Sunday, September 13, 2015

Caesar Roasted Swordfish

Check it. Caesar Roasted Swordfish is so so so necessary in your life. It's like restaurant food straight up in your house. And you made it. Whenever I taste a dish and think, "Holy cannoli, Susan, YOU made THIS?!?!," I know it is the good stuff.

I followed the recipe exactly, but I cut it in halfsies since two full grown peeps and one little peep make up my fam. Although, the fish monger at Shop Rite totally wanted to come home and have dinner with us.

Any recipe that lets you prep in advance is a winner in my book. You can definitely make the sauce way early in the day and stick it in the refrigerator. A no-brainer win win.

The sizzling caper addition at the end is a super awesome touch. It made me very happy.

We ate the swordfish with rice, arugula salad and garlic bread just because I had some bread heading toward death in the cupboard and some pesto in the freezer that was just asking to be used. I'm usually not so carbtastic, but what the hey. My little man loves some garlic bread. And he tasted the swordfish without terrorist negotiations while eating loads of garlic bread and rice and salad.

Caesar Roasted Swordfish
From "Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?"
By Ina Garten
Serves 6

2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. anchovy paste
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup good mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds center cut swordfish steaks, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, cut into 6 portions
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (4 scallions)
2 Tbsp. good olive oil
3 Tbsp. drained capers
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is very clean.) Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

For the Caesar sauce, place the garlic, parsley, anchovy paste, and mustard in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and pulse to make a smooth sauce.

Place the swordfish steaks on the pan and sprinkle both sides generously with salt and pepper. Set aside one-third of the sauce to serve the with cooked fish. Spread the fish on one side with half the remaining sauce, turn the fish, and spread the remaining sauce on the second side. Sprinkle with the scallions and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Here the swordfish awaits its time in the oven. 
All lined up and ready to go.

Roast the fish for 10 to 12 minutes, until the center is just barely cooked. Cover the fish with the aluminum foil and allow to rest on the pan for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small saute pan until very hot, add the capers, and cook for 30 to 60 seconds, until they start to pop and are a little crisp. Serve the swordfish hot with the lemon wedges, frizzled capers, and the reserved Caesar sauce.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Bowl Full of Stars

My little big man had his first day of Pre-K this week. School rocked, according to my 4-year-old's report. From bus rides to circle time to singing with his friends, he loved the whole shabang. Yay!

Ironically, my usually very hungry fella barely ate anything at all upon coming home. But he did request that I cook up one of his favorite soups: Star Soup with Carrots and Peas. And he asked for extra peas. Weird. Who likes peas?

The 95-degree temp and insane humidity taking place upon my little scholar's arrival home did not seem to deter his hankering for soup. I guess a kid needs his comfort food on the first day of school. Especially after an epic meltdown involving a Lego masterpiece that slipped out of his paws in mid construction. Take a deep breath, Babydoll.

This is a great soup to make because I always have all the ingredients on hand: Frozen peas, fresh carrots, celery, shallots, some cheese and of course pastina. If you don't have fresh thyme, dried works just fine. And it's fast. And it's super yummy. The lemon zest is a nice touch. I so forgot to add it this time, Go, Mom! Haha.

Pastina Soup
By Giada DeLaurentiis

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
2 shallots, minced
3 sprigs thyme
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (2 inch) piece of Parmesan rind
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup little star pasta
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest, from one large lemon (optional)

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, celery, carrot, and shallots and cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the sprigs of thyme, Parmesan rind, chicken broth, and water.

Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the pasta and stir with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking to the pan.

Return to a simmer and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes longer or until the pasta is cooked and the liquid is slightly thickened. Remove the thyme sprigs and Parmesan rind. Stir in the peas.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with grated cheese and lemon zest if desired.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tomato Pie: Let's Do This

When life - or a green-thumbed friend with a thriving garden - gives you a heaping pile of gorgeous Jersey tomatoes, you of course make a Tomato Pie.

OK. That's what I do. Shoutout to Tom and Sandra for the yummy goods from the garden.

Diet food, this is not. The crust boasts two sticks of butter AND a fair amount of sour cream. And like many traditional Southern tomato pie recipes, mayo is a key component to the cheese filling in between all the tomato craziness. Please do not let The Husband in on the mayo factor.

