A Journey Through Gastronomy

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Month: February, 2012

Bright

Continuing from the last post lets introduce 3 recipes from adventures in my kitchen that will brighten up any day or evening light. Citrus- the last post was originally only about the color orange but, how can you think of that color without thinking about the bulbuous, plump and fragrant fruits? Also included are 2 savory recipes.

Heres an introduction to a few ingredients; Baccalla, Mandarinquats, and Limequats, some otherworldly items that some of you might not have seen or even heard of before. Baccala is a magnificent piece of fileted cod that is heavily salted and preserved fully dried. It can be quite smelly however when soaked, the flavor is delicate and the flesh quite hearty. During the soaking process I completely submerge the fish in water and periodically change the water, and surprisingly the fishy aroma is close to nonexistent.

The mandarinquat is a hybrid of a mandarin and a kumquat and yes you can eat these whole! They look like a rotund little gourd, their skins resembling a satsuma and flavor resembling the kumquat and mandarin. The limequat is another miracle. It is a wonderous little yellow thin skinned kumquat shaped hybrid of a lime and a kumquat, it’s tart sweet with a hint of lime. Both crossbreeds have a super sour flesh, a sweetly lined and fragrant shell, and both are edible whole.

As a little girl my mother would saute up tomatoes, garlic and onions – simple, and delicious- sweet sugar and tangy vinegar tingled my nostrils as they simmered together. I remember whole fish coming out of the oven – still steaming with their skins still intact, the crispy brown and golden skin just looked so magical. Still hot, she then spooned this sauce over the fish. This sauce- this delicious well balanced sauce has wonderful layers of sweet and sour – the savory aromas that filled the air are still so hypnotizing. Here is my rendition of it. This dish translates to sweet and sour salt cod.

Sweet and sour doesn’t sound as appealing, but when I add a bit of european flair to the name it somewhat gives it more elegance. In my research I also found that this recipe is very similar to other Roman recipes which also include the sweet and sour elements.

And Salt cod – my beloved baccala- if you can get ahold of this pantry item be sure to adore it as much as I do. A friend of mine named Morgan Scholfield made the best croquettes while I was in New York. They were rich and creamy and salty -an addictive quality with its crisp fried exterior and ultra creamy interior. I am still salivating. Baccala is great when certain fresh white fleshed fish would not fare well to this type of stew, because of the cooking time.

Baccala in Agrodolce

1/3 lb. Baccala (Salt Cod) soaked and rinsed about 2+ days
1 Medium Onion – Cut into Coins about 1/4 inch think
2 C. Yukon Gold Potatoes or German Butterball – Unevenly cut into large chunks about the same size as the Salt cod. (*as the potatoes break down in the sauce it is important that they are irregularly cut enough to cream the sauce yet some remaining intact.)
2 C. Diced Tomatoes
2 T. Garlic – Sliced
1 C. Orange Juice
1/8 C. Sugar
1/4 C. White Wine
1/4 C. Red Wine or Champagne Vinegar
2 T. Hungarian Paprika
1 T. Pimente D’espelette
Salt
Pepper
*May I highly suggest a enameled cast iron pot for this dish or a beautiful earthenware pot because the dish needs to go from stove top to oven.
Sweat onions and garlic with both spices, and 1 tsp. salt- sweat till onions are soft 8 minutes-add sugar. Add Potatoes, toss well. Add 1/2 the white wine, orange juice and vinegar. Simmer for 20 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 375º.
Cut baccala into 1 inch cubes. Lightly dredge your baccala in flour. Bring separate pan to temp and add olive oil- lightly brown. Add baccala to pot of simmering sauce. – DE-glaze pan with the rest of the white wine and add to pot. Season to taste. Simmer in oven covered for an additional 20-30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and eat with crusty bread.

Fennel and Parsley Salad w/ Limequats and Red Onions.

2 C. Shaved Fennel
1 C. Flat Leaf Parsley- picked- leaves and very little stem.
1 C. Red Onion – Thinly sliced
1/2 C. Limequats -de-seeded Sliced in coins -
Scant 1/4 C. Champagne Vinegar
Salt
Olive Oil – Fresh pressed is best for this recipe
Thinly slice and de-seed your Limequats. Thinly slice the red onion. Place ingredients into a bowl. Add Salt to taste, Champagne vinegar and 2 T. of Olive Oil. Add shaved fennel coat well and toss with more olive oil about 1/4 C.
Add Parsley and toss. Goes well with EVERYTHING – would pair well with fresh mozzarella or fresh ricotta as well as most meats.

