Archive for March, 2011

March 29, 2011

A Classic Revisited | Sea Bass Salad

The birth of this post comes from a piece of bony fish.

I had a lovely piece of sea bass that would have made a gorgeous steak all seared off and pretty, ready for it’s close up.  But darn it if I couldn’t pry loose some stubborn pin bones.  Many people wouldn’t bother with such a thing,  but as it turns out, I have a thing.  I really can’t stand bones in a fish.  I know.  Hush.

So, I poached it instead.

And after its warm bath, the fish easily gave up all those bones just with a bit of light flaking into a bowl.  This salad is wonderful in its traditional forms: on a croissant (from Pistacia Vera?), over a salad of spring greens, on toast (from Omega Bakery?) or, as I did, in lettuce leaves that rolled up into little roulades.  Add in a few strong, non-traditional ingredients (olives, capers, a brunoise of red bell pepper) and you’ve got something that a lady who lunches or a fish phobic person (I’m not fish phobic, I’m bone phobic) will really enjoy.

Sea Bass Salad Roulades, serves 2

2/3 pound sea bass (although salmon would also be just marvelous in this, come to think of it)

6 olives, sliced

1 T red bell pepper, minced

1 T capers, drained

1 green onion, thinly sliced

1 T parsley, finely chopped

2 T olive oil, plus more to taste

1/2 lime, juice and zest

Salt, pepper

4 large lettuce leaves, washed and dried

In a small pot of simmering water add in the fish and cook at a gentle bubble for 10 to 12 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.  Drain and let rest on a paper towel.  While the fish is cooking, combine all other ingredients in a small bowl, except for the lettuce leaves.  Flake in the fish with the dressing, gently stir to incorporate.  Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper or olive oil to taste.  Divide the salad amongst the four lettuce leaves.

Playlist included Second Chance, by PB&J (Peter, Bjorn and John).

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March 28, 2011

Earthy Elegance | Porcini Mushroom and Chicken Liver Pâté

I have been craving pâté for a couple of weeks.

This coming from the girl who couldn’t stand liver growing up.  But as times change, so do ingredients.  With such widespread availability from so many great producers, its a great time to revisit some of the things you thought you didn’t like.  You might be surprised.

It’s a craving that makes some sense.  Chicken livers are a powerhouse of iron as well as a slew of other minerals, and they have a high vitamin content too.  So if you’re feeling a little run down, do yourself a favor and find some high-quality livers.  These beautiful ones were from North Market Poultry and Game, because honestly, they have the best chickens in Columbus, and therefore the best livers.

I followed this recipe from Gordon Ramsay, because no matter how he acts on American television, this guy can cook.  And this recipe produced, rather simply, with just a few ingredients, something that was a serious treat to eat.  Served on some crispy toasts or small slices of fresh baguette, the pâté has an earthy, forest-like fragrance to it thanks to the porcini mushrooms and woodsy thyme.  It’s a dish that evokes luxury, but if you stop to think about it, it’s quite humble indeed.

A few PK tips if you decide to make this some Saturday.  If you’re here in Columbus, use Snowville‘s whole milk to soak the livers in overnight, it elevates the dish, I think.  And while you’re at it, just buy some of the whipping cream and fix up a quick batch of butter to clarify and pour over the top of the pâté to seal.  If you’re taking care, go all the way.  Take the time and press the pate through a sieve to ensure the mixture is silky.  When you taste it you will appreciate your own efforts.  When you’re ready to serve the pâté, take it out of the fridge a bit before you’re ready to serve it.  I marveled at how the flavors blossomed as it warmed from cool to room temperature, almost like a cheese.

Playlist included Teenage Suicide Don’t Do It by Big Fun.  There is a link there, believe it or not.

March 25, 2011

Persephone’s Cocina | Lamb Chili

This is as close to elegant as a bowl of chili can get – it’s more appropriate for date night than for game night.  The lamb mellows beautifully after some time on the stove, the texture is velvety and tender, and the flavor is at once comforting and surprising.  This recipe makes use of some bold and non-traditional spicing, and the payoff is extraordinary.  The black cardamom provides a smoky warmth, the fenugreek a little burnt maple.  Pair these with the traditional cumin, chili powder and coffee, and the result is wonderful.  Its stunning, brick-red color is worth making it alone.  It’s a refined chili with a faint, almost-Persian echo.  Serve it over tamales, with some homemade cornbread, or simply with some sour cream.  It’s easy, and it’s a star.

