Poke Bowl with Avocado Rice 

Usually, Saturdays are cooking days in my house while I get ready for my blog dates with Merideth. In the heat of the summer, this is way less exciting. I just got back from a week in California and, now that I’m home in, realized I never truly appreciated how absolutely hot it is in Florida. This minimal-cooking, refrigerator friendly recipe is perfect for lazy, hot summer afternoons when you want to make the most of your air conditioning and chilled white wine.

Ingredients

Ahi Tuna and Marinade 

  • 1 tuna steak, sushi grade (about 1lb), cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs ground ginger 
  • Toppings: Sriracha, green onions, and/or sesame seeds (optional)

Avocado Rice

  •  2 cups cooked jasmine rice 
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • 1 tbs ground ginger
  • Salt and pepper 

Instructions

  1. Whisk marinade ingredients together and pour over tuna in a bowl and Marinade for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Stir diced avocado into jasmine rice until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and ginger.
  3. Top rice with marinated tuna and other accompaniments as desired.

Wine Pairing: Though I’m tempted to justify a Pinot noir because I tend toward red wine, this tuna was great with a Pinot Grigio, which is slightly sweeter than a Sauvignon Blanc without being too rich.

Beef, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

The slow cooked meal is such a wonderful convenience in all seasons. While at first thought, it seems that it is best served during the winter months as the slow cooker rewards you with hearty stews and belly-warming chilis, it can definitely be a summer blessing as well. An oven or even a simmering pot on the stove can make the kitchen uncomfortably warm on an already warm day, and a slow cooker silently cooking away in the corner is an excellent alternative to using your kitchen towels to wipe sweat from your brows every two minutes.

This week, Amanda and I wanted to go low maintenance. I had some obligations on the day of our skype date so a set-it-and-forget-it recipe was just what the doctor ordered.  Since it was an unseasonably cold day, I did opt for a heartier beef soup but it could easily be enjoyed during warm weather as well. As stated above, the reduced use of heat emanating appliances would definitely make me more receptive to a soup in the middle of July for sure. Regardless, this soup was tasty, easy and made plenty of leftovers for weekday lunches.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1 inch chunks.
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, I used baby bellas but you could branch out with varieties.
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick clices.
  • 1 onion, diced.
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions (I know. See if you can keep up with me here):

  1. If desired (and you will be rewarded in flavor), brown the beef over medium heat before adding to the slow cooker. However, if you’re like me and and feel that the point of the slow cooker is not to dirty any other pans, add all ingredients to the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Enjoy with your favorite crusty bread or however you would like!

Wine Pairing: The umami flavor of the mushrooms and the rich beefy taste can stand up to a full bodied red like a syrah, which would warm the belly and bring even more comfort to a dinner with this soup. 

File Gumbo

Merideth and I share a lot of the same tastes in food including, as we discussed over one of our recent Distance Dishes dinners, food that can be served in bowls! For me, this is mostly for convenience (read: laziness), but combining food in one pot also gives the flavors a chance to blend together.

This dinner happened to fall right before Mardi Gras, so I thought something Creole would be fun! Plus, it gave me an excuse to go spice shopping (I have the Room of Requirement of spices) to get file powder. File powder is ground sassafras root that serves as a thickener stirred in just before serving and adds a sweet flavor. I also used homemade seafood stock with the peeled shells of the shrimp I needed and vegetable scraps (carrot tops, onion skins, celery hearts) that I save in the freezer. Store bought works as well, but homemade has better sodium content and makes me feel good for upcycling kitchen scraps!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups vegetable or seafood stock (homemade recipe here)
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • 2-3 diced medium onions (about 1 cup)
  • 4 diced celery stalks
  • 2 chopped bell peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp hot sauce, or more to taste
  • 1 tbs creole mix seasoning
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 lb crab meat
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (reserve shells for seafood stock, if making homemade)
  • 1 1/2 tbs file powder

wp-1488552918538.jpg

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in large pot. Add onions, celery, and green pepper and saute until onions brown lightly.
  2. Add garlic, hot pepper sauce, and creole seasoning. Stir frequently and saute for 4 minutes.
  3. Add tomato sauce and simmer for 3 minutes. Add stock and summer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add shrimp and crab meat. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Just before serving, add file powder and stir to combine.

