Monday, September 27, 2010

And now we go WAAAAY old school, at my OLDer sisters request

What better way to start a post than with a big, slightly disturbing, and classically overly enthusiastic picture of the one & only Julia Child. There are many things that we could poke a little fun at her about, but you can't deny her passion for all things culinary (as long as they were french anyway). As a quick side note, that Julie & Julia movie was godawful. First of all, it should have been called Julie stalking Julia, and secondly, if my friend invited me over to her house and was dressed up as JC, including impersonating her accent, I'd probably have her mental stability checked.

Enough of all that. The reason we're starting this post off with a Julia Child reference is that my sister called asking me for a recipe that she can make for my parents when they come to visit. My dad is a slightly picky in if he can identify it as a vegetable, no go. My mom is thankfully gastronomically adventurous, and also the reason I fell in love with cooking, so she's easy. I decided to pull one out of the archives for her because, a)my dad will actually eat it & b)you make this a day ahead, so it leaves her time to frantically make sure there are no crumbs in her silverware drawer and hide the non-crystal wine glasses in preparation for my mother entering her humble abode. This is just a little friendly teasing of both of them, and their very close, but sometimes nitpicky relationship. So without further ado, from the archives, here is one of Julia Child herselfs' favorite recipes:

COQ AU VIN - for those of you who ne parle pas le francais, this literally means rooster in wine, but we will be going for the ultra modern version using chicken thighs. It's actually hard to find a rooster nowadays, especially one from Bresse, which most authentique recipes call for.
That being said, it is a fairly simple, utterly comforting dish, which is best eaten the second day after all the flavors have gotten together. HERE GOES..............

4 chicken leg and thighs, skin-on - if you can only find thighs, make it 8
8 shallots, peeled, but left whole
2 ripe tomatoes
1/2 lb mushrooms, simple buttons work fine
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled & diced
2 stalks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh thyme, left whole
2 bay leaves
6 oz bacon, or fatback, cut into lardons - Noush, you cannot leave this out
1/4 c AP flour
1/2 stick butter
1 bottle of red wine, or if you follow the JC recipe 2 bottles, one to drink, one to cook
2 1/2 cups, roasted chicken stock, this should be from your stash of homemade stock in the freezer --- check early august post
S & P to taste

1)Place bacon in cold pot(this pot should be oven proof, and large enough to fit all the ingredients in it at once) over medium heat and render out fat. Once bacon is crispy, set aside, but leave the delicious fat in the pan. While this is happening, get some kitchen twine, and tie it around your herbs. This makes it easy to simply remove them before serving. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

2)Season chicken with salt and pepper and sear in the pot until nicely caramelized on all sides. Don't crowd the pot. If you have to do this in stages to not bunch the chicken together, do so. It will be better and easier this way.

3)Set chicken aside with bacon, and add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery to this mixture of rendered chicken and bacon fats.....this is how we build layers of flavor. Cook until vegetables are lightly caramelized. Then add shrooms and tomatoes and cook until mushrooms release their liquid

4)add herbs to the pot, then butter. Once butter is melted, stir in the flour, ensuring that no lumps occur. Cook the roux (that what the mix of fat and flour is called) for 2 minutes, stirring pretty much constantly

5)Add wine and stock to pot SLOWLY, stirring constantly to ensure no lumps yet again. Return chicken to pot, and add shallots. Cover and place in oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. You can't really cook this too long.

6)Remove from oven, let cool, then refridgerate. The next day, 2 hours before serving, simply pop it back in a 250 degree oven and forget about it until you're ready to eat.

To serve, remove chicken and shallots and place on serving platter. At this point, you can either drain your sauce (if like my dad, you aren't a veggie fan...I like veggies, so I leave them in) or not. It should be a consistency somewhere between stock and gravy, enough to coat the back of the spoon. If it's still to thin, just cook it down a bit more...if it's too thick, just add a bit more stock. Pour sauce over chicken and shallots, and top with your crispy bacon from yesterday (if you didn't snack it all down during the cooking process). This can really be served with any starch....good old mashers, rice, polenta...whatever you like. I usually like to go with a slightly lighter vegetable option like a nice, fresh green salad, or marinated tomatoes, just so the meal doesn't get too heavy.

