Fresh finds at the new Ceviche House

This month, I got to check out San Diego’s newest and freshest spot. The Ceviche House in North Park combines a family atmosphere with fresh and fast food.

For the last four months, I’ve been on intense chemotherapy, so my doctors didn’t let me eat any raw fish or other foods that might present a greater risk of illness. I finally got the All-Clear to eat some, and I am so excited to be able to enjoy beautiful dishes like this again.

And it was perfect.

I got the Ensenada (yellowtail, watermelon, pomegranate seeds, microgreens, avocado, and chili-sesame oil) on a tostada — but you can get any of their menu items on a lettuce wrap or bowl if you want to skip the carbs. I was concerned that the chili-sesame oil might be too spicy (my mouth is still a little sensitive to spice after chemo), but it’s a perfect compliment to the sweetness of the watermelon and the saltiness of the fresh yellowtail. I could have eaten 2 or 3 of these!

ensenada tostada

And just look at how pretty it is! I’d never had ceviche without peppers and onions before, or with fruit, but the combination of flavors in this dish is amazing … I can see why it’s one of their most popular dishes.

I had a hard time deciding, because all of the options looks amazingly delicious. Tuna, cucumber and orange zest? Yes, please. Shrimp and mango? Totally.

CHmenu

Owners Viviana and Juan Carlos make sure to procure only the best from sustainable sources like superstar seafood mongers Catalina Offshore Products. You can taste the quality in every piece of fish and produce.

acapulco ceviche

To show off their new store, The Ceviche House is giving an Acapulco Ceviche away to two lucky winners. Be sure to follow Starbright’s Kitchen and The Ceviche House for more chances to win:

ENTER CONTEST HERE:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2f9e1bf95/?hh

Pan de Cazon

Pan de Cazon is a regional specialty of the Campeche region of Mexico; a region bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Guatemala on the other. As I’m sure you can imagine, the other regional specialties of the area include some amazing seafood dishes – I know that soon, want to try some recipes like Siete Barbas and seafood tamales.

I rarely get the chance to cook with great fish, and lately I’ve had a bunch of it from Catalina Offshore Products here in San Diego. These guys are incredible! I had an amazing filet of spiny dogfish shark, caught wild in Mexican waters. If you are unable to get a decent piece of shark, this recipe will also work with any white, flaky fish.

I based my recipe off of this one from El Cielo Foods, but mine isn’t quite as spicy. Instead of using whole habanero peppers, I seasoned mine with a really good hot sauce. Feel free to add more if you can handle more spice than I can.

 

pan de cazon

Pan de Cazon

  • 1-2 filets of shark or other white fish, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 7-8 small corn tortillas, slightly crispy
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. California chile powder or chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp. habanero pepper hot sauce (I like El Yucateco)
  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • salt and pepper

In a small saucepan, heat the black beans with a little oil, and half of the cumin and chile powder, plus salt and pepper. Mash the beans slightly as they cook. Set on low heat to keep warm.

In another small saucepan, sautee the onion and garlic with oil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the rest of the cumin and chile powder. Mash the tomatoes slightly as they cook, and add the pieces of fish and the hot sauce to taste. Add the dill and half of the cilantro. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.

Assemble the pan de cazon by spreading the beans on a crispy tortilla, then putting another tortilla on top, then adding the shark and tomato mixture. Alternate the beans and the shark to make a tall stack, then serve warm with cilantro and fresh avocado.

Save or Pin this recipe card for easy use:

pan de cazon recipe card

 

 

Caramelized Banana Brioche French Toast

Caramelized Banana Brioche French Toast seems like it would be tricky and time-consuming, but luckily, it’s not. Unless you are making these for an army – which you could if you wanted to – they only take a few minutes. This simple recipe is for one, and takes as much time in the morning as a bowl of oatmeal.

I got the idea for a simple caramelized banana sauce from a recipe for caramelized banana pancake squares, from the new release, “The 8×8 Cookbook” by Kathy Strahs. Check out my review of “The 8×8 Cookbook” here and pick up a copy of the cookbook, too.

banana brioche french toast
This is also a great way to use up ripe bananas and slightly-stale bread, but if you can help it, don’t use any bread other than a thickly-sliced brioche bread.

