Sunday, February 07, 2016

Bluefish with Tomato Coulis and Blood Orange Salad

Saturday 6 February
We were going to make a meatloaf tonight, but Lukens had a sign up for bluefish fillets at $6.99 a pound, and our motto is, "see a bluefish, buy a bluefish."
Bluefish calls for tomatoes, but they're out of season, so you have to make do with whatever waxy winter fruit you can get.  So we dusted four or five halved Roma tomatoes with a little salt and sugar, and roasted them in the combi oven at 250º for 3 hours.  Mixed with some zest of blood orange and fresh chervil, they made a lovely coulis to accompany the fish.
Normally we get whole bluefish, but the method for cooking these fillets was inspired by the recipe for "Baked Bluefish" in Alan Davidson's classic North Atlantic Seafood.
Season two bluefish fillets with salt.  Put ca. 4 Tbsps. butter in a pyrex pan in a 430º oven until lightly browned.  When sizzling, put in the fillets, skin side up, and leave them in the oven for ca. 5 mins.
Turn the fillets over, baste with the butter from the pan, and pat the tops with some fresh thyme leaves.  Return to oven and roast till done, ca. 5 mins. more.  You can then run the fish fillets under the broiler for a minute to crisp them. 

This went well with a side salad, consisting of the halved segments of the blood orange, a sliced zucchini, and some leaves of redleaf lettuce, tossed with salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Pesto-Crusted Barramundi with Caramelized Endives

Friday 5 February
Yotam Ottolenghi's book Plenty inspired this endive preparation.  
Cut two endives in half lengthwise, and pare out the lower tough core.  Preheat the oven to 375º, put about 1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp. sugar, and a pinch of salt in an ovenproof skillet, and allow it to heat up.  Once it's hot, put in the four endive halves cut side down, and don't disturb them for 3-5 mins.  Then turn them over to cut side up, sprinkle with some thyme, and cover each with a slice of melty cheese (we used grated kashkaval).  Return the pan to the oven for 8-12 mins, until the cheese is bubbly, then sprinkle with some breadcrumbs and fresh cracked pepper, return to the oven again, and bake at 400º for 5-7 mins. until brown. 
While we were doing all that, we took a couple of minutes in the intervals to panfry a pair of barramundi fillets, first skin side up, then flipped; when they were thoroughly done (and you don't want barramundi to be rare), we smeared the top side with our homemade pesto and let it brown in the oven for a minute.

A great combination, and even with the complicated way of crusting the endive, it only took a short time.

Dinner at Forno

Thursday 4 February
Another step on the road to recovery: we managed to go out to dinner with a job candidate after a long day.  On Russel and Kathy's recommendation, we chose a new place, Forno, far in the reaches of Hyde Park.

It's an informal, noisy room, with rustic wooden furniture and a terrace and fire-pits out front.  But the service is attentive, and we were soon supplied with menus, water, an account of the specials, and red wine.
The specials supplied one of our openers, an excellent swordfish crudo with pickled red onions and a couple of slices of broiled eggplant.  The other was a bowl of honeycomb tripe Florentine-style, which is much like Roman-style: braised in red wine and crushed tomatoes, and dusted with Parmigiano Reggiano; it only needed some Blue Oven bread to sop up the sauce.

Again, we chose a special as one of our mains: "porchetta" of salty brined pork loin wrapped in pork belly, on a bed of green beans with tomato; while the menu offered an even tastier option, two loin lambchops on a bed of spicy cannellini beans and rapini pesto.

In sum, Forno is pretty good, but would be more pleasant if they had comfy chairs and didn't play bad rock muzak too loud.

Mushrooms Stuffed with Chicken à la King

Wednesday 3 February
Holt hand-picked a pound of mushrooms suitable for stuffing at Findlay Market on Saturday, and we've been pondering what to do with them.  At first we thought it would be funny if we filled them with creamed tuna and green peas, as if it were tuna-noodle casserole enclosed in their own mushrooms instead of cream of mushroom soup.  But when we picked over the roast chicken from yesterday's dinner and got lots of extra tasty scraps, we came up with the perfect idea: Barbara's childhood favorite, chicken à la King.

We cleaned the mushrooms, cut out and trimmed the stems, and diced and sautéed them and some little red peppers in bacon fat in a pan, while the oil-sprinkled mushroom caps had a preliminary toast in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Then we added some flour to the pan to make a roux, poured in heavy cream to thicken, and finally, added the chicken scraps and some breadcrumbs to give it body. 

We piled the resultant mixture into the mushroom caps, topped them with grated cheese, and set them into the oven to brown for another 15 minutes.  And you know, as well as being the perfect 50s pastiche, they tasted really good.

Chicken Legs with Salad

Tuesday 2 February

Again, so much is happening at work that we are grateful for leftovers.  In this case, legs and wings of Sunday's roast chicken, nicely crisped in the combi oven, served with a salad of the last of the arugula, redleaf lettuce, chopped red onion, and Roma tomatoes.