Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fresh Tuna Rolls Messina

Near my work there is an awesome grocery store that has the best fresh fish. My husband and I shop there at least once a week and buy whatever looks best, usually without knowing what we'll do with it. This week was tuna. So, another trip to my Batali book, and this is what we ended up with. The picture does not do it justice, it was sweet, salty, smooth and crunchy all at the same time.

Tuna Rolls Messina Style
from Mario Batali's Molto Italiano
Makes 4 Servings

1/4 cup olive oil
2 anchovies, rinsed
1 medium onion diced
6 tablespoons pine nuts
6 tablespoons curr
ants or raisins
zest of two oranges
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used Panko)
4 tuna steaks, each sliced into three thin cutlets
1/2 cup parsley
2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup black olives
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 450. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, anchovies, 1/2 of the pine nuts and currants and cook until the anchovies dissolve. Add the orange zest and breadcrumbs and cook, mixing constantly, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown (about 5 minutes) then remove from the heat, add the chopped parsely and cool. Meanwhile, flatten the tuna cutlets as thin as you can, about 1/8-inch thick. Heat the tomatoe sauce in a small pan, and add the remaining pine nuts and currants and the olives and red pepper flakes. D
ivide the breadcrumb mixture evenly between the tuna, and roll each one up like a jelly roll, securing with toothpicks if necessary. Pour half of the sauce into a baking dish, and place the rolls on top. Spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the top and bake about 15-20 minutes, or until the tuna is cooked through and the filling is warm. Allow to stand for about 10 minutes after removing from the oven.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

This sounded so intimidating to me, but I've seen it on several blogs and wanted to give it a try. Honestly, it is dead easy, and so good. I may have used too much lemon but the subtle lemon flavor went awesome with the fried zucchini flowers.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

4 cups milk (any fat content except skim)
1 cup cream (fat free 1/2 and 1/2 works okay too)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Line a collander with cheese cloth and place over a large bowl. Heat the milk and cream together over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as it reaches a rolling boil, add the lemon juice and stir. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the mixture sit for one minute. Gently stir it up again, separating the curds from the whey. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for one more minute. Poor the mixture into the collander and allow to sit for about an hour, or until cool.

This will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Fried Zucchini Flowers with Goat Cheese

This is from my current favorite, Molto Italiano by Mario Batali. I've been watching a lot of Lydia Bastianich on the Create channel, and I recently learned that her son is Mario Batali's business partner, and an amazing fountain of knowledge when it comes to Italian wine. I think finding this out raised Mario's credit in my book - like he's no longer just a Food Network lackie. So, after pawing through about 10 of his cookbooks at B&N last month, I settled on this one and have not been disappointed with anything so far.

We planted WAY too much zucchini this year, and sadly some of it is going straight from the vine into the compost bin. None of our friends or family, and no one at either of our offices will take any more zucchini, so this recipe was particularly appealing to me!

I was a little nervous about what would happen if we didn't completely remove the stamens from the inside of the flower, but it was actually really easy to do. I mixed the goat cheese in this recipe with some homemade ricotta (I'll post soon) and it was awesome. The tomato "sauce" that goes with it easily deserves it's own post. We've used leftovers of it to dunk crusty bread and it's great. It only gets better after a few days in the fridge. This could easily be a light dinner with a side salad for me.

Fried Zucchini Flowers with Goat Cheese
12 Zucchini Flowers - stamens (and any bugs!) removed
1 cup fresh goat cheese
1 large egg
2 scallions thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1 pound yellow or red grape tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil for frying (I used a nonstick pan and hardly any oil and they still came out with a great crust)
3 tbl. red wine vinegar
8 fresh basil leaves

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, vinegar, basil and a little bit of the olive oil. Puree until smooth, strain through a cieve and set aside. In a small bowl combine goat cheese, egg, nutmeg and scallions. To stuff the zucchini flowers I found it easiest to put the filling in a ziplock bag and snip off a small piece of the corner instead of using a spoon to try and fill the delicate flowers. Divide the mixture evenly between the flowers. If frying, heat the oil until smoking and add four flowers at a time, keeping them warm in a low oven if you need to cook them in batches. If pan frying instead, add 6 flowers at a time to a nonstick pan over medium high heat and cook 3-4 minutes on each side, flipping three times to create a brown crust all over. Drain on paper towel. Drizzle the tomatoe sauce over the warm flowers and serve.