Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weekly Fish #9: Grilled Scallops with Mexican Corn Salad

For a while now, I've wanted to try elote, that mayo- and spice-laden grilled corn on the cob that is iconic of Mexican street food. I imagine that it's a great combination of sweet (grilled corn), spicy (ancho chili powder), and sour (lime), but fear that the mayo could dominate all. That fear was somewhat realized with this week's fish.

Scallops grilled surprisingly well, at least in appearance. The grill marks are right out of a food maazine. But can't say that I prefer scallops this way; the texture was a great combination of firm and silky, but the taste was ... bland. Any other preparation of scallops I've had involved pan frying and/or broiling, and I think that letting the scallops cook in a sauce this way, rather than in the relative open air, makes for better scallops.

The corn salad is basically a dissembled elote: grilled corn on the cob (just rubbed with oil left directly on the grill for 10 minutes, then cut off the cob), lime juice, chili powder, red onion, garlic, cheese (should be cotija, but I substituted ricotta salata), and, yes, mayo. In the background, the flavors were just what I had imagine elote to be, but all played the chorus to the lead mayo.

Neither of us was a fan of the dish. I will still give elote a try someday, but with lowered expectations.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jess & Nick's CSA Delivery #7 - July 28, 2011

Our new veggies are here! This week's delivery includes carrots; our first potatoes of the year; beet roots and greens; onions; sweet corn (Nick and I cheated and bought some at the Farmers' Market last weekend so we've already had our first sweet corn of the summer); summer squash...I have almost enough to make chocolate zucchini cake; more callaloo (I really can't bring myself to call these beautiful magenta leaves amaranth greens anymore, so I'm adopting their Jamaican name); fennel; and broccoli.

Not pictured are saute greens; cucumbers, which thanks to Jaime's cucumber mint cooler post I've been using in smoothies; Italian basil from the choice box; and garlic.

In addition to the chocolate zucchini cake, I'm thinking about making a grilled corn and bacon salad, as well as some kind of potato salad over the next couple weeks. So far, that's all that's come to mind, but I'm sure that all these beautiful vegetables will inspire all kinds of delicious meals in the days to come.

As always, our heartiest thanks go out to all the hard working people at Harmony Valley Farm.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cherries Part II: Pie - July 22, 2011

Jaime's delicious looking peach pie inspired me to bake my own on Friday. I had just exactly enough cherries harvested from our front yard tree to make a pie. For about 30 minutes I was paralyzed with indecision, as this would use up all of this year's cherries. Should I find a way to stretch them out? Make jam to enjoy them longer? In the end I decided to put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. It was a good decision.

My crust turned out perfectly. As usual, I used my Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book recipe for a double pie crust, but instead of shortening, I used a combination of lard and butter in equal quantities. The butter adds delicious flavor and the lard is hard to beat for flakiness (my Grandma knew what she was doing).  I was especially thrilled with how my scalloped edges turned out this time around. They finally look like an adult made this pie versus a four year old (my normal results).

The cherries were deliciously tart. I've never enjoyed a pie more than this little cherry number. Some of you may know that I am learning to like pie late in life, as traditionally I have been firmly on Team Cake.  This pie has me rethinking my allegiance. 

When Nick arrived home Friday evening he was pleased that I had decided to observe 'Pi(e) Approximation Day' by baking his favorite kind. Yes, Dinner Clubbers, now you don't have to wait until March 14th (3.14) to celebrate Pi Day, you can double up the festivities by enjoying pie on 7/22 as well, because 7 divided by 22 comes darn close to 3.14. Just a little something special for all you pie loving math nerds out there. You're welcome.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Steak Tacos with Homemade Tortillas - July 24, 2011

The original plan for tonight was to have grilled hot dogs and potato salad, but that was derailed by my visit to an allergist late last week. For the past 5 or so months, I've been getting painful welts and swollen spots on my feet and hands. Doctors told me it looked like some kind of allergic reaction and I suspected perhaps my yoga mat was the problem. The allergist was more specific - he said it was "delayed pressure urticaria/angioedema." Essentially they are allergic reactions to physical pressure - like standing, wearing shoes, gripping, etc. Yep, I'm allergic to living. There isn't much that can be done, except he did say that about 10% of people who have this condition also have food allergies and they could be co-factors of the swelling.