Chile de Cordero, Serves 2

2 strips bacon, chopped

1/2 pound ground lamb

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March 25, 2011

Backyard Foraging

Found a bit of wild garlic or onions in the back lawn.  They will taste fabulous, snipped like chives, over the top of the peasant chickpeas for dinner.

March 24, 2011

Persephone’s Cocina | Tamales

In San Antonio, tamales are an important tradition around major holidays leading to long lines at some of San Antonio’s favorite spots like Delicious Tamales and Ruben’s.  I had always considered them something that might be too much work on my part, but as it turns out, they’re really not as much as I thought they’d be.  Especially if you happen to have a few pinto beans leftover from a recent meal.

Last weekend’s trip to my favorite Mexican grocery store yielded dried corn husk wrappers and set me off on the wild idea to make a few for myself.  So this afternoon during Cherub’s “quiet time,” i.e., the thing you do when a preschooler no longer naps, I made tamales with refritos.  And because I used a recipe for the masa from Rick Bayless, which used a stand mixer (read: five minutes of work) and the beans were essentially already made, the tamales came together pretty quickly.  And while I’m not suggesting you make these on your own (have a sister or a friend around to gossip with while you do it on a Saturday afternoon), they are not the daunting delicacy that you might have presumed.

And for that pleasurable bit of work and chat, you are rewarded with a tender and ethereally light corn dumpling filled with smoky, spicy beans.  Truly, these are something that you need to be careful

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March 22, 2011

Three Ingredient Garnish | Avocado Lime Crema

A Saturday shopping trip to my favorite little Mexican grocery store turned up tortillas that rival many I’ve had in Texas, dried corn husks, great cheeses including cotija and Oaxaca, bulk beans, and avocados.

I’ve been kind of obsessed with avocados since reading this fantastic short article in Eating Well (helpfully compiled in Best Food Writing of 2010) about a tiny spot in the Mexican state of Michoacán that is perfectly suited to growing the best avocados in the world, year-round.

On Sunday, I was remiss in posting this three ingredient garnish (one of which is avocados, natch) that is delicious on spicy tacos, as a substitute for mayonnaise in chicken salads (I will be doing this a lot during the summer for sure) and perfect on, what else? huevos rancheros.  It is not guacamole: because it’s not spicy and it’s got crème fraîche in it.  Use it as a cooling counterpoint to hot and spicy foods.  Perhaps some chipotle wings… hmmm…

Avocado Lime Crema

Note the teeny tag that says it's from Michoacán.

1 ripe avocado (Haas are my favorites, choose one that gives a bit in your hand, but isn’t mushy – or alternately – hard as a rock)

1/2 c crème fraîche, or crema or sour cream

Zest and juice from 1/2 lime

Salt to taste

Scoop the avocado flesh into a food processor, add the crema, lime and salt and process until smooth.  Careful you don’t process too much- could this Snowville crème fraîche turn into butter?

Serve. Perhaps in the scooped out avocado hulls?

Playlist included Whirring, by The Joy Formidable.

March 20, 2011

Sunday Breakfast | Huevos, Persephone Style

There’s something about Mexican food lately.  I’m just loving the spices and the fats and the flavors and the family feel of the meals.  This morning, since we had so many ingredients of Mexican origin in the fridge, I decided to do a take on huevos rancheros.  It’s not really rancheros; it’s just a delicious breakfast with spicy Mexican ingredients on a crispy tortilla, topped with a huevo.

I realize that this morning’s recipe is going to look a bit too involved.  But it has a couple of different simple components (the chile paste, the avocado crema) that you might consider making at some point and stashing in the freezer or have a bit leftover for a breakfast like this.

Huevos Persephone, serves two

Small link of Mexican chorizo, casing removed and sausage crumbled

1/4 of a small onion, diced

1 potato peeled and cut into small cubes

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