Category Archives: capers

Pan Seared Salmon w/ Lemon Caper Butter

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Fish is the perfect end of the week dinner since it is versatile and whether you bake, grill, or pan sear it, it cooks up fast.  I love the delicate taste of salmon and it pairs especially well with a simple lemon and butter sauce.  I prefer salmon steaks but you can easily substitute filets and reduce the cooking time by five minutes.  And because salmon is a (healthy) oily fish, it is virtually impossible to overcook it so you are guaranteed to end up with a flaky and moist dinner.  Pair the salmon with this basic lemon caper sauce adapted from Martha Holmberg’s Modern Sauces, add a grain and a vegetable and you have a complete dinner in a flash.

PAN SEARED SALMON w/ LEMON CAPER BUTTER

For the fish:

4 salmon steaks

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and garlic powder evenly over both sides of the salmon steaks.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.  When the oil shimmers, carefully place the salmon in the pan taking care not to move the steaks while a crust forms.
  • Cook the first for 6 minutes then carefully flip each steak.  Cook for an additional 6 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through to your liking.

Serves 4

For the sauce:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon minced red onion

1/2 cup cold butter

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained, and minced

2 tablespoons fine lemon zest

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Place the  lemon juice, vinegar, and onion in a small saute pan.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Reduce the temperature and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the juice has reduced to approximately 2 tablespoons.
  • Add the butter in one piece and use a wooden spoon to swirl it throughout the pan. Stir the melted butter into the lemon juice until a creamy mixture forms.  Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Stir in the capers and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve immediately over the top of the salmon steaks.

Yields: 1/2 cup

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Sicilian Cauliflower

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Adapted from The Splendid Table, this is a fun way to take cauliflower from a rather unexciting side dish to a festive vegetable.  In full disclosure, I love cauliflower in any form.  Whether it is served in a soup, fried, roasted, mashed like potatoes, or simply steamed, I find it all good.  Because of its pale color color however; it often makes for a less than exciting dinner presentation.  This recipe, however, makes it fun and encourages everyone to eat their vegetables.

I steamed the head of cauliflower whole and served it on a platter topped with my sauce dished out family style.  If you prefer you can cut it up before cooking, top it with the sauce, then present it on individual plates along side your entree.  Either way, the lively combination of tomatoes, peppers, and capers mixed with fresh herbs will ensure that you never think of cauliflower as a bland vegetable again.

SICILIAN CAULIFLOWER

1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed of leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large garlic cloves, crushed

2 sweet green peppers, cut into a 1/4 inch dice

2 red tomatoes, diced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons capers, drained

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped

  • To steam the cauliflower, place a folding steamer basket in a large pot and add in 2 inches of water.  Cover the pot an bring to a boil.
  • Using 2 spatulas, ease the cauliflower into the steamer basket.  Cover the pot and steam for about 8 minutes or until the cauliflower is barely tender.
  • Remove the cauliflower from the steamer and drain.  Place the cauliflower on a platter and let it cool for 10 minutes while you make the sauce.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.  When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and saute just until the garlic just begins to turn golden brown.  Remove the garlic from the pan and discard.
  • Add the peppers, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for 3 minutes or until they begin to soften.
  • Turn the heat to high and add the oregano and basil, generously season with salt and pepper, and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add the vinegar and boil for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the capers and parsley and spoon over the top of the cauliflower.
  • To serve, slice the head of cauliflower at the table.

Serves 4

Mediterranean Trout

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Fish doesn’t need to be intimidating to cook.  In fact, it is surprisingly easy and since it cooks quickly makes for a fast dinner.  Fish filets are nice but if you want to really impress your guests serve them a whole fish.  You can either serve a large one for the table or an individual fish for each guest.  Your fish monger can clean them for you making preparation even easier.

Think of the combination of vegetables I’ve used as a method rather than an exact recipe using and substituting whatever vegetables you like or have on hand.  If you don’t have capers substitute black olives or use both.  I like oregano but you can also use thyme, basil or a combination of all three.  Experiment with different combinations until you find a winning one for your family.  It really is that easy.

I served this with buttered baby red potatoes but mashed potatoes, orzo, or Israeli couscous would also be good.

