Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Talapia with Lemon Vinaigrette

I have been on a seafood kick lately. I've been craving fish and lobster and anything from the sea, really. Thank goodness I watched the Food Network over the weekend! I saw this recipe and I tried it last night. The fish with the vinaigrette was delicious. I enjoyed the radicchio and white beans, however it is an acquired taste as the radicchio is quite bitter. You must try this very delicious and healthy meal. You'll love it!


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 small head radicchio, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup fish broth (you can substitute with chicken broth)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (5 to 6-ounce) whitefish fillets, such as tilapia
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe below
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the radicchio and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and broth, and cook until the beans are heated through, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Season the radicchio mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm in a 200 degree oven.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 14-inch (or 2 smaller) nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper. Dredge the fillets in flour to coat completely. Shake of the excess flour and fry 3 fillets in each pan until they are golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Spoon the radicchio mixture over the center of the plates. Top with the fillets. Drizzle the vinaigrette over and serve immediately.


  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Blend the lemon juice, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper. You can freeze any remaining vinaigrette and use it for fish or chicken.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Homemade Ginger Ale

homemade ginger ale
My husband has been on a Ginger Ale kick lately but after I saw how much money he was spending on the soda, I decided to make homemade ginger ale. This version is quite simple to make and to make it even yummier, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a tasty Ginger Ale Float!

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

  • 2 cups ginger slices, peeled (1/8 inch thick)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 quart soda water
  • 1 lime cut in wedges
  • 4 mint sprigs
Mix ginger, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer. Reduce mixture by 50 percent until a syrupy consistency is reached. Keep in mind that the syrup will thicken as it cools. Strain warm syrup. Allow to cool.

In a tall glass of ice, add mint sprig and a ratio of 1 part ginger syrup to 6 parts soda water. Squeeze lime wedge and add to drink. Use more syrup if desired. Stir and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sautéed Kale

Sauteed Kale
My sister-in-law, Lindsey, attended the Vine to Dine culinary education event at the Sutter Home winery in Napa Valley last week. There, she learned the following sautéed kale recipe. The recipe below is as close as we could get to the original--however it has been tested and it is fabulous! I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical to have kale because I always thought of it as a garnish, but after tasting Lindsey's version, I was hooked.

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

  • 1 bunch of kale (about 1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A few grinds of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
Rinse kale well in a large bowl of cold water. Drain and cut off the tough stems. Cut leaves into 1/4-inch strips. There will be 3 to 4 tightly packed cups.
Feshly rinsed Kale

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently for about 20 seconds. Then add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the greens and cook stirring, for about 1 minute, until the kale begins to wilt and it gets coated with the oil, pepper and garlic.

sauteeing the kale Sauté the greens, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the greens darken slightly and are fairly tender. Season with the salt, pepper, and lemon juice and serve immediately.the finished product

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sear-Roasted Rib Steak with Garlic Butter

This Easter was a bit different for us because my mom and step dad left for Cabo San Lucas and my dad and step mom went to a Broadway show, which left me, my husband and my brother and his wife sans Easter food, as our parents usually cook it. But we did not despair because Lindsey, my sister-in-law, came to the rescue and made a scrumptious meal for us.

Originally she was going to cook a rack of lamb; however the lamb they sell here in California wasn't up to par. Instead, she made sear-roasted bistro-like rib steaks with sautéed kale, roasted rosemary potatoes and sautéed mushrooms. The entire combination was fabulous and we were all impressed with the steaks. They were full of flavor and quite tender. I think most of us are still in a food coma.


  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Ample pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 or 5 (8 to 10 ounces) boneless rib-eye steaks, about 1" to 1-1/4" thick, well-marbled and trim any excess fat
Chop the garlic finely. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon salt over the garlic and continue to chop it, occasionally smashing and smearing the garlic with the flat side of the knife, until the garlic becomes paste like. (Alternatively, mash the garlic and salt together in a mortar and pestle.)

