Pay Day Ahi

Ahi Avocado SandwichI know it’s common practice to associate “starving artist” with poverty. And rightfully so – I mean, they call it “starving” for a reason. This is no different for me, though, as you can see in this blog I am never *really* starving. And that’s because much of my life is spent being creatively frugal with what I find. But one of the things I love most about being a starving artist is that, every now and then, all the hard work and struggle pay off. The stars align, the paychecks roll in, and suddenly you find yourself with a bit of extra cash to spend. It’s a wonderful feeling. What’s even more wonderful is when you have enough cash to catch up on your bills and still have a bit left over to treat yourself to some divine cuisine.

July has found me in this very position and true to form, I have wasted no time in making a higher end food investment. Those of you who are loyal readers should be not at all surprised to find that it is seafood. One of my best friends, whether I’m rich or poor, is Costco, and one of the things that I’ve always looked longingly at is their fresh seafood counter. A bargain, yes, but still an initial investment beyond my normal budget… until a few days ago. I made two purchases. A beautiful large whole filet of wild caught sockeye salmon for $35. And a pack of two sizable fresh wild ahi tuna steaks for $20. Honestly, considering the purchase, these prices are a steal. Hefty, but not so much that I’m going to be totally broke and have nothing to do with it. And, what’s better, because there is so much, that means I have lots more to play with. Bargain AND multitasker? The starving artist’s dream.

For this post I’m focusing on the ahi. First, because I saw no point in freezing this gorgeous fish for later use, I decided instead to cook it right away and use it over the next few days in various ways. Cooking ahi is best kept simple – super super high heat, brush with a thin layer of olive oil, sear for two minutes on each side, done. No seasoning  (that comes later), no fuss, nice rare tuna with an even sear layer on all sides. Gorgeous.

Tonight I was inspired to make a sandwich. It turned out to be one of the best things ever created. The key? Simplicity. Above you see the fruits of my labor: seared ahi tuna sandwich with avocado and wasabi spread. Are you freaking out? You should be. Here’s the run down.

  • 2 slices of toasted Ezekiel bread (it’s flourless and low glycemic – try it)
  • 3 slices of ahi, cut against the grain, seasoned with kosher salt
  • sliced avocado, seasoned with kosher salt
  • 4-6 paper thin slices of cucumber (shave it with your vegetable peeler or use a food processor)
  • wasabi spread (1 tbs soy free veganaise, 1 tsp prepared wasabi, few drops soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, mix all ingredients thoroughly)

And that’s all there is, friends. Toast the bread, cover both slices with generous amounts of wasabi spread, layer on the tuna, the avocado, then the cucumber. Simple, elegant, and utterly divine. I won’t lie, I ate two of these, and also gave one to my roommate. It was so good that I felt he needed to experience it. And the best part? I still have another tuna steak!

Game Day Goodies

Gooey Teriyaki Chicken WingsFor those of you needing last minute ideas for the super bowl, allow me to point you to some of my recipes that will be perfect for your big super bowl party

Tender and Gooey Teriyaki Chicken Wings will surely be a smash hit. Just make the sauce and throw them in the oven – no muss no fuss

Sherri’s Potato Wedges go perfectly with the wings or just by themselves. Be sure you make tons of them as they will go fast. And don’t forget the secret sauce!

Ludicrous Guacamole is a fresh, easy, and delicious dip for any chips or crackers. Never buy pre-made guac!

Sprouted Corn Tortilla Chips would be a great homemade compliment to the guacamole or any dip you have. And you can use any tortillas you have on hand.

Hope these help! Happy Super Bowl!!!

Weekday Cookout

One of the greatest things about living in Southern California is that nearly every single day is a cookout day. No one has 9-5 jobs, it’s always sunny and gorgeous, so why not have a random cookout at 4pm on Wednesday afternoon?

Well, that’s what I did this past Wednesday. My friends Kristen and Joseph live in a lovely house in Culver City with a back porch and grill to accompany their lemon-tree-filled backyard. And of course being on the westside closer to the water, the weather is even better. I showed up at 2 in the afternoon. We took a walk to the grocery store to find some things to accompany the chicken breast Joe was marinating in the fridge. Kristen already had asparagus and zucchini to grill, but we all decided we needed corn on the cob….mmmm….. fresh corn with butter and salt…. I decided I needed to make some guacamole, and Kristen decided we needed dessert, which led her to a Duncan Hines box mix, which I of course gave her shit for, but ended up being really tasty. I also turned Joseph on to the idea of smoked sausage. I love love Kielbasa on the grill, but for some reason Ralph’s only had turkey kielbasa, which was just not happening. Instead we went for a straight up smoked sausage. And for almost no money at all, we had ourselves quite the feast.

I have to say, the batch of guac I made was really epic. Avocados were on sale for 97 cents each – totally unheard of. So I bought 6 of them, one shallot for like 30 cents, and one bundle of fresh cilantro for 50 cents. With a potato masher, a few spices from Kristen’s rack (ha… rack…), and a lemon from their tree, I had one of the best batches of guac I’d ever put together. If you’re a loyal reader of this blog, you might remember my ludicrous guacamole post from May. I’ve decided to update and reattach the recipe below. Aren’t I just so accommodating? All for you, readers, all for you.

In other news, Joe’s chicken was amazing – super moist and flavorful, marinated in Italian dressing. Kristen sliced up the veggies and I coated them in some herb-infused olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then on the grill they went until soft and a bit charred. Perfect. And of course we killed half of Kristen’s tray of cookie brownies without even flinching. The rest of the afternoon was spent talking, relaxing, and enjoying our friendship. Not too bad for a Wednesday. ;-)

Ludicrous Guacamole – Updated (Recipe PDF)

Ludicrous Guacamole

Friends: NEVER buy pre-made guacamole. Not only is it one of the easiest things you can make at home, if you have the necessary spices already on your shelf, you can pull it together for $5 or less. And you know what? Once you make your own, there is no going back to store bought. It’s so good and so easy, it’s ludicrous.

As the weather gets warmer in California, my desire to turn the oven on disappears. Instead I crave fresh, simple food. On my trip to Costco today I found a bag of lovely ripe avocados. I was reminded how long it’s been since I’ve made guac – likely not since last summer – so I decided it was high time to bring in the summer, whip up a batch, and share it with all of you.

And I’m sorry, if anyone ever tries to tell you this is bad for you, they are lying. There is nothing artificial in my guac – it is simply avocados, tomatoes, onions, and spices. That’s it. Yes, avocados have fat and calories, but they are the best, most healthy form you can ever hope to find. Now, what you choose to eat with the guac is another matter entirely. The good news is that it is good on everything – I encourage you to get creative and NOT to eat it with store bought tortilla chips… unless you really want to. But seriously, this stuff has so many applications, much like my Super Easy Tzatziki. Here are some ideas:

  • Use in place of mayo for sandwiches or wrap
  • Use as a dip for raw veggies
  • Top fresh fish
  • Put a dollop in a grilled cheese
  • Eat with a spoon
  • Throw at your roommate

Though it is healthy, I would not suggest eating an entire batch of it – at the end of the day, calories are calories, but I think overall it will do us good to have some more avocados in our lives.

 Ludicrous Guacamole (Recipe PDF)