Monday, May 6, 2013

Filets de poisson et asperges, grille

A springtime treat, with the asparagus and chives. And it is done in 10 minutes. Using the Silpat saves a lot of cleanup.

Serves 4

4 four to six ounce fish filets, such as trout, ocean perch, tilapia
1 pound asparagus--thinner is better--lower stems cut off
Cajun seasoning
Herbs de Provence
sea salt
herbs for garnish, such as scallion tops chopped, chives, chive flowers, capers, thyme

Preheat broiler.
  1. On a baking pan (half sheet) place one pound thin asparagus, lower stems cut off, and the fish filets, skin side down.
  2. Drizzle all with olive oil, toss the asparagus in the oil, and dust the asparagus and the fish with sea salt. 
  3. Season the filets with Cajun seasoning and herbs de Provence.
  4. Broil the fish for three minutes on top or until they are lightly browned. Turn and broil for one or two minutes more, tossing the asparagus as you turn the fish.
  5. [OPTIONAL:] Nap the fish with Hollandaise or herb butter
  6. Garnish with scallion tops, capers, chopped chives, and/or chive flowers.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Roasted pepper soup -- Soupe Catalane aux poivrons

Sitting in the dentist's office--the dentists who inspired Jane Smiley's novella Age of Grief, about a husband-wife dentist practice--I found a recipe that I dictated into my phone while sitting in the waiting room. And it is really 1 minute.

Roasted pepper soup shots
one 16 ounce jar fire roasted red peppers with your juices.
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar.
1 fourth cup olive oil.
Salt and pepper.
Blend and serve in shot glasses.
Bon Appetite October 2012 page 104

I wondered if there is anything like this in Julia or de Pomaine. Turned out
there is: MAFC II p. 21, Soup Catalane aux poivrons, which I adapted and served last week to Rich and Julie.

Serves four as a first course

1 large garlic clove
one16 ounce jar fire roasted red peppers with their juices
1/4 cup cocktail onions
2 tablespoons sherry
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cooked rice, preferably brown basmati
Salt and pepper
  1. Peel the garlic and chop it in a food processor. 
  2. Add everything but the rice and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a small sauce pan, add the rice, and heat.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tartare de saumon

Easter brunch 2013 continues, with salmon tartare. This is a sort of French ceviche, where lemon juice "cooks" raw fish. It's really really good. It made a nice little starter for us, before the quiche.

This is another lightning dish if the fishmonger (butcher here in Iowa) dices or minces the fish, as the friendly folks at Fareway did for me. Don't dare use a food processor, as it mangles the fishie's tissues.

I suppose verrines are really supposed to have layers. That's easy to do, such as Thomas Keller's with a layer of red onion crème fraiche, or one I did yesterday with capers. A red layer of marinated roasted pepper, drained from the jar and chopped would be nice too.

These "verrine" glasses are actually votive candle holders from Walmart, 88¢ each.

Serves 4

8 ounces of salmon filet (belly if possible) cut into 1/8 in dice or minced
10 chive spears or 2 green onion tops
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, preferably Maille
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
salt and pepper
  1. Chop the chives or green onion tops very finely
  2. In a bowl, beat the chives, mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice into an emulsion.
  3. Toss the salmon into the dressing and season.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  5. Serve in small "verrine" glasses, garnished with chives or green onion tops.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Melon and champagne soup

The bubbly is Segura Viedas Brut Reserva 2011 cava

We had a champagne brunch for Easter, just the three of us. Salmon tartare, Maddie's quiche. And to start this melon soup. It's lightning fast. I bought some melon cubes (Chilean) at the store, popped them in the blender with the juices and bubbly, and -- ZAP! -- summrery froth.

I found some little airplane bottles of bubbly, so it's possible to make an ordinary day special by making this speedy soup. This is a another dentist waiting room special, adapted from Shape magazine. But it's really elegant, and it sort of tickles the nose. Or maybe that's my imagination.

Serves 4

2 cups cantaloupe chunks
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon juice
1/4 cup champagne
fresh mint
  1. In a blender, puree all the ingredients except the mint until frothy. 
  2. Garnish with chopped mint

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Savory souffles

Souffles are pretty easy to do once you've got the hang of separating eggs and whipping them into stiff peaks and folding them in (MAFC I 157). Once you have the trick of this, it's possible to vary this infinitely by adding leftovers to the bottom of the dish before turning in the souffle mixture, or putting half the mixture in and then the leftovers, and then the rest.

