Food: Fish Tacos

Making fish tacos is the closest I feel to being at the beach in Mexico. 

fishtacos1 Because some of my best food memories is eating fish tacos on the beach in Mexico.

Somebody said that it’s not the food itself but all the bonds and memories the food represents.

But I never follow a set recipe for tacos because there are so many variations.  These are closest to typical baja style with a little twist and without the sauce. Okay, maybe they’re just my own version.

Buy small street tortillas (they’re easily found in many supermarkets now – I prefer corn to flour) and make pico de gallo from scratch.

Pico de Gallofishtacos2

  • Chopped fresh red + yellow grape tomatoes, jalapeño, sweet maui onion, handful of cilantro, sea salt + squeeze of fresh key lime.
  • Sprinkle chili/lime seasoning blend on both sides of fish (I used Mexican seabass but you can substitute any white fish). Grill until done – a couple minutes per side. Divide fish among warmed tortillas and add pico de gallo, shredded purple cabbage, extra salsa if you like, top with more cilantro, sliced avocado, squeeze of lime & fold in half.  Add a side of chopped mango for added sweetness.

Buen apetito!

They’re fairly fast and fun to make and definitely delish!

Photos: d. king

 

 

 

Food: the versatile rice bowl

I’ve rekindled my love for rice bowls.  Not only nutritious & delicious but easy to make.

vegetarian coconut rice bowl

vegetarian coconut rice bowl

It’s a good way to use up all kinds of leftovers. Energize your meal with protein: chicken, salmon or steak. Substitute quinoa or noodles instead of rice as a base and play with a variety of different veggies and dressings to turn it Mexican, Indian, Asian+ for endless possibilities.

Let’s try unlikely combos.  Let’s eat things that are good.  Let’s eat things that make us feel good.

Vegetarian Coconut Rice Bowl Recipe

Yield: 4  bowls

1 cup uncooked jasmine rice, rinsed
* 1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
* 1 cup chopped cilantro, divided
* 2 limes
* 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
* 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
* 1 red bell pepper, diced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 Tbs. freshly minced ginger
* 1/2 cup frozen edamame
* 2 scallions, finely sliced
* coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the rinsed rice in a rice cooker. Add 3/4 cup coconut milk to the cooker, and 1 1/4 cup water & cook.

When the rice is done, add the juice of half a lime along with 1/2 cup cilantro. Stir.

Heat the oil over medium-high in a large sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they become tender and dark brown, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini and bell pepper; season with salt and pepper and sauté another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger; sauté for about another minute.

Now add the remaining coconut milk, edamame, remaining cilantro, scallions & another good squeeze of lime juice. Let it simmer 3 minutes, or until the edamame warms through.

Serve over coconut rice garnished with more scallions and fresh lime wedges.

Here’s a growing fast food chain I really like:

Freshii is a (fairly new to Vancouver) fast food restaurant chain that specializes in healthy rice bowls, salads, juices and smoothies.  I recently stumbled upon it when I was hangry (that place when you’re really hungry, bordering on the verge of cranky anger) and enjoyed the *Oaxaca bowl very much.  I wondered why there were not more fast food places like it. The story behind it is interesting blending fashion & food.

Matthew Corrin is the founder & CEO of Freshii.  While working in New York City for fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, Matthew was inspired by “mom-and-pop” delis with fresh food but lackluster branding & service. He sought to “add magic to the fresh food business” & brand the commodity of fresh food not unlike Starbucks branded the coffee bean. He’s a recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, Canada’s Top 40 under 40, Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 under 30, and Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals Restaurateur of the Year. In 2005, he founded Freshii.

Oaxaca Bowl

my Oaxaca Bowl

*brown rice & kale, avocado, beet slaw, black beans, corn, salsa fresca, crispy wontons, lime wedge, spicy yogurt sauce (1927 W. 4th in Kits).

Source for vegetarian recipe: bevcooks.com

Food: Brasserie Bourride (Fish Stew)

Yesterday I posted about the dreamy dinner for two prepared at the Frick Museum by Michelin chef Daniel Rose of Le Coucou brasserie in New York.

