Crossword puzzle aficionados will recognize Nobody ever told me as a familiar clue. The answer is LAMEEXCUSE. That’s all I can offer for why I didn’t recognize the orange slab of swordfish Jody brought home for this week’s blog. It’s called pumpkin swordfish – new to me – and the jack o’lantern color results from …
Salt and pepper scrod, smear on the yogurt-mayo combo and throw it in the oven. Wait a bit, then add a pound of asparagus (two pounds works too), just so you don’t have a meal that’s white fish on white plate with white sauce. Ten minutes of prep, half an hour while everything cooks – wango-tango and Bob’s your uncle – there’s dinner.
This is the simplest salmon recipe you will ever read. Your dog could make this recipe. You put a skillet of boiling water on the lowest rack of a preheated oven. A baking dish with oiled and seasoned salmon goes on the rack above it. Everything remains in place for 45 minutes. The most succulent …
In these days of masked excursions and social distancing the only thing that ought to be packed together like sardines in a can is. . . sardines in a can. Except that now you can invite them out for their own unmasked excursion where they can play with sautéed fennel, pine nuts and currants (oops! …
Okay, I admit it–I love fishy fish. You can keep catfish, but once that’s off the table, I’ll eat everything else. Bring on the sea urchin roe, mackeral, fresh sardines and all swimming things smoked and pickled. All grand. But if I were Neptune, sitting at my right hand, way above the salt, would be bluefish. This week we’re serving Bluefish Agrodolce, an easy easy easy dish. And when you’ve gotten agrodolce, a quick sweet-sour sauce, well in hand you can serve it with just about any kind of seafood with a bit of gumption. Welcome aboard.
Previous blog posts notwithstanding, we don’t spend every free moment careering about the back roads of rural France and Italy, pausing every few hours for an under-the-olive-tree feast. Truth is, we almost never go on picnics unless we’re on vacation or on a biking trip. Trying to find time when everyone’s schedule meshes during the day is like trying to plot when when three or four different orbiting satellites will pass within shouting distance–not impossible, but requiring more math and determination than any one of us can muster. We’re as overbooked as you are. Which is why when we do manage to find the time, having something special – other than what’s on offer from a gourmet deli – becomes all the more important. Enter Poached Salmon with Chipotle Yogurt.
Back in the culinary Jurassic when fresh cod cod was actually cheap there was even less expensive fish I prized–monkfish. All flavor, meaty texture, and almost no bones. At the time, recently out of college, I was working at an upscale French restaurant that served lotte (as the French call monkfish) in a cream sauce for lunch. Monkfish had not yet gained enough traction to flop atop American mainstream fish counters. I bought my first lotte whole from a fishmonger in Haymarket Square in Boston, a toothy goggle-eyed monster that might have escaped from Beowulf’s cave. I paid $.89/lb for it. The seafood for this week’s Pesce all’ Acqua Pazza–Monkfish in Crazy Water costs way more than 89¢ a pound, but it’s still half the price of cod and much tastier.
Three or four summers ago I was standing in water up to my knees on a sandbar known as Horseshoe Shoal in the middle of Barnstable Harbor, that long shark-shaped body of water that swims between the shores of Sandy Neck to the north and the town of Barnstable to the south on Cape Cod. As I watched, a flock of seabirds raced down the channel that passes between the sandbar and Sandy Neck. The birds swooped and cried, strafing a line across the water with their beaks as precise as a squadron of P-51 Mustangs. Then I saw it, a deep slate discoloration below the channel surface, an undulating gray movement that fragmented into hundreds of individual fish as it flashed by me. I wasn’t the only one to take notice. Small boats stopped in the channel, people rising to stand, hands shading eyes. “Blues!” a man cried, waving and pointing. It was August and the bluefish were running. For anglers and eaters on Cape Cod, only striped bass equal the pleasures of bluefish. Stripers taste more delicate, but bluefish fight harder. This week’s dish: Bluefish with Dukkah, Tomatoes and Garlic Yogurt.
I had to bite my tongue while Jody prepared this week’s Tomato Salad with Tuna Tapenade. The photographer in me was dying to speak up: Don’t you want to sneak a little preserved lemon into that? Some extra visual pop? Truth be told, my wife has always been a member of the “flavor first ” camp, with visual appeal a distant second. And we use preserved lemons in everything, so this week we’re giving tomatoes a turn, and tapenade. Is anything more summery than the crazy quilt of tomatoes just ripening in New England, along with an herby tapenade, basil and olive oil? If you’ve never sat down at a table with tapenade because you’re afraid it might once have dated an anchovy, then fear not. As Jody explains in her notes, this tuna tapenade’s for you.
Finding gravlax in the south of France is a bit disconcerting, like strolling through an open air market and seeing a vendor in full Viking regalia hawking cured fish among his competitors’ stands of sausage, nougat, and sour cherries. But there it was, gravlax, an appetizer goody that arrived at our table one night to prime the pump before the serious business of the main course–eating duck–began. Thin slices of cured salmon with a beautiful fringe tinted the color of roses. Rich, buttery salmon, a hint of beet, of dill and gorgeous color. None of us could remember the last time we had gravlax, but it had been awhile. Wouldn’t it be great for picnic? Gravlax with a Beet Cure packed among the dark bread, cheese and fruit tarts? Especially with a few cucumbers and some fermented European butter spread on the dark bread before layering on the samon? Of course it would.