Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ja's Cod

When my Dad, Ja came East from Colorado, he always looked forward to three things: fishcakes, cod and, of course, lobster and clams. I had not yet discovered the recipe for Cod with Roasted Veggies so I prepared plain cod with herbs. While I made this for Dad, I used Herbes de Provence pour Poisson which I had found in a market in Nice.  Dad liked it "crispy" and when preparing the cod for him, I cooked it much longer, often broiling it at the end, than I would otherwise do.

Serves 4

When buying the Cod, if you ask for "Hotel" or "Captain's cut" the fish should be of uniform thickness (but often more expensive). If the fish is uneven thickness, fold thin piece(s) under to make as equal in thickness as possible.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On the top of a broiling pan that has been lightly coated with olive oil place:

1 1/2 - 2 pounds fresh cod

Sprinkle the fish with

1 T herbes de Provence

Bake at 400 degrees F, approximately 15 – 20 minutes*, depending on thickness of fish, until fish is opaque and flakes easily with fork. Note: In his cookbook Fish Mark Bittman advises starting the fish on broil and cooking less time,  “(figure about  8 to 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured to the thickest point). If the fish is cooking too quickly, turn off the broiler and finish cooking with the oven set at 500 degrees F. Cod begins to “gape” – its sections separate – when it is done, is opaque throughout, and will offer no resistance to a thin-bladed knife; avoid overcooking."

*CHECK AFTER 10 minutes to see how done the fish looks (see criteria above).

Remove fish from oven and place on warm platter to serve.

Reviewed 5/22/2017

Monday, May 24, 2010

Christopher's Basil Garden

Christopher's Basil
When we walked into Christopher's Brooklyn loft two weekends ago, I was blown away by the six bigs pots of basil he had growing on his plant shelf. His watering system which had been down for extensive repairs was up and running again. I had just purchased some pots of herbs (mint, sage, rosemary,and  thyme) from Verrill Farms and had I known Christopher's watering system was working again, I would have brought some herbs to Brooklyn. When I mentioned this, Christopher responded he much preferred to grow things from seeds. (Take note; I live in the country, why aren't I doing seeds? If my purchased herbs don't last the winter, seeds next spring.)


Mom's Cop-out Garden
But more about the watering system. As we were sitting having a glass of wine, at exactly 8 pm I heard running water behind me. I turned to face the plant shelf and saw streams of water being delivered to the center of each pot. The water goes into the pots and any excess lands in the tray below the pots where it is directed to the basin on the shelf below. This water, when the next watering time comes, is then pumped up and delivered through the tubing with strategic holes directly above the plants. Pretty slick. I need to figure out an arrangement like this for when we leave my herbs to go to the boat.

June 2017: Despite the fact that Alex and I live in "the country", Chris, now living in Somerville, is still the family gardner.  He brought us tomatoes in the winter and lettuce last night from his community garden plot.  Looking forward to garden tomatoes!

Reviewed 6/19/2017

Margaritas

This recipe is adapted from The Cuisines of Mexico whose author Diana Kennedy writes: "Hardly anyone would disagree that the margaritas at Carlos Jacott's El Parador are the lustiest in New York. He has given me the following recipe for his margaritas...."*  In 1990 (The New York Times reports) El Parador’s owner and maître d’hôtel, Carlos Jacott, a reportedly larger-than-life figure sold the restaurant to Manuel Alejandro, a Spaniard, whose son, Jose, known as Alex, is both the executive chef (he graduated from the French Culinary Institute) and Mr. Jacott’s more reserved replacement in the dining room on 325 E 34th Street. The restaurant still gets excellent reviews for its food and still has an extensive tequila menu.

This recipe is for 1 serving. However, when Ed/I make margaritas, depending on the number of people to be served, we make up to 4 servings at a time.

Chill  large cocktail glasses well [I do not have the space to store occasionally used "margarita glasses" so I use large wine glasses, usually not chilled]. Rub the rim with a

slice of lime

Put

a little salt, either ordinary table salt or finely ground rock salt [I use sea salt or Kosher salt]

on a small plate. Press the rim of the glass into it, giving it a turn to make sure the rim is ringed with salt. [I then fill the glass with crushed ice.]

