Poached Cod with Fennel and Cauliflower

1 1/2 lbs. cod, checked for bones and cut into 8 pieces
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp + 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, in 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1 fennel bulb, in medium slices
5 cloves garlic, pressed
chopped fennel tops, for garnish, optional

Rub cod with lemon juice and a little salt and pepper. Set aside. Saute onion in 1 Tbsp. broth over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth and carrots. Cover and simmer over medium heat about 10 minutes. Add cauliflower, fennel, and garlic. Place cod on top and continue to cook, covered, until done, about 6 minutes more. Adjust seasonings and sprinkle with chopped fennel greens.

Adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Braised Salmon with Leeks

2 medium leeks (white and lower green parts only)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. + 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
1-1/2 lbs salmon fillet, skin and bones removed, in 8 pieces
salt and white pepper to taste

Cut leeks in half lengthwise, fan out, and rinse well. Cut leeks into 2-inch lengths, then slice lengthwise into very thin strips (chiffonade). Heat 1 Tbsp. broth and sauté leeks over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add 1/2 cup broth and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice; cover and simmer another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Rub salmon with remaining 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. Stir fresh tarragon into leeks; place salmon pieces on top. Cover and simmer until salmon is pink inside, about 3-4 minutes.

Serves 4

Adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Newsletters: 17 Jan., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 17 Jan., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

A new year, another couple of recipes

It’s only January, but I have to talk about Valentine’s Day this month because the February newsletter will be too late. If, like me, you’re too practical and down-to-earth (and aggressively single) to enjoy all that mushy stuff, feel free to roll your eyes. Next month I’ll talk about the cold, dark winter and the patience of seeds in the dark warmth of the earth, I promise.

My favorite Valentine’s Day story is about a young couple (no, not Gift of the Magi; I think this was a Reader’s Digest filler) who agreed not to buy each other Valentine’s Day gifts, to save money. So the Day came, and the young man produced a package for his beloved, which turned out to be a small volume of love poems. His wife was delighted, but objected that they had agreed not to buy gifts that year. With a grin, he pointed out the library stamp, and the due date.

The thing is, it is possible to be romantic without spending a bunch of money. Going out for a fancy dinner and show is a lot of fun, true, but I submit that staying in for dinner and a show can be just as good a date. In fact, staying home has some advantages — if only that the couch is a far more comfortable place to neck than movie theater seats. You can of course rent a movie, but I encourage you to emulate the young man in the story. The library has movies for free, you can usually keep them longer, and if the hold line is too long to get the one you want soon enough, why not pick up some silly old musical or even a “B” horror movie? I mean, how much of it are you really going to watch, considering that comfy couch and all?

About that food…
I went looking in Isabel Allende’s Aphrodite for a discussion of food erotica — basically, reading cookbooks in bed, dreaming of all that rich and succulent food — but instead found an interesting discussion of the seductiveness of culinary ability in men. So, knowing that many men are more comfortable in front of a grill than at a kitchen counter, I thought a little commentary on barbecuing in the winter might be useful to my gentlemen readers.

Winter grilling by Kelly Iverson
(with advice from Barbecue Master Kevin Iverson)
So you want to grill steaks for your sweetie on Valentines Day, huh? Well, relax, winter grilling isn’t all that different from summer grilling; the basics remain the same but with a winter spin. You trade the T-shirt for a parka, flip-flops for hunter socks and boots and the cold beer for a hot-buttered rum. Seriously, it isn’t that different, the cold affects the heat that is produced by the grill so you either run the grill hotter or extend the time it takes to cook the steak. If you can be out of the wind, if there is one, is even better as the wind sucks the heat away even faster requiring not only a hotter grill but also more time. So grab those steaks and your parka, fire up the grill and plan on a great, winter-grilled dinner with your favorite person!

To finish off, here are a couple of dishes with supposed aphrodisiac qualities, from Aphrodite : a memoir of the senses / Isabel Allende. HarperFlamingo, c1998. I was going to suggest strawberries dipped in chocolate, which are a classic, but this is the wrong season for strawberries. I wonder if one could make a sort of dried-strawberry bark…?