In addition, this pie is THREE layers. Slices are gigantic. I so did not finish mine. Bursting with deliciousness, this is GIGANTIC food. For reals.

Since I speak the truths to my blogger following, you must know: The Jersey Girl eats portions fit for a doll. I try to eat big. It just doesn't work out. The plus side of that is that I can get down with some of this pie and not really care that each slice is probably 10,000 calories. That's an estimate, dear loyal readers.

For all you nervous nellies re: homemade pie crust. This one worked out really nicely. The sour cream element makes the dough very easy to roll out. It had a smoothness to it. Always, a plus.

A few tips for making pie dough are:

1. Stick your butter in the freezer for at least 30 minutes after cubing it. The chillier, the better. That's because it needs to be super cold when you roll it so that when you bake the crust it's flaky. It's science, people!
2. A food processor is your friend. Yeah, yeah. You could go the pastry cutter route, but why? WHY?! Just pulse baby, pulse.

3. Use your eyes. Don't overmix! Overmixing leads to tough pie crust. Eek.
4. Work fast. Have all your ingredients in place. And stick the iPad in your kid's hands.
5. Use your hands when you get to the ice water step. You're gonna get dirty. Get over it! A wooden spoon - while I love them - is a big waste of time here. Here's what my dough looked like after three tablespoons of water:

6. As soon as it all comes together get the dough in the fridge FAST. Resist the urge to keep mixing. Just stop!

A few tips for rolling out pie dough are:

1. Work fast but patiently. Don't let that dough beat down your soul.

2. Keep your surface and your rolling pin very well floured.
3. Turn your dough 90 degrees after every few rolls so that it doesn't stick to the surface. Flipping it over a few times is a good idea, too.

4. Have fun with it. Pie crust doesn't need to look Williams-Sonoma catalog worthy to taste good (See below). You know all those food porn pics are courtesy of lighting, stylists and fakery!

I made this tomato pie with literally perfect Jersey tomatoes overflowing in juiciness. Be sure to salt and let hang out on paper towels:

Definitely place in the oven with a baking sheet underneath underneath your pie dish so that you A. Don't muck up your uber clean oven (ha) and B. You don't start a smoke detector frenzy. Those are SUCH buzz kills, right? Look how large and in charge this is before putting in the oven:

I made my pie in a tart pan with removable sides, but a regular pie pan works just fine. And honestly, after being being knee deep in a bottle of cabernet sauvignon removing a gigantic pie from a pesky pretentious tart pan is NOT an easy task. My inner truck driver may have made a guest appearance during that portion of the evening.

Upon cutting into this monstrosity of a baked good, I thought for sure the crust would be a soggy mess, but I was so so wrong.  I am a pessimist trapped inside an optimist. Or the other way.

Actually, the crust held up nicely to the mounds of tomato slices piled up like a mountain.

I found this recipe on Pinterest. I will definitely make it again. And sidenote: The leftovers tasted fab the next day. That crust still rocked!

Tomato Pie with Basil and Gruyere

For the crust:
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour1 teaspoon salt2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and very cold3/4 cups sour cream4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
2 1/2 pounds assorted tomatoes
2 teaspoon salt (separated)
1 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1 3/4 cups grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup Hellmann's mayonnaise
1/2 cup basil chiffonade
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, beaten

For the crust:
1. Mix flour and salt together. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour and butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Larger pieces of butter are fine.

2. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add sour cream. Mix until combined. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time and mix until dough comes together into a ball. Knead dough four or five times, wrap dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Transfer dough to a floured surface and roll to a 13-inch round. Gently place dough in a 9-inch fluted tart pan with 2-inch sides and a removable bottom. Press dough into pan; trim off excess dough along edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the filling: 
1. Cut two pounds of tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices and remove seeds. Lay slices on paper towel and sprinkle with one teaspoon of salt. Let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Combine Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses, mayonnaise, basil, thyme, one teaspoon salt, pepper, and egg.

To Assemble Pie:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. With additional paper towel, pat tomato slices to remove excess moisture.

3. Add onion to bottom of pie crust. Top onion with 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Layer half of tomatoes over cheese mixture in overlapping pattern. Top tomatoes with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Repeat with another layer of tomatoes and cheese mixture.

4. Cut remaining tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices and arrange on top of pie in an overlapping pattern.

5. Place pie on baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

6. Cool completely before cutting. Serve at room temperature.