Saturday, May 29, 2010

Doing Good, Feeling Good

I'm feeling rather proud of myself today, dear readers. Not only did I successfully cook a fish dish, I also turned it into a perfectly healthy meal. I almost gave in to the temptation to fry up the fish, but instead I seared and baked it. Good grief, my arteries are un-clogging as we speak! My skin is clearing up! I feel smarter and thinner already! It's almost like I'm cheating on myself - the part of myself that craves cheesy, carby, decadent goodness. Will I be able to keep this up? I'll let my evil weighing scale decide. Let's see if all this healthy, good-for-me food actually lives up to its promise.

Speaking of things that are good for you, folks, let me take you down to the Sony Club in Manhattan. What's going on there, you ask? Something grand. A spectacular gourmet celebration. All in the name of charity and making this world a better place. The T. J. Martell Foundation is having their 3rd Annual Gourmet Dinner on June 10th at 6:30pm. The foundation raises funds for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research. I'm helping out a friend and spreading the good word about this event.
Belgian master chef, Daniel Joly, is the owner and executive chef of Mirabelle at Beaver Creek in Colorado, and will be the foundation's guest chef for their gourmet dinner. Guests will also enjoy a performance by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, as they enjoy the sunset from 35 stories above midtown NYC. Apart from the four-course seated dinner, there will also be live and silent auctions full of exotic travel experiences and autographed music memorabilia.

Now back to the menu. Dear readers, I'm salivating as I read it. I can't list all the items for you, but here's a teaser. Just the hors d'oeuvres are sublime enough to drive me insane. Oysters and caviar and lobster, oh my! Then begins the culinary onslaught of some amazing courses - first course features crusty langoustine; second course is a black truffle risotto ...

*swoons and falls off her chair*

... Wha?! What happened? I blacked out in a state of bliss. Seriously, the night would end on a high for me right there after the second course. But NO, the indulgence continues with a third course of grilled dover sole with citrus jam, and finally a roasted Colorado lamb with pomme bouchon and fava beans casserole. Of course, there is dessert too. A symphony (how appropriate) of apple - caramelized apple tartelette, milk mousse and lemongrass apple jelly, diced apples and apple sorbet. To buy the $350 per person tickets for this event, you can contact Kate Fitzpatrick, Communications Manager for the T. J. Martell Foundation, at 212-833-5444.

After that extravaganza, my little feat with this fish seems minuscule. But this simple dish packs a lot of flavor, and I'm just happy that I didn't burn it to a crisp or leave it raw in the center!

Citrus Glazed Trout (inspired by Kerstin's recipe, of Cake, Batter and Bowl)
Serves 2

Click here for printable recipe

1 lb steelhead trout, cut into 4 fillets (but you can probably use any firm-flesh fish)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used less, because I'm not a huge fan)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp canola oil, for searing

1. Whisk together all the above ingredients, except for the oil, and marinate the fish in it for about 30 mins in the fridge.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

3. Heat up the oil in a large skillet. Sear your trout fillets on both sides. Then place the fillets on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 10-12 mins.

4. Meanwhile, add the marinade to the skillet in which the fish was seared. Bring to a boil and reduce to desired consistency. Brush the fillets with this sauce when they come out of the oven. Serve with your choice of veggies on the side; I liked combining it with Ree's Green Beans and some creamy parmesan mashed potatoes.
Verdict: Although I was jumping up and down because the fish was perfectly cooked and tasted good, it's not like I'll ever swoon over a dish like this. This is health food after all. And I'm still me. So while I'm happy to be giving my jelly belly and thunder thighs a break once in a while with dishes like this, I won't be begging for seconds and thirds. You'll be happy to know though, that DH loves fish, and after having this, insisted that I make this at least once a month. Huh. Whaddaya know. The man never ceases to surprise me.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Boston and Ree's Cajun Chicken Pasta

My previous post asked you, dear readers, to guess where DH and I went for our first experimental vacation with baby B.

*Ding ding ding*!!! For those of you who guessed "Boston" you win the prize - i.e. bragging rights about how smart and well-traveled you are! As for the rest of you, today you're going to learn a wee bit of trivia. Boston happens to be the birthplace of America's independence, so it's got a lot for all you history buffs to enjoy. It also has Hahvahd (Harvard University) and MIT within spitting distance of each other, so my geeky academic type buddies can get their freak on. Finally, I love the food there, no matter what the internet reviews say, so fellow foodies can look forward to some big-time dear-God-this-is-good moments.

For instance, I'm very excited to share such a moment with you right now ...

See this? For many of you, this looks like something your cat would eat. WRONG! This is a divine, sublime, crave-worthy pasta dish that rocked my world. It's handmade squid-ink pasta simply cooked with ground-up grilled calamari and drizzled with olive oil. And I'm going to cry because I want it now, and there's no way for me to drive up to Boston again to get it! That pasta was perfectly al dente - chewy and earthy and perfectly seasoned. Every bite was a revelation. If you go to Boston, go to this Sicilian seafood place called The Daily Catch (their new location on the pier is fantastic) and order the Black Pasta Aglio Olio. They also happen to serve some other superb seafood, and the atmosphere is lovely, as is the service. But screw all that, I'd go back for that pasta even if it was served by dirty little gremlins!

In the meantime, I can only drown my sorrows in another pasta dish. This one I can make at home, and enjoy sharing with DH. I've noticed that Ree and I share the same taste in pasta, and so I've got another winner from her repertoire. Can't wait to share this with other P-Dub fans on the next Foodie Fans of The Pioneer Woman round-up.

Ree's Cajun Chicken Pasta (find her original take here)
Serves 4-6

Click here for printable recipe

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb fettuccine pasta
3+ tsp Cajun Spice seasoning (I just kept adding and tasting as I went along)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 green capsicum, sliced
1 red capsicum, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
3 tsp minced garlic
4 small tomatoes, diced
2.5 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp cayenne pepper / chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish

1. Sprinkle 2 tsp of the cajun spice mix over the chicken pieces, then toss to coat. Heat 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of the oil in a pan and brown the chicken over high heat. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Add the remaining oil and butter into the same pan, then saute the peppers, onion and garlic with more cajun seasoning, along with some salt. Do this over high heat because you want the veggies to really caramelize and start to get dark (flavor!). 3. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 secs. Pour in the chicken stock now, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the sticky bits incorporated into the sauce. Cook for 5-10 mins.

4. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in the cream. Keep whisking the saucing, and sprinkling in the spices per your taste. A dash more salt, lots of black pepper, and some chili powder too. 5. Add the chicken back, and continue to stir the sauce until the whole thing reaches a consistency you like - I just wait for the sauce to be able to coat the back of my wooden spoon.

6. Cook your pasta per the instructions on the box. Drain it and add it directly into the pan with the sauce. Turn off the heat, then toss the pasta, coating it completely with that awesome sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley/cilantro and serve.

Verdict: Guess what? No cheese needed with this pasta! You're surprised because usually all my pasta dishes are smothered in cheesy goodness - and there's nothing wrong with that! But this time, I've got a dish that's a crowd-pleaser as well as a me-pleaser. Lots of vegetables and lean protein made oh-so-delectable thanks to a zingy sauce and gorgeous pasta. This pasta comes DH-approved, so you know I'm going to be making this again and again. And again. My Nintendo Wii Fit virtual instructor is not going to like seeing that spike in my BMI again. But you can't stop love, and I love this.I think I'm also going to submit this carby work of art to the next round-up of Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by the lovely Ruth of Once Upon A Feast.