Noodles with artichoke
1/3 c olive oil
1 c bottled marinated artichokes, chopped, liquid reserved
1 small jar pimentos
1/4 c pine nuts (optional)
1/2 lb. noodles, cooked and drained
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
6 large black or green olives, chopped
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
salt, pepper to taste
Heat oil, artichoke liquid, pimentos, and pine nuts. Combine all ingredients in the warm noodle pot. May also be made a day ahead and served cold.

Curried sea bass
1/2 small onion, quartered
1/2 carrot, sliced
1 bouquet garni
salt, pepper to taste
1 c water
2 sea bass fillets, skinned and washed
1/2 lemon
Boil onion, carrot, bouquet garni, salt, and pepper in water 15 min. Rub the fish with the lemon and place in a pot; cover with boiling water mixture. Cook 15 min. on low. Remove and keep warm. Reserve liquid for sauce.
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tart apple, peeled and grated
pinch brown sugar
1 tsp. flour
liquid from cooking fish
1/2 c coconut milk
2 heaped Tbsp. grated coconut
salt, pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. cream
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
Melt butter; stir in curry powder, vinegar, apple, and sugar. Add flour and cook 5 min. on low. Gradually stir in reserved fish liquid, coconut milk, and coconut; continue cooking 10 min. Adjust seasonings; keep warm but do not allow to boil. Add cream and egg yolk; pour over fish.

Well, and one more, just because of the name.

Chicken breast Valentino
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. cream
1/2 c. chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (i.e. both sides), quartered
salt, pepper to taste
1 egg yolk beaten with a little milk
1 Tbsp. cooked, chopped red pepper
4 Tbsp. Kahlua
1/2 tsp. salsa picante
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c chopped roasted peanuts
Melt butter and mix in flour; add cream and chicken stock, being careful to prevent lumps. Add chicken and season. Cover and cook 30 min. on low, turning occasionally. Add egg yolk, red pepper, Kahlua, salsa, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook another 10 min., stirring gently. Sprinkle with peanuts. May be made ahead and reheated.

The gardening season officially begins on January 1st, and ends on December 31.
— Marie Huston —

And love can come to everyone,
The best things in life are free.
— Lew Bowen & Buddy De Silva, Good news —

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
— H. L. Mencken —

There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
— Isabel Allende —

Who can give law to lovers? Love is a greater law to itself.
— Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae —

Quien bien te quiere te hará llorar (Anyone who loves you well will make you cry).
— Spanish proverb —

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Newsletters: 15 June, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 15 June, 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Bok choi, pak choi, snow cabbage, or Chinese cabbage is a relative of cabbage and turnips. It’s a zero calorie or negative calorie food, and facilitates weight loss. It’s also an excellent source of vitamins C, A, and K, along with various minerals. Bok choy contains sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which are responsible for it’s spicy-bitter taste and are being studied as possible cancer-preventers. It’s a natural for stir-frying and steaming. Those with thyroid issues may wish to take advice before eating large amounts of bok choy, however, as it can encourage the formation of goiters.

In the kitchen
Bok choi is in plentiful supply just now, so I thought I’d look for something new to do with it. By far the most common thing to do with Bok choi is to stir-fry it, but here are a couple of other options.

Chicken broth and noodles
1.5 Tbsp sesame oil, divided
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 bunch sliced scallions, divided
4 cloves minced garlic, or to taste
1 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
4 c chicken broth
3/4 cup water
3 c thinly sliced bok choy
8 oz whole wheat or buckwheat noodles
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 cucumber sliced into matchsticks
Cook ground turkey, all but 2 tablespoons of the scallions, garlic, and ginger in 1 Tbsp oil over med. heat, stirring often and breaking up the turkey, 4 to 6 minutes until no longer pink. Remove to a plate. Combine broth, water, bok choy, noodles, soy sauce, vinegar and the remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil in the pan and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, about 4 min., until the noodles are tender. Return turkey mixture to the pan and stir to blend. Top with the reserved 2 Tbsp scallions and cucumber.