As far as wine pairings go, this is a fairly obvious choice --- a nice burgundy. Really, any red with some nice backbone, but not overpowering tannins. This isn't the dish for your 1988 barolo, but nor is it a chicken dish to have a nice light sauvignon blanc with. A good rule of thumb would be to drink it with what you cooked it with.

Anyway, I say I say, enjoy..............

And to finish, some great quotes from Mrs. Childs
Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it
Life itself is the proper binge.
Everything in moderation, including moderation.
I think every woman should have a blowtorch.
How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Top ten reasons I would rather spend eternity in Hell over Houston

I have recently had to spend quite a bit of time in this godforsaken sh&*($le of a city, and would just like to post this as a warning to other people who might be pondering going there. These are the ten things I dislike the most, they may not be something you would hate, but such is the way of opinion.

1)I should never be the skinniest person in a city. I am not exactly model skinny, but compared to most of the people in Houston, I am positively malnourished. This is especially true, sadly, of the women. It's F.U.P.A. heaven there.

2)I think 97% of the restaurants in Houston are comprised of Jack in the Box, WhataBurger, Burger King, & KFC. No wonder this city is so damn fat. Outside of the downtown area, it seems difficult to find a place to eat where they prepare more than 3% of the menu outside of the fryer.

3)I don't know what kind of birds they are, but the city is covered in these small, black, raptorish looking creatures that have no fear of humans and just screech non-stop at you in every parking lot, every time you get out of the car. They just stare at you and caw, and you can't tell if they want food, or are warning you to clear the area before they go all Alfred Hitchcock on you. Also, this isn't a pleasant little tweet they emit. It sounds more like a herd of chihuahuas getting their tail stepped on. I am an animal lover, so I don't condone a mass slaughter of these things or anything, but they are some creepy SOBs.

4)There is no air in the entire city. It's just one hot, stagnant, wind deprived, sweaty, dry place of bad body odor and misery.

5)The road system is crap....and that's from someone who is from the land of Peachtree everything. Everyhting is a highway, so you have to drive 1.2 miles past your destination, exit, and then do a U-turn. This gets very old, very quick. Also, there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to whether the second lane from the left at a light is a turn lane or a straight lane. The natives seem to just make it whichever they want, regardless of markings, or whether or not you're driving a rental car where they are trying to go.

6)Women should not have haircuts that look like Marge Simpson anymore. I don't really have much else to say on this point.


8)If you do venture out of Houston, and go 20 minutes south to Galveston, forget what I said about the wind. It's pretty much a constant gale force wind that seems to have blown away all of the charm and class that this oceanside community might have.

9)This city is hypocritical. This one is just kind of a joke, but everything in Houston is named the George Bush something or other.......including the GEORGE BUSH WILDLIFE PRESERVE. Are you kidding me? A wildlife preserve from the oil drilling, off-shore supporting, clean air destroyingest President we have had in recent memory. Oh, the irony.

10)This last one is to make my wife happy on the off chance that she actually reads my blog. Undoubtedly, the worst part of me being in Houston is the fact that she is in Atlanta, and I have to go somewhere between two and five days without seeing her. BOOOOOOOOOOOO

Sunday, September 19, 2010

To appease my darling wife.........

Just FYI, she is the one on the left.

For a while now, I have been getting pestered about the inaccuracy of one of my posts. In the deserted island discussion, I apparently listed my wife's 5 choices incorrectly. I defend myself by saying that she flip-flops back and forth on the list, but nevertheless, if only for my own personal peace & quiet (and general sanity), here is the official and updated (as of 9/19/10) list of Danielles' top 5:

1)Garlic - this is true, I could serve pan seared shoelaces, but if I had garlic bread on the side, it would probably be okay with her

2)Chocolate - I said this was a little bit of a reach, as chocolate has multiple ingredients, and I don't think she wants to eat raw cacao, but at this point I saw the look in her eyes. To even think of denying my wife chocolate, even in a hypothetical sense, is just plain suicidal on my part, so I let it go.

