January 31, 2011
January 20, 2011
- Fillet your fish, if purchased whole. Pat it quite dry. Salt and pepper fillets lightly.
- Quarter a stick of butter lengthwise into batons. (You may or may not use all the butter, depending on the size of your skillet, the number of fillets you'll be cooking, and how much butter sauce you desire to pour over the cooked fillets, but have it ready to make those decisions by instinct as you go along.)
- Spread flour on a large dinner plate and lightly season with salt and pepper. You'll know how much
- Chop your parsley, and have it handy.
- Wedge your lemon.
- Warmed serving plates are nice here.
- Have the other components of your meal nearly done before beginning to cook the trout. This is also a time when two chefs in the kitchen are better than one... One can focus on the fish, the other on the accompaniments. (My Baby took the fish duty, and it was fascinating to watch.)
January 13, 2011
Spicy Oregon Lamb Tagine
In honor of the first anniversary of Sticks Forks Fingers, we are polishing and re-publishing a post from the early days; one that still clearly reflects the heart of this project. We thank each of you for your readership and encouragement this year, and for coming along on this important year of our lives. My best, PamWinter in Oregon is dark. Our short Pacific Northwest days are clouded over, sometimes creating weeks of not seeing the direct light of the sun. For those of us born and bred in brighter climes, this can pose a challenge to our senses of well-being. It becomes a matter of perspective whether we deem the days short or the nights long. I'm learning, after 20 Oregon winters, how to make peace with the dark.
- Candles. Lots and lots of candles on the dining table to evoke warm bright light. Candlelight implies warmth and light while holding respect for the reality of winter. Candlelight seems to say, "Hang on... Good and hopeful things are happening deep within".
- Warm company. If you've been blessed by warm relationships, you know what I'm talking about here. Relish those. If you haven't, don't give up. Imagine the life and relationships you'd like to have. Settle for nothing less. With firmly set intentions, it will happen. I promise. And learn to enjoy your own warm company in the meantime.
- Great wine. Take the time to really notice the wine you drink. Don't rush this. If you've been blessed with warm company (see above), don't be afraid to share what you smell, taste and feel in your glass. If you are by yourself, write it down. Noticing the nuances in your wines dials you in to notice many other wonderful things about a dark day. Sharing it affirms your humanity.
- Winter foods. Uncooked vegetables and fruits are great, but may throw your sense of well-being way off in the dark days. Read a little about Ayurvedic eating and apply the concepts to your table, such as using warming spices, root vegetables, cooked orange vegetables and dark leafy greens. A little braised meat now and then won't hurt either. (David Tanis says he'd like to launch a society for the Protection of Long-Cooked Stews, whose members would braise regularly!) Start your meal early and end it late, savoring each bite and sip and word and thought shared at your table. Accepting the long evening the Universe has given as its gift lightens the darkness.
Our Sunday meal honored the beauty of a long winter's night. A tagine of locally raised lamb shanks cooked with dried apricots, spicy fresh and dried ginger, garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin and coriander seeds over smashed potatoes. The dish was an abstract on David Tanis' Fragrant Lamb with Prunes and Almonds from his The Heart of the Artichoke, and Dorie Greenspan's Lamb and Dried Apricot Tagine from Around My French Table, two wonderful and inspiring books. Tanis calls his tagine, "a cozy port in a stormy world." Just the way I want my winter table to be thought of as well.
January 12, 2011
- There's a man in the kitchen doing dishes. Yeah. Not that uncommon in this house, and part of "country living" that I can get used to!
- About two minutes after this photo was taken, that lumpy sack of recycling made its way out, thanks again to aforementioned man.
- Big white umbrellas in my kitchen?? No. That's a most thoughtful birthday gift, also from aforementioned man, in support of my passions and efforts.
- See the framed photos on the wall in the background? Daily reminders of our children and moms and dads and grandbabies who give me joy, shape my life, and whom I adore. We call this our "wall of fame." You are important if you are on it, at least to me.
- See that refrigerator? It's abundantly full, a luxury many of us don't have. I'll say no more.
January 9, 2011
- A swanky dinner at Doug and Mary's, with each of the three couples providing a course with matching wines or cocktails. This year we'd be joined by Mary's brother, David, from Montana and Doug's sister, Karen from Portland who would create a dessert.
- After the first course, we'd go to the opera. This year it was La Boheme. We'd return to Doug and Mary's for a fashionably late main course, and would arrive at the dessert course sometime after ringing in the new year.
- We'd be returning from the opera at 11 p.m., far too late for a heavy meal. Keeping it light would be important.
- At that late hour, we didn't want to keep people waiting for a meal. The majority of preparation would need to be complete before we left home for the evening. Much to the sadness of My Baby, this eliminated the possibility of creating elaborate, last-minute sauces.
Fruits de Mer en Papillote et Celeriac PuréeSeafood in Parchment with Celery Root Puree
4 oz. per serving impeccably fresh white fish (we've used both sea bass and halibut with excellent results)3 10/20 prawns per serving, peeled and deveined3 medium sea scallops per servingabout 1/3 medium fennel bulb per serving, sliced paper-thinabout 1/2 large shallot per serving, sliced paper-thinabout one carrot per serving, cut into thin matchsticks3 slices lemon per serving, sliced paper-thin1 Tablespoon butter per servinglight drizzle extra virgin olive oil per servingsea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
one 12" x 24" length parchment per serving, folded in half and trimmed into a rough heart-ish shape(The shape is important for the folding that will happen later.)
Preheat oven to 425˚. Near the fold and at the center of the parchment layer the fennel, white fish, shallot, carrot, prawns, scallops and lemon. (If you have a mandolin or slicer, now is the time to use it for this ultra-thin slicing.) Drop in the butter, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Turn the half-heart shaped packet upside down so that you can begin folding at the top, puffy part of the heart. Fold down the corner, press with your finger, and seal the fold with the back of your thumbnail. Continue in this fashion until the entire side is folded and well sealed, turning the point on the bottom under twice to seal well.
Place sealed packets on large baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes. Steam will cause the packets to puff in the oven, but they quickly deflate when removed. Place each packet on serving plate. Have each guest slit open their own packet at the table, dramatically releasing the aromatic scent. Serve with whipped celery root/potato puree, whipped potatoes or rice to absorb the delicious liquor that forms in the packet.