Redfish on the Half Shell with Chermoula and Corn Puree– with Props to Compere Lapin

Not long ago I pulled one of these treasured fish from shallow Gulf waters and brought it home for dinner. I remember we made redfish court bouillon and I showed the picture of my fish catching to near-strangers, so proud was I.

There are so many delicious southern recipes featuring redfish—this one with chermoula and corn puree is a healthy and flavorful pairing.

I also just have to say, we went to Compere Lapin for KP’s birthday dinner on Monday night and it was hands down the best food I’ve ever had that I (or my mom) did not make at home. One of the best things about learning to cook is realizing that almost always you can make it better and cheaper yourself. This cannot be said to be true about Compere Lapin—absolute Caribbean French culinary perfection. An absolute treat. Pepper pot, Stracciatella with mango and hazelnuts, Jerk Black Drum and Scialatielli…vanilla chicory whisky cocktail—this restaurant makes me feel proud to be a New Orleanian. Thanks Nina Compton et al for the best dinner out we’ve ever had!

Probably will have to wait until next year to catch another big redfish, but when I do, this will be the first dinner I cook up! Leave that skin and scale on!

Redfish on the Half Shell with Chermoula and Corn Puree

Adapted from New Orleans Natural Awakenings Magazine

Chermoula

2 cups cilantro

1 cup parsley

8 garlic cloves

½ tsp lemon zest

2/3 cup lemon juice

1 ½ tsp ground coriander

2 tsp paprika

1 ½ tsp cumin

1 tsp cayenne

¼ tsp saffron

1 pinch salt

½ tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup olive oil

 

Corn Puree

1 pound corn kernels

1 cup cream

2 oz cane vinegar

1 pinch salt

 

Redfish

½ pound squash

2 tsp olive oil, divided

4 redfish fillets with skin and scales

1/8 tsp salt and pepper

1 tsp butter

2 oz andouille sausage

½ pound swiss chard

2 garlic cloves

1 shallot

1 tsp cane vinegar

 

Chermoula is easy. Just put all the ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor and puree. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Voila.

For the corn puree, combine all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes until the corn is soft. Then also blend in a processor for 45 seconds, not until smooth, but until the texture of the stuff is kind of like corn grits.

Preheat oven to 400. Cut squash up into little inch cube sort of pieces. Drizzle squash with olive oil and place on a baking sheet covered in foil, bake for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Heat up a castiron skillet on high heat and rub with olive oil. Place the fish fillets with skin and scales side down and cook for 4 minutes. Season the top of the fillets with butter, salt, pepper and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Dice up the andouille and saute in olive oil on low heat until the sausage is crispy. Drain on a paper towel, reserving a little andouille oil in the skillet.

Remove the stems and julienne the Swiss chard. Add garlic cloves and minced shallot to hot pan of andouille oil, cook for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Then put in the chard with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add cane vinegar and cook until the greens are wilted. Remove from heat, and place chard on the plate. Heap the corn on top or artfully near by, a little squash, and then place the fish and andouille on top, dot the plate with your chermoula and drizzle a little on top of the fish.

Delicious. You also can use the corn puree like butter on a wheat toast the next day, topped with chermoula. My fave.

Genoise Cake for a Special Birthday

Late summer citrus cravings were answered by this lovely meringue from the Italian Baker. KP took another lap around the sun and we celebrate this with a cake that took 16 eggs to perfect. This cake suffered from structural integrity flaws due to my impatience with regard to levelling and also because the filling was a bit on the runny side (or the humidity was 2 million percent and the kitchen temp lingered in the 80s). In the end the meringue was a worthy spackle, and the taste was decadent. I believe strongly in homemade cake on a birthday. This one pairs well with mimosas and fabulous friends.

 

Genoise Meringata E Arancia

Adapted from the Italian Baker

Filling

250g caster sugar

1 ½ cornflour

¼ tsp salt

3 tsp finely grated orange zest

2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, strained

2 TB lemon juice

1 whole egg

4 egg yolks

4 TB butter, cut into small pieces

Genoise (I doubled this and made 4 layers of 8-inch rounds)

100g (1/3 cup plus 2 TB) butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing

1 ¼ cup plain flour, plus extra for dusting

4 eggs, at room temperature

½ cup caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

The Meringue

4 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

½ cup caster sugar

For the filling, put the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a pan and whisk together. Stir in the orange zest and juice, and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring frequently, and boil for 1 minute. The mixture should thicken slightly and turn translucent. Remove from the heat. I don’t think I let mine get thick enough—it was pretty runny.

