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Good morning, GUSbonnieladsandlassies!  Welp, we are now three days into Spring which means only 3 more months to steady weather above freezing here in New England.  I've been warming myself quite nicely with the chai tea I made for my sister last week.  I can't seem to get enough of it.  I actually used to (ok, still do) make fun of people who ordered chai because I thought it was the hot beverage du jour.  I still wouldn't order it out because nothing could possibly beat homemade.

Today I am going to try another mix with ground spices -- I'll make a small blend just in case I hate it.  But, what the hank, just like trying to quit smoking by any means available that doesn't require one to go to a monastery, why not give it a shot.

I realized that I am now one week drinking chai rather than coffee.  Interesting.  Not that I've lost the caffeine, mind you, but that I am capable of giving up something that I thought I absolutely needed to get my day started.  I love the taste of coffee.  I used to love that first cup with a ciggie in the morning.  Change a non lethal habit or two and sometimes the lethal ones can be eliminated as well.

Today is veggie and fruit shopping day at Aldis.  Then off to the grocery store where they have an incredible sale on black tea bags.  The ad is in the Passover section of the flyer -- am I missing something?  Is tea part of the Passover gastronomic ritual?

Yesterday was in the glorious 50s with sun.  Today back to the miserable 30s with gray skies.  Drat.  Still puppy shopping for the old lawyer.

puppy shopping

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Citrus Avocado Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

From The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Ok, I never heard of cara cara oranges -- but I'm going to use oranges and grapefruit which I love.

INGREDIENTS

5 oz baby spinach, washed and dried
5 oranges (I used a mix of cara cara and blood oranges)
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

DRESSING INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp honey or agave nectar (for vegan use agave)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp poppy seeds
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp onion powder
Total Time: 15 Minutes
Servings: 4 large salad or 8 side salads
Kosher Key: Pareve

Directions

To make dressing, combine ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.

Assemble the salad, spinach, oranges, sliced avocado and pomegranate seeds in a serving bowl or on individual plates. Drizzle with dressing and serve. If you prefer, you can also toss the spinach with the dressing just before serving, then top with remaining ingredients.

Do click the link -- this is a very pretty salad.

Skillet Roasted Fish Fillets

From Cook's Illustrated

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:
Pan-roasted fish seems like a simple dish, but in reality it is usually only well executed by practiced chefs. At home, the dish often results in dry, overbaked fillets. We set out to develop a foolproof recipe for producing succulent, well-browned fillets. From an initial round of testing, we knew we needed thick fillets; skinnier pieces end up overcooked by the time they’ve achieved a serious sear. We then turned to a common restaurant method to cook the fish: Sear the fillet in a hot pan, flip, then transfer it to a hot oven to finish cooking. The technique was sound, but to brown the fish quickly before the hot pan had a chance to dry out the fish’s exterior we turned to a sprinkling of sugar. The idea is that sugar commingles with exuded juices from the fish, accelerating browning and giving the fish a rich color and deep flavor that’s anything but sweet. We dusted a few fillets with a touch of granulated sugar and placed them in a hot skillet. A well-browned crust formed almost immediately, leaving no time for the interior to dry out. And after a short stay in the oven to finish cooking through, the fish emerged well-browned, tender and moist, and best of all, not one taster detected any out-of-place sweetness.

SERVES 4

Thick white fish fillets with a meaty texture, like halibut, cod, sea bass, or red snapper, work best in this recipe. If your fillets happen to come with skin, follow the instructions below to remove it. Because most fish fillets differ in thickness, some pieces may finish cooking before others—be sure to immediately remove any fillet that reaches 135 degrees. Serve the fish with lemon wedges or a relish.

INGREDIENTS

4 skinless white fish fillets, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick (about 6 to 8 ounces each) (see note)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Lemon wedges

INSTRUCTIONS

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Dry fish thoroughly with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle very light dusting of sugar (about 1/8 teaspoon) evenly over 1 side of each fillet. Heat oil in large ovensafe nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking. Place fillets in skillet, sugared sides down, and press down lightly to ensure even contact with pan. Cook until browned, 1 to 1½ minutes. Using 2 spatulas, flip fillets and transfer skillet to oven. Roast fillets until centers are just opaque and register 135 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 7 to 10 minutes. Immediately transfer to serving plates and serve with lemon wedges.

TECHNIQUE

REMOVING SKIN FROM FISH FILLETS

If you happen to buy skin-on fillets, some quick knife work can remove it.

1. With a sharp knife, separate a corner of the skin from the fish.

2. Using a paper towel to hold the skin, slide the knife between the fish and the skin to separate them.

STEP-BY-STEP

SECRETS TO MOIST, WELL-BROWNED FISH

1. START THICK

Buy fillets at least 1 inch thick that won't cook through too quickly.

2. ADD SUGAR

Sprinkle one side of each fillet with sugar to expedite browning.

3. SEAR ONE SIDE

Sear just on sugared side to add flavor and help ensure moist interior.

4. ROAST IN HOT OVEN

Roast seared fish in 425-degree oven to cook it through without drying it out

Tiramisu

From Epicurious

ingredients

2 cups boiling-hot water
3 tablespoons instant-espresso powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
3 tablespoons Tia Maria (coffee liqueur)
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup dry Marsala
1 pound mascarpone (2 1/2 cups)
1 cup chilled heavy cream
36 savoiardi (crisp Italian ladyfingers; from two 7-ounce packages)
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

preparation

Stir together water, espresso powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and Tia Maria in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved, then cool.

Beat egg yolks, Marsala, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.

Beat cream in a large bowl until it holds stiff peaks.

Fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream gently but thoroughly.

Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger into coffee mixture, line bottom of a 13- by 9- by 3-inch baking pan with 18 ladyfingers in 3 rows, trimming edges to fit if necessary. Spread half of mascarpone filling on top. Dip remaining 18 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over filling in pan.

Spread remaining mascarpone filling on top and dust with cocoa. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.

Let tiramisu stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving, then dust with more cocoa.

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