In a cocktail shaker combine:

1 1/2 ounces white tequila [I use Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila Oro]
1/2 ounce Triple Sec
1 ounce fresh lime juice
A few cubes ice, crushed

Cover and shake together well. Pour the mixture through a strainer into the prepared glass[es].

* Page343, 1972 edition

Reviewed 5/15/17


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Plantation Fish

In January 2009, Ed and I spent a week on Kauai. We spent two excellent evenings at the Plantation Gardens Restaurant (the food was that good and the garden - antique decor setting delightful). My favorite dish was "Pan Seared Local Fish, Arugula, Local Mango, Papaya, Grilled Bread, Cherry Tomatoes, Avocado-Cilantro Mousse and Lilikoi Cider Vinaigrette". While I have not yet deciphered the Avocado-Cilantro Mousse (probably involves a little cream but stay tuned) and do not have a ready source of Lilikoi Cider Vinegar I used several of the recipe ideas while preparing fish during the summer of 2009.

4 servings

Marinate

~1 ½ pounds wild salmon fillet, preferably skinless, pin bones removed (I usually leave the skin on)
in:

3 T lime juice, mixed with
2 t cumin

for 1-2 hours, “basting” occasionally.

In a medium sized bowl combine:

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced in small wedges
1 mango, peeled, pitted and sliced in small wedges
~20 cherry tomatoes, different colors if possible (optional - in season)
2 T olive oil
2 T fresh lime juice
1 t ground cumin
¼ c fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix well.

If the salmon is not skinless, place the salmon on a piece of aluminum foil.  Over a medium hot fire, grill the salmon until it is is opaque throughout about 6 minutes on a side for skinless salmon (or 12 minutes on one side if cooking on aluminum foil), depending on thickness. While salmon is cooking, on a serving platter or individual plates place a bed of

Arugula (small "baby" arugula is best)

When fish is cooked, remove from the grill (if the fish is not skinless, remove from aluminum foil leaving cooked skin on the foil) and place on platter on top of the arugula or divide and place on individual plates on top of the arugula. Top with the avocado-mango mixture.

VARIATION #1

Use 1 c Trader Joe's (or your own) Corn Salsa instead of the cherry tomatoes.

VARIATION #2

Use cod  instead of the salmon; use Ja's Cod recipe but omit the Herbs de Provence and sprinkle the top of fish before cooking with 2 t ground cumin. Top the cooked fish with the avocado mango mixture.

(Arugula bed is missing in the following photos.)



Reviewed 5/23/17

Three Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Alexandra and Christopher served Roasted Pork Loin with Gewürztraminer-Apricot Compote with Vegetable Barley and Three-Chocolate Hazelnut Tart for my birthday in 2006. All three recipes are from Wildwood Cooking from the Source in the Pacific Northwest by Cory Schreiber, a wonderful cookbook  which Alexandra gave me for Christmas 2005.

The cake was delicious and most certainly a labor of love. The author writes in the introduction to the recipe: "I have used hazelnuts often in this book, but no selection of hazelnut recipes would be complete without some calling for chocolate. This decadent treat blends not one, but three different chocolate: milk, bittersweet and white."

To make the pastry: In a food processor combine:

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda

Pulse 4 times to blend.

Add:

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add:

2 T plus 2 t ice water

Pulse until the dough comes together. Remove the dough from the processor and form into a 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

On parchment paper or waxed paper, roll out the dough into a 14-inch round. Dust the surface of the dough with the cocoa. Spray a 12-inch false-bottom tart pan with vegetable oil cooking spray. Fit the dough into the pan, paper side up. Peel off the paper and press the dough carefully into the pan up to the top of the sides. Referigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the tart pan and spray it with vegetable oil cooking spray. Place the foil on the tart pan, sprayed-side down, fitting over the dough and tucked down around the pastry. Weigh the foil down with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the dough comes out clean. Remove the tart crust from the oven, leaving the oven on, and let cool for 20 minutes.

