Wish Upon A Dish

August 19, 2017

Slow Cooker Beet, Goat Cheese & Walnut Salad ♥ a no-fail way to cook fresh beets

This salad was inspired by two ingredients I recently had the pleasure of being introduced too.
Fresh beets and Trader Joe's Honey Jalapeno Goat Cheese!!
Oh, my what a combo and by adding a few tomatoes from my garden with glazed walnut pieces I had the BEST salad the other day.

I love fresh beets but with all my culinary accomplishments, roasting/cooking fresh beets comes in dead last.
I can not count the times I bought fresh beets only to eventually throw them in the trash.

Funny stat. I eat jarred beets in every chop salad I eat weekday. How sad is that?
My success rating on making fresh ones is probably 3:20. I eventually got the hint, succumbed to my failures and bought good jarred salad beets.

Luckily the season & my success with cooking beets coincided, so while all my other ingredients moving forward will probably be hot house varieties, my beets with be the star.
If you have never eaten a fresh beet you have to try this food-proof preparation.

Did you ever have a "duh" moment in cooking?
Mine came the other day when I saw not one, but a few recipes for carrot vegan hot dogs.
Not sure I would make a hot dog with them but I would definitely use that technique for my usual veggie contribution to our Thanksgiving table this year.
As soon as I committed that to memory, I had my moment.

Why not cook my beets using the slow cooker technique on those carrots?
OMG, this was too easy (and boy, did I feel dumb).

I bought a beautiful bunch of beets (tops in great shape but that's for another post) at a local farm stand the other day and set my iPad to remind me to cook them no later than Friday.

I simply washed three baseball-sized beets and placed them in the slow cooker insert. No water, no seasonings, no nothing. I used my small 2 quart cooker and if you find your beets too big for the pot, just slice them in half. Yes, it's that easy. 
I set the cook selection to high, closed the lid and set my timer to 3 hours.

When I got back from my walk, I took a skewer and tested a beet. It was perfectly cook!!
Just the right resistance. I placed them in a bowl to cool to room temp and when they did, I peeled the halved beet for a salad tonight and the other two were wrapped in a paper towel and tucked into veggie bags.... I now have enough for about a dozen salads.

Slow Cooker Beet, Goat Cheese & Walnut Salad
makes 2 servings

* 1 cooked fresh beet, sliced into 1/4" pieces
* 1/4 package jalapeno-honey goat cheese, broken into small pieces
* handful of chopped plain or glazed walnuts
* Favorite vinaigrette (I like a Vidalia onion one)
* chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, lemon verbana)
* thinly sliced sweet or red onion, optional

Last minute I threw in a few grape and teardrop tomatoes from my garden (first harvest of the summer).

Besides the sweet sugary taste that cooked beets have, a 100 gram amount (3.4oz) has only 43 calories, 10% carbs, less than 1% fat but has 27% folate and 16% magnesium.
I like that they also have 3g of fiber. Yes, please.

July 27, 2017

Roasted Icelandic Creole Cod ♥ One pan - thirty minute fish for two

I had this can of smoked oysters in my pantry, part of a food basket won at a Christmas party years ago.
At least once a year I clean and reorganized my canned food rack and that can would move back & forth and reminded me I just have to find a recipe or throw that can out.

Today was the day. I bought a beautiful thick cut Icelandic cod fillet that would be perfect with a smoked oyster creamed sauce with roasted potatoes.
My inspiration? A sauce based on that iconic oyster chowder at the famous Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar.
I couldn't wait to write up the ingredients and get cooking.....that is, until I could not find that can of oysters. Hell of a time for me to forget.....I hate when a plan falls apart.
Since I was hoping to post about the smoked oyster sauce, I thought I would share this one dish dinner.
So, here we have plan B.
A creole sauce instead.

I have made so many different creole dishes, each with a different sauce to pair with the protein.
I geared this one towards the neutral flavor of the cod. It never had to compete with assertive flavors so I made a lite version. Most creole sauces are thick with tomato sauce & paste. I made this one with the tomato juice leftover after I used the canned plum tomatoes to make a tomato jam.
A can of V-8 or basic tomato juice would also work.

I finely chopped about 1/2 cup of mixed colored peppers and one large shallot. The rest was spices, Worcestershire and liquid smoke. A splash of vermouth to tone down the acid in the tomato.