Whisk the whole egg and yolks in a bowl, until blended. Slowly pour 60ml of the hot orange juice mixture over the eggs and stir until well mixed. Stirring, slowly pour the egg mixture into the pan with the remaining orange mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking vigorously with a small balloon whisk, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Again—mine was runny and I did four minutes, so make sure yours is thick thick. Remove from the heat, add the butter and stir until combined. Pour into a bowl, lay saran directly on the surface, and chill for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter the bases and sides of two 8-inch cake tins and dust with flour. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a mixing bowl (set over a pan of hot water) and using hand-held electric beaters, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together for about 5 minutes, until tripled in volume. Sift the flour twice and fold it very gently into the egg mixture. Pour the cooled melted butter into the mixture and fold again. Immediately divide the batter between the prepared tins and bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before inverting on to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the meringue frosting, put the egg whites and sugar into a very clean heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of barely simmering water. Stirring constantly, heat until there are stiff peaks, about 3–5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, add the cream of tartar and whisk the mixture in an electric stand mixer (or with an electric handheld whisk) until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 7–9 minutes. I made two batches of this because I wanted plenty of meringue to cover my four layers, and the filling was a little oozy and so I kind of used the meringue like spackle. Or sheetrock?

To assemble, spread half of the chilled orange filling over one cake, leaving a clean border, about 5mm. Place the second cake on top, followed by the remaining orange filling. Spread the meringue over the entire cake. Using a kitchen blowtorch, flame the meringue all over until lightly golden. Serve immediately or store, covered, in the fridge, and bring to room temperature before serving.

I’m super impressed with how fluffy this cake was without any baking powder or soda. All egg leavening. Very rich, moist crumb.

Mmmmm. the leaning tower of Arancia.

Again, this is likely my favorite cookbook of all time. Full of winners.

Coconut Curried Red Lentil Dip with a side of Meditation

We’ve been hunkered down here in back-to-school/back-to-medicine hustle and bustle. I’m experimenting with how to use meditation as a way to bottle and slow-release my own vacations and the accompanying good vibrations back into my life—a redistribution technique of joy. Here’s the current method: take a photo you took on your most recent vacation or day off and as you gaze at it, notice all the details you did not likely notice in the moment. Then try to re-imagine the scene from your minds eye and stay there awhile, see what else might be there. Ten minutes of memory-induced euphoria.

This is a winner. Tastes delicious on toasted bread with a slice of melting mozzarella. KP came up with this pairing, and made the dip one night when I was slammed with work. I brought it to work in glass jars and sustained all kinds of horrid reactions, “Is that baby food? Is that vomit? What is thaaaat?”

Delicious. That’s what this is. Sorry it looks like vomit in my picture.

Coconut-Curried Red Lentil Dip

Adapted from Food and Wine

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped carrot

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 ounces red lentils, picked over

2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

One 15-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

Hot sauce, chips and crudités, for serving, or put on toast with mozzarella!

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, garam masala, cumin and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the lentils, chicken stock and coconut milk to the saucepan and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until the lentils have cooked down to a thickened puree, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely, then season with salt.

Happy meditating.

Galantine Chicken and Hasselbeck Potato Extravaganza with Mother Dearest

I had the extreme fortune of enjoying three consecutive days off with my mother on her latest visit, and of course we couldn’t help ourselves but cook and bake. Mom is fighting a current phobia that she is turning into a potato, so how better to address that fear than exposure therapy—  in this post, we hasselbeck potatoes and galantine chicken. New verbs for me. Who knew deboning a chicken could be so easy and elegant? But first, a sip of coffee on the porch.

I do believe this is the proudest I’ve ever felt over a dinner plate.

Galantine Chicken and Hasselbeck Potato Extravaganza with Mother Dearest

1 chicken, boned (see below)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Spinach, Cheese, and Bread Stuffing:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

5 ounces baby spinach leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup grated Gruyere or mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)

1 1/2 cups cubed (1/2- inch) bread

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Overnight, brine the chicken in a large pot of salted water. Use about 1 cup of kosher salt in the water, completely cover the chicken. Tuck lemon slices just under the skin of the breast of the chicken and add 1 TB dry sage to the water.

