Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tuna Salad (Not your Grandmother's) with Asian Dressing or How Not to be Afraid of Cooking Fish for YOU

Cook your tuna as you like...I like it fairly rare.

A piece of fish or two is a delicious, smart, economical, and healthy buy for the solo cook.  To begin with, you can buy fish by the piece.  You  not only get exactly the amount you need, but you get to pick your fish and talk to the fishmonger.   You might even get to talk to other people in line.  What are they buying?  How are they cooking it?  Ask them.  Soon they'll be asking you.

Fish inspires fear in many cooks:
  • Is it fresh? (It should smell good if it's fresh.) 
  • How do you cook it?  (If in doubt, drizzle with olive oil/salt/pepper,  saute/grill ten minutes per inch -5 if in sauce- and squeeze a bit of lemon on top at the table.  Some folks like salmon or tuna medium or rare.)  Unsure?  Cut it and look.  Is it opaque and or flakey (if a white fish)?  Then it's done. 
  • Will it have bones?  (Make sure you have a good fillet, but still be careful.) 
  • I don't know that kind of fish.  (So ask.)  Start with salmon and tuna.  They're bigger and more forgiving than skinny sole fillets..which are actually about the fastest thing in the world to cook.
To see some helpful videos about cooking fish, click here. (Free 7-day trial available.)
    Shopping tip:  If you use the same place each time you buy fish, you'll come to trust them and they'll come to know you.

    For the solo cook, I recommend buying two pieces of fish.  Cook them both at the same time and use the second piece for a salad or sandwich or snack the next day.  Cooked salmon is great stirred into almost done scrambled eggs; it also makes a great spread/dip.  (Mix into softened cream cheese, dill, onion, etc. and serve with bread or crackers.)  Leftovers create the need for invention and  the practice of invention makes a good cook.  When I made this salad, my husband liked it better than the original meal and said he'd eat it every week.  Interesting?

    Here's the meal my tuna salad came from. I made an extra tuna steak and had enough salad for two, in fact.

    I ran out of asparagus or would have used that in the salad.  Instead, I cooked a few green beans in the microwave.

    Wine?  Dry riesling.  The Washington state ones might be more available than the German ones, but you can always ask.  If you can't find dry (above 10% alcohol), try any riesling and see what you think.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    What to do with Old Bread--Make Bread Pudding

     Happy Spring!  Traveling and  moving have kept me away ...Thanks for being patient. 

    When you're the only one in the kitchen, it's hard to have bread. Divide; freeze.  Buy rolls.  Or buy baguette, eat some, and then make...

      Bread Pudding with Apples, Raisins, Brandy and Ice Cream--Oh Yeah  4 servings, but who's counting?

      1/2 day-old baguette, sliced into pieces 1" thick (about 12 slices)
      1/4 c softened butter, plus 1T for greasing the baking dish
      1/2 large tart apple, sliced (leave peel on) Note: Spring berries could be used as well.
      1/2 t cinnamon (I like Chinese or Vietnamese cinnamon--go to Penzey's if you can for spices.)
      Pint of milk
      1/4 c sugar
      4 eggs, well beaten
      4T brandy, optional
      4 small scoops vanilla ice cream, optional

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
      2. Butter (grease) a 2qt casserole or oven-safe bowl.
      3. Butter lightly each piece of bread and place one layer of bread at bottom of baking dish.  Top with a few raisins and pieces of apple.  Sprinkle with cinnamon. 
      4. Beat together milk, sugar and eggs.   Add a pinch of cinnamon. Pour 1/3 of mixture over bread layer.
      5. Add another layer of bread, apples, raisins, cinnamon, and top with milk mixture.  Repeat.  If there is any of the milk mixture (custard) remaining, pour it into the dish.
      6. Place baking dish in a larger baking dish (4qt rectangular works well if you've used a 2 qt rectangular Pyrex-type baking dish-or use a roasting pan) and pour hot water (bain marie -water bath--this ensures even and slow cooking) into the larger dish until the water is about halfway up the dish of pudding.  Cover pudding with two layers of aluminum foil and pinch around the edges for a snug fit.
      7. Carefully place the pans in oven.  (Alternately, place waterless pans in oven and pour hot water from large pitcher into bigger pan to avoid spilling.)
      8. Let bake 45 minutes.  Remove aluminum foil and let bake another 15 minutes or so until custard is set and bread is golden.
      9. Remove pudding from water bath and place it a on cooling rack. Let sit 15 minutes.  Serve warm with a splash of brandy and  a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

      Wednesday, May 4, 2011

      Mother's Day Brunch -- A Lesson from Cooking with Music

      In honor of Mother's Day, here's a reprint of one of my favorite brunch posts from More Time at the I finish moving and travel.  Have a wonderful day!

        Here's a link to my article, "Quiche 101"  --Make some quiche!

      Today was the first summer session of Cooking with Music at my house, which is a group of lessons or classes that combine food, culture, and music from specific countries or cultures.  French was first up--


      Hors-d'oeuvres (appetizers):   Fromage avec pain  -- Cheese with Bread
      Entree  (First Course)  Salad Printemps avec vinaigrette dijonnaise-  Spring Salad with mustard vinaigrette or....Everyday Chopped Salad (from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food--we used the on-line video)
      Plat principal  (Main Course)  Quiche  -Cooking with Music Quiche (Lesson on Pate Brisee; quiche w/ bacon and pruscuitto)
      Dessert (Dessert)  Mousse au Chocolat -Chocolate Mousse with Whipped Cream and Strawberries

      Beginning French Lesson was a great online video from Alain Le Lait

      We began with

      Comment ca va?
      Bien!  Tres Bien!  Et vous?
      Pas mal.

      And so on.

      (Alain:  They loved Josette!)

      I passed out notebooks and each student had a different color and their photo on the front.  Inside were maps of the world, Europe, info on the country of France, links to all of the sites we used in the lessons, all of the recipes and notes, and some coloring pages for the younger ones.

      We went over the geography of France first.  Where was it?   While we did that, we listened to French folk songs...  But soon, if we wanted to eat before supper time, we needed to begin.  We made the mousse first and got it in the frig.   Next, we learned to make pastry dough ( Pate Brisee) and quiche filling.  That went in the oven while we watched a video on how to make chopped salad and made the salad.  Table set.  A little cheese.  Lunch was served.   It began to look like a piano lesson was going to have to be another day.

      Merci! Merci!  to Jacque, Joel and Ellen.  Good cooks all!!!!
      What are you cooking for Father's Day?

      Here are a few highlights.

      Working on liquid measuring technique

      Using Le Creuset cookware on a gas stove...

      Hot stuff in a Krups blender....

      I get the taste test!

      I want to see.

      We all work together.

      How to fill a quiche without spilling the filling.

      Ok, How did Jamie chop cress?
      Should we watch the video again?   Watch those fingers!

      Oh, yeah.  That's a chopped salad.

      Hey, I made that quiche!

      At the table...finally!
      Oh, by the way, you need to put a grace to music.  Here are the words:

      Come, Lord.  Teach us to care, share and be grateful.  And most of all, teach us to love you and all you love.

      We got a tune we're workin' on.

      We did it!
      Et voila! Mousse au chocolat:)  Another French food convert.

      We'll have the piano lesson with French music another day!  Phew.
      A bientot!