Thursday, January 23, 2014

Barbecued Blackened Rockfish

While shopping the other day at Costco, I came upon a package of wild caught rockfish. We were going to buy the farmed salmon, but after having seen the Salmon Confidential Documentary my brother linked to on Facebook, we opted for the wild caught rockfish instead.

My first thought was to fry the fish, but the ease of sprinkling on some spices and putting it on the barbecue prevailed. I keep a jar of spice rub in my pantry that I used on my Easy Oven Baked Chipotle Wings recipe, used that, and added a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning, dried oregano and thyme for the blackening spices. I think a seasoning the rockfish with lemon pepper and paprika would be good too.

I barbecued the fish on the low heat setting for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until the fish has a little color--I don't like it to get too charred.

Simple as that!

The rockfish was served on a bed of blanched kale--we bought this big bag of baby kale at Costco too--and have been putting it in everything. I'm surprised we've almost finished the whole bag!

I prepared the kale by boiling about an inch of water in a pot and adding a few big handfuls of kale, turning the kale with tongs until it was just wilted. It took about 1 or 2 minutes, then I removed the kale to a small colander to cool, squeezed the excess water out of it and gave it a rough chop before plating. The taste reminded me of eating the tsukemono my grandmother used to make when I was little, from turnip and daikon greens--a little bit chewy and not unpleasant. Eating a little bit of the kale with a bit of tsukemono--Japanese pickled vegetables--was delicious.

The barbecued blackened rockfish was garnished with a bit of chopped chives and served on a bed of blanched baby kale with a bowl of brown rice, lemon wedges, and some tsukemono.


In my Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs post, I showed you a photo collage that we had made into a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle for my mother-in-law.

She finished the puzzle relatively fast, not taking the 9 months (or so) that it took to finish her first puzzle of this era--she quit doing puzzles for about 20 years--and now spends a big chunk of her day contemplating the pieces. It's amusing to see her sometimes using her fist to pound in a piece because, "some time it doesn't fit right".

This puzzle was fun for the whole family to work on since everyone was in it--and it's enjoyable to sit around the table with Obaachan, reminiscing about the events in the photos while perusing the pieces. When you make your puzzle, set the dpi to 300--this one was 180 dpi and it came out a little grainy and the colors not vibrant.

Obaachan was so happy to have her puzzle done and hanging in her kitchen's eating-area. She looked at the puzzle and counted 12 pictures of herself (not counting her hand in the upper left) and said, "I won't be lonely anymore."

Turns out my husband likes to do puzzles too--I had this one made for him for Christmas. The colors look much better in 300 dpi. Putting the puzzle together on a piece of foam core posterboard makes it easy to move around if necessary.

Here's the original photo.
I haven't tried any other puzzle companies--you can find pages of them online. I liked Venus Puzzle because once I got my photo quality up, the puzzle came out much better, and I liked the shape of the puzzle pieces. Sometimes the puzzles we've done have really strange shaped pieces. 

Obaachan has about 15 puzzles completed, all stacked on top of the other on posterboard, and has been working on them for the past three years. I think she likes looking at all of them with a feeling of accomplishment. She says they keep her going even though each one is, "so, so hard," and each current puzzle is, "hardest one."

No printable recipe.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Family Cooking Competition

Over the holidays my family got together for several days of fun. These days it's rare that we're all together since we're becoming more spread out as the family gets bigger. It was iikimochi--a good feeling--to have the whole family together. Rick & Jessica came a little late and missed the picture, but not the festivities. Also missing is my sister-in-law Lorraine--other than that, we have everyone.  BIG THANKS to Wes & Connie for bringing their camera gear, posing everyone and taking this photo.

We ate and ate and ate! We also hiked, ate together at restaurants and had a family cooking competition which was a lot of fun! Before I tell you about the cooking competition, a little bit about our shabu shabu dinner.

