Friday, March 7, 2014
Lobster shortcake (Courtesy photo)
Cod loin baked in parchment paper (Courtesy photo)
This is a very old New England recipe. I was a young, newly married man, working part time at the fish market and going to the University of Southern Maine. I would get a bit of lobster meat and, thankfully, I could afford to make the biscuits and sauce, so it was a bit of a cheap hearty meal in those lean days. It also impressed my bride that it had so much lobster -- which she loves! This is a rich meal that is not heart healthy, so feel free to make substitutions. As is often said, good health means moderation, so maybe once in a while you can afford to enjoy a delicious dish made with some butter and cream! This recipe calls for homemade biscuits, but I usually bend to time constraints and use Bisquick Mix and they always come out of the oven perfectly.
¼ cup salted butter
2 cups cooked lobster meat
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon flour
¼ cup milk
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a large skillet; add the lobster meat and heat. Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until it thickens. Add the milk while stirring. Add the sugar, paprika, salt and pepper. Serve over split homemade biscuits.
COD LOIN BAKED IN PARCHMENT PAPER
Dennis Gilbert is a good friend who is not only a great chef but also an accomplished author. He pioneered great food in Portland in the early eighties at his restaurant, the Vineyard. It was the first culinary experience I ever had that made me say, "I can't make food this good!" Dennis is now a college professor teaching writing, and has been a longtime Harbor Fish Market customer. When Dennis gave me this recipe, I thought it might be a little too gourmet, but now that I've tried it, I understand how perfectly simple and elegant it is. Dennis notes that if you're using a heavy enamel cast-iron baking dish, it's a good idea to warm the assembled dish directly over medium heat before putting it in the oven as a way of pre-heating the utensil. Subtract a couple of minutes of oven time if you do this. With normal bakeware, this step isn't necessary. (Never put normal ceramics on direct heat.)
1 teaspoon butter, melted
1 large Jerusalem artichoke, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
1 large sprig fresh marjoram (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill and chervil)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pound thick-cut cod loin
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced carrot
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Keep all the ingredients at room temperature.
Brush a sheet of parchment paper with the melted butter, arrange the artichoke slices on it in a single layer and sprinkle fresh marjoram on top. Salt and pepper the cod. Slice it on a 45-degree angle (on the bias) into pieces one inch thick, and lay the slices against one another (reassembled but leaning) on top of the artichoke slices. Sprinkle with the shallot and carrot. Top with the wine and olive oil.
Fold the parchment paper into an airtight package and place it on a baking dish. If using a heavy enamel cast-iron baking dish, initiate the cooking process by warming the baking dish on the stovetop over medium heat. As soon as the juices begin to simmer, remove it to the oven. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes. Let rest a minute or two before serving. To serve, cut off one end of the parchment package with scissors and slide contents onto a plate.
NICK ALFIERO'S FISH TACOS
When I make fish tacos, I never seem to make them the same way twice. You can make fish tacos with black beans, sour cream, shredded lettuce, chopped peppers, salsa -- either fresh or jarred -- shredded cheese and any other fruit or vegetable that looks good. Try different ingredients, all cut into small chunks, such as fresh avocado, fresh tomato or fresh peaches. When I buy the black beans, I get the ones that have jalapeno included for a little extra spice, and I like the soft fajita-style tortilla for the shell.
The recipe that follows is simply my favorite version so far!
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 2 limes
4 tablespoons honey
2 pounds whitefish (I prefer cusk)
1 fresh avocado, cut into small chunks
1 cup fresh tomato, cut into small chunks
1 cup fresh peaches, peeled and cut into small chunks
½ cup cooked black beans
1 cup flour
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, optional
1 package soft fajita-style tortillas
Mix the lime zest, lime juice and honey in a medium bowl. Cut the fish into ¼ pound cuts, or into 3-inch by 2-inch fingers. Add the fish to the marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Put the avocado, tomato, peaches and black beans into a bowl, mix thoroughly and set aside.
Remove the fish from the marinade. Put the marinade in a small saucepan and simmer.
Dredge the fish in the flour. Shake off the excess and fry in the olive oil until light brown, 3 or 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
Fill the tortillas with the vegetables, fruit, beans and fish.
Spoon the warm lime honey sauce on it. If it's not spicy enough for you, add some hot sauce.
-- Recipes from "Harbor Fish Market" (Down East Books)
click image to enlarge
Nick Alfiero's fish tacos (Courtesy photo)