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Posts Tagged ‘parsley’

you be the chef

 

The sky is the limit.

Money is no object.

Add anything you like.

Use all of these ingredients.

What is your creation?

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tastes as beautiful as it looks

tastes as beautiful as it looks

If you want to sing because you have just eaten something delectable – if you want to feel like you are dining in the manner of aristocrats – if you want an absolute slurpy flavor explosion with each little bite of food, then you need to prepare and eat the mussels that I just had for lunch.  Seriously.  I’m getting really passionate again about my lunch but it’s completely valid. 

Mussels are so good and easy to make.  The strangest thing is trying to guard their little lives so much from store to home, then confirm that they’re all healthy and thriving, only to quickly extinguish those little lives in a steaming pot.  I would be kind of sad about it if they weren’t so extravagantly delicious. 

I have been craving mussels and a  smattering of left over ingredients from the week came together very quickly to make an absolutely glorious broth that obviously gets me very excited.  A pinch of saffron and the addition of a tiny anchovy filet (both pantry staples in my house) added an extra layer of flavor to ingredients that are already outstanding.   Imagine this bite: one tender little mussel swimming in a fragrant broth that tastes of wine and lemon and garlic and fresh parsley and summer with a hint of thyme and saffron.  I realize that I sound a bit over dramatic sometimes when I talk about some of these things, but when food tastes this good it makes me want write poetry.  And love letters.  Food love letters, if you will. 

We ate these mussels with some toasted slices of french baguette, rubbed with a clove of raw garlic and drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper.  If you haven’t eaten bread this way, you are missing out on one of life’s great and simple pleasures.   

The recipe below serves two and the entire meal took about twenty minutes to prepare; there really isn’t any excuse for you to not share in this experience with me.  I want everyone to experience these little tastes of the good life – together.  Let’s start with these mussels. 

tender mussels in fragrant wine broth

  • a pound and a half of mussels, scrubbed and debearded if necessary
  • a cup and a half of white wine
  • three cloves of garlic, chopped
  • a quarter of an onion or a couple of shallots, chopped
  • a generous handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • four or five sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded
  • half of a lemon (meyer is best)
  • one little anchovy fillet
  • a pinch of saffron (maybe five or six small threads)
  • one tbsp of butter
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • about one tsp of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. add the saffron to the wine and let soak while you begin cooking
  2. heat the butter and olive oil in an appropriately sized sauce pan over medium heat, and add the chopped onions, salt and pepper and stir frequently for about two minutes
  3. add the garlic, anchovy and thyme and cook for a minute or two more, stirring frequently
  4. add the wine (with saffron) and about two thirds of the fresh parsley and bring to a boil
  5. gently add the mussels, cover and reduce to medium, cooking for six to seven minutes (all mussels should be open – discard any that do not open)
  6. ladle the mussels and plenty of the broth into wide bowls and garnish with the rest of the fresh parsley; serve with crusty garlic bread

All mussels should be scrubbed and inspected before cooking; discard any mussels that have cracked or broken shells.  If a mussel is open, gently tap it on the shell; if it doesn’t close it should also be discarded. 

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tastiness abounds

tastiness abounds

Last week was so crazy (hence the single post).  Weeks of going through closets and boxes culminated in a very successful garage sale.  Yippee!  To celebrate, I got everything I needed for a recipe that I was saving from Saveur.  Oooohhh I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone; snapper baked in foil with clams, lemon, smoked sausage, fennel, olives, orange zest, shallots, fingerling potatoes, white wine… sounds amazing, right?  It wasn’t.  It just wasn’t good.  DANGIT.  I hate it when that happens! 

So, I’ll share a faithful old stand-by instead.  I used to make this all the time when I first started cooking… somehow it has left the regular rotation.  We had it for lunch today and I was reminded of why we used to eat it so frequently!  This is a very elegant take on red beans and rice; it’s extremely comforting but also a little refined.  I love the soft orzo and the mixture of sweet peas, salty prosciutto and freshly grated parmesan.  It’s herby, elegant, delicious, and you can get it on the table in about thirty minutes.  Nice!  Today I added a little green salad on the side with a quick dressing made from lemon, dijon, marmalade and white wine vinegar, topped with toasted, slivered almonds.  It was the perfect compliment. 