So, he did the full battery of food allergy skin tests and while nothing was definitive, I did have mild reactions to tomatoes, corn, hazelnuts, potatoes, squash, celery, and pineapple. The doctor suggested I do a 3-week elimination diet and then reassess. If the symptoms improve, then reintroduce the foods one at a time to narrow down the culprit(s).

It took a couple days for the full meaning of this list to sink in. I'm not a big celery fan, so no loss there. I don't care about hazelnuts and I can live without squash and pineapple. But avoiding tomatoes, corn, and potatoes?! Now that means big changes. Potatoes and tomatoes are staples in our house and I'm quickly realizing that I eat corn virtually every day without thinking about it... corn flour, corn starch, corn syrup. It's in everything!

In all there is a silver lining. This is going to force me to do more from-scratch cooking. Like tonight. I had a craving for tacos, but obviously corn taco shells or tortillas are out. You'd think flour tortillas would be OK, but the ones in our refrigerator list corn starch. Taco seasoning mix is also an issue as it contains both tomatoes and corn flour. But I didn't want to give up on the craving, so I looked online for instructions on making homemade flour tortillas. I settled on the Pioneer Woman's recipe (with shortening, I don't keep lard on hand) and they came out deliciously! For the taco seasoning I mixed a chopped onion, paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper. I need to spend more time perfecting the mix, but the tortillas were fantastic and not hard at all! Even if I end up adding corn back in my diet, I may stick with making these.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cucumber Mint Cooler - July 22, 2011

Great minds think alike! As part of my self-pampering and birthday celebration, I decided to make myself a rare cocktail. This is my attempt to recreate a refreshing (and paradoxically light) drink I had at the Melt Bar and Grilled in Cleveland called a "Cucumber Cooler." My version consisted of one of my home grown cucumbers - peeled and chopped, a handful of mint leaves, the juice of one lime, and a few ice cubes thrown in a blender and pureed. I then added a healthy shot of gin and poured it over ice. I realized it was missing something, so I topped off the glass with some tonic (seltzer water would have been a better choice but I didn't have any).

It was a delicious drink, especially on a day when the outside temperatures in the DC area hit an all-time record high of 105 degrees.

Happy Weekend - July 22, 2011

Nothing new here, Dinner Clubbers. Just another Pimm's Number One Cup, this time garnished with my very first borage flower. I planted borage specifically because I read that it is used to flavor Pimm's cups. Nick and I like to joke that we have a 'cocktail garden.'

The heat has broken (kind of) here in Minneapolis and I am looking forward to a weekend at home, utilizing my newly functioning oven and getting to some long overdue household tasks. In between this, I will of course be enjoying some deliciously cool and herbaceous beverages on the porch. I hope you all will be doing something you similarly enjoy.

A special greeting to all my loved ones that celebrate birthdays this week. There are quite a few of you and rest assured, Nick and I will raise a toast to each of you!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Grilled Veggie Packet - July 20, 2011

Our last night without an oven and we chose to use the grill again. We had some burgers in the freezer so we threw them on. Instead of a salad this time we chose to make up a grill packet with some of our CSA veggies to serve alongside the burgers. We used green beans, summer squash and some baby onions, tossed everything with olive oil, salt and pepper and wrapped it up in aluminum foil. After five minutes on the grill it was ready. Nick stated that this could have been cooked longer. I'll say maybe, but not more than another minute. I thought the veggies were perfectly heated through, but still so fresh and crunchy. It was quite delicious, as were the burgers.

Appliances used: gas grill

This wraps up our Ovenless Dinner Club Challenge. 'What,' you say? 'But that's only five meals and you guys were without an oven for nine days.' I can feel your incredulousness. Well, we cheated. Nick and I were both out of town for the weekend, he in Madison (lucky boy) and me in Southern Minnesota visiting my parents and taking advantage of their pool (lucky me), so that's three dinners right there. The remaining night we apologetically ordered out. I told you, heat makes me lazy.
Posted by Picasa

Smoked Trout and Green Bean Salad - July 18, 2011

Yes, it's another salad. That's what happens when it's 95 degrees out and one doesn't have a functioning kitchen range. I made this using some more of our saute greens, which weren't getting sauteed anytime soon, some fresh green beans and a can of smoked trout. The dressing is made up of the oil that the trout was packed in to add extra fishy deliciousness, along with some freshly squeezed lemon juice, some fresh lemon zest, salt and pepper. It was great, cool and crunchy. I don't know about you, Dinner Clubbers, but I get pretty lazy in the heat and this quick salad was a perfect Monday night dinner.