The bourride, stewing.Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

The bourride, stewing. Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Rose, an intense young chef originally from Chicago, made his Michelin-approved reputation conjuring clean, seasonal recipes from the old French canon at a small Parisian establishment not far from the Louvre called Spring. For his New York debut, however, he has provided the kind of grand, ostentatious stage you rarely see anymore in this populist era of chef burgers and haute pork buns. The T-shaped space, on the ground floor of a downtown hotel called 11 Howard, is lit with rows of circular chandeliers that look like they’ve been heisted from one of the castles in Game of Thrones.

Below is his recipe for one of the Entrées he served up for he and his lucky wife:

Recipe: Bourride With Aïoli

Bourride in case you are not familiar is a provençale fish soup which is akin to a classic Mediterranean fish stew and which is much less complicated and expensive to make than bouillabaisse.

Phone: 212-271-4252

Source for Daniel Rose: NYmag.com

Art/Food: Dinner at the Frick

This is frickin amazing…

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. -Virginia Woolf

Daniel Rose and Marie-Aude, Styling by Diana Tsui. Suit, shirt, and shoes by Tom Ford. Dress by Ralph Lauren Collection. Shoes by Oscar de la Renta. Tablecloth by E. Braun & Co. Candelabras by Lynn Field at Bergdorf Goodman.Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Daniel Rose and Marie-Aude, Styling by Diana Tsui. Suit, shirt, and shoes by Tom Ford. Dress by Ralph Lauren Collection. Shoes by Oscar de la Renta. Tablecloth by E. Braun & Co. Candelabras by Lynn Field at Bergdorf Goodman.Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Inside Le Coucou Chef Daniel Rose’s Seafood Dinner for Two at the Frick

A feast for the senses! I mean what could make you feel better and be more romantic for a foodie/art lover than fine French dining inside a New York  Fine Art Museum among distinguished Old Master paintings while wearing designer duds. Nothing I say!

For this year’s Holiday Food special,  American cooks with French restaurants were sent into homes (and the Frick) to host relatively easy-to-replicate dinners.

It smells like France in here,” chef Daniel Rose says upon entering the Fragonard Room of the Frick Collection. It’s a welcome smell for the 39-year-old Chicago-born chef, who rose to fame in Paris for his tiny, seasonally focused restaurant Spring, and who decamped to New York with his family this past June to launch the grand, inventive brasserie Le Coucou. He was at The Frick recently to cook a romantic dinner for his wife, Marie-Aude, surrounded by the looming The Progress of Love panels, done by one of his favorite painters. (When he first arrived in Paris to study at the American University, he found himself at a Drouot auction at which he bought a “possible” Fragonard, cut from a larger painting, and had it cleaned and sold it for three times more.) For this intimate dinner (save for a crowd of security guards — the Frick has never allowed food to be consumed in this room before), Rose set out to design a menu that would allow him to spend more time eating and less time cooking: warm briny oysters with seaweed butter and oeuf norvégien (an artichoke heart topped with a soft-boiled egg and a creamy coating of crème fraîche with chives and enveloped in smoked salmon), followed by a bourride bursting with clams, mussels, large prawns, and black bass. As the two finished up their meal with a classic dense chocolate mousse and royale d’orange cookies, he said: “There’s no place I’d rather be than here.”

Food: Oh So Moist Carrot Cake

This moist, rich cake is made using whole grain flour, fruits and veggies, more “natural” sweeteners and healthy oils. Your kitchen will smell divine with the aroma of warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves as this cake bakes.

Coconut whipped cream with toasted coconut flakes

Little Loaf – topped with whipped coconut cream & toasted coconut flakes

I took this original recipe and divided it into individual loaf pans to give to friends.  Makes three.  Instead of the usual cream cheese or traditional whipped cream topping I whipped coconut milk (without guar gum in the ingredients) with a little maple syrup & vanilla extract.  It’s a much healthier alternative but the secret is to make sure the coconut milk is very well chilled.  Leave the can in the fridge for at least one hour.  It can also be helpful to put your mixing bowl and beaters (or blade) in as well, so everything is very cold.  As far as the cake goes, you can always substitute some of the pineapple for grated zucchini (as I did for a few of them), omit the walnuts entirely and/or add raisins.  I made my own apple sauce.

Carrots – Carrots are one of the best sources of beta carotene, which balances the immune system and reduces the risk of many cancers. They also guard against cardiovascular disease, reduce inflammation, slow the aging process, and are great for digestion disorders. They also contain fiber, calcium, iron, and many other vitamins and minerals.

