Portuguese filet of Swai

Portuguese Swai

J and I have been trying to eat more fish. Since one of my most favorites, seared tuna, is out at least until Baby Girl Tyler arrives in November, we’ve had to get creative. Last night, J found this super easy and really delicious Portuguese recipe from Food.com. We didn’t have any sole filets  on hand, so we swapped out Swai (not sure what Swai is, check out this link from Consumer Reports) and it was wonderful. Since we didn’t want to figure out how to divide an egg yolk, we just made the full sauce recipe. Which turned out to be a great idea because the sauce was equally delicious over brown rice!

Ingredients:
2 Swai fillets
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 sprigs parsley, minced
1 egg yolk

Directions:
Arrange fillet in broiler pan and sprinkle with a little lemon juice and dot with butter. Broil until fish begins to brown. While the fish is broiling, combine the remaining lemon juice, sherry, soy sauce, parsley, and egg yolk. Mix well. When the fish has browned, spoon the sauce mixture over fish and return to broiler until sauce begins to bubble. If you end up with more sauce than fish, like we did, add the sauce to a pan and heat on medium until bubbling. This ended up being perfect because the sauce on the fish soaked in.

My opinion:
With a side of brown rice and broccoli, this was a super light and tasty dish. In total, it took longer to cook the brown rice than to make the fish from start to finish. Next time, we’ll add more fresh parsley at the end.

Advertisements

Egyptian Lahma Bil Basal and Homemade Pita Bread

Lahma Bil Basal

It’s been raining here for a few days. When it rains, we often make dishes that require long simmer times. J was feeling adventurous and decided to try an Egyptian peasant dish he found on Food.com. I wanted to try my hand at homemade pita bread. Surprisingly, the bread turned out well. As usual, J’s dish was fantastic. It was an amazing meal.

Lahma Bil Basal ingredients:
1 lb stewing beef
4 yellow onions (sliced super thin, we used the food processor)
2 chicken bouillon cubes (yes, chicken. I promise this works)
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (do NOT use olive oil for this)
water
salt & pepper (we used a couple of turns of each)

Lahma Bil Basal directions:
Put the meat in saucepan over medium heat with butter and oil. Cook until lightly browned. Add all sliced onions, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper, bay leaf and stir around cooking on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Add water, about 1-1/2 cups, turn to low, cover and cook for at least 2 hours. (We cooked for about three total hours.)

Lahma Bil Basal
Check during cooking, add more water if too dry. Don’t be afraid to let a few bits brown, those add extra depth to the flavor. But the onions should give enough liquid with initial water you added. For the last half hour remove the lid and allow the dish to thicken. When finished you should have super tender beef with a thick oniony sauce. The onions cook down to create a thick rich sauce. Serve with rice, pita bread or your favorite pasta.

Pita Bread ingredients:
This is originally from this website and was super easy. (Note: your yeast packet might have slightly different directions. Follow those directions first.)
1 1/4 cup warm water (not boiling or hot, apparently it kills the yeast. Yes, I learned this the hard way.)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. oil

Pita Bread directions:
Add the warm water and yeast together. If your packet calls for adding sugar, add the sugar at the same time.
Homemade Pita Bread

After about 10 minutes when the yeast water is frothy, add the salt, oil and flour. Mix well.
Homemade Pita Bread

Turn the dough onto the counter and knead well to bring it all together. Feel free to add more flour as necessary. Divide the dough into eight equal parts. Roll each part into a ball and flatten into a six-inch circle with a rolling-pin.
Homemade Pita Bread
Flour a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place each rolled out circle on the floured surface and let rise for at least a half an hour. Heat your oven to 500 degrees. Peel the dough off the foil and put onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 4-8 minutes, (we cooked each side for 5 minutes) flipping halfway through. Stack on top of each other and cover loosely with dish towel to let steam escape.
IMG_4844

My opinion:
This was the perfect dish to have with a nice glass of syrah. The meat is fall apart tender and the gravy is melt in your mouth delicious. I thought it was best with the pita bread.

Nordstrom Tomato Soup

Nordstrom's Tomato Basil Soup

We don’t live anywhere near a Nordstrom’s or the next best place for tomato soup, La Madeline.  So we had to find a way to make it ourselves. Luckily, J found this recipe on Food.com. With a few tweaks, we could be back in San Antonio at La Madeline enjoying this soup by their fire.

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed
3 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes (84 ounces total) (diced will work too if you have a hard time finding whole, just make sure they aren’t seasoned!)
1 quart chicken stock (it’s better with stock but broth will work in a pinch)
1 pint heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add carrot and onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes, then add basil and cook until vegetables are completely soft, about 5 minutes more. Add tomatoes (including juices!) and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes.

IMG_4467

Allow the soup to cool somewhat, then purée until smooth in a food processor (Trust me, it’s much easier than in the blender).

IMG_4470

We skip this step because we don’t mind a few chunks, but if a smoother texture is what’ you’re after, strain the purée before returning to the pot.

IMG_4471

Add cream little by little over low heat, stirring gently. Do not boil it! Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve warm.