MEDITERRANEAN TROUT

4 whole trout, cleaned, scaled, rinsed, and patted dry

2 large tomatoes, diced

1 large eggplant, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 small red onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, divided

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

Juice of 1 lemon plus 8 lemon slices

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Coat four pieces of tin foil with spray and place a trout in the center of each foil piece and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Thinly slice two of the garlic cloves and distribute the garlic slices and 8 slices of lemon evenly inside the four fish.  Generously season the outside of the fish with salt and pepper.
  • Place the tomatoes, eggplant, green and red peppers, zucchini, fennel, and onion in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Mince the remaining two garlic cloves and add them to the vegetables along with the capers, lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, and oregano.  Toss well to combine all of the ingredients.
  • Evenly divide the vegetables over the top of each fish.
  • Tightly wrap each fish with the foil to create packets.  Be sure to seal the edges so that the juices don’t escape.
  • Place the pan in the oven and bake the fish for 35-40 minutes.  Take care when opening the packets since hot steam will escape.

Serves:4

Lemon Chicken w/ Oil Cured Olives & Capers

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This dish is a take on a traditional chicken piccata.  The olives and capers provide a salty contrast the tangy lemons .  And most importantly, the dish is faster to make than one would think.  You can buy whole boneless chicken breasts and pound them into thin yourself but if you buy chicken filets you will save time.  To get the most flavor out of this dish, serve the chicken with a pasta or risotto that can absorb the sauce.

LEMON CHICKEN w/DRY CURED OLIVES & CAPERS

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and fresh ground pepper

8 thin, boneless chicken breast cutlets

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups, low-sodium chicken broth

1 large lemon, seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch moons

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup black olives, pits intact

4 tablespoons capers, rinsed

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 tablespoons chopped parsley

  • Spread the flour in a shallow dish and sprinkle liberally with the salt and pepper.  Dredge each cutlet in the flour mixture and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add half of the cutlets and cook until light golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.  Add more oil to the skillet if needed and repeat the cooking process with the remaining chicken.
  • Add the shallot and garlic to the oil left in the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the broth and lemon slices, deglazing the pan and scraping up any browned bits.  Simmer until reduced and syrupy, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the lemon juice, olives, capers, and any accumulated chicken juice.  Return the chicken to the sauce. At this point the chicken can sit over low heat until ready to serve.
  • Immediately before serving stir in the butter, one piece at a time.  Turn off the heat, adjust the salt and pepper and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serves 4

Pan Seared Salmon w/ Lemon Caper Butter

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Fish is the perfect end of the week dinner since it is versatile and whether you bake, grill, or pan sear it, it cooks up fast.  I love the delicate taste of salmon and it pairs especially well with a simple lemon and butter sauce.  I prefer salmon steaks but you can easily substitute filets and reduce the cooking time by five minutes.  And because salmon is a (healthy) oily fish, it is virtually impossible to overcook it so you are guaranteed to end up with a flaky and moist dinner.  Pair the salmon with this basic lemon caper sauce adapted from Martha Holmberg’s Modern Sauces, add a grain and a vegetable and you have a complete dinner in a flash.

PAN SEARED SALMON w/ LEMON CAPER BUTTER

For the fish:

4 salmon steaks

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and garlic powder evenly over both sides of the salmon steaks.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.  When the oil shimmers, carefully place the salmon in the pan taking care not to move the steaks while a crust forms.
  • Cook the first for 6 minutes then carefully flip each steak.  Cook for an additional 6 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through to your liking.

Serves 4

For the sauce:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon minced red onion

1/2 cup cold butter

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained, and minced

2 tablespoons fine lemon zest

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Place the  lemon juice, vinegar, and onion in a small saute pan.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Reduce the temperature and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the juice has reduced to approximately 2 tablespoons.
  • Add the butter in one piece and use a wooden spoon to swirl it throughout the pan. Stir the melted butter into the lemon juice until a creamy mixture forms.  Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Stir in the capers and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve immediately over the top of the salmon steaks.