Put the garlic paste, butter, thyme, and pepper in a small bowl. Fold the softened butter over and onto the garlic and thyme, mashing it down with the back of a spoon or spatula. Use a sheet of plastic wrap to help shape the butter into a log, wrap the log well with the plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use. (The garlic butter can be made up to 3 days ahead; it can also be frozen, well wrapped, for a couple of months.)

Melt half of the garlic-butter mixture in a small pan over medium heat. (Rewrap and save the other half for future use; it's great stuff under the skin of a chicken before roasting or tossing into the broth of steamed mussels.)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large ovenproof sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat until very hot. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Add the steaks to the pan and brown them well on 1 side, about 5 minutes. **Lindsey used two ovenproof sauté pans because the steaks were quite large**

Turn the steaks and brush them (or pour) liberally with the garlic butter. Finish cooking the steaks in the oven, brushing them occasionally with more garlic butter, until done, about another 5 minutes. (The time will vary depending on how you like your steaks cooked and how thick they are.)

Remove the steaks from the oven and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Spoon any remaining juices from the pan into a small bowl so that your guests can pour it onto the meat as well. You can do the same if you have any leftover garlic-butter.

Recipe courtesy Gordon Hamersley, Bistro Cooking at Home, Broadway Books, 2003

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunday Brunch: Ham & Asparagus Toasts

I love Easter Sunday Brunch. My family usually makes ham and tamales and my Tia Bea's potato salad, but these toasts are a new addition to our Easter Sunday brunches. I got the recipe from 30 Minute Meals and boy are they good and easy to prepare. A nice, crisp Riesling or a mimosa will compliment this very well!


  • 1 pound thin asparagus spears
  • Salt
  • 1 loaf chewy, crusty farmhouse style white bread, cut into 3/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon or grain mustard
  • 1 1/4 pounds boiled, baked or smoked ham, order thick slices at deli counter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fontina, shredded or sliced
Holding 1 spear at each end snap off the tough stem of asparagus. Use this spear as a guide line to trim the bundle with a sharp knife. Simmer asparagus in salted boiling water 3 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Cut asparagus to fit the size of the toasts.

Toast 8 thick slices of farmhouse style bread under a preheated broiler 6 inches from heat. Combine softened butter and mustard. Spread the toasted bread with mustard butter.

Cut sliced ham into smaller pieces to process. Grind the ham in your food processor. Spread the toast with ground ham. Arrange steamed asparagus spears on top of the layer of ham. Top each toast with a few grinds of black pepper and a mound of fontina cheese.

Return toasts to hot oven under broiler and cook toasts until cheese melts and lightly browns at edges. Arrange ham and asparagus toast on a platter and serve. Yummers!

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray, 30 Minute Meals.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Can you believe that I got a desperate craving for a hamburger on Good Friday? Jeez! Instead, I had sushi but I found a suitable replacement for my craving with this very addicting game, BurgerTime. For you old school peeps like me, you'll remember this Atari game....or was it Intellivision? Hmmm...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Beermaking with a Brew Kit - Part 2

Mmmm, beer....

Last month we left off after my husband and I began the first part of our beer making process (click here to see part 1). We brewed our wort, added the yeast and we left it alone to ferment. The yeast created a fiesta of foam--I think this was the bacteria feeding. Anyhoo, we placed the brew in a cool, dark place.

We let the yeast do its thing for 7 days. After all the foam subsided the next step is to bottle our beer! Our kit came with eight 20-ounce PET bottles and screw caps. As always, with beer making, we sanitized the bottles and the caps before bottling.

Sanitizing the beer bottles

After each bottle was sanitized, I added 2-1/2 teaspoons of white granulated sugar. I made a quick funnel with aluminum foil, or you can use a plastic funnel--just make sure to sanitize the funnel, too! A precaution here is to not add too much sugar as it will over carbonate the beer resulting in gushing or bursts of bottles. So follow the directions.

I'm adding the sugar Next, my husband held a bottle at an angle and he used the tap (attached to keg) to fill each bottle about 2 inches from the top. He then placed the caps and hand tightened them. I shook the bottles gently to help dissolve the sugar. at an angle, pour the beer from the tap into the bottle

The instructions say that we must give the beer a MINIMUM of 7 days to carbonate. So, we have to be patient and wait again. We placed the bottles in my mom's garage because it stays cool in there and it's generally dark. Princess and I can't wait to taste the beer!

