Posts tagged ‘fish’
Tuna noodle casserole from a box was a staple in my house as a kid. I daresay I liked it then, but as an adult it’s rare that I even think of the stuff. But when I saw a recipe in Bon Appetit for a re-invented homemade version at this time last year, I tore it out right away and planned to make it. Surely even this humblest of casseroles deserves a second chance, right? I mean, you’ve gotta admit that creamy sauce + noodles + anything, baked until bubbly, has potential. Anyways, after I resolved to make the stuff I promptly lost the page and forgot about it for a year, but when I found the recipe yesterday I knew we would have it for dinner. It is time, my friends, to revisit tuna noodle casserole, sans box.
If you had asked me even a year ago, I probably would’ve told you I could foresee no circumstances in which I would be excited about eating an anchovy. It’s not that I wouldn’t eat one if I had to, but I figured I wasn’t missing anything by not going out of my way to eat them. I fully recognize that this is largely due to the whole pizza-related “ew, anything but anchovies!!” attitude that we all hear from birth, but nonetheless I was doing just fine in a life without anchovies.
However, this whole kitchen firsts thing has had me reconsidering my preconceived notions about foods, and I’ve been hearing a lot of people defending the underdog anchovy lately, so I was sort of starting to think that I might be willing to give them a try on a pizza or something. Then I saw this recipe for pasta with cauliflower that’s spiked with a little anchovy, and it sealed the deal on my readiness to try them– I love simple pasta dishes, and we are definitely cauliflower folk around here, so it seemed the perfect context to throw in an anchovy or five and see how it went.
The recent springy, even summery weather seems to be leaving me craving light, fresh dinners. We went through a salad-for-every-meal stage, and then a ravenous farmers market stage, and now I’ve come to a place where it gets to be dinner time and all I really want is a sammich; gimme two pieces of bread with some goop in the middle, and I’ll happily chomp away with the early evening sun streaming in and a drink in my hand.
However, as a person who likes to cook (and as a person with an interest in bloggables), I do feel like if I’m going to bend meal-rules and eat a sandwich for dinner, it had better be something interesting that requires at least a smidge of something resembling cooking (but not too much cooking, since it is just a sandwich after all). Regular ol tuna salad or grilled cheese or turkey sandwiches are just fine at lunch or for a snack, but for dinner I require at least a little something different from my sandwiches. So, when I stumbled upon the ideas for Italian Chicken Salad and Mediterranean Tuna Salad, I threw them onto our weekly meal plan and we ended up moving our schedule around so we could eat them sooner.
Though I have heard a lot about beurre blanc, it was one of those things in the food world that I just never crossed paths with naturally. I guess I don’t eat enough fancy fish dishes in restaurants or something. But over Christmas I was reading My Life in France by Julia Child (I know, I’m a sheep), and she talked so much about this idyllic beurre blanc made by some woman in a tiny restaurant in Paris that I immediately put down the book and added it to my list of eventual kitchen firsts. Then I just waited for some nice looking fish to pop up at the market, and when it finally did I knew the time was ripe for some beurre blanc!
Making beurre blanc for the first time I felt like a friggin butter magician! It sounds all complicated and scary when you read about it but in practice I didn’t find it quite as finnicky as it was cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a weekend recipe. It requires some timing, and your full attention for the 10ish minutes that you are emulsifying and stuff, and, let’s not forget, it’s essentially just butter mixed with other things that are bad for you. But all that aside, I promise you it is not hard, so if anything should deter you from making this, let it be that you are waiting for the best, most special time to enjoy a drizzle of butter’s better half on something really good.
This salmon is so good that the last two times we’ve made it we have finished it before I even remember I was supposed to take a picture of it once it’s cooked (shhh, the pic above is actually the pre-oven shot).
This recipe is only slightly adapted from the original recipe at simplyrecipes.com. I absolutely love the crispness of the panko atop the tender flesh of the salmon, and the savory herbs and seasonings bounce off the flavor of the sweet hot mustard in a fit of awesomeness. It is extremely quick to prepare using mainly pantry staples (except the fish itself of course), only takes 15 minutes to bake, and can adapt well to serving just one or two (get two small salmon steaks, or a small filet and very roughly halve the quantities for everything else) while remaining a fabulous option for serving a larger group (get yourself some biiiig salmon filets, treat them this way and your dinner party makes itself). You can pre-cut the fish into portions, or just cook it whole (as pictured here), but either way you can be sure that leftovers are doubtful. We have tried this with regular salmon and with Steelhead; both were excellent, and I’m guessing this treatment would work well on other kinds of fish too– that’ll be on our to-try list!
I will be the first to admit that my experience with cooking fish is very limited. Like, I’ve probably done it 3 or 4 times, ever, so for the first entry in my “kitchen firsts” series, I decided to adapt a recipe from Gourmet Today (another great cookbook Christmas gift) for Grilled Spice-Crusted Tuna with Jicama and Avocado Salad– I mean, what about that recipe title does not sound good?? Maybe I’ve started saying that too much, but I’ve discovered that if the recipe title alone makes me drool, it’s probably a winner.
Turns out, a couple of parts of the actual recipe did not sound good to me (I’m sorry, I’ve been a bit over-chipotled and over-arugula-ed lately, and I’m also sorry for hating cilantro), but with a couple quick substitutions we were back on the road again, and I’m pleased to report that my first experience with ahi was quite a pleasant one. If you have never used sushi-grade tuna before, don’t be scared– it looks fancy when its done, but if you can convince yourself that it’s ok to leave it rare in the center (you’re supposed to!), it’s no more complicated than rubbing it with some stuff (a nice spicy mix of coriander, cumin, and chili), slapping it on a grill for 8 minutes, letting it rest, and cutting it (which was a delight with my -ahem- new wusthof knife). Voila! Kitchen first number one is painlessly and deliciously under my belt (literally).