Make the filling: In a blender or food processor combine:

4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt

Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Over the crust, evenly sprinkle:

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and skinned [*see below]
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate (3 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate (3 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (3 ounces)

Pour the egg mixture over the nuts and chocolates. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the filling is slightly puffed and set. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove the tart from the pan and place on a serving pate. Cut into wedges and serve.

*TOASTING HAZELNUTS

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the nuts on a large cookie sheet/jellyroll pan, spreading them out so they don't touch. Toast in the oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned, occasionally shaking the pan so the nuts toast evenly.

Remove the nuts from the oven and wrap them in dishtowel to steam and cool them. Once they have cooled a bit, roll the hazelnuts around in the towel to remove the skins. Transfer the hazelnuts to a colander with medium holes and roll them around with your hands to knock off the remainder of the skins. As the hazelnuts are skinned, remove from the colander.

Reviewed 5/11/17

Chicken Marsala/Chicken Lemon

CHICKEN MARSALA

When I buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts at the market they are often larger than ideal for a single serving and contain loose pieces of meat that make grilling difficult. I cut off these loose pieces or "tenders" and freeze to use among other things in the recipes below. These recipes are best when the chicken is sliced very thin. This can be easily accomplished if the chicken is frozen and then thawed just enough to allow for slicing.

Unlike many veal/chicken Marsala recipes, this version contains no cream.

4 servings

Thinly slice

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or "tenders"

Dredge* the slices in

1/3 cup flour seasoned with fresh ground pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat

2 T oilve oil, then add

2 cups mushrooms (I usually use crimini, shitake," baby bella" or a combination), thinly sliced

Cook until mushrooms are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside in a small container.

Add enough additional olive oil to thinly coat the bottom surface of the skillet then add the flour dredged chicken and cook, turning once, until both sides are browned. Then add

1/2 c Marsala wine

Simmer for approximately two minutes until the liquid is reduced slightly. Then return the mushrooms to the pan and add

1 T fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 T chopped parsley that has been previously frozen)

Stir and simmer a minute or two before serving.

I serve this (and Chicken Lemon) with Trader Joe's Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta


VARIATION: CHICKEN LEMON

Use 1/2 cup of lemon juice instead of the Marsalla
Add zest from one lemon with the mushrooms




Chicken Lemon served on a bed of spinach:















* January 2013: See Browning for discussion on whether to flour meat before browning, not at all, or as Julia Child does after initial browning.  This post also notes heating pan to 400 to 450 degrees before adding oil will minimize contents sticking to the pan.

Reviewed 5/13/17

Fried Zucchini

Fried zucchini in our house used to mean deep fried zucchini, similar to the fried zucchini Ed and I first had at Galena Street East in Aspen in the 70's. It became a mid summer treat when zucchini overflowed our garden. Last fall Ed and I had a delicious variation at Evoo in Somerville which I tired to reverse engineer as closely as possible.  Both recipes follow.

FRIED ZUCCHINI


I usually serve this as an appetizer as it is best when it is cooked in small batches and eaten immediately. Depending on the number of people I am serving, Ed or I will cook several batches, serving each batch as soon as it is cooked, before moving on to the main course. I use fairly small squash for this (6-8 inches long and ideally no more than 2" diameter); the diameter is the critical dimension as the green skin helps keep the squash crisp while cooking. While I am sure this is "more properly done" using an egg batter as well as flour, I like this version.



Cut

1 small to medium zucchini squash/per person
into ~3 inch lengths by 1/4 to 3/8 inch square.

Place all of the cut squash in a bowl and toss with:

2 t salt per squash.

Let stand for an hour; the salt will suck some of the moisture out of the squash.

Heat:

Peanut [I would now use peanut] oil  (amount per fryer instruction) in a deep fryer until it reaches 350 degrees.

