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November 2011 COTM: Gourmet II: Fish and Shellfish; Poultry

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters about fish and shellfish and poultry.

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  1. Chicken Scarpariello (p. 365)

    Somehow I'd never heard of this dish before, but it sounded interesting. I'm glad I tried it - my husband absolutely loved it, and I liked it. Sauteed chicken thighs (after sauteing, set aside) with sauteed chopped onion, red peppers and 2-4 chopped jarred hot cherry peppers, slivered garlic. Once vegetables have softened you add a little chicken stock and white wine (and add back in the chicken thighs). Boil down and bit and heat through. They suggest serving over orzo, so i did, and it was a definitely a hit on a chilly night. Those hot cherry peppers give it a nice zing.

    8 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      Chicken Scarpariello is a favorite at Casa Gio. It's the wonderful hot cherry peppers an lots of garflic that does it. My version uses a whole cut up chicken. Thighs are so much easier. I usually serve it over baked soft polenta but orzo sounds like a good variation. I'll have to put this version on my To Make list. Thanks LLM.

      1. re: LulusMom

        You inspired me! This will be tonight's dinner. I knew I had that jar of hot cherry peppers for a reason. Report will be forthcoming!

        1. re: roxlet

          This was tonight's dinner, and it was excellent. A little bit of heat added to the great flavor of the dish. Since it was just two of us, I halved the recipe, though I think my son could have eaten more. Teenaged boys, don't you know. I did cut the chicken thighs in half as directed, though I wonder if that is really necessary aside from so-called meaning of the recipe's name. Also, I think that next time I would use a bit less garlic and chop it as opposed to the slices. We were both picking them out of our orzo!

          1. re: roxlet

            Woohoo! Glad to have helped inspire. The one thing that was odd to me in this recipe was the whole thing with letting the garlic get golden. There was no way I was going to be able to tell if the garlic was all golden in amongst the peppers and onions.

            My husband is like a teenage boy. There is never too much food when he's around.

        2. re: LulusMom

          Chicken Scarpariello, Pg. 365

          We made the scarpiello last night and were not as delighted with it as LLM or Roxlet, sad to say. As I posted upthread, I have a recipe that I make regularly that we really like. I'll have to get it out and compare the two and probably have a taste test. I don't think I'll make this TGC recipe again. G is now referring to the book as The Bland Book.

          For the record I followed the recipe with no deviations using chicken thighs, 5 cloves of sliced garlic and 4 hot cherry tomatoes (from a newly bought jar), plus all the other ingredients as listed. I served roasted cauliflower and fennel as a side dish...

          That's right - Roasted. We had a brand new gas range installed in the afternoon and were able to use the oven at night. Yippee...

          1. re: Gio

            Hooray for your new appliance! It must be so nice to have one again! One sweet day, I dream of having a gas range of my very own.....

            1. re: Gio

              Sorry about the disappointment in the recipe, but thrilled about your new range!

              1. re: LulusMom

                Thanks Allegra...

                LLM: It's OK. As usual the next day the flavors of the left overs had matured and decided to have them for lunch. To quote, "Not bad, now."

          2. Chicken in a Pumpkin Seen Sauce p.360

            Poached chicken pieces are gently simmered in a pale green, slightly nutty tasting, gentle flavoured sauce. This was the first time I'd tried the mole-type dish, and although it was good, it wasn't fantastic.
            Chicken pieces are simmered with garlic, cilantro, onion, and allspice until cooked. I removed the skin afterwards, as flabby limp epidermis just isn't my favourite ingredient (however, deep fried is another story....).
            The sauce consists of toasted pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, some warm spices like allspice, cloves, and peppercorns ground up to a powder. I slaved away at my mortar and pestle for a while instead of using a spice grinder, which does not make an appearance in my kitchen.
            Meanwhile, tomatillos are simmered with serranos and then blended to a puree with onion, garlic, and more cilantro. This is fried in oil ( I used lard for the fat)and reduced until thick. At this point I started to really get excited and hopeful about this dish, as the lovely tart tomatillos were giving off a wonderful fragrance. The pumpkin seed mix/paste is added to the pan with the stock used for poaching the chicken. Once thickened, a pureed roasted poblano and more cilantro is added, then the whole deal is baked in the oven to warm through.