Cinnamon – This spice has antiseptic properties, is a digestive aid, has anticancer properties, and is beneficial for the heart, lungs, and kidneys. It also helps lower blood pressure and makes insulin more efficient thus controlling blood sugar spikes.

Walnuts – These nuts contain beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids that are great for the brain and lowering cholesterol. They are also high in protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

Pineapple – Pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. It is also rich in the enzyme bromelain, which aids in digestion, is an anti-inflammatory, and an anti-cancer agent. It can greatly reduce the swelling of carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and gout.20161116_101505

Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup olive or coconut oil (I used organic virgin coconut oil)
2 eggs (or 2 Tbs ground flax seeds soaked in 6 Tbs water)
1 cup raw carrot, grated (2-3)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Dry Ingredients

1 cup whole grain spelt flour, rice flour, kamut flour or combination
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 tsp unrefined salt (I used himalayan)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
optional: 1 tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground cloves (I used a pumpkin spice mix)

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together gently.
  4. Pour into a greased 7×11 inch cake pan (or a muffin tin) or individual loaf pans,
  5. Bake at 350ºF until a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 40 minutes (20 minutes for cupcakes in a muffin tin). Cool and serve.

    “If your regrets linger, if you cannot find inspiration in solitude, then
    you still have much to learn from the writers and poets and the cooks
    on becoming the artist of your own life… you can never re-create the
    past. But you can shape your own future. And you can make a cake.”

    ~ Jacqueline Duval, in ‘Reckless Appetite a Culinary Romance’

Photos: d. king

French Food: Michelin 3-Star Salmon & Sorrel

I’ve always been a little fascinated with Michelin Star restaurants if only because obtaining even one star is so difficult to earn; imagine getting three? 

After watching the four-part series Chef’s Table France I decided to re-create (similar to the girl in the movie who copied Julia Child’s recipes and gained a large following in doing so) except I’m not THAT determined…a 3 star Michelin inspired dish!  These stars were well earned.

my plate

my plate

This recipe comes to us courtesy of Pierre Troisgros, one of only three French chefs whose restaurant has received three stars in the Michelin Guide for more than thirty consecutive years.

The celebrated Troisgros brothers (with the restaurant by the same name) created thousands of dishes for their Michelin-three-star restaurant in Roanne, France, but the plated Salmon and Sorrel Sauce, became a touchstone in French culture. It, more than any dish created by any other chef, marked the passage from the classic cooking of Escoffier to ‘la nouvelle cuisine’.  Today it might be difficult to imagine all the hoopla surrounding this somewhat simple looking dish. The components of the dish were not the newsmakers – they’d been used singularly and in combination for years by chefs in France.

 It was the way in which the salmon was cooked and the manner in which the plate was arranged that rocked the culinary establishment. In the old order of things, the salmon would have been poached and placed on a warm plate, and the sauce would have been spooned over it. In the Troisgros instant classic, the salmon was flash-cooked in a pan, a radically new way to cook fish, and it was the sauce that was put on the plate – the salmon topped it. It may not sound like much now, but then, it changed the way food was experienced.

 But any way you look at it, it’s still simply divine from plate to palate.

Pierre’s Salmon with Sorrel

INGREDIENTS  (for four)

  • 2 pounds salmon (equal thickness, no bones or skin and fairly thin)
  • 2 cups Pierre’s Fish Stock (recipe below) or *bought fish stock
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine, preferably Sancerre
  • 3 tablespoons dry vermouth
  • 1 1/4 cups creme fraiche
  • 4 ounces *sorrel leaves (about 1 quart tightly packed), washed, stemmed, and large leaves torn into two or three pieces
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. The original recipe calls for boning and dividing fillets from the thickest section of the fish into 6 ounce thinly cut pieces. Then oiling two pieces of parchment paper with peanut oil by laying one piece of parchment on a flat surface. Place fish on parchment.  Top with second piece of parchment.  Then with a wooden mallet or the side of a cleaver, gently flatten so each fillet is of equal thickness.  However
  1. That’s great but unless you’re a fisherman I advise going to your local fish market and asking someone to cut wild-caught salmon into equal size portions and remove the skin.  That is what I did since I live in an urban area.
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine fish stock and shallots. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to a glaze, 10 to 15 minutes. Add wine and vermouth, and continue to cook until bright and syrupy, about 3 minutes. Add creme fraiche, and boil until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Original recipe says to pass through a fine mesh sieve into a clean pan. I left it as is since the shallots boiled down and it was flavourful & tasted exquisite.
  1. Add sorrel, and cook for 25 seconds. Remove from heat. Add butter a little at a time, swirling or stirring with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated (be sure not to break up sorrel leaves). Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season salmon on one side (the less presentable side) with salt and pepper. Place in pan, seasoned side up. Cook 25 seconds, turn, and cook 15 seconds more (or a little more if need be). The salmon must be slightly undercooked to preserve its tenderness (it will continue to cook in the finished sauce). Definitely do not over cook!
  1. Distribute sauce among four (or two) large plates. Place salmon, seasoned side down, on top of sauce on plates. Season with fleur de sel. Serve immediately.