And of course you can vary the condensed cream soups many, many ways. Campbell's Cream of Celery is a good base for fish souffles, as is Cream of Shrimp (MAFC I pp. 166-171). The Campbell's Cream of Chicken and Herbs is a good base for poultry souffles. Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic is good too. These taste less like, well, canned soups!

Serves 4 as a starter

Preheat the oven to 425

1 10oz can cream of mushroom soup (or cream of chicken, cream of broccoli, etc.)
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
OPTIONAL: grated cheddar cheese

  1. In bowl combine soup and yolks.
  2. Beat egg whites until stiff.
  3. Fold into soup mixture.
  4. Turn into a buttered one-liter souffle or casserole dish (olive oil spray is fine) or individual souffle dishes. The mixture should fill just over half of the dish.
  5. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
  6. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes (15 minutes for individual ones).
  7. Serve immediately.
2 eggs
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small onion, chopped
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1-10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  1. Heat oven to 350
  2. Put eggs, soup, onion, garlic powder and salt into blender and blend for 30 seconds
  3. Add spinach and nutmeg and blend for 30 seconds
  4. Pour into an ungreased casserole dish
  5. Bake 50-60 minutes

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Os à moelle grillés: Marrow bones

On Rue Dauguerre last fall, the night the Beaujolais Nouveau was released, I sat at the banquette at Le Plan B, next to a well dressed gentleman who was diving into a plate of marrow bones. Cross cut ones, like in the picture below. With a tiny spoon. Very much enjoying himself.  

Julia has a recipe of sorts for marrow bones (MAFCI p. 19), but it's for poaching them quickly to get the marrow for sauces, like sauce Bordelaise. (You can pull the marrow from stewing bones for this as well, like Osso Bucco.)

The fleur de sel is crucial. I got some when I was in La Rochelle--raked from the Atlantic salt flats nearby (and very expensive, for salt). When J first had it, she was skeptical, but one taste and she became a believer.   

You can either split the bones length-wise or crosswise. But because I buy dog bones at Fareway, they are always cross-wise. And they are not as long as I would like. The longer they are, the longer they take to roast. 

There's a great video of the master, Fergus Henderson, roasting them at Saint John's Bread and Wine. I ate there a couple of times when I was in London, but never had the marrow bones. Next time. J bought me his classic cookbook, The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating some years ago. Often she does not much like the offal/abats, but she lapped up the marrow bones. And then it occurred to me: She's a rancher's daughter.

Photos of Le plan B, Paris
This photo of Le plan B is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Serves two as a first course

Preheat oven to 450º
  • 8 beef shank bones cut crosswise, 2 to 3 inches. Or two bones cut lengthwise, 6 to 8 inches long
  • fleur de sel
  • pepper from a mill
  • toast made from good French bread
  • Parsley

    1. Put the bones in a half sheet pan and roast. Begin checking in 15 minutes until a paring knife inserted penetrates easily. Don't overcook or the marrow will melt away. 
    2. Serve with fleur de sel, pepper in a mill, and slices of grilled bread garnished with a chiffonade of parsley.

Photos of Le plan B, Paris
This photo of Le plan B is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spinach, pear, roquefort & walnut salad

I had this sweet salad first in a little restaurant in Edmond, Oklahoma, my home town. It was in the space where I had my first job, a clerk in a doughnut shop. We clerks got all the doughnuts and ice cream we could eat. Great perks. I lost the job when my hair got too long and I refused to cut it. Ah the Sixties! The restaurant is now kind of shishi. Like Edmond now. Now I eat sweet salads instead of doughnuts. Ah, my sixties!

If you have the walnuts and bacon ready, this is five minutes to put together. If you don't--and have an oven on for something else--you can cook the bacon and the walnuts while other things are going.

Sugared walnuts are kind of a pain to make, and messy gooey to clean up. So an easy (and easy clean-up) method is to simply put eight ounces of walnuts (whole or pieces) on a Silpat in a baking pan, spray with cooking spray, and toss with two tablespoons of sugar. Bake in a 370 to 450 degree oven (depending on what else you are cooking) for five to ten minutes, shaking once or twice. Check them after 5 minutes. They will be crisp and only slightly sugary. Slide the Silpat out of the baking pan and cool. You can add salt or a bit of cayenne pepper or Cajun seasoning.