            The resulting sauce is khaki green, mildly spiced, with a vague creamy/gritty nut-butter texture to it. It was also far too salty, so beware. I feel that this dish has the potential to be extraordinary, and probably is, with a different recipe. Maybe the sauce needed an extra day for the flavours to properly meld, or maybe it needed more spices? More tomatillos? I will keep trying.

            1. Salmon Burgers with Spinach and Ginger, Pg. 291

              Cruising around last night looking for something different to do with a little over a pound of ground organic turkey - dark meat - I happened upon this interesting sounding recipe for salmon. The salmon is diced, not ground, but the ingredients sounded so intriguing I subbed the turkey for the fish. I'm glad I did. If turkey tasted so good I can only imagine how salmon would be. Two very different flavors to be sure but it could only be delicious.

              The recipe calls for stirring together the salmon, chopped spinach/scallions/ ginger, salt & pepper. Beat an egg white (I used a whole egg) in a bowl then add it to the mixture. Form patties and cook in a hot oiled skilled till golden brown. Making the patties was slightly sloppy but easy to do. The finished patty was quite flavorful, however I don't think the spinach added much. To serve I spooned a dollop of Dijon on top each one and served the Potato and Thyme Salad on page 148 and Pan-Browned Brussels Sprouts on page 526. Very nice meal for a last minute effort.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Gio

                The spinach added the air of healthy radiance, hence the halo I see over your post.

              2. Chicken with Cornmeal Dumplings, page 373

                A whole chicken is cut up and browned, then sprinkled with a cup of shallots, and white wine. When the chicken is cooked, it is fished out and put into the oven while the cornmeal dumplings (with parsley, chives, and buttermilk) cook in the gravy. Well, if you don't have the book, you can see the entire recipe here:

                Mr. Nightshade and I worked on this dish together, and had a lot of fun doing it. The epicurious estimate of 1 3/4 hours total time is accurate, although we seemed to spend most of that time working (including our side dish). The kitchen was a mess when we were finished! But we felt it was worth it. Mr. NS raved, thought it was a company-worthy dish. I thought it was more old-fashioned comfort food for family (I brought out my grandma's china to serve, it seemed fitting). I did love those dumplings. Cornmeal and fresh herbs give them an interesting little punch. We'll put this dish into our regular rotation.

                We served this with a version of the Roasted Squash and Green Beans with Sherry Soy Butter on page 581, a perfect pairing.

                2 Replies
                1. re: L.Nightshade

                  That looks delicious, but sounds like so much work!!

                  1. re: roxlet

                    I don't really know why it seemed so time-consuming, it's just a chicken with pan gravy, right? Anyway, it wasn't a prohibitive amount of work, as evidenced by the fact that we put it on our "do again" list.

                2. Page 457 - Veal Marsala

                  This is a very straightforward recipe for veal Marsala, and although it was good, it was not as flavorful as I would have liked, and I am not sure why.

                  White mushrooms are quartered (I sliced mine) and browned in a mixture of olive oil and butter. After 10 minutes, chopped garlic and flat leafed parsley are added and cooked for one minute. The mushrooms are removed to a bowl, and the skillet is wiped out. The veal, which has been sprinkled with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper, is floured, and then cooked in the skillet with a mixture of olive oil and butter. They are removed to a platter, and kept warm while the pan is deglazed with the sweet Marsala. When that has boiled down to half, demi-glace that has been disolved in water is added to the pan, let to boil, and the veal and mushrooms are added back in.

                  I think it was fine, but I will continue to search for the Veal Marsala that matches my taste memory. This was not it, and maybe it had something to do with the commercial demi-glace I picked up at Whole Foods. Naturally home made would be better but...

