Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pepper Seared Ahi Tuna with Brandied Brown Sauce

Lately, I've been doing a few photos and recipes for the Seattle Fish Company. Jon Daniels, the new owner, is a great guy and very active in the business. I just shot an image of Peppercorn Seared Ahi Tuna that should be appearing in their next newsletter, but it you follow my blog you get it here first!

This is an adaptation of a recipe from the Chart House. I love this combination and I think that you could serve it to a certified meat-eater and they'd love it too. It's a great combination of spice from the peppercorns, sweetness from the caramelized onions and richness from the sauce. I think it's just fancy enough to serve as a special holiday dinner and just easy enough to serve any night of the week.

Hope you like it too!

Pepper Seared Ahi with Brandied Brown Sauce
Serves 4

1 cup caramelized onions, recipe below
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup beef or veal stock
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
4 6- to 7-ounce ahi tuna steaks
(each about 1 inch thick)
2 tbsp coarsely cracked black pepper
1 tbsp oil

Prepare caramelized onions and keep warm.

Place the shallots and brandy in a small sauce pan back over medium heat. Simmer until the brandy is almost gone. Be sure to keep stirring so the shallots don’t burn.

Once the brandy is almost completely cooked off, add the stock. Reduce the stock by at least half and more if you want the sauce thicker.

Add the butter and whisk until melted and the sauce has a velvety shine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm while you prepare the tuna.

Sprinkle tuna steaks on both sides with salt, then sprinkle with coarsely cracked black pepper, pressing gently to adhere. Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add tuna steaks and sear until brown outside and just opaque in center, about 3 minutes per side.

Divide warm caramelized onions among 4 plates. Using tongs, place tuna steaks on the onions and spoon sauce over each.

Caramelized Onions
Makes about 1 cup

4 tbsp butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the sugar and cook, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan frequently, until the onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Butter Up!

Well, I've put Chapter 1 (Condiments) of The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook to bed.  The editor has it and we've already run through some revisions so now it's on to Chapter 2, Nut Butters and Spreads.  My husband thinks that it sounds x-rated. Well, I say, "good!"  Let's have a little fun, Beevus and Butthead style.  I've been busting my butt over nuts and fruit, and could use a little laugh.

In honor of poor taste in humor (but great taste in food), let's all imagine a fresh fig.  What does it remind you of? Uh huh. Now let's squish 'em (ouch!) and add a little sugar.

Rosemary Fig Butter
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 lb of fresh figs

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup port
1 3" sprig of rosemary
a splash of balsamic vinegar, optional

Wash, stem and quarter the figs.  Place them in a sauce pan with water.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until the figs are squishy soft.

Put the figs through a food mill with a coarse disk to remove the skins.  Return the sauce pan.  Stir in the sugar and port.  Add the rosemary sprig. Bring the figs mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the figs have thickened to a spreadable consistency, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Finish the fig butter with a splash of balsamic vinegar, if desired.

Cool to room temperature and transfer to a glass jar, cover and refrigerate up to 1 month.

Serving suggestions:
Serve warm with roast pork
Fig butter is wonderful on toast or a flaky croissant
Smear it on a chicken sandwich
Serve it with a cheese tray - I like it with a salty Manchego, sharp Cheddar or creamy Brie
Put a dollop on a baguette slice with Mascarpone and a little prosciutto
Serve it with a rustic caramelized onion and goat cheese tart
Use it for a filling for spice cake


Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Cookbook! Really?!

Oh yes, friends, it's true! I have been asked to write a cookbook for Quarry Books. I am stunned, excited, freaked out, thrilled. Mostly, I'm really happy!

The title is The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook: How to Make Your Own Condiments and  Essentials. So what's it all about, you ask? Well, it will include recipes for condiments, salad dressings, chips and dips, nut butters, and more.

I think it will appeal to many people - from the adventurous cook to the person with food sensitivities. It's great fun to create food from scratch that you might have never thought about before. Why not make your own ketchup? It's easy! And while you're at it, use your ketchup to make your own barbecue sauce or cocktail sauce. One recipe leads to the next. You'll also be surprised at how simple most recipes are.

I am working on Chapter One now. It's due to the publisher on July 27 so the clock is ticking. Chapter One is Condiments so my kitchen is filled to the brim with jars of mustard, samples of ketchup, homemade Worcestershire, and mayonnaise galore.

I'm currently in mustard mode - Ball Park-Style Yellow Mustard, Bavarian Sweet Mustard, Spicy Brown, Dijon-style, Whole Grain, Creamy Dill... The list goes on.

I've learned a ton about mustard. For example, did you know that mustard is hottest when it's made with cold liquid? The cold liquid creates an enzymatic reaction that causes that nose-clearing spiciness. Time will lessen the heat, especially if the mustard remains at room temperature. 

Intrigued? Try this recipe for yourself.

Old World Mustard
1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds (for more heat try adding some brown mustard seeds)
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 sprigs thyme
1 clove garlic
1 tsp honey 
1 tsp olive oil
cold water, approximately 1/2 cup

Pulverize the mustard seeds, pepper, salt, garlic and thyme using a food processor, spice mill or mortar and pestle. Scrape the crushed seed blend in a small glass bowl. (Note: Do not use a metal mixing bowl. The mustard can pick up metallic flavors.) Add the vinegar, honey, and oil and mix until you created a coarse paste. Slowly add water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture reaches your desired thickness. Cover with plastic wrap and let the mustard rest on your counter for 1 to 2 days. Transfer to a clean jar, cover, and refrigerate. The mustard will last up to 12 months.

Old World Mustard is reminiscent of French country mustard. It's wonderful as the base of a mustard sauce for roast beef or steak, great in vinaigrettes and delicious on sausages and hot dogs. 

Remember the longer it sits the milder it will become, but you can speed the process by heating it in a sauce pan over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes. Don't simmer, just warm it. 

The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook will be published in August of next year, 2013. In the meantime, it's back to the kitchen for me!