Mandarinquat Marmalade

3 C. Mandarinquats – de-seeded, and sliced into thin coins
2 C. Cane Sugar
2 C. Water
Combine water and Sugar till syrup dissolves. Place fruit into syrup and bring to boil reduce heat. Let sit overnight to cool. Cook – simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes occasionally stirring to make sure that the fruit does not stick at the bottom. Reduce and watch carefully. You can put a few spoons in the freezer to test if the batch will gel, but I usually eyeball my jams and make sure that the consistency is to a very well at a half reduced stage. There is so much pectin in the citrus that natural reduction will ensure a properly thick jam. Of course you can also put a spoon in the freezer and test if the gelling of your marmalade or jam is to your liking.
For my home recipe I introduced 2 blood-red oranges sliced thinly which yielded me about 1.5 cups to my 2 Cups of Limequats. The result was beautiful the saturated red and orange were beautiful as the taste was explosive and bright, the flesh of the blood orange worked really well with the delicate mandarinquat. To keep he integrity and freshness of the fruit I do not fuss much with my jams and preserves.

Rosemary Fried Chicken with Orange Marmelade Glaze.

For the chicken:
4-6 Chicken Thighs – Deboned
1 Sprig Rosemary – minced
2 C. Buttermilk
Salt
Pepper
2 C. Peanut Oil
Dredging Flour:
2 C. A.P Flour
1 T. Smoked Paprika
Salt
Pepper
For the Glaze:
1/2 C. Orange marmalade or any type of Citrus marmalade.
Juice of Half an orange
1/4 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 T. Chili Flakes
1/4 C. Shallots
Salt
Olive Oil
Saute Shallots in Olive oil till shallots become translucent add 1/4 tsp of salt. Add Chili flakes, apple cider, orange juice and marmalade. Reduce till thicken (this won’t take long because the pectin from the marmalade is already so thick that you just really want to merge the acidity from the vinegar into the jam – with a bit of the liquid cooking off)
Pat Chicken Thighs Dry and Lay Flat – Season Liberally with salt pepper and rosemary. Let sit for 1-2 hours. Because the chicken is de-boned you have lessened the time that it takes to fully season the meat, and that every nook and cranny will be well seasoned
In a flat baking dish or pan pour your buttermilk into the vessel and place thigh meat into buttermilk. Let soak for another 30. Meanwhile, make the dredging flour – Incorporate all ingredients together – Flour, Paprika, Salt, Pepper.
-Chicken- Shake off excess buttermilk and place in flour covering both sides- for thicker coating do two times.
Let sit for another 30 minutes for the flour and buttermilk to become a batter instead of the two separate ingredients. It also yields a crisper and more uniform dredging for the home cook. Or, if you are impatient thats fine too go ahead and fry but you can definitely see a difference. Heat oil heavy cast iron skillet – you know when the oil is ready when you sprinkle a little flour into your pan and it rapidly bubbles. If the oil is too hot that flour will also burn. Cook till crisp, golden and brown on both sides. Immediately drizzle with sauce.

Orange

As I step into another new career change I realize there will be more responsibilities ahead.  Don’t you worry, I’ll still be cooking.  In the meantime while I sit and wait for the training to begin, my precious solitude and laziness needs a charge.  I have so many recipes that I just need to get out of my head that maybe a theme would help…

This post is mostly about the color orange is that it induces memories of summer, sun, citrus and beautiful pure mornings –  and of course my dear Daniel whose favorite color also happens to be orange! In a state where citrus is abundant nearly year round I just can’t get my fill of it, so I include you dear orange and your cousins into this post.

The oils that are released when you zest a lime, meyer lemon, a lemon, cara cara, blood orange, or grapefruit ETC ETC are truly intoxicating.  All of these fruits impart such a lively smell, that sometimes  I just cant help but to close my eyes each time I come across a large amounts of citrus! I imaging nuzzling my nose up against the bulbous tree ornaments, scraping the skins to spray my nostrils with the oils that release to parfume the air.

 

*There are a couple more citrus recipes to follow up with this post so stay tuned.

Duck Leg In Orange Sauce with Creme Fraiche

2 Duck Legs 
1 C. Carrots – about 1 inch thick-roll cut
1 C. Fresh Orange Juice – pulp OK! 
4 cloves Garlic – lightly smashed skins still intact
1/2 C. White Wine 
1 Bay leaf
2 Sprigs Thyme or Marjoram
1/2 C. Water or Chicken Stock 
1/2 C. Creme Fraiche or Heavy Cream 
Salt 
Pepper 
Olive Oil
 
