Monday, July 27, 2009

Food: Swordfish Milanese

I don't normally fear cooking new foods, but for years, swordfish struck me as being very intimidating. I could probably attribute some of this hesitation to the first time I tried the fish. Years ago when I attended my very first Homecoming dance in High School, my date treated me to dinner at a nice restaurant. It was here I tried swordfish for the first time, and as with many foods we try for the first time, it seemed so exotic and different - something almost out of reach. And since it's not something you see on menus very often, it was years after ordering swordfish for the first time that I tasted it again. However, due to this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis, I now eat (and cook!) it several times a year. So what is is about this recipe I love? Four Words: Fast, Simple, Crispy, Delicious.

Although I think the original recipe below is perfect (adapted for 2 rather than 4 servings), I tend to mix up what I serve with the basic fish. Normally I follow Giada's recipe and top it with a lemony, arugula salad. But this time I was in the mood for some sweet and tangy flavors (in addition to a summery Hoegaarden) and I ended up serving the fish with with a sweet-tart, three bean salad (recipe to follow in a future blog entry...for the salad, not the beer). .

Giada Swordfish Milanese Motown MaidenSwordfish Milanese

Original Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis


  • 1 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 swordfish steaks, each about 1/2-inch-thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Place the panko in a pie dish.
  • In another pie dish, beat the eggs to blend.
  • Line a large cutting board with plastic wrap. Place 2 swordfish steaks on plastic wrap, about 2 inches apart. Place another sheet of plastic wrap over the steaks. Using the flat side of a meat mallet or a heavy rolling pin, gently flatten the swordfish steaks to 1/4-inch thick. Remove top plastic wrap and sprinkle the swordfish with salt and pepper on both sides. Set
  • Dip each steak into the egg, then the panko, coating completely and patting to adhere.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy large pan over medium-high heat. Place coated swordfish steaks in pan and cook until brown and crisp and just cooked through in the middle, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cooling rack set on a baking sheet and lightly tent with foil to keep warm (do not seal with foil or the breading will become soggy).

Lemony Arugula Salad:


  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups lightly packed arugula
  • 1 bunch watercress, stemmed


  • Whisk the lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil in a large bowl to blend.
  • Add the arugula and watercress, and toss lightly to coat.
  • Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer the swordfish steaks to plates. Top with the salad and serve.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Food: Summer Pasta

Here in Michigan, it's almost peak vegetable season. So we all know what that can find fresh everything at the store and farmers' markets! A few weekends ago I threw together this pasta for a quick Friday night meal. It's super easy and simple - and would adapt really well to what every veggie you find at the store this week - zucchini, wax beans, etc. Just make sure to include the tomatoes and lemon since that's what helps create the "sauce."

Summer Pasta

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Finely Grated Zest from one lemon
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 4 shakes of crushed red pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, snapped into 1" pieces
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 10 oz grape tomatoes (i.e. one package)
  • 4 oz mushrooms (I used a package of pre-sliced, mixed variety)
  • 1 T chives, chopped
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • 16 oz Pasta (I used Gia Rusa Whole Wheat Roman Rigatoni)
  • 3 oz, crumbled Feta Cheese


  • In a medium-sized, deep saucepan, heat oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes -or- until you can start to smell its aroma. Add lemon zest and crushed red pepper and heat for another 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and tomatoes and increase heat to medium-high.
  • After cooking for ~15 minutes, tomatoes should be tender enough to crush. Smash tomatoes with back of spoon (be careful when doing this so you don't splatter yourself - or the walls!), add lemon juice, asparagus, pepper, salt. Heat for another 5 minutes or so until asparagus is cooked yet still firm.
  • Meanwhile, heat generously salted water in a large pot on high heat. Once water is boiling, add pasta. Cook for 10 minutes (or until al dente - according to pasta instructions). Drain pasta. Pour "sauce" over pasta, add feta cheese, toss to coat.
  • Garnish with fresh chives.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Food: Flat Iron Steak, Orzo with Everything

Several weeks ago I followed the advice of Barbara Fairchild (Bon Appetit's Editor-in-Chief) to dig into the Epicurious archives and make a recipe called "Orzo with Everything." Looking for a quick but unusual side dish, I thought it sounded like a good bet. And I was right (or rather Ms. Fairchild was right). First off, the dish is extremely colorful - primarily due to the chopped bits of radicchio and basil. But the real treat is in the taste - it's definitely a party for your tongue. Who knew you could eat something that was bitter, sweet, tart, briny, tangy, fresh, cool, refreshing, crunchy, crisp and smooth all at one time? Wow! Jonathan and I loved this recipe and both had more than one helping. And we discovered it's even better the next day.

