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tuna with capers
Pan-Seared Tuna with

polenta cake
Polenta and Cheese

Sautéed Spinach

Menu Plan for the week of Jan. 18, 2013: Day 1 Recipes

Pan-Seared Tuna with Capers
Polenta Timbales with Cheese
Sautéed Spinach

Cooking time:  35 minutes for menu          Cooking schedule: see below for instructions

      The tuna and the spinach are both done very quickly, after the polenta is uncovered. If you have spinach leftover add it to the Risotto.

Pan-Seared Tuna with Capers                             Preparation and cooking time:  15 minutes
     This is best with good sushi-grade tuna that is quickly seared on both sides and cool or just barely warm in the center.  If you get regular tuna you will need to cook it until it is closer to medium - well. Ask your fish monger (I love that word)... or the guy behind the counter.

2 tuna steaks, 6oz each (180gr)
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 clove garlic
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs capers
3 tbs chopped olives - kalamata or Greek black (or green if that is what you have)
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) cup white wine

Mince garlic.  Chop olives.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, fennel seeds and sauté 1 minute.  Remove and reserve.  Add tuna and sauté 3 - 5 minutes per side (depending on thickness - 3 minutes if 1 inch (2.5 cm), 5 minutes if 2 inch (5 cm)) for medium-rare, longer if you want them more done.  Remove and cover with a lid or foil to keep warm. Return fennel and garlic to pan and add rest of ingredients.  Bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes.  Pour over tuna and serve.

Polenta and Cheese Timbales                                  Preparation and cooking time: 35 minutes
    These slip out of the ramekins easily but still hold their shape making for a very pretty presentation. The Caramelized Shallots add an unexpected crunch!

1 cup (8oz, 240ml) chicken stock   check your package for correct amount of liquid
2 tsp olive oil
2 shallots
1/4 cup polenta    quick cooking
1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) shredded cheese  cheddar would be nice, but whatever is on hand
2 tsp olive oil for ramekins

Clean and slice shallots. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Turn heat down to medium and continue cooking until nicely brown and starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes longer.
Heat stock to boiling in a small saucepan.  Add polenta, whisking constantly - or it will have little volcanic eruptions spewing polenta all over your stove.  Turn heat down and cook about 5 minutes (or whatever your package tells you), stirring constantly.  When done, remove from heat and stir in caramelized shallots. 
Put 1 tsp oil in each of 2 ramekins and brush around the bottom and sides.  Divide 1/3 of the polenta evenly between the 2 ramekins.  Sprinkle each with 1/3 of the cheese, divided.  Repeat these 2 layers twice more, ending with the cheese on top.  Place ramekins on a baking sheet, cover loosely with foil, and bake for 10 minutes, 400F (200C).  Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer.  Remove and let rest a minutes or two.  Run a knife around the edges of the ramekin.  Put a plate on top and tip over, releasing the timbale onto the plate.  Serve.

Note:  I'm assuming that your ramekins hold app. 1 cup (8oz, 225ml).  If they are smaller, you may need to make a third ramekin to use all of the polenta... Share.

Sautéed Spinach                                                        Preparation and cooking time:   10 minutes
   This is quickly done and best if done at the last minute.  A sprinkling of lemon juice and sea salt is all that's needed to let the spinach shine.  The leaves should be barely wilted.

6oz (175gr) fresh spinach
2 tsp dried chives or 1 tbs fresh
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp good olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
salt - sea salt is nice, and pepper

Wash and stem spinach if needed.  Drain in a colander.  If you don't feel you need to wash it - do it anyway.  We want a little bit of water on the leaves - what ever is left after draining well - and shake them around a bit, too.  Cut big spinach leaves into strips.  Snip chives if using fresh. 
Heat 1 tsp oil over medium high heat in large nonstick skillet. Add spinach and herbs.  Quickly stir-fry, 1 or 2 minutes.  The spinach should just start to wilt.  Remove.  Drizzle with remaining olive oil, lemon juice, sprinkle with salt, pepper and serve.

Cooking Schedule: 40 minutes for menu
Assemble all ingredients and utensils
Utensils: measuring cups, spoons, knives,
2 small bowls, whisk, 2 large skillets, one lid, small saucepan, small skillet, ramekins, baking sheet

Turn oven on, 400F (200C)
Slice shallots, sauté
Prepare spinach, set aside
Mince garlic, set aside
Chop olives
Chop capers (if large)
Put olives, capers, lemon, wine for tuna in bowl
Reduce heat under shallots
Shred cheese
Heat stock for polenta
Prepare ramekins
Make polenta

Add shallots to polenta
Assemble ramekins
Bake polenta
    10 minute break
Uncover Polenta
Sauté garlic, fennel for tuna
Put fennel, garlic in bowl with capers, etc.
Sauté tuna
Heat skillet for spinach
Turn tuna
Remove Polenta
Stir-fry spinach
Remove tuna, cover to keep warm
Add fennel, garlic, etc. to skillet, simmer
Finish spinach
Plate Polenta
Spoon caper sauce over tuna, Serve all

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