If you’re in San Diego, like me, get it from Cardamom Cafe and Bakery. Trust me; you wont be disappointed.

brioche slice

Caramelized Banana Brioche French Toast

(one serving)

  • 2 thick slices of Brioche bread
  • 3 large eggs
  • a splash of milk
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 5-6 tablespoons butter
  • powdered sugar for serving

Scramble the eggs and add the milk and cinnamon. Place each slice of bread into the egg mixture and let sit for at least a minute on each side so the bread soaks up all of the egg mixture.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a pan and fry each piece of bread for about 3-4 minutes on each side. While the bread is cooking, put 2 tbsp. of butter in a separate saucepan with the banana slices facedown. Let the banana slices cook for about a minute in the butter to brown them slightly, then add the brown sugar.

Pour the hot banana and brown sugar mixture over the french toast slices, and serve immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Save or pin this recipe for easy use:

french toast recipe card

Heartwarming Barley Soup

This is the perfect comfort food.

As soon as this soup starts simmering, you’ll see (and smell) why this was one of my grandmother’s best recipes, and one of my favorites. The key, as always, is to use good stock and to let it simmer for a while to marry all of the flavors.

You can use any type of fresh mushroom for this recipe; I had a lot of oyster mushrooms and creminis in my CSA box, so that’s what I used. I would just stay away from any canned mushrooms because they will be extra chewy in this slow-cooked soup. Also, I use a good chicken stock, but if you want to keep this recipe vegetarian, simply use vegetable stock or mushroom stock instead. Personally, I like the additional flavor from the chicken in this soup. And don’t skimp on the garlic – it’s one head of garlic, not one clove. That’s not a typo!

Also, a quick word about the barley: use caution. I’ve heard more horror stories this week about a soup that should have been good, if only it hadn’t become a huge blob of sticky barley with a few slices of carrot in between. One cup of dried barley — pearl or regular — cooks to THREE CUPS of cooked barley. This recipe is for 6 servings of soup, and uses only one cup of dried barley. And it’s plenty.

Of course, if your leftovers happen to be too thick, simply add a bit more stock, reheat, and you’ll be fine.

barleysoup

Mushroom Barley Soup

  • 1 cup dried pearl barley
  • 2 lbs. various fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 quart, plus 2 cups, chicken stock
  • 3-4 carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 small red potatoes, chopped
  • 1 large parsnip, diced
  • one large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, diced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh dill, chopped

First, start to sautee the garlic and onion in a large pot and cook until fragrant. Add the carrots, potatoes and parsnip, add more oil if needed, and season with salt and pepper.

Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add a quart of the chicken stock and the barley. Bring to a boil, then add the mushrooms. Reduce the heat and cover, then let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the barley is cooked. Taste the soup, add more salt and pepper or more stock if needed. Sprinkle on fresh dill and serve hot.

Save or pin this recipe card!

mushroom barley soup recipe card

 

Thieboudienne with Winter Vegetables

I love every type of soup or stew, and I recently discovered a lovely new one. It’s the best kind: one you can adapt to whatever is in your kitchen. I had a lot of winter vegetables on hand, like parsnips, turnips, potatoes, eggplant, and squash, so that’s what I used. I also happened to have several lovely filets of salmon, but you can use any type of fish.

This is a traditional Senegalese dish, and I based my adaptation on the Thieboudienne in Saveur Magazine, but obviously I changed it a lot. This recipe calls for the fish to be stuffed separately with a mix of chiles and parsley, but I just added those to my stew and made sure the fish was spread throughout the pot, instead. I also pre-cooked my rice and chopped my vegetables for quick cooking, instead of the more traditional African method of serving the vegetables almost whole.

I’d also recommend serving with some fried plantains on the side (or in the stew), if you can find them. Just sautee each slice for 2-3 minutes in hot oil — no need to coat or dredge the plantains, the natural sugars inside them create the crispy crust — then season with salt, pepper, and lime juice.

Thieboudienne with Winter Vegetables

Thieboudienne with Winter Vegetables

  • 1-2 large filets of flaky fish
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/2 of one large eggplant, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 2 turnips, diced
  • 2 small red potatoes, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 head garlic, chopped
  • 1 handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes and chiles
  • 2 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • lime wedges for serving
  • extra virgin olive oil for sauteeing
  • 1 quart vegetable stock

 

Start by sauteeing the garlic and onion in a large Dutch oven, and cook until transparent. Add the potatoes, carrots, eggplant, parsnip and turnips, as well as the fish sauce, tamarind paste, and some salt and pepper. Make sure all of the vegetables are coated. Add the can of tomatoes and chiles, then the stock, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover, and let simmer for about an hour.

