Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mediterranean Poached Fish

I love fish. Shrimp. Crab. Salmon. Cod. You name it, I love it. I wanted to do something light and healthy last night since we have kind of strayed from eating healthy and eating quite fattening foods lately. I decided to try my hand at poaching a fish this time around, because Dave usually grills fish any time we get something larger than a shrimp. We took a journey to Whole Foods, since I have found their fish to be exquisite and decided to get a few Cod filets. There are quite a few ways you can poach a fish...a few recipes to be exact. Since Whole Foods has such a wonderful olive bar, I decided to take a Mediterranean approach. Last summer I preserved multiple jars of diced tomatoes and used those as part of my broth along with wine. The result was an excellent healthy meal that I hope you all enjoy!

4 cod filets
1 small fennel bulb, sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
1 cup marinated olives, sliced in half
2 tbsp capers
2 small cans of diced tomatoes (or jars of freshly canned diced tomatoes)
1 ½ cups of dry white wine
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, saute the fennel until wilted. Add the garlic and continue sauteing for about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the white wine and bring to a simmer. Add the two cans of tomatoes, thyme and salt and pepper.  Gently stir in the olives and capers. Bring to a slow boil (medium to low heat). Gently submerge the each of the fillets into the broth making sure not to stir too roughly. Cover and let cook for about 10 – 15 minutes.  Very gently sprinkle the parsley over the broth and push into the broth to submerge the parsley trying not to disturb the fish (otherwise it will break). Serve whole filets over a bed of rice or quinoa with a good portion of the broth ladled over it. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Lil Smokie Stuffed Jalapeno

This past Superbowl Sunday, I didn't really feel like doing much in the way of cooking a large meal. We just recently purchased a deep fryer and with the homemade raviolis I made last Christmas, we decided to just do appetizers. We made deep fried raviolis with marinara sauce, Italian sausage stuffed mushrooms, and these lil babies, Lil Smokie Stuffed Jalapeno's wrapped with bacon. Of course found the inspiration on Pinterest, and changed the recipe up a bit, but they turned out pretty good. We used a whole piece of bacon which we found to be way to much so for the recipe I cut it back to half a piece of bacon. Dave also has a built in smoker in his grill and used hickory chips as his smoke. You can spice it up and use mesquite, applewood or what ever other kind of chip you prefer. All in all, they turned out quite yummy.

12 large jalapenos, halved and seeded
6 bacon strips, cut into half
8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 small shallot, minced finely
½ cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
24 lil smokies

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, Monterey jack cheese and shallots until well blended. Take about a tablespoon of the filling, maybe a bit more and spoon into a halved jalapeno. Take a lil smokie and place on top of the cream cheese mixture. Wrap a half piece of bacon around the jalapeno and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat until all jalapenos are wrapped. We placed on a rack and our grill has a built in smoker. We smoked them for about 2 hours at about 245 degrees or until the bacon was crispy. You could also do this in the oven, but I find that the bacon never gets crisp enough for me. You could try it at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Basil Pesto Panko Crusted Pork Chops

My BFF and I have made this a weekly ritual. Aside from the occasional tired meal...where we used boxed items, we try to make a meal from scratch and go all out completely enjoying each others company, drinking wine and just having a good night in general. This past week, we purchased some pork chops from Sams digress just a bit, have you seen the meat from Sam's Club? These pork chops were about 2 inches thick!! Gorgeous to say the least. But back on point. Last fall, at the end of the harvest, we pulled up all of the basil and made basil pesto and froze it. We pulled basil pesto out and decided to use that as our "egg wash" and coat the chops in panko. We whipped up a mushroom alfredo and with the pesto that was not contaminated with the raw pork, we mixed it into the pasta and served that as a side. They were excellent and I hope you all enjoy!

Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
4 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pork chops
5 or 6 thick cup boneless pork chops
1 – 2 cups panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

For the pesto, combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. Add the garlic, pulse a few times more. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  In two separate bowls, place the pesto in one and the bread crumbs in another. Coat each chop with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Take one chop and coat in the pesto on all sides, transfer to the dish with the panko bread crumbs. Make sure all areas are coated. Place on a cooking sheet. Repeat until all pork chops are covered. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pork chops for about an hour or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.