    Plat pour deux

    Plat pour deux

*Sorrel is a dark green, or variegated perennial herb with a slight sour flavour which comes from a high oxalic acid content. Sorrel is used in cream soups as well as an accompaniment to meats and vegetables. A French traditional version sorrel sauce is pureed and served over eggs or fish. You can usually get it at Farmers Markets but it sells out quickly.

Substitute for SorrelIMG_0759

Spinach with some lemon juice squeezed over top for tartness

Pierre’s Fish Stock

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds heads and bones from any fresh, white-fleshed, non oily fish
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • Bouquet garni (sprigs of thyme and parsley and a bay leaf, tied together)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse the fish bones well in several changes of cold water. Place them in a medium stockpot. Cook, covered, over low heat, until their juices are released, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid sticking.
  2. Add enough cold water to cover, and the bouquet garni. Bring slowly to a boil, skimming surface until no trace of scum remains. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 25 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with damp cheesecloth. Cool. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
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I used this one & added water

I used this one

I used this one

Bon Appétit

Source: adapted from marthastewart.com (the original recipe was published here)

Photos: d. king

Perfect sides would be  lightly sautéed chanterelle mushrooms and rice, couscous or quinoa to soak up the fabulous sauce.  Really; it was FABULOUS.

Inspired by this recipe, the following night I cooked dover sole stuffed with dungeness crab claw meat (green onion, pepper, lemon) & a bechamel sauce over top. Sooo good!

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FOOD: What’s new with Nori?

If the only time you tend to eat NORI (dried seaweed) is with sushi, you’re missing out.

Sablefish over Nori

Sablefish (marinade is my own recipe) over Nori in cast iron pan

You probably know nori best as the paper-like dark green wrapping that keeps pieces of sushi neatly — and deliciously! — contained.

There was a time when I made sushi from scratch (not the seafood part, but the assembling of it all with rice, nori & wasabi and then rolling and cutting it to make California rolls or tuna maki, etc.  It was a way of being artistic as top sushi chefs are artists of a sort.  Also I wanted to impress my parents after living in Tokyo by making them sushi…..which at the time, they weren’t used to at all.  My mom hated raw fish and spit it out when I wasn’t looking.

However in Vancouver Japanese sushi restaurants are a dime a dozen plus it was costing me more to make it, so I stopped. The other day I marinated Sablefish overnight.  The next day as I was preparing to cook it I realized I had some sheets of Nori that were unopened. Hmmm…..what can I use them for now that I no longer make sushi? Without using any specific recipe I decided to place the Sablefish over top of a few Nori sheets and bake it in the oven.  I knew from toasting nori in the past over a stovetop that it would probably toast in the oven too.  But I wasn’t completely sure of the outcome.  End result: nice & tender perfectly cooked fish with Asian Marinade and crispy seaweed.  The combo was quite yummy and my two guinea pigs were very pleased.

Asian Marinade of

Asian Marinade of soy, sake, mirin, sesame oil, chopped fresh ginger, garlic & a bit of honey, patted dry before baking. Side of steamed baby bok choy & little boiled potatoes with fresh herbs & butter.

So I decided to check into how to use Nori for other recipes.

Nori Sheet

Nori Sheet

How long does it keep, How is it made & Where can you buy it?

These crisp sheets of mild grassy-tasting seaweed last forever in the pantry packaged in an airtight container or ziplock bags and can come in handy when you just need “a little something extra” to perk up a weeknight meal. If they start to lose their crispness, you can re-toast them (carefully!) over the flame on a gas stove (as I have done in the past).

Nori is made by shredding edible seaweed and then pressing it into thin sheets — much like the process for making paper. You can find packages of it at any Asian grocery store, Whole Foods, and more and more frequently these days, regular grocery stores. Nori that is sold as “plain” or “toasted” is the most versatile sort for our cooking purposes.

It also comes with a whack load of healthy benefits.  (I will post this separately – ups).

Other ways to use it:

  1. Crispy Nori Snacks: Crisp those sheets of nori a little more, and by golly, you have yourself some nori chips!
  2. Furikake Seasoning: This blend of nori and sesame seeds makes a simple rice dish taste like it came straight from a restaurant kitchen. It’s *easy to make yourself at home.
  3. Soup and Rice Bowl Topper: Add a little extra crunch to your next bowl of soup or rice. Toasted Nori – These thin sheets of pressed seaweed crisp up beautifully after a few minutes in a low oven or toaster oven, then you can crumble them on top of a bowl of soup. Brush the top with water for even crispier sheets! Slice nori into thin ribbons and sprinkle away. Also try using it over omelets, baked fish, salads, steamed vegetables, and anywhere where you might like nori’s crisp texture.

*Vegetarian Furikake Rice Seasoning

2 sheets toasted nori seaweed
1/4 cup toasted white and/or black sesame seeds.(You can just use whole sesame seeds, but I like to include both whole and ground for added texture).
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Toast the nori over a low flame or burner, waving each sheet over the burner until it crisps and the color changes. Using scissors, cut into small pieces.

With a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder, combine 1/8 cup sesame seeds, salt, and sugar.

Combine nori with ground sesame seed mixture and remaining 1/8 cup whole sesame seeds. Store in an airtight container.

To serve, sprinkle over or mix into rice or noodles.

What other ways do you like to use nori?

Source (for other ways): thekitchn.com

Photos: d. king

 

French Party Platter – Charcuterie 101

You’ve invited some friends over for an informal gathering and you want to offer your guests something to soak up the wine/cocktails with (because you’re a gracious host and always put out some food be it the tasty but predictable dips, cheese and coldcuts platter)…but this time you want something a little more pleasing than the usual.  Maybe a little charcuterie?

Charcuterie is the perfect essential French cured meats and more.

Charcuterie is the perfect essential French cured meats and more.

Done right, the charcuterie board is an awe-inspiring sight. There are the meats, of course, in a smorgasbord of cuts, cures, and flavors. And then there are the mustard and pickles and crusty baguettes, and the fact that we get to eat it all with our hands. In a world where fine dining typically comes with dainty cutlery and elegant plating, charcuterie speaks to a different, gloriously primal, kind of indulgence.

But what exactly is French charcuterie? How does it differ from, say, the cured meats of Italy, or the bounty of smoked Delikatessen meats made in neighboring Germany? And what do experts consider the most noteworthy items under the charcuterie umbrella?

The word itself comes from the French words chair, meaning “flesh,” and cuit, meaning “cooked.” It first entered the culinary lexicon in the 15th century to represent storefronts specializing in the preparation of pig and offal at a time when shop owners weren’t allowed to sell uncooked pork. These owners,charcutiers, would hang inventory in their shop windows to draw customers in. It worked: The craft was mastered, and a culture was born.

As for how it’s defined today? Elias Cairo, founder and charcutier of Oregon’s Olympia Provisions, puts it simply: “Charcuterie is value-added meat,” he says, “where something is added, be it salt or heat, to enhance flavor and prolong shelf life.” So, really, charcuterie is an exercise in crafty innovation—resulting from a need to preserve the fruits of a day’s hunt. Smoked meats and fish came first. Cured meats came second. Once processed, many products in the charcuterie canon were covered with melted fat, either butter or rendered poultry fat, to maximize stability and prevent spoilage.

Then again, these methods of preservation are practiced internationally. So what makes French charcuterie so diverse and unique? “The French rely on amazing technique,” says Cairo. “But they’re so good at farming and processing, too, and have such respect for ingredients.” And, when most charcuterie items are little more than pork and a few spices, it’s crucial that each be of the highest caliber. French chefs place such value not only on the end product, but [on] the entire process and where the food comes from.

French charcuterie has always been shaped by regional variety as well, which contributes to its vast inventory. Each region uses its geographic strengths and uses the wealth of ingredients that are readily available in that particular area. The full list of French charcuterie items is long and not at all lean, but there are a few that experts consider classics.

So let’s open a bottle of wine, break into some fresh bread, and dig in.

PÂTÉcharcuterie3

“Pâtés and terrines, broadly speaking, are essentially big sausages cooked in some sort of mold,” Michael Ruhlman writes in Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, the book he coauthored in 2005 with Brian Polcyn. Put simply, they’re a mixture of fat, meat, and seasonings that can be ground or puréed.

The grind can vary from coarse to fine, and pork is the dominant pâté meat. But in the US, says Collins, “we have a broad umbrella and use the word ‘pâté’ very loosely.” She talks about her own experience in France, where the structure of definitions is less rigid. But for the American market, which is less familiar with charcuterie products, Les Trois Petits Cochons distinguishes pâtés as coarse in texture, meat-based (from mostly duck, chicken, and rabbit), hearty, and garnished with spices and, occasionally, vegetables.

Pâté de campagne, the most common, is a coarse grind of lean and fatty pork with spices and little, if any, liver. More lavish versions are found baked in pastry dough (en croûte), in a mold (en terrine), or in skin (galantines and ballottines), but, historically speaking, the charcutier’s goal was always the same: “Pâté was created to use up the excess product—offal, trim, fat—from a day of slaughter,” Cairo writes in his book, Olympia Provisions, coauthored with Meredith Erickson.

A typical pâté de campagne comes in the form of a savory loaf, flavored with onions, white pepper, and cognac. It’s a deeply porky product that’s simultaneously light and delicate.

TERRINEcharcuterieterrine

“The terrine category throws a lot of people off,” Collins says. “We tried to keep it as a more vegetable-based or seafood-based category, because what we found in France was [that] a lot of the vegetable and seafood items were termed terrines.” Collins also notes that most of the layered charcuterie items she’s found in France use the term. In Charcuterie, Ruhlman writes that “we use the words pâté and terrine interchangeably. Technically, though, terrine is short for pâté en terrine.”

MOUSSEcharcuterie4

Mousses, like pâtés, can be made from a variety of meats. But a mousse is much more finely ground, yielding a smooth texture. And, while you’ll find liver in both pâté and mousse, the percentage is typically much higher in mousses, which gives them their famously creamy consistency.

“Pâté and mousse and all the products we make, a lot of people think of them as high-end, which is great, because we use great ingredients, and they’re labor-intensive. But pâtés and mousses are really a labor of love. They utilize items that are essentially leftovers,” says Collins.

The transition from liver to mousse typically starts by soaking livers in cold water. “This will remove some of the really iron-y flavor that liver may have,” Cairo says. For his pork liver mousse, Cairo marinates livers for two days once they’ve soaked, after which they’re puréed in a food processor and passed through a fine-mesh sieve. The rich liver, enhanced with a dose of cream and egg before it’s cooked, is balanced with a splash of port. Chili flakes, white pepper, and coriander add a spiced depth to the spread.

BOUDINcharcuterie5

Boudin means “pudding,” but these savory sausages are made from ground, spiced meat packed in natural casings and then boiled, poached, or blanched. The two most common varieties are blanc and noir (white and black, respectively). Blanc is more of a holiday sausage, usually served around Christmastime, and often seen in Auvergne, in central France, where chestnuts are widely grown. The Fatted Calf stores in Napa and San Francisco, California, make theirs with cream, bread crumbs, and chestnuts that have been braised in broth and bourbon.

Boudin noir is named such for the addition of pig’s blood to the sausage, which gives the final product its signature deep, dark red color. “The French aren’t afraid of anything,” says Heather Bailie, an owner of Fatted Calf. “That’s where blood comes in.” Theirs, like most traditional boudin noir, is a pork product made from a mixture of shoulder, blood, diced back fat, caramelized onions, apples (when they’re in season), and a salty, smoky Basque spice called piment d’Espelette. The sausage mixture is encased, tied off at the ends, and poached in water with onion and bay leaf. The blood solidifies as it cooks, for a delicate, savory sausage with a mousse-like texture.

