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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Herb Crusted Baked Halibut

Although my diet has technically been pescatarian for most of my adult life, cooking fish was not a standard of my repertoire until I relocated to the North Coast of California. Not to brag too much, but the abundance of locally caught (often line caught!) cod and salmon is truly astounding and awe-inspiring. Cooking fish well, like doing most anything, comes from practice, and learning a few simple tips.

Always buy fish the day you want to cook it!!

Almost all fish, unless you bought it off the boat in your local port or harbor, came to where it is sold on ice or most likely frozen. It is then defrosted and sold. As it defrosts, it loses textural integrity and gets mushy: totally unappetizing.

Like cuts of meat, fish needs to rest and will continue to cook off the heat.

Most fish gets overcooked because cooks are afraid of it not being done in the center and overcook to compensate. You can stick a knife in the center of a thick steak (salmon, halibut, swordfish) to check its doneness. But it really will continue to cook as it rests.

Also similar to cuts of meat, the flesh becomes noticeably firmer once it is cooked.

All fish (and scallops and shrimp/prawns) will become more opaque as they cook, and the flesh becomes firmer. Notice how raw fish feels, because the flesh tightens up when it cooks, and often forms dense flakes of fish flesh.

Keeping these tips in mind will lead to beautifully cooked fish and happy diners! Add this super easy creamy garlic herb topping to any fish and they will be ecstatic!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Linguine Alfredo with Crispy Morel Mushrooms

Yes! It's morel mushroom season again! Go, pick, find them now at your farmers market (or natural food store if you're lucky!) Or forage for them yourself if you are fortunate to know of the secret growing places that people guard with their lives (at least some of them!)

Morels are tasty morsels and though they look expensive ($20 plus a pound) you can buy plenty and not spend more than $5 and have a feast with them! Here I simply fried them in olive oil until they were crispy and then added them to a classic Alfredo sauce. What a total delight!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cucumber and Radish Salsa

While I know little about Ayurvedic food preparations, it doesn't take that kind of specialized knowledge to know that cooling fresh salads or salsas are necessary to balance out the spicy richness of certain dishes. I created this one for the tofu peanut satay featured in last week's post. And it was a match made in heaven, even for those who think they don't like radishes!

While basil is the herb featured here, feel free to substitute cilantro or parsley or Thai basil if you can find it.

Cutting the vegetables in different shapes was an aesthetic call; some people might go for all the same shape just for ease of slicing.

The dressing on this is really up to you; add more vinegar if you like or more sesame oil. What is listed is really just my preferences.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce

This is one of those dishes that makes you throw back your head in ecstasy and believe in all things that are good.

Really, it's that amazing.

As my husband put it, "this is a flavor explosion!" Yes, truly it is.

When one goes to the internet looking for a recipe, generally from a cuisine that one did not grow up with, it is hard to know what is really going to taste good, which recipe is really worth the effort. I'm sure you can guess that this one was...

It seems complicated - lots of ingredients, advance prep - but it all comes together so quickly, and it is so beyond satisfying, you'll wonder why you haven't made it sooner!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

White Spelt Pizza with Swiss Chard, Olives and Sundried Tomatoes

Spelt is a dicey flour to work with; on the one hand, it is softer than wheat yet it absorbs more liquid and thus requires less than traditional wheat flour. And if you have ever tried to make the perfect pizza dough, you know that the prospect of changing ratios of liquids and solids is not a simple one. So when I finally - finally!! - figured out how to make a good spelt crust, excitement abounded!

The best crust I ever produced was following Peter Rheinhart's instructions - and if you google his name, you will find that great pizza dough/crust and his name are synonymous. Thus making a great crust with spelt that could come close to what his instructions produced was a key goal of mine.

The secret is in the cold rise in the refrigerator. No kneading involved. How simply wonderful is that! Enjoy!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Marinated Portobellas with Chimichurri Sauce

Despite the fact that describing mushrooms as having a "meaty" taste and texture is so cliche and unoriginal, it does not belie its truth, and portobella mushrooms in particular. While I find that description so meat centric, it did inspire this dish!

Chimichurri is the bright green condiment from South America that is traditionally served with steak (as the link for the recipe displays it). But it is equally (if not better!) with these marinated 'shrooms. Totally delightful and unexpected! These could easily be made with little cremini mushrooms (baby bellas) with a dollop of chimichurri for a delightful little amuse bouche! Hmmmm, ideas abound...