Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fishing For Compliments

Listen up, fish heads! Part three of our post-Christmas pre-New Year's de-larding began tonight. The tallow that courses through our veins may have been thinned out to a mere European-style butter.

I had the chance to pick up an amazing piece of Chilean sea bass at my semi-local fishmonger which I stuck in the freezer the other day. In an effort to have a lower-fat meal and not overload on groceries before our upcoming trip I decided to thaw out this profound piece of pescetarian provender.

I made a quick marinade with some garlic, chili, sugar, satsuma juice, and rice vinegar. After marinating I roasted the bass in the oven and made a quick salad. For the salad I used baby greens, chick peas, lemon, olive oil, garlic, thyme, chili, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Maybe it's because she's married to me. Maybe she wishes me to buy her some sort of diamond-related gifts. At any rate Jen said that this was the tastiest piece of fish she's ever eaten. I wasn't looking for praise, it just fell in my lap.

I must say, it was a pretty tasty piece of fish. I guess that's the difference between a marvelous fish like Chilean sea bass as opposed to some aquatic travesty like tilapia.

It's as if the relative price of a fish moves up and down in direct relationship to its quality and enjoyment!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Feast of the Several Fishes. Well, Four Fishes. Kind of.

On Christmas Eve Eve Eve we had a guest for dinner.

It was another night where I had about 15 minutes to prepare dinner, therefore I quickly made this lamb burger, mashed potatoes, garlic spinach, and red pepper jelly. It was the perfect accompaniment to some Brooklyn Brewery Winter Lager and A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All.

Christmas Eve Eve saw Jen creating her traditional Christmas Eve dish: clam corn casserole.

Clam corn casserole tends to get a mixed reaction from people when they hear about it. They either think it sounds fantastic or they think it sounds like the most vile thing they've ever heard of. I tend to find it falls much closer to the former. After all, how can combining clams, saltine crackers, and cheddar cheese be all bad?

For Christmas day my mom made this amazing maraschino cherry cake which she got from Betty Crocker's New Picture Cook Book (published in 1961). Apparently she used to make it all the time before I was born. Then I came along and apparently ruined everything. Now that she's had sufficient time to recover from my intrusion she's taken to making it again. It was worth the wait.

On boxing day we came home with a strong urge to take a night off of butter, cheese, and rich pastries. I steamed some shrimp, sauteed some garlic, shallots, and shrimp with a little white wine and tossed it together with some mafaldine. I omitted the Parmiggiano that I normally would have added in the interest of decholesterolifying our weary veins.

I've taken to a recent fascination with The Feast of the Seven Fishes. This tradition is unique to Italian-Americans, a fact that I learned on Christmas Day after finding that my cousin had prepared the meal for some Italian-Italians who had no idea why she was making such an seafood-centric feast. The tradition tends to bend the definition of what a fish is to include any number of mollusks, crustaceans, or sea-dwelling critters. Since their definition of fish is so loose I took to stretching my definition of Christmas Eve to include the months of December and January. This would give me more time to prepare all of these fishes! Who has time to prepare all seven in one night?

I fried up some smelts and served them with leeks that I roasted in the oven, sliced kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts, and a little lemon. Jen was a little leery of having the smelts after hearing my mother recount a traumatic childhood experience where she'd eaten a smelt that was filled with fish eggs! Luckily that experience was not reprised this evening.

Using some leftover mashed potatoes from the lamb burgers we had on Tuesday night I made some soup with celeriac, garlic, shallots, turkey stock, and a little skim milk. We each had about a ladle full of the low fat soup which turned out better than I'd even hoped.

I also steamed some char and some broccoli with white wine and lemon. As you will note the broccoli was a little overdone but its lack of fat was a welcome addition to our cheesified bodies.

We kind of fell apart at the end with this amalgamation of leftover desserts from my parents, family, and that had been lying around the apartment when we returned home.

We started out really strong but it's just hard to turn down a plate filled with delicious butter-filled treats.

I'll start the diet tomorrow! Aye aye aye!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aborted Christmas Party Dinner

Prior to the storm to end all storms I stumbled upon a killer deal on some excellent chanterelle mushrooms.

A little garlic, butter, and olive oil white wine, and thyme made this a delicious addition to some fresh fettuccine.

Then the huge, giant, mega-storm hit! We canceled our holiday party and had to quickly freeze a number of items we were planning on cooking yesterday evening. Those items that could not be frozen had to be repurposed into dinner for four. Yes, two brave souls journeyed north to Westchester to brave the ankle-high snow drifts!

Aside from just cooking the spiral ham I also made a quick crab mousse (instead of crabcakes) and served it in pitted avocado halves. The mousse was simply crab, cream cheese, sour cream, green onion, horseradish, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

Jen had a tremendously productive afternoon making brown sugar shortbread cookies, fudge, cherry jewel bars, Nanaimo bars, fruit cake, shortbread cookies, chocolate chews, and pumpkin bread. Sadly I do not have photos of the havoc this wreaked on our kitchen.

With that we are soon off to Rhode Island, back to New York, then to Illinois to celebrate our three Christmases. Time to hang up the tongs and hand over cooking responsibilities to our families.

We'll be eating quite a bit of ham in the meantime. It's remarkable how much less ham is eaten by four than by fifteen.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Foxy Beaujolaisdy

I tried, unsuccessfully, to get a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau for our Thanksgiving dinner last week. Unfortunately it was still a little too nouveau and we were unable to get our hands on a bottle. The other day, however, I was able to get a bottle.

The only problem was that now I had to plan a dinner around it. I only had 35 minutes to make dinner so it would have to be fairly simple. According to Wikipedia Beaujolais Nouveau goes well with roasted and grilled meats. That's right, I used Wikipedia to figure out what to make for dinner.

Since I'd narrowed down the spectrum of accompaniments to merely all grilled and roasted meat in the world it was pretty simple to decide on making a simple roast chicken. I seared it with some rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil and roasted it in the oven with some onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and butternut squash.

The Beaujolais Nouveau was as I remember it: not that great. I'd heard rumors that this year's batch was supposed to be the best in the past forty years. Perhaps. It's hard to tell because this particular wine is not a personal favorite. The only thing I've ever enjoyed about Beaujolais it he ability to describe it as 'foxy' and to be technically accurate.

It's good to be able to say I've had the best vintage of Beaujolais in forty years. Better still is the phenomenal translation job they did on the back of the label. I can't tell if my favorite part is the grammatical structure of the 'sentence' or the fact that they flat out forgot to translate the word primeurs.

Actually it's neither. It's still my opportunity to use the term 'foxy' again.

That was one foxy wine.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Saving Potato Wedges From Certain Doom

Hey, follow our blog, why don't 'cha?

If you do, we might share some of last night's biscuit-crusted turkey pot pie with you!

After using up all the turkey it was time to take using up the leftovers to the next absurd level. I had made these potato wedges the day after Thanksgiving to accompany our hot turkey sandwiches. Now I was tasked with turning those into something lest they be left to rot in the fridge.

The thing about the potato wedges is they are so delicious when they're hot out of the oven and so nasty eaten cold. This said by someone who has virtually no qualms about eating anything cold out of the fridge.

In order to let these potato go down honorably I decided to crisp up some bacon, warm them quickly in the pan, then top them with mozzarella and bake them in the oven.

The result was pretty fantastic. The best part was avoiding that inevitable moment in a few days where I would have to throw the wedges in the garbage because they had crossed that line where the smell they emitted outweighed the guilt of throwing them away unused.

Yay, me!