SAUCISSONcharcuterie6

The regional variation in French charcuterie is perhaps most evident in saucisson: dry-cured, fermented salami. Dry-curing is simply preserving meat by using salt. As saucissons age, natural, healthy molds develop on the casings that prevent bad bacteria from contaminating the meat. These casings can be removed, but Cairo, who makes four different, regionally inspired saucissons, encourages leaving the natural casings intact to enhance the experience.

Saucisson sec (dry) is the most common of the French saucisson arsenal. “If you go to France and go to a charcuterie shop and buy a dried salame,” Cairo says, “this is the flavor profile you’re going to get.” That profile is dominated by pork, as it should be. But Cairo strikes a balance of that porcine perfection with a hint of garlic and a subtle spice from traces of black pepper, the only other two components of saucisson sec. This type of charcuterie is about simplicity and respect for ingredients.

As you travel around France, though, you’ll discover many variations on the theme. In Alsace, saucisson is traditionally spiced with clove, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, making a deeply savory and satisfying wintry salame. In Arles, where it is at its purest, you’ll find it made with just pork and salt. Meanwhile, eastern France, near the Swiss Alps, is famed for its saucisson aux noisettes, a salami made with pork, salt, and whole hazelnuts from Savoy.

JAMBONcharcuterie7

Cooked and cured hams are frequently seen in French charcuterie, but different regions are known for different types. Jambon de Paris is a three-muscle, lean, low-fat ham wrapped in its own skin and cooked in its own juices. It’s flavored with nothing but salt—with little else to distract from that flavor, it’s important that the meat be high-quality. Jambon de Paris is the perfect slicing ham, typically cut thin and served with butter on baguettes, or on croques monsieurs and croques madames.

Jambon de Bayonne is the quintessential French cured ham, the country’s equivalent of Italian prosciutto di Parma or prosciutto di San Daniele. It comes from the city of Bayonne in southwest France, a city cut in two by the Adour River, which sits in the shadows of the Pyrenees Mountains. Jambon de Bayonne is a regionally protected foodstuff under PGI (protected geographical indication)—a designation that covers goods whose production, processing, or preparation takes place in a specific area. To qualify, the ham must be cured with salt from the Adour River basin only. This, along with USDA restrictions on the number of foreign meats allowed for import, is part of the reason Bayonne ham wasn’t spotted on American shores until spring of last year.

Thinly sliced, a piece of Bayonne ham tastes like a cool glass of clean river water. It’s slightly salty, evidence of the Adour River’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, and then sweet from traces of pork fat that melt on your tongue. It’s still difficult to find in the States, so your best bet is a specialty meat and cheese shop. The minimum age for a jambon de Bayonne is only seven months, but a longer cure will give it a more intricate and nuanced flavor—the 12-month ham sold at Murray’s Cheese is something truly special.

RILLETTEScharcuterie8

Though rillettes can be made from meat simmered in stock, the most traditional iteration starts as confit—meat that’s been heavily salted and then cooked in its own fat. But where confit is presented whole, rillettes call for finely shredding or chopping the cooked meat and then folding it back into that fat. From there, the rillettes are packed into a small container, making them less unwieldy than an entire confited duck leg, and topped with a final layer of fat, which keeps air out and extends shelf life.

Pork is considered the standard choice for rillettes due to its relative affordability, but duck and rabbit are often used as well. An amazing rillettes will be spreadable, soft, and rich, with a slight chew from the lightly seasoned meat.

So there you have it. I found it interesting to read the history of how the charcuterie is prepared.  Then having said that, maybe it’s better off not knowing too much.  I’m the girl who does not eat Foie Gras but loved Boudin (which I first discovered and tried in New Orleans) before knowing some of it comes with pig’s blood added to it.  Ewww.

Source: Story – Craig Cavallo, contributing writer for http://seriouseats.com

Craig Cavallo has been working and eating in New York City restaurants for a decade. His insatiable appetite (and bike) take him from one delicious thing to the next. You can follow Craig’s journey @digestny and on Digest NY, a website he launched in 2012 to share his love of food and the stories told through it. A love affair with wine grew organically when Craig was an opening staff member at Eataly’s wine store. The job lead him to Piedmont where he discovered even more joys. Craig’s from Syracuse, but he lives and writes in Brooklyn.

