Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Rosie Makes Shrimp And Grits


  As I've said before, the Hawthornes don't do "leftovers."  We have what I call "moreovers."  I take what wasn't all consumed at one meal and make something "more" out of it for another meal.  For example, take breakfast today.  For breakfast, we had homemade biscuits with honey ham and some buttery, yummy grits.  And I overdid it on the grits.  So the grits made it into lunch - in the form of shrimp and grits.

Here’s what I did:
I had about 2 cups of grits still in the pan from breakfast, so I added a little water, set the pan over low heat, and stirred every now and then to heat through.  You want enough water so that the grits are pourable.  Add in a chunk of butter, swirl it around, and taste test.  Add more salt, if needed.  Cover and keep the grits hot.

Next, I minced a large clove of garlic, chopped up a small onion, chopped up an orange pepper because that’s what I had.  If you have a bag of those little red, green, yellow, and orange peppers, then chop up some of each for the pretty colors.  And I chopped a few sprigs of parsley from the garden.  

I peeled and de-tracted a bag of shrimp.  Yes.  De-tract not de-vein.  That black line going down the back of the shrimp is the digestive tract, not a vein.  And I always have shrimp in the freezer.  We buy pounds and pounds of shrimp in the fall, de-head them, and pack in individual freezer bags - 10-12 ounces shrimp per bag.  I seasoned the shrimp with some Lawry’s seasoned pepper and red pepper flakes.

Then I took a look in the fridge and found a package of bacon - 6 pieces.  I scissored the bacon into 
1/2 - 1-inch pieces and put them in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Cooked the bacon until crisp, then removed bacon from the pan and drained it on paper towels.  I threw out all but about a tablespoon of the grease, turned the heat up to medium-high, and added in a chunk of butter.  Let the butter melt and sizzle.  Round about 375° - 400°.  Add in the shrimp in a single layer.  Cook for a minute, turn over and add in the onion, garlic, and pepper.  Cook another minute or until shrimp is done.  Please do not overcook your shrimp.  Remove shrimp from heat.  

And serve.  Pour grits onto plate and add the shrimp.  Sprinkle some Togarashi seasoning over top and add some parsley.  Togarashi is a combination seasoning of red chile peppers, black and white sesame seeds, nori, and lemon and orange zests.  If you don’t have Togarashi, not to worry.  Just sprinkle on cayenne powder or red pepper flakes and zest some lemon and/or orange.



Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Rosie Makes Marinated Tuna.


 I recently posted about tuna steaks - perfectly seared and served either with a gremolata or a strawberry/kiwi salsa.  Once I get started on tuna, there's no stopping me.  Today, it's going to be marinated tuna.  The marinade is an orange and soy sauce concoction which is then cooked down to reduce it and concentrate those flavors.  The resultant sauce is enhanced and enriched with butter, giving it a luscious finish.  

First, searing the tuna:
   Get out your cast iron skillet.  Heat it up between 375° and 400°, film it with some peanut oil (high smoke point), drop in a chunk of unsalted butter, and when the butter gets all bubbly, gently place your tuna steak in.  Cook 2 – 2 ½ minutes on the first side.  Turn it over and go about another two minutes on the flip side.  Remove from pan and plate, else it keeps on cooking.  Depending on the thickness of your steak and how hot your pan is (Get an instant-read laser thermometer.), you'll have a rare to medium-rare tuna steak.  If you want more of a blackened steak, crank up the heat (425° - 450°) and cut back the time (1½ - 2 minutes first side, 1 - 1½ on the flip).  These times are suggestions for starting points.  Practice and you’ll get the hang of it and be able to cook your steaks rare to medium-rare, however you like.  I do recommend that thermometer though.
 For the marinade:  
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of one orange (½ cup juice)
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
2 1-inch cubes ginger, juiced and pulped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Combine all ingredients.

Now, about that ginger juice.  When I buy ginger, I slice the roots into 1-inch cubes and freeze them so I'll always have ginger on hand.  When I'm ready to use the ginger, I pull out the cubes, peel them, then nuke for about 15 seconds.  You can easily squeeze out the juice now by hand, or you can use a garlic press, scraping some of the pulp to use also.

Let tuna fillets marinate for an hour.  Remove from marinade and shake off excess.

Sear tuna according to above directions.  Remove from pan.

Lower heat and pour in marinade.  Let simmer and reduce a bit.  Finish off the sauce by swirling in a tablespoon or two of cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.  This is to enrich, thicken, and give the sauce a nice glossy sheen.  When adding butter to a sauce, have the pan off your burner or over very low heat.  Add the butter gradually and whisk constantly.  Boiling or rapid simmering can cause the sauce to separate and break up.  To achieve that velvety consistency of an emulsion, incorporate the butter over low heat (or off heat) just enough to melt and thicken, but not hot enough to break and melt into oily puddles.


After searing the tuna, I poured in the marinade and brought it to a boil.
Reduce heat to low or remove from heat before adding the butter.

Stir in a tablespoon of butter
at a time.

About 3 TB butter total.


Whisk/stir until butter is incorporated and sauce has a nice gloss to it.