3)Sourdough bread - no arguments here, it was pretty much down to baguettes or sourdough for my list, so this'll work

4)Figs - she never even ate them until a few years ago. Now, she is more knowledgeable about fig growing seasons ("we'll start seeing them in the markets in 4-6 days from now, depending on the rain in Southern Georgia"), the different varietals, and what they are best used for than most chefs (moi included), farmers, or gourmands.

5)Parmesan Cheese - I put this as brie in the last post....big mistake. Since that fateful day, she has been making me buy ever larger and more expensive wedges of imported Parmesan to drive the point deep into my memory. Lesson learned

Hopefully this will satisfy her, and I can stop getting pestered.......about this anyway :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Time for another rant - Start the chant "OVERRATED"

I was actually thinking about naming this post
"And if your hair looks like this, you might be a douchbag"
but I thought Jeff Foxworthy might sue me, so I figure I'll just risk a slander lawsuit from Mr. Blais instead. This rant is going to be a bunch of things that I think are WAAAAAY overrated in the culinary world. Some are trends, others are just not worth their price, other...I just don't like. These are just opinions, and I'd love for this to be the begining of an awesome online argument, so let's go.

1)TRUFFLES - it does pain me to say this a little, but truffles are simply overUSED and overrated. The only way they are worth anything is if they are true perigord or italian white alba FRESH truffles. Oregon summer truffles have less flavor than a trumpet mushroom, and all this canned truffle peeling or infused truffle oil bullshit is just a flat out fucking ripoff. You know what it really is? One of two things. Either a)the chef is so dull and uninspired to create an interesting flavor mix that he just drizzles truffle oil over every soup he can make, or throws truffle peelings (from a fricking can no less) into every demi glace he makes so that you Mr. Customer will be impressed or b)the chef wants a way to charge $9 for his cauliflower soup that cost him $.39, so he dumps some truffle oil on it and then happily rips you off. Like I said, the REAL DEAL are the REAL DEAL, but all these substitutes are not worth the money. That being said even the real ones are too expensive for their own good, but as a treat here and there.... I'm just sick of them being everywhere.

2)MOLECULAR GASTRONOMY - This is admittedly kind of cool when Wylie Dufresne does it at WD50 in New York, but my god is this getting old. It's like they're giving out liquid nitrogen canisters and gram scales for your Xantham Gum with your knife kit when you sign up for Kitchen Basics 1 in culinary school. Learn how to actually cook and quit trying to make noodles out of lobster broth. This rant is also going to specifically go after Richard Blais. What a fucking egomaniacal sac. I read an article he wrote about him being pissed off that some chef in Denver has a Nutella & Marshmallow milkshake on his menu. Richard surmises that obviously the chef stole it from him. This pisses me off for so many reasons. 1)Richard, you are not the first man to pick up a canister of liquid nitrogen and freeze shit with it 2)NOBODY is really creating anything new. It's 2010, short of Ferran Adria, everybody is riffing off of things they've seen. It's about how well you do it, and how you combine flavors. Maybe, just maybe Richard, the guy just thought nutella and marshmallows sounded good and tried something out. It's not necessarily true that he sought out some burger joint in west Atlanta and masterminded stealing a recipe. Even if he did, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and your milkshake isn't even that good. I've had it. Go get your pink shoes and your hair gel and stop pontificating.

3)CUPCAKES - Ok, Ok, they're cupcakes. Everyone likes cupcakes. They're cute, they fun to decorate, blah, blah, blah. No arguments here. I like cupcakes, I just don't like going out to a dinner with a supposedly talented chef doing the cooking and seeing cupcakes on his dessert menu. It's just dumb. Why would I pay $12 for something my 6 year old cousin can make in her easy bake oven? For the record, I don't know if easy bake ovens still exist or can even actually cook anything, but you get my point.

