I love eating, cooking and especially reading about all different types of food. Every month I'll try recipes from some of my favorite culinary magazines and cook books, review restaurants and even share some of my own creations. I'll post pictures and let you know what works, how they taste and tips to make them better. I'll also enlist some friends around the country to tell you about some great food finds where they live.

Become a follower and check in each week for a new FOODIE TRIAL!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A page from my "book" - Pico de Gallo w/Roasted Corn in Tostones Cups, Brown Rice and Red Beans, Lemony Baked Mahi Mahi

This week I decided to take a break from the mags and give you all a taste of what I can do on my own.  I went the tropical route since Mr. Steele was feening for some fish.  The menu included:

Pico de Gallo w/Roasted Corn in Tostones Cups
Brown Rice and Red Beans
Lemony Baked Mahi Mahi

Pico de Gallo w/Roasted Corn in Tostones Cups

Pico de Gallo is really simple to make and a refreshing dip or topping for fish.  I paired it with Tostones Cups.  I found a company online that sells these tostones makers, cubanfoodmarket.com, very cool!  This serves about 3-4 people, depending on how you plan on using this, dip vs. inside the tostones cups.

1 ear of fresh corn
4-5 medium, ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup sweet Maui onion, diced
1/3 cup red pepper, diced
2 tablespoons jalapeno, minced (add more or less depending on how hot you want it)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 of a lime
2 tsp salt to start, add more if needed

4 large green plantains, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
Canola oil, for frying
Iodized or Table Salt

Preheat oven to 375° F.. Place corn husks on the oven rack and roast for 20-30 minutes or until corn is soft. Let cool.  Peel the husks.  Use a sharp knife and cut corn from the cob into a bowl.  Set aside.

Place the rest of the ingredients up to the lime in a medium bowl and stir lightly.  Season with salt, taste to see if you need more.  Add corn, mix together and chill.

Preheat oil in deep pot or fry machine to 375° F.  Carefully place a few pieces into the oil and fry for 5 minutes or until they start turning light brown. Drain them on a paper-towel lined tray. Place a piece in the tostones maker and press.  This may take a few trials to get the right cup shape.  Once youve pressed a few, return them to the oil and fry again for 3-4 minutes or until they get golden brown. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with salt.

Mound the salsa into the hot cups and serve immediatley!

Brown Rice and Red Beans
I gotta give it up to my girl Melissa Ortiz, she's the one who showed me the basics of some good Puerto Rican beans.  Now, my Mom also makes great beans, but for some reason, Mel's always stuck with me.  Over the years, I've added my own touches to the beans, more vegetables, no Goya Sazón or Adobo.  I try to keep the ingredients as natural as I can.  But hey, if you're in a bind, both Goya Sazón and Adobo can make your beans delicious.  I use the brown rice because it's got a hefty texture and it really holds up to the beans.  Of course, you can use white rice as well.

2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup brown rice

2 tsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 brown onion, minced
3 tbsp carrots, minced
3 tbsp green or red pepper, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano
1 can (15.5 oz) red kidney beans, drain only half the can
2 tsp salt
1 medium tomato, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup water
1 tsp white vinegar
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium sauce pan, stir in rice.  Cover.  Reduce heat and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until broth is absorbed.  If you want drier rice, use 1/4 cup less broth.

In a medium sauce pan, on medium-high heat, heat the olive oil in the pan.  Add garlic, onions, carrots, peppers and saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the oregano, beans, salt, tomato, pepper flakes, bay leaf, water and vinegar.  Turn heat to low and simmer until flavors come together, about 15 minutes.  If you like your beans a bit thinner, add more water, thicker, add less.  Another trick, take a few beans at the end, crush them in a bowl, and return to the pot.  This will thicken the beans up.  Serve with rice.

Lemony Baked Mahi Mahi

The Ferry Building here in San Francisco has a great fish market, and we were able to pick up some fresh, sushi grade Mahi Mahi.  This is a really meaty fish, so normally you can grill and it's at it's best.  We baked it in the oven at 400° F, and it was just as good.

3 half lb filets, mahi mahi
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat oven to 400° F.  In shallow glass bowl or Ziploc bag, place fish, and last 4 ingredients.  Marinate for 15-20 minutes.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, turning over once.  Bake until the fish is cooked through and brown.  You can add some lemon slices and the corn salsa to the fish as topping.

I hope you guys enjoy these dishes.  I'll try to add some more of my favorites really soon.  I'm traveling next week, so I'll try my best to add a posting.  Let's see how things go.  Take care!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Side Dishes - Spring Vegetable Ragout, Spicy Cauliflower

This weekend it was about sides, healthy sides.  Mr. Steele planned on making pork ribs, so I wanted to offset the meat with some healthy sides.  The ribs were great...

I found these two recipes in Body + Soul from April 2010.

