Wish Upon A Dish

July 13, 2017

Greens Stuffed Corn Pudding ♥ Easy, peasy side for two

I happen to love polenta or anything made with cornmeal. Seems I am the only one (of two) in this house that does.

Now the Nudge tells another story. He will look me in the eye and say "I like polenta, just not as much as you do."
I saw these stuffed polenta cakes and just had to make them. When cooking for two (and the one of the "two" not a big cornmeal fan), I know enough to make a sample batch.
Just to test the waters, so to say.
If he takes a bite and I get good reaction, I pin the recipe and do the happy dance. Needless to say that list is small but this was big.

I think the key was making this with corn muffins. They tend to be on the sweeter side with a lighter consistency than corn bread, at least the oversized Puffin Muffins at my local supermarket. Damn those babies are way too good (meaning NOT good for a diet).

You could make homemade muffins but when cooking for two, a dozen muffins means 6 muffins each and I know (because of the "one" of the two being a cornmeal zealot) that I would end up eating 10 muffins.
Not good.

Buying one large muffin (picture Costco-size) makes more sense and is the perfect amount for two sides.

While I baked mine in 2-8oz ramekins, for a family a Texas muffin tin is perfect.

I successfully halved the original recipe. I also used canned mustard greens. You need a hearty green, like canned collards or fresh kale or arugula (will add an additional step) that won't disintegrate during the baking process.

Don't poo poo me for not making polenta, it would not work in this recipe. Trust me, I tried it the first time.
Could you make this recipe presentation in a casserole pan? No, and I will tell you why.
If you look at the first picture you will see that when cutting for picture purposes, the greens cut into the tender corn pudding. I would like the appearance of sharp clean sides, after all, that's why it is baked into ramekins. A nice neat package.

If you were OK serving this as you would a dressing or stuffing, making this in a baking pan is great.

I plan or taking this concept and running in all different directions, including Tex-Mex, Creole & Italian to name a few.

Greens Stuffed Corn Pudding
makes 2-8oz ramekins

adapted from NYT Cooking

For the greens:

  • 2 slices smoked bacon
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup canned mustard or collard greens
  • Salt to taste

For the pudding:

  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 large (or 4 small) cornmeal muffin, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 eggs
For the greens:
Cook the bacon and the onions. Drain on a paper towel and mix into the greens, reserving the fat. Taste for salt (you probably won't need any depending on your bacon).

For the pudding:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook the onions & garlic in the bacon fat. Add the peppers & cream.
In a small bowl add the cooked to the muffin and then the eggs. Mix thoroughly.

Spoon 2/3 of the mixture evenly into the prepared ramekins. Add half the greens on top of the pudding and finish with the remaining pudding mixture.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan, covered with foil, and bake for 60 minutes. Remove ramekins & let them rest for 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the inside of each ramekin and revert onto a dinner plate.
Serve with a roast, steak or seafood.

July 3, 2017

Citrus Salts ♥ How to get more pucker from your citrus

How many times has this happened to you.....
Sign says "limes 10 for $2"?

Wow how could you possibly pass up that deal? In the bag and the basket and then you get home.
Now, a week later you open the fridge to the realization those limes don't quite look as good as they did when you brought them home.

Answer me this. What the heck are you going to make to use them up? Yes, you can freeze the juice in ice cube trays but I am talking about the zest. A vital part of citrus, the zest can be used in a myriad of ways but my favorite is to make citrus salts.

So easy to do, especially if you are using the juice. I have heard many chefs tell us to always zest the rind before squeezing the fruits and what do I do? Yup, you got it.

Did you know that the zest has, if not more, nutrition attributes than the juice.
Yes, the rinds seem to be more nutrient dense than the flesh. Citrus peels are packed with immune-boosting vitamin C, bone-building calcium and anti-inflammatory, antioxidant bioflavonoids. They also provide potassium, which helps keep blood pressure in check, and limonene, a phytochemical that may have anti-cancer effects.

