Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ahhh, dinner

Left to my own devices, I'd eat like a sterotypical bachelor--lots of instant food and ravioli out of the can.  I try not to--even I acknowledge that that stuff, while pleasurable in its own way, is kind of gross as a typical diet for some--but I can tweak really lazy.  If I eat sensibly, I still try to do it with inexpensive foods.  However, thanks to my great luck in getting a chest freezer, I'm able to stock up on things like tuna and salmon for when I want something special.  Something like a poached salmon with yogurt dill sauce or broiled tuna steaks feels like a really fancy meal for friends, but it doesn't take much time at all. 

Last night I had my neighbor Evelyn over for dinner and made a simple meal--a cold minted cucumber soup, tuna steaks (they were on special a few months ago and I have a deep freeze--yay!) wild rice, and broccoli rabe.

This is what I did.

Cucumber soup:

Take three cucumbers, peel them, and chop them roughly.  Chop 1/2 of a medium sized red onion.  Place in a food processor.  Add a handful of mint leaves, fresh parsley, and a small amount of lemon zest (if desired).  Add some crushed ice.  Process for about 30 seconds until it's a chunky soup consistency.  Place in chilled bowls.  This is perfect for hot days--think of it as a very versatile, cold salad.  You can add whatever other vegetables you want (half a bell pepper, tomatoes, etc.) and whichever herbs and spices you like (crushed red pepper, or go with dill, etc.).

Tuna (you can do this with any fish, or with chicken):

Marinate for several hours in a mixture of white wine, a splash of soy sauce, black pepper, and chopped fresh garlic (2-3 cloves) and ginger (about 1 1/2 inches).  Turn over once to allow both sides to get the benefit of the marinade.  Place on broiler pan, and add slices of ginger and garlic to top of fish.  Broil to desired doneness, turning over once to make sure it's cooked evenly.

(With chicken breasts or certain kinds of white fish, you'll probably want to wrap them in foil or parchment--along with some vegetables of your choice--and bake them, so they will not dry out.)

Broccoli rabe:

I'd change this.  I had sauteed it with garlic, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice.  I'd do this right before serving it as I think I made it too soggy.  So--chop up the broccoli rabe, discarding the tough ends of the stems (or saving them for stock and/or composting).  Sautee two or three cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil over medium heat.  Place the broccoli rabe in the skillet and turn over gently to make sure it cooks evenly.  Cover; it will cook down in a minute or so.  Add fresh lemon juice, if desired, at the end (not at the beginning like I did). 

Wild rice mix:

I cooked this in chicken stock.  It adds flavor so you're not so willing to drown it in butter (OK, I'm prone to drowning things in butter becasue OH MY GOD THE UTTER DELICIOUSNESS OF BUTTER YUM).  I used a can of my homemade stock.  Wild rice mix is a combination of brown and red rice and wild rice.  It has a lovely, nutty flavor.  You just bring one part rice and one and a half parts water or stock to a boil, stir once, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  And you're done.

My neighbor brought wine, which we drank during the meal (not while I was cooking.  Trust me, that is not a good idea.  I once had my boss''s homemade wine before cooking Christmas Eve dinner and it was, um, interesting.  I have the tolerance of an underweight mosquito).  And she brought ice cream sandwiches.  Ice cream is my favorite kind of sandwich.  Pity I can't eat them for lunch.

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