I used vodka instead.

And I decided to use honey instead of sugar because I knew that for flavor, one sweetener would do as well as another one and a fish glaze isn't like a cake where the liquid of the honey vs. the granules of cane sugar would affect the outcome.

And I also added a small amount of hot chili oil because sweet-ish dishes like this one seem more balanced if you give them the tiniest bit of heat.

One other thing -- many recipes for miso-glazed fish tell you to discard the excess marinade before you cook the fish. I didn't. So there was extra "gravy" in the broiling pan. Nice with rice. 

Okay, several major changes.

It was lusciously wonderful. Every flake and morsel was gone, gone, gone, and I had cooked 2 pounds worth instead of the usual 24 ounces. 

Here's the recipe. Feel free to tinker with it.

Sweet and Hot Miso Glazed Fish

  • 1/4 cup Mirin
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (or use Sake)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup white Miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
  • 4 6-8 ounce black cod, Arctic char, salmon or cod filets
  • 3 scallions, chopped, optional

Place the Mirin, vodka, honey, Miso, sesame seed oil and hot chili oil in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring continuously, for about one minute, stirring with a whisk, or until the ingredients are thoroughly blended and the Miso is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Place the fish in a shallow pan and pour the marinade over them. Turn the filets to coat all sides. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours. Preheat the oven broiler about 6 inches from the heat. Place the fish in a broiling pan and broil for 3 minutes, turn the filets and broil for another 3-4 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with chopped scallions if desired.

Makes 4 servings

 

 

 

Sticky Curry Wings

What's your favorite part of the chicken?

For me it's always been the wings. I was never one of those kids who liked holding a drumstick and eating off that big bone. First of all it seemed like the drumstick had too much meat on it for a little kid to handle.

Second, my mother always told me that wing meat is the softest and sweetest and therefore the best.

So that was that.

She was right. 

I love chicken wings. Any kind. Baked, fried, grilled. 

Here's a new favorite: curry seasoned and honey-sticky. You can bake these. Or grill them for a 4th of July feast.

 

Honey-Curry Sticky Wings

  • 24-30 chicken wings
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry the wings and place them on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet. In a small saucepan, combine the honey, Dijon mustard, olive oil, curry powder, garlic powder and salt to taste. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cook for one minute, stirring to blend the ingredients thoroughly and remove from the heat. Brush the tops of the wings with some of the honey mixture. Bake the wings for 10 minutes. Turn the wings over, brush with more of the honey mixture and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the wings over again, brush with the remaining honey mixture and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the wings are golden brown and crispy looking. OR: grill the wings, turning them occasionally and brushing with the honey mixture. 

Makes 4 servings

 

 

 

 

Veggie Here, Veggie There

When my family comes I buy about 83 pounds of fruits and vegetables. And it is never enough! After a couple of days with 6 grownups and 5 kids eating three meals/day plus snacks, I have to run out again and get a few packages of blueberries or a bunch of spinach and stuff.

But last visit I got it right! Not only did I buy enough, there were a couple of leftover items.

Not enough of one particular thing to do much with -- a couple of yellow squash, two portobello caps, a few grape tomatoes. Like that.

I put them all together in a saute pan with a little olive oil and some fresh basil and we polished it off as a side dish for dinner. The recipe will serve 4, but Ed and I finished most of it.

Mixed Vegetable Saute

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 small yellow squash, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the jalapeno pepper, scallions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes, or until softened. Add the squash and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Add the tomatoes, basil and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened slightly.

Makes 4 servings

Sour Cream or Applesauce?

This is the question. Sour cream or applesauce? But usually when we ask that question it's in December and we're talking about what you want on top of your potato latkes.

But this past weekend, in warm and sticky June, when the whole family came and the kids asked for matzo brei for breakfast it was the same thing.

What to put on top.

There are the sour cream lovers. And those who believe applesauce is right.

And this weekend we got a new request: maple syrup.

Maple syrup on matzo brei? 

What would my grandma think?

 

Matzo Brei

 

4 squares of matzo

hot water

3 large eggs

salt to taste

1 tablespoon butter

sour cream, applesauce or maple syrup(!)

 

Crumble the matzot into a bowl. Pour hot water over the pieces and let them soak for 4-5 minutes or until very soft. Squeeze as much of the water out of the pieces as possible. Add the eggs and salt to taste and stir until the mixture is evenly blended. Heat the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the matzo mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Turn the pancake over (it's easier to cut the pancake into quarters first and turn each quarter separately). Cook for another 3-5 minutes or until crispy. Serve with sour cream, applesauce or maple syrup.

Makes 4 servings

Blueberry Almond Muffins

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Although I absolutely am capable of eating one of those giant muffins that seem to be the norm in bakeries and coffee places these days, I do realize that smaller is better, healthier and less caloric. So, when I decided to bake some blueberry muffins recently, I calculated baking times and such with a recipe that yielded 8 muffins, but used it to make 10.

