Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lake Superior Fish

I had the great fortune of spending the better part of this week in Bayport, WI with my family. This is an annual trip for us to spend time (always off season) in this quiet little fishing village on lake Superior. One of the huge benefits of time spent there is the access to "Caught that day" fresh fish. The restaurants in town are limited in the off season, the better ones being closed when we are there, so we rent a house of motel that has a kitchen, and feast on all the fresh fish we can get our hands on.
Our favorite fish monger is Bodin's Fisheries. It is right on the waterfront, and open year round. You enter the production plant (not a polished fish shop) by a red door on the side of the building, and ring a large cow bell hanging from the ceiling. An employee dressed in rubber from toe to head will come out and get you whatever fresh fish came in during the night, as well as a menu of frozen products that were processed on-site. Standard fish species available are Lake Trout, Whitefish, and Smelt. We were fortunate to find "Burbot" available fresh this week, which is a little known delicacy from the Cod family. This is truly the best fish I have ever had to deep fry, and you see an example in the picture featured. The other great delicacy which I am told has a very limited audience is Whitefish livers. I am going to prepare them for the first time this evening, and will post the result tonight or tomorrow. The dish above is a regular feature for us at the farm. Sautéed plantains, yams, black beans and rice, with usually fried fish or chicken thighs. Central American food from the Caribbean side at it's finest.
Please treat yourself to some Lake Superior fresh fish. The quality is unmatched in my mind, and available from Bodin's by UPS all year round. They can be reached at 715-779-3400.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Soup & Salad Night

We are having historical late season snow fall in Western Wisconsin. We haven't had this type of snow in May for 119 years in the State. We are all dying to get in the garden to plant the spring vegetable crop, and some are woeful for jumping the gun as we got 15 inches of snow yesterday, and last night.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to sneak a few more soups into the meal rotation before it gets hot. This soup is simple and delicious. The salad is great year round, and will soon be made fresh out of the garden. Both are fast, and appropriate for a busy weeknight. Enjoy!
Potato, Chorizo, and Mushroom Soup
(Serves 4 people)
3 Medium Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled & cut into 1" chunks)
.75 lb. Mexican chorizo
.5 lb. Button mushrooms (thin sliced)
3 Medium carrots (peeled)
2 stalks of celery (rough chopped)
32 oz. Water
32 oz. Beef stock
1 Tbs. Olive oil
1 lg. Yellow onion
6 teeth of garlic (minced)
1 1/2 cups Shredded kale
2 Green onions (fine dice)
1/2 cup Queso Anejo or Calita cheese (optional)
1 tsp. Dried thyme
1/2 tsp. Ground cumin
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Technique: Combine potato, onion, carrot, garlic, celery, and olive oil in a deep heavy bottom pan and sauté until lightly browned. Add chorizo and continue cooking for 5 minutes at medium heat stirring often. Add 1/2 the water, and simmer for 5 minutes. With a stick blender, or regular blender, puree all previous ingredients until very smooth. Return to pot and add remaining water, mushrooms, kale, and spices. Season with salt and pepper and allow to simmer at a low heat for 40 minutes. Do not boil, simmer! Serve hot with diced green onions, and a sprinkle of  Queso Anejo, or Cajita cheese.
Eggplant & Beet Salad
(Serves 4 people)
1 Medium Eggplant (1/4 inch slices)
4 large beets (cooked and sliced  to 1/8" inch)
1 red onion (cut into thin rings)
1/8 cup Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. raw sugar
4 cups baby spinach or spring mix
4 oz. Aged goat cheese (or use Parmesan or Asiago)
1  whole lemon (cut into 8 slices)
1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Bread crumbs
1/2 cup Corn starch
2 Lg. Eggs (beaten)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Greens Dressing
2 Tbs. cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Honey
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Technique: Prepare a heavy bottom fry pan with 1/2 of vegetable oil. Combine the sliced onion with the balsamic vinegar and sugar, toss and set aside. Toss Greens in the dressing and plate. Add the eggplant slices to first the cornstarch, then the egg, then the bread crumbs. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain the eggplant as it comes out of the pan in paper towels. Assemble the salad how you wish, and Drizzle the beets with the olive oil, and then lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Grilled Salmon with Za'atar and Roasted Poblano Crema
I love to grill fish! Poaching it, broiling it, or deep frying fish are all wonderful in their own right, but the taste of quickly grilled fish over wood or charcoal is sublime in my mind. The delicacy of fish flesh allows it to take in the flavors of the grill quickly, yet still allowing you to grill quickly for a medium-rare texture. This preparation is simple indeed. I served this with simple black beans, by simple I mean butter, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, and a lemon-mint potato salad which I will include a recipe for as well. A note on Salmon; I use fresh wild caught Alaskan salmon the entire season it is open. I use frozen Alaskan salmon for smoking only. In the off season, my fish monger stocks Atlantic salmon that is farmed organically in Scotland that I find really great in quality and taste. I am not a big fan of farmed fish, but we have to make exceptions more, and more often these days. Anyways, check these recipes out. They were quite good.
Grilled Salmon
(serves 4 people)
4 6 oz. salmon filets (skin on)
2 Tbs. Za'atar (see below)
3 Tbs. Extra virgin olive oil
1 Medium yellow onion (rough chopped)
6 teeth Garlic (fine mince)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
(Sumac, thyme, sesame seeds.)
A seasoning blend found throughout Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. 
Technique: Coat your salmon in olive oil. Roll in the za'atar and toss with onion and garlic. Season with kosher salt and pepper.  Allow to marinate for two hours in the cooler.
Roasted Poblano Crema
(makes 1 cup)
3  Poblano peppers
1/2 cup Greek style plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. Ground cumin
1 tsp. Honey
1 Tbs. Lemon Juice
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Technique: Roast peppers on an open flame, or under the broiler until skins are blistered. Remove skins, and seeds. Puree all ingredients together until smooth. Allow sauce to rest at room temperature.
Lemon & Mint Potato Salad
(Makes 4 servings)
2 Lbs. Peeled Yukon Gold potatoes
1 small bunch of mint
1/4 Medium red onion (fine mince)
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Technique: Peel and boil potatoes. Dice to 1/2 cubes. Toss with remaining ingredients.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ginger-Lemongrass Soup

