Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Weeknight Dinner In Minutes - Fast & Healthy Tuna Burgers + Homemade Wasabi Mayo

When it comes to weeknight dinners, the easier (and faster) the better. If you are looking for a new classic that your family will request over and over, and one that takes less than 15 minutes to prepare (start to finish), look no further than today's delicious and uber healthy Tuna Burger.

Delicious Fresh Tuna Burgers, Photo: NK 

Tuna Burgers on the grill pan, Photo: NK 
We will be presenting the recipe portioned for two, as one 8-10 ounce Tuna Steak is the perfect amount for two hearty burgers, but this is easily adaptable for your family, just double or triple the amounts as your needs dictate. 

Recipe Tips:
We cook our burgers on a non-stick grill pan but this would be fine in any sort of skillet. Since the Burgers use no binding agent (breadcrumbs, egg, etc) which adds to the healthy factor,  I would be hesitant to try making these on an outdoor grill as they would undoubtedly break apart. 

Don't skip the Wasabi Mayo! A little hit of spice really makes the recipe. 

Serve these open-faced to save even more on calories. They are still very satisfying. 

Enjoy and here's to less time cooking, more time enjoying.

Fast & Healthy Fresh Tuna Burgers With Wasabi Mayo
Serves 2 

Burger Ingredients: 
Easy Wasabi Mayo, Photo: NK

10 Ounces of high quality Tuna Steak, coarsely chopped into 1/2 inch cubes

2 Tablespoons Chopped Chives, plus a whole chive sliced into 2-inch pieces, reserved

2 teaspoons Low Sodium Soy Sauce



Non-stick Cooking Spray or a teaspoon of Canola Oil spread 
with paper towel over the pan

Burger Buns (1 for open faced, 2 for a burger with a full bun)

Thinly-sliced cucumbers, optional
Black Sesame Seeds, optional

For The Wasabi Mayo
1 Tablespoon Light Mayo 

2 teaspoons Low Fat Sour Cream (you can also omit Sour Cream and Double Mayo if you so choose)

Wasabi Paste (such as this) or Wasabi Powder to taste (keep adding it and tasting until you get desired spice level)


1. In a bowl, combine the chopped Tuna with Chives and the Low Sodium Soy Sauce, a sprinkle of Salt and Pepper and the Optional Sesame Seeds. Form two evenly sized patties.

2. Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium high flame.

3. Cook Burgers 2-3 minutes on each side. They can be slightly pink in the middle if the tuna is high quality.

4. Meanwhile, make the Wasabi Mayo by combining Mayonnaise and Sour Cream with the Wasabi Paste. Adjust spice level to your liking and add a dash of Salt if you choose. Mix well. 

5. To serve, place a Tuna Burger on top of the bottom half of a bun. Top with Cucumbers and dot with Wasabi Mayo. Affix two of the two inch chive slices to the Mayo. Enjoy!! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Father's Day Grilling - Vietnamese Marinated Flank Steak

We hope you had a wonderful Father's Day Weekend. Dads are worth celebrating and their importance cannot be overstated. From dads in the traditional sense to those who raise other people's biological children with love and care (to mothers who serve as fathers too) you make a difference! 

Ask any American Dad what their idea of a good meal is and you'll inevitably hear "beer and beef." 

Vietnamese Marinated Flank Steak, Photo: NK 

My dad is no longer with us and even after almost ten years, I miss him nearly every day. He'd definitely have loved a dish like today's Vietnamese Marinated Flank Steak with Cucumber Salad. He was a great cook in his own right, and he taught me to be casual in the kitchen and not take myself so seriously (ok, that part is a work in progress!).  Dad also truly appreciated good food. We made and enjoyed countless fantastic meals together- always along with many laughs. My wonderful memories of him sustain me. To this day, I still can't make a bowl of Linguine and Clam Sauce (his specialty) without thinking of him. 

There was one really bright spot this Father's day - celebrating my husband who is an amazing father too!

This Vietnamese-style Flank Steak from the New York Times Diner's Journal 
was his idea entirely. I was excited to try making it because it's also wonderful exemplar of Neurotic Kitchen's much repeated mantra - fancy looking food need not be hard to make! 

