Halibut With Capers, Olives and Tomatoes

Halibut is one of my favorite fish dishes, but I almost never prepare it at home, namely because it’s one of the more expensive options at the fish market. However, it was on sale at Whole Foods this week for $12.99/lb. (wild caught to boot) so I decided I could treat us to two thick cut fillets. I had made this recipe a few years ago and since I already had most of the ingredients—including some nicely vine ripened tomatoes—I decided to try it again.  Preparing fish is always risky because it’s so easy to overcook. Johnny  hovered around me as I was pan frying the halibut (he’s been on the receiving end of some of my less-than-stellar seafood moments) but he was very pleasantly surprised at the end result. The halibut was tender and moist and the sauce gave it a savory kick. I didn’t have basil, so I omitted it, which was fine. I also dredged the fish in white whole wheat flour.

 

Tonight I’m making a big batch of the Mar-a-lago turkey burgers that Oprah deemed the best she’s ever eaten. I have to concur. They’re a bit labor intensive (but so worth it) so I usually make them for  summer parties or when I’m bringing dinner to new parents. This time it’s the latter: my cousin Heather and her husband, Jason, welcomed a little boy, William Joseph, last week.  I’m going to visit them tomorrow, cooler bag in tow. Pictures of the burgers to come later! Here’s the halibut recipe, found on Epicurious.com. I stuck with the proportions as written even though we only had two pieces of fish.

Halibut With Capers, Olives and Tomatoes

4 6- to 7-ounce halibut fillets

All purpose flour

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 large shallots, chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

4 plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped

1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided

1 tablespoon drained capers

1/3 cup bottled clam juice

1/4 cup dry white wine

A Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

I look forward to Cinco de Mayo every year. I love Mexican food (and margaritas) and if the weather is warm, as it is today in New York, Cinco de Mayo symbolizes the start of summer for me. In the city, every restaurant that has even a hint of Mexican cuisine on the menu is packed with revelers spilling onto the sidewalk (or as is most often the case, waiting in line on said sidewalk to get in) and the mood is festive and fun. But also really, really crowded. So after navigating SRO bars for years for what usually amounted to a sickly sweet, half melted marg, I decided to start hosting my own Cinco de Mayo fiestas. Last year our friends Emily and Andy came over for turkey tacos and this year, we’re having them over again. Only I’ve decided to kick up the menu a notch. Tonight we’ll be starting with corn fritters, a recipe I found in the book Fabulous Parties by Mark Held, Richard David and Peggy Dark. I recently interviewed Mark for a story and he was fabulous. I’ve never made fritters before but they look relatively simple and I already had the ingredients, so I’m going to give it a go. I wanted an easy aioli of sorts to dip them in and I found a recipe for cilantro dip on Epicurious which I’m also going to make. We’ll have chips with fresh guacamole and salsa and then for the main course, skirt steak and grilled-chicken tacos, both recipes adapted from Food & Wine’s May issue. The chicken has been marinating overnight in a mixture of lime juice, tomatoes, water and salt.

As for drinks, I’m always on the hunt for a margarita that isn’t too sweet so I consulted my mixologist friend, Matthew Biancaniello, who I also recently interviewed, for an easy, tasty margarita recipe. He suggested a ratio of 2 oz of tequila, 3/4 oz of agave nectar, and 3/4 oz of fresh lime juice. I’m going to make a pitcher, so I’ll adjust the quantities accordingly.

Photo courtesy of Seattle Weekly Blogs.

Pictures of our meal to come later, but for now here are recipes for the corn fritters and cilantro dip. And on a completely unrelated note, today is also the ninth annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, a cause I have worked on extensively over the years. Check out an article I wrote on the topic on Tonic.com.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Corn Fritters
Makes 20-30 appetizers
2 cups whole corn kernels (either fresh cut from the cob or frozen, do not use canned)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions, white part only
1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
corn oil, for frying

Heat the oil in a large frying pan until very hot. Mix all of the ingredients together. Using two spoons or your fingers, drop small dollops into the oil and fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

Cilantro Dip
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Mix all ingredients in small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until flavors blend, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Seared Scallops

Scallops rank high on my list of seafood options, but I hardly ever order them in a restaurant. In my experience, the price versus the serving size is almost never worth it.  Case in point: We went to The Redhead one cold winter’s night a few months back and I ordered the scallops. Price: $22. Number of scallops: 3. That’s right. Three medium-sized scallops. With a “side” that amounted to not much more than a drizzling of sauce.

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Crab Cakes, Take 3

Johnny and I decided to cook dinner rather than go out tonight, so I picked up some steaks and crab meat at Whole Foods and  made crab cakes to go with our sirloin. This is the third time I’ve made the seafood cakes, using my friend Monica’s recipe, and while they always taste delicious, I have a hard time getting them to stick together. (Monica made them for us a couple of months ago and hers were perfect. Though I credit this to the fact that her dad owns a fish market in West Palm Beach, Florida, making her my de facto seafood guru.) Anyway, I used Whole Foods fresh claw crab meat, a little mayo, whole wheat panko bread crumbs, lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, black pepper and scallions (WF was out of chives.) I chilled the mixture for about 30 minutes before making the patties,  but I still had trouble keeping them together. No matter though. Shortly after this picture was taken, in my new All-Clad 10″ frying pan, we devoured them. Delish!