Spring Vegetable Ragout
Spicy Cauliflower

As always, the team at Martha Stewart Omnimedia have left these recipes off their website.  So here is the first one:

Spring Vegetable Ragout

  • 3 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half moons (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 12 ounces  asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2.5 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1.5 cups)
  • 8 radishes, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs, such as chives and tarragon
1. Soak leeks in cold water 5 minutes; lift out and drain.  Repeat until no grit remains on bottom of bowl.  Set aside. 
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add leeks and salt and sauté until leeks are tender, about 2 minutes.  Stir in asparagus then water.  Simmer covered for 2 minutes.  Add snap peas and radishes, cover, and simmer for 2 minutes more.  
3. Stir in mustard until well combined, then swirl in butter and herbs.  Serve immediately
This is a really delicious, quick side dish.  I'm really into radishes now and their bitterness almost becomes sweet when you combine them with the leeks and snap peas.  I, of course, left out the butter and it was perfectly fine.  Although, I'm sure if you used butter, it would have added a creaminess to the dish.  All the produce was fresh and organic, and I think that's why it was so addictive and flavorful.

The next side was the cauliflower. AMAZING PEOPLE.  This one you have to try. 

Spicy Cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seed
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded peeled ginger
  • 5 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, about 2 lbs., cut into large florets
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1-2 small red chiles, thinly sliced, seeds removed for less heat
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over high heat in a large skillet. Add spices and cook until fragrant and golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Stir in the onion, 3 tablespoons ginger, 3 tablespoons garlic, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until onions are tender and golden at the edges, 4 to 6 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Wash and dry pan and return to medium high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil; heat until shimmering.  Add half the cauliflower and brown on one side, 3 to 5 minutes  Remove from pan, and repeat with remaining oil, cauliflower, ginger, and garlic.
3.  Combine batches of cauliflower in pan.  Add water and remaining salt.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in chickpeas and chiles; cook uncovered until chickpeas are heated through and liquid is gone, about 3 minutes.
4. Stir in onions and serve. 

Ok, a few things, you do not need 1/4 cup of ginger...it's overkill.  I only used about 3 tablespoons and it was perfect.  The flavors are really complex in this dish, I think you'll like it.

See you next week

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mussels in White Wine, Orecchiette with Rapini and Goat Cheese, Rum and Raisin Cookies, Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies

On Sunday we had some guests dining with us, Ed (right) and Sam (left).  Ed and I have known each other for a while.  We met when I was living in Brooklyn about 8-9 years ago.  It's amazing where people end up.  Now he lives about 5 minutes from my place here in SF, and we work for the same company.  I met Ed's friend Sam for the first time last night...he's a sweetheart and very funny!

Anyway, we had a pretty light menu, but the mussels were a lot of work. Let's start there.

Mussels in White Wine from SAVEUR Issue #126

I bought the mussels on Saturday and prepped them for an overnight stay in the fridge.  As soon as you buy them, get them out of the plastic bag.  Mussels are really delicate, so prep them ASAP.  I placed them in a shallow bowl with cold salted water and a little bit of cornmeal.  Place some wet paper towel over the top. This keeps them fresh and the mussels eat the cornmeal and spit out any grit.  The next day, about 1 hour before cooking them, it was prep time.  Get yourself a good food brush and a small knife.  Check each mussel, make sure that it's closed and has no cracks.  Sometimes, if you find one that's open, just give it a light tap, give it a minute, if it closes, it's still good.  If the mussel is no good, throw it out.  Once you find a good one, make sure you brush them really well, get any growth off the shell and pull the "beard" out the side of the shell.  After you clean them, set them aside and start prepping the ingredients in the recipe.  It's really simple!!  The flavor is really delicious.  Make sure you toast some crusty bread because you'll want to soak up all the broth.

Mr. Steele graced us with his famous kale chips as a snack.  These are addictive and really easy to make.

Kale Chips
1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped in half
kosher salt
olive oil

Heat oven to 350°.  Place the kale on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Spray or lightly coat the kale with olive oil and kosher salt.  Bake until ends are crispy and brown. 

My best friend Rona in Memphis requested a vegetarian meal for this week, so I picked a pasta dish.

Rapini is another name for broccoli rabe.  It's got a bitter taste that compliments the tangy goat cheese and the tart lemon.  It's a really easy recipe and would be great as a quick weeknight dinner.  You could easily replace the rapini with spinach.  I added the juice of 1 lemon, used really good extra virgin olive oil and omitted the garlic.


I decided to keep dessert simple and made two cookie recipes.  

Both are quite easy to make, although if you don't have a food processor, the Rum Raisin dough may be difficult to prepare.  Both cookie doughs were not your normal thick sticky consistency.  I used really high quality dried cherries from Michigan that were enormous.  Probably would have been easier if I chopped them a bit.  I also used Ghirardelli chocolate chips which are large.  This also made it hard to form the cookies on the tray.  All that being said, the cookies came out wonderfully.  They were chewy, not super sweet, and had a thick dense texture to them.  Be careful on the Cherry cookies, the bottoms burned easily.  I brought these to work and everyone loved them.

Rum and Raisin Cookies
Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies

See you next week!