For the Stuffing: heat the oil in a large saucepan or skillet.  Add the garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper, and cook for 1 minute to soften the garlic and wilt the spinach. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.  Reserve the cheese and bread and continue with the recipe.

How to Galantine a chicken—Really, Jacques Pepin has the definitive video that I reviewed with my mother to figure out how to do this.

First you cut the back.

Then you remove the wishbone and cut the shoulder (elbow? unsure of chicken anatomy) joint and remove the wings.

Gotta cut a little more and pull all the skin down over the body like you are removing the chicken’s pajamas, and pull out the carcass (with the tenderloins attached, which you can remove later).

You need to then deal with the thigh bones. Cut at the joint and invert the leg bone, cutting all the meat back to the top of the bone, then put it all back, break the bone at the neck and pull the majority of the long bone out.

It is really beyond any capacity of prose to capture how to do this visuo-spatial chicken geometry. So I will leave it up to the video and this series of pictures to illustrate the chronologically play by play.

When it’s all flat, cut those tenderloin filets off the carcass and use that meat to patch in any holes around the little meat blanket you have before you.

Then you stuff the thing.

Lay the chicken skin-side down on the work surface and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Spread the cool rice or spinach mixture evenly over the chicken. If using the spinach stuffing, sprinkle the cheese and bread cubes on top of the spinach. Roll the chicken up, tie with kitchen twine, and place in roasting pan, sear both sides before putting the roast in the oven. We found it helpful to clip the skin together with a butterfly office clip while tying with twine.

Roast the stuffed chicken package for 1 hour.  Lift it from the pan and place it on a platter. Meanwhile, you can cut these potatoes on the top like a sal bug, leaving a small little <1cm margin on the bottom not cut through. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with your choice of seasonings and roast for 1 hour (you can fit in with the chicken if your oven is big enough).

Transfer the ballottine to a cutting board and remove the twine.  Cut half of it into 4 or 5 slices, each about 1 inch thick.

Don’t forget to freeze the bones and the neck, gizzard, and heart for later use in soup or stock.

Thank you so much, Mom, for coming to New Orleans and sharing your kitchen magic, and your beautiful smile and presence. You are not a potato.

 

 

Fried Eggplant with Okra and Oatmeal Cookies– Enjoy Life

It’s raining and my mom’s coming to town…hmm, wonder what we will do for fun? Make SNACKS! I have buukuu okra that needs to be stewed into goodness, so I’m including here my favorite recipe for fried eggplant and okra—so southern. Then I recently read this article in Cooks Illustrated about the world’s most perfect oatmeal cookie, and I whole heartedly agree after testing in my kitchen. Also, there will be Scrabble.

 

Smothered Okra and Tomatoes

Adapted from Tony Chachere’s Cajun Country Cookbook

2 lbs okra, sliced

3 TB olive oil

1 TB flour

1 medium red onion, diced

½ green or red bell pepper, chopped

2 medium stalks of celery, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 hot peppers, chopped

5 fresh tomatoes, chopped

Cajun seasoning, to taste (I like Uncle Larry’s with a little dash of Tony’s)

Stir fry the okra in 2 TB olive oil in a non-cast iron skillet, non-reactive skillet. Fry until lightly charred. In a different, cast-iron skillet, make a medium-dark roux with 1 TB olive oil, 1 TB flour. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery, garlic and hot peppers and simmer until wilted. Add tomatoes and simmer for five more minutes. Add okra, season to taste with Cajun stuff, and cook for about one hour on low heat until very sauce-y. Serve on top of these delicious fried eggplants.

Fried Eggplant

Adapted from Down-Home Cajun Cooking Favorites

4 medium eggs

3 small eggplants, sliced ¼ inch thick, salted and dried

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 TB garlic and/or onion powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

3 TB olive oil

Mozzarella cheese

In a mixing bowl beat eggs. Slice eggplants, rub with salt, let dry out on a rack for 30 minutes, wipe the fluid off with a towel and rinse.

Mix together flour and seasonings. Dip eggplant slices into egg, then roll in flour mixture, then panko crumbs and fry on a hot skillet until each side is golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and sprinkle with cheese.

