Pan Fried Trout with Spring Vegetables

pan fried trout

This is not the meal that I had planned to make last night, but I can’t complain. Spontaneity is a good thing, and when Mike called to tell me that he had swung through the Greenmarket at Union Square on his lunch break and picked up a beautiful fresh trout, it would have been crazy not to switch gears.

trout

We both agreed that a simple preparation would be best, so after Mike filleted the trout, I seasoned the filets with a little salt and pepper, gave them a light dusting of flour and then sautéed them in a little butter for just a couple of minutes on each side. I ran my knife through a bit of flat-leaf parsley and some raw almonds and sprinkled the mixture on top of the filets.

fresh favas

My own lunchtime food safari consisted of a trip down to Greenwich Produce in the market at Grand Central, where I had picked up half a pound of new potatoes, some fresh peas and fava beans. Mike halved the potatoes and put them on to boil while I peeled the favas, and when the potatoes were tender I drained them, added a bit of butter, salt and pepper and tossed in the peas and favas. I cooked them briefly then stirred in a handful of chopped fresh tarragon.

This was so simple, and so quick to put together, but there was something really elegant about the way the flavors went together, the freshness of it all – it just tasted like springtime.

Fritto Misto Salad

cornmeal crusted scallops

When I was putting together our grocery order last weekend, I was incredibly pleased to see that local dayboat scallops are in season again. We ate them often last spring and summer, usually either grilled or seared, and they are delicious. For our meal last night, I decided to try something a little different with the scallops.

This salad was inspired by the Fritto Misto we had at Diner recently. I dipped half a pound of scallops and some Meyer lemon slices in a bit of beaten egg, let the excess drip off, and gave them a light coating of fine cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper. I fried them in a bit of olive oil until they were golden, drained them on paper towels, and served them on top of a combination of watercress, flat-leaf parsley and mixed microgreens tossed with a lemon vinaigrette.

The meal could not have been simpler – it came together in just minutes, and the combination of the lemons with the assertive greens and crisp-on-the-outside, buttery-on-the-inside scallops was fabulous. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those go-to meals in the warmer months when we want something fast and light that won’t heat up the kitchen, but will still satisfy.

Wine Pairing: We drank Lieb Family Cellars Reserve Chardonnay, which had delicious butter and citrus notes, as well as some crisp apple-y flavors that complemented the dish beautifully. We liked this just as well with our food as we did when we sipped it solo.

Tomato Risotto with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella

tomato basil mozz risotto

Risotto is probably one of my favorite fallback dishes. It’s easy to prepare, comes together quickly and can be dressed up or down in a multitude of ways. I love playing with flavorings and add-ins for it as the seasons change – I’m anxious for Spring’s first peas and favas to show up at the Greenmarket so I can make one favorite version.

mozzarella di bufala

I had a package of fresh Mozzarella di Bufala that I had purchased for a dish we didn’t end up making, and as I tried to think of a way to use it (other than just eating the whole thing straight, which is quite easy to do), I remembered an episode of Lidia’s Family Table I saw recently where Lidia focused on risotto. The version she made in that episode was enriched with a basic tomato-basil sauce, and little chunks of fresh mozzarella were stirred in at the end so that you’d get little gooey pockets of cheese with each bite. I had, unfortunately, deleted the episode from the DVR already, so I had to go from memory, but what I ended up with was pretty darn tasty.

Tomato Risotto with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
1 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce (I had some homemade sauce on hand, but you can always use a good-quality jarred sauce)
1 pint chicken stock
3-4 cups water
12 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade, plus additional whole leaves for garnish
Fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes (about 1 cup)
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly grated Parmagiano Reggiano

Melt butter into olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add shallot and a pinch of salt and cook a few minutes until softened. Add the rice and stir well to coat with the butter/olive oil mixture. Allow to cook a few minutes more until the rice begins to become translucent. Add wine and stir, allowing to cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in tomato-basil sauce and half of the chicken stock and again allow to cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Continue adding the remaining liquid (stock and water) a cup or so at a time, stirring often, and allowing the liquid to cook into the risotto as described above. You may need more or less liquid than I have listed above, but what you want is for the risotto to be creamy and the texture of the grains of rice to be al dente. Taste often as the rice cooks so you can monitor the texture of the rice, and also adjust for salt.

Once the risotto is creamy and al dente, turn off the heat and gently fold in the basil chiffonade. Add a bit of freshly grated Parmagiano Reggiano and stir that in, then fold in the mozzarella cubes a little bit at a time immediately before serving. Spoon into shallow bowls and garnish with whole basil leaves.

Out of the Kitchen

Mike followed up Friday’s duck and spatzle with two other awesome meals:

veal chop with rosemary butter

He swung through the Greenmarket on Friday and made a stop at Bobolink‘s stall for some cheese. I got a very excited email after he returned to the office – they are offering, for a limited time, veal. Veal raised the right way, able to roam and graze on pasture as nature intended. He wanted to find a simple preparation that wouldn’t overpower the flavor of the veal, and found this recipe for Veal Chops with Rosemary Butter on epicurious. We had it with sauteed swiss chard and garlicky white beans. Delicious.