Cilantro Fish Stew
1 lime
8 oz. peeled deveined shrimp (20- to 24-count)
8 oz. skinless cod fillet in 2-inch chunks
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 t sugar
2 Tbsp + 1 t fish sauce
6 oz thinly sliced bok choy
3 thinly sliced scallions
2 c packed fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 t vegetable oil
2 c water
1 c frozen peas
1 c brown rice (measured raw), cooked, to serve
Grate 1 t lime zest into large resealable plastic bag. Cut lime into wedges and set aside for serving. Add shrimp, cod, shallots, sugar, 2 Tbsp fish sauce, pinch salt, and 1/2 t pepper to bag. Seal bag and shake to coat. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Cook shrimp mixture in oil 5 min or until shallots are tender, stirring occasionally. Add water and bring to a boil; simmer 4 minutes. Stir in peas and heat 1 to 2 min. Stir in bok choy, scallions, and cilantro. Cook 2 minute, until bok choy is crisp-tender. Stir in remaining fish sauce. Serve over rice with lime wedges.

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15-Minute Sauteed Fennel Salmon

1 1/2 lbs. salmon fillet, skin and bones removed, cut into 8 pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. + 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. chopped green fennel tops

Season salmon. Sautee fennel bulb in 1 Tbsp. broth over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth and lemon juice, adjust seasonings, and place salmon on top. Reduce heat to low; cook, covered, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with fennel tops.

Adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Brithyll a chig moch (Welsh trout & bacon)

fresh rosemary, loosely chopped
fresh thyme, loosely chopped
fresh parsley, loosely chopped
fresh sage, loosely chopped
butter to taste
1 rainbow trout per person, cleaned, head and tail left on
1 long rasher of bacon per person

Combine rosemary, thyme, parsley, and sage; blend with a little butter and stuff fish. Wrap each fish in a rasher of bacon, then in foil. Bake in a hot oven for around 25-30 minutes. Open foil and paint fish with a little butter. Serve with boiled potatoes and plain fresh vegetables.

Adapted from: Anthony Crowter, Cae Nest Hall Hotel, Llanbedr Merionnydd, N. Wales, who notes that this dish is traditionally baked in an open fire with the fish encased in mud.

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
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Fish and bananas

This became a great favorite of mine in Bermuda, and is still my first choice for a festive solo dinner. It’s quite easy to make for one or two, but gets more complicated if you try to make a lot. Also, the bananas tend to stick and make a mess, so if possible choose a skillet that you can leave to soak overnight.

for each serving:
1/3-1/2 lb. mild white fish fillet*
butter or oil for cooking
1 Tbsp. slivered almonds (optional)
1-2 bananas, cut into 1/4 inch slices

Saute the fish in just enough butter or oil to prevent sticking over medium or medium-low heat, about 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned on the outside and opaque and cooked through inside. Remove to a plate and keep warm (i.e. drop a lid over it if the kitchen’s cold or the cat seems too interested).

Add more butter or oil to the skillet and cook the almonds (if using), stirring, for 2-3 minutes to brown lightly. Add the banana slices; cook, turning frequently and gently, until the bananas are softened and lightly browned, about 1 min. The bananas tend to stick as they cook, so use plenty of butter or oil. They will take on a golden color when done. Top the fish with the bananas. Garnish with snipped parsley or a sprig of cilantro if desired.

*Wahoo, snapper, or dolphinfish (mahi mahi) are common in Bermuda, but I’ve had good results with cod or halibut. It’s best to get a nice thick fillet; thinner fillets such as sole tend to break up when cooked, making a sort of hash (which is still good but not as pretty).

Adapted from: http://www.powells.com/book/15-minute-single-gourmet-9780028609973″ target=”_blank”>The 15-minute single gourmet / Paulette Mitchell. 1994. 0028609972.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.