Asian soups of all types interest me. The flavor profiles, the variety of textures and colors, and the relative health benefit of these soups cannot be argued. This one was a fantastic concoction I made up while making chicken broth. This takes little time to prepare, can be modified to your specific taste profile, and they are so versatile the never get old. In many countries in Asia, these types of soups may be a breakfast consideration, or mid-day meal. The other intriguing thing about this soup, is that it is appealing in both hot and cold seasons of the year.

Ginger-Lemongrass Soup
Serves 4 people
32 oz. good chicken broth (house made is better)
10 teeth of garlic (fine mince)
3-4" piece of fresh ginger (peeled and diced)
1 medium yellow onion (fine dice)
1/4 cup Nuoc Mam (fermented fish sauce)
2 6" pieces of lemongrass (Sliced lengthwise and bruised)
2 dried red chilies (I used Dundicut)
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
(to be added to each bowl)
1/3 cup cooked Jasmine rice
1/4 cup diced tofu
1/4 cup diced chicken
4 cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
2 Tbs. shredded carrot
1 Tbs. chopped scallions
1/2 jalapeno (minced) Optional
3 Tbs. sliced button mushrooms
1 Tbs. mint leaves
1 Tbs. cilantro
1 Tbs. fresh basil
Technique:  Sauté the ginger garlic, onion, and lemongrass briefly in the vegetable oil. Add chicken broth, fish sauce, and dried peppers, cover and simmer over very low heat for two hours.
Chop and dice all additives and ready them for completion of the soup. When I went to finish this soup, I placed the rice, mushrooms, tofu, and chicken in the waiting bowls and microwaved them for 30 seconds as to not cool the broth. Once warmed, add carrots, tomatoes, scallions, and jalapeno. Add 1/4 of the broth to each bowl, and top with cilantro, mint, and basil. Serve immediately. If you want additional heat in your bowl like I did, add crushed red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Pies of Winter Part 1.

I really appreciate savory pies, especially in the winter time where they accompany a bowl of soup or salad brilliantly for a quick evening or mid-day meal. I am going to do a series of different pies and pastries in coming days that  I have done in the past, and some new ones we will have to work through together. The beauty of these recipes is they can be made in quantity fast and easily, and they are inexpensive to produce. The one you see before you is an Eastern European-Greek mash-up w
e came up with.. Virtually every cuisine in the world has some sort of savory and sweet filling that is encased in a form of dough or shell, and I find them delicious. we are going to take this around the globe and see what is great out there.