Add some of the fresh parsley (save a little for serving), the fish and rice, then cover and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked thoroughly. Flake the fish and make sure it’s mixed throughout the stew. Taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary* and serve with fresh parsley on top and a wedge of lime to squeeze on top.

*Use caution with salt, because the fish sauce adds a lot of sodium!

Save this recipe card:

thieboudienne recipe card

 

 

Win Every Night with the 8×8 Cookbook

I’ve been cooking my way through this new cookbook, and it’s fantastic!

Kathy Strahs has taken the concept of simple baked dishes to another level with the 8×8 Cookbook – not just boring timesavers, but real tips for elevating simple dishes into impressive works of art. There are a million cookbooks out there about using baking dishes, but this one has real-life experience.

8x8 cookbook

First, I tried out the caramelized banana pancake squares. These are really easy, and the “self-saucing” technique Kathy uses makes the fresh pancake squares really impressive and delicious. This is what I mean by a simple technique for elevating a simple dish — everyone loves a banana pancake, but caramelizing the bananas in some brown sugar and butter first adds another depth of flavor to the dish, and it’s just as easy as making a pancake.

caramalized bananas

These would be so much fun to make with kids as a fun weekend breakfast, and I will totally have to make the next time I have a brunch or go to a daytime potluck. Aren’t they cute?

caramalized banana pancake squares

Then I made the roasted cod with gremolata and lemony orzo. This is a really simple and classy dish you can make for your sweetheart or for your whole family. You only need a few simple ingredients, and again, a simple technique — in this case, adding lemon zest to the boiling water when you parboil the orzo — adds another level of flavor that makes it better than your average weeknight baked dish.

roasted cod with lemony orzo and gremolata

The Boursin baked mashed potatoes were next – not the most photogenic dish, but definitely one of the best – a simple cheesy mashed potato recipe, kicked up by creaming the potatoes, adding extra butter, and baking in a hot, hot oven.

I couldn’t get away with a cookbook review without trying at least one of the desserts! The chocolate craving cake (shown here without the accompanying frosting recipe) was really rich and chocolatey. I totally want to make this again and experiment with different frosting toppings — but the fancy technique in this recipe makes it so moist, you hardly need any!

chocolate craving cake

I first encountered Kathy’s work in “The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook,” and “The 8×8 Cookbook” is a perfect follow-up. I can’t wait to see what amazing tips she has in store for her next book.

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

I love this recipe! I had no idea beer batter was so easy. Literally … just four simple ingredients for the batter, a few more for the perfect white sauce, a little bit of cabbage and cheese and all of the fixins, and you’re on your way to Taco Heaven.

Residing in San Diego, it’s pretty easy for me to find a good fish taco, but frankly, I had always assumed that the delicate-yet-heavy-duty coating most people use for their fried fish tacos was way more complicated.

And the white sauce HAS to be more than just mayo and yogurt, right? Not really.

064

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

For the fish/ batter:

  • 1 lb white fish filets
  • 1 cup, plus 3-4 tbsp., Bisquick mix
  • 1/2 cup good beer
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Oil for frying

For the white sauce:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha or good hot sauce
  • the juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder
  • salt and pepper

For the garnish / assembling your tacos:

  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, shredded
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • chopped cilantro
  • diced tomatoes
  • warm flour or corn tortillas
  • fresh limes
  • hot sauce

Start with the white sauce: Blend all of the ingredients together thoroughly and refrigerate. This can be made up to a day ahead of time.

Then set two shallow dishes in front of you, the first one with 3-4 tablespoons of Bisquick, plus a little salt and pepper. The second dish should have another cup of Bisquick, plus 1/2 cup of beer and 1 egg. (You may need a little bit more beer if the mixture is too sticky.)

Start to heat your oil in a frying pan or deep skillet.

Cut the fish into small pieces and dredge each piece in the first dish (dry ingredients only) and coat thoroughly. Do not skip this step! This is what seals in all of the fish’s moisture, and keeps the beer batter stuck to the fish.

042

When the oil is hot, dredge the fish pieces in the beer batter – right before you drop them in the hot oil. Fry each piece for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, and place on a paper towel when done.

Serve fish hot and fresh in tortillas and with all of the fixins.

052

057

Save this recipe card:

beer battered fish taco recipe card