AVOCADO AND ORANGE SALAD WITH CHARRED JALAPENO DRESSING

No hesitation to jump on the preparation of this salad: from the moment I saw the post at Fer’s site to enjoying it as our dinner only 20 hours  elapsed.  Keep in mind that most recipes sit on my “to make soon” folder for months, not hours.  Some have been waiting there for a decade! The protein quotient of this salad was increased by the addition of seared scallops on top, with a delicate drizzle of this amazing dressing.  One word: awesome.

Scallops, Orange and Avocado Salad
AVOCADO AND ORANGE SALAD WITH CHARRED JALAPENO DRESSING
(adapted from Chucrute com Salsicha, original recipe from Bon Appetit)

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 jalapeño
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt & freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup grape seed oil
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 avocados, sliced
2 oranges, cut in segments
mixed greens
6 large sea scallops (optional)

Simmer orange juice in a small saucepan until syrupy and reduced to about 2 Tbsp.  It should take a little over 5 minutes. Let cool.

Roast jalapeño directly over a gas flame, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides.  Let cool; remove stem, skin, and seeds, then finely chop.

Whisk shallot, vinegar, reduced orange juice, and the jalapeño in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in vegetable oil, then olive oil. Set vinaigrette aside.

Toss avocados, orange segments, salad greens,  and vinaigrette in a bowl.  Serve with seared scallops on top, if so desired.

ENJOY! (I know you will….)

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  You might be tempted to use store-bought orange juice for the dressing, but fresh is best, since it will be concentrated by cooking.  Also, I wimped out and used only half the jalapeño, but it would be even better with the whole pepper.  Go for it and you won’t be disappointed. What a great twist the charring of the jalapeno!  I do that all the time with bell peppers, but had never seen a recipe applying the same treatment to a much smaller (and hotter) pepper.

For the scallops, I used a sprinkle of Mycryo to help get that nice sear, but use whatever method you like.  Just do not over-cook them.   The salad will stand on its own without the scallops, it is very flavorful. Great combination of ingredients, plus a dressing that will be made often in the Bewitching Kitchen.  I can see it would be wonderful spooned over a thick piece of grilled salmon…

ONE YEAR AGO: Green Olive, Walnuts and Pomegranate Salad

TWO YEARS AGO: Romanian Flatbreads

THREE YEARS AGO: Ziti with Artichokes and Meyer Lemon Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blasted Broccoli, Stove-top version

A SIMPLE DINNER

At the height of our kitchen renovation, dinner preparation must be kept as simple as possible. Our favorite approach is to cook the main dish on the outside grill and then pick one side dish that can be prepared on the single-burner induction cooktop. This dinner turned out particularly nice, so I must remember this combination of fish and veggies for the future.  That future that shall bring our kitchen back in all its glory!

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I was not sure I should even include a recipe for the fish, because it is so simple.  It is our default way to grill both salmon and steelhead trout. The spice mix from Penzey’s (or from Spice House) is a favorite of ours, we always have it in our pantry. Or what used to be our pantry, right now our spices are a lot harder to find… 😉

spices

GRILLED STEELHEAD TROUT
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 filet of steelhead trout, with skin on
2 Tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp Southwest Seasoning
salt to taste

Rinse the filet of fish, pat it completely dry with paper towels.  Place over aluminum foil, with the skin side down.

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, spice mix, and a little salt.   Brush all over the fish.

Grill to medium-rare.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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The zucchini was prepared more or less according to a recipe I blogged about years ago that I make all the time.  However, instead of regular, slivered almonds, I used Marcona almonds, and left them whole.  These almonds are amazing, I advise anyone to go the extra mile to buy them.  They are moist, tender, intensely flavored.

While I was making dinner, Phil asked if I’d like him to prepare a little Mexican-Caprese to add to our meal…  Would any wife in her right mind say NO to that? 😉

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More about this delicious salad can be found in the guest post written by Phil 4 years ago, Avocado Three Ways

As this post is published, we will be away on a business trip.  If all goes according to plan, by the time we come back our home will be 95% ready.  The floors should be sanded and finished, cabinets done, maybe even all appliances installed. I can hardly wait to open our front door around midnight on October 13th. It will be like an episode of “Restaurant Impossible”. ” Ready to see your new kitchen? Open your eyes… “  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