Appliances used: none
Posted by Picasa

Grilled Beet Salad with Chevre and Toasted Hazelnuts - July 15, 2011

This meal utilized some baby beets that Nick and I had grilled the same night as the burgers and placed in the fridge to chill for a couple of days. We peeled them right before using them in this salad, which also included a bed of saute greens, some creamy chevre cheese and a pile of toasted hazelnuts. It was simple and very flavorful with the combination of the mustard greens, earthy beets, chevre and the richness of the toasted hazelnuts. We added a simple dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Appliances used: gas grill, toaster oven
Posted by Picasa

Grilled Cheeseburgers with Strawberry Salad - July 14, 2011

As I type up this much belated post, our oven and stove top is operational again. Huzzah! Actually, with the excessive heat and humidity we've had this last week here in Minnesota (119 degree heat index thanks to the tropical dew points), I can't say that I was itching to turn on my stove. Although some nights were almost too hot to stand outside and grill as well. But, that's just what we did for this meal. I made up some 1/5 lb patties with chopped scallions, salt and pepper to season. Nick grilled them and added some medium cheddar at just the right moment and we piled them on homemade buns (yes, I know I need an oven for those, but these were made earlier and stored in the freezer until needed) with some fresh baby romaine lettuce. I also made up a side salad with some of our salad greens plus some freshly picked strawberries and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Appliances used: gas grill, freezer

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm a yoga teacher!

Just a quick post to say that it is official, I am now a registered yoga teacher! I did my practicum class today, passed, and submitted my paperwork to the Yoga Alliance. Yay!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Herbes Provencal Chicken & Stuffed Tomatoes

Where did the weekend go?! I swear just a minute ago it was Friday afternoon! Something possessed me to start some spring cleaning (yes, I know it is July already) and that quickly took over what was supposed to be a relatively relaxing weekend. We did manage to complete a pretty deep cleaning of the rooms on the top floor of the town house (our bedroom and bathroom, the guest room and bathroom, and my office) and amassed a pretty impressive pile of stuff to donate to Goodwill. Next week I will tackle the middle floor, which means the kitchen. I need to be ruthless about getting rid of some gadgets... we have so many little gizmos that we never use but that I remain attached to! Many of them were purchased specifically for a dinner club meal and I have fond memories of both the hunt for the item and of the meal it eventually produced.

I did make time today though to fire up the oven, despite the oppressive mid-Atlantic summer heat (thank goodness for our effective central air conditioner!) and cook up some delicious food. Richie discovered that the remaining peaches in the crisper drawer were quickly rotting when he reached in for one to top his oatmeal this morning, so I knew I needed to dispatch with those today. So far, I'd made peach crisp, peach buckle, peach cobbler - southern style, peach cobbler - Texas style (yes, there is a difference), and peach muffins. The only thing left to make was peach pie!

I followed the recipe in the Cook's Illustrated Baking Illustrated cookbook, all the way down to the lattice top - a first for me. I was pleased with the outcome, both aesthetically and in taste. I also froze another quart bag of peaches, so we will have some to enjoy come winter, but it was still sad to slice up the last of them for the year.

In the shuffle of spring cleaning, I found a little cookbook I had forgotten I had - Savoring the Herbal Flavors of Provence from the Madison Herb Society. I'm trying to make a point of cooking with more herbs, since our patio garden is growing so fabulously this year and this I was excited to discover that I was growing almost every herb the recipes called for. Since I'd already heated up the house with the oven for the pie, I figured I might as well continue the craziness and make a roast chicken with fresh thyme, lemons, shallots, and dried herbes provencal (from Penzey's Spices, of course). Along with the shallots, I tossed in some red potatoes. The sauce was a little more fancy than I usually do when making a simple Sunday roast chicken, but it was really tasty and worth the extra effort.

I also had some heirloom tomatoes from the most recent CSA and decided to try stuffed roasted tomatoes, utilizing some of the basil, parsley, more thyme, and a scallion (all from the patio garden). I didn't have the Gruyere cheese it called for, so I just substituted some shredded co-jack. Quite a different flavor profile, but my cheese palate is not very discriminating so I thought it was great.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jaime's CSA Deliveries - #4 & 5

Sorry for my absence from this blog for the past few weeks. Things have been insanely busy out here so far this summer and it is somewhat a miracle that we've managed to continue to feed ourselves at all! Since my last post, I've traveled thousands of miles for work (South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New York) and for pleasure (to Wisconsin!) and finished the classroom portion of the 200-hour yoga teacher training program I'm doing. All I have left is to successfully complete my 90-minute final practicum class next week, and I'm a Registered Yoga Teacher!

