Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dinner Tonight: Seared Tuna Tower with Spring Vegetables

Tonight was a chance to put to good use seasonal transitional vegetables - a combination of winter ones like beets and kale with spring ones like peas and fresh chives.

Seared Tuna Tower with Spring Vegetables

  • 2 medium sized tuna fillets, seasoned with pinch of curry, salt, pepper
  • 1 cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fennel, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 2 Tbls combined rice vinegar and/or lemon juice
  • 1 Tbls murin 
  • 4 small/medium beets, roasted or pickled, cut into 1/4" diced cubes
  • 1/8 cup of diced red pepper
  • 2 avocados, 3/4 of which cut into diced squares, 1/4 aside
  • 1 cup and 1/2 cup of spring peas (preferably frozen) separated
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped kale
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbls chives, tarragon chopped

This dish is consumed as much with the eyes as it is with your taste buds. To make it you'll need an O-ring mold, the kind you can get almost anywhere - like these from Amazon.

  1. Saute the red onions and fennel with a little olive oil for about 15-20 minutes until softened. Put into bowl. Add a mix of preferred spices (e.g., curry, za'atar, etc.)
  2. In the same pan with a little more olive oil, sear the tuna on medium-high heat for 2 minutes each side. Place on a plate to cool. Slice tuna into strips and again into 1/2" cubes.
  3. Create an ice bath that you will use to rapidly cool down the green vegetables. Take a large bowl and fill it with ice. Add cold water. Place by the sink.
  4. Bring to boil 2 cups of heavily salted water in a pot or double broiler. Have the colander ready.
  5. Put the peas in and let cook for no more than 1 minute before dumping the water and peas in the colander and placing the peas in the ice bath. Separate 1/2 cup of peas and put the rest in a small bowl aside.
  6. Repeat salted water boil and ice bath for the kale and cilantro but let cook in water for no more than 20 seconds - enough to turn items to a bright, vibrant green.
  7. In an immersion blender place the kale, cilantro, 1/2 cup peas, and 1/4 avocado. Add rice vinegar, murin. Salt and pepper to taste. Blend until a smooth and creamy texture is achieved. You can add more avocado to increase thickness or more liquid to thin it.
  8. Assemble several bowls containing:
    1. red onions, fennel, beets, and red pepper
    2. tuna
    3. peas and remaining avocado
    4. puree
  9. In the O-ring, compact the following:
    1. start with the peas and avocado at the bottom
    2. add 1 or 2 spoonfuls of the puree
    3. add tuna
    4. top with red onion, fennel, red pepper
  10. Remove O-ring and voila!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dinner Menu for French Visitors

Here's my recent dinner menu for visiting economic developers from Atlanta's Sister City on France: Toulouse.

I wanted to be seasonal and wanted to really be very Southern with the dessert.  Served this with GA cheeses and toasted baguettes too.


Toulouse Atlanta Dinner by atl10trader on Flickr.

Just follow this link to see and comment on this photo:

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2014 Inspires

Cooking is as much about food and technique as it is about experiences. Atlanta's Food & Wine Festival 2014 in Midtown provided memorable lessons that I had to apply quickly or risk forgetting.

Sous vide, pickled seaweed, escabeche, thin fillets of fish cured in a sugar/salt mixture . . . the topics intrigued and inspired immediate imitation.

Corvina Escabeche with Spring Vegetables

Let's start with the escabeche, (es-kah-BECH-ay), a classic Spanish preparation often paired with oily fish such as mackerel, corvina, or bonito. Its Mediterranean at its essence. Add olive oil to a saucepan at medium heat and the following:
  • 3 - 4 tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/5 inch thick 
  • 1large onions, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • bay leaf (remove when finished) 
  • 2 Ts of combined basil, oregano, 
  • 1 t. of cumin, coriander each 
  • salt, pepper
  • carrots or turnips (optional, cubed into bite sizes)
  • 2 Ts of Espelette Basque Vinegar (or something unique from Whole Foods)
and cook very slowly (3 - 4 hours), covered, over lower heat (I use a 2 out of 10 setting on my induction range so that it cooks caramelized from the inside out vs. fried and charred from the outside in).  At the very end a splash of your best Spanish vinegar tops it off. This makes enough for 6 people.

Prep for fish:
  • Portion the fish into 4 - 5oz pieces, 3/4 inch thick (no more) - ask fishmonger for 30oz if serving 6.
  • Mix a 1/4 cup of equal parts salt and sugar. Use a tablespoon to spread the mix on a flat dish upon which you'll place the fish. This is now considered face down. If there is a skin on the fish, it is now facing you. Leave face down for 15 minutes.
  • Either sous vide the fish at 53 degrees C for 20 minutes or you can prep a pan with medium-hot olive oil and sear with the skin side down for 3 minutes before completely removing from heat.
  • If your fish has no skin, make your own! I use sheets of dried seaweed you can get at Trader Joe's and place 1 or 2 on what I designate the skin side. Continue as in the previous step. Delicious.
The whole thing, escabeche and fish, are served cold or at room temperature on a hot day.

