Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Seared Tuna with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce and Sweet Corn Hash

In the heat of the summer, I'm always looking for culinary ways to cool off. I make raw vegetable salads, cold soups, and lighter meals. Even the Adorable Monster was feeling the heat. When our neighbors invited us over to their pool, I brought him with me and took him for his second ever swim. You wouldn't think it by looking at him, but he's quite the swimmer! In between trying to swipe grilled steak and chicken off unattended plates, he had a blast paddling around the pool. And afterward, he was even curlier than usual. A regular poof ball of fur.

So two weeks ago, with temperatures soaring into the mid-90's, I picked up some gorgeous, deep red Ahi Tuna from Whole Foods. One of the things I love most about Ahi Tuna is that it only needs to be seared, not cooked all the way through, which makes it taste fresh and clean. After some serious foodie meditation, I settled on making a cilantro yogurt sauce with fresh organic cilantro and plain Greek yogurt. I theorized that the sauce would give the dish an herbaceous, refreshing component.

Boy, was I right! It was so tasty I wanted to eat it with a spoon. Seriously, cilantro flavored yogurt anyone?

To finish the dish, I whipped up a Sweet Corn Hash with Vidalia onions and organic zucchini in my cast iron skillet. The combination of the cilantro-yogurt sauce and the sweet corn hash was so delectable that I ate the leftovers with a fried egg substituting for the tuna the next morning. It was almost better, if that's possible. So stay cool this summer with this recipe!

Seared Tuna with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce and Sweet Corn Hash
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4 people
Print Recipe  

4 four ounce pieces of Ahi Tuna
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
salt and pepper

cilantro yogurt sauce
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

sweet corn hash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ears of corn, kernels removed
2 cups zucchini, chopped
1 Vidalia onion or other sweet onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper

To make the sweet corn hash, heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet or saute pan.  Add the onions and cook until beginning to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and saute for one more minute.  Then, add the zucchini and cook until becoming tender. Add the sweet corn kernels and cook the hash down in the skillet until it's tender and the onions are beginning to turn into jam. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, to make the cilantro-yogurt sauce, place all of the ingredients except the salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To cook the tuna, sprinkle both sides of the fish generously with salt and pepper.  Heat the grape seed oil in a saute pan over high heat. Place the fish in the pan and quickly sear on all sides (about one minute per side).  Remove from heat and allow to rest for at least five minutes before cutting into slices.

To plate, spoon some sweet corn hash onto a place. Top with pieces of sliced tuna and drizzle with the cilantro yogurt sauce.  Finish with chopped cilantro and fresh cracked pepper. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
organic sweet corn, organic zucchini, organic cilantro, organic Greek yogurt, Ahi tuna, organic lemons, organic ground cumin, and cayenne pepper from Whole Foods 

Wine Pairing
On this night, Kuzak was craving cabernet sauvignon, so we popped a bottle of 1994 BV Private Reserve George De Latour. I picked up the bottle while visiting the winery in Napa with The Wine Lover (my father). We decanted the wine first to allow it to open up. Heck, it had been in a bottle for more than fifteen years. The first whiff I took held great promise - musky, earthy, some latent fruit percolating up through my nostrils. It smelled just how aged cab should. The wine drank beautifully all night long, full of musk and blackberry fruit. It was a fabulous accompaniment to a softer meal, lovely but not overpowering. A great effort from a legendary producer. Bravo.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meatless Monday: White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Garlic Crostini

Divas, did you know that beans are one of the healthiest foods on the planet?  They even straddle two food groups - they have enough protein to be classified as a meat and enough nutrients to be classified as a vegetable.  That's impressive!  They're also packed with iron and calcium, making them a great meat and dairy substitute.

Cannellini beans have to be one of my favorite varietals.  Also known as white Italian beans and kidney beans, I love them for their mellow nutty flavor.  For this simple soup, I soak the beans overnight and then simmer them in water until tender (canned beans may be used in a pinch).  Them, I puree half of them with vegetable stock into a creamy broth and add the other half of intact beans, creating a rustic soup.  I serve this soup with garlic bread.  Add a green salad, and you have the perfect lunch or dinner. 

White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Garlic Crostini
Serves 4-6 people
Cooking time: 20 minutes (not including soaking and simmering beans)
Print Recipe

3 cups cooked Cannelini beans (canned beans may be substituted - make sure to drain and rinse them with cool water)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed from stem
2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stem
2 sprigs oregano, leaves removed from stem
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper

garlic crostini
4 slices of baguette
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove
4 sprigs rosemary

Place half of the beans (1 1/2 cups) into a blender or food processor.  Add the herbs, olive and stock.  Process until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a stock pot and stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of beans.  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the baguette slices.  Then, drizzle with the olive oil and rub with the garlic clove.  Top with a fresh rosemary sprig.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls.  Top with a garlic corstini and drizzle with olive oil.  Finish with a little cracked black pepper.  Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
dried cannellini beans from Bob's Red Mill (Whole Foods)

organic herbs from my herb garden

organic vegetable stock, organic garlic and baguette from Trader Joe's 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top 10 Reasons I Love Eating In Japan! Plus Pictures From Sushi Dai By The Tokyo Fish Market!