TWO YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

FOUR YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

SEA SCALLOPS WITH PEA PUREE & CILANTRO GREMOLATA

Preparing this dinner was not easy.  It was probably not very wise to make it during the kitchen hellnovation, but I was craving a nicer meal to make our Sunday evening feel special.  It can be very stressful to be in a house undergoing renovation, so having a slightly fancier meal seemed like a good idea.  However, what used to be a kitchen is now an almost empty space with no finished floors or appliances.  We are lucky to be able to keep the fridge turned on in our garage, and to have improvised two cooking areas: one in the laundry room, another in our enclosed patio.  Still, pantry items are in boxes, a few dishes are piled in the dining room for our daily use, a few pans at close reach, but not that many.  I wish you could see a video of me preparing this meal.  Actually, I am very glad there is no video documenting the process.  It involved me dashing a few times across rooms, forgetting that some passages are blocked by heavy plastic.  It involved a mildly twisted ankle while balancing scallops on a baking dish and “almost” losing them all to a floor covered in rough concrete bits. It also involved a scorched pan,  but the pea puree, even after subjected to torture tasted absolutely awesome!  So, allow me to share with you one of the toughest meals I prepared in the past year, a recipe that I first saw on a favorite food blog of mine, Taste Food.  Yes, I cooked from Lynda’s blog before… 😉

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SEA SCALLOPS WITH GINGERED PEA PUREE AND CILANTRO GREMOLATA
(adapted from Taste Food)

for the scallops:
12 sea scallops
salt and pepper to taste
sprinkle of Mycryo

for the pea puree:
2 cups shelled English peas
salt
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne

for the gremolata:
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Make the gremolata by combining the cilantro, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons salt and the peas. Cook until peas are tender. Remove from heat and drain peas, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.

Combine peas, ginger, olive oil, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and cayenne in bowl of food processor. Purée until smooth. Add some of the reserved water (approximately 1/4 cup) to thin to desired consistency; the purée should not be too thin. Discard remaining water. Transfer purée to a bowl and keep warm. Pat scallops dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Add a sprinkle of Mycryo right before cooking. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the scallops, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Cook, turning once, until brown on both sides and just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining scallops.  No need to add any oil to the pan, just the sprinkle of Mycryo will be enough.

To assemble, spoon pea purée on serving plates. Top with scallops. Sprinkle scallops and purée with gremolata.  Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

peapuree

Comments:  Mycryo is a great product with a poorly chosen name, if you ask me.  The word –  Mycryo – makes me think of tears, sadness, despair.  But that could not be farther from the truth:  they gave sea scallops THE most perfect brown ever, even though they were prepared in THE most rudimentary cooking conditions available to a cook (the Drama Queen says hello). I even conducted a small experiment by preparing two batches of sea scallops.  One cost a small fortune, they were the ultra-special, huge dry sea scallops.  The other was a frozen type that while thawing released a gallon of white milky liquid.  No bueno.   With a light sprinkle of Mycryo (and no oil added to the non-stick pan), all scallops browned like a Brazilian under the tropical sun!   We could not tell the difference in texture or taste between the two types, which was quite amazing to me.   Great product! You can order here, they shipped very quickly, contrary to what I heard from customers who got it through amazon.com.

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The pea puree competed heavily with the scallops to win the spotlight of this meal.   Bright flavor with the ginger and just a slight heat from the cayenne.  Lynda really came up with a perfectly balanced side dish.

I close this post with a little snapshot of our laundry room.  In one side we installed the induction cooktop + microwave. On the other side, where we do have a large sink, we stuffed together the coffee machine, coffee grinder, and our beloved Penguin Sodastream.  It’s cozy in there, folks. Cozy.

cookingcomp

ONE YEAR AGO: Mediterranean Skewers with Balsamic Dressing

TWO YEARS AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

FOUR YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

PAN-GRILLED TILAPIA WITH SMOKED PAPRIKA AND AVOCADO CREAM

tilapia1
I never thought of grilling tilapia filets because they are too delicate, but pan-grilling worked so well that I can see it as my method of choice from now on.  Normally I would either pan fry them after coating with flour, or follow a lighter route, baking in the oven.  However, when the weather outside is the way I like it (mid to high 90’s yeaaaaaah!)  I rather not  turn our oven on.  The inspiration for this meal came from Cooking Light magazine, but I definitely took off in my own direction.

