Monthly Archives: June 2015

Pan-Seared Tuna Steaks with Ginger Vinaigrette

DSC_5873My relationship with my dad has come a long way.  I feel like he respects who I am, and how I live my life, even if he doesn’t always agree with my decisions.  We don’t talk on the phone that often, but when we do, we make sure to always say, “I love you” before hanging up.  However, as a kid, you could not have convinced me that I would one day have a loving relationship with my dad.  Back then, he was a very different person.  I just don’t think he wanted to be married, and he most definitely did not want to be strapped with two children in his mid-twenties, let alone with two girls.    He was pretty mean and angry, and I was basically scared of him a lot of the time.  Looking back now as an adult, I have empathy for him as a young parent who didn’t have the tools to be a good father.

Things started to slowly shift when I was in my teens.  I’m not sure what changed for him, but I could tell he was working on becoming a better man, and parent.  I remember him blowing up at me for something I did, and then later coming upstairs to my room and apologizing.  There was so much sadness in his eyes.  He looked at me and said something along the lines of how he had reacted was the complete opposite of how he should have reacted, and that he would try to do better next time.  Hearing my dad say that shifted something in the universe for me that day.  It was one of the first times I comprehended that adults, people, could change, and for the better.   We aren’t born a certain way, predestined for a specific path.  Rather, we decide who we want to be.

I’ve often wondered if my dad carries around any guilt or shame about the kind of dad he was to my sister and I growing up.  A few summers ago I went home for a visit.  My dad and I went out for an early morning walk, and we started talking about how things were when I was a kid.  I told him that the only way for my brain to reconcile the man he was back then with the man he is today is to think of them as two completely different people.  It’s like at some point, he shed the skin of my younger dad, and morphed into my older dad–one who is patient, kind, affectionate, and considerate.   I have so much love for my dad.  And although we are a lot alike in many ways, we see the world differently.  After all that we have been through, it feels so good to think of my dad, and smile.

DSC_5864

I’m pretty sure this was the first time I’ve ever made a dish using fresh tuna.  I was shocked at how easy it was.  I mean, it should be easy, because it’s fish, but making a tuna dish always seemed so intimidating to me.  If you enjoy fresh tuna and have never attempted a dish in your own kitchen, start with this one.  It’s super simple and very tasty.

Pan-Seared Tuna Steaks with Ginger Vinaigrette
Adapted from Food and Wine

5 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
5 Tbsp. sake
2-1/2 Tbsp. mirin
3 Tbsp. minced shallot
1/2 Tbsp. finely grated, peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 bunch of Broccolini, trimmed
Two 1-inch-thick yellowfin tuna steaks
2 tsp. toasted white sesame seeds

1.  In a small saucepan, simmer the soy sauce, sake, mirin and shallot until the liquid is slightly reduced, 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat: stir in the ginger.  Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of the oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
2.  In a steamer basket set in a large saucepan of simmering water, steam the Broccolini until tender, about 6 minutes.  Transfer to plates.
3.  Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.  Season the tuna with salt and pepper.  Sear over high heat until golden brown but still rare within, about 30 seconds per side.
4.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Slice against the grain and transfer to the plates.  Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
5.  Serve with the remaining vinaigrette.

Pistachio Pavlova with Rhubarb Cream

DSC_5996One of my oldest and dearest friends came out to visit with her 5-year-old son last weekend.  I had no idea how much I had missed her over the years.  Since she’s had kids, we haven’t had as much time to see each other, or even have phone chats more than a few times a year.   Her son, Trevor, is such a sweet kid, and I found myself repeatedly being amazed by how well-behaved he was the entire weekend.   One funny aside:  on the plane out to NYC, they sat next to a guy wearing a yarmulke and reading–what I’m assuming was the Torah–in Hebrew.  After noticing this, Trevor turned to his mom and asked, “What language does MaryAnne speak?”  This struck me as both very thoughtful and very hilarious.
DSC_5967DSC_5980Mr. K was kind enough to babysit Trevor Saturday night so that my friend, Meghan, and I could have some solo lady time.  I don’t have a lot of close girlfriends who live nearby, so I cherish my visits with those friends who I only see once a year.  While sipping delicious cocktails, we caught up on all of the necessary things.  Over the course of the weekend, I felt  like a plant, not knowing that it was a bit dry, being watered.  There is something so comforting about an old friend who knows you so well.  Unlike spending time with newer friends, there is no effort in trying to get to know them better, wanting to present yourself in the best light, etc.  It’s like curling up with an old pillow you’ve had for 20 years that fits your head perfectly.
DSC_5974This was my first time making pavlova.  It was a bit intimidating at first, as I’ve heard horror stories about people making pavlovas, only to have them collapse after taking them out of the oven.  Luckily, I did my research before making this, and learned that it is of the utmost importance to leave your pavlova in the oven, after turning it off, until it has been completely cooled.  This slow decrease in temperature prevents the pavlova from collapsing.  If you are a fan of meringue, or marshmallow, or both, you will love this dessert.  And even better, it is an homage to rhubarb season.  Enjoy!
DSC_5988Pistachio Pavlova with Rhubarb Cream
Adapted from Food & Wine

Pavlova
1 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar

Rhubarb Cream
4 ounces rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces (1 cup)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup hulled and quartered strawberries, plus 1/2 cup small strawberries for garnish
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, chilled
1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
In a small bowl, toss the pistachios with the cornstarch.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt at high speed until foamy, 2 minutes. Beat in the vinegar, then beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the whites are glossy and stiff peaks form, 8 to 10 minutes. Gently fold in the pistachio mixture. Using a large spoon, dollop the meringue onto the prepared sheet and spread into a 10-inch round with a slight indentation in the center. Lower the oven temperature to 225° and bake the meringue for about 1 1/2 hours, until crisp but still chewy on the inside. Turn the oven off; let 
the meringue rest in the oven for 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and let cool.
  3. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE RHUBARB CREAM
    In a small saucepan, simmer the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice over moderate heat, stirring and mashing the rhubarb with the back of a wooden spoon, until the sugar is dissolved and the rhubarb breaks down, about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the quartered strawberries and vanilla bean paste. Let cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream with the mascarpone at medium speed until moderately firm, about 3 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup of the whipped cream into the cooled rhubarb, then fold the mixture into the remaining whipped cream. Spoon into the center of the meringue. Garnish with the small strawberries and chopped pistachios and serve.