                  A solid "B." Everyone else really liked it, but no oohs and aaahs.

                  1. Stuffed Squid, Pg. 345

                    As stated in the header notes, "...the squid is a tribute to the subtle flavors of just a few understated ingredients." The definitive words here are "subtle" and "understated". After prepping the ingredients there are 6 steps to completion not the least difficult, but ultimately the finished dish was indeed subtle and understated. Having said that I would make it again using my own tomato sauce and increasing the seasonings. I had slightly over the 1 1/2 pounds of squid with tentacles so increased the amounts of other ingredients proportionately. The cooking times of the recipe were accurate and everything cooked well, except for the tomato sauce which I explain below.

                    First: Finely chop the tentacles, heat oil in a skillet and fry the tentacles just 1 minutes. Transfer to a bowl leaving behind the oil in the pan.

                    Second: Into the skillet stir 14 oz pureed tomatoes, a handful of fresh basil leaves, S & P. Simmer this uncovered 10 minutes.

                    Third: In a bowl combine freshly grated Romano reggiano, fresh breadcrumbs from an Italian loaf (I removed the crusts), chopped parsley, chopped garlic, 2 eggs, the cooled tentacles, pinch of pepper.

                    Fourth: Stuff squid and close opening with a toothpick.

                    Fifth: Heat olive oil in a large skillet and cook squid till brown on all sides and any liquid has evaporated...6 minutes.

                    Sixth: Place squid into the tomato sauce and simmer, covered, 30 minutes turning the squid a few times.

                    Well, there it is. Certainly easy. G and I agreed the finished dish didn't have that nice briny, squidy flavor we both love. As for the sauce, I think cooking it for 10 minutes didn't allow enough time for the flavors to develop enough before adding the stuffed squid. After all the squid cooks in this sauce and is supposed to absorb the flavor.

                    I served the squid in sauce over orzo and served steamed broccoli on the side. I had in mind to serve baked polenta instead of pasta but my blankety-blank oven died just as I was about to prepare it, Imagine. Right before Thanksgiving. Rats...!

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Gio

                      Oh noes! Will it be fixed in time?

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        I don't know if it's worth it to try to have the range fixed. It was bought in the mid-90s and was hated from the beginning. I do have a large toaster oven for back-up till I decide what to do plus the Weber. I don't do the kind of heavy baking and cooking I used to do since we're only two here. But it's a PITA nontheless...

                        1. re: Gio

                          Do you have a grill? You certainly have my sympathy.

                          PS - don't buy a Viking. I can tell you more if you need it, but just know this is one very unsatisfied customer. Horrible customer service, etc.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            I have heard so many Viking range horror stories, I would never consider buying one.

                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                              We have had a Viking stove for 13 years with nary a problem with the exception of occasionally replacing the igniters. I feel I have to leap to my stove's defense!

                            2. re: LulusMom

                              I had Viking gas stove top and double ovens which I loved-loved-loved and never had a problem with. All went with the kitchen when I sold the house:(

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                Oh that's too bad. I feel compelled to jump in to say I'm on Year 10 with my Viking range and the only problem was at installation, and it was quickly resolved. I use it a lot and I would absolutely buy one again.

                                But I had a lemon Subaru (a car that people LOVE), so I understand how a bad experience can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

                                1. re: bernalgirl

                                  I sure do wish I'd had the experience you, roxlet and herby have had. But sadly, it has been pretty bad. Right now (knock wood) things are going ok - if you consider the broiler not working, the burners having totally different volume at full range, and the temp being off by somewhere between 25-50 degrees depending on the day being ok. At least knowing what its faults are makes me know how to deal with it. But next time around, we're buying something different. We totally redid our kitchen when we bought our house, and this is the one thing we're really not happy with.

