Roasted Whole Fish

I have always loved dining on a whole roasted fish, faces don’t scare me. I mean I sucked the brains out of a chicken head in China! But cooking a whole fish was intimidating because one….how do you know it’s really a fresh fish, aside from the eyeball test…and two….. where do I get a whole fish from? Well, luckily we found a local wholesale fish market that serves all the finest local restaurants here. Catalina Offshore is where all the chefs go to get their seafood, so now when I eat at a restaurant and I order an amazing Branzino or Salmon, I know where they got it. Priceless in my opinion. Not only because you know exactly what you are putting into your body and where it came from but NOW, I know that I can also make that same dish, just as good, for a lot less chaaaa-ching!

We all know I have talked Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook to death, but in all seriousness, I think she and I share palates. I could cook through the book and probably not be disappointed in anything. When I decided on cooking a whole fish for the second time in my life, I wanted to do what she did, clearly can’t go wrong!

IMG_2012

Team Players

1 (2 lb.) whole fish, white striped bass or branzino

Kosher salt and pepper

15 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 Tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 lemon, sliced

3-4 springs of herbs, thyme, rosemary, sage

1 lbs heirloom tomatoes, slices or cut into wedges

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. ( just do this with anything you roast)

Place fish on the foil lined sheet and season like its your job all over with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes and then rub it all over and inside the fish.  Place the lemon rounds inside the cavity along with the herbs.

Arrange the tomatoes underneath and around the fish, then drizzle the whole party with olive oil.

Roast until fish is flaky, 20 minutes should be perfect.

Serve right away.

AND don’t forget the fish cheeks, the best bite of the entire fish!

fullsizeoutput_f0

 

 

 

Eggscellent

Where do the days go?  One day it’s Easter and now I am rushing around to get everything for the almost six year olds birthday party.

Speaking of Easter, we had a pretty low key day. Early Saturday morning Kaili woke up sick. There is nothing like slipping in vomit with bare feet after you’ve taken half of a sleep tab, seriously the best! (keep that in mind my young friends.) She woke up with a fever and zero energy, unfortunately she missed her best friends birthday party that day. She seemed to pep up towards the end of the day and we were hoping she would be good for Easter.

The girls woke to their baskets delivered to our door step by the bunny, thank you for the one who gave me that idea. Kaili seemed a lot better, they tore through the baskets, ate breakfast and then set out on hot pursuit for hidden goodies in the backyard.

fullsizeoutput_f4fullsizeoutput_f5IMG_1966

The girls were invited to an Easter party by a school friend, once we decided Kaili was up for it we headed out.

IMG_1968fullsizeoutput_f6

From here you’ll just have to take my word for it because I tucked my phone away for the entire party. The family was very nice, they had waaaayyy too much food, but they also had alcohol so…. We helped hide over hundreds of eggs for the hunt, which was over in minutes. All the girls had so much fun and there was a tad of resistance when we told them we had to go.

For dinner I made a fancy shrimp scampi that was a lot more work than I normally do and although the shrimp were plumper being poached, the taste was pretty much the same.  Maybe I will share the recipe some time. I do have a brilliant whole fish recipe for you, courtesy of Chrissy Tiegen! Coming soon.

 

Sicilian for a Day

I took my first Sur La Table cooking class last weekend. The theme was exploring Sicily which is one place in Italy I have not been. There were six of us in the kitchen and it started out with our chef walking us through the footprint of the class.

After a brief introduction and a quick knife skill refresh for some (obviously not me because I am amazing) we started on our first course.

Caponata, the Sicilian sweet and salty version of ratatouille. The longer it sits the better it gets. Served on a toasted baguette with a drizzle of olive oil, it makes a wonderful starter.

fullsizeoutput_e8

Second course was a Fennel and cara cara orange Insalata, now I am pretty sure those oranges are not Italian but…..I kept my mouth shut.  Raw fennel isn’t my favorite, I much prefer fennel seeds, but this salad shined.

fullsizeoutput_ed

The main course was grilled hanger steak with castelvetrano olive tapenade. The castelvetrano olives are Sicily’s most used bright green snacking olive. It has a meaty, buttery and mild flavor, absolutely delish.

We marinated the steak in olive oil, lemon, garlic, fresh herbs and red pepper. Showered it with flaky sea salt and then grilled to our liking, rare obviously.

fullsizeoutput_ec

The tapenade started with poaching some garlic in olive oil and then we sat it aside to cool. The olives, capers, anchovies, lemon and red wine vinegar all got to know each other in the food processor. Just enough to marry the flavors but still have some texture. It paired very nicely with the grilled steak.

fullsizeoutput_ee

Dessert was Cannoli tartlets and we actually started them early in the class. We made a basic pastry crust with the addition of some marsala wine. It hung out in the fridge for a half of an hour before we rolled out the dough and cut into small circles and then pressed them into a muffin tin. They baked for about 20 minutes until golden brown and firm.

The filling for the tartlets was a delicious mixture of mascarpone cheese, ricotta, vanilla bean paste, zest of an orange and powdered sugar all whisked together until combined.

The filling was spooned into the tartlet shells and then we sprinkled chopped dark chocolate pieces and pistachios on top. It was very tasty.

fullsizeoutput_ef

It was a really fun class and I am looking forward to taking another one soon. At the end of class our chef asked me if I was a spy for the Food Network, I asked her why she thought that and she said it’s because my knife skills were great. Insert told you so.

I have already remade the hanger steak and it might be one of my favorite cuts right now, absolutely buttery and delicious.

