Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fabulous fish

We eat fish at least 2-3 times per week. Whether fresh from the store (meaning I forgot to defrost something for dinner) or taken from the freezer stash, we have plenty to choose from.
Something else in abundance and variety at my house are fresh herbs. I am always looking for more ways to get them into our meals - for seasoning (we try to maintain a low sodium intake), for nutrition (Did you know a teaspoon of thyme contains 10% of the daily value for iron?) and for health (Basil is used to treat irritability, fatigue, depression and anxiety!)
Here are two ways I have come up with to make bland fish great with fresh herbs and a few other seasonings on hand.

Ginger-mint baked fish
I usually use Rockfish for this. It will also work well with Red Snapper.
1+ lbs/2 whole fillets thin white fish
olive oil
1 tb chopped chives
pinch red pepper flakes
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp orange zest
3-4 stems fresh mint
1 inch piece chopped fresh ginger
In a glass baking dish, drizzle fillets with oil and rub to coat both sides to prevent sticking. Sprinkle fish with chives, garlic, red pepper and orange zest. Strip leaves from mint stems and chop coarsely if large; sprinkle over fish. Top with ginger and bake at 375 until fish is flaky but still moist (about 20 min).

The fish will absorb the flavors of the herb and spice toppings while cooking, so if it's too much of a mouthful you can scrape some of it off before eating.

Coconut-crusted fish
Again, I usually use this with Rockfish.
1/3 c flaked coconut (unsweetened)
2 tb almond meal
2 tb parmesan cheese
2 tb fresh parsley
grapeseed oil (or olive if you prefer...grapeseed is lighter and doesn't interfere with the coconut)
ground pepper to taste
Put coconut, almond meal, parmesan and parsley in a chopper or food processer for a few pulses to combine and grind smaller. Put fish in a glass baking dish and coat lightly with oil. Top with mixture from chopper - you will have plenty to coat two fillets substantially. Top with ground pepper and bake at 375 until top begins to brown and fish is flaky.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


You know that scene in Forrest Gump where Bubba lists every way to cook shrimp he can think of? The way my tomatoes are coming in, I think I might have to open up the BubbaGump Tomato Company. There's stuffed tomatoes, tomato fruit salsa, baked tomato casserole... You get the picture, now get the recipes.
I pick my tomatoes every 2-3 days and this is a typical harvest. The top two baskets are giant Chadwick Cherry tomatoes. From left across the bottom: Green Giant, Amish Paste and Margherita (in basket), Chancha red slicing, Sunsugar mini orange.
Fruit salsa
I make this as a summer topping for baked or grilled fish. We usually make it with a lighter white fish, such as rockfish, tilapia or sole, but you can put it on cod or halibut as well. The tomatoes I use are the little orange guys pictured at the bottom right in the picture above.
4-6 strawberries
1 kiwi
10-12 tiny tomatoes
1/4 red onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tb balsamic vinegar
fresh cilantro
Chop fruit, quarter tomatoes and dice onion. Stir together with garlic and balsamic. Top with chopped cilantro. Let marinate 30-60 minutes before serving. This makes enough for 2 large (like rockfish) or 4 small (like tilapia) filets.
Don't keep any leftover salsa, this doesn't save well.

Baked tomato casserole
This isn't much of a "casserole" per se, but it is a great quick way to use some tomatoes!
1 large green or yellow tomato (I use the Green Giants, bottom left in the picture above)
2 romas (in the plastic basket at the center of the picture above) or 1 red slicing tomato
2 tb almond meal
1/4 c shredded parmesan
fresh ground pepper
olive oil
In an 8x8 dish, put a little olive oil to cover. Layer 3-4 slices of green tomato and top with ground pepper. Layer red tomatoes, followed by remaining green tomatoes and more ground pepper.
In a small dish, combine almond meal and parmesan. Top tomatoes and bake @ 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
This makes 2 servings.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tailgate time

Football season started - for me anyway - this weekend with the first Eagles tailgate of the year.
What's a primal girl to do without chips, subs or cookies?
Eat MEAT! Mmm...burgers, chicken apple sausage (from Trader Joe's), and grilled shrimp. Veggies and dip round it out -- and keep me from chewing my arm off waiting for the grill to heat up!

