Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Brother and a Fish

My Brother and a Fish. It could be the title to a children's book but in this case it is not a tall tale. Last night my brother and his three friends joined me for dinner. We met at Whole Foods with a prepared grocery list and menu. They helped me shop and then we all cooked together. Our menu consisted of Grapefruit-Pomegranate Ceviche with Black Bass, Broiled Flounder with Arugula Pesto, Coconut Rice with Carrots, Baked Candied Sweet Potatoes, Garlic Spinach, and Lemon Madeleine's. Unfortunately, but maybe fortunately, Whole foods had neither of the fishes we were looking for so we went with a Turbot fillet and a Chilean Sea Bass Fillet. All in total a whole fish.

The plan was to use the sea bass for the Ceviche and the Turbot for the pesto but while I was preparing the Ceviche I unintentionally picked the Turbo. It was not a bad mistake because both the Ceviche and the broiled sea bass were wonderful. The Arugula pesto, made with no cheese, was perfect on this expensive but worth it fish, and the spinach, potatoes, and rice were perfect accompaniments.

The only thing that could have been better was the dessert. The recipe for Madeleines calls for cake flour which was nowhere to be found at Whole Foods. So I got pastry flour. If I was a better baker I probably would have known that it would not be the same but I went with what I had. They were OK, but I will be trying them again next Tuesday hopefully with more success.

Oh, and we drank the new Indaba Sauvignon Blanc with the Ceviche, and perfect match of fresh fruity, not too acidic items.
Broiled Fish with Arugula Pesto
Serves 4
Fish Without a Doubt

4 tbls unsalted butter, melted
4 (5- to 6-oz) Sea Bass Fillets
salt and white pepper
2 tsp grated lemon zest
4 heaping tablespoons Arugula Pesto
2 tsp dry bread crumbs
lemon wedges

Pu the butter in a soup plate or shallow bowel. Season the fish on both sides with salt and white pepper and then dip it into the butter.

Rub 1/2 tsp of the lemon zest into the top of the fish. Spread on a heaping tablespoon of the pesto, going not quite to the edges, and sprinkle on 1/2 tsp of the bread crumbs. Set the fillets on a greased baking sheet. *the fish can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator

Set the oven rack about 5 inches below the heat source and heat the broiler.

Slide the baking sheet under the broiler and broil the fish for about 3 minutes- a minute or so longer if you have refrigerated the fish. the topping should be browned and you'll see a little oil bubbling around the edges of the fish.

Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Arugula Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

1 garlic clove minced
1/3 cup pine nuts
6 oz Arugula, washed and dried
1/4 cup olive oil, plus a little more

Put the garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until nuts are coursly chopped. Add arugula by the handful, pulsing after each addtion to make a paste. Then turn on the processor and add the oil in a steady stream. Season with salt.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Homade Cheese Blintzes with Homemade Berry Jam

Cheese Blintzes with Berry Jam
William- Sonoma- Essentials of Breakfast & Brunch

For the Blintzes
1 cup Flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tbls unsalted butter, melted
2 tbls unsalted butter, softened

For the filling
1 cup farmer cheese
1 cup whole milk or part skim ricotta cheese
2 tbls sugar
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

4 tsp unsalted butter
Berry Jam
Blueberries and blackberries for garnish

By hand: To make the blintz batter, in a bowl combine the flour and the salt. Add the eggs, the milk, and 3/4 cup water and whisk until smooth and blended. Add the melted butter and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. (this can also be done in a food processor or blender)
To cook the blintzes, place a 9-inch frying pan with low sloping sides (or crepe pan) over medium high heat and heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle and the immediately evaporate. Brush with about 1/2 tsp of the softened butter. For each blintz ladle about 1/3 cup batter into the center of the pan, tilting the pan so that the batter forms a thin layer on the bottom. Cook until the edges begin to brown and the top of the blintz is set, 1 1/2-2 minutes. Using a wide spatula, carefully turn the blintz and cook for about 1 minute longer. Turn out onto a plate and repeat with the remaining butter and batter. Stack the blintzes on a plate, putting a piece of wax paper between each. The blintzes can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the farmer and ricotta cheeses, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla and stir until blended.

Spread about 2 tbls of the cheese filling in the center of each blintz. Fold the sides over the filling. Fold in the ends to enclose the filling. Serve with berries and jam on top.