Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lemon-Artichoke Cod

Tonight I attempted to make Cooking Light's Lemon-Artichoke Halibut en Papillote (in simple terms, halibut baked in parchment paper).  I have made this recipe on numerous occasions because it's quick, healthy and tastes good.  I couldn't find halibut at Trader Joes so I bought Alaskan cod thinking that would work just as well, I was wrong.  I am not sure what the problem was but the fish got soggy, started falling apart and made me want to scrap the whole thing and run next door to Chipotle.

Instead of the last minute taco run, I decided to use the other piece of cod that I was saving for tomorrow nights dinner and try the recipe out in a skillet.  Thankfully it worked and ended up tasting great.  I would highly recommend the original dish with the halibut but this tasted just us a good and as it turns out, is even faster to throw together.

I served mine over a little bit of leftover quinoa from last nights stir fry dinner and some leftover sauteed green beans.  For those of you that haven't tried quinoa, it's a great substitute for rice or couscous. Quinoa is low in fat and high in fiber, vitamins, and omega 3-fatty acids. Give it a try!

 Lemon-Artichoke Cod
 ** modified from Cooking Light recipe above

Serves 4 (I just made a 1/4 of the recipe)
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

4 (6 oz) cod fillets
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 c. fresh salsa
1 (9 oz) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (I used a can)
juice of one lemon

Heat skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Season cod fillets with salt and pepper and then add to the hot skillet. Squeeze the juice from one lemon over the fillets.  Cook for about 4 minutes on one side.  Flip the fillets over and cook for another 4 minutes.  Add the artichoke hearts and the salsa to the skillet and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove fish from the skillet and top with salsa and artichokes. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Girl and the Goat

I'm a huge Top Chef fan.  When Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard's new restaurant Girl and the Goat opened in the West Loop back in July I couldn't have been more excited.  Luckily Brady called opening day and was able to score us a table a month and a half later.  Finally, last night Brady and I and his friends Jeremy and Laura got to visit the highly anticipated new restaurant.  Thankfully, it was well worth the wait!

The concept behind the restaurant is shared plates focusing on local ingredients and big flavors. The menu is divided up into three sections- vegetables, fish and meat.  And yes, in case you are wondering, there is goat on the menu.

Our group of four shared the following:
corney goat bread with whipped goat cheese and corn relish
whipped back fat with bourbon onions and biscuits
crispy soft shell crab with sweet corn, lime and chili aioli
smoked goat pizza with tart cherry sofrito, black kale and ricotta
grilled lamb ribs with sweet onion bbq sauce, grilled avocado, and pistachio picada
goat cheese bavaroise with brown sugar cake and blueberries
frozen chocolate fudge with olive oil ice cream and Dragonfruit beer

My personal favorites were the corney goat bread (which I plan to try and recreate) and the smoked goat pizza.  I also really enjoyed the goat cheese bavariose which tasted like a rich cheesecake and once the server pointed out there were blueberries and cake hidden under all the creamy goodness I was even more pleased.  The only dish that I wasn't a big fan of was the whipped back fat.  The waitress told us it tasted like the best cheeseburger you have ever had so obviously we were sold, disappointingly, it did not taste like the best cheeseburger I have ever eaten.

While the food and atmosphere at the restaurant were great, the real highlight of the evening was realizing that Stephanie Izard was actually there!  She was working the food line, checking dishes as they went out to the tables.  Thanks to Laura's bravery we were able to meet Stephanie and get a picture with her, she was incredibly busy when we walked up to her but she couldn't have been nicer.  Definitely a great way to end our dining experience at one of the hottest new restaurants in Chicago!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bison Burgers with Gorgonzola, Olive & Spinach Pasta Salad

While vacationing at a cabin in Bemidji, Minnesota over the 4th of July with Brady and his family, I had one of the best burgers.  The resorts burger patty was made with bison, wild rice, and portabello mushroom and then topped with caramelized onions and gorgonzola cheese- so good!

If you haven't tried bison, I would highly recommend it.  Bison meat (otherwise known as buffalo meat) not only tastes good, it's nutritious! Bison is high in protein, zinc, iron and lower in fat and calories than grilled chicken breasts. Bison meat may be difficult to find in some grocery stores but most butcher shops should carry it. We bought ours at Whole Foods (Brady and I contemplated frantically running around the store like they do on Top Chef but then opted for a beer in the bar area prior to shopping instead- yes our Whole Foods has a bar!)  Whole Foods usually isn't the most economical place to shop but the bison meat was surprising inexpensive at $5.99/Ib. 

Bison Burger with Wild Rice

Prep Time: 45 minutes 
Serves 4

1 pound ground bison (buffalo)
1/2 cup cooked wild rice- I would suggest a quick cook version such as Uncle Bens
1/2 cup diced portabella mushroom
2 T. barbecue sauce
1 T. paprika
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
4 whole wheat hamburger buns, toasted
1 yellow onion, sliced
crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Heat a small skillet with a tsp of olive oil or butter. Saute sliced onion over medium heat for about twenty minutes or until caramelized.  You may want to add a tsp of sugar to help the onions caramelize.  Meanwhile, cook the wild rice as the box instructs.  Once the rice has cooled, place meat, rice, portabello, barbecue sauce, paprika, mustard, garlic, pepper and salt in a large bowl.  Gently combine, without overmixing, until evenly incorporated.  Form into 4 equal patties, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.

