Tuna on the Barbie

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There’s nothing quite like fresh fish on the grill.  Living in Florida makes it easy to grill year round.  For those living in snow drenched climes the broiler or a cast iron skillet are certainly options.  Bookmark the recipe for warmer days to come.

I’ve been using a Weber charcoal grill for over 30 years and their mantra has been “keep a lid on it”.  Tuna is the one exception to Weber’s golden rule and they will be the first to tell you. . .  Cook your tuna too long and it will quickly deteriorate.  It is best seared quickly on the outside and leaving the middle raw.  If cooked through it will become dry.

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Start with fresh tuna steaks, about 8 oz each.  Make a simple yet delicious marinade from olive oil, fresh lemon (or lime) juice, rosemary, thyme, garlic and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Photo Feb 07, 6 49 22 PMMix it all together and whisk well.  Place steaks and marinade in a Ziploc bag and allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

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Prepare the grill.  Place steaks on direct heat for about 2 minutes per side, flipping only once.  They should be beige on the outside and the inside will be red.  It’ll cut like butter and taste even better

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We served with duck fat fries and broccoli with cheddar cheese.  Enjoy!

Recipe & Ingredients

For the tuna:
1 pound fresh Aahi yellowfin tuna
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil2 tbs fresh rosemary
1 tbs fresh thyme
2 cloves fresh garlic thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the sauces:
1/2 cup homemade mayo, divided
1 tsb fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 close garlic mashed into a paste
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs finely diced sweet pickles
1-2 tsp srirach sauce

Preparation

The tuna:
Mix the olive oil, lemon juices, herbs and salt and pepper in a small bowl with a wire whisk.  Place the tuna steaks in a ziploc bag and pour the olive oil mixture over the steaks and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Remove the tuna steaks and discard marinade.  Sear for 2 minutes on each side over direct heat on a grill.

The sauces:
Lemon aoili:  take 1/4 cup homemade mayo, 1 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 clove garlic mashed into paste and sea salt and pepper to taste and mix well in a small dish
Sriracha remoulade:  take 1/4 cup homemade mayo, 1 tbs finely diced sweet pickles and 1-2 tsp sriracha sauce and mix well in a small dish

Love at First Bite

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Love, lust or a little of both?  Whichever it is grab your spouse, GF, BF, lover or date du jour and try this Valentine’s dinner for a night of culinary decadence and romance. . .

Advice for any dude that bitches about Valentine’s day.  Here’s a little story. . . for about the first ten years of being together my husband would complain about how Valentine’s day was no different than any other day of the year and designed solely to increase Hallmark’s bottom line along with restaurants and florists.  “A bunch of commercialized bullshit”.  That did not sit well with me period and although he would go out to dinner or celebrate with me his grumbling always took something out of it.  Around the 10 year mark he wised up and realized that by buying a card and sometimes a rose or small gift would go a long way towards making his life easier.  He would accumulate what he referred as “brownie points”.   And what I referred to as staying out of the doghouse.

After 30 years together and an equal number of Valentine’s days we still have a hard time agreeing on all things but one thing we do agree upon we’d rather stay home on Valentine’s day than go out.  While it’s nice to be waited on the restaurant’s are usually overbooked and crowded, the staff and chef are a little stressed along with and service and food are usually not as good as on a less crowded night.  Not to mention the quality of the foods.  Nothing beats a cozy Valentine’s day at home.

We start the meal off with appetizers; I’m an oyster girl. . .

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On the half shell and raw.  I fell in love at first taste upon moving to Key West in 1982.  I want nothing other than a splash of lime and a dash of sea salt.  Shuck and serve.  Hubby adds a bit of Crystal and a cracker.

He’s really an escargot kind of guy. . .

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And in our house simplicity reigns.  Although I rarely if ever use canned ingredients this is one exception to the rule.  I have yet to source out fresh ones and I find the flavor and texture good enough for my palate.  Pop open the can and drain.  Take some raw grass fed butter–about 6 tablespoons softened, 2 cloves garlic finely chopped, 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley finely chopped and 1/2 teaspoon brandy and mix together well.  Use a small dollop of the butter mixture to each snail and place in shells or an escargot dish and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with gluten free toast points if desired.

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The Salad.

The strawberry fields are in full bloom in Florida and these little beauties were not only organic but locally grown.  I also found butterhead lettuce, purple cabbage and fresh carrots all sourced from our local coop market that morning.  Feel free to get creative with your salad.  I added the fresh sliced strawberries and chopped walnuts.  Since store bought dressings often contain high fructose corn syrup, vegetable oils and preservatives I served with this simple strawberry vinaigrette. . .

1/2 cup sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon raw honey
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

On to the main course. . .

