Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sea Bass Ceviche

As a cool dish, ceviche is perfect in the summer, but you can serve it anytime of year and wow your guests with a unique appetizer. Serve in a martini glass for the extra pizazz.

• Juice of two large limes
• Juice of two lemons
• 1 minced garlic clove
• 1 tablespoon minced shallots
• 1 teaspoon minced serrano chili OR 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
• 1 lb. sea bass fillets, skinned, cubed in small dice
• Salt to taste
• 1 avocado cubed (wait to prepare until ready to serve)
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients except last two ingredients and let marinate covered and refrigerated for 3 to 4 hours.

When ready to serve add cubed avocado and cilantro and stir.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Classic Fish Soup

Trying to recreate the absolutely awesome fish soup we had at The Fishery in San Diego this fall, I purchased a lovely red snapper from Whole Foods for the dish. Combined with fresh fennel and other vegetables, this is a healthy, satisfying soup that's great as a starter or main course.

• Red Snapper, skinned, filleted, bones reserved for stock
• 3 small or 2 medium fennel bulbs, chopped, stalks reserved for stock
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
• 1 small shallot, minced
• Pinch of saffron
• Pinch of red pepper flakes
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1 lemon, juiced and zested
• 8 cups total fish stock (combine fresh and store bought)
• 1 12 oz. can diced tomatoes
• 3 tablespoons tomato paste
• Salt and pepper to taste

Use the reserved fish bones and fennel stalks to make a homemade fish stock. Cover with water, season with salt, and gently simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Keep warm.

Saute fennel, onion, celery in olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent. Season with salt and black pepper.

Add garlic and shallots and saute until fragrant.

Add saffron and red pepper flakes followed by wine. Increase heat and bring to a boil.

Add stock, lemon juice and zest, tomatoes and tomato paste.

Bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes or more.

5 minutes before ready to serve, add cubed snapper fillets to soup.

Garnish with flat leaf parsley and serve with a plank of garlic bread.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tuscan White Bean Dip

One of our favorite stand-bys for dinner parties and entertaining is a very simple but flavorful Tuscan White Bean Dip.


One can of cannellini beans (great northern) rinsed in a colander
Juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Blend in a food processor until smooth.

The beauty of this recipe is you can easily modify to suit your tastes. A little more lemon juice makes for a tangy treat. A little more olive oil makes the dip even creamier.

I serve this with good Italian bread toasted and rubbed with garlic. Pairing it with roasted vegetables as part of an antipasti platter allows your guests to construct their own crostini.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pineapple Frozen Margaritas

Wanting to use up some leftover pineapple, I took a stab at a pineapple margarita. Even though it was a cold winter's night, the frozen margarita was incredibly refreshing. Can't wait to make this again on a hot summer day.


2.5 oz. tequila
1 oz. Cointreau/orange liqueur
1 oz. grenadine
1 oz. light agave syrup
3 slices of pineapple

Mix all ingredients in blender and pulse until blended.

Serve with a garnish of pineapple and enjoy.

Naf Naf: Excellent, Affordable Middle Eastern Cuisine

Naf Naf Grill,, is a quickly expanding local chain of Middle Eastern fast casual restaurants. They've gone from the original location on Ogden in Naperville to multiple west suburban locations (Freedom Commons and Fox Valley Mall), a Niles location, and one in Chicago.

There's not a loser on their entire menu. Everything from the pitas to the hummus to their signature chicken shwarma are all excellent. The Veggie Feast features falafel, baba ghanoush, hummus, purple cabbage salad and tabule salad. The chicken and beef kebabs are also stellar.

Quick and affordable, Naf Naf has a clean, modern feel that is inviting for families, couples or takeout.