4)FILET MIGNON - it's just a boring piece of meat. Everyone likes it because they've been told it's good. It's got very little flavor, no fat, and is just dull. Give me a ribeye, sirloin, short rib, anything with some flavor. Not only that, but it's way too expensive for what it is. If I'm going to pay more, it should be better, and compared to my previously mentioned cuts above, it just doesn't rate.

5)PETITE LAMB CHOPS - this is really the same argument as my filet argument. Lamb chops are really just about my least favorite part. Shanks, denver ribs, even ground lamb offer more flavor, more substance, and are generally just more interesting. I'd rather pay for a monstrous, beautifully braised lamb shank than shell out $37 for 6 bites of mediocre chop. That's just me....

6)CALIFORNIA CHEESE & WINE - This one will take some explaining as there are definitely amazing cheese and wine coming from CA, but my argument is that they're living on reputation. CA cabernet is just overpriced and in my opinion, good not great. I'd rather drink a South American red wine, or even a Spanish one. They're more interesting, and more affordable. CA also has the same reputation about it's cheeses. Undoubtedly, there are some good ones, but I think Sweetgrass here in GA matches anything coming out of CA. For that matter, I think you find better cheese in Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin, England, Ireland, and you don't have to pay for all the ego and marketing that you do when you buy say "Purple Haze". It's good, but I think it's overrated and overpriced. Hmmmmmm, this may be an inspiration for my next post/discussion----"MY FAVORITE CHEESES - an open forum". Anyone interested? Let me know

Anyway, that's all the bile I have to spew for now. Let me know if you agree or disagree, or have another log to throw on the fire. I'd love to hear your opinions. Happy ranting.....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I'm feeling a bit southern this morning

Don't know exactly why, but I have been craving some Southern food lately. This doesn't mean that I'm making fried chicken every night, although I did make it on Wednesday, but actually has borne itself out with me making a big batch of pimento cheese & my Jalapeno-Bacon Cornbread. I know, heart healthy cooking right? My response: I eat healthy most of the time so that I can enjoy a pimento grilled cheese & a bowl of chili with cornbread on the side during the first weekend of football season guilt free. And enjoy it I will.

Pimento cheese gets a bad rap because there are so many bad versions out there in pre-made supermarket tubs. These use cheese "product", not cheese, and are little more than mayo and whatever you call the aforementioned "product". The real deal is actually delicious if you make it with good quality ingredients and take a little time to do it. Noush, I bet Miguel would actually really enjoy a good quality Pimento Cheese made with a good quality Irish cheddar. You can cook Southern food in Ireland with local ingredients and come out a winner. I don't think I need to defend cornbread, so I won't, but this recipe is a particularly delicious one, if not the healthiest.


1 lb extra sharp chedda
r cheese, grated (not too finely grated)
1/4 lb cream cheese, softened

1/2 c mayo - I like to make my own, but it's not necessary (Maybe I'll post a mayo recipe next)
2 large red or orange bell peppers
2 large jalapeno peppers
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp hot sauce, whatever your fave is
1 tblps chives (optional, I like this, but some pimento purists do NOT)
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
Salt & Pepper to tast

1)First, you have to roast the peppers and chiles. The easiest way to do this is to turn on your flame on your stove (if you don't have a gas stove, do this on the grill, with a brulee torch, or if you must, under the broiler in your oven), and char the skin of the pepper. Once this is done, place peppers in a ziplock bag for 20 minutes. This will soften the pepper itself, and make it so the skin just sloughs off. Once you have removed the skin, take out the seeds, and dice the peppers up in fairly small pieces
2)After that, just combine everything in a bowl, and mix thoroughly. Place in fridge for 30 minutes to let the flavors combine. Serve on toast, celery, as a sandwich, or my favorite, as a grilled cheese sandwich. inner fatass just woke up.


First, we have to make cracklins, then cornbread.