Let's chat a bit about this dish.
Marinade & Dressing, Photo: NK

This is a really smart recipe

The Steak Marinade also serves as the zippy and delicious dressing for the accompanying Cucumber and Radish Salad that helps make this dish's presentation exceptional. More importantly, the result is as delicious as it looks. 

Since we did not adapt this recipe, I would like to share my experience making it in the hopes that it will be helpful to you so you can nail it on the first try (it's pretty foolproof!).

Our Recipe Notes: 

Timing the Marinade: The recipe recommends you marinate the meat between a half hour to 24 hours. We marinated this for 3 hours and the flavor was fantastic. I thought it was just right, actually. I don't know that it would benefit from much more time, not that I'd quibble with a recipe in the New York Times Diner's Journal.

Cook Time: Melissa Clark presents several options for cooking this Steak but we had to go
Perfect Medium Rare, Photo: NK 
with the instructions for grilling. Since the weather wasn't on our side, we saved the charcoal and fired up my favorite double-burner grill pan (with griddle) instead. The Flank Steak, about 1.75 pounds came out a perfect medium rare (to the rare side) with a cook time of 4 minutes per side. The recipe recommends 3 minutes per side on a very hot grill for rare. 

Portion Size: Admittedly, my husband and I are overly enthusiastic eaters but if you serve this without any other side dishes (entirely possible since the salad is included), I would say it is closer to 3-4 servings, rather than what the recipe says is 4-6. 

Serving: Allow steak to rest about 5 minutes and the slice the Flank Steak against the grain. 

Here's the recipe as originally published in the NYT:


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sweet Days of Summer - Cucumber Margaritas & Fluke Crudo

Cucumber Margarita, Photo: NK 
Ever have a really fabulous weekend from start to finish? 

This past weekend was like that for me. 

Beautiful weather and wonderful scenery (we stayed at my family's home on Long Island) came together with a few fun activities, plenty of relaxation time and a nice meal. 

Let's not forget a drink or two.

The only thing I had to remember on Saturday morning was to begin steeping my Cucumber Infused Tequila for the next 24 hours so it would be ready for cocktail time.

Priorities, people! 

Next we attended the most lovely baptism for a dear friend's little girl. The ceremony was beautiful and the after party was great fun, not to mention beautifully styled:

A lovely baptism, Photos: NK

Here are her sources:

Plantable Pink Lamb Paper Seed Favors (you plant them and they grow into wildflowers!) - Etsy.com

Supremely delicious and beautiful custom Cake from famous Tate's Bake Shop, Southampton

Hand Monogrammed White Tin Pails filled with rocks painted with a cross. So simple and pretty! 

+ lovely seaside venue Cowfish Restaurant

It was a wonderful event!

Sunday was set aside for family time so naturally I wanted to plan a menu.

Since we were by the sea, I opted for a quick and classic fish meal. 

Fluke Crudo with Radishes & Cubanelle Peppers, Photo: NK 
We have so many seafood menus here on NK (like this, this and this). That's because seafood is my favorite food and when it comes to making a fast and elegant meal, nothing is better. All you need is a really trustworthy fishmonger and half the work is done. 

I decided to prepare a simple main of Red Snapper & Asparagus on the grill pan, preceded by an appetizer of Steamed Clams as well as a quick Local Fluke Crudo (what's quicker than raw?) inspired by Esca in NYC. 

Crudo actually means raw, and when the word follows the name of a fish, what you're about to eat is basically the equivalent of Italian Sashimi. As with many simple preparations, the key to Crudo is very high quality fish and accompanying ingredients (such as great Olive Oil and specialty Flaked Sea Salt). This article from NPR.com is where I found the inspiration for the below adaptation for Fluke Crudo. It is a great read!! 

Before you cook, you'll need to have Cocktail Hour. For that, we went for the simplest and most refreshing Margarita of them all - no Triple Sec needed! The Cucumber Margarita made with your own house-infused Cucumber Tequila - just let Cucumbers sit in Tequila for 24 hours and voila. Get the recipe on Food and Wine

Now, without further delay, here is our Fluke Crudo recipe. Truly delicious and as simple as it gets. 

Here's to another wonderful weekend and many more sweet days of summer to all! 

