Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Halibut en Papillote


2 Halibut Steaks
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced
1 Teaspoon Basil
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 Cloves Garlic, Peeled and Sliced
2 Tablespoons Capers
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

Halibut is truly one of the most delightful of fishes--when you can get it.  It is definitely a seasonal thing, and it seems to be available at just certain times a year--even frozen.  I try to snap up as much as I can when I see it and keep it in the deep freeze for making wonderful dishes like this one.

En Papillote simply means 'in paper' in French, and that's because, yes, we'll be cooking the fish in a paper pouch.  Sounds weird, but actually this is a great technique that is easy to do and practically foolproof.  If you're worried about being able to cook your hard-won halibut perfectly, you can't go wrong with this technique.  The fish steams in its own juices, and all you have to do is time it right and it will come out perfect--no worries about overcooking.

The en papillote method also makes for a neat presentation--you can serve the dish right in the same pouch you cooked it in, ensuring the fish is piping hot when it gets to your table.

Halibut en Papillote

Preheat Oven to 400˚F.

Season the Halibut Steaks with salt and pepper.

Slice your tomatoes...

then add them with the rest of the ingredients to a bowl and mix well.

Tear off about a 20 inch run of parchment paper.  Place one of the halibut steaks on the paper to one side, leaving a couple inches space on three sides (and quite a few more on the forth).

Spoon half your tomato mixture over the fish,

then fold over the long side of the parchment paper, lining up the corners.  Fold the three open sides over a couple of times and staple, making a nice little rectangular package.

Repeat with the other halibut steak.

Place both packets on a tray and slide them in your oven.

Bake for 14 minutes.  You should hear a nice sizzling sound coming from the packets when they are done.

Serve immediately.  You can plate the packet and serve just like this, letting your guests tear open the packet and eat the fish right out of it.

Warn them to be careful...lots of hot steam in the packet.

You can also open the packets and plate everything as well, as I've done here.

Until next time,

Why not cook this one...just for the halibut!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pizza on the Grill

Yes, you read that right--Pizza...on the grill.  Sure, it sounds like a weird way to make pizza, but it is actually simply, quick and makes some tasty pizza pies that have a bit of a baked-in-a-wood-oven character.  This is great for entertaining as well, as the pizzas cook in minutes so you can make several quite fast.

We got the idea for this from Steve Raichlen's wonderful book, How to Grill, and we stick pretty close to his technique.  This will be more a post about technique than recipe, so if you don't have your own sauce or dough recipe, you can find good ones here on one of my previous pizza posts.

Make enough dough for however many pizza's you are going to make.  Here I'm doing three.

Roll the dough out thin thin thin.  When I roll mine out, I usually stack them on a plate with wax paper between then.  The key to making these pizzas is to have everything ready and at your fingertips when the grill is hot.

That goes for your toppings as well.  Here we've got what we want for a simple pepperoni pie.

Some others we like to do include a white pizza (chicken with a white Alfredo sauce) and a green one (pesto with sun dried tomatoes).

Get your grill to a medium heat.

Prior to placing the grill rack over the coals, oil it up well so that the pizza dough won't stick.

Okay, get ready to work fast.  Place the first dough round on the grill.

Close the lid and let cook for 90 seconds to two minutes.  It may bubble up a bit.

No worries.  Just flip it.

Note the nice grill marks on the side we just grilled.

Now, working quickly, apply your sauce...

...then your cheese...

and finally your other toppings.

Close lid and let everything go for a couple of minutes.  This will melt the cheese without burning the bottom of the pie.

Here's our final product.

Yes, I cheated a little on this one and placed it under a hot broiler for a minute to give a little browning to the cheese.

Repeat with the other dough rounds and your favorite toppings.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Farfalle with Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This is a simple yet easy to fix pasta dish that can be made in minutes but still packs a lot of flavor.  Better still, it can be made from ingredients you probably keep in your pantry (or should) for those times when you just can't seem to make it to the grocery store.

Of course you could roast your own peppers, slice up fresh tomatoes, roll out your own pasta dough, and I'm not knocking that--I do it all the time.  But in some cases there are certain flavors that show up in canned or jarred versions of veggies that actually aren't found in fresh, and in the case of this recipe, I prefer that.

Farfalle with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

8 Oz Cooked Farfalle (Bow Tie) Pasta
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Diced
1 12 Oz Jar Roasted Red Peppers
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 6 Oz Can Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
Dash Red Pepper Flakes
Salt to Taste

Start salted water boiling for your pasta.

Heat a skillet with the olive oil in it.

When it is hot, add your diced onion

and cook until the onions just start to turn golden brown.  While this is going on, get your jar of roasted red peppers.

I really loved these jarred roasted red peppers, and always keep a few of 'em in my pantry for last minute dishes like this one.  They have a unique flavor from being both roasted and slightly pickled that I find I can't get when I roast my own fresh red bell peppers.

Anyway, pull 'em out of the jar.

They will be pretty large pieces, so chop them down to something around bite sized.  Add 'em to the skillet when the onions have started to turn golden.

Stir this around and let cook for a few minutes, then add the balsamic vinegar.

Cook for one minute and then add the tomato paste.  Follow up this by adding the heavy cream.

Give everything a good stir to combine.

Add the smoked paprika

and the red pepper flakes, then allow to cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring often.

While this is going on, cook your farfalle in the boiling water until al dente, probably 8-10 minutes.

