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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beer Batter Fish and Baked Chips with Garlic Aioli

Monday the 31st was a national holiday here in the States. Memorial Day. In many ways it signifies the start of summer. As well as being able to break out the grill, having the day off. Luckily this past weekend the weather has been great in SoCal. Keyword of the day was relaxation. But more importantly to remember our fallen soldiers in the military. Now since I live in an apartment building where grilling is bummer. I can't wait for the day when I own my own house. Anyway... I wasn't in the mood to lug out ol' Georgie, so I went for one of my most recent cravings. Fish and chips. 

This recipe is a slightly improved version of my Guinness Batter Fish and Chips that I posted sometime last year. Made several tweaks here and there and what you got here is fantastic. I decided to serve it up with some garlic aioli, which is relatively easy to make and really good. I made the aioli and prepped my "chips" (aka home fries) the day before as I didn't want to spend too much time in the kitchen. I did a little search of various aioli recipes and the basic ingredients are garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil. Some recipes use a hint of dijon mustard and vegetable oil. I mixed and matched and experimented until I found something much to my liking.

I cut the chips into near shoe-string thickness. I soaked the chips in some cold water spiked with some distilled white vinegar. It help keep the firmness of the potato as well as remove any excess starch. The recipe called for 3 russet potatoes. Depending on how you cut it, if it seems too much, you can freeze them for a later time. My fish of choice in this was cod, which is what is traditionally used. For the batter, beer of choice was none other than some Guinness Stout. Yeah...that's how I roll. When it came time to cook up the fish, rather than have to deep fry I decided to pan-fry the pieces. I tend to move away towards deep frying most of the time. Once in a while I'll make an exception.

So the day came and the cooking began. Pan-fry the fish while the chips cooked. Multi-tasking in the kitchen. The end result... a tender flaky fish with a nice crispy crust. The chips were herb-y and delicious. I made a small batch of tartar sauce as well, but I really like the malt vinegar and aioli combo for some reason. Oh...must not forget the side of lemon wedges. You can't have with without the lemon.

Serves 2-3

Beer batter Fish and (Baked) Chips with Garlic Aioli

1 to 1 1/2 Lbs  cod, haddock, tilapia (any fillet of white fish)
salt and pepper (for seasoning fish)
1 c flour
1 Tbsp paprika
1/3 c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/3 c Guinness Stout
Canola or peanut oil

This can be done while the chips bake. The batter. In a bowl combine the flour, salt, pepper, water. Lightly stir to combine. Then add the Guinness. Mix well removing any clumps. Set aside and prep the fillets.

At this time preheat enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet, at least 1/5-inch or more. You may cut your fish into sizable pieces. Season with salt and pepper and dredge the pieces in some cornstarch. Place the dredged pieces in the batter. When the oil is really hot, slowly and carefully place the fish and pan-fry for 2-3 minutes per side for 1/2-inch fillets. Cook until crispy brown. When cooked, place the fish on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.

Baked Chips
3 russet potatoes
4 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp dry basil
1 tsp paprika
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

peel and cut the potatoes to your desired thickness. (I chose to cut mine 1/8th-inch thick.) Place the sticks into a large bowl of cold water spiked with 4 Tbsp of distilled white vinegar. Cover with saran wrap and place in the fridge overnight or chill for at least an hour before cooking. This will help remove the extra starch in them.

Preheat your oven to 400˚F.

Remove the chips from the water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place into a bowl or large ziplock bag and add the salt, pepper, paprika, and olive oil. Toss together and coat evenly. Place the sticks on a parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until crisp (depending on thickness of potato).  For extra crispiness, you can place the chips into the broiler for a minute or two. When the chips are done baking, remove from the pan and season lightly with a little salt.

Note: you may freeze any uncooked potato for later use.
 tartar sauce on the left, aioli on the right

Garlic Aioli
3 garlic cloves
2 egg yolk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 c extra virgin olive oil

Mince and mash the garlic with a pinch of salt into a paste-like consistency. You may use a mortar and pestle for this. Or mash the the garlic with the edge of a large knife.
Place the garlic paste in a bowl and add the egg yolks. Whisk together until combined, then add the lemon juice and dijon mustard. Next slowly, while constantly whisking, drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. When all the oil is added, whisk until it is slightly thick. (If not serving immediately, cover the bowl and chill in the fridge until ready)

Makes 1 cup

Tartar Sauce

2-3 c Mayonnaise or Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp sweet relish
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp minced onion
1 tsp paprika
pinch of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients together and stir well to combine.

Makes 1/2 cup

Serve together and enjoy with some malt vinegar, the aioli, ketchup, or your preferred dip.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

(Bowties Are Cool) Pasta Salad

Pasta is what's for dinner. Pasta salad to be exact. This is perfect for those spring-y summer-y weather. This one is really easy to put together. But first let backtrack a bit. Have you seen those frozen veggie packs where you can steam them in the packages in the microwave? All I can say is Super time-saver!!!! Pop those suckers in the microwave and in minutes you've got steamed veggies. Bird's Eye is one that I know that does this.