                        2. Cold Poached Chicken with Ginger Scallion Oil, p357


                          This was pretty quick and easy to prepare, but I didn't love it. What is good is the method of poaching the chicken in water, ginger and Chinese rice wine, which results in tender meat and a tasty stock which could be used for other Chinese-style meals, I think. The sauce is simply vegetable oil (I used groundnut) and sesame oil, with grated ginger and minced scallion.

                          I found this a bit bland to be honest - it was fine but lacked the flavour punch you get from Fuchsia Dunlop's dipping sauces. If I did this again, I'd probably used the cooking method for the chicken, but substitute a Dunlop recipe for the flavoured oil

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: greedygirl

                            There is no need to deviate from la Dunlop in matters Chinese. Ever.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Cold Poached Chicken with Ginger Scallion Oil, Pg. 357

                              We made this last night and like greedygirl we were not amused. There was a considerable amount of Chop Suey and rice left from a few nights ago and I wanted a simple meat dish to augment that having forgotten that GG had previously reported it.

                              I made the scallion oil first, with grapeseed oil, so the flavors could meld a bit then poached the chicken. All the ingredients were at hand and I followed each instruction as written. When came time to plate I tasted the flavored oil and decided it needed a little flavor boost. I had used 2 Tbsp ginger, 2 Tbsp scallions, and light sesame oil but added a drizzle of dark sesame oil then a pinch of S & P. It really didn't help all that much.

                              I felt the chicken should have had more flavor too given the seasonings... but no. It's curious because I had made a poached chicken last week that was terrific:
                              From my report of the recipe for Spicy Cabbage and Chicken Salad, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Andrea Nguyen, Pg. 50: "Two boneless chicken breasts are poached in water with a pinch of salt for a few minutes then taken off heat and allowed to sit, covered, for 20 minutes."

                              It's amazing that extremely simple preparation for poached chicken was so much tastier than TGC recipe for cold poached chicken. So was the broth that I saved for future use. The meal was satisfactory but not exciting.

                              1. re: Gio

                                Definitely not an exciting meal, that's for sure. I had the leftovers last night, and the chicken had broken down a little and gone slightly mushy which added to the disappointment. I livened it up with a splash of soy but still, a waste of good chicken imho.

                                I'm definitely going to try the Nguyen salad though - I have a crop of Vietnamese coriander that I need to harvest before the frost comes!

                            2. Sauteed Swordfish with Nicoise Vinaigrette, p. 293.

                              The list of ingredients for the vinaigrette seems long, but the recipe is really very easy. It begins by instructing you to sauté 1 1/2 pounds of swordfish steaks (1 1/4 inch thick) in 3 TBS olive oil in a non-stick skillet until cooked through (8 -10 minutes--may take more time; mine did). MEANWHILE, you are instructed to mince and mash together 1 garlic clove with 1/2 tsp salt, then combine the paste with 1/2 cup chopped Kalamata-type olives, 1/2 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers, 1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley, 2 TBS drained and chopped capers, 2 chopped anchovy fillets, 1/4 cup minced scallions, 3 TBS red wine vinegar, and 7 TBS olive oil. Spoon sauce over fish at serving time and serve with lemon wedges.

                              What I did was make the Nicoise vinaigrette ahead of time so I didn't have to be madly chopping and mincing while the swordfish was cooking. The vinaigrette is really delicious and my family liked it topping the swordfish. I think you could put this vinaigrette on top of anything and folks would be ecstatic: Baked potatoes, bruschetta, halibut. to name but a few.

                              1. Tandoori-Spiced Chicken Thighs, p. 363

                                I was looking for something easy, using what I had on hand, and this was just the thing. I followed the recipe to a tee.

                                Make the marinade. Usual suspects go into the food processor: chopped onion, garlic, grated ginger, yogurt, lemon juice, Salt, black pepper, cayenne, turmeric, cumin, ground coriander, nutmeg. Give it a whizz, and add it and eight boneless, skinless chicken thighs to a large zip-loc bag (or other container) and marinate, turning occasionally. "At east 8 hours" is recommended, so this is ideal for prepping in the morning--just takes a few minutes--and then pulling from the marinade just before dinner. My thighs languished a mere 5 1/2 hous, but after broiling them for 15 minutes, they were plenty flavorful, very tasty. My husband loved them.

