Recently in Sustainable Seafood Category
My new book, Weeknight Fresh and Fast, will be taking me on a few fun adventures over the next several months where I will be demonstrating recipes and/or talking about writing the book. I was a cooking teacher before my years as food editor at Bon Appetit magazine and I am enjoying teaching again. I hope that I'll get to see some of you along the way. I’d love to meet you and hear how you are enjoying the blog or the book; I am also interested to learn about things you’d like to see on the blog
At the end of March, I will be in Sonoma at the fabulous California Artisan Cheese Festival in Petaluma. The festival starts Friday, March 25, and continues through the weekend. It is a great opportunity to taste the best small batch and farmstead cheeses made in California, and to meet the cheese producers. Seminars are offered that teach how to distinguish goat, sheep, and cow’s milk cheeses; how to judge cheeses like a pro; great cheese and beer and cheese and champagne pairings. The festival illustrates the life of the cheese maker, and provides tours of cheese making facilities. There are chef dinners too, highlighting even more cheese. I am looking forward to learning and tasting, and bringing my finds back to you on this blog. I'll also be demonstrating a cheesy recipe and signing books.
-Monterey Bay Aquarium
The wild chanterelle mushrooms and sweet blue lake green beans I found at the farmers’ market this week reminded me of an intriguing fall salad I recently enjoyed at Jar restaurant. Chef Suzanne Tracht offered special dishes at a dinner benefitting the Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, and I was a lucky guest at my friend Margaret’s table.
Arctic char is among my favorite fish; I love its delicate, sweet flavor and pink colored flesh that flakes ever so delicately. I love how easy it is to cook; I prepare it all year- on the grill in the summer, roasted or sautéed when it is too cold to barbecue. I love its versatility - acidic ingredients brighten its flavor, earthy mushrooms compliment its salmon like taste. Last night I roasted char, and garnished it with a simple kumquat gremolata (chopped kumquats, shallot, and Italian parsley). I cooked potato and fennel wedges alongside, so the entire meal was made at one time.
Steve and I enjoy fish, and we usually eat it a couple of times a week. But choosing seafood can be confusing- which fish are environmentally correct, and which of those are low in mercury? It is easy to settle on wild salmon as the one safe fish, but I like to venture further out. My friends are always asking for help choosing and cooking seafood and I intend to help them and lure you with recipes for a variety of delicious, risk-free fish.
Roasted Fennel and Potatoes.
Scallops in Tomato-Olive-Thyme Sauce .
Comforting mashed potatoes are accented with tender fish, formed into rounds, and then sautéed until golden and crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. I understand why fish cakes are a favorite way to use leftover cod in Nova Scotia. I was introduced to these marvelous treats on a trip to Halifax Canada earlier this fall, and ever since have been recreating them at home the evening after fish dinners.
I made them this week with salmon, but almost any fish would be good. To enhance the basic formula, I added a few spoonfuls of leftover basil and mint salsa verde and a few gratings of lemon peel. Dipped in panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), and then cooked in just a little olive oil until a crunchy crust forms, these are most agreeable.
Tender, fresh lima beans are available right now at the McGrath Family Farms stand at several farmers’ markets. Because the beans are already removed from their pods, it takes only a few minutes to get them ready to use, and I am having fun fooling around with them. I have braised them with peppers, zucchini, and green beans; tossed them with spaghetti and fresh pesto; created a fresh succotash; and fashioned a hearty soup with the limas, fingerling potatoes, winter squash, and greens.
I discovered that the fresh limas develop a rich, earthy flavor and silky texture when simmered with sautéed shallot or onion and a few herbs until tender, and then left to cool in the salted liquid for at least 20 minutes. The first time I prepared the fresh limas, the process felt a little awkward, because I am accustomed to simply boiling frozen limas in water for about 15 minutes. Now I cook the limas when I get them home from the market, and store them in the refrigerator to use over the next few days.
I am working with the Monterey Bay Aquarium as the food editor for their Seafood Watch website, and the first post I produced is up. Each month we introduce one sustainable seafood item, with information about why it is a good choice for the environment and tips for cooking it. This is brought to life with 2 recipes fashioned specifically for the website; I will create one, and one will be from a chef who is dedicated to sustainability.
Arctic Char with Fennel and Orange.
Cool weather and rain in the forecast make this a perfect week to cook a pot of warming seafood chowder. This recipe, with its creamy broth, delicate cod, smoky bacon, and fresh kale, has rich flavors and is simple to make. I developed it for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website, to entice people to try Pacific Cod, a sustainable fish that is terrific in chowder and tacos, and is not expensive. Atlantic cod is greatly overfished, so Pacific cod is a tasty alternative.
Cod Chowder with Kale and Yukon Gold Potatoes .
When I was growing up, my mother served shrimp for special occasions. They were delightfully sweet and briny, resilient yet fabulously succulent. But years ago, these little sea creatures changed, the flavor disappeared, the texture became mushy, and they were available everywhere, including at inexpensive eateries. Except for giant Pacific and Canadian spot prawns presented at the best restaurants, shrimp were no longer special.
I had read and heard arguments against eating inexpensive shrimp- environmentally unsound farming and fishing methods are employed to produce this low cost product. It wasn’t until a visit to a fish farm in Southeast Asia that I truly grasped the situation. One look at fish swimming listlessly in fetid brown water, and I understood why I had stopped liking shrimp, and recognized the toll on the ecosystem.
I like to prepare Valentine’s Day dinner at home, far away from overcrowded restaurants. Because the meal is my celebration too, I want it to be easy, leaving me time to focus on my sweetie. This year I am going to cook the Roasted Salmon with Thyme Vinaigrette I created last year. I liked the dish so much; I included it in my new book, Weeknight Fresh and Fast. The vivid thyme sauce seasons the fish and dresses a salad of delicate baby greens too, making it 2 recipes in one. Add smashed Yukon gold potatoes (more about those in a minute), and the main course is complete.
Roasted Salmon with Thyme Vinaigrette.