Now back to the dish. Cook up some farfalle pasta. The ones that look like bowties or whichever pasta you prefer. It works with any kind. Add the steamed veggies and toss in a light dressing. You can serve this warmed of chilled. It tastes great both ways. The dressing has a nice slight tang to it from the rice wine vinegar. Just enough to give your tongue a tickle. The veggies I used for this are sweet corn and broccoli. Maybe next time I'll add some marinated tofu.

Also, the name of the dish is a reference to one of my favorite shows currently on BBC. Here's a hint... He travels thru space and time in a big blue police box. You can find the answer in the tags of this post. :) It's a long weekend here in the States. Memorial Day weekend meaning barbecues be happening all over. Me... I'm thinking short ribs or maybe some fish and chips.

Serves 2-3

(Bowties are cool) Pasta Salad

2 c dry farfalle (bowtie) pasta or your own preference
1 pack frozen sweet corn (in ready steam pack)
1 pack frozen broccoli (in ready steam pack)
          or 1 pack frozen mixed veggies (in ready steam pack)
extra virgin olive oil

2/3 c extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves - minced or 1 tsp garlic paste
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tsp sweet relish
2 tsp dry basil

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt liberally and drizzle a little extra olive oil before adding the pasta. Cook for roughly 6-7 minutes for al dente. Stir once to avoid the pasta from sticking to each other. When pasta is cooked, drain the water from the pot and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and toss to keep the pasta moist and again from sticking to each other. Set aside.

While the pasta cooks, You make "steam" the veggies and make the dressing.

Follow steaming instructions on the packages of frozen veggies

Mince the garlic cloves into a paste consistency. Fine chop the garlic and place into a mortar and pestle. Sprinkle a little salt and mash the pieces until a paste-like consistency. Scoop the garlic paste into a bowl and slowly add rice wine vinegar and sweet relish. Add the dry basil and slowly drizzle the extra virgin olive oil. Constantly stir to combine.

To the cooled pasta, add the steamed veggies and toss thoroughly. Then drizzle the dressing and again toss to thoroughly combine.

Serve slightly warm, room temp or chilled.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Pizza

Pizza, pizza!!

Pizza and pasta would probably be my last resort dishes for when I have no idea what to make for dinnfer. Get some premade dough, gather up your favorite toppings, put it all together, pop it in the oven then several minutes later, you got yourself a meal. I always keep a small supply of premade dough in the freezer for just in case moments. It really does help. Just take one out of the freezer, thaw and you're ready to go. For this pizza, I went for a little grilled chicken. Luckily, I had myself a coupon that I had received courtesy of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program and Tyson Chicken. I gotta say coupons are cool. Have you ever seen that show Extreme Couponing???

Tyson's Grilled & Ready. It's basically chicken breast that's already cook and ready to eat at any time. (Found in the freezer section) It too me two stores to find it, but I did. You have your choice of the whole breast or precut into strips. I went for the strips. I think this is great for those who don't like having to deal with raw chicken. Or are just pressed for time in terms of cooking a meal. Just thaw from the freezer and add to your favorite dish like a salad. Or heat it it slightly to add into a sandwich. The chicken is appropriately seasoned and tender (once thawed, of course.) So you're not getting some bland pieces that need to be jazzed up.

For my pizza it definitely cut the cooking time in half. No need to lug out a pan and cook some raw chicken and then make the pizza. Anyway...along with the chicken I added some pineapple. i think it would have to be my new favorite topping on a pizza. Must not forget lots of cheese and a touch of dry herbs. You can use fresh herbs as well. I would prefer the latter, but that's one item on the grocery list I haven't been able to get yet.

Now that I have my mind on pizza...I'm thinking about dessert pizzas. Ooo... stay tuned!

Serves 2

Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Pizza

8-10 small pieces Tyson's Grilled & Ready Chicken Strips
1/3 c pineaplpe tidbits
1 pizza dough or 1 ready-made pizza crust
3 Tbsp tomato sauce
1 cup shredded 4-cheese mix
1/3 c parmesan
1 Tbsp garlic powder
4 Tbsp dry basil
2 Tbsp dry parsley
2 Tbsp dry thyme
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400˚F

Roll out the rough to your desired size. Poke the dough with a fork to allow even baking. Place the dough onto an oven safe pan.

Spread the tomato sauce leaving room for the crust. Sprinkle garlic powder, dry thyme, dry parsley, 2 Tbsp of the dray basil. (Note: You may use fresh herbs as well)

Then evenly spread over the 4-cheese mix, followed by the Tyson's Grilled Chicken and pineapple bits. Finally top the pizza with the parmesan and remaining 2 Tbsp of dry basil. drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the crust is baked through and the cheese has thoroughly melted.

