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Monthly Archives: January 2012
Thanks, DailyBuzz Healthy Living for the shout-out!
My Green Beans recipe was featured on 1.25.12
I’m on some kind of a fish kick right now. It probably has to do with the amount of meat I consumed over the holidays. I’ve been craving fish and salads, so I’m going with it.
Just after my salade nicoise evening, I decided to make some clams served over a saffron rice. Just before I began to cook, I realized there was no saffron in the house. Gran Fran is always very innovative when it comes to missing ingredients. I thought for a minute, went through my spice cabinet and pulled out the smoky Spanish paprika I love.
Gran Fran uses anisette or vermouth in her saffron rice preparation, but again, I came up empty. A bottle of nice white wine with lots of fennel seed added to the pot, along with some clam juice and lemon juice, saved the day. My McGyver-type survival skills will do Gran Fran proud.
I’ve often watched her make clams, but I rarely do so myself. If memory serves, Gran Fran would flip out if more than just one or two of the clams she had steamed didn’t open up when cooked. Her take on this, I think, was that all of the clams were tainted and maybe we shouldn’t eat them because who knows what kind of disease one might get? Botulism? Salmonella? I’d like to point out right here and now that we all made it through, just by avoiding those unopened clams along the way.
But, her fears did come bubbling up within me when I prepared to cook these clams last night. What if I didn’t cook them long enough? What about those diseases, or worse yet some unknown hazard came up? I tried to channel the other side of Gran Fran in the kitchen: the devil-may-care cook who throws ingredients in a pan with reckless abandon and comes up with wonderfully delicious dishes in the end.
It worked. The clams turned out great, it was fast and simple and the broth was really interesting with the extra hit of paprika in the end. The rice turned out well, too, though different in flavor than my beloved saffron rice, it was a hit. No one got sick, and the food was delicious.
Steamed Clams with Fennel and Red Rice
- 1 pound clams, cleaned and soaked in cold water
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup clam juice
- 2 tbsps lemon juice
- 1 tbsp dried fennel seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic chopped roughly
- Put everything in a large pan and cover with a lid.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cook for 10 minutes.
- Lift the lid and check to see if all (or almost all) of the clams have opened up.
- If not, cover and cook for another two minutes.
- Serve over rice (see below).
Steamed Red Rice
- 1 cup white Basmati Rice
- 1 cup Water
- 1/3 cup Clam Juice
- 3 Tbsps Lemon Juice
- 3 Tbsps Butter
- 2 tsps Smoked Spanish Paprika
- 3 cloves Garlic chopped
- 2 tsps Fennel Seeds
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Put all ingredients except for the rice in a large pot that has a lid.
- Boil the mixture,then lower it to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the rice.
- Return the pot to the boil.
- Stir once.
- Reduce the heat to low.
- Cover the pan and cook for 12 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and allow to stand for 6 to 8 more minutes until the rice is cooked through.
- Serve with the clams, using some of the broth the further flavor the rice.
When my daughter and I were in Paris, I ordered salade nicoise. What I got was not at all what I was accustomed to from our American version.
For one thing, there was rice in it. Yes, you read that right, rice. For another thing, the tuna tasted and looked odd, and overcooked. Lastly, there was some heavy dressing with a bit of cream in it. I won’t judge the entire country on how this one brasserie made their Nicoise. Instead, I guess I’ll just have to venture back over to France to find the perfect version.
In the meantime, I decided to try my hand at home making this lovely salad. Usually, there are boiled eggs included, but when I was almost finished making (and photographing) the salad, I realized I had forgotten to make them. To my surprise, I didn’t miss the eggs at all. I actually think I preferred it without the eggs, but you can go ahead and add them back in if you want to.
The key to my success was the freshness of the tuna steak. Of course, if you can’t locate a tuna steak, you can use a can of best-quality (that’s a Gran-Franism, the best quality thing) solid olive oil packed tuna fish. Drain some of the oil out, so that the flavor of the dressing will shine through.
I really enjoyed making this, especially since it was so simple and tasted so darned good.
- A large handful of Salad Greens (I didn’t measure, just grabbed as much as I thought I’d eat)
- 1 serving of cooked Green Beans (recipe here)
- 1 serving of Boiled Potatoes (recipe here)
- 1/4 pound Tuna Steak
- 4 Tbsps Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsps Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 tsp Mustard
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Place the salad greens, green beans and potatoes on a plate. Set aside.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed non-reactive pan over high heat.
- Salt and pepper the tuna steak.
- Once the pan is good and hot, add a small amount of olive oil.
- Add the tuna steak to the super hot pan.
- Cook on first side for five minutes.
- Turn over the tuna steak and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Remove the tuna from the pan and let rest for a few minutes.
- Mix the olive oil, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper for the dressing.
- Slice the tuna and place on top of the salad.
- Sprinkle the dressing over the top of the salad and enjoy!
The mighty potato.
It is starchy.
It is filling.
It can be sweet.
It can be saucy.
But it is always delicious.
I’ve been working on ways to create multiple sauces or preparations starting from a basic ingredient. The idea is to create the basic ingredient once, in bulk and then add different sauces, etc. throughout the week so that you don’t get bored with the same leftovers over and over.
This is part of my exploration into Cooking for One (see here for my first installation). Once I have enough of these recipes worked out, I’ll post a succinct compendium (that there is a $20 word), but for now, I’ll link them all through the individual posts. Of course, they’ll all be tagged Cooking for One, so if one needs to find them quickly, this key phrase can be put in my handy search box on the right hand side of this site.
But I digress.
Potatoes seem like a great base for many things. I’ve got two variations here: a light potato salad (light because there’s not too much mayonnaise involved) and a pan fried potato with bacon. Both are great, and are based on a large pot of boiled potatoes. Stored in an airtight container, once they’ve been fully drained and cooled, the potatoes I made kept for a week.
All you need to do is boil up the potatoes and then create sauce variations when you are ready to serve them. Easy as pie.
serves plenty, portion out to one-person servings as you see fit
- 1 to 2 lbs Yellow New Potatoes
- Salt to taste
- Fill a large non-reactive pan (I had to use it sometime…) with water, leaving enough room for the potatoes to fit comfortably, while being covered by the water.
- Chop each potato into 6 to 8 even pieces.
- Boil potatoes for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until you can put a fork through them, and the skin has turned translucent.
- Drain potatoes, let cool and portion
- 1 portion Boiled Potatoes (see above for recipe)
- 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsps Mustard (I used Sweet/Hot)
- 1 Spring fresh Tarragon (you can use 1/4 tsp dried instead)
- Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- Mix the vinegar, mayonnaise and mustard together. It should be thin enough to pour once it’s all mixed up.
- In a small bowl, pour the dressing over the potatoes.
- Using a fork, coat the potatoes with the dressing, pressing down with the fork to roughly break up the potatoes.
- Finish with a sprinkling of tarragon, salt and black pepper.
Bacon Fried Potatoes
- 3/4 pound bacon, cooked and broken up into small pieces
- 1 portion Boiled Potatoes (see above)
- Olive Oil for cooking
- Turn the oven on to broil.
- Heat a large non-reactive pan over high heat.
- When it’s hot, coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. If you have bacon grease on hand, you can use a little of that here, too.
- Add bacon pieces, cooking for 3 minutes.
- Put potatoes in with the bacon, stirring to coat them with oil.
- Cook for 10 minutes.
- Move the pan to the broiler.
- Cook for 5 minutes, then stir the potatoes, getting all the crunchy bits from the bottom of the pant scraped up.
- Put the pan back in the broiler for another 5 minutes.
- Remove and serve!