Choose thin Cubanelle Peppers if possible, Photo: NK

Fluke Crudo with Radish & Pepper

Lightly Adapted from David Pasternack /Esca  
Serves 4 as an appetizer

4 Ounces of Radishes, cut into match sticks
1/2 Cup thinly sliced Cubanelle Peppers

8 Ounces very fresh Fluke filet, sliced in half lenghtwise and then again into 1/4 inch thick slices (cut against the grain)

2 Limes 
High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Specialty Flaked Sea Salt (or other good quality coarse grained Salt. (we used French Grey Salt). 

In a small bowl, toss the Radish Matchsticks and Sliced Peppers with the juice of half a Lime and a sprinkle of salt. 

Prepare each serving plate by squeezing about a teaspoon of lime juice on it. Place the slices of Fluke side by side or in a fan shape.

Top with equal portions of the Radish and Pepper mix. 

Drizzle each plate a few times with high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 

Finish with a sprinkling of Salt and serve with a Lime Wedge. 

Serve right away and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bistro Break - NY Strip With Bearnaise Butter & Haricot Vert

Let's talk steak. 

Today's recipe for this delicious cut of New York Strip is lightly adapted from Food & Wine Magazine's wonderful feature on NYC's newest French Restaurants. Included is Andrew Carmellini's casual bistro, Lafayette, which serves up this Strip Steak with Bearnaise Butter on the menu. Carmellini is amazingly talented and I've been following him ever since his days at A Voce. He also happens to be one of my inner circle of chef "boyfriends" :)
NY Strip With Bearnaise Butter & Haricot Vert, Photo: NK
I don't opt for strip too often because I am most partial to RibeyeSkirt and Flank are my go-tos for everyday meals, but when I do reach for Strip, I am reminded that it really is delicious for Bistro-inspired meals (Edge of Eye and Hanger are excellent choices when you're looking for flavorful budget cuts).

For me, New York Strip is the better half of the Porterhouse (Filet comprises the other side of my favorite super-splurge cut). 

Medium Rare! Photo: NK
Since I was already going to be slathering in my steak in butter, I kept the rest of the plate modest with sauteed Haricot Verts with Shaved Rainbow Carrots. My changes to Carmellini's recipe were minor and mainly driven by necessity (AKA: the ingredients I had or didn't have on hand such as Tarragon Vinegar). The results were TO DIE... I don't know if I just got a particularly great cut of meat or whether the cook time was spot on but wow....

One thing I must insist you do:

Get yourself a good cast iron skillet. They are super affordable and cook meat, fish, even eggs, amazingly well. The secret is that cast iron evenly distributes heat. Our favorite brand is Lodge (9 or 10 inch is a great size to choose). Trust me, you will not regret it.


Let me show you what Medium Rare is supposed to look like (pictured right).

And here's how you do it. Keep reading for the Bearnaise Butter recipe! 

Cooking a perfect New York Strip (for 2) is really simple:

What you need:

2 8-10 Ounce NY Strip Steaks, Kosher Salt, Pepper, and 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil

What to do: 
Season Steak on either side with Kosher Salt and Pepper.
Add the Oil to the pan and heat over medium-high flame.
Cook 3-4 minutes per side in a good, cast iron skillet.
Allow to sit uncovered for 5 minutes.
Spread with Bearnaise Butter* (at room temp) and serve!

Bearnaise Butter (Makes enough for up to 4 people)
Lightly Adapted From Food & Wine / Andrew Carmellini

1/4 Cup Finely Minced Shallots
1/4 Cup Dry White Wine (we used Sauvignon Blanc)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
4 Ounces or 1 Stick Unsalted European Butter (such as Lurpak) at room temperature
1/4 Cup Minced Tarragon
Kosher Salt


Divide the Minced Tarragon in half and drop half of it into a small bowl with the Vinegar. Allow to steep for at least 15 minutes. 

In another bowl, mash the Butter Up. Add the remaining Tarragon, Shallots, Wine, Tarragon and Vinegar mixture and combine. Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper and adjust as needed. 

You can utilize the Bearnaise Butter at room temperature or store it for future use rolled in Saran Wrap and kept in the freezer. Bring to room temperature before using. 

Spread Bearnaise Butter on Steaks before serving. Enjoy!