Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chilled Cajun Cod Nicoise Salad



Thus begins part two of our "It is hotter than Hades" food series. :) Today was so hot and humid I would have gladly spent part of it locked in a freezer. I hate cooking on days like this, but we've gotta eat. Since I also did not feel like getting in the car that has no air conditioning in order to go to the grocery store, I also had to play "let's experiment with weird random stuff in the fridge/freezer." Thus, I give you "Chilled Cajun Cod Nicoise Salad" which bears no real resemblance to Nicoise except for the green beans (which started off purple--see below).


INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
  • 2.5. filets cod or other flaky fish (I used frozen cod, but fresh would be better!)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • purple green beans (incidentally, purple beans just turn green when you cook 'em, so don't bother unless you plan on eating them raw)
  • red-leaf lettuce
  • cajun spice (I used Penzey's, but you could also make your own)
  • salt (enough for a rub--1 tsp should do it)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (can substitute olive oil)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • juice of half lemon
  • 2 tsp champagne vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • white pepper
DIRECTIONS
  • rub both sides of cod filets with kosher salt and cajun seasoning (to taste) and set aside
  • blanch purple green beans, being sure to transfer them to an ice water bath
  • slice granny smith apple into thin slices
  • once green beans are cool, put in a plastic container along with the apple slices
  • drizzle lemon juice, champagne vinegar, olive oil and white pepper over the apple/bean mixture (I like to use a plastic container with a lid and then just shake it up to coat everything).
  • refrigerate apple/bean mixture
  • heat butter in frying pan over medium heat
  • pan fry each side of the filets for approx 2 minutes, setting in the spices
  • pour fresh lime juice over the filets, cover pan, and poach for approx. 5 min over low heat (add water if necessary)--Cooking time may be less for fresh cod
  • when cooked (it should flake apart), drain cod, and put in a container for refrigeration and chill for approx. 1 hr
  • when ready to serve, wash and tear red leaf lettuce and place on plates. Arrange apples, beans and cod in a design of your liking, pour residual dressing from the apple/bean mixture over entire salad.
  • SERVE!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chard and Chevre Wontons




It is true that necessity is the mother of invention. This is one of those "random things I had in my fridge" recipes that turned out pretty well. I was looking for something relatively healthy, quick, and "summery" (meaning, not meat pie or mac n' cheese). We have a great Farmer's Market here, and on Saturday I had picked up some rainbow chard, locally made black pepper chevre, cilantro, and a sweet green pepper. The cilantro is optional, but I found it really mediated the slight bitterness of the chard (as did the green pepper). The chevre is scrumptious and provides a bit of tang. I also used lemon pepper (my "summery" spice of choice) to give it just a tad more zip. The result was a really well-balanced filling with a crispy and light texture.

THE INGREDIENTS

NOTE: The amount I used is for ONE PERSON (roughly eight wontons).
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 a sweet green pepper, choppped (or whole small pepper)
  • 4-5 large leaves rainbow chard, finely chopped (stems too)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
  • chevre
  • lemon pepper and sea salt (to taste)
  • wonton wrappers
  • water
  • 3-5 tablespoons olive oil
DIRECTIONS
  • Saute onion in 1-2 tbls of olive oil over medium heat until golden
  • Add green pepper and cook for an additional minute
  • Finally add chard and cilantro. Cook for approx. three minutes, shaking pan or stirring with a spatula. *do not overcook chard--it should be crunchy, colorful, and not wilted.*
  • Season to taste with sea salt and lemon pepper.

  • Allow mixture to cool slightly before filling wonton skins.
  • Place 1 tsp. to 1.5 tsps of mixture in the center of wonton skin. Place a dollop of chevre on top of mixture.
  • Wrap wonton according to package directions or your best attempt. :) I used water to seal, but egg whites will also work. As you can see, I need some work on my wonton folding skills.
  • In frying pan, heat at least 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • pan-fry wontons, allowing each side to get crispy (make sure your oil is hot enough)
  • remove wontons from pan, and drain the excess oil on a paper towel
  • serve hot, over a bed of remaining chard mixture (if there is any leftover).