In terms of left-overs, besides eating the orzo on its own, buy a roast chicken, shred it and mix it in for a quick lunch-time salad that's easy to pack in a travel container. Or throw in some drained, rinsed black beans for a hearty, veggie alternative.

I served my "Orzo with Everything" alongside a simple, grilled, flat iron steak (my simple version is to lightly coat with olive oil, fresh cracked pepper, and kosher salt and throw it on a grill (medium, direct heat)).

Orzo with Everything
Bon App├ętit July 1998


  • 1 1/2 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta; about 10 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup (packed) chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (packed) chopped Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives
  • 1 cup finely chopped radicchio (about 1 small head)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced


  • Cook orzo in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain well. Transfer to large bowl.
  • Add sun-dried tomatoes, oil, vinegar and olives and toss to blend. Let stand until cool. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)
  • Mix chopped radicchio, pine nuts, chopped basil, Parmesan and garlic into orzo mixture. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Food: Simple Pleasures - Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwich

I'm not quite sure what I did before Trader Joe's. It was my first introduction to goat cheese (years ago I had a wonderful dip at their store consisting of warm goat cheese and bruschetta and I've been hooked on the musky cheese ever since). And this is another one of my guilty pleasures - a toasted sandwich consisting of TJ's Tuscan Pane bread (which makes wonderful toast), their to-die-for roasted red pepper spread with eggplant and garlic (my mom adds this to grilled cheese with her homemade hot peppers for the best grilled cheese sandwich ever), and warm goat cheese. I'm sure I could spice it up by adding some fresh basil leaves or some warm, roast chicken. But honestly, I love the simplicity of this sandwich. It makes me want to take a long, leisurely bike ride through the country, stopping for a picnic under some gigantic oak trees or tote a picnic basket to a beach to sit around a bonfire with a crisp glass of wine. If only every sandwich made you think of being on vacation!

trader joe's, roasted red pepper, goat cheese, sandwich, motown maiden
trader joe's, roasted red pepper, goat cheese, sandwich, motown maiden

trader joe's, roasted red pepper, goat cheese, sandwich, motown maiden

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Food: Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp

The following recipe by Melissa Clark actually ran in the New York Times in January but I only discovered it recently via The Wednesday Chef. In looking at photos of the dish, I thought it looked a little plain. As a result, I was concerned it would be lacking flavor and made a raisin vinagrette for the shrimp. But I should have trusted the rave reviews. It didn't need anything extra, except for a little bit of rice on the side.

Even though this meal is so simple and fast, both the process and the end results are extremely gratifying. For example, just grating citrus involves all of your senses...hearing the rasping noise the fruit makes and feeling the vibration in your fingertips when pushing the lemon across the grater while smelling the fresh, bright scent of lemon filling the air and watching little bits of bright yellow light up some olive oil. The other gratifying bit about making this dish is watching the shrimp turn from boring, transparent gray into hot and enticing coral. And you can't believe how plain and simple broccoli is transformed into something warm, juicy and intensely flavorful thanks to some exotic spices. This is definitely a dish you will make over and over again. May I mention again how quick and easy it is to pull together?

Roasted Broccoli with Shrimp
Adapted from The Wednesday Chef


  • 2 heads of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1-1.5 lbs large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Finely grated zest from 1 lemon


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss broccoli with 2 tablespoons oil, coriander, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and chili powder.
  • In a separate bowl, combine shrimp, 2 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  • Spread broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes.
  • Add shrimp to baking sheet and toss with broccoli. Roast, tossing once halfway through, until shrimp are just opaque and broccoli is tender and golden around edges, about 10 minutes more.
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