Yields: 1/2 cup

Cod in Crazy Water over Smashed Dijon Potatoes

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I came across these recipes from Cuisine at Home Magazine while I was looking for new fish dishes.  I had read about poaching fish and had enjoyed it when others have made it  but I had never attempted it myself.  Somehow I just feared either under cooking the fish or even worse, overcooking it and ending up with it being too dry and tough.  Besides, it is only recently that I even have a receptive fish eating audience at home to test these dishes on.  Bu these times they are a changing………..

With tomatoes, olives, capers, and fennel, I was intrigued by the flavor profile of this dish but given Glenn’s dislike of these briny Mediterranean flavors, combined with his recently acquired desire to even try fish, I was hesitant to try it.  However, fortified with the urge to try something new I decided to give it a go.  And I’m so glad I did.  Not only was the fish fork tender but the Dijon infused potatoes provided the perfect bed for absorbing the flavorful juice or “crazy water”.  And the entire meal came together in less than 40 minutes making it a perfect weeknight dinner.

Oh, and Glenn like it too, declaring it a keeper.

COD IN CRAZY WATER OVER SMASHED DIJON POTATOES

For the fish:

1/2 cup diced carrot

1/2 cup diced fennel bulb

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

1 cup water

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup whole black olives

2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed

1 Tablespoon minced lemon zest

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes

4- 6 ounce cod fillets (or one per person)

Chopped fennel fronds

  • Cook the carrot, fennel, and garlic in the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, water, wine, olives, capers, zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper flakes; simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the cod to the pan, and poach over low heat until firm, 8-10 minutes.  
  • Transfer the cod to shallow serving bowls filled with a bed of potatoes.
  • Pour crazy water over each serving and garnish with fennel fronds.

 

For the Potatoes:

1 pound red-skinned potatoes, cubed

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan

1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt

  • Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling water until fork tender, 12 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes and return to the pot.  Cook potatoes over medium heat, stirring, to remove the excess moisture, 1 minute.
  • Crush the potatoes with a potato mashers.
  • Stir in oil, Dijon, Parmesan, and salt until combined.

Lemony Chicken Piccata

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Chicken piccata is one of the few recipes that my entire family can agree on. Between the brightness of the lemons, the saltiness of the capers, and tender chicken filets, you just can’t go wrong.  Complex yet surprisingly easy to make, this can serve as both a quick weeknight dinner and a formal meal for guests.  The original recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen, but I’ve tweaked it over the years until it has been adapted into my current version.

When we were living in Norfolk I used to make large pans of the piccata to serve to all of the geographical bachelors living on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt.  (And let me tell you, those men could eat a lot of food).  Now I am more apt to cook up reasonable, family sized quantities and serve it along side a parmesan risotto and green vegetable smaller sit down dinners.  I usually make a double batch since the flavors mellow with re-heating and taste even better the next day.  If you want to spend time with your guests and avoid last-minute preparations, you can make it ahead of time then let it sit over low heat for several hours since the flavors will only intensify and the lemons will break down and become bite-tender.  The recipe produces a generous amount of sauce since I like to serve it over rice.  You can reduce the quantity by half and since have enough of its tasty goodness to satisfy all of your guests.  Oh, and this is a great dish to use up any extra lemons you might have in the kitchen.

LEMONY CHICKEN PICCATA

Serves 4

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and fresh ground pepper

8 thin, boneless chicken breast cutlets

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups, low-sodium chicken broth

1 large lemon, seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch moons

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons capers, rinsed

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 tablespoons chopped parsley

  • Spread the flour in a shallow dish and sprinkle liberally with the salt and pepper.  Dredge each cutlet in the flour mixture and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add half of the cutlets and cook until light golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.  Add more oil to the skillet if needed and repeat the cooking process with the remaining chicken.
  • Add the shallot and garlic to the oil left in the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the broth and lemon slices, deglazing the pan and scraping up any browned bits.  Simmer until reduced and syrupy, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the lemon juice, capers, and any accumulated chicken juice.  Return the chicken to the sauce. At this point the chicken can sit over low heat until ready to serve.
  • Immediately before serving stir in the butter, one piece at a time.  Turn off the heat, adjust the salt and pepper and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
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