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Jun 30, 2014 03:15 PM

July 2014 COTM: Radically Simple - Pasta, Fish

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  1. Baked Ziti in Bianco with Fontina and Salami (Ipad Version)

    I have heard of ziti many times, but have never seen any here in Vancouver so I simply used Penne. This dish called out to me because I love cheesy pasta bakes and this sounded like something a teenage foodie would make when his parents were out of town. Other than a sprinkling of herbs this is basically noodles, butter, melted cheese and salami.

    The recipe calls for you cook your pasta for 12 minutes but I simply followed the instructions on the package but just went a touch al dente since they were going into the oven for a bit. Mind you, I would make sure they were almost completely cooked since they are only in the oven for 15 minutes and there is no sauce to help the noodles cook.

    Meanwhile you grate your fontina, slice your salami, pick your fresh oregano, and get your dish ready with some butter and a touch extra butter for dotting the multiple layers of the dish. Once the pasta is cooked you layer it with the cheese, salami, season with salt and pepper, and dot with butter, repeating the layers till you end with the cheese at the top (3 layers for me).

    You then bake for 15 minutes, pull from the oven and stir the lot before garnishing with a touch more oregano. That's it, definitely very simple.

    She did call for a souffle dish, something I don't have, so I simply went with an oven safe pot that was about the right size. I toyed with the idea of just using a regular casserole dish, but I think that would have resulted in a drier pasta than ideal. I also likely had closer to 10 oz of pasta which was good for 4 small servings. I wouldn't want to eat anymore than a smallish serving as it was very rich. That said, we both really enjoyed this dish. Melted fontina is always so good with it's nutty flavour and stringy texture, and we love salami so that was a no brainer. Was the butter necessary, I think so because the dish needed something to wet it a bit.

    I dare say it would be a departure but I wonder if a fontina based sauce mornay would elevate this just a tad further and make this a little less teen home alone and a little more mom's mac and cheese.

    Either way the flavour profile was nice, the prep easy, and the results different but quite pleasing in it's simplicity.

    6 Replies
    1. re: delys77

      I'm no teenage foodie and my parents have been "out of town" for a very long time, but Damn, I'm going to love this recipe, Delys. Ziti, Fontina, Genoa Salami. These are some of my favorite things. The recipe is on page 120 for those who need to look it up immediately.

      1. re: Gio

        ha ha, that gave me a good chuckle. I kind of love the sound of music (guilty pleasure).

      2. re: delys77

        Looks and sounds great! And I love your teenage foodie line.

        1. re: delys77

          Baked Ziti in Bianco, Pg. 120

          What a dish! It's a great dish but better suited to a freezing day in January. Followed the recipe carefully except did not add butter between the layers. Nor did we add salt because to my palate salami is plenty salty. I did not have fresh oregano at the ready so used minced parsley and basil. I really hate when I have to do that but I feel the substitutions were in the spirit of the Italian cuisine. The fontina and Genoa were bought at our local salumeria.

          The finished dish was full of flavor and quite hearty for me. Loved the melty cheese throughout and the bite of the salami. Additionally, I served sauted broccoli rabe with plenty of garlic and red pepper flakes which was a perfect foil for the rich pasta.

          1. re: delys77

            Baked Ziti in Bianco, p. 120

            Like Gio and Delys, we really liked this dish. My husband especially loved it. It was easy to put together and I made it pretty much as described, except that I was a teensy bit short on oregano so I didn't sprinkle any on top after cooking. I loved the oregano in the dish, though, I felt the flavor really elevated what would otherwise be a heavy dish.

          2. Is this thread supposed to be for recipes that include pasta *and* fish, or either or?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Atomic76

              Hi atomic, this thread is for all recipes contained in the fish or pasta chapters of the book.

            2. Korean-Style Salmon "Bulgogi," Bok Choy & Shitakes, p. 147.

              A few years ago on an adjunct thread this recipe received several very positive reviews, so I decided to try it for this month's COTM.

              (BTW, this recipe is available exactly as Gold wrote it on google so I will not describe it in detail.