Thankfully, life will begin to moderate and the rest of the summer should be quite a bit calmer. I'm looking forward to embracing my inner homemaker! I noticed today that our house is a bit grimy around the edges (funny how you can put blinders on and just ignore that stuff when you want to) and could stand a good spring cleaning. Veggies are also coming fast and furious from the CSA and from our little patio garden. Some have made it to the freezer, many we have eaten fresh, and only a small amount ended up returning to the earth via our garbage disposal. I'm looking forward to getting back to meal planning and eating some quality food instead of the fast food I'm forced to live on when on the road.

Delivery #4 came two weeks ago and as I unpacked it, I noticed immediately that it created a near complete rainbow of colors (only thing missing is blue). This bag consisted of red potatoes, ripe tomatoes, sweet onions, pattypan and yellow squash, green tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, eggplants, and some beautiful purple bell peppers. The beans went right in the freezer, the eggplants became baba ganoush, the cucumbers became refrigerator dill pickles (which Richie continues to marvel at and proclaim "really good!"), and the zucchini became bread.

I picked up delivery #5 yesterday. Despite being very bummed that the beans beneath the top layer were completely moldy, I was pleased with the rest of the haul. We have already eaten the corn and the carrots!

Clockwise, from lower lefthand corner: Yukon gold potatoes, kohlrabi, sweet corn, green bell peppers, blackberries, eggs, carrots, green beans, fennel, ruby red basil, and heirloom tomatoes in the middle.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jess & Nick's CSA Delivery #6 - July 14, 2011

Our latest CSA vegetable delivery arrived this rainy afternoon. I narrowly escaped getting poured on while picking up these beauties! The box this week contains more summer squash, which we love. In the corner you can also see a little white cipollini onion peaking out. Something new this week is the Holy Basil seen in the second photo in the top row. I often see Thai recipes calling for Holy Basil, but have never actually seen it before. It is quite fragrant, but in a different way than the Italian basil with which I am more familiar. Another completely new veggie to me is the bunch of radish seed pods shown in the third picture on top.  Harmony Valley recommends using them in a stir fry, but I may need to find a different use for them as, some of you are aware, my stove top is out of commission. I'm not sure it's possible to stir fry on a grill. Online research suggests adding them to salads, or using them for pickling, which could be interesting.  In contrast, the carrots are a very familiar sight. This bunch has it's leafy green tops still attached and it wasn't until last year that I realized that these could be used in the kitchen too. Last year I made carrot top iced tea, based on a suggestion in the HVF newsletter. I'm not sure what their fate will be this time around.

The bottom row starts out with the beautiful, and dreadfully mis-named, amaranth greens. These were the cause of one of the first true food adventures that Nick and I had during our first year as CSA members. See what we've used them for in the past here, here, and here. The rest of the line up should be quite familiar to everybody. We've received more broccoli, some fresh, meaning not dried, garlic and a lovely head of sweetheart cabbage.

In addition to the veggies pictured above, we also received baby bok choi, cucumbers, green and yellow beans (hurray!), and a bag of saute mix to play with over the next two weeks.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to the Farm! We so appreciate all your hard work to bring us such amazing food.
Posted by Picasa

Chicken Salad Sandwiches - July 13, 2011

Our first 'ovenless' meal involves a chicken salad that I mixed up utilizing some grilled chicken thighs, chopped fennel stalks and slivered almonds. The dressing is Dijon mustard and mayonnaise and I seasoned it with salt and pepper. I thought about adding some fresh herbs, namely tarragon to bring out the anise flavor of the fennel, but after tasting it, I decided it was good without. We piled our chicken salad on some whole wheat bread and added some crunchy pieces of baby romaine lettuce. They were quite good and I didn't miss the oven or stove top at all in the preparation of the meal.