Please check back with us in another week or so to find out how our beer came out. In the meantime, Princess, our old Chihuahua is going to keep an eye on the beer for us!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Prosciutto & Basil Wrapped Shrimp Kabobs

Grilled prosciutto & basil wrapped shrimpThis recipe actually came from our butcher at Iowa Meat Farms in San Diego. He gave Matthew the general idea and we just went with it. You only need three ingredients for this dish and if you're a shrimp lover, you'll enjoy this rendition of shrimp kabobs, Italian style.

INGREDIENTS (makes 4 kabobs)

  • 16 large shrimp, uncooked peeled and deveined, leave the tails on
  • 16 fresh basil leaves, washed and dried in a paper towel
  • 16 very thin slices of Prosciutto or Serrano ham (we used prosciutto)
  • 8 metal skewers (if using bamboo, soak them in water for 30 minutes first)
First, pre-heat your grill to medium-high for direct grilling. **You can also broil these babies on medium-high if you don't want to grill tonight.

Wrap each shrimp with one basil leaf. Then wrap a thin slice of prosciutto over the shrimp and basil. Repeat with the rest of the shrimp.

Skewer four shrimp with two skewers, about 1" apart to balance the shrimp (see picture below). skewering the shrimp

Grill the shrimp, turning often, until opaque, about 8 minutes.

grilling the shrimp kabobsThe prosciutto keeps your shrimp moist and the basil gives it a fresh taste. Serve immediately over steamed rice.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati Chili
I was intrigued by this recipe because I had never seen spaghetti noodles topped with chili. I first heard about Cincinnati Chili when I saw a show about it on the Food Network. Apparently this dish is huge in Cincinnati, Ohio. Then, in the PBS show, Americas Test Kitchen, they made the recipe and I just had to try it. Although I followed the recipe verbatim, the one below has a few changes, but it still tasted great.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 to 6)

  • 2 teaspoons table salt or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine (reserve a 1/2 cup for topping)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked, drained, and tossed with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 can red kidney beans (15-ounce), drained, rinsed, and warmed
  1. FOR THE CHILI: Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the ground chuck, stirring vigorously to separate the meat into individual strands. As soon as the foam from the meat rises to the top (this takes about 1 minute) and before the water returns to a boil, drain the meat into a strainer and set it aside.

    par-boiled ground beef
  2. Rinse and dry the empty saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and browned around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  3. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black pepper, cumin and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt.

    Spice mixture

    Cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds.
    Adding the spices
    Stir in the broth, water, vinegar, sugar, and tomato sauce, scraping the pan bottom to remove any browned bits.

  • Add the blanched ground beef and increase the heat to high. adding the beefAs soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili is deep red and has thickened slightly, about 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt and hot pepper sauce to taste. (The chili can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat before serving.)
    The chili, after an hour
  • TO SERVE: Divide the buttered spaghetti among individual bowls. Spoon the chili over the spaghetti and top with the cheese, beans, and onion. Serve immediately.

    Toppings: cheddar cheese, onions and kidney beans
  • Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    My Epicurean Journey to Tijuana

    The cava or cellar at the LA Cetto winery
    Oftentimes when people hear the name Tijuana, Mexico, the first thing they think about is either the border or illegal immigrants or partying and underage drinking for crazy Americans. And, yes, those are all true, but did you know that Tijuana has a growing restaurant scene, specially gourmet establishments, and Mexican wines and wine tasting is on the rise?

    Nathalie, me & mom at tasting wine The city itself is not pretty. It's congested, dirty and most of the buildings look like they are ready to collapse. However, it takes a trained eye to see the beauty beyond the buildings. One such place is the L.A. Cetto Winery. The bottling plant is located in Tijuana and it's open to the public. Wine tastings cost $2 per person and they have free winery tours before 2PM.