                                Although my dinner lacked any real unity--I was trying to use up various veggies in the fridge--it turned out that this dish worked well with a salad of diced golden beets, apple, and red onion in a sour cream dressing sprinkled w/pistachios, another of butter lettuce, arugula, radishes, blue cheese and vinaigrette, and some roasted broccoli.

                                A definite keeper: this requires very little time or effort and is quite adaptable and will fit into any number of dinner schemes.

                                1. Broiled Bluefish Fillets w/ Fennel Mayonnaise pg 300

                                  OK, so no Bluefish at the market, so I used salmon, and why broil when you can grill? But otherwise I followed the recipe to the letter, more or less!

                                  It's not much of a recipe, just a flavored mayonnaise for grilled/broiled fish, but it had never occurred to me to try fennel seed in one of these before, so it was a new spin on this for us. Overall we liked it well, and this flavor combination will definitely go into the easy grilled fish rotation around here. Two things I will do differently in the future; a) add at least another teaspoon of fennel seed, I thought the balance between the fennel and the garlic leaned too heavily toward the garlic and b) grind the fennel seed in the spice grinder before mixing it with the garlic.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: qianning

                                    I love fennel - this sounds wonderful. Did it work well with the salmon? Was there any fresh fennel involved? You could always set a sliced bulb or two on the grill with the fish. Going to have to look up this recipe. Thanks qianning.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      I did serve it w/ a fresh fennel side dish (the caramelized fennel w/ goat cheese from Plenty) ....in retrospect I wish I had added some of the extra fronds from that to the marinade.

                                      It worked fine with salmon, and really we liked it, I'd just add more fennel next time 'cause I thought the fennel flavor got a bit overwhelmed by the garlic flavor, and I'd have preferred a more assertive fennel flavor.

                                  2. Shrimp in Adobo Sauce p. 322

                                    I love the smoky taste of chilies. I thought this would be a great counterpoint to a cold, dark night. We intended this to be our dinner last night, but after making the sauce we had a change of heart.

                                    An acho chile paste is made of ancho chiles (toasted, seeded and soaked in water), garlic, Mexican oregano, onions and enough water to make a thick paste. This was not a great tasting paste, but I knew there were more steps to the recipe so I soldiered on. The paste is then cooked with olive oil for 5 minutes and then white wine, distilled white vinegar, salt and sugar are added and the mixture is cooked for another 5 minutes.After adding the acids and tasting the sauce, I called my husband over to taste it. Silence. That usually means he's not thrilled with the taste, but doesn't want to offend. Ultimately, we decided not to add the shrimp to the sauce. It tasted very one dimensional and sort of bitter. Maybe the sweet shrimp would have tasted delicious in the sauce? Maybe lemon juice or other spices could have saved this? Not sure what went wrong. So we grilled the shrimp separately and ate it with the diced avocado and chopped cilantro meant to top the adobo sauce. The Bayless recipe below is similar and uses canned sauce, but the results were much better for me. http://www.fronterakitchens.com/cooki...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: BigSal

                                      Eeek! Sorry about that, good save though. And thanks for saving the rest of us from a bad meal. It was on my list.