You can have a sit-down shabu shabu dinner for 25 people--although my brothers had to stand in the kitchen--two at the island and one at the stove. I love my brothers--they're not fussy. With a big family, I've learned it's best to be adaptable--boyfriends & girlfriends are always welcome--as well as the non-RSVPers. 

Make sure you open the doors and windows because the steam will build with all those pots of boiling water going! A shabu shabu dinner uses a LOT of small dishes--I'm grateful my whole family pitches in for the clean-up so it goes fast.

On Saturday we had our 'Iron Chef'-type cooking competition. It was really fun! I'm going to tell you how we did it--if you'd like to try it, maybe you can get some ideas.

1. We decided "the kids" would cook--there were 9--and they drew numbers to make two teams. In our family, "the kids" are ages 20 to 33.
2. I wrote down a "secret ingredient" on a card, folded them up and one was drawn from a basket. Possibilities were bacon, apples, eggs, rice and potatoes--apples were chosen.
3. They had a $20 budget, but were allowed to use anything I had in my refrigerator and pantry. They asked if they could use their phones to find recipes and I said yes. We started at 11:30 AM, drawing teams-- judging began at 1 PM.


A. Make an appetizer, main dish and dessert using apples.
B. Take photos and/or video of each finished product.

On one team: Kelly, Leslie, Noah, Hannah and Paige. If you don't recognize Noah, he is Paige's boyfriend. Welcome, Noah!
I dug out some old In-N-Out hats when someone asked if I had any hairnets. Don't they look cute? The first thing my sister and her family wanted to eat when they got in to Southern California from Hawaii was an In-N-Out burger!

We don't know why, but the sound on this team's video didn't come through, so The Allman Brothers Band's song Jessica fills in.

Appetizer: Ground turkey & apple won tons with a sweet & sour apple glaze. Main dish: Ground turkey sliders with apple, pineapple rings and sauteed peppers, served with sweet potato fries. Dessert: Mini apple tarts with cinnamon apple sticky rice.

On the other team, Mitchell, Karen, Cody and Rick. That's Cody, second from the right. He lives in Hawaii, and had planned a Las Vegas vacation during the holidays and changed his plans to come home to be with us for Christmas. The whole family was SO HAPPY to have Cody here!

Below, Mitchell is smoking chicken. Karen cut up a whole chicken, brined it, put on some rub--from the Easy Oven Baked Chipotle Wings recipe that I had in my pantry. Mitchell has a new hobby of smoking meats--he's gotten pretty good at it! 

(Thanks, Dad, for handing down your smoker to me. I'm excited to try it.)

Here's Rick describing two of his team's dishes:

Appetizer: Honey glazed pizza with apple slices, goat cheese, bacon and arugula. Main Dish: Smoked chicken with roasted apple-jalapeƱo barbecue sauce. Dessert: Puff-pastry with cinnamon & apples.

4. Judging. We had 6 judges. 20 points were possible for each dish, 10 for taste, 5 for presentation and 5 for use of apples. Since my sister was visiting, I had a couple of her friends come over--as a surprise for her--to be judges. Jen and Kelly are so much fun--and they also brought a lot of food with them! Thank you! (Hmmm...I'll have to see if they're available for catering...)

5. Winners! The scores were close--the team that made the pizza, smoked chicken & puff-pastry was the winner. Margaret provided the prizes--they're coming in the mail since she forgot them at home!

I consider us all winners because we all had a lot of fun and got to taste everyone's good food. We don't get to be together often like we used to, and it was fun watching the kids work together in teams and listening to the judges critique the dishes.

The time in the kitchen was hectic and there wasn't a designated spot for photos of each finished dish, which I think I will change for future competitions. We all had so much fun & we talked about doing the competition again--this time with the kids judging the food!

Big THANKS to all that helped with the clean-up, especially Gary, who did loads of dishes without one complaint!

My family. What a FUN bunch. Gotta love 'em all!

No printable recipe.