Serve warm.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Homemade Creamy Chunky Herby Tomato Soup

Say that titles 10 times fast. It's been a while since I posted a good decent recipe. In my attempts to balance work and my love for cooking, it can get a bit difficult at times. But fear not, I still love food to the 100th degree and I do cook once in a while, but from recipes that I've already done. This little soupy soup recipe is a simple take on the classic tomato. The thing I like about this recipe is that it doesn't use any cream or milk at all. The thickening agent is a little unsalted butter and all purpose flour. Neat, eh? least, for those who haven't tried this variety.

I chose soup because the weather was perfect for it. Granted, here in Los Angeles it's been on the weird crazy side. Last week it was in the 90s this week it's like winter came back for one last ride. Sheesh! Mother nature seems a bit confused as to what season it is. Who knows what it will be tomorrow.  But for now I enjoy me some creamy chunky herby soup with a side of some leftover breadsticks I had gotten from the restaurant Olive Garden and some homemade parmesan crispies.

Serves 2-3

Homemade Creamy Chunky Herby Tomato Soup

3 small ripe tomatoes
1 small onion
2 large garlic cloves
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 12 oz can tomato sauce
1 12oz can chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 Tbsp dry basil
1 Tbsp dry thyme
1 Tbsp dry parsley
1 Tbsp dry sage
1/3 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Finely chop the onion. Set aside. The finely chop the garlic. Quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds, give the tomato wedges a rough chop. Set them aside.

If you have a food processor, you may use that to chop the tomato, onion and garlic.

In a pot, medium to high flame, heat a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Saute the garlic for 30-60 seconds. Thenadd the onions and saute until tranluscent. One the onions look cooked, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir well to combine together. Be sure to scrape the pot occasionally to keep the flour from sticking.

When the mixture looks a bit like a mushy dough blob, add the tomato saute for a roughly 2 minutes until the tomato has cooked down. Then add the tomato sauce and chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil. Stir occasionally to combine all the ingredients. Once it's boiling, bring the heat down. Add the dry herbs and salt and pepper.

Serve with a topping of cheese and/or avocado with a side of bread. :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Double Chocolate Ice Cream

Ice cream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Well, I not sure about you, but I know I do. I still wish I had my own ice cream maker. But store bought would do just fine.  Luckily, a couple weeks ago I received a coupon to try some new ice cream bars courtesy of Foodbuzz's Tastemakers Program. Magnum Ice Cream. I do remember seeing a commercial for these on the television once or twice. At first glance you think, what so special about these. Well for one...they're made with Belgian Chocolate. So given the price at the markets, I think its fair.

Found in the ice cream section of your local grocery store. There are three other flavors as well. Double Caramel, Almond and Classic. I choose their Double Chocolate. The more chocolate the merrier, right? Aside from the fact that I'm an admitted chocoholic. :)

It looks like one of those Haagen-Daaz Ice cream bars, but this one is made with Belgian Chocolate, so it's a bit more on quality. Three come in one box. Had these for an afternoon Mother's Day snack with my dear mom.

Now let me take you through the layers of chocoliciousness:

Top layer is thick chocolate coating holding all the goodness inside. Take that first bite and you see the other layers. You have the chocolate syrup-y section, which is still nice and gooey. Not frozen solid, which is really cool. Followed by a thin-coat choco layer that separates the syrup section from the chocolate ice cream. Mmmm...

I definitely want to try the other flavors. The Double Caramel looks devilishly tempting.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Easter Peeps

Let's take a look down memory lane and revisit one of my favorite Easter-time snacks. Those precious little marshmallow birds that get stocked to the shelves each year. One of the things I eagerly await. Here's a neat way to turn them into a delicious, fingerlickin' snack. Sugary, sweetness. I snatch up one of every color. Or at least what's available at the time. A classic campfire treat turned into a holiday appetizer (?) or dessert (?). Whichever one you choose it's too tempting not to try.

I remember trying this little s'more concoction several years ago after much trial and error. All I got to say is...gotta love the microwave. :) The oven tends to burn the sugar. By using the microwave you still get the bright sugar color, but with the inner melted goodness.

You know you want to try this!

Peep S'mores

Peeps (any color/bird or rabbit)
Hershey's milk chocolate bar (divided into squares)
Honey Graham Cracker (halved)

Take one half of the graham cracker and place a peep on top.

Microwave for 20 seconds in two 10-second intervals. The peep will puff up like a balloon, but won't explode.

Remove the microwave and add a nice chunk of chocolate on top then place the other half of the graham cracker. The heat from peep will instantly melt the chocolate into liquid goo.

Then enjoy.

Warning: This snack will get messy, so have plenty of napkins on hand.

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