Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rosie's Lunch. Properly Seared Tuna.

I'm tackling tuna. Again. My last effort wasn't up to par for my tastes. I shouldn't use the word "tackle." That implies some sort of supreme effort. Sauteing a tuna filet is simple. You just need to pay attention. Like I say when cooking shrimp, don't overcook it. Take it off before you think it's done.
Here I have my lovely tuna filet, a bit thicker than my last one, seasoned with freshly ground salt and pepper. I have fresh parsley from my garden. And I have a mixture of: 1 part white sesame seeds 1 part black sesame seeds and less than 1/2 part red pepper flakes. I lightly toasted the sesame seeds and pepper flakes in a dry skillet. Important Note: This requires adequate ventilation. Don't say I didn't warn you!
I pressed my tuna into the parsley and seeds.
I heated my iron skillet to medium high and added butter, for flavor, and a little oil, to raise the smoke point of the butter. You don't need Extra Virgin Olive Oil, just a regular canola, vegetable, safflower, or peanut oil.
Like I said, this filet was thicker than the last one - about 1 1/2 inches thick. I cooked it for 1 1/2 minutes each side.
I added a little lemon juice and capers to my butter mixture and poured it over the tuna ...
... and served it with broccoli with lemon and butter.
What a lovely piece of meat.
Now that's a proper tuna. For me.

Rosie's Lunch. Seared Tuna With A Lemon, Butter, and Caper Sauce, Steamed Broccoli, And Mixed Greens.

Rosie's home alone today.
It's a Monday. Mr. Hawthorne is at work.
It's lunch time and I'm hungry. Can you tell what this is? It's broccoli on the left, tuna in the middle, and some garden greens on the right.
We'd picked up two tuna filets at the Teeter. I'm using one for lunch.
Here's my lunch-to-be: broccoli, lemon, tuna.
I always peel my broccoli stems.
Just a few grinds of pepper and salt on the tuna.
Melt unsalted butter in pan over medium high. Add in oil - any kind - to lower the smoke point. OK. Not motor oil.
Place filet in hot butter and oil.
If you'd like to brown your butter, even better. Be careful. Brown can go to burn in a heartbeat.
I cooked my tuna steak, a little over an inch thick, for 1 1/2 minutes each side. Monday morning quarterbacking: I would have gone less heat or less time for a bit rarer.
I thought it was great right here when I took it off the heat. Dang it all. I gotta follow my own advice with shrimp. TAKE IT OFF BEFORE you think it's ready! I forgot to take pictures of the broccoli, but I had the steamer going and put the broccoli in for 1 1/2 minutes. I like mine crisp/tender.
For the sauce, I melted butter and added lemon juice and ...
... some capers.
Pour the lemon butter caper sauce over the tuna. This was a most excellent meal. Sometimes I just like to treat myself to something simple, easy, and plain wonderful. Because I'm worth it.
Lightly steamed broccoli with butter and lemon juice, seared tuna with a lemon butter caper sauce, and greens with buttah and vinegar. MY lunch which I made for ME. You are important. Celebrate yourself. Make breakfast, lunch, or dinner for yourself.
Tuna tastes like steak to me.
Please don't cook the life out of your broccoli. You want your broccoli crisp/tender and bright green, not mush olive drab as I've been served so many times.
Mixed greens with vinegar and butter. Now, you do want these mixed greens mush olive drab. You have to know how to be a Southerner.
Here's my tuna. Dang it all. I overcooked it. But it was still good.
Stay tuned for my next post about properly cooked tuna.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rosie's End Of March Garden.

Things are coloring up in Rosie's garden.
I love the purple tulips against the yellow jonquils with orange centers.
And the pink tulips!
My stock is always the first to bloom.
And it comes in a variety of colors.
And happily, my stock has been spreading throughout my yard. Just like the larkspur and bachelor's buttons which will be blooming next.
Tulips with hyacinths in the background.
I love spring. I love the promise it brings. I love the hope. I love the comfort of knowing that everything has its season.

Rosie Cooks Dinner For Maxine And Carmen.

It's Saturday afternoon,
 Maxine is napping upstairs,
 and Rosie is starting on dinner.
 From home, I'd brought some Romaine hearts,
Rosie's Caesar salad dressing,
 and her Herbalicious Croutons for a nice Caesar salad,
 a fresh pineapple, kiwis, and strawberries
 for a tropical salsa,
and fresh rockfish we'd picked up at Billy's Seafood.
 I must give credit where credit's due.
 I got the idea for this from a dish I had
 at the Taste of the Beach Grand Tasting:
 Great American Grill's
  Rockfish with Hot Butter Rum Sauce and Kiwi Strawberry Salsa.
I'm starting on the salsa first
so the flavors can mix and marry.
 1 fresh pineapple
1 cup strawberries
 2 kiwis
 the zest of 1 lime
The second lime is just keeping
 the first lime company until he gets zested.
Slice the pineapple.
Add a little oil in a hot iron skillet
 and sear the pineapple slices.
 Work in batches.
 If you had a grill and wanted to grill these slices, I'd say go for it.
This is how you want your slices to look.
 Nice and caramelized.
Chop the pineapple.
Chop the strawberries.
Add in a tablespoon or so of sugar ...
... and an equal amount of balsamic vinegar.
Stir to mix well, and let macerate for about an hour.
 This increases the flavor and juice.
I peeled ...
... sliced ...
... and chopped my kiwis ...
... and added them to the pineapple.
I love the colors here.
Wish I had daylight.

Zest a lime ...
... and add it to the pineapple/kiwi.

