Fish Quesadilla and Shrimp Quesadilla

Costco sells these wonderful flour tortilla starts that you have to finish cooking in a warm skillet. There are many applications but the kids love just a standard cheese quesadilla made with a shredded Mexican cheese blend (also from Costco).

I was feeling like fish the other day but wasn’t in the mood for Chinese-style steamed fish. I was feeling more like a grilled fish sandwich. Annie said we have some tilapia fillets in the freezer…*ding!* How about a fish quesadilla?

We seasoned the fillets with salt and pepper then pan fried them with some olive oil. In another skillet we cooked the tortilla, sprinkled on the cheese, crumbled the fish onto the tortilla, then folded it in half to finish.

Meanwhile, I took a ripe avocado and diced it up. Then I diced up some garden tomatoes. Minced about a third of a red onion. Added a minced garlic clove. Seasoned with salt and pepper, and squeezed the juice from half a lemon over it all. Mixed together, and we have a lovely but not spicy salsa.


We still had half a bag of wild-caught shrimp in the freezer, so we defrosted, peeled, and deveined them. Then we sauteed the shrimp with chopped garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper. Those “shrimpadillas” were awesome!

Aloha, Nate

Homemade Char Kway Teow

Annie was feeling like some homemade (as in Malaysia) char kway teow. “Kway teow” is a steamed , flat rice noodle. “Char” is to fry.

For the ingredients, we have bacon fat, bean sprouts, prawns, chopped garlic, lup cheong (Chinese sausage), the kway teow, and preserved vegetables.


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Turkey Soup

We usually make turkey jook with the carcass from the bird but this time I decided to do something more Western in application.

Boiled the carcass, leg bones and wings in 8 cups of water for 2 hours with 1-1/2 onions, 1 large carrot, and 4 ribs of celery, chopped, along with a half tablespoon of whole black peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves. Removed the bones and skimmed the fat off the broth.

Stripped the meat off the bones and returned to the pot. Added a couple of cups of sliced mushrooms. Season with salt, ground pepper, Italian seasoning, ground sage, and a teaspoon of soy sauce. Added some alphabet pasta at the end for the kids, but found that the soup also works well with mashed potatoes at the bottom of the bowl.

I wanted a larger noodle, like bowtie pasta. Still, it tasted pretty good. I like that everything was from scratch.

Aloha, Nate

Green Bean Casserole

This is a much maligned dish which is often served but hardly touched at a lot of Thanksgiving meals. The classic recipe calls for canned or frozen beans, cans of cream of mushroom soup, and a can of fried onions. Ugh. No wonder no one wants to eat it.

I felt challenged to make a green bean casserole that people would actually want to eat. USA Today had a recipe adopted from America’s Test Kitchen:

Green Bean Casserole

Serves 10 to 12

Topping:

4 slices white sandwich bread, each slice torn into quarters
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups canned fried onions (about 6 ounces)

Beans and sauce:

Table salt
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed, and halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound white button mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean, and broken into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
Ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Method
1. For the topping: Pulse bread, butter, salt and pepper in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 one-second pulses. Transfer to large bowl and toss with onions; set aside.

2. For the beans and sauce: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Fill large bowl with ice water. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven. Add 2 tablespoons salt and beans. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 6 minutes.

Drain beans in colander and plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking. Spread beans on paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain.

3. Add butter to now-empty Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in even layer in 3-quart (or 13-by-9-inch) baking dish. Sprinkle with topping and bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Instead of fried onions, I took a cue from Tyler Florence’s Food 911 recipe and added grated Parmesan, thyme, and rosemary to the breadcrumbs. I also used half white and half crimini mushrooms.

In this photo, about 1/3 of the casserole is left, with most of the guests having seconds and thirds. I’d call that a success!


I think the beans can be blanched for less time to keep them crispy. Next time I want to see if I can cut the fat by using half and half instead of full cream, using gravy in the sauce, add some chopped turkey to the beans, topping the beans with stuffing before adding the breadcrumbs. Of course, this means that the casserole comes after Turkey Day…

Aloha, Nate

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My Photo Annie is mistress of the kitchen while Nate is the master of the grill and smoker. We cook the homestyle Asian and Hawaiian foods of our younger days while also exploring the wider worlds of Western foods.

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