It'd be a shame to not eat this al fresco.

This dish and the recipe is what I derived from notes taken during the Food & Wine demonstration and conversation with Asheville NC's Katie Button who is the talented Executive Chef of Cúrate, the authentic Spanish tapas restaurant continually earning rave reviews since its open in March 2011. Many thanks Katie!

Here is an image of the gazpacho I made to introduce the fish:

Tomato & Cantaloupe Gazpacho with Swiss Chard Dolma, Carrot Halva Over Avocado Aioli

So long as they don't start patenting food recipes, imitation is the highest form of flattery. How else are you going to learn? Let me hear how you fare and what you choose to pair with the fish!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring has Sprung Menu

Spring is arriving. The bounty of food that is about to burst forth from the farmer's markets across the city leaves me very excited.  Just the thought of it had me jumping the gun with this spring 'lite' menu. The menu fed a party of 8.

There are a few photo highlights to share:

Here's the appetizer. Although the menu describes it with spiced cauliflower, it justifiably appears alone.  The cauliflower was rightly moved to the main dish at the last minute.

Next is the main dish which now features the spiced cauliflower. Here's how I made this moveable side dish:

Spiced Cauliflower:
  • 2 heads of cauliflower 
  • 3/4 cup toasted cashews
  • 3/4 cup raisins soaked in mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 cup Vinaigrette of honey, juice of 1 squeezed lemon, and hot chili oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped italian parsley
Set oven to broil at 500 degrees.
Break cauliflower into florets, dress with olive oil, salt, pepper and place on a foil-lined baking sheet in the middle of the oven rack. Set a timer for 7 minutes and broil.  The tips of the cauliflower should begin to brown.
Place cashews on a separate sheet and into oven as you turn off the heat. After 7 minutes remove nuts, let them cool a bit, and roughly chop them.
Combine nuts with raisins and then with cauliflower.
Drizzle with vinaigrette.
Add chopped italian parsley and serve.

Jerusalem is named in the dish because it comes from that great cookbook of the same name by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

And finally I give you dessert made by my mother. Profiteroles. Everything about them made from scratch: from the puffs to the vanilla custard filling, to the amazing chocolate drizzled down the pyramid that keeps it all deliciously together.  From my early childhood this has long been my request for birthday cake. It was as good as ever.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Communal Breakfast: Recipe for Taking Eggs and Any Relationship to the Next Level

Egg Breakfast with The Temple's Men's Club,
a photo by 
atl10trader on Flickr.
Sunday morning I met with my Temple's Men's Club to share one of the best ways to make eggs for anyone they'd like to impress. Everyone brought their own saucepan and a spatula. The Men's Club President-elect brought the ingredients - who I thank for having traveled far and wide in search of the best. I think his effort showed!

This was the event headline:
Learn How to Make the Pen-Ultimate Egg Breakfast
Real Men Know, the Path to Forgiveness, Awesome Dad-ness or Extra Marital Credits Is Through the Stomach.

Here's the recipe.
Ingredients: per person
Ellis Vener Photography
  • The best artisan loaf of bread you can find
  • 1 Tbsp of the best french butter you can find, preferably unsalted
  • Eggs. Organic. Fresh. Qty: 2 eggs per person
  • 2 Tbsp Greek yogurt (low fat Ok but not fat free)
  • 4 Small to medium tomatoes on their vine. In a pinch cherry tomatoes will also do. 
  • 2 Medium, large mushrooms
  • Chives
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil    
  1. In a skillet or pan heat some olive oil over medium heat place the tomatoes and mushrooms in with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes spit and the eggs are done and you're ready to plate.
  2. Toast the bread that's been sliced into 1/4 - 1/2" slices.
  3. Over medium heat, place in a saucepan the eggs along with the butter (you can add a bit of olive oil before this step to prep the saucepan)(add salt at the end, not now)
  4. Do not let the eggs overcook in the saucepan.  Depending on the heat on the pan, spend about 30 seconds on the heat constantly stirring the eggs with the spatula. Take the pan off the heat and continue stirring the eggs. Repeat until eggs begin to thicken and fluff.
  5. Time's up when the steam comes off the eggs when off the heat and stirring. To stop the cooking process, add the Greek yogurt and incorporate into the eggs.
  6. Add pinches of salt and pepper.
  7. Add chives. Stir.
  8. Plate like the picture above.
  9. Don't forget a mimosa and strong coffee!

    Ellis Vener Photography
A variation on this recipe would be to add some smoked salmon at the end as well.  You could also sauté some kale to go along with the tomatoes and mushrooms.

Here's another example:
Breakfast with Eggs,
a photo by 
atl10trader on Flickr.