How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Whaleboater's Salmon

Rowing Whaling City
One of the many advantages of my whaleboat hobby is that it brings me close to the New Bedford seafood markets on a regular basis, and there are few places in North America better for finding seafood. So after filling in with the Sireens on a crisp, beautiful morning, I headed over to Kyler's Catch, where I had picked up some delicious cod just a couple of days ago.

This time my mission was salmon, and though no wild salmon were on offer today, the organic farm-raised was offered at a good price, and was billed as "fishy" -- which is what I think fish should be!

We had decided to modify a rather complicated salmon recipe from Cod and Country, since we did not have the time or inclination to brine and smoke the salmon in the way Barton Seaver suggests. That will be a summer project, I promise!

Rather, we transformed the salad recipe he calls "Smoked Salmon Panzanella with Feta, Dill, and Grapes" into something we might call "Sweet Creamy Broiled Salmon with Cool Toppings."

Not extremely photogenic, but nicer than most. It looked better without the toppings, but certainly tasted better with them!
Turn to page 215 in Seavey's book (which I hope you will purchase if you love seafood and care about the sea) to learn what he would do with some wild-caught salmon and a couple days to prepare it. What we did was quite simple. I brushed oil onto a cookie sheet and put it in the oven (already at 350 because Pam was making her amazing cornbread) for a few minutes to warm it. Then I placed the salmon fillet -- skin-side down on the hot pan, and brushed oil onto the top. I then sprinkled it liberally with dill weed (the fresh dill suggested by Seaver would probably have been even better).

As the fish cooked for ten minutes, I whisked together equal amounts of plain yogurt, orange juice, and olive oil, along with just a smidge of salt. After 10 minutes the fish looked almost done, so I finished it by rebrushing the oil and then placing it under the broiler for 3 minutes. I did not char it -- just gave it a very nice texture. At our plates, we placed seedless grapes (cut in half lengthwise) on top of the fish, spooned the yogurt mixture over it, and sprinkled with crumbled feta.

In addition to the hot corn bread, Pam steamed some organic green beans that she had blanched and frozen during last autumn's harvest from our CSA at the Colchester Neighborhood Farm.

Paired with a rather ordinary red table wine, this was a delicious land-and-sea meal.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

There's No Q in Pi

As we recently wrote on Pi Day, we purchased a couple of cook books -- including a Pie Cook Book -- but we did not make any pi. The closest we came was a local pizza pi. We also promised to follow up soon, and today we came through.

PI DAY PURCHASE --
Order now for 3-14-15
Breakfast Pie with a Hashbrown Crust was actually on the family menu for last night, but a college tour of a certain very hilly campus had us returning home with groceries with too little time or energy to tackle this dish. And dish is an important word here -- quite a few were used, including almost all of our indispensable cast-iron skillets.

Knowing that our daughter does not like quiche, we maintained author Teeny Lamothe's ruse of calling this breakfast pie as we answered the repeated query, "what's for dinner?"

This pi begins with hashbrowns. I shredded a half dozen russet potatoes, squeezed out the excess moisture, tossed with salt, pepper, and rosemary. I then cooked them on hot oil on a hot skillet. I resisted the urge to stir as they cooked; rather I came close to Lamothe's standard of browning on one side and then turning (that is, scraping). I then pressed this mixture into a large, skillet in which I had heated some oil (good thing olive oil is good for us).

Meanwhile, I had cooked some leeks (which Pam had lovingly thawed and rinsed from last year's farm box) and mushrooms in butter (good thing butter is good for ... oh, wait ...), along with a bit more pepper. Also meanwhile, I whisked together a half dozen eggs and a cup of cream (good thing ...) and a half cup of shredded Parmesan. Then I placed the vegetables in the potato crust, topped with another half cup of Parm, and carefully poured over the egg mixture.

I placed all of this in a pre-heated oven, and convected at 350 for 30 minutes. The results?

"Is this quiche?" were the first skeptical words from our darling daughter as she eyed what was obviously a form of quiche on her plate. "I had a big lunch," were her next words. Nonetheless, she ate quite a sizeable portion of what we all agreed was ...
pretty good pi.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Calle to Mesa

Image from the Projects Abroad blog, which has a recipe for gorditas.
For this post, we are skipping over the part where a cookbook sits on our shelf for months or years before we actually use it. This evening's Hayes-Boh family dinner comes from a book that just entered the house Friday, and has not even found a spot on the shelf yet.

While we were in Boston's western suburbs on Friday, we decided to visit Walden Pond and have lunch in the center of Concord. As we parked the car, we noticed these cookbooks in the window of the Concord Bookshop. It being Pi Day, we could not resist having a look. We had already decided to wimp out and have pizza pi for dinner, so buying a pi book would be our feeble nod to the occasion.