I also ran out of flour, so I substituted almond meal, which was lovely, and gave the muffins a vaguely sweeter, but not sugary, flavor. 

Here they are:

 

Blueberry Almond Muffins

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (meal)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon peel
  • 1 cup plain
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 10 muffin tins. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Combine the flour, almond flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and lemon peel in a bowl and mix thoroughly to distribute the ingredients evenly. Place the yogurt, egg, melted cooled butter and vanilla extract in a second bowl and beat to blend ingredients thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix just until combined. Fold in the blueberries. Fill muffin tins evenly with the batter. Bake for about 18 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the muffins cool slightly, then remove them from the pan. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature.

 

Makes 10

Tuna and Brown Rice Salad with Olives, Feta Cheese and Orange

I used to be one of those people who always had 3-4 cans of tuna in the house. Solid white. In oil until I felt the need to diet, so then, in water.

I'd open the can, drain the fish, mash it with mayo, spread it on bread and voila! there was lunch.

Or I'd open a can or two occasionally for dinner, for a big salad like Nicoise or Chef's Salad.

But canned tuna changed over the years. The fish seems mushy and salty to me now and has for many years.

Maybe my tastes changed. Whatever. I stopped buying canned tuna except for the one can I keep for emergencies. And, most often, in my yearly pre-Passover cabinet purge, I discard that can because I haven't used it. 

I still make tuna sandwiches and tuna salad though, using leftover grilled or broiled fresh tuna. Grilled fresh tuna is meaty and pleasantly chewy. No mush at all. The leftovers, usually from the more well-done ends, can be dry, which makes them perfect for plain old tuna salad, mixed with moistening mayo. Also terrific for big salads that I douse with dressing.

We had this Tuna and Brown Rice salad recently. The contrasts are interesting -- tangy olives and feta, sweet fruit, earthy peas. It's colorful too, making it a good choice for a summer buffet. I suppose it would work okay with canned tuna, if you buy that. 

 

Tuna and Brown Rice Salad with Olives, Feta Cheese and Orange Segments

 

  • 1 cup brown Basmati rice
  • 10-12 ounces fresh tuna
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 large navel orange, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup thawed frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup halved black olives
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  •  

Cook the brown rice according to package directions. Spoon the cooked rice into a large bowl and set aside to cool. Preheat a grill, broiler or grill pan. Place the tuna in a heat-proof pan. Mix the olive oil with the soy sauce and brush this over the fish. Grill, broil or pan-broil the fish for about 4 minutes per side or until cooked to desired doneness. Remove the fish to a cutting board, cut into chunks and set aside to cool. Add the fish, feta cheese, scallions, orange chunks, peas, olives and mint to the bowl with the rice. Toss gently to distribute the ingredients evenly. In a small bowl mix the vegetable oil, wine vinegar and lemon juice. Pour over the ingredients. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients and let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

 

Makes 4-6 servings

 

Baked Potato

What do you eat when you're feeling sad or emotionally wrecked or furious at the world?

I grew up in a family in which, whenever there was a crisis of some sort, the grownups would say "how can you eat at a time like this?!"

But I'm an eater and, in fact, when I am feeling like life is closing in, I want to eat more than ever, fill myself with food and just keep pecking away like a chicken in a barnyard.

People talk about comfort foods. You know, the foods that supposedly make you feel better.

So what is that food, that one thing that I want the most when I'm at a low point? I've thought about it, that's for sure.

Do I want my Mom's Mac n' Cheese?

Actually, I would rather have my Mom, thank you.

Ditto, my Mom's Apple Pie and Chicken Soup.

Popcorn helps, but isn't sustaining.

Ditto Li-Lac chocolate's Butter Crunch

Actually, what I want is the very simplest of foods. What helps me most is a plain baked potato.

Russet-Idaho. Organic. Crunchy crusted. Faint metallic taste to the flesh.

This is food so basic and sustaining, so wonderful that, IMHO, it needs just a bit of butter, salt and pepper. Skip the sour cream. No chives. No cheese.

Keep it simple. 

I just ate one. I might have another later.

So easy to make perfectly:

Baked Potato

  • 4 organic Idaho, russet type potatoes
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the potatoes. When the oven reaches 400 degrees, place the potatoes in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Pierce each potato with the tip of a sharp knife. Continue to bake for another 45 minutes or until the outside is crusty and the inside is tender (pierce the flesh with the tip of a sharp knife). 

Makes 4 servings

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey Burgers with Avocado Ketchup

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A long time ago I read that ketchup began in the far east as a kind of fish sauce and it was ages and ages later that some smartie decided to make it with tomatoes.

The rest, as they say, is history. When you say "ketchup," most people picture the thick, red, viscous condiment.

In my family we don't argue over what ketchup means. We don't even argue about what kind to buy, because even though I've cooked my own tomato ketchup from time to time, our brand is Heinz. 