1 lb bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1)Place the bacon into heavy bottomed sauce pan, and cover with water.
2)Cook over medium heat until the water is gone, the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy. This is going to take roughly half an hour.
3)Place cracklins on paper towel, and reserve the rendered bacon fat for the cornbread.

2 cups self rising cornmeal (or 2 cups normal cornmeal with 1 tsp each baking powder and soda)
1 ear of corn, cleaned, removed from ear, and blanched for 5 minutes in salty water
1/2 c bacon fat, if you don't have quite enough from the cracklins, add melted butter
2 jalapeno, diced small
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 c milk (no less than 2%)
3/4 c buttermilk
1/2 c AP flour
all the cracklins, chopped into rough pieces of porky goodness

1)Preheat oven to 450 and place a medium sized cast iron pan in to get hot.
2)Place cornmeal and flour in bowl and mix
3)Add corn, jalapeno, & cracklins, then add milks gradually, mixing constantly. The result will be a slightly loose batter
4)Heat bacon fat it preheated pan, then add all but 1 tblsp into the batter. Mix thoroughly, then do the same with the egg.
5)Pour the batter into the hot pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until nice and golden brown.
6)Remove from pan immediately and enjoy. It should be easy to remove do to the pan being lubricated with the 1 remaining tblsp of bacon fat that you left in there.

This is great with chili, but honestly can be eaten just smeared with butter.

I know I usually do wine picks, but that just doesn't seem right with this one, so grab a beer and enjoy.

“The North thinks it knows how to make corn bread, but this is a gross superstition. Perhaps no bread in the world is quite as good as Southern corn bread, and perhaps no bread in the world is quite as bad as the Northern imitation of it.”- Mark Twain

“If you have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say Kool Whip on the side, you might be a redneck.” Jeff Foxworthy

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ahhhhh...........fall is soon to be upon us

I'm not really sure why, but last night was the first time that I felt that this brutally long, excruciatingly hot summer is about to be in our rearview mirror. Maybe it was the fact that it was below 95 degrees as I walked my dogs at 8pm. Maybe it was the fact that the number of mosquito bites that I received on said walk was down to a manageable dozen or so. Either way, I's September, possibly the best month of the year here in Georgia.

However, with that came the suprisingly sad realization that summer is about to be over. No more heirloom tomatoes, less figs, peaches, and an assortment of other items that are their best during the summer months. So, I decided to do a post on some summer recipes to get in while there is still time. I'll have plenty of good fall and winter dishes (guiness braised this, or stewed tomato that), but quick, while there's still time, grab some peaches and yellow tomatoes and lets get going!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First up, the most quintissentially summer dish there is (in my convoluted mind anyway)
GAZPACHOThis recipe takes a little work, but is beyond worth it.

6 RIPE tomatoes, , peeled, seeded, and chopped
be they heirloom, roma, yellow, whatever just good and ripe
1/2 english cucumber, 1/2 c diced small, the rest just chopped
1 jalapeno, diced small
1 red onion, 1/2 diced small, 1/2 just chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, 1/2 diced small, 1/2 just chopped
3 tblsp italian parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled
1/4 tsp paprika
oz Olive oil, good quality stuff
1/4 c tomato juice
2 tblsp sherry vinegar
juice & zest of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

1)Place all of the small diced vegetables in a bowl, add lemon juice and zest and set aside
2)Combine tomatoes, chopped cucumber, onion, garlic, and bell pepper in blender. Add paprika, tomato juice, vinegar, and some salt and pepper, and blend over medium speed.
3)Slowly drizzle in olive oil while blending so that it emulsifies.
4)Season soup with salt and pepper to taste, and mix in 90% of the small diced vegetables and parsley. Reserve the remaining parsley/vegetable mixture to use as garnish.

That's all. Delicious. Pair it with a crisp white wine and enjoy. If you're feeling frisky, add some diced avocado to top the soup, or some lump crab, or a few grilled shrimp. Whatever you're in the mood for, just make sure you've got some crust bread, good company, and a patio or garden to enjoy it with.