And now for the cookies…

Also, I’ll include this photo of my latest favorite granola bar from Enjoy Life, which are nice for the allergic sort who can’t have soy or milk or gluten or any of the goodies. They are delicious, especially the carrot cake ones. And I don’t even like carrot cake.

The Best Oatmeal Cookie Ever

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

4 TB butter

1 tsp cinnamon

¾ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar sugar

½ cup olive oil

1 egg plus one egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

½ cup currants

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Melt butter in skillet until it is brown butter. Stir in cinnamon. Add all the sugars and oil to the butter and whisk. Then add egg and yolk and vanilla and whisk again. Then add flour/salt/baking soda mixture (pre-sifted). Then oats and currants. Should be a really stiff dough. Bake 8-10 minutes. YUM.

These are enough to send Izzy right past bliss into euphoric ennui.

 

 

 

Baby Quinoa Cakes and Almond Crust Quiche ala Pereg

Standing in three feet of water on Saturday had me pondering apocalypse. Here in New Orleans, inexplicably, several pumps were out of order and then a cloud parked over the city and brought us 8 inches of rain in two hours. Maybe Randy Newman was right, “they try’n to wash us away, Louisiana.” Yeah, this was Saturday.

It’s times like these that I think about what kind of pioneerish/apocalypse-proof meals I can cook up for proper nourishment. For the last week, I’ve really been digging Pereg Foods. I received a box full of goodies (thank you!), a bouquet of flours amid baby quinoa and whole grain teff.

Here’s what I’ve conjured up so far from the ingredients.

Baby Quinoa Cakes with Cheddar and Squash

Adapted from Cooking Light

1 cup shredded yellow squash

1/3 cup whole-wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1/3 cup grated yellow onion

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 garlic cloves, grated

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

16 oz precooked plain quinoa

1-2 jalapenos (red or green), diced

3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divide

2 TB avocado oil garlic mayonnaise

2 TB plain greek yogurt

¼ tsp smoked paprika

divided 6 cups fresh baby spinach or watercress

Combine everything but spinach in a large bowl, except the olive oil. (OK, I put a few spinach leaves in the patties themselves.) Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Divide and shape mixture into 8 (1-inch-thick) patties (about 1/2 cup each).

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add patties to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned and crisp. Remove from heat. Serve over baby spinach. These are so delicious– I ate them for breakfast lunch and dinner for two days.

Then here’s a little number that’s 100% Gluten Free.

Spinach and Cheese Quiche with Almond Crust

Adapted from Pereg Natural Foods

2 cups Pereg Natural Almond Flour

½ teaspoon Pereg Kosher Salt

2 tablespoons melted olive oil, more for greasing pan

1 large egg, whisked

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

For quiche:

1 medium shallot, diced

1 cup fresh spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 large eggs

1 cup milk

½ teaspoon Pere Kosher Salt

¼ teaspoon Pereg Red Pepper flakes

½ cup Vermont white cheddar cheese, crumbled, with just a sprinkle of parmegiano regianno

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine almond flour and salt. Then add in remaining ingredients and mix into a shaggy ball.

Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the 9-inch pie pan.

Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and heat olive oil. Add shallots and sauté for 5-7 minutes until translucent. Then add spinach and sauté just until slightly wilted, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir in the cooled spinach mixture and goat cheese.

Pour the mixture in the crust and bake for 35 minutes or until the quiche is firm and just barely jiggles. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I can’t wait to experiment with all the rest of the goodies. Neither can Izzy.

Lebanese Eggplant Stew and Palm Done Right by Jewish Princesses

Palm Oil is a touchy subject amongst foodies. The tale as old as time. A food gets fancy, demand increases, then profit-hungry soulless corporations tromp into the villages of third world countries and destroy the economy, social networks and ecosystem in one foul swoop. In the news over the last decade, you may have seen pictures of Malaysian orangutans who lost their favorite swinging spot, rainforests burning, Indonesian people in the sun looking like they weren’t getting paid enough. Palm Done Right is a Natural Habitats campaign that provides education on palm products, supports farmers who produce palm oil by sustainable, organic and community-sensitive methods, and also promotes products using palm oil from good sources. There is a good way to harvest palm oil—just make sure you aren’t supporting villains.