Lightly Pay dry each leg and generously Salt and pepper each leg.  Let sit for 1 hour.  Pat dry a second time.  Heat pan add a bit of olive oil to pan and brown both sides of the duck legs about 3-4 minutes each side – Set aside when ready.  Pour out excess fat from pan and discard.  Add white wine to scrape the fond and drippings from the pan.
Place Duck legs in oven proof dish-  Arrange carrots and garlic, thyme and bay around, or on top of legs.  Pour in Orange Juice, Water or chicken Stock (chicken stock will add more richness and depth), and white wine from pan.  
Season with Salt – and a drizzle of olive oil on top.  Bake at 375° for 1.5 hours or till tender and meat pulls from bone. 
When finished take out legs.  Strain the cooking liquid,  discard the carrots and aromatic herbs except the garlic -remove skin from the garlic cloves and reserve .  Skim off fat from cooking liquid and place in saucepan.  Bring to simmer and reduce 1/3 of the liquid.  Smash and incorporate the soft buttery rich garlic cloves into sauce.  Whisk in Creme Fraiche when close to serving. Season to taste.  Place duck legs on plate and spoon sauce generously over legs. 

Persimmon and Carrot Soup

4 Carrots – Washed and roughly cut 1/2 inch pieces
3 Persimmons – Peeled and roughly cut 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves Garlic – minced.
1 Yellow Onion – Diced
2 quarts Water or Chicken Stock
1 Fresh bay Leaf or Dried 
2 T. Fresh Ginger – Grated
1 T. Fresh (Grated) or Dried turmeric
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
Olive Oil 
Salt 
White Pepper 
 
Heat soup pot or any pan with high walls add olive oil.  Saute Onions, garlic, turmeric, nutmeg, salt add bay leaf – til onions are soft and translucent- cook on medium.  Add carrots- and liquid either chicken stock or water.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add Persimmon, ginger and white pepper and continue to cook for another 20- Remove Bay leaf before serving. For a creamier soup, blend til smooth or for a heartier more rustic soup lightly mash vegetables.  Season to taste. 
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, toasted sesame seeds and Cilantro. 
 
 

This next dish was inspired by my time spent at NOPA- where I worked with some of the nicest cooks not to  mention owners and managers.  I never knew that you could eat the exterior or a squash but it was a revelation!!!  Absolutely no waste and all the nutrients!  I also made a similar dish when a couple of cook friends and I managed to cook about 15 + items at a farm dinner a couple of months ago.  I topped some roasted delicata with some minted yogurt, and topped all of that with some freshly cut watercress that was dressed in a simple sherry shallot vinaigrette.  Watercress would also be very delicious intertwined in this farro version.

Roasted Delicata, Artichokes and Carmelized Onion Farro Salad 

1 Medium Sized Delicata squash- Cleaned,Cut in half, Seeds scooped out and cut in half moons about 1/2 inch in size
1 large or 2 small artichokes- properly cleaned- Hearts only cut into 1/4 inch wedges 
1 small Yellow Onion 
1 T crushed dried Oregano
1 1/2 C. Farro (Cous Cous – can also be supplemented)
Olive Oil 
Sherry Vinegar
Salt 
Pepper 
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
 
Lightly toast farro grains in pan or oven till slightly nutty aroma imparts. Boil Farro in 1 quart of water – when it comes to a boil turn down to a simmer.  Cook till farro grains are tender but still toothsome – Drain and cool. (30 minutes)
In large bowl place Onions, Delicata, Oregano, red pepper flakes (optional) Artichokes, 1/4 C. of olive oil, salt and pepper into bowl. Toss well and place in oven-proof roasted pan.  Roast on high at 400º- partially covered with parchment for the first 10 then uncovered for another 10 – till delicata is tender and till onions become roasted and carmelized.   Stir every 5 minutes.  
Place Farro in bowl, season with olive oil, salt, sherry vinegar – immediately place cooked vegetables straight from oven into the farro – this ensures the farro to capture the roasted flavors of the oven.  
*This dish is also delicious cold, integrated with some arugula.
 
Citrus Pica De Gallo w/ Avocado & Jicama
 
1 C. Cara Cara and or Navels Oranges - supremed & segmented-  cut into bite size pieces
1 Avocado – diced 
1/2 C. Jicama Diced
Cilantro – roughly chopped
1 Seranno or Jalapeno – De-veined and Seeded
1/4 C. Red Onion- thinly sliced 
1/8 C. Lime Juice 
1/8 C. Olive Oil 
Salt 
 
Place Jicama in bowl with Serrano, lime juice, salt – let sit for 5 minutes.  Add Cara Caras, Red Onions, and cilantro toss.  Add Olive Oil, toss.  Cut avocado in half, remove seed- using a large spoon scoop out flesh.  Make bite size dices of the avocado.  Fold in- making sure you are not being too aggressive.  
Works great with grilled meats- or poached fish. 

 In Sunny California you always await the tender abundance of fresh produce…and the chirping of birds. 

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