Three’s Company, y’all

Guacamole Sauce

Guacamole Sauce

It’s a marinade, it’s a dressing, it’s Super-sauce!!

Who doesn’t love efficiency in the kitchen?  So if you could spend a few minutes making one thing that could be used all week in several different ways, wouldn’t you be all for it?     I sure am!

Amazing Dip

Amazing Dip

Take this sauce for example… it’s a guacamole you’re going to love dipping into,  it’s a sauce to dress up some roast or grilled chicken, it’s a marinade to flavor fish or tofu, and finally, if you thin it out a little, it’s a dressing to dress up salads, from greens to veggies.

Use on a salad to wake up some greens or veggies.

Use on a salad to wake up some greens or veggies.

As I am prone to say at times like this..”that’s a lot of bang for your buck”.  And speaking of bucks, avocados seem to be plentiful now and the price is right.   Seems like the situation is just begging you to make this sauce/dip/dressing right now.   What are you waiting for?

 

MULTI-PURPOSE GUACAMOLE SAUCE

Yield:   Makes about 1 cup.  Adjust quantities to make more.

Ingredients:IMG_9230

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground cumin (according to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper, or dash hot sauce
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, seeded and coarsely mashed

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Directions:

This couldn’t be easier…..put mashed avocado in a small bowl, add everything else to it, and stir to combine.

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Flavors will blend if you make it about an hour ahead of use time.  Cover and refrigerate till needed.

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 YUM_OH

SOURCE:   Carolyn’s Originals

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Kohala Tuna Steaks

Vacations are long anticipated, and over too quickly.  We are now home again refreshed, renewed and ready to pick up where we left off. I had so made food-related adventures that I’m anxious to tell you about, that I don’t know where to start.  I guess the logical place is at the beginning.

Our destination was the eastern shore of North Carolina, where I have family.  On the day of our arrival our host was out deep-sea fishing with friends.  When he came home he brought a selection of fish he and the guys had caught, one of which was tuna.  The next day we cooked it, grilling it in a smoker.       This was my first experience with cooking in a smoker.   We searched through several books on smoker cooking and decided to try this recipe for a mildly flavored marinade so as not to overwhelm the tuna.  It was a good choice.  The butter and sesame oil kept the fish moist and buttery and the acidic flavors of lemon and  rice vinegar and the bite of ginger kept it all in balance.  The flavor of the fish was incredible;  slightly smoky, and falling apart tender.

KOHALA TUNA STEAKS

YIELD:  4 servings

KOHALA MARINADE

  • 6 Tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted, melted
  • 6 Tablespoons Asian-style sesame oil
  • 6 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh gingeer
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 crushed tiny hot red chile (optional)

4 tuna steaks, each about 1 inch thick

1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, either kosher or sea salt

soy sauce for serving

DIRECTIONS

1.   Soak wood chips of your choice for about an hour prior to smoking.   We used apple wood chips.

2.  Prepare smoker for barbecuing, bringing temperature to 180 to 200 degrees.

3.  In a shallow pan or baking dish, mix the marinade ingredients.

Place the tuna steaks in the dish and turn to coat both sides with the marinade.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 20 -30 minutes, turning the steaks several times.

4.  Heat a skillet over high heat and sprinkle in the salt.  Drain the tuna steaks.  Sear the steaks quickly on both sides.  Before you smoke meaty fish steaks, such as tuna or swordfish, it helps to sear them quickly over high heat to seal in their juices and add a light crust.

5.  Transfer the steaks to the smoker.  Cook the tuna to desired doneness, 20 – 25 minutes for medium-rare.  Avoid over cooking the tuna. Serve hot with soy sauce.

Suggested go withs:  Mix up a salad of thinly sliced snow peas, carrots, water chestnuts, and napa cabbage or bok choy tossed with a vinaigrette made with Asian-style sesame oil and rice vinegar;  we served this with twice-baked potatoes also.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post.

Wine go-withs include pinot gris, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, crisp whites or a fruity reisling.