              I think that Gold is very strong on her salmon recipes and this is an especially delightful way to serve this fish. All of my guests loved it, as did I. The strengths of the recipe are its delicious Asian flavors and the fact that it feels very summery and fresh, esp. with the bok choy/shitake accompaniment. Another strength: Despite a list of 12 ingredients and several steps, the recipe goes together relatively quickly and easily. None of it takes much skill and you can do some of it ahead if desired: for instance, I made the marinade and marinated the salmon a few hours ahead, setting the fillets up on their baking sheet in the refrigerator, meanwhile also boiling the marinade ahead and reserving it for rewarming later. The bok-choy and shitakes were all sliced ahead and ready for their final stir-fry. While the salmon baked I stir fried the veggies.

              A few minor comments: I used brandy because I had no rice wine, at a reduced ratio of 1 tsp brandy rather than the 1 TBS rice wine in the recipe. (I found this substitution on the internet--another sub is dry sherry.) The bok choy and shitakes needed more than two minutes to become tender: more like10 minutes. I broiled my salmon filets as recommended in the recipe, but I see no reason why one couldn't oven-roast them at 500 F if desired.

              I served it with the coconut and pistachio rice, p. 274 and the whole cauliflower with ras-al-hanout crumble, p. 262. Went together fine!

              13 Replies
              1. re: Goblin

                I love this recipe, I think the results are restaurant-worthy and as you note it comes together very quickly.

                1. re: Goblin

                  Korean Style Salmon Bulgogi with Bok Choy and Shiitakes

                  Goblin's write up sounded tasty and we are in the midst of the Salmon season here in Vancouver so I thought I would give this one a try.

                  I followed the recipe as directed except that I did cook the mushrooms separately and then added them to the bok choy just as I was wrapping the cooking on the bok choy. Reason being that I abhor mushy mushrooms and I wanted a good sear on mine. My approach worked very well for us, the mushrooms were browned and flavourful and the bok choy cooked down to crisp tender in about 5 minutes.

                  We also thought this one was a real winner. The flavour profile is very reminiscent of bulgogi and paired very well with the salmon, giving it a lovely umami boost. I cooked for the full 8 minutes and might suggest cutting down to 7 or so as I found the fish was nicely done, but I like mine perhaps a touch rarer.

                  I also copied Goblin's suggestion of serving with the pistachio rice (thanks Goblin), along with the wasabi miso asparagus. All together this was a super flavourful meal.

                  1. re: delys77

                    Glad you liked it, delays77, and I think your suggestion about searing the shitakes on their own is a good one--would benefit their texture and flavor.

                  2. re: Goblin

                    Korean-Style Salmon "Bulgogi," Bok Choy & Shitakes (page 147)

                    I had high hopes for this after all the rave reviews on both this and the adjunct thread. I can only attribute my disappointment to user error, but not at all sure where I might have gone wrong. The only change I made to the recipe was to leave the sugar out of the marinade. Hard to believe that could have made a significant difference, but perhaps it did. I thought the mushroom/bok choy part of the dish insipid; maybe I didn’t salt it enough? And the marinade was too salty, even though there was no added salt. Maybe I reduced it too much? maybe my soy sauce was extra salty? maybe I dabbed the marinade on the cooked fish too thickly rather than just glazing it?

                    The fish itself, at least, was a success. I used a Costco wild sockeye fillet, and the fish was cooked perfectly. (That, I must say, was a huge relief. I love everything about my new GE Café range except the broiler which, in the couple of times I’ve used it, have given me very disappointing results. Not so here. I wouldn’t have minded if the salmon was a bit more rare, but I was quite happy with it as it was.)

                    I purposely didn’t reread the reviews before making this dish, but now that I have, I think Caitlin’s idea of adding the extra marinade to the veggies is a good one and I’m making note of it. But all in all, I’m in no hurry to try this again.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      I'm so sorry you were disappointed in this JoanN! I am sure I've left the sugar out too, I nearly always do, but have loved this.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        I'm also really sorry to hear this wasn't a hit for you. I'm one of the people who really loved it (although i agree that the bok choy/shiitake mix isn't killer). My thinking is that the sugar adds a little something to balance out the sauce, but I doubt it was the reason you didn't love this.

