Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fish and Mushrooms in Foil

Quick. Easy. Tasty. Clean-up is minimal since the fish cooks in a foil packet. You can make a single serving but we recommend making a few servings. Leftovers heat up well and taste great.

This recipe doesn't look easy because there are a lot of steps but it's really just about building up the parts in the packet. All the steps are very simple and quick.

This recipe uses tarragon. Tarragon has a distinctive flavor of licorice. If you don't like that flavor another herb such as basil or thyme can be substituted. Fresh parsley is good too.

For each serving:
6 oz boneless white fish fillet, such as sole, catfish or tilapia
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
4 medium button mushrooms
1 Tablespoon + about 1 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped OR 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed
1 teaspoon minced fresh OR frozen chives, optional (see note)
black pepper

1 12" x 12" square of foil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle fish fillet with lemon juice and let stand while you do your prep.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add tarragon to butter and garlic. Set aside.

Slice mushrooms and set aside.

Rub about 1 teaspoon butter onto center of foil square. Place fish and lemon juice on top of buttered section. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Arrange mushrooms slices on top of fish. Drizzle with melted butter/garlic/tarragon.

Sprinkle with another pinch of salt and pepper.

Fold up long sides of foil and tightly crimp it to seal. Seal ends by rolling up. You want a good seal because a) it prevents leaks which are messy, and b) the fish steams better if you have a good seal.

Place foil packet on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.

Cut open foil packet and spoon fish with sauce onto a plate. Can be served with anything that will soak up the sauce - rice, noodles or bread.

Note: Chives freeze exceptionally well. Since you always get more than you need in a supermarket package, you'll want to preserve the extra. Clean out any dried or brown chives and freeze them on a plate or cookie sheet. Once they are frozen, you can put them in a small plastic bag. To use, no need to thaw, snip them with scissors (the easiest way) or chop with a knife.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Quick Summer Pasta - Good All Year

Summer is winding down. Fall arrives on Friday but we can still enjoy the bounty of summer, even into the winter. This recipe uses pesto and cherry tomatoes, foods associated with summer. But, you can make this year round because cherry tomatoes are available in winter and decent pesto is sold in most supermarkets. Try to find the pesto sold in the refrigerated case because it is far superior to the pesto sold in shelf-stable jars.

Bowties with pesto
(serves 4)

1 lb. regular or multigrain bowtie pasta
8 oz. container pesto
1 pt. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and while warm, add the pesto, tomatoes, and feta cheese and stir.

Variation: to bulk this up, cut 1 large cooked boneless chicken breast (about 8 oz) into bite-sized pieces and add it at the same time as the pesto. See our post on Curried Chicken Salad on how to quickly cook chicken breasts in the microwave.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

That's peachy!

It's still peach season here in Colorado. Beautiful peaches are available everywhere. A really ripe peach is a summer joy. You know the kind - you need to eat it over the sink. But, peaches are a great year-round treat because they freeze so well. You can pick up a bag of frozen peaches at the supermarket and keep them stashed for smoothies, peach sauce - great on pancakes, and peach desserts like crisps or cobblers.

Here's a peach topping that is so easy. You use the microwave to cook the peaches in a simple maple syrup flavored sauce. Real maple syrup is expensive, but this extends that luxury by mixing it with peaches. Imitation maple syrup works too if real maple syrup isn't in your budget.  The peaches are good on pancakes, pound cake, ice cream, or frozen vanilla yogurt. It's a fruity way to sweeten plain yogurt too.

Peach Slices with Maple Syrup
(adapted from Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving)

1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
4 large peaches, peeled and sliced OR 3 cups thawed frozen peach slices

Combine maple syrup and sugar in a 4 cup microwavable container. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved.

Add peach slices, cover and microwave for 3 additional minutes. Let stand, covered, for 2 additional minutes.

Use hot, cool in the refrigerator or freeze in plastic containers if not using in the next week.

Note: 2 Tablespoons of Amaretto or Sherry can be added when peach slices are added, if desired. Amaretto, an almond liqueur from Italy, and peaches are a particularly tasty combination.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuna alla Puttanesca

Here's a quick end-of-summer pasta dinner. Packs a lot of flavor and uses the bold ingredients of Pasta all Puttanesca: capers and olives. If you have ripe summer tomatoes, use them. The rest of the year, you'll get better flavor from canned tomatoes. This recipe is plenty tasty with any canned tuna but if you want to get decadent, use imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil.

Tuna alla Puttanesca
(from The Tuna Council of The National Fisheries Institute)
4 servings

2 cans (5 ounces each) tuna in water or oil OR 10-12 oz Italian tuna packed in olive oil
1 lb. farfalle pasta
4 Tablespoons olive oil (or use the oil from the tuna can/jar, if using tuna packed in olive oil)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, cut in ¼“ slices
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup dry white wine
3 Tablespoons capers, drained
1 Tablespoon rosemary, chopped
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in quarters
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 Tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

Drain the tuna, reserving the oil if using tuna in olive oil. Flake the tuna. Set aside.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Set aside.

Place oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and onions and sauté about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and juice, wine, capers, rosemary, olives, and pepper.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

Raise heat to medium and cook another 3 minutes until sauce thickens slightly.  Add salt to taste (careful: there is a lot of salt in the capers and olives).

Combine tuna, sauce and parsley with pasta.