Mac and Cheese with Tuna Lollipops, “Living Coastal” Cookbook
Are your thoughts on Living Coastal these days? Oh yes, come on now, you know you are.
I suspect even in the chill, perhaps because of it, many vacation home owners, and those rental enthusiasts up and down the eastern to southern shores from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, through to Maryland and Virginia are dreaming and scheming on the summer season ahead.
Thoughts turn to opening up homes long since shuttered, or not, over the passing season tuning up docked boats, scheduling dinner plans with friends at favorite shore locales, preparing visitor lists, and yes, even reflecting on some fun and breezy entertaining menus following lazy bright, sunny days on sandy beaches.
I’ve been reviewing a lovely book fitting for just such daydreaming toward creating that sort of perfect ‘maritime magic’, Living Coastal, Inspirations for Entertaining, Decorating and Cooking California style. Filled with recipes of casual yet elegant shore style dining ideas with a diverse selection of seafood recipes, the books chapters float through ocean inspired party themes and suggested events for both indoor and outdoor entertaining.
Written by Jolee Pink, Living Coastal is a creative collaborative bringing together featured artists, and decorators with area San Diego chefs splashing colorful pages inspiring artistically set tables alongside creatively coordinated menus of coastally inspired foods and beverages.
Pink, owner of Wabisabi Green, modern home décor eco style, provides finishing touches to the artistry of the book using multi colored designs through a line of table linens and assorted coordinating throw pillows made with quality organic and sustainable materials.
Fish prints highlight nautical blue place mats with color coordinated multi blue fish napkins on white. Moss greens with creams, light turquoise with white, each complements nature’s water elements including small touches of seashells, pebbles, starfish, even small ceramic collections of crabs, tortoises, and other assorted sea works.
Some among the interesting recipe assortment include stone ipa marinated mahi-mahi skewers served with a chimichurri sauce, mussels with fennel and linguica in red jalapeno broth, a Baja lobster roll, and Maine diver scallops and Baja prawns.
One unique show stopper, crispy whole bass tacos. Imagine serving guests a whole coated, fried sea bass center stage, surrounded by stacked tortillas and side bowls of fresh cooked pinto beans, coleslaw, avocado tomatillo salsa, salsa quemada, and a cumin-lime vinaigrette, looks and seems very, muy Bueno to me.
Today’s adapted recipe that I’ve chosen to share with you from Living Coastal is that of Jeff Rossman of the Terra American Bistro in San Diego, Mac and Cheese with Tuna Lollipops.
An easy and fun dish to put together, it also seems a sure winner for vacationers along the east coast and on into the south.
I liked the incorporation of the broccoli as an added green vegetable in the one dish meal, the flavorful addition of crispy bacon, and utilizing fresh shucked corn on the cob in the summer, especially when it comes to the beloved Jersey corn. Since testing this recipe in mid-winter, frozen corn necessitated the substitution for fresh kernels at the time.
The crisp, buttery panko bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese topping the dish and cooked to a golden color with creamy ingredients bubbling beneath provided a nice crunch of added flavor.
On the fresh tuna, rather than lollipops, I envision these as sails on a boat, particularly with the decorative skewer tip resembling a rope knot at the top. The flags pinkish red interior of the tuna delicately surrounded with its darker strip from the sear. Alternatively, a couple pieces of frozen shrimp pulled from the freezer, seasoned, roasted and skewered might also provide a suitable touch.
Many of the recipes in Living Coastal are designed toward local availability of the San Diego California waters though the fish selections are generally available in the eastern part of the country and otherwise are easily interchanged. Most recipes are also adaptable with vacation ease in mind, for example, the homemade biscuit recipe encasing the Alaskan Wild Sockeye Salmon Benedict may easily substitute using store bought English muffins.
Living Coastal also makes a nice, smaller size, coffee table book for any vacation home residence in nearby coastal shore waters and would also make a thoughtful hostess gift wrapped in a kitchen linen. Living Coastal may be purchased either through Amazon, or directly through Chef’s Press.
As part of mandatory disclaimer, this book was sent to me for review, all opinions are my own, and the description of the book as such.
- nonstick cooking spray
- 3 1/4 cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 10 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, more or less to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon cracked black pepper
- 1 pound mini penne pasta, cooked al dente, (or cavatappi pasta may be used)
- 4 strips cooked bacon, broken into one-inch pieces
- 3 1/2 cups broccoli florets, cut into small pieces then blanched in boiling water for one minute before gently rinsing in cold water
- 1 cup corn, fresh if available, kernels cut off cob, or frozen
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs, lightly toasted in a small saute pan with1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- For the tuna lollipops:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh ahi tuna
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to suit taste
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for searing tuna
- wood decorative skewers with knotted top for tuna (available at cookware stores, and, many Asian markets)
- 10x13 inch casserole dish or individual mini cast iron skillets
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Lightly spray nonstick oil around casserole dish or skillet (s)
- Heat butter on low in a medium size saute pan, add panko bread crumbs and stir well for about two minutes to a slight golden color, turn off heat, mix in Parmesan cheese, set aside
- Season tuna with olive oil, salt and pepper, refrigerate until ready to cook
- Heat milk in a saucepan until just hot, not boiling
- In another saucepan, prepare a roux by melting the butter, adding in the flour and cooking, whisking on low heat for two minutes
- Pour hot milk into the cooked butter and flour mixture, whisking vigorously on continued low heat until the mixture thickens, about three to four minutes
- Sprinkle in the shredded cheddar cheese stirring to fully melt and incorporate cheese throughout
- Add in salt and pepper, stir,check seasoning, and then remove sauce from heat
- Into a large bowl stir together the cooked pasta, blanched broccoli, corn, and cooked bacon pieces Pour in the hot cheese sauce using a spatula to scrape sauce off the sides of the pan, gently combining mixture well throughout
- Spoon the mac and cheese sauce with vegetables into casserole dish or skillet (s)
- Sprinkle top with the panko and Parmesan mixture. Bake uncovered 30-35 minutes until bubbling and golden brown on top
- For the tuna: Ten minutes before serving, warm olive oil in a saute pan, increase temperature to high heat and sear tuna for about two minutes on each side depending on desired doneness
- Remove from heat, let cool just to handle then thinly cut tuna into half inch slices. Slide one slice of tuna each onto a decorative skewer
Jeff Rossman of Terra American Bistro, from the book Living Coastal, Inspirations for Entertaining, Decorating and Cooking California Style.