OK, I know everyone knows how to make a basic burger, but my husband is truly the master. Here's how he does it:
85/15 organic ground beef (or venison)
Cayenne, garlic powder and minced onion to taste
Mix (by hand) and make into four patties per pound of beef. Poke a little hole in the center of each with your finger to help them cook all the way through.
Top with mustard, avocado and cheddar.
Veggies & dip, burgers & toppings ... Go Eagles!
Whisk 2 parts olive oil and 1 part lemon juice
Add generous amounts of minced garlic, cumin, ground pepper and chopped cilantro
Marinate shrimp for several hours and then throw on the grill for a few minutes until just cooked

4 oz cream cheese
1/2 c sour cream
1 tb minced garlic
1/4 c chopped herbs - whatever is fresh in your kitchen garden (I used tarragon, parsley, chives and oregano this time. Cut the leaves with a mezzaluna to release some of the oils and to avoid having large pieces of leaf in your dip.)
Mix together and let sit about an hour for flavors to blend.
I serve with broccoli and carrot slices.
This dip is also good to stuff mushroom caps or cherry tomatoes. I also used it as a spread for my burger.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


My go-to meal for breakfast, lunch and yes, sometimes even dinner on a rare night to myself, combines garden miscellany with pantry staples. It's portable, it's never the same twice, it's crustless quiche.

Tonight I made zucchini-tomato-cheddar, but the combinations are endless. Here are the basics:

Quiche base
3/4 c egg white
2 eggs
1 1/4 c milk
2 ts mustard (I usually use dijon...tonight I used champagne dill)
1/2 c shredded cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk the above ingredients together and pour over filling (see below) into buttered pie plate. I usually top with additional shredded cheese and some fresh minced herbs, whatever I have on hand. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cool. Cut. Eat. Yum!

Quiche filling
You will need about 3-5 cups total of your chosen filling combination, depending on how dense your ingredients are. For tonight's creation, I used about 2 cups of steamed zucchini and about 2 cups of quartered cherry tomatoes.
Zucchini-tomato-cheddar crustless quiche, and some of the ingredients I used to make it.

Another one of this summer's other faves:
Chard/bacon/onion - Sautee 1/2 a chopped onion in 1 tb of olive oil and 1/4 c bacon bits. Once the onion softens, empty the pan into the pie plate, put another tb olive oil in the pan and sautee about 4 cups chopped rainbow chard leaves and stems, turning it constantly until wilted. Add the chard to the pie plate, pour over the quiche base, and top with cheese (I used gruyere!).
I am looking forward to trying this one with kale in another month or so.

I also plan to try it with some canned (blech!) and frozen ingredients during the winter. Hopefully I will have enough herbs on hand still to flavor up the blandness. Sausage and shrimp? Spinach and artichoke? We'll see...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Salad dressing mania

As summer winds down, my tomatoes are in full force. That and trying to use up bits of this produce and that means every dinner has a salad course these days.
Store bought dressings all have sugar - or worse, HFCS - so I am trying my hand at making my own. These are some of my new favorites.

Each recipe makes approximately 12 oz. I reuse the glass containers that store bought sauces had come in.

Balsamic vinaigrette
3/4 c olive oil
3/4 c balsamic vinegar
1 clove (or more!) minced garlic
1/2 ts dried oregano
2 ts dijon mustard
pinch of coarse black pepper
Great on any salad, but Caprese is my favorite!

Ginger dressing

2 shredded baby carrots
2 tb white wine vinegar
2 tb cider vinegar
1 tb tamari
1 ts sesame oil
1 tb minced onion (dried is ok)
1 tb hot mustard
1 tb grated fresh ginger
This dressing comes out very chunky. It has a bit of a kick to it that I like it better on a burger or grilled chicken breast than on a salad.

Lemon parsley dressing
3/4 c olive oil
1/2 c lemon juice
1 tb minced onion (dried is ok)
2 tb chopped fresh parsley
This dressing is very light and mild.