Last week, I returned from my first trip to Japan.

While there, I dined on everything from tempura to ramen to chicken sashimi (yes, I ate raw chicken and loved it).  I literally ate my way through Tokyo and Kyoto.  Even though I didn't feast in any of the highest end restaurants, the food I ate was the best of my life.  Not to sound like an Alexander Hamilton-esque traitor, but if you ask me, eating in Japan in better than eating in the U.S. from street food to formal dining.  Want to know why? 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meatless Monday "Mac N Goat Cheese" With Cherry Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, And Walnuts

Happy Meatless Monday!

I'm back with more great meatless recipe ideas.  This is my healthy take on the quintessential Mac N  Cheese.  Instead of elbow pasta made from wheat, I use a gluten-free brown rice rotini (the ridges are great for catching cheese).  I also use fresh goat cheese (chevre) to make a creamy sauce and load the pasta up with fresh vegetables including spring onions, cherry tomatoes and peppers.  I finish it with toasted walnuts (healthy fats and protein) and fresh basil.  I promise that even the pickiest eater will fall in love with this dish!

"Mac N Goat Cheese" With Cherry Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, And Walnuts
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4-6 people

1 pound brown rice rotini (or other whole grain pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup green onions, white and tender green parts chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup fresh goat cheese (chevre)
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
salt and pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a saute pan.  Add the onions and cook until beginning to soften.  Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.  Then, add the cheery tomatoes and the bell pepper.  Saute until all the vegetables are cooked.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook per package instructions until al dente (about 8 minutes).  Drain the pasta, reserving at least one cup of the cooking liquid.  Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixture.  Add the goat cheese and 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.  Toss until the goat cheese melts and forms a creamy sauce, adding more cooking liquid as needed.  Check seasoning (salt and pepper).

To serve, put the pasta in a bowl and top with the walnuts and the basil.  Drizzle with a little good olive oil and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper.  Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
organic brown rice pasta, organic heirloom cherry tomatoes, organic bell pepper, green onions, organic garlic, walnuts and goat cheese from Trader Joe's

organic basil from my garden

Wine Pairing
With this meal, we drank a wonderful Roar 2005 Pinot Noir, Pisoni Vineyard.  Roar makes great pinot noir with grapes from some of the best vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands (California Central Coast), and the Pisoni may be their best - spicy and fruity with great structure.  Also, the 2005's are drinking fabulously right now.  We devoured this bottle.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grilled Salmon With Homemade Teriyaki Sauce And Grilled Scallions

With temperatures heating up all over the country, who wants to heat up their kitchen making dinner?  Enter the grill.  I love using mine, not only because my house lacks air conditioning, but also because it's a delicious and healthy way to cook a variety of foods from fish to bison to vegetables.

Having just come off an eating out bonanza in Japan, I've been dying for some clean, healthy home-cooked meals.  So while suffering from extreme jet lag, I snapped up some lovely wild king salmon steaks at Whole Foods and carted them home along with some scallions, broccoli and russet potatoes. 

Usually I buy based on quality of ingredients with only a loose idea of how I'll prepare the food and then I wait for inspiration to strike.  Well, it did last night, and I decided to grill the fish and glaze it with a homemade teriyaki sauce (a sweet soy sauce).  I also grilled up some scallions and served the fish along with steamed broccoli and baked potatoes topped with lemon juice and pimenton.

This was the perfect welcome home dinner - easy, healthy and delicious.  Even better, I have some leftover salmon that I'll eat for lunch over an arugula, tomato and cucumber salad.  Now if only I could get over this jet lag and get some sleep...

Grilled Salmon With Homemade Teriyaki Sauce And Grilled Scallions
Serves 2 people
Cooking time 30 minutes

2 salmon steaks
bunch of scallions
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

terikyaki sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoon sesame seeds
pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the grill.

Meanwhile, to make the teriayki sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients.  Set aside. The teriyaki sauce may be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated. 

Brush the salmon and scallions with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Once the grill is hot, place the salmon steaks and scallions on the grill.  Cook the fish over high heat for a few minutes, then flip and move to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking.  Brush with the teriyaki sauce to glaze the fish. Remove the fish from heat once it's cooked through and beginning to flake.  Likewise, remove the scallions once they are tender.

