Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Refreshing Snacks for Hot Weather

(once again, my lackluster photo skills don't do justice!)

Well hello there- it’s been too long! Summer 2010 has been an impressively busy season around our household with holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and out of town visitors, I have been bouncing around the East Coast enjoying all the season has to offer. Somehow, in my absence it also appears as though I've hit the 20 Followers mark, how exciting! What started as a way for me to organize my recipes and the likes has apparently struck a chord with others, so big thanks to all of you who are interested in my culinary adventures, your support is awesome!

A few weeks ago, Kyle’s ship was rather suddenly mobilized to assist in the oil clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, so we spent his last week in town trying to get in as much quality time before they set sail through August 30th. It is a long time to be apart, but I am very proud of what he is a part of with the effort, and wit will make his homecoming all the more sweet.

In the meantime, I have settled into my solo routine quite well- and this weekend I had the pleasure of hosting one of our favorite couples for a night before they headed to their anniversary vacation out on Block Island. They were married out there last August, and it was hands down one of the best weddings I have ever been to- they sure know how to throw a stylish party! A few photos to pay homage to two of my favorite people- Happy Anniversary Will & Carolyn!!!

When Carolyn first asked about coming to stay for a night, I was beyond thrilled, as we don’t get to see each other all that often since we moved away from Annapolis. As those in the region know, the Northeast has been uncharacteristically hot this summer, which seems to impede my desire to whip up a lot in our tiny attic kitchen. Carolyn & Will were arriving mid-afternoon, so I whipped up these Spicy Seared Tuna Canapés with Avocado-Crème as a light snack and served a side of chilled edamame pods tossed with a little French sea salt. The canapés were a spin-off of an appetizer my friend Alex Day (who runs Chez-Vous here in Newport) brought to a cocktail party a few weeks ago, with a couple of modifications I made for what I had on hand.

The chilled tuna & avocado make a classic light combination, and went well with ice cold beers & mojitos. It was so great to catch up with good friends, although I paid the price a bit the next day at work- long gone are my days of being able to go out for drinks on a school night, but it was worth the paying the toll in the end!

Spicy Seared Tuna Canapés with Avocado-Crème (makes 12 hors d’oeuvres)
-6-8oz. Sushi-grade tuna steak
-Spice rub (see below)
-1ish Tblspn sesame oil
-1 Ripe Haas avocado
-1 Clove garlic, minced fine
-1 Tspn fresh lemon juice
-3+/- Tblspns whipped cream cheese
-1 Medium English cucumber
-Soy sauce
-Sri Racha or other Asian hot sauce (optional)
-Sea salt & fresh cracked pepper
-Chives, cilantro or other fresh herbs for garnishing

For the spice rub:
-1 Tbspn toasted black sesame seeds
-1 ½ Tbspn seafood seasoning (think Old Bay)
-½ to ¾ Tbspn curry powder (I prefer to use spicy)
- ½ Tbspn cayenne pepper powder
-Couple turns of the pepper mill & a good pinch of sea salt

Pat tuna dry & cut into 1 ½” strips (if purchased in one large steak, a lot of fish markets will cut it down for you if you like). Combine spice rub ingredients in a shallow dish & toss to mix well. Dredge tuna through the spice mixture, making sure to well coat all sides and set aside to allow flesh to absorb spices.

Mash avocado well (a few chunks add nice texture) with garlic, lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste. Lightly fold in whipped cream cheese (overworking will cause deflation, treat the mixture like a soufflé) until combined and keep chilled in the refrigerator.

Over medium-high heat, heat sesame oil in a non-stick skillet until the oil begins to sheen a bit. Sear tuna on each side (approx 30 seconds or per side) just long enough to sear & color the outside and maintain a rare to medium-rare interior. Remove tuna promptly from pan & set on a cutting board to cool. Once tuna is cooled, slice into bite sized slices against the grain.

While tuna is cooling, slice cucumber on a bias to create ovals (12) and lay on a plate lined with paper towels and lightly salt slices. After a few minutes blot off any moisture expelled from the slices and discard paper towels. Arrange cucumber on a chilled plate and top each slice with a small amount of avocado mixture, and top avocado with a slice of tuna. Add a dash of soy sauce directly to each piece of fish, followed by a small dallop of Sri Racha (if using). Garnish each finished bite with fresh herbs & serve immediately. If making ahead of time, cucumber/avocado/tuna slice component can be made in advance & kept cool in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic for a few hours. Just before serving, garnish with soy sauce, Sri Racha and herbs to maintain flavors.