Over the years I have used (1) "Fry Baby", until the plastic cover got left on when I plugged in the Fry Baby and melted into the stored oil. (2) Tech Grill frying well; works well but requires a lot of oil and makes cooking on the other half of the grill dicey. (3) A pot with a deep fryer basket over a single outdoor gas burner (photo left). Our current preferred choice, this keeps the cooking out of the kitchen and not a lot of oil is required. Of course, given a good exhaust fan, frying can be done on an indoor range. An infrared thermometer (upper right in photo) is an easy to track oil temperature

While the oil is heating, rinse the squash throughly to remove most of the salt and then dry squash pieces well between clean dish towels.

For each squash prepared, in a small brown paper bag** place:

2 T  flour
2 t Italian Herbs (this is a lot but really makes the dish; I usually don't measure and sometimes I think I use even more)

Shake well then add a handful of the dried squash to the bag and shake again. Remove squash from the bag using a mesh spoon so that excess flour is left in the bag,* place squash in the fryer basket and place basket in the hot oil. Cook until the squash is nicely browned then remove from oil, shaking basket to eliminate excess oil, place squash on paper towels, blot off excess oil from all sides and serve immediately.

OCT 2012 - FOR CRISPIER SQUASH:    When I was preparing the squash a few nights ago I removed the floured squash and put it on a plate (photo above).  It sat for a few minutes and I noticed that in many places the flour coating had gotten wet and sticky. I returned the squash to the bag with flour and shook again, making sure to separate the pieces that stuck together .  We found that this squash, with the second coating (photo below) was much crispier (photo right).

I also tried shaking the squash in the flour bag, letting it sit for several minutes and then shaking it again.  This worked pretty well too (photo right)



** September 2013:  Finally the lights went on and I substituted a covered plastic container for the paper bag.  I put about half a batch (~6-8 pieces) of squash in the container, cover and shake gently. Still do two separate coatings as described above (October 2012). I keep the left over flour and Italian seasonings in the container to re-use next time.





PAN FRIED ZUCCHINI WITH SAGE

This is my current favorite, ever since I had a similar version at Evoo last fall. The sage is not optional, it really makes the dish. This is good served as a plated hors d'oeuvre or as a vegetable accompanying a main course.

Serves 4, scale accordingly. Slice

2 medium or 4 small zucchini squash into coins ~3/8  inch thick

Place the cut squash in a bowl and toss with:

1 T salt

Let stand for an hour; the salt will suck some of the moisture out of the squash. Rinse the squash throughly to remove most of the salt and then dry well with clean dish towels.

Dip the squash sequentially in saucers/small dishes containing:

1/3 c milk

1/3 c flour

1 egg, well beaten (I have on occasion used 1/4 c "egg product"  - start with 1/4 c - but I think in this case using the real egg is better.)

1/3 c panko (I use the Whole Foods spinach-chive and/or lemon-herb)

Add more ingredients to any of the dipping dishes if necessary.

Coat the bottom of a large skillet with:

Olive oil and heat until hot.

Gently place the squash in the oil and cook until bottom surfaces are well browned, carefully turn squash and add a handful of sage leaves. Cook until the sage leaves are crisp but not burned , the other sides of the squash are also browned and the squash feels tender when a fork is inserted in the center.

Serve garnished with fresh sage.

VARIATION:

Use greeen tomatoes or red tomatoes instead of squash (pan fried version only).

Reviewed 5/15/17

Boat Toast

Known in other circles as "French Toast", boat toast was the breakfast of choice (no toaster on board) when Ed and his sister Alison were cruising with their parents aboard Alised. Boat toast has likewise become a favorite breakfast aboard Condor. Most often made from a random assortment of bread about to go stale (When crusing, I never know when we might find the next bread supply so I tend to over stock.) This is truly awesome when made with fairly think chunks of a baguette (as shown in the photo at left). I so casually mix the milk and eggs that in preparation for actually writing this recipe I consulted Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (original edition/1998) for a more professional ratio.

4 servings

In a medium sized flat bowl/pan combine:

2 eggs (or as I usually do use 1/2 cup "egg product" )
1 cup milk

If you like very mushy French toast and tend to soak the bread rather than dip it, you will need more batter than this. Also since the size and absorbency of bread differs greatly it is hard to predict exactly how much batter will be needed; I tend to add more milk and or egg as needed as I am soaking the bread.