To serve, place the salmon steaks on plates and top with a few grilled scallions.  Drizzle with a little teriyaki sauce.  Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
wild king salmon steaks, organic scallions, raw honey, organic soy sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil, cayenne pepper, organic lemon, organic olive oil and organic garlic from Whole Foods

Wine Pairing
Pinot noir and salmon are a classic pairing, so with this meal, Kuzak popped a bottle of Anthill Farms 2008 Anderson Valley Pinot NoirThis is their lower priced offering, but it didn't taste like it!  We loved this bottle from one of our favorite producers.  It was bursting with cherry flavor, spice and structures. It's an exceptionally food friendly wine that complimented our meal without overtaking it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Back From Japan!

The Diva and Kuzak in Kyoto

Divas, I'm back from Japan!

What an amazing trip!  I'm officially in love with the food, the culture, the beauty and the monkeys (yes, we paid a visit to the Arishiyama monkey park in Kyoto).  The only thing I don't love is the jet lag.  I confess, I woke up at three in the morning last night.  I'll continue posting on my favorite meals I had while in Japan, including everything from the best sushi I've ever tasted to an incredible food market in Kyoto to a new take on kaiseki (stay tuned). 

This week, I also promise to get back to posting more of my scrumptious, healthy recipes.  I'm excited to be back in the kitchen and inspired to cook.  Look for my take on Japanese rice porridge coming up and some noodle action, too.  Other upcoming features?  I'll be participating in the Good Food LA Pie A Day drive and submitting my very own recipe (click here for the blog).

In the meantime, here's a photo gallery of some pics from Japan:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mikawa in Roppongi Hills (Tokyo) a/k/a The Best Tempura I've Ever Tasted

 Prawn's Head

Who knew tempura could be a fine art?

At Mikawa restaurant in Roppongi Hills (Tokyo), restaurant specializing in tempura (lightly battered and fried proteins and vegetables) it is just that.  I stumbled across the restaurant through Tokyo Writer, a fellow blogger (click here).  The small restaurant boasts no sign, just a beautifully tiled yellow doorway and blue birds flying around it.  This is not the sort of place you could stumble across randomly, but it is worth making it your destination.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Japanese Rice Porridge In Tokyo

Here's a picture of my new obsession - Japanese Rice Porridge!  When I return to LA, I am learning to make this dish.  Today, we're off to Sushi Dai by the fish market and then hopping a train to Kyoto. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sayonara Divas! Domestic Divas Will Be Live Blogging From Japan!

Divas, it's time for this show to hit the road!

Today, Kuzak and I are flying the coop and jetting over to Japan.  I'll be eating my way through Tokyo and Kyoto--and live blogging the whole thing!  We'll be meeting up with our favorite, the Chicago Foodie, and some other friends.

So stay tuned to this blog for travel updates and food pictures...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy 4th Of July! Summer Potato Salad Recipe!

Happy 4th Of July Divas!

I'm getting ready for my big trip to Japan (stay glued to Domestic Divas for my live blogging travel updates), but before I leave, I thought I'd post my recipe for my Summer Potato Salad.  Kuzak loved this dish so much, he insisted that I post it on my blog.  This is a fresh, light take on the traditional potato salad (which if you ask me, can be mushy and bland).  It's perfect for those divalicious BBQ's I know you're all planning! 

The special ingredients that make this potato salad rock n roll?

I use baby Yukon gold potatoes--they maintain a firmer texture when cooked (no mush around here!)--and spring onions instead of the traditional white or red onion (fresher, lighter).  I also toss in great spices like tumeric (a renowned anti-inflammatory that gives the salad great yellow color without adding eggs), smoked paprika for smokey flavor and a pinch of cayenne pepper for some bite.

This potato salad is the perfect accompaniment to any summer BBQ, it's a cinch to throw together and sure to be a crowd pleaser.  I served it along with succulent barbecued chicken and grilled zucchini for a delicious summer feast!

Summer Potato Salad
Serves 4-6 people
Cooking time: 35 minutes 

1 1/2 pounds baby Yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup mayonaise
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika)
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup spring onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
salt and pepper

To cook the potatoes, bring a pot of water to a boilAdd the potatoes and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until they can be barely pierced with knife.  Strain and cover with a towel to allow them to steam for another 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, mustard, tumeric, pimenton, cayenne pepper and parsley.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, halve or quarter them depending on their size.  Place in a mixing bowl and cover them with the dressing to keep them moist.  Then, add the spring onion and celery.  Toss and check seasoning (salt and pepper).

Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the ingredients to blend together.  Serve cold or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Note: Potato salad may be made up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  If it dries out at all, add more mayonnaise before serving.

Source For Ingredients
baby Yukon gold potatoes, organic mayonnaise, whole grain mustard, organic celery, spring onions and organic parsley from Trader Joe's

organic tumeric, pimenton, cayenne pepper from Whole Foods

organic apple cider vinegar from the Hollywood Farmers Market