                        1. re: JoanN

                          Oh that is too bad Joan! I would say that my broiled salmon came out slightly glazed looking before I very lightly dabbed it with the sauce, I almost felt like the sugar added a tiny bit of caramelized affect to the top of the fillet. Not to say that the sugar was the culprit for your lack lustre result, but for me I definitely enjoyed the balance of the sauce with the sugar in it as well as the effect the marinade had on the salmon.

                          Veggie wise I agree, your bok choy need to be well seasoned and for me I abhor quickly cooked mushrooms so I gave them a good sear on the side, this helped make the little garnish more enjoyable.

                          Again, just my two cents.

                          1. re: delys77

                            I think I may try the salmon part of the dish again when I'm back to eating sugar. Your comment about the caramelization makes a lot of sense. And I definitely wouldn't glob on the marinade as I did. As for the bok choy (and I, by the way, adore mushrooms in just about any form), I think I'd just pass on it. I'm sure the salmon would be very good on many other Asian vegetable stir-fries.

                            1. re: JoanN

                              You are definitely correct that her vegetable accompaniment isn't necessarily the perfect match. For me a nicely roasted or crisped mushroom is sublime but less cooked mushrooms always make me think of these canned things my grandmother used to serve. Lol I suppose it is just a back childhood food memory.

                        2. re: Goblin

                          I made only salmon and skimming through Goblin's review realized that I read "rice vinegar" instead of "wine"! I made the marinade a night before and used Pacific wild salmon filets. I was cooking it at the cottage the day I arrived and so somewhat rushed. I marinated for maybe 1/2-hour and grilled on cedar planks on the BBQ. It was absolutely delicious and everyone raved - definitely to be repeated, and next time I'll try it at home under the broiler sticking more closely to the recipe ingredients :)

                          1. re: Goblin

                            My mother is in town and Lulu had the afternoon at home (and we spent some time at the pool - always fun), so I needed something easy and foolproof. I went with the bulgogi salmon. I skipped the vegetables and did roasted broccoli and rice. Very nice meal with very little effort.

                            1. Sole Provençal with Petit Ratatouille, p. 152

                              A sautéed vegetable mixture that you then steam sole fillets atop. I made two changes to the vegetable prep: I doubled the amount (I wanted it to serve as a real vegetable component rather than just dressing the fish), and I cut the vegetables in small dice rather than chopping finely. The sauté starts with scallions and jalapeño (I didn't have the latter, so added some red pepper flakes; I also added a few minced cloves of garlic), then sun-dried tomatoes, bell peppers (I used one each red and yellow), and zucchini go in. When the vegetables have softened, sherry vinegar, honey (I did not double this), fresh thyme, and water (I used dry white wine) go in. Sole fillets, folded in half to keep them from overcooking, are placed atop the vegetables, drizzled with olive oil, and salted, and the pan is covered until they're cooked through. She calls for 4 7-oz sole fillets; I used about 1 1/2 pounds of petrale sole, which meant many smaller fillets, so I shortened the time slightly. I used substantially less oil than called for - she calls for sautéeing the vegetables in 3 T and drizzling the fish with 2 T, then drizzling more over to serve. Though I doubled the vegetables, I used no more than 2 T to sauté, and I didn't drizzle any over before serving.

                              This is a nice, light dish that feels fresh and summery. It's not assertively flavored or spiced, but the vegetables are bright. Good use of sun-dried tomatoes, especially given that tomato season hasn't quite arrived yet around here. The subtlety works well with the delicate flavor of sole; that said, the fish itself is very plain, so really must be eaten with the vegetable garnish. Leftovers were good eaten cold.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                Sole (Pollock) Provencal with Petit Ratatouille, p 152.

                                Seduced by Caitlin's detailed discussion and positive review above, I made this last night with some fresh CSA pollock.

                                The method of first making the ratatouille and then steaming the fish on top works perfectly and makes this a one-pan meal. Since my pollock filets were thicker than sole filets, I just increased the time of steaming them. I also increased the ratio of vegetable to fish by 2 to 1 which gives a generous amount of the very savory veggie mixture.

