Menu-Making With Gwyneth

Hey, guys! I’m back! Again! Sorry for the extremely long absences, but this site is simply a hobby for me, so it frequently has to take a backseat to more profitable ventures. (In that spirit, I will have a few things happening in the upcoming months that will give you MORE DANNY, if that’s what you’re desperate for. And if that is what you’re desperate for, then maybe you should talk to someone about that?) Anyway, let’s see how many recipes I can bang out before I disappear for 4 months again, right? Today’s post encompasses a whopping four recipes (actually, there’s a surprise fifth), and as a sign of good faith, let me tell you that I’m typing this as a pot simmers away on the stove in preparation of my next recipe. So there will be more in the near future, I guarantee it. Here’s a sneak preview:

WHAT CAN IT BE????

Anyway, let’s talk Indian-spiced tuna steaks. (And I just now realized how ironic this is, considering I recently decided to race a rickshaw across the length India for charity next April — BUT THAT’S A STORY FOR ANOTHER DAY.) I wanted to have some friends over for a nice dinner, and this is literally the only dish in Gwyneth’s cookbook where she tells you which of her other recipes to pair it with, so I threw a multi-course (read: two courses) Gwyneth meal! The menu:  Butternut Squash Soup and Indian-Spiced Tuna Steaks with Raita and Tamarind Chutney. Let’s do this.

The first step was to procure the ingredients, which is always exciting. My neighborhood is pretty terrible, as far as groceries go, and especially when seafood is concerned. But it was a nice day outside, so I took a walk to a fish market Yelp recommended, which was somewhere in Brooklyn that I have long since forgotten. Point is, during my walk, it started to snow. (And this is where I let you behind the blog-curtain and reveal that I made these dishes many months ago, long before the past three or four posts I wrote. Time bends to my will!)

I finally got to the fish market, which was absolutely insane. It was like Chinatown-lite, with stray cats scampering across my feet, old ladies screaming in various languages and pointing at fish heads, and poor, little me, baffled in the back, wondering if there was some sort of numbered system to placing orders? After observing the crowd for about 5 minutes, I realized it was a total free-for-all; you grab your fish parts from the ice-covered table, throw them in a plastic bag, toss the plastic bag at whomever looks most like an employee to weigh and price, and then you just throw some dollar bills in their general direction and get the hell out. It was utterly exhilarating, a completely different world in the middle of Brooklyn. I found some pleasing-looking tuna steaks, spent a few minutes admiring the live creatures scrabbling about in their glass cases, and headed back home.

The first step for the tuna steaks was to combine cumin and fennel seeds with salt and pepper and crush it using “a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder, or Jamie Oliver’s ingenious Flavour Shaker,” which OBVIOUSLY all of us have. In actuality, I have none of the above, so I just crush them in a plastic bowl using the handle of a knife. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for one of Jamie Oliver’s ingenious Flavour Shakers! I then added some freshly minced ginger and cilantro and crushed those with the spices until a rough paste formed, which I then mixed with a bit of olive oil. What resulted was kind of like a pesto, and it smelled like some sort of Indian paradise. I combined the spice mixture with the tuna steaks in a Ziploc bag and let them sit in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Spice mixture, with no help from Jamie Oliver.

Marinatin’.

Meanwhile, I heated some olive oil and butter in a soup pot, and sauteed a couple yellow onions and minced garlic, which I then spiced with salt, pepper, and garam masala. I then threw in a diced butternut squash, which I let soften for a few minutes. I then covered it in vegetable stock and simmered until the squash was soft. Ultimately, I blended the soup using my VERY wonderful hand-blender I got last Christmas, which was pretty damn fun. And honestly, the soup smelled awesome. I’ll give Gwyneth this: she can throw together a pretty decent soup. THERE, I SAID IT.

Goin’ butterNUTS.

This is really stupidly fun.

The next step for the tuna was to make the raita. This was very easy: just mix a diced English cucumber, minced red onion, fresh mint, black pepper, and plain yogurt, and you’ve got a fresh raita! Who knew it was so easy to be Indian?!

I want to eat this raita now! (Ugggghhhh sorry for that.)

The last recipe was the tamarind chutney, which was just a disaster. I mixed vegetable oil with cumin and fennel seeds, and heated for a few seconds. I then poured in the following spices: cayenne pepper, ground ginger, and garam masala. She also recommended asafetida, but said it’s optional, and since I don’t really know what the hell that is, I skipped it. I then poured in one cup of water and a tablespoon of tamarind paste (which, let me tell you, is practically IMPOSSIBLE to find, no matter how many south-Asian markets you traipse through during a snowstorm), and brown sugar. This simmered for about 25 minutes, and then I stirred in some rice wine vinegar, and simmered the mixture for another 15 minutes, until it thickened a bit. I tasted the chutney and it was TERRIBLE. I don’t know what happened, but it was very, very vinegary and just sour and awful. Holy god, so terrible. Not like chutney at all. I’m sure it was more my fault than Gwyneth’s, but instead of splitting hairs, I threw the mixture in the garbage and ran out to buy a jar of pre-made tamarind chutney. SO SUE ME. My guests never knew; it was a total Mrs. Doubtfire move.

When everyone showed up, I heated up a grill pan and seared the tuna steaks a couple minutes on either side, so they were almost cooked through. Simple! I then served the tuna steaks with the raita and the guilty, evil, not-homemade chutney, along with a bowl of the butternut squash soup and OH MY GOD I JUST REMEMBERED THERE WAS A FIFTH RECIPE: Roasted Cauliflower! What a wonderful surprise! The reason I forgot is because this is one of Gwyneth’s fake recipes that aren’t really anything even close to a real recipe. Because, you see, she used a whole page to tell me to roast some cauliflower in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and serve it as a side. WOW. Ingenious. So, yes, we had that, too.

Roasted cauliflower is about as exciting as it looks.

Anyway, the food was actually really, really good. Not only did Gwyneth surprise me by planning a whole menu, but it actually all went very well together! The spice mixture on the tuna was perfect, and the coolness of the raita and the spiciness of the chutney perfectly balanced each other. Plus, the butternut squash soup was really hearty and velvety and kind of a meal unto itself. The cauliflower was whatever.

A really terrible, rushed photo of some grilled tuna steaks. I WAS HUNGRY, OKAY?

The raita and the evil, secret chutney.

All in all, a wonderfully refreshing reminder that, as ridiculous as she can be with her occasional absent-minded dropping of the “N-word” on Twitter, sometimes Gwyneth can really knock it out of the park.

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6 Comments

Filed under Main Courses, Sides, Soups

6 responses to “Menu-Making With Gwyneth

  1. All looks so good. Glad you are still cooking, and knocking some of her recipes off your list.

  2. Clair

    Yay! A post!!! Enjoyed it. 🙂

  3. India?! What?! I can’t wait.

  4. JoAnn

    have you given up, Danny?

    J

  5. Erin B.

    I really want to try this tuna recipe, but I can’t stand the idea of giving a dime to Gwyneth. I need to find it at a Goodwill or something!

  6. i’m making this tonight and was trying to find a blog that had already made it. which is how i ended up here. 🙂 lets just say i’m glad i decided not to make the chutney.

    xo alicia
    thechampagnelife.tumblr.com

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