Inside we found a wonderful book store, certainly the largest independent book store I've seen in ages, and larger than most chain stores. If the town of Concord were not so stingy with parking (60-minute maximum), we might have lingered longer than we did. But we did stay long enough to find a book each. Pam -- the real  enthusiast -- found Teeny's Tour of Pie, which is certain to make its Nueva Receta debut in the near future.

I was drawn to Latin American Street Food, by Sandra A. Gutierrez, the subtitle of which is practically a geography lesson: The Best Flavors of Markets, Beaches, and Roadside Stands from Mexico to Argentina. Gutierrez is also the author of The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South -- an other geography essay in the making.

Image: Trip Advisor, since I don't have any photos from my 1985 visit.
Any reference to street food always brings three memories to mind. The first is during my very first trip to Latin America, my friend Mike and I ventured no further than the beach town of Ensenada, south of Tijuana, with very little money in our pockets. I remember spending the equivalent of 4 cents each for fish tacos from the street -- fried fish with shredded lettuce and mayonnaise, serve in the summer sun. Having survived that -- along with water from a standpipe right on the beach -- foreshadowed my years of travel in Latin America with minimal gastric difficulties. The other memories are of vendors in Puebla Mexico a few years later, boarding city buses with little charcoal grills -- full of red-hot coals -- as they roamed the downtown looking for the best places to set up shop, and of plastic sleeves offered on every corner in Puebla and Cholula, about a foot long, full of chili-covered peanuts and topped with half a lime. Squeezing lime juice on street food, we learned, was like magic for keeping it safe. Or so we chose to believe.

With all that in mind, it seems strange to make street food in a New England kitchen in the winter, but that is what we are doing. We let our daughter browse the book, and she quickly identified Aguachile de Camarones, a Sinaloan dish that Gutierrez names Kick-in-the-Pants-Spicy Shrimp in Chile-Lime Dressing. The title is a whole list of reasons for this to appear on Mesa Hayes-Boh.

The recipe starts with instructions to cook and then cool shrimp, but we always keep cooked, frozen shrimp on hand, so I thawed a pound of shrimp in water and then drained it thoroughly. In a blender I placed 3 finely chopped and seeded serrano chiles (but they were New England grocery-store serranos, so they had very little effect), close to a cup of cilantro, a couple of cloves of garlic (frozen from last autumn's farm box), a shallot we had on hand (the recipe calls for a small red onion), and a cup of lime juice. The recipe calls for fresh lime juice, but this is March in Massachusetts, not September in Sinaloa, so that would have cost a fortune. I compromised by squeezing three limes (with our citrus press) and topping up a cup with bottled juice.

I blended these until very smooth, to make a dressing is the aguachile in the title of the dish -- chile water. Gutierrez discusses the relationship of this dish to ceviche, and the varying degrees to which the seafood can be blanched, boiled, or cured by the citric acid. Because the dish is normally very spicy, Gutierrez suggests serving it with avocados. Because avocados decay quickly, she suggests dowsing them in lime juice (cures everything; see above). I did exactly this, and even though the dish was not very spicy, it was a good pairing. We also had tortilla chips as suggested in the book and quesadillas, just because.

Diego and I
Image: PBS
The combination of foods was very satisfying and delicious. We had a lot more dressing than we needed, so I will be experimenting with its use on some kind of white fish later in the week (we are out of shrimp).

This meal, of course, was begging to be paired with some sort of beer, and we tried a second opening of a special Scottish ale I recently concocted. I described it in some detail in the Heritage Chili post last month, but did not open it until about 10 days ago; it was not fully developed at that time, and I was a bit worried. But when Pam opened it this evening I could tell all was well, and it turned out to be quite a nice ale, and a good accompaniment, not as appropriate at Negra Modelo, but at least as delicious.

The meal was a hit, and to turn this into a complete "Mexican Party with My Parents" -- as our daughter called it -- we watched Frida together and had some Mexican hot chocolate at intermission.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Imifino

This recipe made from mixed greens and cornmeal came from out Extending the Table cookbook. James was wary of it from the get go, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Big mistake.

I started with the greens from our CSA farm box that I'd frozen over the summer. I put them in boiling water along with some garlic scrape (also frozen over the summer), and a chopped onion. Then I added 1.5 c. of cornmeal and let it cook for 10 minutes. At this point I had a big wad of green and yellow mush. I added a some more water, and some garlic salt, and left the pan on low heat to cook for 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes I added two eggs to the top of the mush, hoping to add some protein, and some flavor. I failed at the latter. When I served this it was still just a big green and yellow wad, but now each of us had an cooked egg on top of our servings. Although I added more garlic salt, and some pepper this was simply bland. The texture was also too much for James, who did not even finish his serving. Unfortunately, there are plenty of leftovers. Looks like it is up to me to eat them over the next two days. Perhaps I will try some cheese on top.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Foursquare Comfort Food

She was Italian; this dish is not.
This is rather a belated post, and I'm recognizing the advantages of blogging about food while the memories are fresh. Still, I'd like to share a new (to us) recipe I prepared more than a week ago.