Appliances used: gas grill
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cherries, Part I - July 10th, 2011

The First Ripe Cherries

If you've been following for awhile, you know that Nick and I have a cherry tree in our yard. We've been nurturing it now for five years and this summer brings us our biggest harvest to date. Normally I hoard these things like a jealous squirrel. They are a precious commodity as I never, ever see sour cherries for sale at any Co-op or Market around here. This year we appear to have enough for me to play around with a bit, maybe even, (gasp!), share some with some very, very lucky friends. Or maybe not. I haven't really decided yet.  We'll have to see how nicely my friends treat me over the next few weeks.

Cherries Macerating with Last Year's Blueberries

Sour cherries are made for baking, which is great if you have a functioning oven. I currently do not. I found this out while baking a Cherry-Blueberry Cobbler Supreme, a recipe I found in my Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book. My oven took about an hour to warm up to 350 F and after 40 minutes of baking time I found my cobbler to be just shy of done and my kitchen to smell faintly of natural gas. Time to shut the oven off!

Cherry-Blueberry Cobbler Supreme, Grilled to Perfection

What to do, Dinner Clubbers, what to do? I was not willing to let those cherries go to waste, or for that matter the blueberries. The cobbler needed about another five to 10 minutes of cooking. I decided, in an unprecedented move, I was going to grill it. We have a gas grill that can maintain a constant temperature which I can monitor on the thermometer mounted on the side. Sounds just like my oven, in slightly different format.


It worked. Ten minutes on the grill, with the lid closed at 350 F did the trick. I was concerned that my ceramic baking dish might shatter when placed over direct flames, so I turned off all but the back burner and kept the dish towards the front of the grill. Had I planned on grilling from the start, I would have put this in a metal baking dish to be safe. I was willing to take the risk this time because cherries were involved.

So, all's well that ends well. But we still won't have a functioning oven or stove top for the next ten days. The gas company sent someone over right quick when I told them about smelling gas. All that person did, however, was shut off the gas flow to the range and put a big red DO NOT USE sign up on my oven door where I usually keep a cute dish towel. When I called back to actually schedule service, the first available appointment was a week and a half out. Apparently there is some sort of crazy wave of air conditioner break down happening across the city that takes precedence. I was frustrated at first. I mean, I can't boil water for goodness sake. But Nick and I have decided to approach this as a Dinner Club challenge. We've decided we are going to get creative and put out some seriously delicious meals all without the use of our kitchen range. For the next ten days. Starting tonight. Stay tuned.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Strawberries - July 9, 2011

My Hand-Picked Flat of Berries

I managed to lolly-gag my way through Minnesota's strawberry season and ended up needing to go on an emergency run to pick this year's supply on Saturday morning. Despite waiting until the penultimate day of 2011's season, I was able to get a nice looking flat full of the delicious berries. The majority of these are already quite snug in the freezer. Some will be devoted to making jam, although that will have to wait until our stove is up and operational again in what I anticipate to be ten days from now (ugh! that's another story Dinner Clubbers).

Strawberry Ginger Soda

It is always very luxurious, however, to have mountains of fresh strawberries at one's disposal, and so some must be enjoyed fresh. In addition to just grabbing a handful whenever I please, I've also made up this glass of strawberry ginger soda by muddling fresh berries in the bottom, adding 2 oz of my ginger syrup, ice and filling with charged water. As I'm sure you can tell, it was very refreshing and could easily be doctored up to become an 'adult' beverage, if one was so inclined.

Fresh Strawberries with Almond Pastry Cream, Coconut, and Sliced Almonds

We've also made up some fancy-schmancy desserts with our fresh berries. This one involves a recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything for Vanilla Pastry Cream, which I of course changed to Almond Pastry Cream. I couldn't quite tell what to expect from the recipe, but I had all the ingredients on hand and it only took 20 minutes to make, so make it I did. It turned out not so much like 'cream' and very much like pudding, which was delicious, especially layered with the berries, coconut flakes and slivered almonds.