Heat grill to medium.  Spray grill with cooking spray to avoid sticking.  Grill the burgers until desired doneness- I would recommend 5-6 minutes per side. 

While burgers are on the grill slightly toast the hamburger buns on a separate portion of the grill or in the oven.  To assemble the burgers top each patty with caramelized onions and a few crumbles of gorganzola cheese.

Gorgonzola, Olive & Spinach Pasta Salad
 ** Brady found this recipe on an unknown blog so I can't give credit where credit is due- sorry!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

1/2 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
15 pimento stuffed green olives, halved- we used more because we both love olives
1-2 oz gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
3 T. olive oil
3 cups dry, whole wheat pasta, cooked and rinsed to cool
Black pepper to taste

In a medium-sized bowl combine the spinach, olives, cheese and olive oil.  Stir to break up the cheese so it is evenly distributed.  Add the drained pasta to bowl and toss to coat. Sprinkle with black pepper.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

This is a great recipe that I got while taking a cooking class at the Chopping Block.  The instructor used chicken wings and while they tasted great and are perfect for party food I thought that chicken breasts would be more practical and healthier for an easy weeknight dinner. 

Just a warning, this dish definitely has some heat but for those that don't enjoy spicy food as much as I do use less jalapeno pepper or none at all. 

Jamaican Jerk Chicken
**adapted from the Chopping Blocks recipe

Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes  (10 minutes to make marinade, 30 minutes to marinate chicken breasts and 30 minutes to bake or about 12 minutes to grill)

Serves 4

1/2 red onion, diced
4 or 5 green onions, diced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
2 tsp chopped thyme
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp sugar
3 T. soy sauce
1 T. olive oil
1 T. cider vinegar
4 chicken breasts

Process the first 11 ingredients in the food processor. Put chicken breasts in a ziplock bag, pour in sauce and marinate for at least 30 minutes (can marinate overnight if desired).  Grease baking dish with cooking spray and bake at 375 for 30 minutes or grill 5-6 minutes on each side.

Serve with cilantro and lime wedges as a garnish.

Suggested side dishes that I have made in the past are sweet potato fries (yum!), Caribbean slaw, or couscous with black beans, red pepper, a little lime juice and jerk seasoning.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Shrimp and Summer Vegetables with Pistachio Pesto

I actually created this blog months ago and then life got busy (all good things) and I put it on the back burner for a bit. But I am back and ready to start blogging about the good food coming out of my small apartment kitchen.

This past Saturday I ventured to the farmers market in Lincoln Park. I went without a plan (which was a bit challenging as I love a well organized list) and ended up finding the majority of the ingredients for what turned out to be a great summer dish. It started with a bunch of fresh basil and after a few laps around the farmers market, Shrimp and Summer Vegetables with Pistachio Pesto was born!

For a fun side dish we made Bruschetta with Fresh Ricotta, Honey and Pistachios. This dish is my successful recreation of an appetizer at Frasca, a local pizza restaurant in Lakeview. It was wonderful but I don't think I can brag too much as there are only 4 ingredients!

Shrimp and Summer Vegetables with Pistachio Pesto
**Pistachio Pesto recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Prep Time: 30 minutes- Although I am not going to lie, it took Brady and I close to an hour due to some technical difficulties with the Cuisinart.

Serves: 4

For the pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
4 Tbsp, shelled, roasted pistachios (you could also substitute pine nuts)
1/2 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup of fresh Parmesan cheese

For the pasta:
8 oz penne or fusilli pasta (I used fresh homemade pasta from the farmers market and while fantastic I am sure the dish would be just as good with dried pasta)
1 pound fresh medium size shrimp, deveined and shells removed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 yellow heirloom tomato, halved and then sliced
1 red heirloom tomato, halved and then sliced
1 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise and then sliced

Start by boiling water in a large pot. Combine basil, pistachios, salt, and garlic in a food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer basil mixture to a small bowl and set aside.

Slice tomatoes and squash and wash and devein the shrimp. Add pasta to boiling water. While pasta is cooking heat a medium size skillet with 1/2 T. olive oil and saute minced garlic. Once garlic is browned add sliced tomatoes and squash and saute. Add shrimp to the skillet and cook till done- about 4 minutes.

Remove 1/4 cup of pasta water and add to the basil mixture as well as 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Drain pasta water and add the vegetable/shrimp mixture to the pasta, toss pasta with pesto sauce. Serve with freshly grated parmesan.

Bruschetta with Fresh Ricotta, Honey and Pistachios

Fresh baguette
1 cup fresh ricotta (Don't use the ricotta that you would buy in the dairy section next to the sour cream. Try and find the fresh stuff, it made a huge difference. I found mine in a small container in the deli section.)
1/4 cup chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to broil. Slice the baguette and place on cooking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes on each side. Monitor the bread as you don't want it to burn, just get nice and toasty.

Spoon about a 1/2 Tablespoon of ricotta onto each piece of bread. Sprinkle each piece of bread with chopped pistachios and then drizzle with honey.