Batter Licker

November 10, 2010

shrimp, green bean, and tomato salad with dilled lemon-dijon vinaigrette

I don’t know what kind of magic spells Dirty Girl Produce casts on their tomatoes, but their dry farmed, late season tomatoes are still some of the most flavorful tomatoes I’ve ever had. So even in the midst of butternut squash season, I find myself craving their sweet, juicy, deep red tomatoes and buying multiple pounds of them at the farmers market, afraid that next weekend they’ll be gone forever … or at least until next summer.


Some might say I’ve been devouring tomatoes since I was a kid. And they’d be right. As a child, I was very excited to help my mom plant seeds in our vegetable garden and grew impatient as I watched them slowly blossom into cherry tomatoes. Then, of course, I borrowed a tomato or two off the vine for a midday snack and lied about it. Tomatoes missing? Must have been a deer. Or a turkey. Or a rabbit. Or a crow. (Thankfully, I grew up in the boonies of California, where it was not uncommon to find deer snacking on our lawn. So my stories always worked.)


Here, tomatoes provide a juicy sweetness and green beans add a nice, fresh crunch to this salad, while marinated herbed shrimp have hearty meatiness and a bright, tangy flavor that matches well with the veggies and the tangy Dilled Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette. (more…)

May 5, 2010

fish tacos w/mango-radish salsa & pink chipotle sauce

Filed under: fish,fruit,mexican,sauces, marinades, dressings,seafood — Tags: , , , , — Kristen @ 4:33 pm

“Best fish tacos ever.” And that’s not a groundless claim. You can trust me because I grew up in San Diego with exposure to more than my fair share of freshly-made-by-immigrants-who-successfully-crossed-the-border-and-got-us-hooked-on-their-amazing-cuisine Mexican food. But even so, that statement has been uttered (and, therefore, certified) by a real Mexican who would know even better than a native San Diegan would: Señor Brian Griego.

Just a couple weeks after the Griegos’ cutie pie daughter was born, I made fish tacos at their lovely home (mostly as an excuse to see the little princess, but also to catch up with her fun parents). Everyone enjoyed them so much (except baby Kameron, who was still on a milk-drinking binge at the time) that we actually ran out of fish a little early – a huge compliment to the chef (ahem!) but also horrifying because this chef thinks running out of food when she’s serving others is just so embarrassing!

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Anyway, I first got the idea on board a late JetBlue flight from Boston to San Francisco, where I watched Food Network for (no kidding) six hours straight. Tyler Florence was presenting his “ultimate” fish tacos, and I was drawn in by the mango salsa (I love spicy-sweet) and the pink mayonnaise. Yes, pink chipotle mayonnaise is that “special sauce” that makes fish tacos so addictively delicious when you’re eating at a restaurant. (more…)

April 29, 2010

couscous-stuffed dover sole atop summer squash

Filed under: fish,seafood,veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 12:02 am

When it comes to food, I’ve always preferred the stuffed over non-stuffed. Not that Dover sole served over lemon-caper-garlic couscous wouldn’t still be delicious. But Dover sole stuffed with couscous? Way more fun to make, serve, and eat. Bonus: it ensures a little couscous makes it into each lemony bite of flaky fish.

I first became aware of this rolled-and-stuffed preference as a kid during our seemingly (but probably not actually) once-weekendly dinners of grilled steak, potatoes, and vegetable something-or-another. Up until that point, I was just as militant about keeping different foods separated on my plate as I was about making sure that my tucked-in shirt (I was a kid; tucked-in was trendy back then, I swear) created absolutely no lumps or bumps in my pants.

One day, while my attention was focused elsewhere, steak wandered over to fraternize with the mashed potatoes.  And I wanted to cry probably shed at least a silent tear or two. But then I realized something: the mess on my place actually tasted good!

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Then some salad joined the duo, and soon I was stuffing a little bit of everything into a hollowed out dinner roll. How magnificent – a taste of each part of the meal in every bite! Quite a few years later, some lucky friends of mine can tell you how much more enticing old favorites (e.g., cupcakes and pizza) become once stuffed (stay tuned) or rolled up.

And now, fish rolls. (more…)

April 26, 2010

vietnamese rice noodle salad with shrimp and fresh veggies (bún tôm xào)

I was first introduced to bún at Nhu Y while having a meal with Jay’s parents, and I was hooked instantly. A Vietnamese salad composed of rice vermicelli, vegetables, herbs, and marinated meat, bún is a great way to incorporate a variety of fresh, raw vegetables into a meal.

Ever since then, I’ve been trying – to no avail – to find an equally fresh, well-marinated-and-made bún in the city because sometimes, I just don’t have the time to drive down to San Jose to satisfy my cravings for Nhu Y. But on those days, this fresh and easy recipe does the trick to hold me over until my next South Bay bún adventure.

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My version falls just a tad short of the incredible bún served at Nhu Y, where I have no doubt that they spend much more time marinating the meat and vegetables. But this version is still tasty enough that I choose not to halve the recipe because I look forward to having the leftovers around for lunch the next day or two.

The bright, spicy dressing clings to the veggies as carrots, cucumbers, and bean sprouts play hide-and-seek among the rice noodles and shrimp. (more…)

March 7, 2010

The Olive Press cooking competition: 4 extra virgin olive oils, 4 extra vivacious courses

It’s finally that time. Time for me to unveil the results of a few excited weeks of learning about olive oils of various intensity and brainstorming fun ways to use them, all while recovering from a nasty accident involving an immersion blender and an index finger (but I won’t go into that, except to say that I eventually became remarkably adept at nine-fingered typing, shampooing, and cooking). So when The Olive Press invited me to partake in their cooking competition (please vote HERE), I was incredibly thrilled about the opportunity to experiment with the Sonoma, California-based company’s award-winning oils. The Olive Press sent me four different bottles of their extra virgin olive oils – Arbequina, Mission, Italian Blend, and Blood Orange – and challenged me to create a four-course meal using one of the oils in each course. Drum roll please …

Appetizer: Roasted Tomato and Garlic, Kalamata Olive, and Feta Bruschetta, featuring the robust Italian Blend olive oil.

Any time there’s an excuse to do so, I love coming up with different versions of bruschetta. Yes, it’s a relatively simple appetizer, featuring just a handful of complementary, fresh ingredients that can easily be adapted to use whatever you have on hand. But when done right, each bite packs so much flavor and texture. And crunch. (There’s something infinitely more satisfying (to me) when a dish comes with a little bit of crunch, probably because I consistently deprive myself of those pre-made, boxed-up salty snacks that others inconsiderately munch on during my Commercial Contract Writing class.)

For this version of bruschetta, I went a Mediterranean route because the intense flavors of the roasted tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and feta stood up to and were well-complemented by the incredibly robust (dare I say spicy?) Italian Blend olive oil.

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Main Course: Walnut-Crusted Halibut with Roasted Red Pepper Harissa, featuring Blood Orange olive oil.

This dish is near perfection. The halibut is enhanced but not overpowered by the relatively mild Blood Orange olive oil. Both the walnuts and the panko give the fish’s crust a nice crunchy texture, and the walnuts add a rich, buttery flavor while still keeping the dish healthy. (more…)

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