PAN-GRILLED TILAPIA FILETS WITH SMOKED PAPRIKA AND AVOCADO CREAM
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the fish
4 tilapia filets
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper

for the avocado cream
2 small avocados
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fat-free yogurt (or full fat)
1 to 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
salt and pepper
lime juice to taste

Mix the olive oil with the smoked paprika in a small bowl.  Lay the filets on parchment paper, season lightly with salt and pepper.  Brush both sides with the smoked paprika oil.   Heat a grill pan, when hot spray it lightly with oil.  Add the filets and cook 2 minutes per side or until done (they should flake easily and have nice grill marks).

For the avocado cream,  blend all ingredients except the lime juice in a small food processor or blender, until very smooth. Taste and add lime juice for a nice balance of flavor, as the orange juice tends to make it a little sweet.   If you want a more runny consistency, add a little water (or any of the juices according to your taste).  Serve cold or even chilled.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

tilapiaserved
Comments:
  This was a delicious dinner, very quick to prepare, light and absolutely perfect for the weather we are having!   I served the fish with blistered grape tomatoes. Simply heat a very small amount of olive oil in a non-stick pan, when screaming hot, add the tomatoes (whole), season with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence.  Shake the pan around a few times, once they start to get blisters all over, they are done.   This side dish will be ready in 5 minutes, and the tomatoes can sit and wait, no need to serve them too hot. (Did you notice I just gave you three recipes in a single blog post?  Am I generous or what? ;-))

The avocado cream soothes the heat of the smoked paprika, and serving it cold was a nice move.  If you like your fish more heavily seasoned, add more smoked paprika,  some extra black pepper, or even some garlic.  We prefer to have the flavor of the fish to come through first.  The small amount of paprika was enough to give the oil a beautiful, intense red color…

tilapiaOil.
Before I leave you…  Since I’m on the subject of fish dinners, Kelly from Inspired Edibles recently blogged on a great recipe for sole filets. After seasoning the filets in a lime-chili marinade, she coated them with quinoa flakes and baked in the oven.  Click here  to read her post about it.  I pinned her version to try once the weather cools down a little.  Sounds absolutely delicious!

ONE YEAR AGO: Golden Saffron and Fennel Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2011

THREE YEARS AGO: Heavenly Homemade Fromage Blanc

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Perfect Sunday Dinner

CLASSIC SHRIMP GOBERNADOR TACOS

Another great recipe coming straight from the adorable  Marcela Valladolid, these tacos can be prepared very quickly. Plus, if you make the shrimp filling the day before, the meal will be ready in less than 15 minutes. I tried hard to find the specific origin for Gobernador Tacos, no luck. Then, a dear friend sent me a link with the whole story behind it. (Thank you, Dr. G!). These tacos are very popular in Baja California.  I can guarantee they will be equally popular in your home! 😉

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CLASSIC SHRIMP GOBERNADOR TACOS
(adapted from Marcela Valladolid)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
2 tomatoes, seeded. chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, chopped
1 cup canned tomato puree
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup shredded Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese
Lime wedges and hot sauce for serving
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In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the minced shallot and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes.  Stir in the tomato puree, oregano, bay leaf, and smoked paprika. Cook for another couple of minutes, remove the pan from the heat and reserve.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
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Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Lay 2 tortillas, flat on the bottom of the pan, side by side. Put a small mound of cheese on 1 side of each tortilla. Wait until the cheese melts slightly,  and then add about 2 tablespoons of the shrimp mixture to each tortilla. Fold the tortillas over into half-moon shapes and cook to melt the cheese completely, another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.Repeat with the remaining tortillas, cheese, and shrimp mixture. Arrange the tacos on a serving platter and serve with lime wedges and hot sauce on the side.
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ENJOY!
to print the recipe, click here
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sauce
The shrimp sauce, so tasty as the taco filling, is equally wonderful as a main dish.  Just add a little white rice and some guacamole to complete the meal…

served

Deliciously messy to eat, this is a great recipe for a warm summer night!  One extra tip: do not cut the shrimp too small, keep the pieces in large chunks. If you want to splurge, chunks of  lobster tails in these tacos will be absolutely awesome!  Expensive, yes, but awesome! 😉

If you like Mexican food, tune into Mexican Made Easy, it’s always fun to watch Marcela preparing classic dishes,  often with a healthier approach.  Not much else appeals to me in the FoodTV these days, and that’s a little sad.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Walk Towards the Sunset

