I used to eat a lot of fish tacos when I lived in Oakland. My friends lived up in a much less dangerous neighborhood, so we’d get together to play basketball and then get tacos or burritos at one or another of our favorite spots nearby. When I moved to Chicago a year later, I was delighted at all the Mexican food in my new neighborhood but I never had a fish taco as good as the ones in California.
Month: June 2012
This Terry Winters-looking cluster of clusters was actually the inspiration for dinner, unlikely though that sounds when you consider that dinner was a rather Baroque heap of decadence. To witness the lavish feast and learn what these things are, see below.
The induction burner I bought to cook on during the kitchen renovation a while back is another great technology for summer cooking, since it doesn’t give off any heat apart from the food and it’s highly portable. The presence of this device in our house has also meant regular clamoring by the resident small person for shabu-shabu since he loves interactive eating. The garden currently offers very many things one would want to dunk in hot broth, so with some meat from the freezer, some noodles from the cupboard, and a quick stock from random leftover bones we were in business.
Yesterday Mary came for a visit (and there’s some good news brewing on that front) so I roused myself from a humid torpor and wrangled a few things in the kitchen so we would have substantial yet heat-appropriate fare to buttress ourselves against all the wine she carries around with her everywhere. It was not a day for much cooking, so the sous vide rig seemed like a good choice; it gives off little heat and can be ignored for hours on end. It’s a brilliant way to prepare food on sweltering days. Plus, it’s been ages since I did a charcuterie post, so here you go.
One of the very best ways to feature choice morsels from the garden is on a tangy sourdough crust. I used my standard recipe, but with dried yeast added and a good hard kneading since it was a same-day affair. The one above had asparagus, garlic scapes, and bacon, which I sautéed well before topping it.
The garden inspires. Besides its inherent goodness–the exercise of maintaining it, the healthfulness and flavor of what comes out of it, the incredible multi-level teaching tool it offers for parents–at the end of the day (often quite literally) it’s just the act of working in it and seeing what’s coming in, what’s peaking, and what’s going out that gives me the most ideas for immediate meals and more ambitious longer-term projects. One of the great beauties of growing food is that even things well before or past their prime can be used to great effect to flavor, garnish, or otherwise complete a meal. This dinner represented a good example of me just listening to the garden and letting the fridge and pantry do the rest.
The duck sushi I wrote about a few days ago used only one of the two halves of the breast. The other half became a little experiment; I took it, raw and unseasoned, and dry-aged it for a week in the fridge to see what effect this would have on the flavor and texture. I just put it on a little metal rack over a plate so the air could get to all sides of it and left it alone. This was inspired by a post of Shola’s where he took two carcasses and let them age for 60 days. I figured that for one measly breast a week would be enough to see a significant change, and besides there was dinner that needed making and I couldn’t keep my hands off it any longer.
I’ve made seared salmon on sweet potato purée countless times, and variations on that combination have appeared here on a regular basis. There’s not much more to say about it; it’s one of our regular dinners when wild Alaskan salmon is available. I’m posting this to talk briefly about the sauce and condiment, since they made an ordinary plate of food into something pretty damned exciting.
This is something I came up with years ago, but haven’t made in a while. Since I found a couple of duck breasts in the freezer section of a nearby market that occasionally has them, I took it as a sign to make this dish again; it’s an excellent way to serve meat in warmer weather since it’s room temperature and not at all heavy. And there’s much fun to be had with sauces, given duck’s affinity for fruit of all kinds.