Friday, January 30, 2009

Miso-Glazed Cod

This delicious dinner was inspired by a similar dish I had at a Boston restaurant last week. The restaurant made it with black cod, which my fish guy doesn't carry, though he likened it to Chilean Sea Bass, which I think is a good comparison. However, I didn't want to shell out for the sea bass, so I made this with fresh cod instead. The end result is slightly sweet and melt-in-your-mouth tender. Enjoy!

Miso-Glazed Cod
Serves 3

Three 6-ounce cod fillets, rinsed and patted dry
3 Tablespoons white miso
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 Tablespoon mirin
sliced scallions for garnish

Place the fish fillets on a plate or in a shallow dish.

Combine the miso, light brown sugar, sesame oil and mirin in a small bowl, stirring until the brown sugar is incorporated into the paste.

Spread about 1 Tablespoon of the miso mixture on each fish fillet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 - 60 minutes.

Preheat the broiler, with the rack about 3 1/2 inches from the heating element. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the fish fillets on it. Broil for 3-4 minutes, or until they begin to char.

Remove the sheet from the oven and turn the heat down to 375. Brush the remaining miso glaze over the fillets.

Very thin fillets will be cooked at this point. Thicker fillets will need to be baked for 5-6 minutes more.

Garnish fillets with sliced scallions and serve.

Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Greens Pasta

Every now and then my husband announces he needs to eat more vegetables. This is his subtle way of letting me know he needs my help. So I do things like cut up some carrots, cukes and peppers and put them on a plate with hummus for snacking, leave bowls of salad in the fridge for his lunch (he works at home), and try to get creative with the side dishes at dinnertime. You see, he doesn't like all that many vegetables, so I consider it a culinary challenge when he makes his announcement. And I love a culinary challenge.

I found "Winter Greens Pasta" in Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book and thought it would appeal to my other half. It's LOADED with greens, but the pasta makes it look less like a mess o' greens and more like, well, something he would eat.

A couple of notes: There are anchovies in this dish. Don't worry about it. They just add some flavor; no one will know they're in there because they melt right into the sauce. And as you gather your ingredients, you may think you have way too much greenery going on, but once all that produce cooks down, you'll see that it's just right.

P.S.: Rachael, this recipe doesn't belong in the "Vegetarian" section of the cookbook, with those pesky little anchovies in it. Just thought you should know.

Winter Greens Pasta

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

1/2 box (about 1/2 lb.) whole wheat spaghetti
2 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 anchovy fillets
pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 head escarole, chopped and washed in salad spinner
3 cups baby spinach (or regular spinach, washed and thick stems removed)
black pepper
2 T. drained capers
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups arugula leaves

Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water. Place a measuring up in your colander to remind you that you will need to save 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring every now and then, until the anchovies have completely melted, about 4 minutes. Turn the heat up a bit and add the escarole and spinach. Turn the greens around with tongs until they begin to wilt, about 1 -2 minutes. Season the wilted greens with black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg (omit the nutmeg if you don't like it). Turn off the heat.

When the pasta is drained, put it back in the pot you cooked it in OR in the skillet with the greens, whichever is larger. Add the reserved pasta cooking water, the capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, and the wilted greens. Toss in the arugula and heat all over medium-high heat for a minute. Taste and add more black pepper, red pepper, salt or lemon zest, if desired.

We enjoyed this as a side dish for steak one evening and fish the next.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tired but happy

Whoops, it's been a while since I've blogged. Life has been busy, busy.
First, an article about my business appeared in the Metrowest Daily News. Hopefully that link will work in case you haven't seen it.

Then, the phone started ringing. Did you know there are lots of companies who want to sell you a "gorgeous laminated mahogany-backed copy of the article in the (your hometown newspaper here) for your vestibule?" I for one don't have a vestibule. So I've had to kindly turn those folks away.

But I've also had some calls and email inquiries for cooking lessons, dinner parties and the Share-a-Chef service. So that's been keeping me quite busy.

Then comes my daughter's swim meets, my son's ever-changing social calendar (why can't they drive at 13? It would make my life so much easier), my volunteer commitments and social engagements, and keeping up with my Facebook account, and I swear I've had 9 hours of sleep in the last 2 weeks. But it's all good. I'm just going to go lie down now.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans

Last night's dinner was a filling vegetarian skillet dish starring one of our favorite starches, potato gnocchi. Usually, gnocchi is boiled and served like pasta. In this recipe, it is not boiled but sauteed until brown and crisp on the outside. I was skeptical, but the technique worked, and it was really good. Even my littlest gnocchi lover, who frowned when she saw all the other ingredients in the skillet, ate a bowlful.

You could do all sorts of tweaking to this recipe: use a different green like broccoli rabe, or add some leftover marinara sauce, sun-dried tomatoes or even kalamata olives. I also think it would be good with cubes of extra-firm tofu standing in for the gnocchi. Use your imagination.

One thing's for sure: the leftovers will make a wonderful lunch this cold afternoon.

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans
adapted from Eating Well magazine
Makes 6 servings


2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 16-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup water or broth
6 cups chopped chard leaves (about 1 small bunch) or spinach
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (I did not use)
¼ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese


1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chard (or spinach) and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes. Serve.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Salvation Army's "Miracle Kitchen"

OK, maybe a simple salad doesn't look all that exciting to you, but it's very much appreciated by the folks who are going to dine on it later today.

On the first Tuesday of each month, volunteers from my community prepare and serve dinner to the guests at the Salvation Army's Miracle Kitchen. I do my part by preparing whatever's needed (this month, it was a salad and bottled dressing); my family went and served the meal once last year. Scout troops, families and other caring individuals help out every month by preparing salads, hot entrees and dessert, and the entire effort is coordinated by one of my good friends.

Before you dig in to your dinner tonight, please give some thought to the dinner guests at the Miracle Kitchen, and give thanks for all you have.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Healthy heart

Just got the results of my fasting cholesterol tests, and I'm proud to say that my numbers are all optimal. Unlike some of my traits, the results of the test are not genetic; I work hard to keep myself healthy, because I want to ward off the diseases that plagued my parents and grandparents.

I attribute my success to my diet, first and foremost. I don't eat a lot of red meat and I avoid dairy, commercial baked goods and deep-fried foods. I do eat lots of nuts, poultry, seafood, pork tenderloin, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. I aim for a variety of colors, textures and flavors in every meal and snack I eat. Am I a complete health food nut? No way. But I know what makes me feel good and what makes me feel yucky, and I take it from there.

My success also comes from the fact that I exercise, don't smoke, and try not to stress out too much. The last one is tough. But I'm working on it every day, and apparently, it's paying off.