Christmas Eve Tradition

Two years in a row is the start of a tasty tradition – swordfish for Christmas Eve dinner!  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m a big fan of Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, and the dinner we enjoyed last night came straight from Ina!  (I wonder if I’m her biggest fan??)

Sicilian Swordfish and Baked Polenta with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese

Sicilian Swordfish_Baked Polenta

Sicilian Swordfish_Baked Polenta

Sicilian Swordfish:  Pat dry, light olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper.  Sear a couple of minutes each side on a hot grill.  Remove to a platter, poke all over each piece with the tines of a fork, then drizzle lemon vinaigrette over each piece, cover with aluminum foil to rest for 5 minutes.

(Lemon Vinaigrette:  Olive Oil/Fresh squeezed lemon juice [2/1], pinch each of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a teaspoon of dried oregano [or two teaspoons of fresh chopped.)

To serve – place one piece of swordfish on each plate, top with arugula, and drizzle with a couple of spoonfuls of the lemon vinaigrette fish sauce.  Top with some grated lemon zest.

Baked Polenta with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese: Start by cleaning (soft wet cloth) medium or large size Portobello mushrooms (6-8).  Place on sheet pan (top side down,) drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, and pepper.  Bake for 20 minutes at 400F until tender, then set aside.

Bring 2 cups half-half and 2-1/2 cups chicken stock to a boil.  While whisking constantly, sprinkle 3/4 cup fine cornmeal into boiling liquid.  Continue stirring (almost constantly) with a wooden spoon until creamy consistency (6-8 minutes.)  Off the heat, stir in 1/4 cup Mascarpone cheese.  Pour polenta into a baking dish (medium size) and top with mushrooms (top side down.)  Finish with 1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, sprinkled all over the top.  Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes until a bit bubbly and starts to turn golden brown.  Let rest for a few minutes – and enjoy!

This was my first attempt at making polenta at home – and aside from the constant attention to stirring (similar to making risotto,) it’s so easy.  Once you achieve a creamy consistency, you could add in grated Parmesan cheese or any other element of flavor as you wish.

I hope you’ll try one of these delicious recipes yourself.  My point in sharing some recipes that aren’t my original creation is to provide pairing ideas, to let you in on easy delicious meals you can replicate in your own kitchen, and to open the door to your own creativity by starting with a published recipe – then making it your own!  Buon Appetito!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Grilled Swordfish – Light, Nutritious, Delicious!

Swordfish_Orzo_Delight

Swordfish_Orzo_Delight

Easy to prepare, light, delicious, satisfying, and nutritious!  This dinner can be on the table within 15 minutes!

Prep:  3/4 cup Orzo Pasta, 1/2 cup mixed chopped pitted olives, juice from half lemon, 1 TBSP (each) Butter and Olive Oil, 1/2 cup chopped unsalted roasted pistachios (or I used roasted/unsalted sunflower seeds), 2 Swordfish Steaks (lightly olive oil, salt, pepper).

Bring enough salted water to a boil  to cook pasta.  Light the grill or heat a grill pan (medium-high).  Cook pasta for about 8-9 minutes (to your liking.)  At the same time, grill swordfish , turning once.  When pasta is to your liking, drain and return to pan.  Stir in the butter, olive oil, olives, and lemon juice (salt/pepper to taste.)  Remove swordfish from grill and lightly cover with aluminum foil to let rest for a few minutes.

Stir the chopped nuts/seeds into the Orzo pasta mixture and plate up along with the swordfish.  Top with a lightly dressed arugula salad (juice from half lemon, light olive oil, salt, pepper.)

So easy, so delicious.  Enjoy!  Buon Appetito!


Christmas Eve Dinner

Light, healthy, simple, and delicious!  (Recipes compliments of Ina Garten and Giada De Laurentiis)  Started off with Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms (Ina-recipe in a previous post on August 17, 2013) followed by Swordfish and Pancetta kabobs (Swordfish Spiedini – Giada), Warm French Lentils (Ina Garten) and a few arugula leaves tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette.

IMG_0925

I purchased fresh swordfish from Blue Water on India Street in San Diego.  (Awesome place if you haven’t been.)  Cut swordfish into 1×1 in. cubes and toss in a bowl with a few TBSP olive oil and a couple TBSP herbs de provence.  Insert about 4 pieces onto each skewer (previously soaked in water for 30 minutes) with very thin cut pancetta threaded throughout.  When ready to cook, place on very hot grill (stove top or outdoor) and turn onto each side for about 2 minutes per side.  The fish is done perfectly and the pancetta is nicely crisped!  Rest for a minute or two, then ready to serve.

The lentils are a staple in our house, and I thought they’d pair well with the swordfish for a light (and healthy) dinner.  Saute a couple carrots (1/2-inch chopped)  and one chopped leek (white and light green parts) in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add one chopped garlic clove and saute for an additional minute.  Set aside.  Bring 4 cups water to a boil with 1 cup dry lentils, 1 turnip (cut in half) and one whole (peeled) onion stuck with 6 cloves.  Once boiling, add the carrots and leeks, reduce heat, and simmer about 20 minutes until lentils are tender.  Discard turnip and onion, strain lentil mixture, and toss in a bowl with 1 tsp. unsalted butter.  In a separate bowl, make a Dijon vinaigrette.  (1/4 cup olive oil, 2 TBPS red wine vinegar, 4 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 TBSP kosher salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper.  Add warm lentils to vinaigrette, toss, and let stand for about 15 minutes.  Ready to enjoy!

Christmas Eve dinner was light and satisfying, with the extra indulgence of Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms and homemade Christmas cookies for dessert!


Great (and Easy) Salmon

Here’s the fish dish I enjoyed on Good Friday.  The recipe is all Ina (Barefoot Contessa) but topping the salad with the salmon was all my idea!  (I told you I can’t take credit for all the recipes you’ll see on this blog, as much of my inspiration comes from my girl, Ina.)

The salmon recipe could not be easier, and is included in Ina’s latest cookbook.  I’m not quoting the ingredients exactly as they are written – but here’s the idea:

Salmon Filets, skin on

Panko Breadcrumbs

Lemon Zest

Chopped fresh Italian Parsley

Olive Oil

Salt, Pepper, Dijon Mustard

Base the amount of bread crumbs and other ingredients on how much fish you are preparing.  Mix the bread crumbs, lemon zest, and parsley in a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and mix to combine.  Spread the dijon mustard on top of the salmon and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Then pat the bread crumb mixture on top of the salmon, pressing and packing it down (the mustard will help it adhere).

Heat some olive oil in an oven proof skillet.  (If you don’t have one, some aluminum foil over a plastic handle usually works fine in the oven.)  Heat the oven to 425F.  When the skillet/oil is hot, place the salmon skin side down and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Then place skillet in the oven for another 5-7 minutes.  Remove from oven and plate the salmon, covered with aluminum foil to rest for another 8-10 minutes.  That’s it!  You can then enjoy the salmon with some great side dishes or top a salad with it!  Don’t forget a good glass of wine!

Crusted Salmon Salad