Friday, October 30, 2009

November Challenge

November recipe conversion challenge: Post your interests in converting favorite dishes to local foods, vegetarian or vegan versions. We will brainstorm a recipe and throw it back at you. Just for fun. First 4 inquiries.

My Julia Child Story

My Julia Child story: Fresh out of college I was looking for adventure and landed a job as a cook for a company that operated wildlife tours on small cruise ships in Alaska and Baja Mexico. Having a degree in creativity and risk taking (equals fine art) and an adventurous spirit, cooking on a tour boat was just the thing. Most of the passengers were well educated, but not uppity, neither was the food. Our chief cook was from Minneapolis and created menus from her knowledge base with dishes such as hot kidney bean salad with cheddar cheese chunks and tons of mayonnaise, and hot German potato salad with apple cider vinegar and bacon. These were big hits! Okay, so it was the early 80's. The good news is that we managed to update the menu to a more contemporary Northwest seafood gourmet style of cooking utilizing our liberal arts degrees, recipe research and a little chutzpa, ( adlib by the creative types). One time, we tripped upon a dessert by accident that we were told, "if Julia Child tasted this, she would have died and gone to heaven". Here is the story. One time our freezers went out. Remember, this is a small cruise ship and we are away from port so no grocery store stops in emergencies such as this. While the engineers worked on fixing the problem, our dessert, the chocolate ice cream, became limp and gooey soft. We didn't discover our problem until it was time to serve desert. Being good problem solvers, we improvised a bit. We devised a new dessert made up of short and wide clear plastic cups filled with the melty ice cream, then we opened a gazillion Sanka packets and sprinkled a little instant decafe on top of each one and speared it with a straw and a spoon to show intenTionality. If we had known about global warming, we would have called it Ice-melt mocha moose frappe (we are in Alaska, thus the "moose", and the glaciers were receding around us like the melting contents of our freezer).

The next day, a lady introduced herself as Julia Child's neighbor in Massachusetts. She said that she loved the food on this trip and especially the mocha-chocolate-mousse like dessert and was eager to tell Julia all about it! She also told us about dinners with Julia at her house. We asked her how anyone could pull off a meal without experiencing major intimidation, for such a superstar of haute cuisine. She answered that Julia is great to cook for because she is appreciative of everything. She always expressed enthusiasm because she just loved food.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Green & Gold Veg Lasagne for the kiddo

I made up another recipe today. This one is dedicated to my vegetarian teen
Here are the layers
a little bechamel sauce
layer of lasagne noodles
sauteed spinach with 2 cloves of garlic and olive oil sprinkled across the base of the lasange
layer of arugula uncooked, it will wilt
layer of sweet Walla Walla onion poached like any vegetable (leeks would also be amazing in this)
sprinkling of cottage cheese
sprinkling of parmesan cheese
layer of Pasta
steamed zucchini slices
cottage cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Layer of pasta
cover with sauteed Chantrelle mushrooms in a little wine and butter
Mix the sauce with remaining bechamel sauce and use half to cover chantrelles
sprinkle a little parmesan cheese over this layer
top with a layer of pasta, cover with the remaining sauce, grated mozarella cheese and small cubes of fresh smoked mozzarella cheese

Poached-Broiled Kasu Style Black Cod

Black Cod is an exquisitly delicious fish, with buttery flesh that is so tender, it dissolves in your mouth. Poaching the fish help reduce the amount of oil, while infusing the fish with flavor. Covering it with a miso paste and broiling it, gives you a flavorful sweet and salty crust. The traditional recipe marinates the fish in the paste. Since I poach it instead, the reduced oil content ends up just right for my tastes while still velvety and rich. Sometime I will try this with the namesake ingredient for this recipe Kasu, which consists of left-over sediments after making sake, but this recipe is divine just as it is.
2 Black Cod steaks (fillets work and salmon can be substituted)
For Poaching:
generous amount of fresh ginger, maybe a one inch piece chopped
variety of onions, scallions, leeks or chives, and yellow onions
Sprigs of Cilantro
(Other asian greens are optional like baby bok choy or baby spinach greens)
lemon juice or rice wine
Salt and Pepper
4 cups of water
Poach until fish is close to cooked. It will fall apart when it is cooked. Make sure it is still firm at the core. With a slotted spoon, transfer fish and onions to broiler safe dish. Add a few spoonfuls of the broth, but don't let it get too deep.
Cover fish with the following topping and broil until the top of the fish crisps.
topping for broiler: 1/2 cup of red miso, 1 T. soy sauce or sea salt, 2 T. brown sugar, 1 t. lemon juice (or rice wine)
Serve fish with the onion mixture and serve with a few spoonfuls of broth from the broiler dish.
Remaining broth can be used as a base for an asian soup on another day.
If anyone wants me to be serious about proportions, let me know and I'll make it again and measure!