                                    2. Malaysian-Style Chicken Curry (p. 359)

                                      Our local Malaysian restaurant makes a chicken curry served with roti, and we love it so much, so I was excited to try this. And we loved this, but with a couple of changes. I used skinless, boneless thighs - didn't want flabby skin in there, and the rest of the family doesn't much care for the bones (sometimes they just have to suck it up, but for this it didn't seem like a big deal). After reading the reviews on epicurious I knew that I'd want to spice it up a little, so cayenne was added. And I added potatoes (like the restaurant does), which helped soak up some of the sauce - just enough that there was still plenty, but it didn't seem watery. Probably about 1 1/2 lbs of chopped potatoes. Start by making a paste of 6 shallots, 4 large garlic cloves and a 1 inch piece of ginger, all chopped then processed, then add 3 tablespoons of water. Heat this with a little oil, then add the curry powder; then the chicken, coconut milk, chicken stock, 1 jalapeno slit into quarters, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 clove, 1 star anise. They suggest serving it over rice, but with the potatoes in there we didn't need it. Very tasty, although for us, either the clove or the star anise (probably the latter) could easily have been left out. As delicious and spicy as it was, there was a definite floral undertone.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        Thanks for the report; I was eyeing that one, so it'll likely be my next chicken dish. Sounds nice.

                                      2. Fish en Papillote with Tomatoes and Olives, page 302.

                                        What a great weeknight main dish this is! Easy as can be. Fish fillets (I used rockfish, the "false red snapper") are set in parchment or aluminum foil, topped with tomato slices, Kalamata olive slices, butter, red pepper flakes, orange zest, and an herb of your choice. The packet is sealed and goes into a hot oven for nine minutes. That's all there is to it! I used aluminum foil and put several fillets in together, so I needed a couple extra minutes to get the fish out of raw stage. I used parsley as the herb (it was too dark to do further hunting in the herb garden), and I left the orange zest in big coils instead of cutting them further.

                                        I was quite impressed with the taste of this dish. The orange zest imparts a lot of flavor to the fish, just by sitting there on top. It was a lovely combination with the olives and tomato. Plus a hint of bite from the chile flakes. Definitely a great, do-again after-work meal. I served it with Peas with Spinach and Shallots on page 555.

                                        The printer-friendly fish recipe is here:

                                        1. Grilled Lobster with Orange Chipotle Vinaigrette, p. 338

                                          My mom recently won a box of frozen lobster tails and gave me several. I'm not sure of the provenance, but I'm pretty sure they weren't from Maine. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth or judge a lobster by its lack of claw, however, I accepted them happily.

                                          So I was starting with the tail only here: no lobsters to boil or other body parts to deal with. After thawing, I split the tails in half and spooned some of the vinaigrette over the meat before grilling them, turning once. I probably could have removed them from the grill a minute earlier, but they were still delicious with more of the tasty vinaigrette spooned over them on the plate.

                                          The vinaigrette is easy as can be--and it is the star of this show. I used my immersion blender but you can make it in a FP or with a whisk: Blend grated orange zest (I used that from a whole orange), 1 cup of orange juice, 1/4 c. white wine vinegar, 1 1/2 T, canned chipotles, 2 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp brown sugar. Then add 2 T chopped fresh basil, if you have some. (I didn't last night; it was still delicious.)

                                          This recipe appeared in Gourmet when chipotles in adobo were all the rage, and I jumped enthusiastically into that trend. For a big celebratory dinner when my SIL and her husband were visiting, we did these, starting w/live Maine lobsters. The dinner was a hit, but what my SIL always remembers about it is the vinaigrette.

                                          I've made this vinaigrette numerous times over the years since, only another once or twice with lobster. Mostly I've used it on grilled shrimp or fish. It has a wonderful smoky, sweet heat. It is fantastic on halibut or other white fishes, but also on salmon. And it is great on grilled vegetables too. Without the basil, it keeps very well in the fridge. Where I've got a nice jar of it now. : )

                                          It is just about the only thing I use canned chipotles for anymore.

                                          1. Catfish Filets with Tahini Sauce - p. 289

                                            This recipe caught my eye when LLM put it on her list of recipes tried and liked from this book. It caught my eye because it sounded awful! But here was someone who liked it. That is exactly the kind of thing that piques my interest.

                                            The recipe itself is pretty simple. You make a tahini sauce by whizzing some tahini, garlic, water, lemon juice and cumin in a blender. Sear the catfish in some oil in a skillet about 3 minutes on the first side, then flip, sprinkle with crushed coriander seeds, and cook another couple minutes. You serve the fish with the sauce, and spoon some oil and coriander seeds from the skillet on top. Sprinkle with parsley.

