Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Food For Thought

So I said in my first entry that I really love to cook, so I thought I'd share a recipe with you that I made for dinner the other night, and felt turned out exceptionally well!

Seared Sesame Crusted Tuna with a Baby Arugala and Spinach Salad.

I don't do recipes very well because to be quite honest, I just don't follow measurements, I just add what looks good to me, so we'll see how this goes.

Go to your local grocery store and pick up a couple Ahi Tuna loin steaks (about 1 inch thick) from the seafood section, pick up as many as you need, but I'll tell you know it won't be cheap, it's about $20/pound and for 5 generous portions the tuna alone came to about $42 (still cheaper than what you would pay for this in a restaurant)
You will also need:
Sesame seeds (white or black, whichever you prefer, for this I used white because I couldn't find any black)
Garlic, about 2-4 cloves depending on your tastes
Sesame Oil
Olive Oil
Lime Juice (I recommend just picking up a bottle of the "real lime" because limes are rediculous to get a significant amount of juice out of)
Ginger, I discovered at the grocery store frozen pre-measured, pre-grated cubes of ginger, so wonderful, but if you can only find fresh, that's ok too.
Salt and Pepper
Japanese Soy Sauce (Kikomen brand is the kind I usually get)
Baby Arugala
Baby Spinich
Baby Onion Sprouts
Alfalfa Sprouts

Alright now for the directions:

For the Salad Dressing:
Mince the garlic and add it to a bowl
Add in about 4 tbsp of sesame oil
5 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp grated ginger
half a cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix together in a bowl, and set aside to pour onto the salad later.

The salad itself is as simple as mixing together equal parts spinich and arugala, a healthy chunk or alfalfa sprouts, make sure to separate it or else it will just stay in one big mass, and about half the amount of onion sprouts that you put in of alfalfa sprouts. Mix these all together, but don't put the dressing on until you're ready to serve, or else it will wilt the greens.

For the Tuna:
First fill a tupperware container with about 1 1/2 cups of Sesame Seeds, and another one with about 1 cup of soy sauce. Put the tuna loin into the soy sauce and let soak on each side for a couple minutes so it absorbs the flavour
then lay them out on a cutting board or plate
grab your wasabi and give them a generous coating, a: don't worry this actually doesn't make them rediculously spicey or anything, you can just subtly taste it once it's cooked. b: if you have any cuts on your hand I would recommend a rubber glove, as I learned the other day when I made this from a tiny sliver of skin that had peeled up beside my nail (you all know what I mean) it stings like hell if you get wasabi into it!
After you have them coated in wasabi, shake just a little bit of salt and pepper onto each side, then it's time to move them into the sesame seeds, roll it, shake it, do a little dance with it if you'd like, just make sure you get the whole piece of tuna coated in seeds.
Heat up a frying pan on medium-high with the bottom covered in olive oil, I can't give an exact measurement because I really don't know how big your frying pan is, for mine it was about a quarter cup.
Once it's heated up ( i always tell by flicking a bit of water off of my fingers, and when it sizzles it's ready) Place a couple steaks at a time into the pan and sear them for 1 minute per side. Remember, this is just to sear the outside, the tuna will still be practically raw in the middle.
Remove them and place them onto a cutting board, and with your sharpest knife, and against the grain of the fish (the little lines that go through the flesh) cut it into slices about 1/4-1/2 inch thick, lay them out on your plate along side the salad.

At this point you can dress the salad, even feel free to drizzle a little bit of the dressing on the tuna.

Now let me address your fear, I'm sure you're thinking, but the fish is raw in the middle, this fish is perfectly fine to eat raw, I've eaten Tuna sushi many times, even when I'm preparing it I like to dip a little piece in the soy sauce and munch down while I'm preparing the rest. I've made this dish a few times now for many different people, and no one has gotten sick yet. So give it a try at your next little dinner party, impress those guests, or even just that special someone, it's so much simpler than it seems, and it's definitely rewarding in the end! I even have friends who really don't like fish that love this meal, because it's not fully cooked, it doesn't get very fishy at all. If you have any questions about it please feel free to ask because I'm sure I missed a step somewhere, this is my first recipe I've ever posted. Happy Eating!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Aunt Amanda

One of my proudest accomplishments to date I would have to say is that of becoming an Aunt. I know what you're thinking...I really had nothing to do with it, and I really do have to hand it to both my sisters, they've done something that I'm still not sure I could ever do myself. I have 2 nieces, and one nephew, as well as Bianca, who is my sisters boyfriends daughter whom I love just the same as I do my other nieces and nephew.