CRAB AND AVOCADO SALAD - This one is simple & delicious
1 lb lump crab meat, go jumbo lump if you've got the $$$
1 large, ripe avocado, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 serrano chile, diced fine
2 tblsp cilantro chopped
juice & zest of 1 lime
2 tblsp shallot or red onion, diced VERY fine
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped small
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp olive or avocado oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

1)Gently mix all of the above ingredients, cover, and let marinate for 1 hour in fridge. Do not overmix and break up all the pretty lumps of crab, or you've just wasted your money.
2)Serve in endive leaves, romaine leaves, or with grilled sourdough bread and you've got an awesome summer meal to enjoy.

Wine Pairing - a Viogner would be perfect for this. A little rich, a little floral....nice mix with the sweet/oceany taste of the crab

CHIMMICHURRI - I think this is just a great accompaniment to a summer steak

1 c Italian Parsley
1/2 c Olive oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c cilantro
1/4 c oregano, or marjoram
1 serrano chile
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1)Place all ingredients, except oil in food processor/blender, and start pureeing. Then in a steady stream drizzle in the oil as it's pureeing to form a nice emulsion.

Drizzle this sauce over any grilled steak. Serve with grilled bread & fresh tomatoes (also drizzled with chimmichurri) and you got a quick, flavorful, summery dinner.

Wine Pairing - The wine pairing here is pretty much a no brainer. Argentinian sauce with Argentinas' favorite protein..........why not an Argentinian malbec? Many different great, and affordable, choices on this one. Just experiment, and you'll find one you like.

Jumbo Shrimp and Peach Kabobs with Prosciutto & Basil
For the Kabobs
1 lb Jumbo fresh shrimp
3 fresh GA peaches, if not in GA, obviously sub in what ya got
1/4 prosciutto, sliced wafer thin.....any monty python fans out there find this as amusing as me?
1 c basil leaves whole
Salt & Pepper

For the Glaze
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tblsp clover honey
1 tsp hot sauce
2 tblsp apricot jam
1 tsp fresh ground white pepper

1)Combine all ingredients for glaze in small saute pan, bring to a boil, and let chill to room temp
2)Clean shrimp & slice peaches into large wedges.
3)Sprinkle shrimp & peaches with salt & pepper
4)Place 1 basil leaf on each wedge of peach, and wrap the two with 1 slice of prosciutto
5)Skewer shrimp and peaches (alternating) on kabobs and place on very hot grill. I find it will help to give a very light brush of olive oil to the kabobs before doing so, but up to you.
6)Brush skewers with glaze every 30 seconds until shrimp are fully cooked, about 3 minutes per side.

Serve over simple lemon or pesto rice or with a very simple arugula and shaved parmesan salad and you're good to go.

Wine Pairing - My choice would be a tropical, fruity Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand/Australia (Nobilo is a good one), but you could also do a riesling or a gerwurtztraminer here too.



1 c basil leaves
1 clove garlic
Zest & Juice of 1 lemon
2 scallions, chopped
2 1/2 tblsp olive oil
1/4 c Parmesan, finely grated
Salt & Pepper to taste

1)Combine all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth

4 slices of ciabatta bread, cut 1/2 inch thick
2 tblsp olive oil
8 fresh figs, any kind is ok, sliced thin
8 oz brie, cut into thin slices
1 c fresh arugula, chopped rough

pistou, as above

1)Brush slices of bread with olive oil and place on very hot grill. Char one side.
2)Remove from grill, smear both sides with pistou and place a layer of figs first, then brie on charred side.
3)Return to grill, slightly removed from hottest area, and grill until brie melts evenly.
4)Plate 2 sandwiches to a place and top with the chopped arugula, dressed in the remaining olive oil.

I don't think this one needs anything else to complete it....except for a second round of sandwiches maybe.

Wine Pairing - A nice clean white burgundy.

There you have it. Some of my favorite summer dishes. I hope you get a chance to enjoy them before butternut squash soup season is upon us. And to end, some quotes about the season past, and upcoming.