We made a trip down to Fort Greene on Saturday morning and brought home a beautiful pork loin from Dines Farms, which Mike cooked up on Sunday:

pork alla porchetta

If you know my husband, you know he loves pork, so of course a recipe that calls for stuffing pork with more pork would appeal to him. He picked a real winner in Mario Batali’s Pork Shoulder alla Porchetta – the pork was moist and incredibly flavorful, and the sausage and fennel stuffing is quite possibly addictive. The house still smells amazing.

It’s great to have a husband who likes to cook, but after three nights off, I’m anxious to get back into the kitchen.

Canard au Cidre Duck Leg Confit with Spatzle

canard au cidre duck leg confit

Mike asked to cook Friday’s dinner. He had taken apart a duck to make one last batch of confit before it gets too warm out, and we had a bit of confit to use up from his last batch, so he looked for a preparation using that and the fresh duck breasts he had reserved. What he found was this, and it was amazing. He also made spatzle (hi Ann!) to accompany the dish, and I’m pretty certain I’m going to ask him to make it all the time.

Yann Chave Crozes Hermitage 2005

Wine Pairing: My contribution to the meal was the wine – a bottle of 2005 Yann Chave Crozes Hermitage with delicious spice and pepper notes.

Crab Cakes, Artichoke and White Bean Salad

crab cakes artichoke white bean salad

Mike and I started our last meal at Dressler with a delicious warm artichoke salad, and since that night I have wanted to try to recreate it at home. I love the combination of crab and artichokes, so I thought the salad would make a nice accompaniment to crabcakes. My version of the salad wasn’t quite as good as the original – one of my artichoke bottoms broke in half and the dressing needed a little more zip – but it was good enough that I’ll attempt it again.

Artichoke and White Bean Salad

2 artichokes
2 lemons
1 can cannellini or great northern beans
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup tiny greens

Trim the artichokes down and remove the choke – you want to be left with a little bowl-shaped piece of the bottom/heart for each one. Cut one lemon in half and squeeze it into a pot of water, then throw the halves in. Place the artichokes into the pot, cover and bring to a boil. Cook the artichokes until they are tender, then drain them and set them aside.

Halve and juice the remaining lemon, add salt and pepper and whisk in the olive oil. Drain and rinse the beans and toss them with the dressing. Mound beans on top of the artichokes, top with greens and drizzle a little bit of remaining dressing over the top.

Crab Cakes

1 lb. crab meat
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup shallot, diced
3 eggs
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Several dashes of hot pepper sauce
1/2 to 1 cup panko, plus additional for coating
Oil for frying

Beat eggs in a large bowl, then mix in mustard, Old Bay, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Add crab meat, bell pepper and shallot and gently combine. Add as much panko as you need to the mixture so that it holds together when formed. Form into six cakes and coat the outsides of each with panko, gently pressing it in. Fry cakes in batches in hot oil, then drain on paper towels.

Roasted Black Cod with Garlic, Tomatoes and Fingerlings

roasted black cod and fingerlings

A few months back when I was scouring the internet looking for something different to do with wild black cod filets, I came across a post on Well Fed discussing a recipe for Braised Black Cod with Fingerling Potatoes & Garlic Confit. It looked and sounded absolutely delicious, and in the same way the Well Fed folks departed a bit from Alfred Portale’s original recipe, I also decided to switch things up a bit. The resulting dish was something Mike and I both just love, and since black cod is one of those high omega-3 fish we try to eat often, this meal is in fairly regular rotation at our house. The combination of the silky fish, meltingly tender potatoes, sweet roasted tomatoes and mellow garlic is definitely a winner.

This is a pretty pared down version of the two recipes which inspired it. I place halved fingerling potatoes in a baking dish along with a dozen or so whole peeled garlic cloves, season the potatoes and garlic with kosher salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of Herbes de Provence, then add enough olive oil to completely cover them. The baking dish goes into a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or so, at which time I pull it out, pour off most of the oil, and add half a pint of halved grape or cherry tomatoes. I add a little more salt and a drizzle of the garlic-infused oil, toss everything through, then I place the black cod filets on top of the potato/garlic/tomato mixture, skin side up. Everything goes back into the oven for another 20 minutes or so, but I remove the dish from the oven midway through to flip the filets. To serve, I spoon some of the roasted potatoes, garlic and tomatoes into shallow bowls, place the fish filets on top, and finish the dish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley.

I generally save the garlicky oil that I’ve poured off during cooking and use it to dress a salad to accompany this dish – it’s especially nice combined with fresh lemon juice in place of vinegar, and paired with a peppery green like arugula.