Greek Style Pie
(makes 8 pies)
3 cups All Purpose, unbleached flour
3 Tbs. Semolina flour
1.5 cups of water
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 lb. Frozen, chopped spinach (defrosted, well drained, and brought to room temp.)
1 Medium yellow onion
1/2 cup Golden raisins
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 cup Crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp Ground coriander
1 tsp Allspice
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Technique: Blend all ingredients in the dough prep., and blend well. Knead for a couple of minutes until a  uniform dough ball is formed. Wrap in plastic film and allow to sit at room temperature for thirty minutes. Combine all ingredients for the filling and turn lightly to blend. Adjust seasoning.
On a floured surface, roll out clementine sized dough balls into a circular shape. Place approx. 1/3 cup of filling in the center of the dough round and crimp the edges all in one direction  Make sure the dough edge is high enough to contain the filling. Bake on a greased sheet pan for about 6-7 minutes at 400 degrees F. Watch these closely, the cook, and burn fast.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wholemeal Bread

The great elusive loaf of whole meal bread I have been looking for has come to pass. I have been working off and on for years to make a recipe for a hearty bread that contains no white flour.
I have become very selective in what I eat, and recommend for carbohydrates these days. White flour is largely absent from my diet, but I will never give up whole grain breads, as my style of cuisine is often well accompanied by bread.

In this loaves case, it is a combination of organic whole wheat, and organic rye flour. it is a really fast loaf to make with a stand mixer, with the average prep time being 15 minutes active, and two 90 minutes rises. You may shape them as you wish, but I recommend you divide the following recipe into two loaves, and aim for thinner loaves to allow peoper baking. Give this one a try if you want a healthy, great tasting bread to accompany charcuterie, soup or what have you. Cheers!

Wholemeal-Rye Bread
(Makes two loaves)
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp. Cane sugar
2 Tbs. Yeast
1.5 cups Buttermilk
1/4 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup Brown sugar
3 tsp. Kosher salt
3 cups Light rye flour
4 cups coarse whole wheat flour
Technique: Combine cane sugar, water, and yeast in the work bowl of a stand mixer, and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Add rye flour, buttermilk, olive oil, salt, and brown sugar and mix well. Add wheat flour one cup at a time while blending with the dough hook attachement. Allow to knead inb the mixer for 5 minutes, and the dough ball is well formed. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and hand knead for another 10 minutes. Put the dough ball in a oiled bowl and cover with plastic film. Allow to rise in a warm place for 90 minutes. Punch the dough ball down, and form into two loaves. Place the loaves on an lightly oiled sheet pan and cover again with plastic film, and allow to rise for another 90 minutes. Bake in a 400 F oven for 13 minutes, then turn the loaves, and bake for an addition 13 minutes.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Eat your Gumbo!

There are as many variations of gumbo in Louisiana and further, as there are different types of people that appreciate, and make gumbo. It is indeed a soulful American dish. In my dealings with the dish, variance often is defined by what I had to start with as proteins. The rest of the dish followed with what I think are good pairings with those proteins. The only constant in making gumbo is the roux which is the backbone of the dish. In my opinion, the simple gumbo is the best gumbo. Let the ingredients speak for themselves and not get lost in a crowd.

Shrimp, Duck, & Sausage Gumbo

(8-10 servings)

1 # wild shrimp 16-21 size (raw)
2 medium whole ducks
1 # smoked sausage (like Andouille)
1/2-1 cup of flour
2 large onions (diced)
4 stalks celery (diced)
1 red bell pepper (fine dice)
1 green bell pepper (fine dice)
6 bay leaves
1 cup scallions (chopped)
6-8 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
cayenne pepper to taste
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Technique: Cut the ducks into 8 pieces each, removing the backs. Brown in hot cast iron skillet skin side down for 3 minutes for each piece to brown, and render duck fat. Reserve the duck fat in the skillet. Assemble all the duck pieces in a roasting pan and place in 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until cooked through. Let cool to room temperature. 

In the cast iron skillet, add 1/2 cup to start of flour to the duck fat. Whisk together until a paste formed. You want the texture of the roux to be like slightly runny peanut butter. Add more flour if needed. Saute at low heat, stirring often and allow roux. to brown up. When the roux is at the desired color, ann celery, onion, bell peppers, and diced sausage. Saute for a few moments, and add stock. Add bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer at a low temperature, stirring often. 

Shell, and clean the shrimp. Pull duck pieces apart, and separate meat from fat and bone. When you are happy with the seasoning, and the texture of the gumbo, add the shrimp and shredded duck. Simmer just until shrimp are cooked through, and serve over rice or grits topped with scallions. Make available some Louisiana hot sauce as well. Enjoy!