After at least an hour of macerating the strawberries, add them in.

I love colorful food.
 It's fun to eat and makes my mouth happy.
 Stir well and refrigerate.
This little fishy had been swimming the day before.
 It's a rockfish, also known as striped bass.
 These fish are anadramous,
 meaning they migrate between salt and fresh water.
 Rockfish live mostly in the ocean but return to fresh water to spawn.
This needs nothing more than freshly ground salt and pepper, butter ...
... and a liquid.
 I'm using a little bit of chicken broth ...
... and whatever white wine I found in Maxine's fridge.
I topped with lemon and lime slices and more butter.

I baked this in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, and checked for doneness. Not yet. Problem is - I'm not familiar with Maxine's oven. After 15 minutes at 350, I cranked it to 400 degrees and gave it another 10 minutes. Still not ready. Gave it 7 more minutes. Light and flaky. Perfect. Always test the fish as you go along. Gently pull the meat apart in the center with a fork. If it's nice and flaky, it's ready. While I was dealing with the drama of the fish baking and the unknowns of Maxine's oven, I made a rum/cream sauce for the fish.
Heat 2-3 TB of unsalted butter in a pan.
 I like to barely brown my butter.
 Gives it a nice nutty flavor.
 Just be careful not to burn the butter and ruin it.
You can go from brown to burn in a heartbeat.
 I'm going to make a roux (butter and flour cooked),
and add some chicken broth, cream, and rum.

Maxine didn't have flour, so I used corn starch.
Whisk it in and cook a bit.
Whisk in a little broth ...
... and some cream.
Finish with a little rum.
 I was planning on making a lemon/asparagus risotto
 but when we went to Food Lion, there was no arborio rice.
 Quel suprise!

So I'm going with a couscous mix with parmesan,
 and the barely alive asparagus I'd brought from the beach.
 I don't know why Mr. Hawthorne bought this -
 besides his predictable answer, "It was on sale!"
I added 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
 and a good amount of butter to the pan.
Check out my mess in Maxine's kitchen.
I added in the seasoning packet of chemicals ...
... and stirred it up.
Bring the broth and chemicals and butter
to a boil and add in the chopped asparagus ...
... and the couscous ...
... and a handful of sunflower seeds.
Turn off heat, cover, and set aside for 5 minutes.
After five minutes, toss the couscous.
Since Foodlion had no Parmesan cheese (Sheeze!),
 I added in grated Asiago.
Add in a little more butter. Cover until ready to serve.
Carmen had brought a lovely colorful dish -
red peppers, sliced mushrooms, and almonds.
She added in the rest of the asparagus in a pan of water ...
and steamed for a minute.
Add in the asparagus, a vinaigrette, and toss.
On to our salad:
Add in Rosie's Caesar Salad dressing to the Romaine hearts.
And toss.
 For details, here's my recent post about  
Rosie's Caesar Salad and Herbalicious Croutons.
And here's our dinner. Carmen's wonderful red pepper/mushroom/almond/asparagus salad with vinaigrette, on bottom right, couscous with asparagus and Parmesan in back, and rockfish with tropical salsa and rum cream sauce, bottom left. I was extremely satisfied with this meal - the flavors, the textures, the friendship, all woven into a celebration tapestry of damn good eats.
I long for day light so I can photograph this properly.
 Hey - not a problem at all.
 I'll just have to make this again for lunch some day soon.
 And I shall look forward to that.
 I need to pump up my rum sauce.
Here's Maxine's lovely table
. I love her dining room.
 Dark blue walls with white molding accents.
What a convivial bunch we are!
Carmen made this deliciosity.
 Cake, strawberries, ice cream, and spray-cream.
For some reason I didn't really get, Maxine decided to give Carmen her birthday present tonight even though Carmen's birthday was a month ago on February 26 - a month after my birthday on January 26. Perhaps Carmen has an engagement calendar similar to Maxine's.
That's Maxine at the head of the table. See that yellow sweatshirt with a gardening theme that Maxine's sporting? Mama Hawthorne gave me that about 15 years ago for Christmas. I would never wear something like this. First, it's yellow. Second, I want my sweatshirts with a zipper, else I feel too constrained. Third, if I ever wore something like this with my lifestyle, it would be ruined. Tout de suite. So when Maxine was visiting me about a hundred years ago, I noticed her eyeing this particular sweatshirt. I knew she would enjoy and appreciate it. Plus Maxine is a yellow person. I gave it to her - with the caveat that it wouldn't really be a good thing if Mama Hawthorne saw her wearing this sweatshirt. Somehow, Mama Hawthorne found out that Maxine had inherited the sweatshirt. I'm pretty sure Mama Hawthorne was OK with that. After all, Maxine is the daughter she never got with me.
I will never know how in the world Maxine
 traveled from China back home
 with her three Chinamen figurines in tact.
They represent wealth, happiness, and health.

I've always admired this piece in Maxine's collection.
 I looked it up. I found the picture here. ChimĂș sacrificial knife. It is made out of gold and the figure on top has a headband and earrings incrusted with precious or semi precious stones (turquoise?). The figure, with what seem to be rays protruding from the headband, could represent a sun deity of the ChimĂș or perhaps a priest or ruler "incarnating" a deity. Whether this knife was actually used in sacrifices or is a piece representing a sacrificial knife is not clear. It is not known whether this knife was used for animal or human sacrifice.
I llllove blllue walllllls.
The Kiss.
In 3-D.
This is an amazing piece of artwork.
 You need to see it in person to truly appreciate it.
I love Maxine's chandeliers.

Thank you, Maxine.