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen

THREE YEARS AGO:  Heavenly Home-made Fromage Blanc

FOUR YEARS AGO:  A Perfect Sunday Dinner

CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY WITH PASTA AND MUSSELS IN SAFFRON BROTH

For some reason I had “issues” about cooking mussels at home. Maybe that whole de-bearding thing sounded too wild for my delicate self.  ;-)  But we love mussels and it’s  sad to only have them in restaurants, or even worse, only when we go to Paris and visit one of those widespread “Leon de Bruxelles” places.  Anyway, our grocery store in the Little Apple carries farmed mussels. They have no beard to worry about. Therefore, most of the cleaning process is done. They cook quickly, and certainly make a humble plate of pasta (and a rainy Wednesday evening) shine…

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PASTA WITH MUSSELS IN SAFFRON SAUCE
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

2 cups dry white wine
4 bay leaves
4 pounds small mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
Pinch of saffron threads
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
linguine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
minced parsley, to taste

In a large pot, combine the wine with the bay leaves and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over high heat, shaking the pan a few times, until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Drain the mussels in a colander set over a medium bowl. Pour the mussel broth into a glass measure. Crumble the saffron into the hot mussel broth. Reserve.

Discard any unopened mussels. Remove the mussels from their shells and place in a separate bowl. Pour the melted butter over the mussels and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the thinly sliced garlic and cook over low heat just it gets some color. If you prefer, remove the garlic, if not, leave it in, and add the crushed red pepper, cooking together for one minute.   Slowly pour in the reserved mussel broth, stopping when you reach the grit at the bottom of the glass measure. Add the lemon juice and simmer over moderately high heat until the sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 8 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta just until al dente. Drain the pasta well. Add the buttered mussels and the hot spaghetti to the mussel sauce and toss over low heat until the pasta is uniformly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  Glad to inform my fear of mussels is a thing of the past.  I probably discarded more mussels than needed,  as I rather be safe than sorry, and was a bit insecure preparing them for the first time.  This is a delicious pasta! Of course, having great quality saffron adds a lot to it…  ;-)   Now that I am not afraid of cooking mussels, we will have them at our dinner table on a regular basis,  brightening up our Wednesdays, as we slowly move towards the weekend.

ONE YEAR AGO: Triple Chocolate Brownies

TWO YEARS AGO: Shanghai Soup Dumplings

THREE YEARS AGO: Bite-sized Chocolate Pleasure

PUMPKIN SHRIMP CURRY

With this installment, I used up the last bit of our precious home-made pumpkin purée stored in the freezer.  The series closed with a golden key, by the way.  This curry is a winner!   Pumpkin & shrimp is actually a very traditional combination in the Brazilian dish called “camarão na moranga”.  You can see a photo of the completed dish here.  Think about a shrimp stew served inside a small pumpkin, carved to hold the stew in all its tasty glory.  I intend to make the Brazilian version sometime, but for now I’ll share this variation that I adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.
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PUMPKIN SHRIMP CURRY
(adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2011)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 can of diced tomatoes (15 ounces)
Pumpkin purée (15 ounces can, or homemade)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (light is ok)
1 + 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup green peas (frozen is fine, no need to defrost)
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
cilantro leaves to taste, minced
lime zest to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced shallot and ginger; lower the heat and sauté until soft, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and pumpkin puree, and  cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the pumpkin is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, curry powder, and cayenne pepper; simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add peas, shrimp, and lime juice. Simmer until shrimp are cooked and peas are warm. Serve with steamed rice. Top with cilantro, and lime zest.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I made a few modifications on the original recipe.  It called for only one tomato, diced.  I don’t think that’s enough, I love a more tomato-ey curry, so I added the full 15-ounce can, draining most of the liquid.  As I reduced the sauce, it seemed a bit too chunky, so I worked my immersion blender to smooth things out lightly. My final modification was to use green peas, whereas the original recipe added pieces of cooked butternut squash.  I thought it would be too monochromatic and boring. Plus, not much contrast between the taste of pumpkin and butternut squash.  The green peas brightened up the colors and added great flavor.  So, I patted myself on the back, and told Phil I am a great cook. And also very modest.  He said he knew both things already…  He’s a keeper, my friends. A keeper…  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2012

TWO YEARS AGO: A Dutch Tiger

THREE YEARS AGO: Banana Bread
(bragging mode on: this recipe tied for first place in The Quest for the Best Banana Bread, at Eat, Play Love! ;-))