After 10 minutes taste the sauce and adjust with salt if necessary to taste.  Place the pasta in a bowl, spoon sauce over and serve it with a little shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.

Until next time,

Savor the flavor, my friends.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Stir Fry Green Beans with Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts

I posted the first Stir Fry On The Grill post way back in 2010.  I've done a lot more Stir Fryin' on the Grill since then, but I haven't got back to this series as far as blogging, so it's time to remedy that.  This is a nice little stir fry side dish recipe that I did back in 2010 as well, and it has sat on the ole' hard drive since then.  Since we're clearing house this month, getting ready for changes to the blog, I thought I'd get this one out there.

To refresh everyone's memory, stir frying in a wok on my grills was an idea I got after seeing a photo in our wok cookbook of someone in China cooking in a wok that was sitting directly on a bed of charcoal, in this case, in a metal paint can. 

I thought to myself, self, I can do that, and I don't have to use no paint can--I've got a Weber kettle grill.

Anyway, I soon discovered this wasn't really an original idea--Weber even makes a special wok ring for stir frying on their grills, but I've decided that I don't need to get that fancy, placing the wok down in the coals like the guy with the paint can works just fine--in fact, I think it works better.  Direct contact with the coals really gets the wok scorching hot, and that's what you want.  A good wok is born of fire and high heat, and they can handle the same whilst cooking, and that high heat translates to that special flavor that all good stir fry has known as 'Wok Hei," or "Breath of the Wok."  It's really hard to describe this flavor, other than to say its just that extra 'uumph' the flavor gets to when stir fried very quickly over very high heat.  Trust me, this direct-on-the-charcoal method gets it.

Green Beans with Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts

8 oz Fresh Green Beans
8 oz Fresh  Mushrooms
6 oz Water Chestnuts
1/4 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Teaspoon White Pepper
2 Tablespoons Peanut Oil
1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger
3 Cloves Garlic

Fire up your charcoal grill.  For this session, I'm using my little Weber Smokey Joe as a sort of side burner, as I had some Kung Pao Chicken going on the big Weber.

My 14 inch carbon steel wok fits perfectly in the little Smokey Joe.

Place your wok in a similar fashion over the coals (or on your stove, if you must) and let it got fiery hot.  When it's there, swirl in the peanut oil around the sides of the wok and add the water chestnuts.

Let them sit for 30 seconds, then stir fry 'em for a minute or two, until they just begin to get golden in color.

Add the mushrooms.

Stir fry these for a minute or so.

Add the green beans.

Stir fry this for two minutes,

then clear a little well in the center and toss in the ginger and garlic right on the wok surface.  Let sizzle for 15-20 seconds, then stir all together.  Mix the white pepper with the chicken broth and then swirl it into the wok.  Stir fry this for another 30 seconds or so, then pull off the heat.

Serve immediately, or, if you want, pose for a photo with your creation, as I've done here.

Until next time,

Wok 'em if you got 'em,


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Scalloped Potatoes

Potatoes are so dang versatile.  You can cook up so many different dishes with them.  Baked Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, French Fries, Tater Tots—the list goes on and on.  Here at An Eat’n Man, we like our taters pretty much any way we can find ‘em, from the aforementioned more ubiquitous ways to some of the fancier forms that potatoes can be lifted up to.  With that in mind, we’re going to start a series of some of the more ‘gussied up’ variety of potato dishes, starting with this one, Scalloped Potatoes. 

This dish is actually about half way between scalloped potatoes and potatoes ‘au gratin.’  What’s the difference, you ask?  Well, scalloped potatoes are potatoes cooked in a milk based sauce, and au gratin potatoes are potatoes sprinkled with cheese and breadcrumbs and baked.  In the former, the milk is what does the ‘scalloping,’ and in the later, a broiled cheese and breadcrumb topping is what makes something ‘au gratin’ or ‘gratinĂ©ed.’  If you do both, then you should call them ‘scalloped potatoes au gratin.’  In this version, I’ve done the scalloping, but I left out the bread crumbs, so it’s not a true ‘au gratin.’  Okay, enough definitions, let’s get to cooking!

Scalloped Potatoes

3-4 Large Potatoes, Thinly-Sliced
3 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Flour
2 Cups Milk
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon White Pepper
2 Cups Grated Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
Dash Paprika

Peel your potatoes and slice them thinly.  This is best done with a mandoline, which can make paper-thin slices quickly and easily.

Just be sure to use the cutting guide and perhaps a knife glove like this one here as well.  Never cut bare-handed like you see ‘em doing on the cooking shows.  Trust me, I can tell you from experience that these babies are very sharp.

When you’ve finished with your taters, melt the butter in a skillet,

then sift in the flour, let cook a minute or three, then stir.

Next, slowly stir in your milk and whisk to combine.

Season with the salt and pepper, then cook on medium heat until just boiling.  Turn off heat. 

Layer some of your potato slices into an oven-proof dish.

Sprinkle some of the cheese over them,

and then ladle some of your milk sauce over that.

Repeat with another layer of potatoes, cheese and sauce.  Keep doing this until you fill up the dish, probably six or seven layers.

On the last layer of potatoes, just add cheese on top—no sauce—as this is what is going to form a nice, melty, golden-brown layer on top. 

Sprinkle on a little paprika if you like, then bake the potatoes uncovered for about an hour at 350˚F, until they are cooked through and golden brown on top.

Let potatoes rest for ten minutes or so out of the oven, then serve.

Until next time,