Monthly Archives: February 2015

Corn, Bell Pepper, and Avocado Relish

We had a warm spell about a week or so ago, and I spotted some good-looking wild King Salmon at Bristol Farms. Cooking fish outside on the grill is my method of choice. It’s an easy clean up, and you leave that unwelcome fishy smell outside where it belongs. Yes, fresh fish should smell like the ocean and not fishy, but even when it smells like it just hopped into your boat, there’s an unpleasant odor that lingers long after cooking. I’m definitely NOT a fan. Then again, maybe I just suffer from a hypersensitive schnoz.

I digress. Back to the recipe. I made an uncomplicated corn and bell pepper relish. It seemed like just the thing to serve alongside the simply grilled salmon. It looks like it will be a party in your mouth, and the flavors complement the fish. An added bonus is that it’s super healthy, too. A win win.

Here’s what you’ll need for the sweet corn and bell pepper relish (enough for 3-4 pieces of fish, chicken, or protein of choice)-

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1-cup sweet corn

1 red bell pepper, diced small

Juice from 1 lime

1 avocado, diced

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 tbsp. ghee

1 generous tbsp. of quality extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

¾ tsp. of kosher salt

¼ tsp. of freshly ground pepper

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Melt ghee in a skillet. Add your pepper and corn kernels. Slowly bring up the heat and put a lid over the top. Some kernels will pop as they char and you don’t want them jumping ship. Shake your skillet every now and again. Shut off the burner and remove the lid to check for charring. Once sufficiently charred to your liking, add to a medium sized mixing bowl to cool.

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Add lemon juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. You can add more salt and pepper to taste. We are careful with our sodium intake. Mix.

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Add diced avocado and mix again.

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Drizzle a generous tbsp. of EVOO over the relish.

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Spoon the relish over your protein of choice, which happened to be salmon. I also sprinkled over some Marcona almonds for a crunch.

Eat well!

April

“Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” – Joan Didion

 

Chicken and Apricot Stew

I’ve been listening to friends and family Back East grumbling (and rightfully so, I might add) about the snowpocalpyse they’ve been dealing with and, believe it or not, it’s made me wax nostalgic for a powerful blizzard and a hearty winter stew. The kind of stew best enjoyed after an afternoon of shoveling, skiing, snowman building, or ice-skating. I’ve been wishing that I were there to gripe and shovel alongside them in some misguided solidarity. Granted, the shoveling does seems unceasing these days, but still. Maybe it’s due to the fond memories I have of the blizzard of ‘78, or maybe I’m suffering from some form of amnesia? They’d probably like to hit me square in the face with a well compacted ice ball to knock me back to reality, but I can’t help it. I miss it.

Enough about the snow, let’s get back to the stew. I recently discovered a new pre-made concoction at Whole Foods: Gochujang. Gochujang’s a Korean condiment made with fermented red chili, soybeans, glutinous rice, and salt. The Gochujang that I found in Whole Foods has garlic, ginger, and sesame as its primary ingredients. I decided to put an exotic spin on a chicken stew and use this new condiment as part of the foundation of flavors. Here’s what you’ll need

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Preheat the oven to 250-degrees

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks

3.5 oz. dried and chopped apricots

1 can of coconut milk (not lite)

1 onion, diced small

2 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced (I wanted the zip of fresh ginger in addition to the fermented stuff)

2 tbsp. Gochujang 03 – Garlic

1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon

2 tbsp. ghee

2 tsp. of kosher salt

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp. fish sauce

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Add ghee to braising pan and heat until you see a shimmer. Add apricots and onion cook until soft. Next add ginger, cinnamon, Gochujang, salt, and pepper to the pan. Stir until fragrant.

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Pour the coconut milk and the fish sauce to the pan. Mix.

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Add chicken chunks to pan, mix, and add lid.

Cook for 2 hours and then remove the lid. Lower the temperature to 225-degrees and remove the lid. Cook for another hour. There will be some evaporation and browning without the lid.

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Add salt and pepper to taste. In the photo you can see that I served the dish with blanched haricot vert.

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I served the stew over basmati rice and garnished it with fresh chopped parsley and roasted peanuts. The combination of flavors: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy went very well over the nutty flavor of basmati. Enjoy!

Eat well,

April

“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”- Markus Zuzak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghee

A reader of last week’s column reached out and inquired about ghee. I had incorrectly assumed that ghee is an item that everyone’s familiar with, which was very silly of me. After answering her query, I realized that I should probably provide you all with more information about ghee and show you how to make a batch of liquid gold in your own kitchen, too. It’s super easy. But before we get to the business of making ghee, let’s go over some interesting info on the stuff.

Due to the removal of their milk solids, ghee and clarified butter have a higher smoke point than regular butter, which makes them both ideal for searing fish and meat. Ghee is cooked longer than clarified butter, and it’s slowly simmered until all of the moisture has evaporated and the milk solids have separated and caramelized. Due to the caramelization of the milk solids, the flavor profile is also different than clarified butter. It has a nuttier flavor that’s absent in regular clarified butter.

Ghee is heavily used in Pakistani, Indian, Afghani, and Nepali, cuisines. It’s also used in Hindi religious ceremonies and Hindi traditional medicine.

There are a plethora of excellent reasons to cook with ghee made from grass-fed cows. Here are just a few:

Ghee is rich in oil soluble vitamins A and E.

Ghee doesn’t spoil easily, therefore, does not require refrigeration.

Food cooked in ghee acquires a buttery, nutty taste.

All of the lactose has been removed from ghee, so those who are lactose intolerant can also enjoy it.

Ghee, made from grass-fed cow milk, is rich in K2 and CLA (antioxidants with anti-viral properties.

Now, to the business of making ghee. Here’s what you’ll need for a small batch-

  • 8 oz. block of unsalted grass-fed cow butter

A skillet with sloping sides

Cheesecloth

A fine mesh strainer (I used a fine mesh Chinois, a.k.a. China Cap strainer)

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Place your block of butter into the skillet.

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Place your burner on medium and melt.

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Bring the melted butter to a slow simmer. Bubbles will form and then it will begin to foam. Once you see the milk solids turn golden brown (about 10 minutes after the melted butter begins to bubble), remove the pan from the heat.

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Insert a triple layer of cheesecloth into the strainer. Place the strainer over a clean bowl.

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Pour the butter through the strainer. You will catch the milk solids in the cheesecloth.

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The image above shows the milk solids left behind in the skillet.

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The finished product is quite beautiful. Liquid gold. It will set up once it has cooled.

Eat well!

April

Happy Valentine’s Day, R – “You are the butter to my bread, and the breath to my life.” –Julia Child