I have big plans for the rest of the week – lots of things from scratch – thai red curry paste, worsteshire sauce, pickled okra and fresh ricotta ravioli (my first attempt at homemade pasta) – I’ll keep you posted!  In the meantime, let me know if you make this and what you think of it.  Oh, and if anyone has any tips on making pasta dough, I will be very grateful!

red beans and orzo

  • 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups orzo
  • heaping 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • heaping tsp of italian seasoning or herbes de provence
  • one can of red beans, rinsed and drained (use dried of you’re feeling extra special)
  • one ounce of proscuitto (de parma is best) cut into little strips (you can use ham if you must, or smoked turkey if you don’t eat pork)
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh sweat green peas
  • a good handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • a generous handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese for each serving
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. bring broth and water to boil in a medium saucepan
  2. add orzo, herbs, onion and a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper; reduce to a simmer and cook for twelve to fifteen minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and the orzo is tender (do remember to stir every now and then)
  3. add beans and peas, and cook for a minute or two more to warm through
  4. stir in the prosciutto and serve with freshly grated parmesan on top – be comforted! 

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artichoke and potato hash - tasty

artichoke and potato hash - tasty

Last night’s dinner was delicious and I want to share it with you.  Homey little brown potatoes get some panache by the addition of artichoke hearts, garlic and capers.  Don’t be shy – the flavors are surprising – amazing.  The minute the garlic and capers hit the pan with the browned potatoes and artichokes, you are overwhelmed with such an intoxicating fragrance!  Over and over again we commented on how good it smelled. 

Artichokes are in season right now; it’s a great time to take advantage of the fresh offerings and reasonable prices.  Since the market was sold out of baby artichokes (the original ingredient in the recipe), I used frozen artichoke hearts from  Trader Joe’s.  I can’t wait to try this with the fresh, baby artichokes.  The recipe below is adapted from A Platter of Figs and serves four – I cut it in half for two and served it with a skirt steak.  I hope you will try this and love it as much as I did!

artichoke and potato hash

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs medium waxy potatoes such as yellow fin or yukon gold, peeled and cut into one inch chunks (I actually used medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into a bit of a smaller dice)
  • 15 baby artichokes – about 2 lbs (I used about 15 frozen artichoke hearts and halved them lengthwise)
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped (I didn’t have this on hand so I didn’t use it!)
  • 2 tbsp capers (we are heavy on the capers here, and used the larger size)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  1. bring six cups of salted water to boil in a 2 quart saucepan
  2. add potatoes to saucepan, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until almost tender, about four minutes (adjust cooking time depending on potato size)
  3. drain potatoes and transfer to a dry surface to cool for a moment
  4. trim your artichoke hearts lengthwise, if using – OR – trim away tough outer leaves of baby artichokes to expose their tender, pale green interior, and slice them into 1/4 inch wedges
  5. heat olive oil in a 12″ skillet over medium high heat, and add potatoes, flipping occasionally until they are light brown (about 10 minutes depending on size of potatoes)
  6. add the artichokes and cook, flipping occasionally until artichokes and potatoes are golden brown and tender (about 10 minutes more depending on size of potatoes and artichokes)
  7. season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and add parsley, capers and garlic
  8. stir to combine and remove from heat… delicious! 

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john alma’s trout almandine

My post on sole almandine reminded my mother that I have been anxiously awaiting my grandmother’s recipe for trout almandine.  This is a fabulous dish, and I believe that trout is abundant in the markets right now.

I remember thoroughly enjoying the French/Creole dishes prepared by John Alma (my grandmother on my father’s side); smothered quail at Christmas, the richest French onion soup, spicy gumbo and jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, and my favorite, trout almandine…  They were delicious – the amount of butter prolific.  These were pretty fancy dishes coming from a woman who claimed she ate black-eyed peas every day of her childhood.  My mother also cooked many recipes that came from John Alma and the wholly unique culinary culture that emanates from New Orleans and the Delta South.  The smell of flour and oil browning in a pan instantly transports me to a time when I had to stand on my tip toes to peek at the roux that one of these talented women was carefully stirring.

I was reminded of the extensive culinary diversity of New Orleans during a recent visit.  The city is rich with the most vibrant and ostentatious food, overflowing with accidental fusion cuisine.  France, Spain, Italy, Haiti, the West Indies – all stake a claim to the food that Louisiana is famous for.  The bizarre landscape of this swampy state provides some interesting star players for the main course; turtles, frogs, squirrels, fish of every size shape and color…nothing is safe.  Put all of this together and you have some spicy, steamy, intense food.  No worries.  You can balance the savory with the sweet; my personal preference being a hot, fluffy biscuit doused in cane molasses, or a sticky bread pudding spiked with rum or bourbon.  Only in Louisiana can you have food that is at the same time elegant and wacky.