My opinion:
This makes more than we could ever eat, but it freezes beautifully and reheats wonderfully over the stove or in the crock pot. We’ve made this four or five times and it never disappoints. With a side of grilled cheese this is the perfect comfort food.

Shrimp Paesano

Note: this isn't the best photo. The shrimp is really closer to golden brown than burned. Promise. I was just too hungry to wait to take a better photo.

When J and I lived in San Antonio, we used to love to eat in Paesanos outdoor dining room. Especially in the middle of “winter” when they had the heat lamps going and the sunsets were amazing. We often ordered their signature dish, Shrimp Paesano (first dish on the link), which is amazing. Unfortunately, when we left from San Antonio, we couldn’t find a restaurant with similar flair in Columbia. After much trial and error, J finally recreated the dish for our recent anniversary after stumbling across this recipe online. It’s been about four years since I’ve eaten the real dish, but this recreation was so close I could almost see the beautiful sunset view.

Shrimp Ingredients:
2 pints half-and-half cream
salt & pepper , to taste
1 lb jumbo shrimp, about 20,  peeled, deveined, tails left on (We actually removed them for easier eating)
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Sauce Ingredients:
1 egg yolk
1 ½ cups butter, cold, cut into 1 inch pieces (cold is the key!)
1 medium lemon, juiced
4 garlic cloves , minced
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

Shrimp Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 400º F. Soak shrimp in half and half for at least 30 minutes. Drain shrimp and dust lightly in flour. Sauté shrimp in vegetable oil for 5 minutes on one side in a medium-high skillet. Do not let the shrimp burn.  You will have to do in batches so that you do not overcrowd. Do not turn shrimp. Remove shrimp and place in a baking dish, sautéd side down, and place in pre-heated oven. Turn to BROIL and broil for 5 minutes.

Sauce Direction:
Mix egg yolk and lemon juice in half the butter in a sauce pan and stir over low heat until butter is melted; take off heat. Add garlic and remaining butter and return pan to heat. Stir briskly until butter melts and sauce thickens. (Add a small amount of half and half to thicken if you like.) Add chives and parsley (we were out). Pool sauce in plates and top with linguini and shrimp. Serve immediately.

My Opinion:
As mentioned above, I love this dish. It’s the perfect meal. Light and heavy at the same time. The sauce is decadent and delicious with bread. J makes a lot of great dishes, but this one is about perfect.

Pumpkin Ravioli

I’m learning to like pumpkin. It’s not that I don’t like it, so much as I’m ambivalent, sometimes it’s great. Other times, not so much. We didn’t want to waste the wonderful pumpkins we got from the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival, so after checking out a number of recipes, we settled on this Pumpkin Ravioli recipe from Food.com. Only after we’d settled on this plan, did I learn that pumpkins for eating are different from carving pumpkins. Luckily, Austin American-Statesman food writer, Addie Broyles, helped me plan. So we carved and then roasted the pieces.

  • We went from this:To this:

Ingredients:
8 tbsp Butter (one stick)
1 tbsp Sage, Fresh, chiffonade8 oz Pumpkin1 medium Yellow Onion, diced1/2 cup Pine Nuts (Toasted. We used olive oil and salt and pepper)12 oz Wonton Wraps (one package)2 eggs3 Roma Tomatoes, diced (the last from our garden!)3 tsp Lemon Juice (or half a fresh lemon)

Directions:

1. Add 1 tablespoon butter to each pumpkin half, and season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon butter to onion, season with salt and pepper and wrap in aluminum foil. In a preheated 350-degree oven, roast onion and pumpkin, cut-side up, until completely soft and somewhat caramelized, about 45 minutes. (If using roasted, roast pumpkin first at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove skin and dice. Sautee in butter salt and pepper with the diced yellow onion. Then move on to step 2.)

2. Add cooked pumpkin and onion in a food processor (we used a blender), pulsing until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer pumpkin puree into a bowl, add half of the toasted pine nuts and 1 beaten egg and stir to combine.

3 Cover wonton wrappers with a damp cloth. Assemble bowl of pumpkin puree, beaten egg, pastry brush and a sheet tray dusted with flour. Lay out 1 wonton wrapper and place a heaping tablespoon of pumpkin puree in the middle. Brush around the filling with beaten egg and cover with another wonton wrapper. Press edges. Place raviolis on a sheet tray and put in freezer.

4. In a small sauce pot, add remaining butter and cook on medium heat until the butter bubbles and turns brown. Remove from heat and add tomatoes, sage and a squeeze of lemon. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Cook ravioli in boiling water until they float. (Note: This happens quickly!) Transfer ravioli to 4 warm bowls and drizzle with brown sage butter sauce. Top with remaining toasted pine nuts.

My Opinion:
The first taste was off, but by the third I couldn’t stop eating. Some bites were very pumpkin flavored, others more subtle. It’s filling, not terribly difficult and a lovely fall flavored dish. Another few dashes of salt and pepper made a difference. J added Parmesan cheese. We will be making it again.