on the menu: whole roasted branzino

On May 22, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve been wanting try new fish, and new methods of cooking fish. Whole roasted branzino is easy with great presentation value.

roasting branzino

Instagrammed

I started roasting some fingerling potatoes about 30 minutes in advance as the fish cooks quickly, especially in a hot oven. There is a range of roasting approaches, ranging from ~20+ minutes at 350° to 10 minutes at 500°. I went for a happy medium, around 16 minutes in a 425° oven. I jumbled together a few recipes, mainly this one and this one.

branzino

Pillivuyt Eden porcelain oval baking dish

I was really pleased with the flavor and texture of this branzino, a.k.a. Greek sea bass. There is the appeal, too, of the fish being fresher and less expensive when purchased whole (I didn’t gut it myself, though this would be pretty badass to be able to do, and I aspire). The cavity can be stuffed with any number of herbs and accents, I used lemon, basil, garlic, thyme, and salt.

branzino

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on the menu: white beans, chorizo, kale

On October 3, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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White beans, chorizo, and kale. With classic Spanish chorizo this dish is wonderfully flavorful and warming. The peculiar sweetness of kale balances the spicy, smoky chorizo.

Not hard:

2 Tbs olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minimum

chorizo, several inches worth, chopped to whatever size. Medallions are popular/picturesque but I like smaller pieces. Chorizo imported from Spain or in the Spanish style is ideal. Portuguese linguica is an OK substitute, any other substitution will require the addition of herbs and pimentón to supply the flavor.

splash of wine

2 cans cannelini beans, rinsed

8 oz broth, your preference

plenty of shredded kale, probably you will wish you had added more

Saute onions, peppers, garlic in olive oil (a dutch oven is nice for this dish), let them get plenty of color. Add the chorizo, allow fat to render. De-glaze with whatever wine you are drinking (I prefer white with this dish, a Sauvignon Blanc maybe, or Chardonnay, or sherry!). Mix in the beans and add the broth (I like beef broth here). Add the kale (I don’t even bother to mix it in at this point, just leave it on the top) and cover to allow the kale to steam. Once it has wilted, mix in. The longer everything can simmer at this point, the better. Say, 20 minutes. Chorizo is traditionally a dry sausage, and takes time to soften, also the flavors have time to mingle.

You can add more or less broth depending on how soupy you would like the final result, this combination is popular as an actual soup as well. All quantities are flexible.

Serve with toast.

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[This recipe is adapted from one from about.com, which I can’t find anymore.]

on the menu: the perfect soft-boiled egg, ramen-wise

On June 25, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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The physical and chemical properties of eggs are pretty much endlessly interesting to me, and I can eat eggs every day. Was craving ramen after reading this great breakdown of why it is easier to get a great soft-boiled egg (that is also easier to peel) if you start the egg in boiling water. This is a 6 minute egg dropped into a rapid boil, and somewhere between 5 and 6 I find just right for this application.

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Ramen (again) with all the garnishes I can fit, aided by the use of a generous bowl (I love this one from Finnish brand Arabia, ideal for me in curvature, size and weight).

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Bon!

on the menu: paella mixta

On May 22, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

So, after reading about 100 paella recipes, I determined that one need only get the ratio of rice to broth correct, and use a good quality broth, and an appropriate grain of rice, and beyond this anything goes. A creature of endless flexibility, is paella.

I opted for a mix of poultry and seafood, a paella mixta, and baked it to finish, a somewhat friendlier way to get an evenly cooked end result when cooking inside, particularly on an electric range.  [I am determined to have, in some future existence, a gas range (and a bathtub).]

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Here we have chicken, artichokes, snails, mussels, green beans, a highly influential sprig of rosemary (one recipe suggested adding either snails or rosemary, which I found intriguing, that they would be substitutes of some kind) and a base of garlic/onions/tomatoes/bell peppers/pimentòn. This is arborio rice, a pretty common substitute for the traditional Spanish bomba rice, which is not hard to find online now but kind of expensive. I overcooked it slightly. Was pleased overall, and inspired to experiment with other rices. Bomba. Valencia. Calasparra. Good names.

Hm. So. I don’t really like snails. Or, I really don’t like snails. I reserve the hope of being converted one day by some superb specimen but until then: no, no, escargot. I had some frozen ones (when you get whimsical at Whole Foods these things happen) and gamely stuck them in (they are pretty), and don’t mind whatever flavor they impart, but the texture is deeply unappealing to me. I spat it out, actually, the one I tried. I couldn’t bear to chew it.

I realize I do quite like mussels, though, which I didn’t know. I didn’t even expect to like them. I had an early aversion to shellfish that gradually softened into a long standing skepticism, and only in the last few years am I open to reconsidering certain things, coming around bit by bit, with many qualifications.

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Paella is so festive, inherently festive, even in the absence of any other markers of festivity (guests, say…an event, say). What is decided is, paella is meant to be shared (much of the lore and tradition surrounding paella, and there is a lot, is tied up in its social nature), and next time I should include some kind of sausage, and more pimentòn.

 

on the menu: warm grains salad

On February 28, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

A mix of grains and vegetables is a flexible formula I often put to use.

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This is a mix of brown rice, long-grain wild black rice, and quinoa cooked with raisins and pistachios, then tossed with sauteed string beans and fresh tomatoes. A garnish of fleur de sel and toasted almonds, and a [very] light dash of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce.

This grains + vegetables concept can go in so many excellent directions. I also really like adding curry powder and cider vinegar to the base of grains (which might also include millet or cous cous), and any number of vegetables can be appealing in. I’m thinking Brussels sprouts, roasted beets, roasted sweet potato, broccoli, kale…I especially like a blend of cooked and raw. Like: raw celery, scallions, ginger, tomatoes, or cucumbers.  Alternatively the grains part of the equation could be flavored with saffron or coconut, or replaced with lentils…

I keep thinking it would be so good alongside fish but I keep kind of forgetting about the fish in the moment. I’m going to eat more fish, though.* I aspire.

*Maybe if I blog it, it will come true…

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