                                            This was very good! The tahini sauce goes particularly well with the catfish... who knew? It is pretty rich for a fish dish, but I would absolutely make it again. One odd thing.... I had leftovers of this. When I took it out of the fridge to reheat the next day, it had an unpleasant smell to it. Not like bad fish or anything. Kind of like burning rubber. Once reheated, that smell was gone, and the fish was excellent on night two. Odd.

                                            1. Baked Flounder Fillets in Lemon Soy Vinaigrette (p. 301)

                                              Certainly an easy meal, and perfectly servicable, but nothing special. Make a vinaigrette from 2 (I used 3) garlic cloves, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 4 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup olive oil. Put on top of fish and bake. Clean plates, but no raves. Husband said "C'mon, this was fine." Yes, it was fine. And easy. But not very exciting.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                I like the ease factor on this one. I wonder if the addition of minced ginger and some chopped preserved black beans would liven it up?

                                              2. SEAFOOD PAELLA (p. 349)

                                                Just getting around to posting, but I made this last weekend w/my paella buddy. Funny, but when this childhood friend and I reconnected about three years ago, she told me how much she loved paella and asked if I'd ever made it. When I told her I had only once, probably 15 years earlier, she suggested we make it--and since then, I've made it almost every time she comes around, maybe five or six times since. Except for once, I've used the Gourmet recipe, but with several changes, the main one being that I add chicken thighs and chorizo. I know, I know: mixing seafood and meats is not "authentic" or traditional in paella-making cultures, but both my friend and I had had a combination paella the first time we'd ever had it (for me, oddly enought, that was in Santa Fe) and it became our favorite type. What I really like about this (rather involved) recipe is that the end result always seems just right--not wet, but not too dry.

                                                I happen to have a large paella pan, which is right for this recipe, but it makes a ton. (I tried cutting the recipe for a smaller pan once using this recipe, and the results just weren't as good.)

                                                I used two frozen lobster tails insted of the live called for in the recipe, a lb. of peeled jumbo shrimp, a lb. of squid (both rings and tentacles, and clams insted of mussels. While stock (3 c. shrimp plus 2 1/2 c. chicken, is brought to a simmer, you start prepping: sprinkle smoked Spanish paprika over tomatoes (1 lb., chopped--I used canned); make a paste of mashed garlic and salt; combine saffron, white wine, and lemon juice; cut peppers (one red and one yellow, in my case) into strips; slice three or four scallions; thaw peas (1/2 c).

                                                [For my variation, I used one skillet to brown chicken thighs (8) in OO until they were golden and almost completely cooked through, about 10 minutes. I removed chicken and browned about a half lb of sliced Spanish chorizo for a few minutes, set it aside, and sauteed some chopped yellow onion (about 1 1/2 c.) in the same oil.]

                                                In a separate skillet, stir-fry in olive oil, in separate batches for just a minute or two, the lobster (cut into pieces), the shrimp, and the squid. These are set aside, and in a little more OO, pepper strips are stir-fried; then add garlic paste, stir-fry, and then add tomatoes. To this, add 3 c. rice (I used Bomba, what my friend always brings), and stir to coat. Add hot stock, wine mixture, some chopped parsley and a piece of bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring gently until the liquid is reduced enough that it is thickened and most of the rice appears to be on the surface.

                                                Remove pan from heat and add remaining ingredients, including salt and pepper, arranging the lobster pieces, chicken, and clams to distribute evenly. The paella is then baked uncovered at 400F (450, if your oven is electric, the recipe stipulates--not sure why) until a crust forms at the edges and most of the liquid is absorbed. (This took about 15 minutes.) The pan is then removed from the oven and covered with foil, to stand (and steam) for another 10-12 minutes. For us, the texture was perfect.