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. ~James Dent

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~Sam Keen

"It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life" - P.D. James

"Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees."
David Letterman

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Danielles' Favorite Dinner - this is NOT a part of the meal on a tight budget series

Nobody has ever accused my wife of having cheap taste, and this certainly runs into her likes and dislikes foodwise as well. In fact, if she knew how affordable mussels are, she would probably bump them down a few notches on her list (JK). I suppose it's really my fault. She ate sweet potatoes & canned peas for dinner regularly before meeting me, and I am the one who talked her into eating foie gras & sweetbreads for the first time, but whats done is done, and happily so.

So, whenever I ask, "Hey Love, what do you want to eat for dinner?", about 8 times out of 10, the response is "oh, I don't know, maybe....Tuna?". I love tuna just as much as her, and you can prepare it in about fifty thousand different ways, so usually I'll go along with it. Also, for any Atlantans, the Dekalb Farmers Market has amazing quality tuna at about half the price of Whole Paycheck (I mean Foods). In fact, you shouldn't buy any fish, anywhere else. Enough of my snobbery though...on with the recipe.

A few notes about buying tuna, please never use frozen tuna or saku block. It's crap and is a waste of money. Look for a nice deep red to dark red coloring. Should have a VERY firm flesh, not at all mushy. Mushy = Old. Smell it. This is just a good rule for any fish......if it smells like the ocean, buy it. If it smells like a fish, pass.

Danielle's favorite preparation for the tuna is actually a very easy one, and is quite delicious, letting the tuna shine as the star, and keeps everything nice, light, and fresh.

Cilantro & Peppercorn seared Tuna w/Marinated Napa Cabbage Slaw
For the fish:
1/2 lb good quality ahi tuna
2 tblsp mixed peppercorns, i go with the mix, you don't have to
1/2 head of cilantro, chopped fine
2 tsp kosher salt
1.5 tblsp oil, any oil with a high smoke point

For the slaw: this may seem like a lot of ingredients, but it goes quick....I promise
1 SMALL head napa cabbage, sliced uber thin **you can sub really any cabbage you like here, whatever's fresh
1 large carrot, peeled & grated
1 red onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 tblsp ginger, microplaned (finely grated if you don't have a microplane)
zest and juice of 1 orange/1 lemon
1/2 head cilantro, chopped rough
1 tblsp toasted sesame seeds, check post about chicken to learn how to toast spices
6 radishes, julienned
2 tblsp unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tblps srirachi, or your favorite thai chile paste
1 bell pepper, julienned
1 tblsp soy
2 tblsp sesame oil
2 tblsp scallion, sliced thin
2 tblsp mint, chopped rough
S+P to taste


1)Combine all liquids with garlic, zest, and ginger & mix well.
2)Add cabbage, onions, carrot, & radishes to the mixture. This step should be done at least 2-4 hours before serving. Set aside to marinate, in fridge if for more than 4 hours.

1)Mix cilantro, salt, and peppercorn mixture together and place in a shallow plate. Press tuna down into mixture on both sides so that it forms a complete & even coating. You shouldn't be able to see a flesh on the top & bottom of the fish once this is done.
2)Place your pan over HIGH heat with oil, and heat until the oil, LITERALLY, begins to smoke. Don't worry, it's not going to blow up your kitchen...........most likely anyway. Place tuna in pan for 30 seconds a side (this is for rare) and remove from heat to cutting board.
3)Thinly slice the tuna

1)Toss your peppers and fresh herbs into the marinated slaw to combine.
2)Lay a neat line of slaw across your serving plate, and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top.
3)Top with slices of tuna and serve.

I usually go with some flat bread, like pita or naan, to give a little starch to this.

Wine Pairing: I like to go with something light, white, & acidic. The acid matches the slaw nicely, and helps cut the fattiness of the tuna. Try Concannon 2008 sauvignon blanc - it would be perfect for this. Dry, not too tropical fruity, and nice minerality.

My actual favorite tuna dish is "tuna steak frites, with housemade lemon aioli, and watercress salad". If anyone wants to hear this one, let me know and I'll post it too.