Saturday, February 26, 2011

Asian style snapper baked in parchment

Baking fish in parchment is a great way to infuse a lot of flavor into the fish. It's also really easy to make, which is an added bonus. Just throw in the ingredients you want, wrap everything in a parchment envelope and roast for about 30 minutes. You can be pretty creative with the ingredients, but keep in mind that the whole concept of this type of cooking is that moisture released from any of the ingredients or generated from any liquid that you add will steam the fish. As such, more aromatic ingredients will probably do a better job of flavoring your fish. For this dish, I added lemon slices, ginger, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno and scallions. I also drizzled the fish with a little soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil. Because you don't have to do any complicated prep work, this is the sort of dish that you can have done, start to finish, in under an hour.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Valentine's Day Dinner for Abby

Seared muscovy duck breast is one of Abby's favorites, so this was at the center of our dinner on Valentine's day. I made a blackberry, rosemary and ginger gastrique to go along with the duck breast, and served roasted sunchokes and roasted brussels sprouts with maple syrup, pine nuts, and shaved parmesan as side dishes.

  • Muscovy duck breast
  • 1/4 cup blackberrys
  • Ginger (just cut a couple thin slices)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt, pepper
Score the skin side of the duck breast, season both sides with salt and pepper. Preheat a pan over medium heat, and add the duck, skin side down. Cook for about 6 or 7 minutes, lowering the heat if the rendered fat begins to smoke or the skin begins to char. The duck will render a lot of fat, so you may have to drain some of it midway through. Turn and cook until done. You can begin checking after it has cooked on the second side for three or four minutes. You can test by feel or, if you just make a little incision into the middle of the duck breast, you can test by sight. The middle should be rare. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes and slice.

To make the gastrique, add the sugar to a saucepan with a splash of water over medium heat. Eventually the sugar will melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar just begins to turn a golden brown color. Quickly, add the vinegar and stir to recombine everything. Add the black berrys and rosemary and let the mixture continue to cook for a few minutes over medium to low heat. Add the ginger and let the mixture simmer for another five minutes or so. Remove from heat and pick out the ginger and rosemary. The gastrique should thicken up a little as it cools down, but if it is still thin, just reduce everything until it gets to the desired consistency. Reheat before serving. The gastrique should keep in the fridge for a few weeks and would probably go really well with something like a roasted pork tenderloin.

  • Sunchokes
  • Oil (grapeseed, canola, or olive)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Rosemary and thyme
Cut larger sunchokes in half. Toss with oil and season with salt and pepper and herbs. I used some garlic oil that is the byproduct of garlic confit, which I regularly keep in my fridge. Roast everything at 425F to 450F for 45 minutes to an hour.

  • Brussels sprouts (~16)
  • Maple syrup (2-3 Tbsp)
  • 2-3 Tbsp pin nuts, toasted
  • Oil
  • Salt and pepper
Cut the brussels sprouts in half, lengthwise. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I used garlic oil, but you can also just throw in a couple of chopped cloves of garlic. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and place the sprouts, cut side down, on the backing sheet. Roast at 425 to 450 for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle the maple syrup over the sprouts, using tongs to toss everything together. Return to the oven (the sprouts don't need to be cut side down anymore) and roast until they are done (another 15 minutes or so, depending on the size of the brussels sprouts and the heat of the oven). Once the sprouts are done, toss in the pine nuts (candied walnuts would also be a really good substitute) and then top with shaved Parmesan.