SOURCE:    Smoke and Spice,   by Cheryl and Bill Jamison

Meat Marinades and Rubs

If you really want to spice up your barbecue  you could put on a limbo competition or dance the salsa, but a more conventional way is to use a meat marinade or spice rub.  Many backyard chefs are relying on these mixtures to tenderize and give an infusion of flavor to meats.

There are a multitude of premade marinades and rubs on the market from the classic to the exotic; each one promising to add an  explosion of flavor to an otherwise ho-hum piece of meat.  In my exploration of these products I have found that many of them contain a variety of additives that I’m not keen about eating such as high fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, xanthan gum (whatever that is) and potassium sorbate as a preservative. No thanks, I’ll make my own.

Marinades consist of acids, oils, and aromatics or flavorings.  It’s that simple. But when you have  the wrong proportion of acid to oil you can turn a beautiful steak into a gray, tough, flavorless, expensive embarrassment.  Acids such as vinegars, wines, fruit juices, yogurt, buttermilk, and even fresh ginger break down the collagen on the surface of meats and can denature the proteins, thus damaging the protein’s structure.  Meats,  i.e. proteins,  especially delicate ones like fish and chicken, left in a marinade too long can be totally ruined.  The proteins break down to the point where they lose moisture and structure and become dry and mushy.

So what does it take to make a good marinade?    The general rule is to use a light touch with strong acids such as vinegar or lemon juice, using no more than one part acid to four parts oil.  It’s the oil that carries the flavor anyway.

A tougher cut of meat can tolerate a longer marinating time using this proportion of acid to oil.  A tender cut of meat may not need any acid at all; just a little oil and some aromatics for flavoring.  In fact recent studies concluded that marinades do not tenderize meat as once thought.

So even though marinades aren’t used for tenderizing, they do help to add flavor and moisture.  However for most meats the marinade will generally only soak in about 1/8″ to 1/4″ deep.  The acids soften the exterior of the meat, allowing the oil to penetrate.  The denser the meat, with more connective tissue, the less the marinade will penetrate, so these meats can take a longer marinating time.  Meats in a marinade with oil and very little acid can remain overnight in the refrigerator.  A sure sign that red meat has marinated too long in a too-acidic marinade is a gray exterior.  For chicken or pork the exterior will turn white.

Another way to infuse BBQ with flavor is with dry rubs, a combination of spices, herbs, salt and sugar that creates a flavorful crust, something marinades do not.  A rub is not really rubbed into the meat but rather patted on rather heavily.  When a rub is applied, the browning of the proteins and sugars in the meat create a toasted, roasted, grilled flavor.  The sugar in the rub also creates caramelization.  Larger cuts of meat and especially slow-roasted meats can tolerate being left marinating with a dry rub over night in the refrigerator.  Tender cuts such as steaks, kabobs, and chicken breasts will like a light sprinkling of dry rub before grilling to provide a quick flavor boost.

The combinations of seasonings in a rub can be  tailored to your own particular taste preferences, or to a specific ethnic cuisine.  Mix up the herbs and spices representative of Cajun, Indian, Greek, Italian or Mexican cuisine, and add some brown sugar and salt to the mix.  Start with a few proven rub recipes, then add or subtract ingredients until you get the mix you like.  Now you’ve created your own….    In tomorrow’s post I will be presenting a pork recipe that features a rub that I put together.  Stay tuned!

Hopefully  this post has not been too technical,  but has perhaps answered some questions for you or cleared up some misunderstandings.  Periodically I would like to include posts such as this one seeking to take an in depth look at specific products or methods of food preparation.  Having spent quite a few years of my professional life as a teacher, I frequently say, “once a teacher, always a teacher”, but I do not want to come across too strongly in that regard.   From time to time, I would like to present a post like this as I continue to seek the niche that will satisfy more readers.  However, If this is not the type of post you would like to read, please let me know.  Thanks so much for your comments and input.

Happy Grilling and Barbecuing , and Happy rest of summer!