True to the original intent of this blog project, I went took a book from our shelf and searched it for a new recipe. We have made such great use of Jane Brody's Good Food Book, perhaps the first cook book we purchased together. We are actually on our second copy, having worn out the first. Readers of this blog will know we make frequent use of it, but at 700 pages, we may never complete more than a tithe of its treasures.

For some reason, I was in the mood for pasta, but had no other criteria for my search than the use some of the spaghetti we already had in our cupboard. The index led me to Turkey Tetrazzini on page 363. The name was vaguely familiar, and since Brody highlights four main ingredients -- sphaghetti, turkey, cheese, and milk -- I assumed that the name had something to do with the number four, as in Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4).

Although the word "leftover" is used twice in Brody's short introduction, I actually went shopping for this dish, getting some thick slices of turkey from the deli counter. I did use a frozen green pepper we already had on hand.

I started by sauteing a half pound of mushrooms in butter,  then added a bit of flour and pepper (skipping the called-for salt) I stirred in two cups of milk and then added Worcestershire sauce (giving the dish an odd greyness). After this was thickened, I added a half cup of shredded Cheddar and a diced pepper (frozen from our farmbox harvest last year), and scallions. Into a casserole dish prepared with a bit of olive oil, I stirred in a half pound of diced turkey and half pound of spaghetti, which I had cooked while preparing the rest. I topped this with a mixture of Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. This I convected at 350 until evenly browned on top.

Thankfully, this dish has nothing to do with the toxic compound, and in fact is quite yummy. The name is an homage to the Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini, and I think its main advantage is that it lends an exotic air to what is a very mainstream suburban dish. So mainstream, in fact, that I instantly declared it fit for any kind of suburban club or senior-center gathering.

What I realized after the fact is that I might be the first person ever to go shopping for ingredients to make this dish. According to the same NPR story on musical leftovers from which I learned of the opera connection, I learned that turkey tetrazzini is commonly associated  with Thanksgiving leftovers, and this makes a great deal of sense. The online version of the story includes a recipe that sounds a little more interesting, with a bit of dry sherry (I should have thought of that) and a couple of spices.

A quick image search for turkey tetrazzini validates my decision not to post a photo. This is definitely a dish that is more appetizing in person than it is in a photograph!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Taco Salad Night

What to do for a mid-week dinner with new friends that will be simple yet healthy and tasty? Taco salad! We are a bit out of season, so all of the produce was from the grocery store, but still, this was a fun meal that satisfied both the vegetarian and carnivorous diners.

(No photo here. As we have mentioned, food photography is a profession, and some delicious foods -- even if attractive in person -- look terrible in photos. A quick image search on Google suggests that even professionals cannot make taco salad photogenic. Glad we did not try.)

Taco salad a la Hayes-Boh offers a variety of textures and colors, and lets each diner choose which ingredients to include, and how much of each! Here is what we had, starting from the bottom (according to my salad-building strategy; how exactly to build a taco salad is a somewhat personal decision).

  • Chips, crunched on the plate -- early rounds Xoxitl chips brought by our guests, later rounds Santitas $2 Only. I think the Santitas are better for dipping heavy salsas, and the Xoxitls better for these salads.
  • Vegetarian refried beans, heated in an indispensible cast-iron skillet
  • Sliced mushrooms, sauteed in a mix of olive oil and truffle oil; when the mushrooms were well-cooked, I poured a healthy dose of mezcal (tequila) into the pan, and let it boil off.
  • Chicken breasts: boiled, then shredded with two forks, then browned in olive oil and heavily seasoned with chili powder. Chicken thighs would be better, but we had the breasts on hand, and they worked well.
  • Shredded Cabot cheeses -- mostly Monterrey Jack with a little sharp cheddar.
  • Green-leaf lettuce, washed and torn
  • Hydroponic tomatoes, chilled and diced
  • Freshly made pico de gallo, brought by our guests
  • Freshly made guacamole, also brought by our guests
  • Plain yogurt
  • Tabasco sauce

We are also between home-brew batches, so instead of home-brewed IPA this was served with Mayflower Pale Ale (local), Negra Modelo (Mexican), and Barolo (home-vinted). All of these pairings worked very well.

Dessert was a bit of good vanilla ice cream. Some of us topped it with Kahlua, others with blackberry-ginger balsamic from L.O.V.E., our favorite emporium.

Lagniappe

Pam made some nice omelettes with the leftover chicken this morning; along with some Oromia coffee, it sustained us through a chilly morning of signature-gathering for her campaign to be elected as a library trustee.