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Bacon wrapped filets topped with your choice of lump blue crab meat or lobster.  Be still my heart, these were to die for.  I’m a lobster girl, he’s a crab (literally sometimes).    I used 2, 10 oz grass fed filet mignons freshly cut by our butcher at Whole Foods.  Wrap 1 slice of nitrate/nitrite free bacon and secure with 2 tooth picks.  Sprinkle with seat salt, garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper.

Place under the broiler and cook until desired degree of doneness.  I’m rare, he’s medium.  6-10 minutes per side.  While the filets are cooking melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat; add either 1, 3-4 oz lobster tail, chopped or 1/2 cup lump blue crab meat and sauté until just barely opaque (lobster) or heated through (crab).  When the steak is done, top will shellfish of choice and pour any remaining pan juices over.

brulee

 

I hope you saved room for dessert, this crème brulee was too good to resist.  And its not that hard to make.  Don’t be afraid of this seeming fancy dessert, it’s really nothing more than sugared custard.

What’s your fancy?  I’m vanilla, he’s chocolate.  Either way chocolate was in both of these.

Chocolate Crème Brulee

2 cups raw grass fed cream
6 pastured egg yolks
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 oz white or dark chocolate
2 tablespoons castor sugar (superfine)*

Melt chocolate and 1/2 cup cream in a small saucepan over low heat stirring constantly until melted.  Remove from heat and set aside.  In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks until well blended, add the vanilla and maple syrup.  With a wire whisk very quickly add the chocolate cream mixture stirring quickly so the egg yolks do not cook.  Add the remainder of the cream blending well.

Place the mixture into 4, 8 oz ramekins; and place them in a 13 x 9″ pyrex baking dish.  Add 1/2″ water to the pan.  Bake at 300 degrees for about 1 hour or until almost set.  Allow to cool in the water bath for about 20 minutes.  Then place in the fridge and cool 6 hours to overnight.

Right before serving remove the ramekins from the refrigerator and sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of superfine sugar over each brulee.  Torch until melted.*

*I first used brown sugar (too moist), then raw sugar (too coarse); they would burn before caramelizing.  The superfine sugar worked the best and gave a nice firm crunch.

*I purchased a chef’s torch and mini butane can from Bed Bath & Beyond although you could caramelize under a broiler

I would recommend starting your evening a little early as there’s quite a few courses to this meal.  And taking your time is part of the enjoyment.  I don’t drink but hubby had no problem polishing off a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Despite our differences it was love at first bite.  Happy Valentine’s Day fellow power athletes – enjoy!

Creme Brulee

By far my favorite dessert or closely tied with homemade ice cream.  Cream, anything with cream and when you  caramelize the sugar on top it OMG it’s as close to heaven as I will get in this lifetime.  If we are out to dinner and creme brulee is on the menu I order it.  For some reason I was afraid to make this at home;  it looked so fancy and that whole torch thing. . .

brulee

Our favorite restaurant Iavarone’s had a great creme brulee.  It’s the only restaurant in town we eat at with any frequency having been friends with the owners for over 30 years and being treated like royalty every time we go there; their homemade creme brulee was wonderful.  About 2 months ago for reasons of their own they stopped serving it and went to desserts from a local bakery.  I was devastated when my husband first told me about it.  I was like an addict, where will I get my fix?

Nothing like a near disaster to force one to dig deep and learn.  Off to Bed, Bath & Beyond I went to purchase a brulee torch.  I already had the ramekins–I had been thinking about it.  It took me two attempts to get it right; the first time wasn’t bad, the topping just didn’t get as crunchy as I wanted.  Oh damn, had to eat those ‘mistakes’.

My creme brulee making may have gotten off to a late start in life but I have full intentions of perfecting it and making it often experimenting with different variations on a seasonal basis.

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Pour mixture evenly into your ramekins, add water to 1/2″ and bake as directed.

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Cool in the water bath on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Refrigerate for 8 hours to overnight.  Can also be prepared up to 2 days ahead.

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Don’t be afraid

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Place 1 1/2 teaspoons of superfine sugar evenly on the brulees and carefully torch until sugar is melted and caramelized.

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Wait 5 minutes before devouring (if you can)

Here’s the basic and a chocolate version we had for Valentine’s Day.

Recipe & Ingredients

2 cups raw grass fed cream*
6 pastured egg yolks
1/2 cup Grade B organic maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 teaspoons Castor sugar*

Variations:
Chocolate Creme Brulee:  combine 4 oz of white or dark chocolate and 1/2 cup of the cream in a small saucepan over low heated until melted.  Slowly add this to the other mixture stirring constantly when adding to prevent yolks from cooking from the heat.  Reduce vanilla to 1 tsp and proceed with basic recipe

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Beat egg yolks with a wire whisk until slightly thickened.  Add the cream, maple syrup and vanilla and whisk until combined.  Pour mixture evenly into ramekins* and place in a large Pyrex baking dish or jellyroll pan.  Create a water bath (fancy name for 1/2″ water added to the pan).  This will act as a cushion from the heat of the oven allowig the custards to bake slowly without curdling.