To serve, I pooled a little of the reduced sauce on the plate,
added an orange slice, then placed the tuna on top.
Pour more sauce over tuna and add some chopped scallions. 

To get those green onion curls, thinly slice the onions and place in ice water.
They'll curl right up.


Friday, June 4, 2021

Tuna Steak Two Ways. With Gremolata. Or With Fruit Salsa.

Today I'm cooking tuna and here's how to do it:  Get out your cast iron skillet.  Heat it up somewhere around 375°- 400°,  film the pan with some peanut oil (for high smoke point), add in a chunk of butter (for flavor), and when the butter gets all bubbly, carefully place in your tuna steak.  Cook 2 - 2½ minutes on the first side.  Turn it over and go for two minutes on the flip side.  Remove from hot skillet and plate, else it keeps on cooking.  If you want more of a sear or a blackened steak, crank up the temperature to 425° - 450° and cook for 1½ - 2 minutes the first side, 1 - 1½ on the flip.  Depending on the thickness of your steak and how hot your pan is (Get an instant-read laser thermometer.), you'll have a rare to medium-rare tuna steak.  Practice enough and you'll get the feel for this.

Now, about seasoning.  You can go simple, with just kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and you'll be just fine.  OR, you can sprinkle sesame seeds and use a teaspoon of sesame oil in with the peanut oil, OR, if you'd like a little heat, you can try some gochugaru seasoning (Gochugaru is Korean red chile pepper flakes.) OR you can crank it up with some togarashi seasoning (a combo of red chile, black and white sesame seeds, nori, poppy seed, and lemon and orange zest).

For starters, I have your basic seared tuna along with a couple condiments for you to try  - a gremolata and a fruit salsa - which complement the tuna steaks most agreeably, adding both freshness and brightness to the dishes.

Now that you know how to cook your basic tuna fillet, lets make the condiments.
First, the gremolata. 

Gremolata is a classic Italian condiment, zesty and herbal, typically made with parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.   Once you’ve made the original version, you can get creative and make variations on the theme.  For example, try substituting basil or mint, or even spinach for parsley.  Scallions, nuts, and various citrus zests (lime or orange) would be welcome flavorings also.  Any leftover gremolata can be used over vegetables, stirred into pasta dishes, added to your next batch of meatballs, or, with a little balsamic vinegar and more olive oil, used as a salad dressing.

I'm going with a fairly basic gremolata here.
Rosie's Gremolata
1 cup packed parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
zest of ½ lemon
juice of 1 lemon
2 TB olive oil
Combine all ingredients.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Top gremolata with red chile flakes.

For the tuna, I pressed lemon zest, kosher salt, and Lawry's seasoned pepper into the fillets, then seared them (in oil and butter) as directed above. 

I have my tuna, seasoned and ready, my gremolata is waiting, and, for a side dish, I picked some asparagus out of the garden.

I cooked up some basmati rice, steamed the asparagus until just crisp-tender, seared the tuna, then spooned the gremolata over the tuna and asparagus.

The next day, I finished up the gremolata with more seared tuna, steamed broccoli, and wild rice.


For my second tuna dish, bright colors and fresh flavors in my fruit salsa complement the fish perfectly.  I marinated the tuna steaks for about an hour in a mixture of 2 TB ginger juice with pulp and 2 TB soy sauce.   Whenever I buy ginger root, I slice it into one-inch chunks and freeze it.  That way, I always have ginger on hand.  Also, I've found that the best way to get juice out of ginger is to freeze it first, then peel it, and nuke the chunks for about 20 seconds.  You can easily squeeze the juice out by hand, or use a garlic press and get the juice and scrape off some of the pulp. 

 Sear fillets according to above instructions.  Serve with fresh fruit salsa.

 Fruit Salsa 
3 strawberries, diced
1 kiwi, peeled and diced
1 tsp sugar
TB cider vinegar
1 TB soy sauce
1 – 2 tsp chopped cilantro
Combine all ingredients and spoon over tuna fillets.
I marinated the tuna for about an hour in 2 TB each ginger juice with some pulp and soy sauce with a teaspoon of sesame oil.

My pan was hothothot,
with oil and butter.
Carefully place in the tuna fillet
to avoid splattering.

Cook about 2 minutes first side.

About 1½ on the other side.

At the last minute of cooking, I poured in the marinade.

Remove tuna from heat, plate, and pour cooked marinade over top.

For my side dish, I wanted something a little different.
I'm going with a snap pea stir fry. 
Vegetables for Stir Fry
snap peas
mushrooms, sliced
multi-colored peppers, chopped
onion, chopped

Heat your skillet over medium-high.
Film pan with a light coating of peanut oil, a little sesame oil, and butter. 
When the butter is sizzly, toss in the mushrooms and cook for about 90 seconds.
Add in snap peas and a sprinkling of sugar.  (½ - 1 tsp) Cook for a minute.

Add in peppers and onions.

Toss around.  Cook about 30 seconds and you're done.
Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

I served the tuna on a bed of wild rice, with snap pea stir fry on the side, and fruit salsa on top.