                                                I did make an accompanying alioli de limon, as I always do (even though it seems that I--a mayo maniac--am usually the only one who uses it). That, a big green salad, and bread made for a great dinner for nine of us--and we still had a good bit left over.

                                                I think this is a pretty good recipe though I've never made it with just seafood.

                                                1. Coq au Vin, Pg. 368 - 369

                                                  This is a recipe you need to have plenty of time for. At least 2+ hours. It's an abbreviated recipe from the traditional Coq au Vin and to our tastes, not quite as good. White wine is suggested but red is an alternative. I used burgundy. My deviations were: 3 large chicken thighs and 3 drumsticks instead of a cut up whole chicken and frozen peeled pearl onions instead of fresh. First I set up my mise en place and made the bouquet garni: celery/parsley/thyme/bay leaf.

                                                  Pearl onions are blanched then plunged into an ice bath. Slab bacon is cut into small strips, added to the pot of water then boiled for a few minutes, and plunged into an ice bath. The bacon sits in the water while the pearl onions are peeled then the bacon is drained and dried with paper towels. Cook the bacon in a skillet till the fat is rendered, transfer to a paper towel. Season the chicken with S & P and brown in the bacon fat then transfer to a plate. Add the onions cook and stir 10 minutes. Transfer onions to a heavy pot, add wine, stock, bacon, and the bouquet garni. This is simmered for 10 minutes after which the chicken is added. Cover pot and simmer 15 minutes.

                                                  In the meantime the fat in the skillet is heated and halved small mushrooms are added and cooked for 5 - 8 minutes. Add cognac and reduce to 1/4 cup. Combine mushrooms with chicken and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove chicken, bacon and vegetables to a platter. Bring the braising liquid to a simmer, add a beurre marnie, whisk till sauce has thickened, season with S & P, ladle over chicken. Sprinkle with minced parsley. and serve.

                                                  As side dishes I made the traditional minted peas and parsleyed potatoes. Altogether the meal was satisfying but not exceptionally flavorful. I don't know why since there's quite a mix of ingredients. I liked it well enough but G declared it Bland, his favorite descriptive this month. In fact when I hauled out the book to begin cooking he said, "Oh no. Not the yellow book again." There's a lot left over so I'll let it sit in the fridge till Tuesday, then begin my overhaul for dinner. Will report back.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    True to my word last night saw the not quite so overhauled Coq au Vin as dinner yet again. All I did was add a bit of home made turkey broth to loosen up the sauce. The flavors had matured a few days and although still on the subtle side the chicken was more tasty than on Sunday. The mushrooms remained nice and meaty giving the dish an additional hearty component.

                                                    I originally thought I'd add some other seasonings but decided not to after tasting. I served it over steamed jasmine rice along with steamed broccoli with a garlicky aioli dressing. All in all a pretty good save. Believe it or not there was still one piece of chicken left over and G took it for lunch today which surprised me....

                                                  2. Cod Marinated in Sake Kasu (p. 302)

                                                    I really liked this recipe. It yields a lot of marinade that fully covers the fish. The recipe says to leave the fish in the marinade for at least two hours and up to one day. I've seen other recipes similar to this one that call for marinating the fish for three days. I left the fish marinating for about 20 hours.

                                                    The recipe specifically states to make sure to use black cod for this recipe since regular cod won't do. I used regular cod anyway and although it fell apart a bit during cooking, it tasted just fine.

                                                    Sake Kasu are the solids that remain after making sake that are then made into sheets. It is called for in this recipe. I used regular, bottled sake that I had on hand.

                                                    The marinated fish takes on a beautiful and very tasty brown exterior. Next time, I might cook the marinade in a saucepan to reduce and use it over the fish. It's a shame to discard it as the recipe suggests since it's really delicious!

                                                    The only other change I might make is to cook the fish from beginning to end in the oven. I don't know if it's because of the type of cod I used or if it's because I let it marinate for so long, but the fish was extremely flaky and falling apart as I turned the fillets over.