Bianca was born shortly after I moved to London, I didn't get to see her much on my first few visits home, but as she got older she got to spend more time with Angela and Cameron, so the likelihood that I would get to see her grew, and now not a visit goes by where I don't get the chance. When she was younger, because I'd only get to come home every few months, she would forget me, which made me sad, but I understood. One day I was out shopping and I came across an adorable little hat, it was bright yellow, with a little bumblebee on it, I have a fetish for silly hats, so I wanted it for myself, but it didn't fit, so I thought, how perfect, Bee for Bianca! I brought it home with me on my next trip to give to her and even though she wasn't to sure of who I was, or why I was trying to put this hat on her, surely enough a few days after I had left she started walking around the house with it on, talking about her "hat from Manna". After that she started to remember me more and more, and now I have no trouble chasing her down for a hug and a kiss when I come home for visits.

The next oldest is my sister Jackie's daughter Abigayle, who is about to turn 2 in a few weeks. I've never had a problem with her being unsure of who I am, my problem was getting her to say my name when she started to talk and talk and talk. One long drive back from London with my mom and sister, I spent the entire ride in the back seat with her trying to get her to say my name, but completely failed, but I was determined. Sadly that was in the summer, and the next time I got to see her wasn't until Christmas, but I was still determined to go home getting to hear my niece say my name, so I tried again, and failed. She would say everyone's name except my own! Finally on Christmas Eve, I think she finally got frustrated with my trying, looked at me, said my name, and walked away. It was one of my best Christmas presents that I've ever gotten! I continued the rest of the visit to try to get it out of her again, but I only ever got to hear it the once. But I guess that wasn't the end of it. I got a message from my sister the other day telling me that she needed to call me. Abigayle will not stop saying my name now, she even woke up the other day calling for me aparently. She is even asking for my boyfriend Ryan! I think I may have brainwashed her somehow. But thismorning before work, I finally got in touch with my sister, and got to have a few different conversations with Abi where she would say my name lots, and she kept saying it in the background as well. I once had a friend tell me that the first time he heard his nephew call him by his name, it brought tears to his eyes, and now I believe it, because I definately welled up a little bit. She even wanted to talk to Ryan on the phone and said his name, which brought a big smile to his face, which says alot. I think she's very special to Ryan, even though he doesn't like to admit it, she's the first kid I've ever seen to melt his heart, and he's really not a big fan of them most of the time.

The two newest additions are my niece and nephew, Liberty, and Austin. Liberty was born in October to my sister Angela, she's her first child, and went through an amazing labour without any help from any drugs, apparently the nurses were even incredibly impressed by it. Liberty is just full of smiles, the entire time I was home for the holidays she would just sit in her seat and smile smile smile. Then there's Austin, born in November, he's the first little boy to be born into the Ray family since my dad and Uncle Jay (who are twins). I've always been very nervous wit babies, considering I've never really been around them much, and definately never felt the need to just pick them up and hold them. But Austin is so calm, quiet, and just sleeps, that I was completely at ease during the holiday, and I even found that when I was holding him, I really didn't want to give him up to other people.

So far being an aunt has come pretty easy to me other than the tireless hours I spent knitting baby blankets for them at Christmas, I just hope it will always come so easy, that I'll always be able to be there for them the way I want to be, and especially that they'll view me as the "Cool Aunt" instead of the "Crazy Aunt". They're still very new to this world, but I'm so excited to spend the rest of my life watching them grow, and seeing what life has in store for them, and just being there for them along the way no matter what they need.