                                My finished ratatouille had a lot of flavor, which I think was due to the fact that when I sautéed the scallion-jalapeno mixture over high heat for 10 minutes, some of it browned and started to create a fond. I also took Caitlin's advice and used white wine for the liquid and also diced the veggies rather than chopping them finely. I liked the extra texture this provided.

                                The honey-sherry vinegar combo gave a sweet-sharp dimension, and I liked the aromatic note of the fresh thyme. The sun-dried tomatoes were quite flavorful as well. I haven't tried it yet, but I think this version of ratatouille would be good as a side for grilled chicken, for instance, or in an omelette.

                                Used my own summer squash and fresh thyme in the recipe: yippee! Summer may finally be here on the Cape.

                              2. Pasta with Radishes, Bacon and Greens, p. 123

                                This dish is well-described over on the cooking from thread, here:

                                Reading those reviews, I had a feeling I would like this dish. I love bitter greens, sauteed radishes, pasta, cheese and bacon! So I was pretty sure I would like this dish. My changes to the recipe were as follows: used fusilli instead of fettucine, used parm instead of pecorino, and used more of it than called for (possibly because it's less salty than pecorino). Both subs worked well, though I think the pecorino would have been very good in this dish.

                                To make the full recipe as written, I used all the greens from two bunches of radishes, but only 1/2 a bunch of radishes themselves. Not really a big deal because I have a butter-braised radish recipe that I LOVE which will easily use up the rest. But for those that would rather come out more even in terms of radishes and greens, I think you could augment the radish greens with dandelion or swiss chard (less bitter than radish greens but I think the flavor would go well) or a peppery arugula (add at the end, it cooks very quickly). I would probably do this if doubling or tripling the recipe.

                                My husband and I really enjoyed this pasta. My kids liked the pasta, cheese or bacon part but picked out the veg. One recipe wasn't really enough for the four of us (my husband and kids are pasta fiends), but I made extra pasta and served it with leftover pesto for round two. I served the pasta with a big green salad on the side.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Westminstress

                                  This sounds so good. I am wondering if you think that a regular bunch of radishes--not necessarily the harder-to-find (in my area) "French Breakfast Radishes"--would also work? Sounds as if the FBRs are somewhat sweeter and milder. I realize that it depends on one's taste. I happen to like the pepperiness of radishes of any stripe, especially when they are sautéed, but I'm wondering about the balance of flavors with these stronger-flavored radishes for other guests.

                                  1. re: Goblin

                                    I just used regular radishes -- forgot to mention that. In fact they were on the woody side and not the best for eating raw. They cooked up nicely though. I'm sure your commonly available radishes would be great in this dish.

                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                      Thank you, Westminstress--you have reassured me about just going ahead and making this recipe as soon as possible! I appreciate your advice.
                                      Who can resist a dish of healthful radishes and greens with the added joy of pasta, pecorino/parm and bacon!!

                                    2. re: Goblin

                                      French Breakfast Radishes are on the peppery side. I love them on their own with salted butter and baguette.

                                    3. re: Westminstress

                                      This is one of my favorite recipes from this book, certainly the one I've made the most frequently. I make it now with orecchiette, just because I like the look of the round pasta with the round radishes, but it works with most any pasta.

                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                        I think I would actually have a hard time pairing the radishes with a long skinny pasta! But I wouldn't know because I am stuck in the land of short chunky shapes until my kids have a bit more manual dexterity. Orecchiette sounds good, I like that shape in general.

                                      2. re: Westminstress

                                        I got some nice, fresh radishes with greens from the farmer's market on Sunday and had some bacon to use up, so gave this recipe a whirl. It was easy and pretty tasty - not a complete wow for me but Mr GG really enjoyed it. My radishes weren't the French breakfast variety but still quite peppery. I can usually get the French ones so will try this recipe at some point with those. I'd also add more greens - probably rocket - as I didn't feel that the leaves from one bunch of radishes were enough. Still, a solid dish.