The Palm Done Right campaign prompted me to review the available nutrition science on fats. Recently I attended a lecture on fats at the Tulane Goldring School of Culinary Medicine (at the Whole Foods in my neighborhood!) I remember when the popular message to the public said All Fat is Bad. Then I went to medical school and realized our bodies really need fat to function. In general, saturated fats still need to be in the no no category and try to limit intake to <10% of your dietary fat. Yes, that’s butter. It’s also about 50% of palm fruit oil (if its solid at room temp, high sat fat). But that’s not the end of the story, because there is this whole other world of fats that are really good for you—Monounsaturated fats (MUFAS) and Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAS), these are the liquid ones at room temp. In this group, there are fats we cannot synthesize ourselves, essential fatty acids: the Omega 3 (alpha- linolenic) and Omega 6 (linoleic acid). Palm fruit oil also has Omegas, but much more Omega 6, which I’ll argue is to be used cautiously). Palm fruit oil has the added bonus of a bunch of carotenoids (like more than carrots) and tocotrienols (Vitamin Es). Just make sure you are getting Palm Fruit oil and not palm kernel oil. Big difference.

Omega 3 is important in making DHA (important for neurodevelopment and health). They also probably prevent heart disease. Foods with a lot of Omega 3 include: salmon, tuna, soy, wheat germ, walnut oil, flax seeds and oil, pumpkin seeds, scallops, crawfish. Omega 6 are okay (again, still better than straight saturated fats), but the higher the ratio of Omega 6, relative to 3, the more inflammation, autoimmune disease, cancer, CV disease it seems. The average US diet has a 1:10-1:30 ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6. Ideally, you want to have 1:1 or 1:4 ratio of Omega-3:Omega-6.

In general, you want to eat about 1.6 times the unsaturated fats than saturated fats in your diet. This is a lot of math to do in the kitchen, right? Well, all the more control you have over food you create than the food you encounter eating out. When you are cooking more for yourself, you know exactly the ratio of fats going down the hatch. Plus, you can dance in the kitchen while you are waiting for the onions to caramelize.

I got to work in the kitchen testing out Palm Done Right products sent to me for sampling (above), and I’m a fan. I like Aunt Patty’s and Nutiva, companies that should be celebrated for their conscious curating of ingredients.  I decided to adapt some recipes from a new cookbook I’ve been dying to try—the Modern Jewish Table by the “Jewish Princesses” Tracy Fine and Georgie Tarn. I’m a shiksa balabusta (Yiddish for: total imposter Jewish wanna-be who loves to tear it up in the kitchen). This cookbook has a wide range of kosher recipes that reflect the cultural diaspora of Jewish people—so far everything I’ve tried has been delicious. And I believe a touch of red palm oil in this stew provided just the perfect dash of chutzpah.

Lebanese Eggplant and Chickpea Stew

Adapted from the Modern Jewish Table

2 eggplants, sliced and diced

1 TB kosher salt

7 TB olive oil

3 TB Aunt Patty’s red palm oil

2 onions, chopped

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp brown sugar

15 oz garbanzo beans

1 TB honey

17 oz stewed tomatoes

Black pepper to taste

2 oz water

Preheat oven to 350. Rub eggplant slices with salt and let sit on a rank for 30 minutes to dehydrate. Then rinse with water and pat dry with a towel. In a large skillet, add 3 oz olive oil and 2 oz red palm oil, heat and fry the onions until soft/translucent. Add cinnamon and brown sugar. Add eggplants and 4 oz olive oil, 1 oz red palm oil and let fry some more (about five min). Add the rest of the ingredients, not the water, cover and place in oven for 20 minutes. Then add the last 2 oz of water and continue cooking for another 40 minutes.

This is delicious when served on whole grain toast—buckwheat toast is what I used—delicious!

How about some gluten free nibbles for dessert/snacks?

Nutiva Cookie Bites

Adapted from The Modern Jewish Table

1 ½ almond meal

½ cup fine sugar

3 TB Nutiva chocolate hazelnut paste (it’s Nutella in the original recipe)

1 egg

Preheat oven to 325. Mix all ingredients until a smooth paste is formed. Line a baking tray with parchment. Roll one tsp of dough into a ball, and place on baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes.