Fish fillet with potato scales

I’ve tried doing this dish a few times before, and just didn’t get there. First time, the potatoes were simply too big and the slices too thick. Second time, with smaller potatoes — slices still too thick, and the potatoes didn’t cook in the time it took the fish to cook.

Led me to the realizations:

  • Use fingerling potatoes. They’re a more appropriate size to represent fish scales.
  • Use the mandoline on a setting that looks ridiculously thin.
  • Cook the potatoes half-way. If potatoes take 20 minutes to cook, and fish takes 10, well… duh.

So today I went to the St Lawrence Market and bought a bunch of fingerling potatoes from Phil’s and a fillet of sockeye salmon from Mike’s.

To start, I scaled the fillet and scored the skin after tossing it into a hot frying pan for 30 seconds (because I realized I hadn’t scored it! — amazingly, it scores much easier after a little heat has been applied to the skin).

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Autumn comes this week; cassoulet time again!

I’ve just put some white kidney beans on to soak. Betty and Donna are coming for dinner on Friday night. Cassoulet, although a one-pot meal when served, takes a while to put together, especially if you start with dry beans. As I’ve written about before, I’m not a fan of the taste of Navy beans, and I find white kidney beans are like the cannellini beans I found very tasty in Italy.

Hmm, there are some interesting ideas in this recipe that I may steal and adapt!

Initial thought: smoked turkey thigh instead of ham hock (less fat, still lots of flavour).

Some of my own grown tomatoes. Maybe add a little of my allotment garden kale to it an hour before serving? That will put some green in the dish.

More to follow later this week.

My Caviar and Sturgeon Feast

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I first met Dr. Cornel Ceapa at the Delicious Food Show two years ago, and that, although Chef Deborah Reid and I didn’t get to go on an expense-paid trip to Saint John, NB, to visit and experience all great things related to Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar, we did get a thank-you for entering, which was a whole bunch of caviar and sturgeon products to enjoy, which I photographed here.

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In search of the most beautiful Caprese Salad

A Caprese Salad is a simple thing: tomato, boccancini, basil, olive oil, and some say balsamic vinegar (some say no).

When it’s fresh, ripe, perfect ingredients, it’s the essence of summer sun and warmth.

 

Probably the best tasting one I’ve had in Toronto lately was at Lil Baci, which uses imported cheese, and it’s very creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, pairs with tomato in an awesome way delicious.

 

Because it has so few ingredients, it’s an amazingly graphic, sometimes architectural, salad. I want to capture it as pure art. I’m not there yet.

 

Here’s a salad that Sandy had when we were in Italy in 2005:

Venice_0063

 Here’s one I photographed a couple of months ago:

Caprese Salad

Here’s my photograph from last week:

Caprese redux

 I’m getting closer, but I’m not there yet. Need more precision in my salad building, either get the whole plate or no background, editing details, clarity, clarity, clarity.

Then I saw a really interesting salad at a restaurant Sandy was eating at in Italy last night.

Hmm. Vertical stack. Hmm. different types of tomatoes.

I think I will continue to work on this.

Playing with my food again

Have you ever had a silkie chicken? I hadn’t.

It’s one of the interesting items that they have over at T&T supermarket that I’ve gawked at, and wondered about (I keep thinking of doing something with duck tongues, too).

When Sandy, Betty & I visited Susan in Roslin,  Betty was reading something about them. About what they looked like, what they taste like. She mused that it was something I should experiment with, and invite them over for dinner to try. It stuck in my head.

I have reverted to not springing new dishes on people — I have to try them first.

This just felt like the week to try a silkie chicken. After bird-watching for a little over 3 hours this morning, I hopped on my bike and rode over to T&T, bought a chicken and a container of garlic cloves (I never do that! I always buy full buds. But I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the chicken when I got home, and wanted to consider silkie on 40 cloves of garlic). Back home, did a little reading on the internet, and decided to put it in the crockpot.

Here’s the video of my experience. Warning: if you are of a delicate constitution or a vegetarian or a vegan, you will not like this. It is recognizably a bird.

Dinner at Tony’s

I was invited to a dinner party at Tony’s, and volunteered to prepare a dish. The theme for the evening was “heavy garlic,” and we talked about what movie to watch… I volunteered to bring my DVD of Ratatouille, and then decided that a garlicky ratatouille would be a good fit for me to bring.

Next, I researched a ratatouille recipe that looks like the one in the movie. The original, as can be seen on some of the DVD extras, is by Thomas Keller. It’s a little involved. I found a simplified version over at Smitten Kitchen‘s blog that looked tasty, so my next step was to hit the St. Lawrence Market to buy ingredients. Yes, I know that this is absolutely the wrong time of year to be making ratatouille, that the vegetables all are being flown in from South America. Most of the time I do cook local. Every once in a while, I go exotic.

I wasn’t quite sure of the quantities to get (hadn’t decided what I was going to bake it in!), so I did end up with one yellow squash and one zucchini unused, and I have a bunch of slices of everything in a ziplock bag in my fridge that are going to become more ratatouille today.

Raw ingredients

Wash, chop the ends, and then run all the veggie tubes through the mandoline. Put each vegetable in a separate bowl, and then make short stacks and arrange them on top of the tomato purée.

Ratatouille (raw) again

Put it in the oven — this was in for about an hour, mostly at 350F.

Baked ratatouille

Delicious dinner with friends. Tony made a Thai peanut chicken and salad (and guacamole, which we had earlier) and Bill and Claire brought a fruit salad and fruit pie.

Dinner @Tony's

 

Chef Challet and interesting things at the Delicious Food Show

Chef Challet is demonstrating the use and versatility of cocoa butter that has been reduced to a particle size. He recommends using it instead of the standard fats we use to cook foods in the kitchen. It has a high flash point: 200C. What’s different about it?

Mycryo. Amazing.

You don’t put it in the frying pan to melt, come up to temperature, and then add the food to be cooked. You  sprinkle it on the raw food (or coat the food, like you would with bread crumbs) and then put the food directly in the frying pan. It sears, it preserves flavour, it reduces cooking time, and is cholesterol free.

Mushrooms sauteed in Mycryo

Sounds interesting, and these mushrooms tasted very good.

Tasty they are.

Chef Challet is coming to Leslieville in the very near future — the old Leonidas chocolate store (gone, alas) is his new venue. He’ll be selling bread items (pain au chocolat, croissants, bread) and prepared food items (boeuf bourguignon, lobster bisque, for example). He expects to be open in about a month — I’ll hit the store when it’s open and post about it!