Simple Baked Halibut

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I love to experiment with sauces and flavors, but sometimes they can get in the way of one’s appreciation of the main element of a dish. So whenever I have a really great piece of fish – like this halibut that a friend sent to us from Alaska – I like to keep its preparation simple. That way the fish itself can really shine. Here I served the Baked Halibut with stir fried asparagus, steamed rice and soy sauce mixed with lemon juice and a dash of cayenne pepper served on the side.

Simple Baked Halibut

serves 2 – 3

1 lb piece of halibut cut about 2-inches thick, thawed

1 large lemon

sea salt

mix of black and green peppercorns

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.

2. Meanwhile, pat fish dry with a paper towel. Place fish, skin-side down, on the parchment paper. Lightly sprinkle fish with sea salt and several twists of fresh ground pepper. Cut about 2/3 of the lemon into thin slices. Spread slices over the top of the fish. (You can save the rest of the lemon to squeeze into a little soy sauce, if you like.)

3. Place fish in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until cooked all of the way through. (The fish will be solid white in the center, not somewhat translucent.) Serve immediately.

Variations:

• Mix a few thin slices of red onion in with the lemon slices.

• Drizzle just a little bit of melted butter or olive oil on the fish before baking.

• Top with a little bit of chopped fresh parsley when serving.

Orange Carrot Soup

A light, but flavorful and warming soup to start your new year!

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Orange Carrot Soup

4-6 Servings

Ingredients

3 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 c. diced yellow onion

salt

fresh ground pepper

2 T. semi-dry white wine, divided

4 c. diced, peeled carrots

2 t. smoked paprika

1 t. ground cinnamon

4 c. vegetable (or chicken) broth or bouillon*, divided

3 T. honey, divided

1 – 1 1/4 c. fresh-squeezed orange juice, to taste

zest from one of the oranges (use a course-textured zester)

croutons or Greek yogurt, optional

*I use 2 “Not-Chick’n” bouillon cubes dissolved in 4 c. boiling water. “Not-Chick’n” can be found in the organic foods section of many grocery stores.

Directions

  1. Place 1 T. of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, a dash of salt, a twist of fresh ground pepper, and about 1 T. of the wine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is crisp-tender and translucent. Transfer to a stock pot.
  2. Place remaining 2 T. of the olive oil in the large skillet. Add carrots, paprika and cinnamon. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Transfer to the stock pot containing the onions.
  3. Add enough of the broth to the stock pot to almost cover carrots. Stir. Cover and cook over medium heat until carrots are tender enough to purée but are not mushy, about 15 minutes. Stir in 2 T. of the honey.
  4. Purée mixture with a stick blender – or transfer mixture to a food processor or blender to purée until almost perfectly smooth, then transfer mixture back to stock pot.
  5. Stir orange juice and remaining 1 T. of wine into carrot mixture, then thin soup to desired consistency with the remaining broth. Stir in orange zest. Taste. If necessary adjust flavor using honey, wine, orange juice, or salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for about 10 more minutes before serving to blend flavors.
  6. Stir soup before serving. Serve in small cups as a starter or light lunch – or in soup bowls for a heavier meal. If desired, garnish with croutons or a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Enjoy! Happy New Year!

Seafood Cobb Salad

A perfect meal for late summer evenings …SaladSeafoodCobb

Seafood Cobb Salad

2 large servings

Layer together on two dinner plates, and then serve immediately:

6 c. torn lettuce, washed and dried

3/4 lb. cooked shrimp, crab and/or lobster, cleaned and shells removed

2 lg. ripe tomatoes, chopped

1  avocado, diced

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced

4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

wedges of lemon or lime, for garnish

dressing, served on the side

Dressing

Vigorously shake together:

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil,

2 T. red wine vinegar

1 t. lemon or lime juice

1 t. Dijon mustard

1/2 clove of garlic, minced – optional

pinch of sugar, or to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

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Enjoy! Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Banana Chocolate Crumb Cheesecake

Happy National Cheesecake Day on July 30th! I decided to mark the occasion by making one of my favorite cheesecakes – Banana Chocolate Crumb Cheesecake!

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 Banana Cheesecake

This is a soft, not-too-sweet, delicately flavored banana cheesecake with a dark chocolate cookie crumb “crust”. The custard recipe comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s banana variation of her Cordon Rose Cheesecake in The Cake Bible – a truly excellent cookbook.

Make 1 day ahead

Ingredients (at room temperature)

1 lb. (2 8-oz. pkgs.) cream cheese

1 c. granulated white sugar

1 1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/4 t. salt

2 c. sour cream

2 large, very ripe bananas, enough to make 1 c. mashed

3 T. fresh lemon juice, strained

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 c crushed dark chocolate wafer cookies  (use gluten-free cookies for a gluten-free cheesecake)

Prepare Pan

1. Butter the inside of an 8″ springform pan.  Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the inside of the pan – just smaller than 8″ in diameter. Butter the paper and then place it in pan.