Photos: Vicky Wasik

Fish in Season – Fast & Fresh

For when you desire a light, easy to digest delicious dinner, try making something with fresh white fish like Halibut or Dover Sole.halibut3

Both mild fish adapt really well to almost any seasoning, even something so simple and classic like butter, garlic, squeezed lemon & parsley.  It’s no fuss and fairly fast to make. Sole is not a dense fish so it tends to fall apart quite easily. For me the best way to cook sole is quickly in a frypan with a light breading and a little butter. I mix panko breadcrumbs with fresh grated parmesan and add spices like Italian seasoning then squeeze fresh lemon juice over top.  A little chopped red chili pepper adds an extra kick. 

Super Sole Sunday.  Panfried with a light homemade breading over sea asparagus (sautéed in a little butter by itself).  Sides of steamed farmers market carrots and wild rice.

Super Sole Sunday!  Pan fried with a light homemade breading over sea asparagus
(sautéed in a little butter by itself).  Sides: steamed  carrots and wild rice.

Halibut can be steamed, baked or broiled but never fried.  Okay, I’ve never tried frying it. I just don’t think it would lend itself well to the frypan.

This time I placed Halibut fillets over fresh Kale in a cast iron pan and baked it with sundried tomatoes and lemon olive oil over top.  It came out moist and the kale had some crispiness – a nice combo with corn on the cob and steamed tri-coloured carrots.

Halibut over Kale with Sundried Tomatoes

Halibut over Kale with Sundried Tomatoes

We’re repeatedly told to eat two fish meals per week. Fish offers a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, low in cholesterol-raising saturated fat. Don’t forget we get major sources of two of the essential omega-3 fatty acids. But some fish contain higher levels than others.

Did you know?

Even though sole is not usually found at the top of the list, it turns out to be a good source, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s also packed with protein, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D. It’s also much lower in fat. Along with the omega-3s, one serving of sole only has 73 calories yet supplies 13 grams of protein, 20 percent of your RDA of vitamin D and 41 percent of your RDA for vitamin B-12.

Halibut does not have the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the seafood world, but it is still a good choice, containing .9 g per 100 g of fresh fish. This compares with fresh salmon at 1.4 g per 100 g of fish; lake trout, with 1.6 g; sardines, with 1.7 g; herring, with 1.7 g; and mackerel, with 2.2 g, according to weight-loss adviser Anne Collins from LiveStrong.

*Sidenote: I have one helluva Halibut story.  Our VW camper broke down in a tiny fishing village in Newfoundland on a Friday night moments after buying a fresh huge (emphasis on one big f…..fish) halibut right off a boat.  We ended up having to spend the whole weekend in a motel that luckily had a kitchenette while waiting for a part to arrive on Monday and with me having to cook halibut every which way for several days.  I’m surprised I can still eat it.  Add to the misery the closest walking distance store from the hotel was a Walmart.  That was the first time I set foot in one of those.  They really do have a lot of stuff.  Moving along right…. I have bigger fish to fry.

What is your favourite fish to make? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food– risotto cakes

I have a great idea for your leftover risotto….and don’t ever tell me you never have leftovers!

Risotto Cakes from "Verve"

Risotto Cakes from “Verve” in Vancouver

I make risotto from time to time and there’s always more left over for another meal.  It’s so rich on its own so it’s nice to have an alternative for it, otherwise it can get boring.

I had the pleasure of visiting a new place called Verve (previously Central on Denman in West End, Vancouver).  I was looking for a place to listen to jazz and grab a decent bite to eat and luckily this place did not disappoint.

Verve chef Peter Chun sent a few plates over our way when I ended up there with a friend one evening.  Everything was good but the standout share plate were the risotto cakes.  Granted we didn’t try every single thing on the menu but hey…what a clever way to use leftover risotto.  I don’t have his recipe but I found one that you can use and bend to your own liking since I know whoever is reading this is a creative type person who loves trying different things.

Here it is:

Ingredients
3 cups leftover risotto (roasted garlic, mushroom, etc.)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil

Directions
In a large bowl add the leftover risotto, eggs, corn, bread crumbs, and Parmesan and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Mix to combine well. Form into 12 balls about the size of a walnut, then flatten into patties and arrange on a baking sheet.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook until they are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the patties from the oil to a baking sheet lined with a brown bag or paper towels to drain the excess oil. Transfer to a serving tray and serve hot.

Source: courtesy of Sandra Lee, Food Network

Verve: 1072 Denman St, Vancouver
Phone:(604) 673-0859