Cooking for one

A few of us were talking at the pool about cooking when you are eating alone.  Some don’t like to, others do.  I view cooking for just myself as an opportunity to eat exactly what I want.  I do bother to set the table and sit down to dinner, maybe with a book or magazine.  Keith and Samantha had a swim meet last Thursday and were going to be late so elected to have the swim meet buffet.  I didn’t want to make something that would make Keith sorry he missed it and was late getting home so I wanted something fairly simple.  I decided on a short cut Tuna Nicoise salad.  I love it but Keith’s not a huge fan.  When I make it for more than just myself, I usually cook green beans, use cooked potatoes, etc.  The shortcuts were that I skipped the green beans, used leftover dressing from the salad the week before and bought the potatoes from prepared foods.  All I did was hardboil an egg and quick sear the tuna.

Here is the full recipe without the shortcuts:

Tuna Salad Nicoise

  • 1 minced shallot
  • 3 – 4 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • salad greens (I used a mix of mache and green leaf)
  • fresh tuna steak (4 – 6 oz per person)
  • hard boiled eggs (1 per person)
  • roasted potatoes (I used red potatoes that I sliced and tossed with olive oil, sliced garlic, salt and pepper and roasted last night in the toaster oven)
  • blanched green beans
  • black olives (optional)
  • anchovies (optional)
In a small jar, combine shallot, olive oil, vinegar and mustard.  Shake to combine.  Wash and dry salad greens.   Brush tuna with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Sear in a non-stick pan until desired doneness (I like mine rare so will only quick sear on each side.)  Toss salad greens with dressing and plate.  Top lettuce with tuna, sliced egg, potatoes, green beans (and olives or anchovies if you like or whatever else you happen to  have on hand).  Enjoy.
Here is my shortcut picture:IMG_3353

 

Lazy evenings

We have drifted into a lovely but lazy habit of going to the pool in the evenings after work.  It is so quiet and there aren’t many people around.  Samantha can usually find a kid to play with and I enjoy sitting and looking at a magazine.  The problem is the longer I sit there, the less interested I get in leaving.  As a result dinners have been simple.  Last night we had grilled Portabello mushrooms on whole wheat hamburger rolls with lettuce, tomato and red onion and deviled eggs on the side.  Tonight is crab cakes and zucchini fritters.

Deviled eggs
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1.4 tsp dry mustard (more if you want them spicier)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 TB mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Crab cakes

  • 1 lb lump or jumbo lump crabmeat
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TB Dijon mustard
  • 4 TB mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • dash paprika
  • 1/3 cup panko or bread crumbs
  • wondra flour
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
Whisk together egg, mustard, mayo, spices and panko.  Gently fold in crabmeat.  Sprinkle Wondra flour on a plate and form crab cakes with your hands – place on flour.  Sprinkle tops with flour and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Heat a heavy saute pan over medium heat.  Melt butter and olive oil and add crab cakes.  Cook 4 – 5 minutes per side until crisp and golden brown.
Zucchini fritters
  • 2 zucchini grated with a coarse grater (from my very own garden!)
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • olive oil
Combine zucchini with garlic, scallions, Parmesan, eggs, lemon zest and flour.  Heat a heavy saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil.  Plop zucchini mixture into hot oil by tablespoons and cook 2 -3 minutes per side until crisp.  Remove to a plate covered in paper towels and serve hot.  Great with chipotle mayonnaise or green goddess dressing.

Amazing summer dinners continued

Maryland crabmeat is one of the best foods ever.  The key is that you enjoy it in the months when it is available fresh.  Crabmeat does not freeze well by itself (my mother-in-law has shown me that you can freeze it if you freeze it with an ingredient – so you can freeze it with cream cheese to use in a dip or freeze in the crabbie appetizers that I make when it goes on sale.)  We had crab cakes and tomatoes with Green Goddess dressing tonight.  I see recipes for crab cakes where they are throwing in all sorts of stuff – chopped peppers, veggies, etc.  I think they are best when you use a minimum of other things – you want to accentuate the taste of the crab, not cover it up and you want just enough to hold them together.

Crab cakes

  • 1 lb lump or jumbo lump crabmeat
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TB Dijon mustard
  • 4 TB mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • dash paprika
  • 1/3 cup panko or bread crumbs
  • wondra flour
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
Whisk together egg, mustard, mayo, spices and panko.  Gently fold in crabmeat.  Sprinkle Wondra flour on a plate and form crab cakes with your hands – place on flour.  Sprinkle tops with flour and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Heat a heavy saute pan over medium heat.  Melt butter and olive oil and add crab cakes.  Cook 4 – 5 minutes per side until crisp and golden brown.
I had a tomato from the produce stand and leftover Green Goddess dressing in the fridge.  That made our side dish.  The way my tomato slices fan out, they almost look like a crab!
Crab cakes with a crab shaped tomato!

Crab cakes with a crab shaped tomato!

 

Green Goddess Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup chives
  • 2 TB scallion greens
  • 1 1/2 tsp anchovy paste (use this even if you think you don’t like anchovies)  🙂
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Keep in fridge for a quick and easy side dish.

Another good summer dish

This is another wonderful summer meal.  Make a batch on the weekend and enjoy it for lunch and/or dinner all week.
Blackened Cajun Chicken Pasta Salad
  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts split
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 oz. cajun or blackening seasoning mix
  • 1 lb orecchiette pasta
  • 3 – 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
Melt butter.  Dredge chicken breasts in melted butter and then in seasoning mix.  Sear 3 minutes per side in a heavy oven proof skillet and then cook in a 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes until done.  Chill.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking.  Chop chicken into bite size chunks and toss all ingredients together.  (If you want spicy, you can add extra seasoning.)  Warning – this is addictive!

Summer dinner

I’ve been craving zucchini fritters and it’s been a while since I made them.  They go really well with crab cakes.

Zucchini fritters
  • 2 zucchini grated with a coarse grater
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • olive oil
Combine zucchini with garlic, scallions, Parmesan, eggs, lemon zest and flour.  Heat a heavy saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil.  Plop zucchini mixture into hot oil by tablespoons and cook 2 -3 minutes per side until crisp.  Remove to a plate covered in paper towels and serve hot.   We have discovered that these are even better with chipotle mayonnaise – easily made by blending mayonnaise with chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.  (NOTE: Leftovers keep well refrigerated and reheated in a hot oven.)

Crab cakes

  • 1 lb lump or jumbo lump crabmeat
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TB Dijon mustard
  • 4 TB mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • dash paprika
  • 1/3 cup panko or bread crumbs
  • wondra flour
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
Whisk together egg, mustard, mayo, spices and panko.  Gently fold in crabmeat.  Sprinkle Wondra flour on a plate and form crab cakes with your hands – place on flour.  Sprinkle tops with flour and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Heat a heavy saute pan over medium heat.  Melt butter and olive oil and add crab cakes.  Cook 4 – 5 minutes per side until crisp and golden brown.

Another refreshing dinner

I love this Greek shrimp salad.  The combination of flavors is so light and refreshing and it is simple to fix, making it a great option for late in the week when energy is lacking.   You could add cucumbers or olives if you wanted (anchovies would also be good) and if you wanted to make it a little more substantial, a piece of bread would be a nice addition.

Greek Shrimp Salad

  • 1/3 lb of shrimp per person, steamed, peeled and chilled
  • salad greens, rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Dressing
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to mix.
Toss lettuce with basil, tomatoes, onion and feta.  Add dressing and shrimp and toss.