Monday, June 25, 2012

Saumon Unilateral

I have many favorite foods from France. But this is one of my all-time favorites. I had this dish first at La Grille, that lovely little bistro right around the corner from my apartment in Paris. I'm going back to town the week after next and I'm definitely going to get my La Grille fix. It's called "Saumon Unilateral" because it's never flipped on the pan, just heated from beneath on a dry, salted pan. The heat works its way through the fish, and so the cooking level is stratified in the final piece of fish. You can see on the fish based on the color to cook it to your preference, but I always find that the more rare part at the top center of the piece is creamy and delicious. And, the skin at the base is salty and crunchy.

This dish is incredibly easy and fast to make at home, but it does require a good quality piece of salmon, and the thicker the better. This dish can be served with almost any kind of side, but my favorite is to serve with roasted asparagus with melted parmesan cheese and whipped cauliflower mash.

Saumon Unilateral

2 filets of good quality salmon
1 tbl good sea salt
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp herbs de provence

1. Heat a dry pan over medium heat and sprinkle salt across the base of the pan.
2. Sprinkle herbs de provence on the salmon pieces. Salt and pepper too if you like.
3. Place the salmon filets skin side down on the pan.
4. Let the salmon cook - it will take 8-12 minutes depending on the heat of your stovetop.
5. Remove and sprinkle with olive oil

Plate with sides - below see recipes for cauliflower mash and roasted asparagus.

Cauliflower Mash
1 cauliflower head
2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp white ground pepper (or regular will do fine)
1 small container boursin cheese

1. Boil water in a large saucepan.
2. Add chopped pieces of cauliflower and garlic. Boil until soft.
3. Add salt, pepper, and boursin cheese and mash with a masher (or my new immersion blender works great for this too!). If you don't add the cheese, add a few tablespoons of milk to make it creamier.
4. Enjoy!

Roasted Asparagus
This was one of the first recipes from the Barefoot Contessa I tried, and I still love having asparagus this way!

1 bunch asparagus
1 cup asiago cheese (or parmesan or pecorino, as you prefer)
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbl olive oil
2 tsp sea salt / fleur de sel

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
2. Place aluminum foil over baking sheet and spread asparagus across it.
3. Sprinkle with cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
4. Bake for 25-35 minutes until soft, depending on the thickness of the asparagus.

Put it all together, and ... Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Perfect Pesto

I confess to having had a certain disdain for pesto for much of my adult life, but I think I just had a few bad experiences with pestos that were overly creamy or too oily. However, a few months ago, a friend of mine made an arugula pesto that I adored, and then I realized that any mix of greens will do. So tonight, I made a pesto with all my leftovers from my CSA from the past week, since tomorrow's time for the next pick-up. And the result... was perfect. I had a friend to dinner, and this was a fast and easy dinner, which we enjoyed white wine with our fresh pesto and white sole. Even though I used basil, garlic scopes, cilantro, arugula, kale, and spinach, this was just based on what I had in, and this recipe still works great with any combination of these.

White Sole with Pesto and Angel Hair Pasta

2-3 pieces of white sole filet
1 tbl butter
1/2 box angel hair pasta
3/4 cup good olive oil (I used my favorite - Chateau Virant)
3-4 garlic cloves
2-3 garlic scapes
1 large bunch basil
1-2 stems of cilantro
1 small bunch arugula
1-2 kale leaves
1 small bunch spinach
salt and pepper to taste

1. Start your pasta water boiling.
2. Combine and pulse in a food processor - garlic, garlic scapes, basil, cilantro, arugula, kale, and spinach.
3. Put greens in a separate bowl and whisk in olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Once the water starts boiling, add pasta and melt butter in a frying pan. The pasta takes only 4-5 minutes, and this fish is thin and cooks quickly. When the butter is melted, add fish and cook, just about 2 minutes on each side, until slightly browned.
5. Add a few ladlefuls of the pasta water to your pesto. This will help it to adhere to the pasta. Combine sauce and pasta in bowl.
6. Serve with piece of fish on top.

 On an unrelated note, recently, I went to one of my favorite bars in NYC - Little Branch, in the West Village. I enjoyed some of my favorite gin and ginger beer based drinks, and then my friend suggested that we have some absinthe. I had ordered absinthe before at bars in London and Paris, but it has always come in a bottle. I had no idea I was missing out on an authentic absinthe experience... a la Toulouse-Lautrec. The eerie green liquid (which did not look eerie at all in the dark bar) is placed in a glass, with a sugar cube above a slotted spoon over the top of the glass. The water tap is turned on slowly to let it drip over the cube, melting the sugar, and dragging it into the glass. The result is a sweet and tangy, licorice-scented beverage that I enjoyed... and I felt like I was doing late nineteenth-century research! :-)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Roasted Turnips

My farm share started today for the season! I was thrilled to be handed a giant bag of vegetables, some of which I could not identify:

mystery vegetable - garlic scape!
 I walked home, breathing in all the freshness of basil, cilantro, arugula, and kale, and then pulled everything out to see the harvest. I boosted my leftover macaroni and cheese dinner with a kale salad and these roasted turnips, that came out far better than I could have imagined. They were the perfect blend of fresh, sweet, and salt. It was hard to leave leftovers for tomorrow. Who knew?

Roasted Turnips

4-5 turnips, peeled, and sliced into 1/2" roundels
1 garlic scape (if you happen to have one around - this is the green of a young garlic plant), sliced into 1/2" pieces (otherwise a diced clove of garlic will do)
2 tbl vegetable oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp shallot salt (a new purchase from the spice shop in Princeton, NJ; without this, you can use onion salt)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 and lay aluminum foil on a baking sheet.

2. Place turnips in a bowl, and add garlic scape, oil, paprika, salt, cornmeal, pepper, and cheese. Mix thoroughly to coat the turnips. Spread out evenly on baking sheet.

3. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Enjoy!