To totally understand the benefits of bioflavonoids I have included a list of the top 8 benefits or having bioflavonoids in your daily diet:
Varicose veins
Cardiovascular health
Cold Sores
High blood pressure

While most people under 50 will probably think they don't need to worry about half the concerns on that list, but since this house is now occupied by senior citizens as are all our family and friends, this is pretty important information especially since citrus is easy to do in fresh form.

That said, let's get back to the business of zesting. You only need two ingredients to make citrus salt.
A microplane & a lemon, lime or even an orange.
I bought a microplane that comes with a plastic sheath. They can be purchased at any restaurant supply or houseware store for at or under $12.00. The cover traps the zest, allowing the user to scrape the zest into a bowl without it falling on to the counter.

I recommend either a flake sea salt or kosher salt for the best absorption of the zest and flavor. I do not think table salt will work as well and will form clumps adhering to the zest.

Ratio of zest to salt: I like 1 tablespoon zest (a small lime or half a large lemon) to 4 tablespoons of salt. Mix it well, cover it tightly, put it in a cabinet and forget about it....for about 1 week or two.
We need that time for the salt to pull out and absorb the moisture in the zest.
I find that those square small zippy containers are perfect for individual batches.

I use mine on fish, chicken, lamb, vegetables & of course, on the rim of a cocktail glass!!
After 1 week of storage, the lemon that hits your nose is stronger than fresh and dry preserved to last 'till the very last sprinkle. The longer it is stored the better it gets.

Don't throw out any unzested citrus & Enjoy!!


June 28, 2017

Sicilian Cod with Fresh Garlic Tomato Sauce ♥ a lite, flavorful & easy one pot meal for two

Right about this time of year I get into a food funk. I ask the Nudge for ideas for dinner and all he can come up with is sausage & pepper sandwiches, chicken parm, carbonara and hamburgers.


I think it was time to seriously hit my favorite food sites and blogs for inspiration.

Food & Wine often posts themed slideshows and I save them on my iPad for times such as this.
This recipe was posted in this batch of More Healthy Fish Recipes.

I made this dinner in one pan and it was on the table in less than 45 mins.
While I usually make slight adjustments this time I followed the recipe verbatim.
It was delicious, healthy and so easy.
I always worry that by halving the ingredients to make a dinner for two sometimes won't work, this time it was spot on.

While the recipe called for halibut fillets, they just did not look as fresh as I would have liked for the price so I went with cod steaks thinking the skin would keep the meat intact and once cooked would peel easily away.
It did.

Since I had arborio rice on hand, that's what I used but any rice would be fine, really.
This is the kind of dish that I usually make when the Nudge is traveling and I want something quick and healthy.

Cod with Fresh Tomato Sauce
makes 2 servings (can be doubled)

* 3 tablespoons EVOO
* 3 large cloves garlic, minced
* pinch red pepper flakes
* 1 1/2pound tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 4 plums)
* pinch saffron threads
* 3 oregano sprigs, dried or fresh or, 1/4 teaspoon dried
* Salt & pepper to taste
* Zest of 1/2 an orange (1/2" strips), plus finely grated zest (for garnish)
* 2 large bay leaves
* 1 whole clove
* 1/2 cup arborio rice (or basmati and long grain)
* 2 4-ounce skinless cod or halibut fillets
* Chopped parsley, for garnish

1. In a large, deep skillet, bring 2 cups of unsalted water to a boil and add the zest, bay leaves, clove and rice. Cook for 15-18 minutes. Drain the rice, discarding the aromatics. Reserve in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil & salt & pepper to taste.
2. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and saffron to the garlic and cook over moderate heat until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano and season with salt & pepper. Cook over low heat until the sauce is thickened and liquid is reduced, about 20 minutes. Discard the oregano.
3. Nestle the cod in the tomato sauce, cover and steam for 10 minutes, until fish starts to flake.
4. Divide rice into two bowls and place a piece of fish on top. Spoon the tomato mixture over the fish and garnish with the orange zest & parsley.

Serve & enjoy!