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Monday, September 26, 2011

Weeknight Cioppino...

My husband and I are not stew or soup people. I'm not sure why...but we just aren't. Its one of the things that we are in complete culinary agreement on. So, I don't make soups or stews. But, the other night, on a whim for no reason at all really, I decided to make cioppino. I had two fishes in the fridge that I accidentally defrosted together, and wanted something other to do with them then steam or pan sear. Oh, and I needed something interesting to do with eggplant...its in season here you know, and if you read my blog, you know I cook in season what comes from the farmshare each week.
I hear this dish comes from fisherman on the docks in Italy. A working man's food. It makes sense to me, in the old village ports of Italy, that one might take what was left in the bottom of the boat at the end of the day, carry it home to his wife who would brilliantly, yet effortlessly make this incredible stew from scraps.
Whatever its origins, cioppino is a dish that is not often seen on menus in the American Southwest. Back east more perhaps, but not really here. It seems like a dish that could intimidate, taking hours to stew on the stove. But no, not this time. I created this for a weeknight meal. Pick up some fish this weekend and put on a pot.
This stew has a rich and thick tomato-y broth, that is earthy with that mild sweetness that comes from tomato, and a hint of warmth from the red pepper. The vegetables and the thick, flaky chunks of fish really leave you satisfied.

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large onion, thinly sliced or diced
• 1 small eggplant cut into small dice (about 2 cups)
• Fresh or frozen green beans or peas (about 1.5 cups)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 tbs. garlic, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes (for medium, use less for less heat)
• 1 small can tomato paste
• 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
• 4 cups stock or broth
• 3/4 pound fresh (or from frozen) salmon fillet cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1 pound fresh (or from frozen) wahoo or cod fillet cut into 1-inch cubes (or any firm white fish, like halibut)


Heat the oil in a large, deep pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, and eggplant and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and sauté 2 more minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices and the stock. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the chunks of fish to the pot and cover and cook until the fish is cooked through, about another 5-7 minutes. Add the green beans or peas. Simmer for another minute Season generously with salt and pepper to taste..

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with GF crackers or toasted GF bread. I garnished with diced celery, a dollop of sour cream and cilantro.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Morning Banana Bran Muffins...

Just ask my husband, I am always trying out new recipe for a morning breakfast on the go. Something that packs a bigger nutritional punch than you might expect, in a small and healthy package, oh--and that tastes mighty good. Why? Probably because I am the ever-multi-tasker...never settling for doing one thing, when I can do three at the same time. That is why I like these. Nutrition (full of good stuff)+fast-food (my version anyway, I made them Saturday and they last me all week.)+yumminess (they taste really good)+convenience (it fits in my purse with my yogurt and plum!).
This muffin is my latest invention, and it's delicious! I pair it with a homemade yogurt and a piece of fruit and I have a morning breakfast that is about 400 calories (just right) full of nutritional goodies and goodness and--I dont even think about food till well into the lunch time hour (it keeps you satisfied for a long time.)

And the nutritional value--more goodness than usual for such a small, but mighty little muffin!
It gives you good fat, potassium, fiber, and protein! And about 192 calories per muffin.

These muffins are dense, yet super moist and chewey. The almonds give crunch, the coconut a satisfying chew, and the chocolate chips and 'just sweet-enough' edge to these. when you eat one, microwave for 15-seconds if right from the fridge, and they will taste right from the oven. Use raisins if you prefer not to have chocolate in your breakfast muffin.

  •  ¾ cup oat bran
  • ¼ cup ground flax meal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 2 small eggs
  • 2 tbs olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup GF flour blend
  • ¾ cup coconut (not sweetened)
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (at least 60%, more is better for more you) (or use raisins if you dont want to use chocolate)

Preheat oven to 425F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a whisk attachment. Blend together until well mixed. Spoon mixture into muffin cups filling almost full. Bake 15-17 minutes.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Faster than take-out Shrimp in Mushroom Sauce

This is a dish that took me 28-minutes end to end. That is faster than takeout any day! Its delicious and hearty, without being laden with meat...shrimp is the protein here.
Don't be daunted by the ingredients list, its mostly items you have, and just a few you will need to add to your grocery list for the week to pick up so you can make this next Monday night.
We use shrimp in this, because it lends itself perfectly to the flavors. Since we only buy domestic, wild shrimp (when it is on sale), we don't get this treat often, so when we do—we want to do something really great with it. Tomatoes are an unexpected ingredient in this stir fry dish, but they add a delicious tangy-sweet component to the dish. The cool and crunchy, raw cucumber is a wonderful cooling contrast to the slightly sweet, and earthy-rich mushroom sauce.

Main dish:
  • 1 lb. raw (or frozen) shrimp
  • 1 oz. package dried shitake mushrooms (check your Asian food isle)
  • 2 cups (or so) grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup edamame beans (not in the shell)
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped into large pieces
  • 1/3 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
  • About 4 oz of GF rice noodle (like Thai Kitchen brand)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

  • Water
  • 1/4 GF Tamari (GF soy) sauce
  • 1/4 cup GF Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • 1 tbs vinegar (any kind)
Start a teapot with about 4 cups of water until it boils. Place rice noodles and dried shitakes in a large glass bowl. When the teapot boils, pour the liquid over the noodles and mushrooms. Using a wooden spoon, push the noodles and mushrooms underwater to submerge. Cover with a dishtowel and let sit. In a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, add 1 tbs olive oil and saute the edamame, tomatoes, and red bell pepper until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Return to the noddles. The water will have taken on a brownish color and flavor of the mushroom, creating a mushroom broth. Using tongs, retrieve the mushrooms from the bowl of noodles and add to the saute pan. Cover the noodles again. Saute the vegetables another 2-3 minutes. Then, add the raw shrimp. Cook the shrimp until they are about 1/2 way cooked (you can still see some grayish part, and they are not all the way pink). Return again to the noddles, they should be soft by now in the water. To the noodle water and noodles add the brown sugar, Worcestershire, GF soy sauce and corn starch. Stir to mix. Add the noddle mixtrue to the pan of vegetables and mushrroms. and stir to combine. The liquid will begin to simmer and as soon as it does, it will thicken into a thick glossy sauce. Season generaously with salt and pepper (to taste.) When the sauce is as thick as you like it, dish it into bowls. Top the hot rice noddles and sauce with the raw cucumbers and cilantro. Serve.