5 minutes
Serves 4
  • 3 tablespoons vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 8 ounces spinach leaves, from a bag--or if not, washed! (romaine works too)
  • 4 strips oven-cooked bacon, crumbled or minced (place bacon on a sheet in a preheated 400 oven for 15-30 minutes)
  • 1 cup crumbled Roquefort or other good blue cheese, such as Maytag
  • 1 pear, cored and cut into eight sections. (An apple corer will help here.)
  • 1 cup toasted or sugared walnuts (or pecans or almonds)
  1. Combine the vinaigrette and honey and microwave until warm. Start with 10 seconds on high. OR if the honey is too cold to pour, microwave the honey jar until it is warm (start with 15 seconds) and pour the warm honey into the vinaigrette, stirring with a fork to combine.
  2. Chop the pears sections, crumble or mince the bacon, and toss with the dressing.
  3. Add the spinach, the Roquefort, and the walnuts and toss again. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Coeur à la creme

 I used to love to make this for the kids. We had a little heart-shaped wicker basket, which I would fill and let drain overnight. The kids loved this like cheesecake. And it's so much healthier.

The basket fell apart. So came to my rescue with a purpose-made dish that drains neatly. It's just enough for two, really, 12 ounces. Very romantic as a dessert to share. With proper prior approval by the sharee, of course. (Ms Manners has the final word on people who expect one to share when one does not want to).

Edouard de Pomaine (French Cooking in Ten Minutes p. 140) has this in a much faster form than mine, above. "Beat some heavy cream into farmer's cheese or soft cream cheese. Stir in some sugar and a little powdered cinnamon. This is a super-quick dessert and it's excellent [italics mine!]. You can serve it either with or without vanilla wafers."

1/2 package of Neufchatel (low fat cream cheese)
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1 tablespoon honey
[Optional: 1/4 teaspoon vanilla or 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur]
Strawberries, cherries, or other fruits
  1. Line a coeur à la creme mold with cheesecloth or paper towel.
  2. Beat the ingredients with a fork and then a whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour into the mold and refrigerate until chilled and set, about 1-2 hours.
  4. Unmold, remove the cloth or paper, and serve with fruit.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sauteed liver: Abats 101

There are all kinds of 'abats'--organ meats. (French for slaughterhouse is abattoir.) But liver is the easiest and fastest and healthiest and, well, easiest to take for many people.

Julia has liver exactly right when she says it "cooks hardly more than a minute on each side. Overcooked liver is gray, dry, and disappointing—perfectly sautéed, it is a rosy pink when you cut into it."

The photo shows pork liver, my favorite, cut by the Meat Lab into lamelles, a little thicker than the usual. So it took about two minutes a side.

A lot of paper towels or newspaper will help--to blot the liver and dredge it. If you put it on the counter it makes a huge mess.

  • 4 slices (about 1 pound) calf's or pork liver sliced about ½ inch thick
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup or more seasoned breadcrumbs or flour in a plate
  • 3 tablespoons butter and olive oil combined, or clarified butter

  1. Heat the butter and/or oil over high heat. Season the liver on one side with salt and pepper.
  2. Dredge the liver in the bread crumbs or flour. Knock the excess of each slice and put each in the skillet.
  3. Cook about a minute on each side, or until it's springy to the touch, golden on the outside and pink on the inside (poke and peek until you can feel the doneness). Be sure to remove the slices in the same order you placed them, so they cook evenly.
Julia has some nice variations. But the best for me is the simplest: plain with Dijon mustard. But it takes only a couple of minutes to chop a bit of that precooked bacon that's always in the frig, adding some scallion and stock or wine and mustard to the drippings to make a sauce (which thicken quickly with the crumbs or flour).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Salade de tomate ou/et concombre / tomato/cucumber salad

The best things are the simplest. I write this in early March, when there is a lot of snow on the ground. And it is barely above freezing days. And I hate Iowa. Next pic, please.

And I do dream of summer tomatoes. Heirlooms, sure. But also just Burpee garden variety tomatoes. With some basil. No vinaigrette. Maybe some salt and pepper. Maybe not.

And then maybe some cucumbers. On the deck. (next pic please). Overlooking the miserable tomato vines that I try to grow almost every year, from the glorious smelly young plants the farmers at the market sell before there's anything else to sell, except maybe rhubarb or greens.

And then, about the fourth of July, I realize, again, that I am no farmer, nor even a vegetable gardener. I am just a tomato eater. And a pretty good one.

