Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mashed Potatoes with Two Barbecues

Wednesday 24 April
At the end of a tiring day, here is nothing better (or quicker) than saucy leftover meat on a bed of mashed potatoes.  Today we had a choice of two meats from our AAUP BBQ: beef brisket got reheated in some of our smoked duck broth, and pulled chicken in Miles' son's Broken Trail spicy sauce. 

We made a dam of the creamy potatoes and piled the hot barbecue on either side; you can eat from one side, then the other, and keep it level, so that by the time the dam has broken, the food is just about gone.

Cold Sea Bream and Tabouli

Tuesday 23 April
We were obviously not able to finish the full three pounds of baked sea bream that we had for dinner on Saturday, so we saved out a side and a half of fish, and had it tonight very simply: cold, drenched with lemon, and accompanied with leftover tabouli (there's lots of it) dressed up with extra tomatoes.

Roast Chicken with Turnips, Shallots, and Asparagus

Monday 22 April
Roasted a little fryer with rosemary under its skin (and for a minute, in its armpits) at 350º. 

Once it was in the oven, chopped three turnips into batons and halved four big shallots, tossed them in oil and salt, and threw them in the pan.
At the end of almost an hour, raised the temperature to 500º to crisp and brown the skin, and threw in five or six asparagus that kind Jenny had clipped from her asparagus bed for us at the picnic yesterday.
They made a perfect green touch on top of our platefuls of tender roasted roots and chicken breasts.


Sunday 21 April
It's Barbara's first year as a faithful union foot soldier, and she and Holt were happy to head out to the AAUP's annual school's-over potluck barbeque, for some solidarity through good food and drink.  It was held at the home of colleagues Jenny and Fred, who are both landscape architects; and wandering through their garden, with its grassy terraces, picturesque patios, beehives, and vegetable beds, was almost as much of a treat as eating the products.
The main dishes for meat-eaters were pulled chicken, pork, and beef brisket with a choice of mild and hot sauce; there were also veggie-burgers for those inclined.  On the side-dish buffet were three kinds of cole slaw, four kinds of potato salad (one with addable bacon), Greek gigantes and baked beans, cornbread, crudités with guacamole, and the bulgur and quinoa tabouli we made yesterday.

The dessert table was as spectacular.  There were Jenny's hexagonal honey cakes made with honey from the beehives just outside (it was also in her fruit salad); rhubarb poundcake with candied violets; homemade blueberry pie and peach pie; and Aglamesis ice cream, among other delights. 
Topping off the evening was a beer tasting (and ingredient sniffing) featuring hefeweizen, skullsplitter, and an American IPA.  Under that benign influence, our president Greg played a funny original song featuring a certain newly-anointed University president; we hope he posts it on his you-tube channel.
As we left, Jenny urged us to take some of the meaty leftovers, and even clipped us some green and purple asparagus from the garden.  So thanks, AAUP!  We will enjoy our union friends' bounty another day.    

Baked Sea Bream with Tabouli

Saturday 20 April
Luken's had a sign over a row of fresh-eyed heavy-browed fish that said "Doral, or Sea Brim"; they got it, they said, from a Greek fish farm, and we should tell them how we liked it.
We bought two (about 3 pounds total), went home and checked Alan Davidson's Mediterranean Seafood (we met him, we boast, at a slavery conference in Rethymnon, 2004).  He helped us identify our elegant catch as gilt-head sea bream, Sparus aurata; the guy at Luken's must have heard Doral for Daurade, its French name.  We've had it in Italy as Orata, and it's a sweet-fleshed thick-bodied fish whose bones peel away nicely. 

We took hints from a recipe in Davidson for Daurade au Four
Made slashes in each side of each fish, and stuffed them with chopped chervil mixed with kosher salt, for a subtle anise flavor when tarragon is not yet out.
Got out our giant cast-iron skillet, plus its lid.  In oil, fried an onion that had been sliced on the equator very thinly.  Added 3-4 chopped Roma tomatoes and salt.  On this bed, laid the fish.  Splashed 2/3 cup white wine over, put the lid on, and put in oven at 375º for 25 minutes.
Lifted the fishies out onto two platters, spooned the tomatoes and onions around, and reduced the pan juices to a nice syrup.  Two big fish were more than enough, but we also had a spoonful each of a nice bulgar-plus-quinoa "tabouli."
We had emptied out our jars of both grains, cooking each separately: about a cup of bulgur with 1.5 time the amount of boiling water poured over to steep under cover; quinoa, however, is cooked like rice: about 2 cups, poured into 2 times the amount of boiling salted water, cooked covered on slow, low heat, for 30 minutes.  Then fluffed both up, mixed them together with the juice from all the lemons we had (4), an equal amount of good Spanish olive oil, a chopped red bell pepper, and 4 minced cloves of garlic.  Oh, and dice of the long-haired scallions we got from a Findlay Market farmer, that so captivated Dora.