2. Wrap the outside of the pan with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent seepage from the water bath.

3. Have ready a larger baking pan – I use a 9″-square brownie pan – to use as a water bath for baking the cheesecake.

Directions for Making Cheesecake Custard

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Using a mixer or large food processor, beat together cream cheese and sugar until perfectly smooth. Scrape bowl. Beat in vanilla and salt, then sour cream. Scrape bowl.  Mash bananas together with lemon juice. Beat bananas into custard. Scrape bowl.

3. Pour custard into prepared springform pan. Place pan in larger baking pan. Pour in 1″ of very hot water. Bake cheesecake for 45 minutes. Turn oven off, without opening the door, and leave cheesecake in oven for one hour.  Remove cheesecake from oven and from water bath.  Remove foil from pan.  Plan pan on a cooling rack and let cheesecake continue cooling at room temperature for one more hour. Cover  pan with plastic wrap. Chill cheesecake in refrigerator overnight.

Serving

1. The next day, wipe outside of cheesecake pan with a hot, damp towel. Run a thin spatula around the inside of the pan. Release the clasp on the springform pan and remove the outside of pan.  If there is condensation on the cheesecake, lightly pat it dry with a paper towel. Invert cheesecake onto a flat plate or a small cutting board covered with plastic wrap.  Remove parchment paper.

2. Pat cookie crumbs onto bottom and sides of cheesecake. Re-invert onto serving plate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until serving. Garnish and serve.

Suggested Garnishes

• Whipped cream, chocolate shavings and banana and/or strawberry slices.

• Whipped cream and hot fudge.

• Whipped cream and dark cherries.

• For Banana Split Cheesecake, serve with whipped cream, banana slices, strawberry slices, pineapple chunks, chopped walnuts, chocolate sauce, and melted strawberry jam.

Enjoy! Happy National Cheesecake Day!

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Salmon Avocado Crackers

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Salmon Avocado Crackers

Easy-to-make hors d’oeuvres for warm weather entertaining.

ripe avocado

fresh-squeezed lemon juice

fresh cilantro leaves, a few minced, the rest coarsely chopped for garnish

salt

rice or almond crackers

smoked salmon

lemon zest

fresh ground pepper

Coarsely mash avocado together with lemon juice, a few minced cilantro leaves, and salt to taste. Spoon onto crackers. Top with salmon, cilantro leaves, lemon zest and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

 

 

Honey-Glazed Raisin Pecan Muffins (Gluten-Free)

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Honey-Glazed Raisin Pecan Muffins

2 c. white rice flour (gluten-free)

1/2 c. dark brown sugar

1 T. baking powder

2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1 c. Greek yogurt (full-fat)

1/2 c. melted butter

1/2 c. honey, plus extra for glazing muffins

2 lg. eggs

1 c. mixed jumbo raisins

1 c. chopped pecans

muffin papers or foils

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to  400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with papers or foils.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, butter, 1/2 c. honey, and eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and then stir with a mixing spoon until no dry spots appear. Fold in raisins and walnuts.

4. Divide batter between muffin cups, mounding batter up in the center of each muffin and rounding with the back of a spoon. (Batter will stand above the top of the muffin pan.)

5. Bake for 20 – 23 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove muffins from the oven and immediately glaze each with about 1/2 t. of honey, spreading honey with the back of a spoon. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Muffins are best served warm with a bit of butter or jam. Enjoy!

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Have a lovely weekend!

Banana Brownies

This is a brownie recipe that I love because the brownies are super moist and let me make use of extra bananas, and an added bonus is that they freeze well. I just made a batch to put out for guests!Image

Banana Brownies

Not overly sweet or overly chocolatey, these have the added flavor and moistness of banana.

3/4 c. + 2 T. all-purpose flour

2 T. Dutch-process cocoa

1/4 t. salt

4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped or just over 3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 c. unsalted butter

1-2 lg. eggs (use 1 for denser brownies, 2 for cakier brownies)

1/2 c. dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 c. granulated white sugar

1 c. mashed overripe banana (about 2 lg.)

1 t. vanilla extract

3.75 oz. chopped milk chocolate or 3/4 c. milk chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9” square baking pan or spray pan with baking spray.
  2. In  small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa and salt. Set aside.
  3. Melt chocolate and butter together, stirring frequently. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat egg(s) and sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in banana and then chocolate mixture. On lowest speed, beat in dry ingredients just until they are incorporated. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Spread evenly.
  5. Bake for approximately 40 to 45 minutes or until firm on top and starting to pull away from edges of pan. (Do not rely on a cake tester.) Place baking pan on a wire rack to cool.

Tip: Freeze overripe bananas so that you have them available whenever needed for baking. Thaw and then peel before using.

Serving suggestion: Sift with confectioner’s sugar before serving or tuck into banana splits.

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