Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quick Fish Tacos

I believe I have mentioned that I love shopping at Trader Joe's. Here is another reason why. I am always excited to find out what they are serving up for customers to sample. One day they were serving their lightly breaded fish sticks. Now I will admit that I had already bought them before, and I knew that they were good - but I ate a sample anyway. Within the 10 second conversation that I had with that friendly Trader Joe's employee (they hire great people - they are always friendly) she told me how she uses the fish sticks to make fish tacos. What an epiphany. The following recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight since dinner can be on the table in 30 minutes.

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Quick Fish Tacos

1 package of frozen fish sticks (I use Trader Joe's Brand)
2 Cups of shredded red cabbage (I use Trader Joe's pre shredded)
2 Tablespoons Ranch dressing
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh Cilantro
1 package of corn tortillas (I have used low carb flour, and sprouted corn tortillas)

1) Preheat oven and bake fish sticks according to package directions
2) Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl
3) Heat tortillas in microwave or with a small amount of oil frying pan (stacking on a plate as heated)
4) Assemble using two to three fish sticks per taco and a scoop of the cabbage mixture, or let everyone build their own.

Serve with sour cream, avocado, salsa, and a side of refried beans

Note: my absolute favorite salsa is Trader Joe's Homestyle Salsa Especial - Medium. I am determined to figure out a comparable recipe.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Seared Scallops with Pea Puree, Crisp Pancetta, and Gremolata

Are you looking for something a little different without spending hours in the kitchen? Here is the ticket. This meal only took about 30 minutes including preparation time, and I was surprised at both the ease and elegance of this plate. This recipe comes straight from the pages of The Best Of Fine Cooking Fresh 2009 (pg. 53 to be exact). As you can see in the picture I have plenty of other recipes marked so don't be surprised when you see more from this magazine. I did go a bit over board with the gremolata though. I had never made it before. I wasn't even sure what it was, or what to do with it. Yes, that's why I call cooking a journey.

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Seared Scallops with Pea Puree, Crisp Pancetta, and Gremolata
~Serves 4 as an appetizer; 2 as main course

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
3 Tbs. EVOO, more for drizzling
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 cups fresh shelled peas (about 2 lb. unshelled) or frozen peas
1 cup lower-salt chicken broth or water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 very thin slices pancetta
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
12 medium all-natural "dry"sea scallops (not soaked in sodium tripolyphosphate)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1) Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 F (I used my toaster oven)

2) Set aside 1 Tbs. of the shallots and put the rest in a 3-qt saucepan with 2 Tbs. of the oil and the garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until the shallots are soft and fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and the broth and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pan and cook until the peas are tender (5 to 8 minutes for frozen).

3) Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and puree to a smooth consistency, adding a little water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the puree to the saucepan, cover, and set aside on the stovetop to keep warm. (This is why I own an Immersion Blender - I blended the peas right in the small pot).

4) Put the pancetta on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 14 minutes. Set aside in a warm spot. In a small bowl combine the parsley, lemon zest, and the reserved 1 Tbs. shallots and set aside.

5) Pat the scallops dry and season them generously with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the scallops and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

6) Portion the warm pea puree among serving plates. Arrange the scallops on the puree and crumble the pancetta on top. Sprinkle the gremolata over all and finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil.


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