I roasted the cod on top of the sauce and before I served dinner and to finish the dish, I stirred a dollop of sour cream (or Greek yogurt) into the sauce.

While I am into whole foods, Creole dishes should be served over converted white rice. If a low glycemic index is of concern to you, converted rice has half the GI of regular long grain rice. I like to think that an old Cajun smiles each time I do.

1/2 cup minced bell peppers (red, orange, green, yellow or blend of all)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 small onion, or large shallot, minced
salt & pepper
olive oil
1 1/2 cups tomato juice from canned plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Goya Adobo
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup vermouth
2 tablespoons light sour cream of Greek yogurt
1 pound Icelandic Cod

Heat a large skillet and add a tablespoon or two of EVOO. Set the oven to 425°.
Add the garlic, peppers and onion. Saute on medium low until they start to brown.
Add the Creole seasoning, Worcestershire, liquid smoke and 1/2 cup vermouth.
Simmer until reduced, then add the tomato juice and season with salt & pepper.
Continue to simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened.
Season cod with adobo and place in skillet.
Carefully add the hot skillet to the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, depending on how thick the cod is. Remember the rule for cooking fish "10 minutes an inch".
Place the cod on a plate. Stir the yogurt into the sauce and spoon over the cod.

Enjoy! This will become a favorite, I promise.


July 13, 2017

Greens Stuffed Corn Pudding ♥ Easy, peasy side for two

I happen to love polenta or anything made with cornmeal. Seems I am the only one (of two) in this house that does.

Now the Nudge tells another story. He will look me in the eye and say "I like polenta, just not as much as you do."
I saw these stuffed polenta cakes and just had to make them. When cooking for two (and the one of the "two" not a big cornmeal fan), I know enough to make a sample batch.
Just to test the waters, so to say.
If he takes a bite and I get good reaction, I pin the recipe and do the happy dance. Needless to say that list is small but this was big.

I think the key was making this with corn muffins. They tend to be on the sweeter side with a lighter consistency than corn bread, at least the oversized Puffin Muffins at my local supermarket. Damn those babies are way too good (meaning NOT good for a diet).

You could make homemade muffins but when cooking for two, a dozen muffins means 6 muffins each and I know (because of the "one" of the two being a cornmeal zealot) that I would end up eating 10 muffins.
Not good.

Buying one large muffin (picture Costco-size) makes more sense and is the perfect amount for two sides.

While I baked mine in 2-8oz ramekins, for a family a Texas muffin tin is perfect.

I successfully halved the original recipe. I also used canned mustard greens. You need a hearty green, like canned collards or fresh kale or arugula (will add an additional step) that won't disintegrate during the baking process.

Don't poo poo me for not making polenta, it would not work in this recipe. Trust me, I tried it the first time.
Could you make this recipe presentation in a casserole pan? No, and I will tell you why.
If you look at the first picture you will see that when cutting for picture purposes, the greens cut into the tender corn pudding. I would like the appearance of sharp clean sides, after all, that's why it is baked into ramekins. A nice neat package.

If you were OK serving this as you would a dressing or stuffing, making this in a baking pan is great.

I plan or taking this concept and running in all different directions, including Tex-Mex, Creole & Italian to name a few.

Greens Stuffed Corn Pudding
makes 2-8oz ramekins

adapted from NYT Cooking

For the greens:

  • 2 slices smoked bacon
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup canned mustard or collard greens
  • Salt to taste

For the pudding:

  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 large (or 4 small) cornmeal muffin, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 eggs
For the greens:
Cook the bacon and the onions. Drain on a paper towel and mix into the greens, reserving the fat. Taste for salt (you probably won't need any depending on your bacon).

For the pudding:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook the onions & garlic in the bacon fat. Add the peppers & cream.
In a small bowl add the cooked to the muffin and then the eggs. Mix thoroughly.

Spoon 2/3 of the mixture evenly into the prepared ramekins. Add half the greens on top of the pudding and finish with the remaining pudding mixture.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan, covered with foil, and bake for 60 minutes. Remove ramekins & let them rest for 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the inside of each ramekin and revert onto a dinner plate.
Serve with a roast, steak or seafood.