Strawberry season stretched quite long this year for us due to the cool spring and so I lucked out.  Now raspberry season is upon us, followed very closely by blueberries. Also, we've picked our first round of cherries from the tree in front, but that's for another post. Do not waste your days, Dinner Clubbers, make sure you are taking full advantage of this years bountiful berry season.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 11, 2011

A True Wisconsin Old Fashioned - July 9th, 2011

Homemade Old Fashioneds

What have Nick and I done with all that booze we brought back from Madison, you ask?  Well, over the weekend I tried my hand at mixing an Old Fashioned the way they do at The Old Fashioned.  I should clarify that I like to have my Old Fashioned made to order for me off the 'Build your Own' menu.  I take mine with Old Sugar Honey Liqueur, Bittercube Cherry-Bark Vanilla bitters, fruit garnish, and finished with a 'press,' which I understand to be half soda water and half soda pop, but I'm not exactly sure.  I personally call it the 'Jess.'  Here at home, with the supplies I had on hand, the best I could do was this:

2 oz Old Sugar Cane & Abe rum
3 dashes Bittercube Cherry-Bark Vanilla bitters
2 tsp turbinado sugar
1 maraschino cherry, 1 sour cherry, and a wedge of blood orange
soda water
1 tbsp simple syrup

I muddled the fruit with the sugar and bitters in the bottom of the glass; poured in the rum; added crushed ice, simple syrup, and soda water to fill the glass.

These were very tasty, but they were no 'Jess.'  Oh well, another reason to go back and visit Madison.

Posted by Picasa

Madison for the Fourth - July 2-4, 2011

Memorial Union Terrace

I know this post is very late, but at long last, here are some pictures from our July 4th weekend, spent in Madison, where we got to meet up with blog contributors (Jaime, plus Richie) and blog readers alike. As you can see, our Fourth was much more Orange, Yellow and Green than Red, White and Blue. I cannot think of a better place to spend the day than at the Terrace with a brat and a Rathskellar Ale. We showed up bright and early (10am) and watched the people slowly fill up all the Terrace Chairs.

Allen Centennial Gardens

We also made an excursion to my favorite garden and got to take in the riot of colors in full bloom. This year the garden's theme seems to be about the color wheel and they had many examples, both in the form of flowers and brightly painted benches and chairs.

Self Portrait in the Garden

We had great weather and a fantastic time exploring our favorite campus haunts, being introduced to new places, meeting up with friends, and eating and drinking our way through our beloved city.

Our Wisconsin Stash

We did not return home empty handed from our little adventure. While in Madison we visited the Old Sugar Distillery and picked up some Madison-distilled Cane & Abe Rum and Americanaki Ouzo (buy two bottles and get a T-shirt for $5...see Nick above). These are both delightful spirits and the distillery is a great place to pop into for an afternoon cocktail crafted from the liquors made on site. We also snagged some of Nick's favorite Matacabras beer made by Dave's BrewFarm, in Wilson Wisconsin. And, despite the rather hefty price tag, I could not leave Wisconsin without some Bittercube Bitters in Cherry-Bark Vanilla, created in Milwaukee and Madison (with strong Minneapolis ties!) and used in the best Old Fashioneds I've ever had at The Old Fashioned on the square.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weekly Fish #8: White Sea Bass with Fennel Three Ways

The strategy behind this week's fish was similar to weeks' past: visit Coastal Seafoods and pick up whatever looked good. I nearly opted for a pair of scary, toothy whole fish, but opted instead for something simpler: white sea bass.

We had a pair of small fennel bulbs from our latest Harmony Valley CSA box, along with a curiously high proportion of fennel stalks, stored separately. This week's dish made good use of all of that.

The fish itself was a simple preparation, but with a fun twist. I first charred a bunch of fennel stalks in a hot pan for 15 minutes, and then put the sea bass (rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper) on top of that before putting in the oven. The stalks did a nice job at keeping the fish from sticking to the pan, which made serving a heck of a lot easier. And they also infused the fish with an herbaceous, burnt aspect; or so I imagined.

The fennel was featured three ways in this dish:
  1. Braised fennel wedges. This was a hit. I cut a handful of wedges from the bulb and warmed in a bit of oil in a pan, added some chicken stock, butter, salt and pepper, and simmered for 20 minutes. Very tender and full of flavor.
  2. Apple and fennel slaw. A simple salad of julienned apple, sliced fennel, oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Very crunchy and a great offset to the warm and tender braised fennel wedges.
  3. Crunchy fennel topping on the fish. I chilled some fennel slices in ice water, dried, and mixed with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It complemented the bites of fishy sea bass nicely.

I suppose this is the second weekly fish to feature something three ways. I think this is a good way to use up perishable ingredients when cooking for two: rather than have a bunch of something leftover, why not dress it up in different ways and use it all up? Of course, by that logic, and with our current supply of veggies, the next weekly fish will feature seafood with beets 19 ways.


Related Posts with Thumbnails