Preheat a large griddle over medium heat.

Beat the egg and milk mixture well.

In this egg and milk mixture, start soaking:

6 or more pieces of bread, depending on size (figure 1 1/2 to 2 pieces of regular bread per person or 3 - 5 baguette slices, depending on the bread diameter and the ages and appetites of your crew))

Soak so that the mixture throughly permeates the bread.

Coat the griddle with:

Butter, butter alternative or olive/peanut oil and then place the soaked bread on the griddle. Sprinkle:

Ground cinnamon

on top before turning the bread and then sprinkle more cinnamon on the other side. Cook until nicely browned on both sides, adding more butter/oil when turning the toast to re-coat the griddle.

Serve hot with maple syrup.  Even better when topped with Maine blueberries too.

Reviewed 5/10/17

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Poppy Seed Dressing

When I was in Colorado recently I was cruising through my Mom's book of recipes when I came upon this one and was reminded this was Christopher's favorite dressing when he was in his early teens. Then fear of raw eggs came along and I stopped making it. Recipe is from (the original) The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.

Combine:

1 egg [I would now omit or use pasteurized egg]*
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon prepared Dijon-style mustard
2/3 cup red wine vinegar [I usually used tarragon vinegar]
3 tablespoons grated fresh yellow onion plus any juice from the grating [I just threw a few chunks of a sweet onion in the food processor]

in bowl of food processor with steel blade, process 1 minute. With motor running pour in:

2 cups corn oil  [I used canola oil, would now use olive oil] in a slow steady stream

Stir in:

3 T poppy seeds

Refrigerate until ready to use.

[I served with Caesar salad type greens and croutons.]

Recipe suggests serving with spinach, purple onion, sliced hard-cooked egg, crumbled bacon and homemade croutons sauteed in butter and garlic.


* January 2013:  Reading Harold McGee's Keys to Good Cooking I came across this (page 298):

    " To eliminate the very slight risk of salmonella contamination from raw egg yolk, use pasteurized eggs, or pasteurize the yolk yourself.  Combine 1 yolk in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon/15 milliliters each of lemon juice and water, and microwave the mix on high power until it heaves close to the boil.  Remove the bowl, stir briskly with a clean fork, and repeat the heating.  Remove and stir again with a clean fork until lukewarm  Then start whisking in oil to make the sauce."  Be sure to use a clean fork/whisk each time. While McGee suggests this for making mayonnaise, it could also be done for Poppy Seed Dressing.  Full disclosure: I have not tried this yet but look forward to making this salad dressing with a pasteurized egg in the near future.

On page 214, McGee notes, " Pasturized eggs are available in the shell, in liquid form, and dried. These products eliminate worries about samonella-infected eggs, but don't do quite as good a job as raw eggs at foaming or emulsifying sauces. They can have a pronounced cooked flavor."

Reviewed 6/19/2017

Outing Club Oatmeal Bread

When I was growing up the "Dartmouth Outing Club House" on Occum Pond was open as a restaurant during the summer months. It was operated by Jeanette Gill whose Outing Club Oatmeal Bread was legendary. I recently came across the recipe in Moogie's cookbook. Note that the recipe yields 4 loaves and scale accordingly.

"Pour
2 c boiling water over

1 c rolled oats

Add:
2 T shortening

Cool and add:
1/2 c dark molasses
2 t salt

Dissolve:
1 cake or 1 envelope dry granular yeast in luke warm water and add to oatmeal mixture. [Check yeast package for acceptable temperature range.]

Add:
5-6 cups flour beating in gradually

Turn onto floured board and knead until smooth looking. Turn into greased bowl. Cover and leave in warm place 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Shape into 4 loaves and place in greased bread pans. Let rise again. Bake in moderate oven, 350 degrees F, for about 50 minutes or until well browned.

Yield four loaves, 1 1/2 pound each. Slice thick."

Reviewed 5/10/17