 

 

 

Baltimore Style Crab Cakes

We had  a Global street food themed dinner party last weekend and the food was all so good. I made Andrew Zimmern’s crab cake recipe and it’s by far the best I have ever made and up there with some of the best I have ever had. He keeps the recipe simple so the crab shines.

IMG_1788

I bought some jalapeño tarter sauce to serve with it but honestly it didn’t need it, just a squeeze or two of lemon is the only teammate they need.

Ingredients

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
20 saltine crackers, finely crushed
1/4 cup canola oil

 

In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce until smooth.

In a medium bowl, lightly toss the crabmeat with the cracker crumbs. Gently fold in the mayonnaise mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Scoop the crab mixture into eight 1/3-cup mounds; lightly pack into 8 patties, about 1 1/2 inches thick. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the crab cakes and cook over moderately high heat until deeply golden and heated through, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer to a platter and serve with lemon.

*Recipe from Food and Wine

Little Getaways

Kaili had this week off of school for Spring break and instead of us sitting around the house we joined Shane for a week in Oxnard, Ca.

We left Sunday early in the day and made a pit stop in Irvine for a visit with family before making our way up to Malibu. The drive along the coast up there is just breathtaking. We stopped at Paradise Cove for lunch. With tables in the sand and amazing views, you really do feel like you’ve reached Paradise.

2A930ED4-8ABC-4D4E-9085-8F601034648FIMG_1667

We easily devoured a bottle of Cakebread 2012 Merlot for a very reasonable price considering where we were. It’s hard to beat sitting on the beach with a good drink while the kids are entertaining themselves in mother natures playground. The food was underwhelming, which seems to be a reoccurring theme for us lately but the atmosphere made up for it.

dThe last leg of the drive was an easy one and we got to the hotel by check in time. Our room that was supposed to be ready, wasn’t, and being a Hilton Honors member we got upgraded to an ocean view suite. Still full from lunch we decided to skip dinner and just go with happy hour beverages. We watched the sun set on the balcony before tucking in for the night.

IMG_1687IMG_1683

Shane still had to work so the girls and I were on our own for most of the days.  We played at the beach in the mornings and then spent the afternoons at the pool.

IMG_1734IMG_1719-1FullSizeRender-9

One day I brought my book down thinking I might be able to read a chapter and then I laughed and laughed and laughed at myself.

IMG_1691-2IMG_1699FullSizeRender-10

We would meet Shane at happy hour in the evenings and then head into town for dinner. We had some very good steamed mussels at la Petit Cafe in the harbor, after we managed to make it back to the hotel bar to catch most of the USMNT soccer match. The girls ate ice cream on the floor, we had some wine, it was perfect.

We also found a good Mexican spot in Oxnard called Cabo Seafood grill and Cantina and everyone was happy with their meal, a rarity these days.

Thursday morning we took one last dip in the hot tub before packing up for the drive home.

FullSizeRender-11

The hotel service wasn’t as good as it should be for a pricey resort but overall the stay was very nice. One of my favorite things is being able to hear the waves crashing from the couch as the ocean breeze blows through the room.

Kaili was complaining of an earache on the drive home and Averi was super tired and cranky. Turns out K had swimmers ear but luckily we caught it fast and she’s good as new now.

Little getaways like these are just what the doctor ordered.

Books

You guys, I have something exciting to share with you. Ok, well not exciting for you but it was exciting for me.

Last week one of my favorite authors had a book signing and release party in Mission Viejo. Since it was on a Tuesday at 7:00pm obviously I couldn’t make it, but my wonderful mom went for me. As I sat down on the couch after getting my pajamas on and my face washed, mom called be via FaceTime.

fullsizeoutput_bc

That isn’t my mom, that is the author Chevy Stevens. Um, cue holy shit face. We were able to chat for a few minutes after Kaili got in her greetings. She has a daughter around the same age so I invited her back down to SD for a playdate.

If you haven’t read any of her books, you should, they are all good. Now excuse me while   dive in to her latest one.

IMG_1604IMG_1605-1

This Weather

We have had a good run with the weather lately and yes I am bragging. My winter tan is coming along nicely, thanks for asking.

We have been spending time outdoors with friends, playing, eating and just enjoying life.

IMG_1410

A friend and I took our girls to Seaport Village for a Sunday Funday. We ate ice cream, rode the carousel and enjoyed the day.

IMG_1421fullsizeoutput_cf

Kaili’s class had a field trip ton probably the best day of weather ever. I volunteered to help, my friend and I had a small group of girls to chaperone for a day at the San Diego zoo.

fullsizeoutput_ca

I think we made a lot of ground, saw a lot of animals in the day. But it was hot and the girls   ended up just wanting to be done walking and to see the petting zoo.

IMG_1490

So we hiked our way through the treetops to get them all safely to the petting zoo, which is really just some goats…..but they were happy.

fullsizeoutput_c9

We spent the last 30 minutes of the day playing on the playground and eating churros and then the kids were whisked away via bus and us adults went on our way. It was exhausting but so fun!

Averi and I have our new shopping routine. We head to Hillcrest where we can hit Trader Joes and Ralphs in a one-stop shop.

fullsizeoutput_cb

She loves the ride up!

Then we spent the entire weekend in the sun, in the warmtub and just loving these sunny days.

fullsizeoutput_c7

Averi wasn’t her normal self Monday and she ended coming down with some stomach bug. But on the tail end of it we landed at the park for a couple of hours,  I almost lost my daughter to the sandman.

fullsizeoutput_c5

I hear it’s supposed to rain next week. Good thing I have a head start on my sunning!