Real Food for Real Life

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Too easy to believe...

Grilled tuna and French potato salad on baby arugula

I was looking at Gina's blog the other day and was intrigued by the grilled tuna she had so simply prepared.  I have never grilled tuna, but since I had some frozen tuna steaks in the freezer that I had picked up at Aldi to try, I thought it was time to give it a go.  I prepared mine a bit differently by brushing the tuna with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, and grilled it to medium instead of rare.  This fish was so absolutely delicious that we will be doing this again, and soon!!  We had ours with a French style potato salad (vinaigrette instead of mayo) and it all went together perfectly for dinner on a hot summer day.

Easy Grilled Tuna

tuna steaks, about 1 inch thick
extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper

Let the tuna sit on the counter for a half hour or so to come to room temperature.  Brush lightly with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle both sides generously with salt and pepper.  Grill over high heat, one minute each side for rare and two minutes for medium.  Let rest for five minutes and enjoy, that easy!

French Potato Salad

3 lbs. small potatoes (I used Yukon Golds)
1 small red onion, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly
2 handfuls fresh parsley leaves (I used flat leaf), chopped
1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs, Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper

Wash the potatoes and cut into bite sized pieces (leave that peel on there!); cook in boiling water until tender but not mushy.  While the potatoes are cooking, cut up the onion and parsley and set aside.  Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and garlic; taste and season as desired with the salt and pepper, but be pretty generous.  Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and toss immediately into a serving bowl with the vinaigrette.  Toss, adding the onion and parsley.  Let sit on the counter to come to room temperature, tossing occasionally.  Serve at room temperature.  Refrigerate any leftovers, but let come to (near) room temperature before eating.

Note:  We used no additional dressing for the arugula; there was enough vinaigrette on the potatoes for the greens as well.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

1st of the season (sort of)...

I couldn't wait for my own plants, so I bought 2 pounds of jalapeƱos from the grocery (gasp!  not even the farmer's market? you ask).  We do what we have to do...I've been wanting more of these unprocessed pickled chilies since we ran out of them last December.  These are the best we have ever had, crisp and ever so slightly sweet.  Click here to see how to make these for when you have your own bumper crop (or great find at the market, or even the grocery store).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Coo coo for co-co-nuts

¡Pastel leche de coco para dia del padre!
Wow, it has been a while.  I won't bore you with the details, just suffice to say that I've been really, really busy, but I never forgot about any of you.  Here's to some more time spent together and I'll try to do better about posting :)

I was kidding Ben earlier this week that he wasn't getting anything for father's Day since Nicole's graduation had fallen on Mother's Day, making us otherwise occupied.  Well, I fibbed, because I just can't resist a reason for a celebration...especially when we are celebrating my dearest other half.  It was a rainy day, meaning no grill (big sigh here), so I got out the next best thing, my cast iron skillet, and seared up some sweet and spicy pork chops for the daddy grub.  Chris has been bugging me for some time to make a coconut cake, and as he is his daddy's little double, I honored that request today.

This cake starts with a white cake mix in a box.  For this, I offer no apologies.  I have never claimed to be a baker of great talent, so why not use the mix when I'm not going to be able to make something better.  This cake is a riff on tres leches, or three milk cake.  Despite the use of Coco Lopez, a sweetened coconut cream, and sweetened shredded coconut, this cake is not overly sweet, nor is the coconut flavor so strong it tastes fake (you know what I mean).  I will be making this one again soon!

Coconut Milk Cake (pastel leche de coco)

1 box white cake mix of choice
1 can Coco Lopez cream of coconut, divided use
unsweetened coconut milk, amount may vary*
1 cup whipping cream
shredded, sweetened coconut

Prepare the cake mix as directed, substituting unsweetened coconut milk for the water.  The cake may be made in any form you like; I used two 9" rounds.  Once the cake(s) have cooled to room temperature, place on a plate and poke all over with a wood skewer, going all the way through the cake.  Thin 1/2 cup of the cream of coconut with 1/2 cup of the coconut milk.  Spread some of the coconut mixture over the top of the cake, letting it soak in and don't worry if it runs down the sides.  Once this is absorbed, spread on some more and repeat until all the coconut mixture is used (this may take a while).  With this amount of liquid the cake will be very moist, but not "wet" like tres leches cake sometimes is.

Whip the cup of cream until stiff peaks form; fold in 1/4 cup of the coconut cream and taste for sweetness.  Add a bit more if desired, but be careful to leave the cream "spreadable."  If doing a layer cake, invert one layer rounded top down onto the serving plate and spread a few spoonfuls of the whipped cream over the newly flat "top."  Sprinkle on a handful of the shredded coconut if desired (I did).  Carefully place the second layer, rounded side up, on top of the first and frost the cake with the remaining coconut whipped cream (I just spread mine on with a butter knife, but please feel free to pipe it on if you like).  Sprinkle some of the shredded coconut over the top and refrigerate for several hours before serving.  I did not toast the coconut first, but I will when I make this cake again.

Oh so nice with a cup of coffee (or glass of milk if you're Christopher).  Ben and Chris both were so kind to point out that i was serving white cake on a white plate (and with white cups!)...guess I'll have to rectify that and buy some more dishes :)

*I use coconut milk from the carton, but if you won't have a use for that much coconut milk use canned coconut milk instead.  I also made coconut rice from this carton and will drink what is left...I LOVE coconut milk, something I unfortunately can't say about the kind that comes from a cow :(
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