But I do make other kinds of ketchup too. Plum ketchup, for example. They're sort of like smooth chutneys that go well with grilled chicken, beef, lamb and so on. 

So recently, now that it's outdoor grill season, I made avocado ketchup, which is the perfect condiment for turkey burgers. No cooking involved (except for the burgers).

Is it really just a simplified form of guacamole, pureed to a fare-thee-well?

Maybe. But I call it ketchup.

 

Turkey Burgers with Avocado Ketchup

 

  • 1 large, ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 2 sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 medium scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 medium Serrano pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, optional
  • 8 slices toasted bread
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced

 

Cut the avocado into chunks and place the pieces in a food processor. Add the tomatoes, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice and some salt and pepper and process until thoroughly blended and uniform in color (mixture should have the consistency of ketchup). Set aside. Place the turkey, scallions, Serrano pepper, garlic and lemon juice in a bowl and mix to combine the ingredients evenly. Shape the mixture into 4 burger patties. Grill the burgers on an outdoor grill OR heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the burgers for about 2 minutes per side or until crispy and cooked through. Place 4 slices of toasted bread on each of four plates. Place tomato slices over the bread. Top with the burgers. Top with equal amounts of the avocado ketchup. Cover with remaining toast slices.

 

Makes 4 servings

You can never have too much caulifower

Frequently, if I am at a loss for what to serve as a side dish with dinner, I opt for cauliflower. There's always a head in the house. I can clean it quickly while the oven preheats. It's one of the milder cabbages, so everyone in the family likes it. And it is so incredibly flexible that, after a rubdown with olive oil I can squirt it with lemon juice or some other liquid, like maybe wine. I can season it with just about any spice or herb. I can give it a final flourish of cheese if I wish. 

I can break the cauliflower head into small chunks or cut it into thick slices, like "steak" (a recipe from The Modern Kosher Kitchen). Or roast it whole.

Saute it instead of roasting it in the oven.

Make it into salad.

And so on.

This is the latest version. Quick. Easy. Goes with everything.

 

Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
  • salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (substitute ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Wash the cauliflower, trim the ends and break the head up into smaller pieces. Wipe dry with paper towels. Mix the olive oil and white wine vinegar in a large bowl. Add the cauliflower pieces and toss the pieces to coat them on all sides. Place the pieces on the prepared sheet, drizzling them with oil left n the bowl. Sprinkle with the oregano, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, turning the pieces occasionally, or until the pieces are crispy and lightly browned.

Makes 4 servings

Cranberry Cheese Cake

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Many years ago I was one of three judges at a cheese cake contest sponsored by a local cookware shop. We were told that 50 people had entered and would be bringing their cakes over.

Fifty cakes!

Fortunately only 32 people showed up. My first thought was about what might have happened to those other people. Did they just decide not to bother or had their cakes not come out right?

My second thought -- how am I going to eat -- even small samples -- of 32 cakes!

But, I was younger and thinner then and so I soldiered on.

There were some incredibly elaborate versions -- one was swirled with gorgeous white chocolate leaves, another was drizzled with thick, viscous drippings of autumn-leaf-colored caramel.

But frankly, we all thought the best cakes were the simplest ones. The ones where you could actually taste the cheese in the cheese cake. Like classic New York Cheese Cake. Or, if adorned, only simply, with some glazed fresh fruit.

And so, in this season of cheese cakes (it's the number one food for Shavuot), I offer a simple cheese cake. You can absolutely taste the lush, creamy cheese. It isn't overloaded with sugar or chocolate. There is a fruit top, made with fresh cranberries, which are tart and acidic and do a fabulous job balancing out the dense, rich cake beneath.

Or, you can serve the cake plain, maybe garnishing with a sprinkle or two of confectioner's sugar.

 

Cranberry Cheese Cake

  • 1-1/2  teaspoons butter
  • 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1-1/2 pounds cream cheese (3-8 ounce packages)
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup dairy sour cream or unflavored yogurt

 Topping:

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in one tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the butter on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle the inside of the pan with the graham cracker crumbs. Shake the pan to coat it evenly. Beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer at medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until softened and smooth. Add the orange peel, vanilla, cream and sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the sour cream. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the springform pan inside a larger pan. Fill the larger pan with enough hot water to come at least 1-inch up the sides of the baking dish. Bake for 70-75 minutes or until the top of the cake is tanning lightly. Remove the springform pan from the water and let the cake cool. When the cake is at room temperature, refrigerate it at least 4 hours or until thoroughly chilled. Remove the sides of the pan. Spread the topping over the cake.

 Topping:

Place the cranberries, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until cranberries start to pop. Stir the cornstarch mixture and add it to the pan. Mix for about one minute or until the topping thickens. Stir in the orange peel. Let cool.

 Makes one cake serving 8-10