It is only through cooking that I continue to discover the subtle influence my early years in Louisiana have on the dishes I now prepare.  Believe it or not, I can clearly remember sucking down crawfish, raw oysters, beignets and cafe au lait from my highchair.  Some would scoff at a three year old eating raw oysters and drinking coffee from a sippy cup.  Not me!  I couldn’t be more grateful for my dive head first into some serious food.  I am not only thankful for being exposed to something other that fish sticks and mac and cheese, but also for having recipes that have been prepared by at least two generations of women in my family.  Thankfully, I have fabulous cooks on both sides of the family.  I’ve also had the very good fortune of living in three states with completely different styles of cuisine; California, Texas and Louisiana.  Even as I am writing, I am flooded with the best memories of eating or watching my mother, grandmother or aunt fixing something delicious.  These memories are still so near and close to my heart that they actually have a fragrance – the image of the food and hustle bustle in the kitchen flawlessly clear in my mind’s eye.  

But back to the topic at hand, which is the most delicious and delicate trout you will ever eat.  My mom expertly prepared the freshest trout – typically just caught from Lake Ponchartrain by my proud father and his best buddy.  Even cooked from the tiny kitchen of a Residence Inn, my mom could turn out some trout that tasted as if was prepared by the most accomplished chef in the finest kitchen.  It was one of my absolute favorites and I could never get enough of it.

Below is John Alma’s recipe with a few of my mother’s minor alterations, posted exactly as provided to me.  Mom has never prepared this dish with stream trout; only the fat, speckled trout from Lake Ponchartrain.  No matter; you can always imagine that your trout was swimming in that vast Louisiana lake mere hours ago.  A few other notes from my mother:  “There is nothing low calorie, fat or carb about this recipe! Do not modify, it alters the soul of this dish! Just enjoy its buttery deliciousness without guilt…”

I couldn’t agree more. 

john alma’s trout almandine

  • 6 mediums size trout, filleted (you can substitute redfish fillets if trout is unavailable) 
  • 1 tsp. season salt (I use Nature’s Seasons, it is very well balanced and doesn’t overwhelm)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Savory
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Turmeric
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 tsp ground Mace
  • 1 pack (2 1/2 oz.) slivered blanched almonds
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
  • thin lemon slices for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place baking sheet or serving platter in oven to prewarm.
  2. Melt butter in sauté pan until foam subsides and it barely starts to brown. NOTE: Watch carefully that butter doesn’t burn. If butter has very dark granular specks, it has burned!  Throw it away, clean pan, and start again.
  3. Roll freshly washed (slightly patted dry) trout fillets in mix of season salt, savory, turmeric and flour. Only flour as many as will fit in your sauté pan at one time.
  4. Brown fillet in butter on both sides (about 2 minutes per side, depending on size of fillet). Place cooked fillets on warming dish or baking sheet in oven as they finish. Place skin side down if skin is still on fillet, they look prettier that way. Place a piece of loose foil over warming dish of fish to preserve moistness if cooking a lot of fillets.
  5. Cook remaining fillets in batches until all are on warming dish.
  6. Add additional butter to sauté pan if needed for sauce. Turn heat to low and melt butter and add mace and almonds. Stir constantly and lightly sauté almonds. They will burn easily if left unattended. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice and parsley.
  7. Keep fillets on warming dish or place fillets on warmed serving plate, or individual plates. Place thin lemon slices on fillets. Spoon sauce over fish, any remaining sauce may be placed on the table in a bowl for spooning on fish or side dishes.

More of mom’s notes:

The flavor of this dish is very delicate and relies on the turmeric, savory and mace with a browned butter foundation. I have tried to use oil and low fat substitutes for all or part of the butter and it didn’t work, the taste was not the same.

 

I have never cooked this with freshwater stream trout (rainbow, golden, etc.), only with pretty big trout from Lake Ponchartrain. I think that the trout down there are speckled trout and the fillets were about 1/2 lb. each.

 

I would serve this with a mild flavored spring vegetable such as fresh sautéed green beans. A strong flavored vegetable such as broccoli will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the fish and sauce. Wild and Basmati mixed rice, Jasmine rice or my favorite, Konriko wild pecan rice are really good with the fish. 

 

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