I am, however, an excellent tomato slicer. And that is really all it takes. Some say it doesn't even take that. Some eat tomatoes like apples, whole, just biting into them, and letting the juice go where it goes.

Not me. I am civilized. See the pics?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Timbales de foies de volaille -- Chicken liver custards

This is very much a Ladies Who Lunch kind of thing. 1950s hats and white gloves. I love it. Definitely a Madmen thing. But then MAFC is really an early 60s thing: published in 1961 (vol. 1 p. 174).

It reminds me of when we went to this time warp French restaurant in midtown Manhattan called Le Périgord a couple of years ago, with my daughter-in-law. Founded in 1964, it looked like it had the original carpet and the original waiters. I loved the dessert cart, with classics never seen today, like floating island. The fixed price lunch menu had a dish very much like this one.

Just rich enough to whet the appetite yet light; easy to make; stays warm well; inexpensive ingredients; elegant presentation. And less than 10 minutes into the oven. It also has a million variations, with (and I quote from Julia, p. 174) "ham, turkey, chicken, sweetbreads, salmon, lobster, crab, scallops, mushrooms, asparagus tips, or spinach."

Serves 4 as a first course

Preheat oven to 350º

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup boiling milk
1 cup chicken livers, pressed down (about 8 ounces)
2 eggs
3 tablespoons heavy cream or crème fraiche
1 tablespoon port, Madeira, cognac, sherry, etc.
cooking spray
  1. Heat water in a kettle
  2. In a small saucepan, make a béchamel sauce by melting together the butter and the flour, stirring until they foam, without coloring, about 2 minutes. Off heat, beat in the milk and seasoning. 
  3. In a food processor or blender on high, puree the livers, eggs, and seasoning for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the béchamel sauce, the cream, and the wine and blend for 15 seconds.
  5. Spray four 1/2 cup ramekins and place them in a skillet or baking pan. Divide the mixture into them and pour boiling water around them, so it comes at least half way up the sides of the ramekins.
  6. Place in the oven for 25 minutes or until a needle or knife comes out clean and the timbales have just begun to shrink from the ramekins. 
  7. Run a knife around the edge of each ramekin to loosen the timbale. Invert a serving plate over each and invert to unmold. 
  8. Garnish with one of the sauces below. 
  • Coulis de tomate: The sauce in the pic is a simplified coulis consisting of summer tomatoes cored, seeded (not peeled) then food processed and frozen. 
  • Sauce Aurore: Double the amount of béchamel (step 2) and reserve half of it. Add 1 tablespoon tomato puree or tomato paste, and optional chopped fresh herbs. (MAFC I p. 62)
  • Sauce Madère ou Porto: Add 1 tablespoon Madeira or port to 1/2 cup demi glace, brown sauce, or leftover sauce from braised meats (MAFC I p. 75)
  • Sauce Estragon: Stir one tablespoon chopped tarragon into 1/2 cup bdemi glace, brown sauce, or leftover sauce from braised meats (MAFC I p. 75). Off heat and just before serving, beat in 1/2 tablespoon butter.
Stephen Yang for The Wall Street Journal

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Shirred eggs -- Oeufs sur le plat -- Oeufs miroir

I know I saw The French Chef episode called "Elegant Eggs" (the video in a new window) with these cool eggs. But I had forgotten it (as I have most things I saw in the 1960s). So it was with a sense of revelation that I discovered a new (to me) way to fix eggs. And super fast (MAFC I p. 122) and so versatile. You can throw anything on them, almost, including chicken livers!--Julia puts this first! 

Plain (or with cream and cheese) it takes only 5 minutes. With sauteed chicken livers it takes 10 minutes. And they really do come out "perfect," as she says in the video.

Serves two as a first course

2 eggs
olive oil cooking spray
[optional:] 2 tablespoons cream or crème fraiche
[optional:] 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Swiss cheese
[optional:] chopped herbs or scallion tops
  1. Heat the broiler and place the rack in the closest position to it. 
  2. Place a half sheet or shallow pan over two burners on high heat and add 1/4 inch water. 
  3. Spray small two shallow dishes (3-4" diameter) or ramekins with olive oil cooking spray, place them in the water, and carefully crack an egg into each.
  4. Season lightly with salt and pepper (remember the cheese will add some saltiness).
  5. [optional:] Spoon one tablespoon of the cream over each and grate about 1 tablespoon of the cheese on them.
  6. When the eggs have just begun to set on the bottom (you see the first white), place the pan of water under the broiler so the eggs are almost touching the flame. 
  7. Broil for 30 to 60 seconds or until the top has just begun to bubble and set.
  8. Garnish with chopped herbs or scallion tops.


Oeufs sur le plat avec leur foies de volailles 

Serves two as a first course

2 eggs
olive oil cooking spray 
1/4 pound chicken livers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons Port, Madeira, Muscatel, or other fortified wine

[optional:] chopped herbs or scallion tops
  1. Heat a small skillet over high heat.
  2. Dry the livers on paper towels. Season them.
  3. Heat the broiler and place the rack in the closest position to it. 
  4. Place a half sheet or shallow pan over two burners on high heat and add 1/4 inch water.  
  5. Add the butter and olive oil to the skillet, and when the foam subsides, add the livers. Saute 5 minutes, tossing once or twice so that all the surfaces are browned. When done, the livers will be springy to the touch. Or poke and peek at one. The interior should be rosy pink. Remove to a warm plate and season again if necessary.
  6. Spray small two shallow dishes (3-4" diameter) or ramekins with olive oil cooking spray, place them in the water, and carefully crack an egg into each.
  7. Season lightly with salt and pepper (remember the cheese will add some saltiness).
  8. [optional:] Spoon one tablespoon of the cream over each and grate about 1 tablespoon of the cheese on them.
  9. When the eggs have just begun to set on the bottom (you see the first white), place the pan of water under the broiler so the eggs are almost touching the flame. 
  10. Broil for 30 to 60 seconds or until the top has just begun to bubble and set.
  11. Garnish with the livers and chopped herbs or scallion tops.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Plat de charcuterie d'Iowa - Is it bacon or not?

My wife and I had a (dare I say rare?) dispute this morning over whether fancy bacon should be called bacon. The cause was a charcuterie plate I put together with the help of Maddie when I was running late preparing a dinner party for two visiting teachers from Brazil. I wanted to give them a taste of Iowa, and what could be more Iowa than pork? Well, corn-fed pork anyway.

So I went to Wheatsfield Coop for some old genes pork chops from the Rosman Farm, which I cooked as Julia suggests. I realized I didn't have an Iowa starter in mind--or much time. So I picked up some charcuterie from La Quercia: prosciutto, speck, and lomo (which I had never had before).

I also picked up some Iowa cheeses: Maytag blue (of course), Maytag Munster, and from the Milton Creamery their Prairie Rose, which looks and tastes as lovely as its name sounds.

I called my daughter who came over to help clean--and to arrange the charcuterie platter. Great job, as you see. The cornichons (in a coeur à la crème mold) and Maille Dijon were necessary, the halved yellow cherry tomatoes (hot house Iowa btw) gave it color.

Now to the dispute. This morning I asked J if she liked the bacon appetizer. She didn't very much, as it turned out.
"That's not bacon!"
"Yes it is. It's Iowa Italian bacon but it's bacon."
"No, it's not smoky or salty enough to be bacon."
"We're going to agree to disagree. But next time I'll fry you up some bacon strips for the charcuterie plate."
"Good. Just make them burnt the way I like it."
Later I asked some of J's foodie colleagues, when we were at the Drake Diner, if I had a point. They unanimously agreed. With Joyce. Ah. 

I suppose the only things I need to say in the way of a recipe are:
  1. This fed four hungry people for a big first course, with crackers and some homemade bread. It's about one ounce of each of the three meats. (The two-ounce packs of the La Quercia meats cost between five and six dollars each, which works out to about $40 a pound. Worth every penny!)
  2. It' takes a while to separate the paper-thin slices of meat, even though they come with thin bits of paper between each slice. So this takes 10 minutes to prepare, at least.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Soupe de concombre: Cucumber soup

This to me is the essence of August in Iowa. Well, that and the State Fair.

1 tablespoon mint leaves packed
1 medium cucumber
1 cup yogurt
1 cup milk
salt and pepper

  1. Process the mint leaves 10 seconds in a food processor or blender.
  2. Peel and roughly chop the cucumber and process 30 seconds
  3. Add the yogurt and skim milk, a pinch of salt and a pinch of white pepper, and process one second.
  4. Correct seasoning and serve, garnished with mint leaves.

Mushrooms à la Grecque

Mushrooms à la Grecque is for Julia (MAFC I 537) a long process of making a court bouillon, slowly simmering the mushrooms or other vegetables in it, and finally reducing the bouillon. I speed up the process by using a good vegetable stock, which has already got the great vegetable flavors and been reduced. I then add the Greek flavors as the mushrooms are cooking. Fortunately, Wheatsfield coop has some really really good quality vegetable stock.

I like this best with mushrooms, but it works very well with all kinds of vegetables. My favorite thing is to take this on a picnic.

1 cup vegetable stock, best quality, low salt
8 ounces small mushrooms or larger ones cut in half
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 peppercorns
6 coriander seeds
pinch of fennel seeds (1/8 teaspoon)
two branches of celery leaves, chopped roughly
pinch of thyme (1/8 teaspoon)
salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a covered saucepan over high heat, bring the stock to a boil.
  2. Add the mushrooms and cover.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, recovering the pan and shaking it occasionally.
  4. After eight minutes, remove the mushrooms, using a slotted spoon or skimmer.
  5. Allow the stock to continue boiling for a minute. Then pour it over the mushrooms and refrigerate for six hours or overnight, covered.

Fish stew Burgundy--Matelote de poisson

The best is Lotte, the lobster of fish, and the ugliest of fish too. But catfish will do nicely, as it is firm and holds up in the stewing (simmer only, please). You can use the catfish 'nuggets'--the meat from behind the gills. It comes with some skin. OK. My wife thinks this tastes 'rangey'--and she is a rancher's daughter. But I like it. It's a workman's (specifically fisherman's) dish after all. And it is priced like that--half of what the catfish fillets cost. But you can buy the catfish fillets and cut them in pieces. Fine. Or you can take out a second mortgage, travel to New York, and buy Lotte, which is called Monkfish or Angler Fish. God they are ugly.

This is really a stew, so it's good to serve it in a big shallow bowl or deep plate. Have a soup spoon there, and good bread to soak up the soup. Toasted is nice. This you can have simmering away in 10 minutes.

Serves 3-4

2 ounces lardons OR salt pork in 1/2 inch cubes, OR pancetta OR bacon in 1-inch pieces
1 cup sliced onions (or 1/4 cup sliced onions and 12 small boiling onions, peeled and added later)
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup red wine, preferably Burgundy or Pinot Noir
1 cup clam juice (or fish stock)
bay leaf
1 allspice berry (or one clove)
1 clove garlic, mashed
salt (none if you use fish stock)
8 ounces mushrooms, cut in half or quartered
[optional: 2/3 cup frozen boiling onions]
1 and 1/4 pounds catfish OR scallops, or other fish such as walleye, halibut, haddock, etc.
  1. In a fait-tout over high heat, cook the pork (no need to wait for the pan to heat).
  2. Slice thinly and add the onions. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally
  3. Add the flour and stir until it is browned, about 2 minutes
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients except the fish and bring to a boil, stirring the bottom to incorporate the browned flour.
  5. Add the fish pieces, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the fish is done, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Serve in bowls, garnished with chopped parsley, along with bread or potatoes or pasta

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Potage Magali: Mediterranean Tomato Soup with Rice

Every year at the end of the season, Doug at the Farmer's Market in the North Grand Mall parking lot brings in big boxes of tomatoes to sell for real cheap. They aren't perfect but they ain't bad. And I just core them, seed them, and run them through the Cuisinart, skins an all, and right straight into three-cup plastic containers from the Dollar Store and then down in the freezer. Unpeeled. It takes almost no time. (See the comment in the introduction to this blog for who cleans up the mess.)

Thawed in mid-winter, this tomato puree is a magic realist window on summer. It smells of August. And made into Julia's Mediterranean soup (MAFC II p. 20), it is August in Nice.

Serves three or four

1/2 cup onions chopped fairly fine
2 garlic cloves pressed or chopped finely
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups tomato puree, canned, fresh or frozen (see above)
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup cooked rice or 2 tablespoons raw rice (or 4 tablespoons couscous)
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence or fresh herbs tied together
salt and pepper to taste
a small pinch of saffron, if you can afford it!
  1. Heat a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat. Chop the onions and add them with the olive oil, stirring occasionally, for about seven minutes.
  2. Chop or press the garlic, and add it after about three minutes.
  3. Assemble the rest of the ingredients, and add them to the pot after seven minutes.
  4. Turn the heat to high for one minute, then down to simmer. Check seasoning and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
  5. Garnish with herbs and serve.