Friday, October 30, 2009

Wood-Grilled Salmon

This past weekend Matt and I watched an episode of Cooks Country on PBS. I usually don't watch cooking shows on PBS because they are on at weird times here in San Diego, but at the moment all we do is stay in the house and take care of the baby, so we stumbled upon it. In this particular episode they grilled salmon over cedar wood chips. Both of us thought that the recipe deserved to be made by us. I have to say that we were not disappointed at all. The salmon was perfectly cooked and it had just the right amount of cedar smoke. You *must* use the cedar chips for this recipe; don't even think about using hickory or mesquite. I paired the salmon with Jasmine rice and braised collard greens with pancetta. The meal was just divine! We will definitely be making the salmon again.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 4 skin-on salmon fillets (each 6 to 8 ounces and 1 1/4 inches thick)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups wood chips , soaked for 15 minutes to 30 minutes
  1. Combine sugar, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic in small bowl. Pat salmon dry with paper towels. Brush flesh side of salmon with oil and sprinkle with sugar mixture.
  2. Make four 7- by 5-inch trays using heavy-duty aluminum foil. Using tip of knife, perforate bottom of each tray. Divide wood chips among trays and place salmon skin-side down on top of wood chips.
  3. Place trays with salmon over hot fire and grill, covered, until center of each fillet is still just translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove trays from grill.
  4. Slide metal spatula between skin and flesh of fish and transfer to platter. Serve with Jasmine rice or your favorite side dish.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Panko Fried Pork Chops

Sometimes the easiest thing to make are the hardest for me because I tend to either over cook it, over think it, or just over do it. Take pork chops, for example. Simply, you just season the chops and fry. But I always try to do fancy stuff with them like brining them or making fancy sauces, but somehow I tend to over cook the chops. Well, I finally decided to make my chops as simple as possible, and it finally worked! The key to this recipe are the Panko breadcrumbs. There really is no substitute and if you've never had Panko-fried-anything, I think you'll become a fan. I served my chops with potato dumplings and a simple tomato and cucumber salad. It was a hit with my hubby and my brother-in-law.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • McCormick Monterrey Seasoning (or your favorite poultry or meat seasoning)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 8 thin cut pork chops
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)

Create three stations for the breading process. Place the flour and a pinch of salt and pepper in a shallow dish and mix to combine.

Scramble the eggs in a large bowl and mix with one teaspoon of milk and a little salt and pepper.

Next, place panko crumbs in a shallow dish and mix in 1 teaspoon of the Monterrey seasoning mix.

Salt and pepper pork chops. First dredge the pork chops in flour and shake off excess. Next, dip in the egg mixture. Lastly, coat with Panko crumbs. Set the pork chops on a tray lined with wax paper. Once you've breaded all the chops, place in fridge for 15 minutes. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Fry chops for about 4 to 5 minutes per side or until golden brown. Do not overcook; these will cook very quickly.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Maniladas with White Cheese Sauce and Tomatillo Sauce

I gave birth to my baby girl, Stella, on October 1, 2009. As you can imagine, I have had no time to cook nor have I had the urge to cook as my husband and I have been taking care of this little creature. But finally last week I decided to make something from scratch, and although there's a lot of steps to this dish, it goes by really fast. The cheese sauce is actually my favorite and you can use it as a sauce for almost anything, including lasagna and macaroni. I saw (and got) this recipe from the "Cooking for Real" show on the Food Network. It's an unusual take on enchiladas + manicotti, but the combination works and the tomatillo sauce really makes a difference, so go ahead and give it a try!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 to 6)

  • 1 (8-ounce) package manicotti shells
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
For the Tomatillo sauce:
  • 1 pound tomatillos, quartered
  • 1 small red onion, quartered
  • 1 jalapeno, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the cheese sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream, room temperature
  • 2 cups grated fontina cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Boil manicotti in salted water for 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water and set pasta aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat and mix in chicken, tomatoes, cilantro and sour cream. Set aside. To make the Tomatillo Sauce: Place tomatillos, onion, jalapeno and garlic in a baking dish. Toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatillos turn golden around the edges and are soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and blend ingredients together until smooth. Use reserved pasta water to thin sauce, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To make the cheese sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Add cheese and nutmeg and stir until melted. Season sauce with salt, to taste.

To assemble: Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Stuff manicotti tubes with chicken mixture and assemble in a 9 by 12-inch baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over the top. Bake 30 minutes until cheese is bubbling. Drizzle tomatillo sauce on Maniladas before serving.