    Nathalie tasting wine for the first time L.A. Cetto has some very good wines, with the Nebbiolo as their flagship wine. Their reserved wines are excellent, but even their lower end wines such as Blanc de Blanc and the Riesling are fantastic. You can order L.A. Cetto wines here, but they are considerably cheaper if you buy them at the winery.

    After our 90 minute long wine tasting and tour, my mom treated us to a late lunch at Palma Azul restaurant located in the Aguas Caliente area of Tijuana. Although the service was slow and the prices a bit high, their food was fresh and really good.

    We first started with an appetizer of Marlin fish tacos with cheese. The tortillas were pan fried and it came with a spicy tomatillo sauce. That was a hit with all of us.

    My mom ordered the asparagus stuffed sole with a burre blanc sauce. It came with whipped sweet potatoes and thinly sliced Portobello mushrooms with reduced balsamic vinegar. Superb!Stuffed sole with asparagus

    My sister ordered the tortilla soup. It wasn't phenomenal, but it was pretty good home-cookin'. She still prefers Chili’s or The Prado's tortilla soup. Tortilla soup

    Finally, my husband ordered the fettuccini with grilled Salmon. The salmon was perfectly grilled and it was fresh. We could tell because it didn't even have that fishy, salmon smell. The fettuccini was cooked perfectly and the tomato sauce was not overpowering. fettuccini with grilled Salmon

    I had their mixed seafood cocktail. Although it was pretty good, I still prefer the seafood cocktails we get at another restaurant in Tijuana.

    For drinks, I had wine, my mom a pina colada, Matthew a Coca-Cola Light and my sister had a lemonade. The bill came out to $85, which is a lot for T.J. So, if you're going for a special dinner, then I would recommend this place, otherwise save your money. However I do recommend the LA Cetto winery because I find it fascinating and for $2 bucks you can taste some really great wines.

    L.A. Cetto Winery/Bottling plant is located at Av. Cañón Johnson No. 2108 Tijuana, 22130 Mexico; Phone: 00 52 6 685-30-31.

    Restaurant Palma Azul is located at Blvd. Salinas #11154 Col. Aviación, Tijuana, Mexico.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Grilled Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

    Whenever we have parties, my husband likes to make his now famous grilled pork tenderloin. He grills it indirectly for 1-1/2 to 2 hours and uses hickory wood chips to give it a smoky flavor. We bought huge tenderloin, about 5 lbs, that we cut into thirds. The following recipe is for a 1-1/2 to 2 lb. pork tenderloin. You can use either fresh Rosemary or fresh Thyme, either one works wonderfully and this will probably be the best grilled pork loin you've ever had.

    First, make the paste. For this you will need:

    • 1-1/2 to 2 lb. pork tenderloin
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh Rosemary leaves, woody stem removed
    • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
    • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
    • 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • Butcher string
    • Hickory wood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes
    In a food processor add the garlic cloves, the fresh Rosemary, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Process it until it forms a paste, similar to pesto. If it's too thick, add one or two more tablespoons of olive oil to the mixture and process it again. Add it to a small bowl and set aside.

    **You can replace the Rosemary with fresh Thyme, if you prefer. Both are terrific with pork.

    Second, butterfly the pork tenderloin:
    1. With a sharp knife, slice the pork tenderloin in half, lengthwise, about 3/4 of the way through. Do not cut all the way through.
    2. Slice the two sides in half again making sure not to go all the way through.
    3. Slather about 1/2 of the Rosemary paste inside the tenderloin. Then fold it back into shape.
    4. Tie the tenderloin with butcher string then cover the outside of the pork tenderloin with the remaining rosemary paste.
    Setting up the grill:

    Set up your grill for indirect grilling. Make sure you preheat the grill for 15 minutes first. You want it to be at medium-high heat, about 350 degrees (F).

    In the meantime, make a smoker pouch with heavy-duty aluminum foil and your drained wood chips. Prick several holes in the pouch and set it directly over the fire on the grill.

    Place the pork tenderloin on the grill. Place an aluminum drip pan or aluminum foil under the pork tenderloin to catch the fat drippings. Grill for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Turn the tenderloin frequently to evenly cook it and caramelize it. Let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing it. Serve immediately!