Monthly Archives: April 2010
|April 11, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Mexican and Southwestern, Quick Weeknight Meals, Salads, Special Occasions, Summer|
When we go to one of our favorite local Mexican restaurants* I always order the same thing — tacos de carne asada. Sure I order them because the grilled steak wrapped in a warm tortilla is delicious and the absence of cheese makes them one of the healthiest items on the menu…but really I get them mostly for the onion and cilantro salsa that comes on the side. The salsa is the perfect compliment to the taco, with crunchy little bits of onion balanced out by tons fresh cilantro to keep it from being too strong. I’m not generally a raw onion fan. I pick them out of salads and take them off of my burgers. In this salsa though, they work.
The other night we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do for dinner and I thought about going out for tacos, but it was so nice out and the restaurant doesn’t have any outdoor seating (and I absolutely love to eat outside when it’s nice out). Plus we had just bought gas for the grill… the next thing I knew, I was juicing limes to make a marinade for the steak. I found two poblanos that I had forgotten I had bought, so I decided to grill those up with some onions and make fajitas instead of tacos. I also added some minced jalapeno to the salsa to kick it up a notch.
For the amount of flavor that these fajitas pack you would expect that they would be labor intensive or use expensive ingredients, but it’s very much the opposite. This is a super cheap and easy meal that will be one the table in well under a half hour. If you have any leftovers or don’t like tortillas the salsa, marinated steak, and grilled vegetables also go great on a salad topped with a splash of lime vinaigrette.
Fajitas de Carne Asada with Onion Cilantro Salsa
I like the smokey flavor that the poblano peppers gave to these fajitas, but they can be hard to find in some areas. If you can’t find them, feel free to substitute bell peppers. The jalapenos can be omitted or reduced depending on your preferences – I like mine pretty spicy. You also want to be sure to cut the onion and jalapeno for the salsa into a very fine dice so that you don’t end up with a huge mouth full of raw onion!
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1/2 orange, juiced
- 2 cloves garlic, mined
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 pound top round or flank steak
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 2 poblano peppers
- 2 small onions
- 4 jalapeno peppers (optional)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- flour or corn tortillas for serving
Preheat the grill high.
While the grill is heating, make a quick marinade for your steak by combining the lime juice, orange juice, garlic, cumin, and cayenne. Pierce the steak all over with a fork and place it into the marinade, flipping it over after about 5 minutes if it is not fully submerged.
Sliced the poblanos, 1 onion, and 3 jalapenos into large strips. Toss will the olive oil. Thread onto skewers or place in a grill basket.
When the grill is nice and hot, put on the steak and the vegetables. Cook the steak to your desired level of doneness — for medium, it will take about 8 minutes — and the vegetables until they are soft (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and allow the steak to rest for 5 minutes, before slicing it into strips (for maximum tenderness, slice with the grain).
While the steak and vegetables are grilling, prepared the salsa: Tear the cilantro into small pieces. Cut the reserved onion and jalapeno into a very fine dice. Combine the three items and season to taste with a little salt.
Serve the sliced steak, grilled vegetables, and onion cilantro salsa with the tortillas.
*For those of you in the Albany area, El Mariachi is totally my favorite Mexican restaurant, but we always end up going to Panchos because it’s cheap and easy — plus they have a parking lot! The tacos de carne asada I’m talking about come from there. At El Mariachi, I always go straight for either the pork burrito with mole or the Bistec a la Mexicana.
|April 8, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fish and Seafood, French, Quick Weeknight Meals, Sides|
As gorgeous as that last salad was, I figured it was about time to get a new post up. The problem is that between the Easter holiday, a quick trip to Boston, and the incredible weather that we’ve been having these past few days the last things I’ve wanted to do were cook or sit in front of the computer. But I couldn’t wait any longer to share this salmon and lentil dish, so I’m forcing myself to sit down and write.
I found some lentils when I was cleaning out my cabinets and thought that I should use them up. Lentils are a strange thing – I always forget how much I like them and that they are just as much a warm-weather food as a great base for a rich, hearty winter soup. But with a few lighter ingredients like salmon and leeks to perk them up, lentils can be a great addition to a springtime meal. For this dish, I cooked them together with leeks and turnips. The leeks gave them a bright flavor, and the turnip added a peppery touch that I enjoyed a lot.
The caramelized lemon glaze was the lucky byproduct of a mistake. I wanted to add some acid to the dish to prevent is from tasting heavy or muddy, so I set out to make a lemon gastrique but I got distracted and let it cook down too much. I was really disappointed to see the thick, gloppy caramel that resulted but I gave it a taste and it was actually really good! It was sweet, but the lemon and vinegar kept it from being too sweet. I took a change and spooned a little over my salmon, not sure what to expect — it was great! The sweetness actually worked really well with the salmon (if the thought of a sweet sauce on salmon seems weird to you, it’s not that different from salmon teriyaki. Much less scary now, right?)
Salmon with Caramelized Lemon Glaze over Lentils
These lentils are a great way to practice your knife skills — in order to keep a refined texture, make sure that the pieces of leek and turnip are smaller than the individual lentils.
- 2 salmon filets
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1 Tbs + 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones
- 1 large leek, chopped
- 1 turnip, peeled and cut into a fine dice
- 1 cup chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Season the salmon liberally with Old Bay. Set aside to rest.
Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until they begin to brown and soften. Add the turnip, lentils, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the liquid has cooked off. Season with salt and pepper.
While the lentils cook, start the caramelized lemon glaze: Combine the lemon juice, sugar, and vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has turned a light caramel color and thickened significantly.
Heat 1 Tbs of olive oil in a large pan over high heat. Cook the salmon for six minutes. Flip and cook on the second side for 3-4 minutes, or until the salmon is just pink in the center.
To serve, spoon lentils onto a dish. Top with salmon. Spread 1 tsp of the glaze over the salmon (you will have extra glaze).
Check out this great package that I got last week! It was from Micaela from Italy as part of the Foodie Exchange. Micaela totally went above and beyond with this package — just looks at all these goodies! From sweets to sauces and soups to an espresso pot!! It was like Christmas! It didn’t take us long at all to break into the pasta and sauce kit (a packet of dried spices that you soak in water than then cook up with tomatoes). It was really tasty and I loved the shape of the pasta – I’ve never seen anything like it before! I also noticed that all of the packages foods have number right n the front that identifies how many servings the entire package contains. I loved this idea! So many times something seem small enough to be a single serving, but it’s really 2 or 3. Thanks, Micaela!!
|April 2, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fruit, Lent, Light, Quick Weeknight Meals, Reviews, Salads, Summer, Vegetarian or Vegan|
Lemons, lemons, lemons. This is the third post in a row that involves lemon in some way – it must be Spring! I’ve been playing around with the idea of a lemon-poppy vinaigrette for a while now, but I could never figure out the right application for it. Finally I decided to pair it with this delicate salad that is super simple yet bursting with flavor. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say that this may be my favorite salad of all time! The tartness of the lemon-poppy vinaigrette, the warm, creamy goat cheese with a slight crunch from the breading, the fresh herbs that set the salad over the top in the flavor department – it all comes together in one big plate full of yum. We had this for dinner last night, and Shawn already asked if we could have it again tonight. So if you’re looking for a springtime treat that won’t weight you down, I highly suggest making this.
A few weeks ago, Olivia’s Organics contacted me and asked if I would be interested in trying out some of their salad mixes. I told them that I actually buy their salads all the time and I love them, but they happily sent along a few coupons for free samples anyway. They also send me some information about the company, that I was happy to receive. I buy their products because they taste great, are always fresh, and are super convenient but I had no idea that they also give a portion of their proceeds to charities that help children (such as the Make a Wish Foundation and The Food Project) or that their packaging is recyclable! They even have a section on their website devoted to fun ways to reuse their salad containers. What more could you ask for? I love when I’m able to feel good about giving my money to a company like that.
Their salad blends are great. I usually just buy the baby lettuce mix or the spinach, but when I planned this salad I knew I wanted to put a different spin on it by using lots of fresh herbs mixed with the greens. I had planned to buy the herbs individually, so can you imagine how surprised I was to find the Herb Salad Mix, which contained a blend of lettuces as well as other goodies like chard, frisse, beet greens, mustard, dill, and parsley? It was exactly what I wanted, and it save me the money and trouble of having to purchase all of those herbs individually. The proportions were great too. It wasn’t just a bunch of lettuce taking up space — the herbs were plentiful.
Herb Salad with Lemon-Poppy Vinaigrette and Warm Goat Cheese CroutonsThis lemon-poppy vinaigrette has a nice tart flavor, and the poppy seeds add a touch of texture. I kept my dressing on the sour side to balance out the natural sweetness of the berries and cheese, but you can add more honey if you prefer a sweeter flavor. For the goat cheese croutons, it’s important to make sure your oil is nice and hot — this will prevent them from soaking up too much oil and will allow them to cook quickly so the cheese becomes warm but doesn’t melt.
- 1 6-ounce log of goat cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- oil for frying
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 lemons
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- 1 package Olivia’s Organics Herb Blend salad (or a combination of your favorite lettuces and lots of fresh herbs)
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup blueberries
To prepare the warm goat cheese croutons: set a small pot with about 1/2-inch of oil over medium-high heat. While the oil heats, cut the cheese log into 8 rounds. Quickly dip each round into the beaten egg, then into the breadcrumbs. When the oil reaches 350 degrees (if you don’t have a thermometer, put a pinch of breadcrumbs into the oil — if the oil sizzles and the crumbs immediately brown, the oil is ready) add two or three of the goat cheese rounds, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Cook for 10 seconds, then flip and cook for 10 seconds on the other side. Remove from the oil and let rest on a plate lines with a paper towel.
To make the dressing: Roll the lemons back and forth between the counter and your pal, pressing firmly, to help release the juices. Slice in half and juice the lemons — you should have about 1/4 cup of juice. Add the lemon juice, shallot, honey, mustard, and oil to a jar. Put the lid on and shake vigorously to combine. Stir in the poppy seeds.
To plate, combine the salad mix with the cilantro. Toss with about half of the dressing (refrigerate the rest for next time)!. Top with the blueberries and 2 goat cheese croutons.
Approx. 240 calories, 18.5 grams fat, 1.7 grams fiber, 10.5 grams protein
It’s been far too long since I’ve been able to write this, but I’ submitting this post to Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen.