Friday, October 19, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic

Now that we're deep into Autumn with rain on the way, time to get into fall produce. We paired this dish with the sand dab dinner posted earlier. This is a very simple recipe that will be in the Recipes section of my new cooking classes website that will be launched early in Winter 2013 but you won't have to wait for that as the recipe is here now.

A large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced very thinly
Kosher salt
Fresh-cracked black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
olive oil for the roasting pan
grated parmigiano-reggiano (no canned stuff on this!)
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat an oven to roast at 425F.
Put the cauliflower florets into a bowl with the sliced garlic and olive oil, seasoning with the salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Oil a roasting pan and add the cauliflower and garlic into it. When the oven has reached its temperature, put the pan in to cook for about 20 minutes, mixing the contents a couple of time to heat evenly, until the florets are darkened. Add the grated cheese and parsley and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove and cover with foil to keep warm until serving.

The garlic releases an incredible sweetness that combines with the flavor of the cauliflower in an amazing way. Don't give up on cauliflower until you've at least tried making it this way!

Pan fried sand dabs

Siren SeaSA pickup day, today we're cooking sand dabs. Sand dabs are a bottom flat fish somewhat like a small flounder that subsist on crustaceans and shrimp which give them a rather sweet flavor. They also tend to be rather small so a serving will using consist of at least a couple of them cleaned.

The first thing I thought of when presented with sand dabs was breading, butter, and sautéing or pan-frying them so that's what I did.

Sand dans cleaned

Panko bread crumbs

Sand dab dipped into the egg

Dipping the fish into the Panko to coat

Frying the fish

Fish after it's been fried

1-2 pounds sand dabs, cleaned
1 egg
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon quartered into wedges
kosher salt
fresh-cracked black pepper

Clean the sand dabs under running cold water, pat with paper towels to dry. Break the egg into a mixing bowl and beat with a fork. Pour out the panko onto a large plate or casserole dish, add salt and pepper for seasoning. Dip each sand dab into the egg to coat thoroughly then move it onto the plate with the panko to coat then set aside in a pile on another plate. Do each of the others likewise.

Heat a large skillet over a medium flame, adding the oil and butter when hot. Add as many of the sand dabs into the skillet as will fit without crowding. I used a 14-inch iron skillet for about 1 1/4 pounds of fish which required two separate batches. For each fish, fry one side until dark and fairly crisp then turn to do the same with the other side, making sure to not over cook them. As each is done put it aside on a serving plate while you continue with the remainder. In my case, it wound up taking about 4-5 minutes a side per fish to cook. The trick to knowing when a fish is cooked is that it's lost its translucence and flakes easily.

Serve at the table with the lemon wedges.

Note that if you've never eaten a sand dab, its skeleton runs down the center of the fillet. You can easily pull the meat off of the bone by using a fork to slip it off sideways. The bones are pretty thick so make sure you get them all out while you dine. 

We served this with brown rice and roasted cauliflower. Squeezing fresh lemon over the just-cooked fish really brings out its flavor. You can also use a tartar sauce to dress it but would have been gilding the lily as the fish was so damned tasty that the sauce would have hidden the flavor. We're holding off on the sauce until we have the leftover fish in sandwiches.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Albacore Tuna with Walnut Pesto

Apologies for being absent for a long while but I've been working feverishly on developing my new cooking classes web site. Of course I'll make plenty of noise about it here once it's live. Meanwhile ...

A friend who knows I'm crazy about seafood referred me to Siren SeaSA which is described on the web site as
 ... a community supported fishery, connecting the local fishing community with subscribers in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. 
The idea is something like a CSA version of seafood (CSA=SeaSA); you subscribe to the service by reserving orders for a given time period ahead of time and get whatever is fresh at the time of delivery. As we already have a fishmonger with whom we've shopped for years now, I wasn't really looking for another source of seafood but thought it would be at least interesting to check out. Very glad we did as for our first delivery we received an amazing fillet of local albacore tuna. I looked around online for something to do with my 'catch' and found a few recipes that I took bits and pieces from, riffing from there. I came up with separating the fillet into separate servings, grilling it, and dressing it with a light pesto.

Tuna separated into 4 even pieces

pesto ingredients - ready to rumble

Pesto - post-rumbled

1 pound fillet albacore tuna cut into 4 even pieces
Kosher salt
Fresh-cracked black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
3-4 cloves garlic peeled
1/3 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons more for the processing
Kosher salt
Zest of 1 lemon
Quarter the lemon for serving at the table

Prepare the pesto by combining all of its ingredients (except for the 2 tablespoons of olive oil) into the bowl of a food processor. Start the processor gradually adding the remainder of the olive oil into the top opening. Add more oil if necessary.

To prepare the tuna fillets, you can either cook on a stove top or grill over a open fire.
For the stovetop, heat a large skillet over high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the fillets for 1 minute, flip to the other side and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
For the grill, once the fire is hot, oil the grate well. Place the fillets on the grill to cook for 1 minute the flip to cook on the other side also for a minute, then remove.

Dress the fillets with the prepared pesto and serve with the quartered lemon.

Again, the fish was absolutely amazing and we are looking forward to the next deliveries.