Wine Pairing: Just before I made this recipe, I received my seasonal subscription from my local winery! I signed up for a mixed shipment hoping to broaden my horizons past red wine, and one of the white wines, a Viognier, was just what I needed for the gumbo. It has a little bit of the rich oak taste that makes wines like Chardonnay pair so well with shellfish, but has a fruitness that tones down the spice from the hot sauce. Refreshing!

Homemade Stock

Seafood Stock

Ingredients

Discarded seafood, including shrimp shells, crab shells, or fish heads or bones

2 small onions, 2 medium carrots, and a stalk of celery (or, conversely, saved scraps of these vegetables, which can be kept in the freezer until needed)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Arrange fish or shellfish scraps on cookie sheet with vegetables. Roast in oven for 5-10 minutes or until the seafood is browned on edges.
  3. Place the roasted ingredients in large pot. Add 8 cups water, or enough to cover ingredients and fill pot about halfway full.
  4. Bring the stock to a simmer (not boil). Skim fat off the surface of the stock regularly, simmering for three hours with the pot uncovered.
  5. After simmering for three hours, strain the stock through a colander or, preferably, a sieve.
  6. Allow the stock to cool to room temperature, removing any remaining fat before storage. Use within 3-4 days.

 

Chicken Stock

Ingredients

Chicken carcass

2 small onions, 2 medium carrots, and a stalk of celery (or, conversely, saved scraps of these vegetables, which can be kept in the freezer until needed)

Instructions

  1.  Rinse chicken carcass with cold water and trim any visible fat.
  2. Place the carcass and chopped vegetables or vegetable scraps in a large pot. Add water until carcass is nearly (but not entirely) covered.
  3. Bring the stock to a simmer (not boil). Skim fat off the surface of the stock regularly, simmering for three hours with the pot uncovered.
  4. After simmering for three hours, strain the stock through a colander or, preferably, a sieve.
  5. Allow the stock to cool to room temperature, removing any remaining fat before storage. Use within 3-4 days.

Peanut Butter Soup

When Amanda first suggested this blog as something for us to do together, despite our distance, I was definitely excited. The next question after “Do we really want to do this?” (which was a resounding “Hell Yes”) was “where do we start?” Amanda and I really seem to bond over our love of flavorful and exotic spices and so we knew we wanted to start with something new. We chose African inspired dishes because it had both a combination of interesting flavor layers and it was certainly a cuisine I had never cooked before so it was something new and exciting with intriguing familiarity.

We chose to do different recipes for this week’s installment as it was a bit last minute and my newly relocated pantry was a bit lacking. While Amanda was able to make a beautiful and interesting Moroccan Chicken, I was looking for something somewhat simple to start with ingredients I had on hand and something on the healthy side (having just moved across country my pants were/still are a bit tight from road snacks). So I decided on a simple, vegetarian Peanut Butter Soup recipe which, although not traditional, is inspired by the West African dish.

I decided to use the recipe adapted from Hurry the Food up at http://hurrythefoodup.com/african-peanut-soup/ however, after 2 harried trips to the crowded grocery store I returned home only to be unloading my groceries from the car and saying to myself disappointedly “tomato paste!” I had forgotten to grab it and I then decided I was going to improvise because I certainly wasn’t going to deal with people any more that day.

So, before I began to cook the actual soup, I had to fashion some tomato paste substitute out of my only tomatoes in the house, a can of diced tomatoes. Apparently to make a workable substitution tomato paste the steps are very simple:

  • One 8 oz can of tomatoes
  • Puree in blender or food processor
  • Cook in a saucepan over medium heat for around 12-15 minutes until liquid is reduced enough that it will not add too much liquid to the dish.

I found that one 8oz can of tomato gave me around 1/4 cup of tomato paste.

Now I was ready to start on the soup, which was quite easy and quite delicious. The recipe on the the website was straightforward. To up the nutrition content, I added a few handfuls of spinach leaves as I ate the leftover portions.

If you have never tated this dish before, it tastes exactly as you wish it would. One giant, steaming bowl of peanut buttery goodness that would be the perfect comfort food for a cold day or really any day.

Wine Pairing:  To combine with the nuttiness in the dish I was craving a white wine tonight, which I can say I have never craved before. Generally I tolerate white wine if it is included in an tasting cases I order. However, tonight I paired this with a chilled Chenin Blanc which provided a light tartness to cut the strong peanutty taste as well as added an extra layer of temperature change.