A girl in the tween scene likes nothing better than to look cool in front of her friends. Our daughter was having a friend over for dinner and after working all day I was hard pressed to put together something these youths would enjoy…something sophisticated but familiar, so I pulled three steaks of yellow-fin tuna from the fridge that were fresh from the fish market. Sushi grade tuna to me is pretty impressive. I asked Julia’s friend if she ever had sushi and she said no. Julia told her she had it and it was, “Like, really gross”. I promised the girls I would cook this really “like” high grade tuna (a good deal for $3.25 a steak) to perfection while they played Minecraft.
This tuna appeared as glistening rubies it was so fresh. I knew that nothing could make this go wrong except to let it become over cooked. Leaving a little pink in the middle would be safe and hopefully not be too shocking for the young ladies. I was willing to take the risk…I was 12 once and remember bragging rights being everything. This would be a very grown-up meal to tell their friends they were brave enough to try and this is what I used to prepare a colorful delicious meal:
- Three 3/4 or 1 inch thick steaks of sushi/sashimi grade Yellow-fin tuna (Ahi)
- 1/3 cup olive oil (reserve one teaspoon) plus another 2 tablespoons
- two slices of good quality bread cut in chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder/
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- one bag frozen Asian vegetables with noodles
- 1/3 cup teriyaki marinade plus 1/3 cup water and a teaspoon cornstarch blended (sometimes it comes with the vegetables in a pouch)
In a large skillet heat up the two tablespoons olive oil and put the vegetables on on medium high heat with a lid, stirring occasionally to ensure even thawing. Once thawed reduce heat to medium low, add the teryaki sauce mixture, mix thoroughly coating the vegetables and replace the lid.
In a food processor (I used my mini chopper) add the seasonings and bread. Pulse until the bread becomes fine crumbs. With the reserved teaspoon olive oil, rub it all over the surfaces of the tuna steaks. Roll the tuna around in the seasoned crumbs on a large plate until well coated then place them in a medium skillet with the remaining olive oil well heated (350°). Let the coated tuna steaks cook for three minutes on each side or until the coating becomes a golden brown.
Remove the steaks from the skillet and allow them to drain a few minutes on paper toweling. Stir up the veggie and noodle mix and place a good bed on each plate. Place a tuna steak in the middle of each one and serve. I plucked a few sprigs of lemon balm from the back yard to make it look and smell extra special.
At first Julia’s friend was shocked to see “like” pink in the middle of her tuna steak but I assured her that it was safe to eat and heated through thoroughly. We talked about the difference in sushi and sashimi and that this tuna was done quite a bit past those stages which are essentially raw fish. In sushi there is sometimes cooked fish or meat. Sushi is served with rice containing vinegar. This was accepted and she did like it. So did Julia. We had a wonderfully fun dinner together which can be rare in such mixed company (moms can be like, totally uncool). The most fun we had was trying to be conscious of how many times we used the word “like”. It squeaked out like about every four words and made the girls giggle like so much it was like, hilarious! It was also pretty cool that there wasn’t so much as a speck of food left on the girl’s plates…mine either.
The quintessential vegetable casserole is what the French call ratatouille. It’s sort of the comfort food of summer gardeners. There are many variations but I kept mine very simple with only zucchini, tomato, onion, cabbage, garlic and herbs in a creamy Gouda cheese sauce. Nothing says summer like vine ripened tomatoes and I’ve recently found myself up to my ears in them thanks to my friend Gayle. She and her husband put in at least six ten foot rows each year. The yield this year is off the charts. We’ve had lots of good rain this spring and it seems to have been spring for half the summer here in St. Louis. Only recently have we had the traditional high humidity and heat. That’s what those tomatoes love. So just now those juicy fruits are going strong on hearty vines. Even the ones in pots on my porch are producing well. Every windowsill has at least six tomatoes glowing red in the sun.
I chose five medium and very ripe ones along with half of an overgrown zucchini to make this dish. First, I preheated the oven to 375° then I sliced everything uniformly and arranged the vegetables in neat rows of alternating vegetables. In a skillet I made a roux with olive oil, garlic, a hunk of chopped cabbage, a diced onion and a couple of tablespoons of flour, salt, pepper and freshly chopped thyme and parsley. I cooked it all down until it bubbled into a golden brown. A cup or so of milk went in a little at a time and was whisked together until it thickened. Gouda cheese which is sharp like cheddar and melts very well was shredded along with a bit of leftover cheddar, added to the skillet and was whisked in as well. The sauce became nice and creamy and I poured it over the tomato and zucchini.
For a topping I pulsed a few slices of bread in the food processor with a pinch more of the herbs from the garden , pulsed in a dash of olive oil and sprinkled the top with the crumbs. Into the oven it went for about 45 minutes until the top was crisp and golden and the sauce bubbled up the sides. Before we could dig into this casserole, it needed to cool down quite a bit before it could be served. We survived the wait and boy, was it worth it!
You could use a wider variety of vegetables in this dish. Often mushrooms Green peppers and eggplant are sliced and arranged in layers too. Fresh herbs from the garden like basil, thyme oregano, tarragon and parsley can be added…what ever suits your taste. I went the simple route and worked with what was abundant at the time. I will have the opportunity to try more of a variety the next time. My peppers are getting bigger and I just bought some porcine mushrooms. Stay tuned!
July 28, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: bread crumbs, cheddar, comfort food, food, fresh herbs, gouda, green peppers, home grown tomatoes, life, olive oil, onions, ratatouille, roux, zucchini | 2 Comments