Bake at 300 for 45 minutes to an hour or until almost set.  Cool custards in the water bath on a wire rack for about 20 minutes.  Remove from pan, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours to overnight.

Just before serving sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of castor sugar evenly over each brulee.  With a kitchen torch to gently caramlize the sugar.  If you do not have a kitchen torch you can try putting it under the broiler in an ice bath but watch it carefully.  Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

*The sugar.  There are different options.  I initially tried brown sugar which was too moist and would burn before caramalzing.  You would have to dry it out first.  I then tried raw sugar which was too coasre and the same thing would happen.  You would have to grind into finer.  I then tried some Castor sugar (superfine) that I had leftover from Christmas and it worked beautifully.

*use 5, 5 x 1 inch ramekins, 7, 6 oz or 4, 8 oz ramekins.  The 6 or 8 oz ramekins with require the longer cooking time because of their thickness.

Enjoy!

Surf n’ Turf

My favorite steak is a bone in cowboy ribeye Pittsburgh rare and it had better be almost cold in the center.  But sometimes I get a hankering for a nice juicy filet.  Especially when paired with something from the sea.  We cooked these up for Valentine’s day but they would be just as splendid any day of the year.

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Do you love lobster but you’re mate’s a crab (lover).  No problem, these heavenly bacon wrapped filets go well either way and take little or effort to prepare.

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Wrap each filet with the bacon and secure with toothpicks

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Sprinkle to taste with garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper; broil 6 – 10 minutes per side for rare – medium.

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I’m a lobster girl and hubby opts for the crab

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but both were delicious and you can even share!

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and it was love at first bite!

Recipe & Ingredients

2, 10 oz grass fed filet mignons
2 thick cut slices nitrate/nitrite free bacon
6-8 oz lobster tail meat chopped*
or
1 cup lump blue crab meat*
garlic powder
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons grass fed raw butter
*for 2 steaks

Preparation

Preheat the broiler.  Wrap each filet with a piece of bacon and secure with toothpicks.  Sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper to taste.  Broil steaks for 6 to 10 minutes per side for rare – medium.

While the steaks are broiling melt the butter over medium heat in a cast iron skillet and cook the lobster until just opaque or until the crab is heated through.  Top the filet with the crab or lobster mixture and pour any pan juices over it.

Strawberry Fields Forever

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That might be a song by the Beatles but what better title for a salad that makes you wish strawberry season was forever.  These little berries delight whether eaten fresh out of the patch, with cream, on shortbread, in a salad or any other culinary creation.  This strawberry laden salad is heavenly especially when tossed with a freshly made strawberry vinaigrette.

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I am very fortunate to live near Plant City Florida, famed for their strawberries and annual festival.

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I know you wanted to look inside.

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You are not limited to the ingredients below; feel free to get creative in your add in’s and what’s in season in your area.

Enjoy!

Recipe & Ingredients

Salad
1 head butterhead lettuce, torn (or combo of other greens)
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Optional:  purple onion, goat or feta cheese

Strawberry Vinaigrette
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

For the salad:  In a large salad bowl tear up the greens, add the cabbage and carrots – toss well.  Top with stawberries and walnuts

For the dressing:  Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth

Escargot

Whether for a special occasion such as Valentine’s day or just a romantic dinner these snails will satisfy the most distinguished palates and the simplicity of preparation cannot be understated.

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Fresh, frozen or canned?  While I rarely if ever use anything from a can these escargot are one of the few exceptions.  I have yet to source out fresh ones and I find the flavor and texture good enough for my palate.

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Pop the can and drain well in a small strainer

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Mix the butter, garlic, parsley, brandy and salt and pepper together well.  Place an equal dollop, top with a snail and bake at 350 for approximately 15 minutes or until butter is bubbly.  I use escargot pans but using the shells make a lovely presentation also.  The shells can be re used by washing well in warm soapy water to get all of the butter out.

Recipe & Ingredients

1, 4 oz can escargots
6 tablespoons raw grass fed butter, softened
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon flat leaf Italian parsley finely chopped
1/2 tsp brandy
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Pop open the can and drain.  Add the chopped garlic, parsley, brandy and salt and pepper to taste to the softened butter and mix well.  Use a small dollop of the butter mixture to each snail and place in shells or an escargot dish and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with gluten free toast points if desired.

Serves 2-4 (depending on appetites)