ITP Eating Club – 21 September 2008

I hosted the first ITP Eating Club event last night.  The theme was pintxos (a Basque genre of tapas) featuring some local ingredients and international flavors.  I was busy with the food prep and playing host for most of the event, so I didn’t take many pictures, but you can check out Cameron’s blog post and Derek’s photos.  We also live streamed the party from the webcam on my MacBookPro.  If you are super bored, you can watch the video of the party (we didn’t record audio) on my Blip.tv account.  Recipes after the jump.

Above: Liesje & Meredith sample the spread.  Below: Cameron and LS in the kitchen.  Photos by Derek Chung

Continue reading ITP Eating Club – 21 September 2008

Seared Scallops – Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salad – Miso-Lemon Dressing

I think my mind is still in California, or at least my palate.  Maybe it’s this warm sunny weather we have been having.  The theme of this meal is Japanese-meets-Mexican-in-California.  In any case, this was a fantastic dinner for a warm night.

First make the corn mixture: Cut the kernels off a couple ears of fresh sweet corn.  Sauté them up in some olive oil with some chopped onions, bell peppers and/or chili peppers.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Let cool.  Or do this in advance and have it ready in the fridge.

Miso-Lemon Dressing: Whisk together 1 teaspoon of light miso, 1/2 teaspoon of honey, juice of one lemon, and about 1.5-2 teaspoons of olive oil.  Season to taste.

Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salad: Mix together some of the cooled corn mixture with some chopped up cherry/plum tomatoes, half of an avocado cut into chunks, some scallion, and a handful of cilantro (fresh coriander).  Add some of the miso-lemon dressing and mix.

Scallops: Choose “dry” diver scallops, which means that they have not been soaked in a phosphate solution that bulks them up.  Also, they are kinder on our oceans than scallops that are caught with chains dragged across the ocean floor.

Rinse the scallops, and dry thoroughly with paper towels.  Season and sear on both sides until medium-rare.

Assembly: Put some of the salad mixture on a plate.  Top with some seared scallops.  Put some of the remaining dressing on top of the scallops.  That’s it!

Variation on a theme: Corn, Plum Tomato and Gruyère Omelette

Take some of the corn mixture, add some cherry/plum tomato slices, green onion and gruyère cheese.  Toss it all in an omelette.  The corn mixture also works great by itself as a side dish.

Saturday Brunch: Scrambled Eggs Curry

Eggs and curry.  Two of my favorite things combined in one dish for a Saturday at home brunch treat.  This came out a bit soupier than regular scrambled eggs, with the eggs forming an über-rich curry-scented “sauce.”  Perfect for dipping bread into.  This recipe could easily feed two people, but I was hungry and had nobody to share with, so I ate the whole thing.

I was thinking of trying this again some other time and adding a couple handfuls of lump crab meat in at the very end to create a luxurious crab and egg curry that would absolutely be begging for some champagne to wash it all down.  This would go great with some anchovies or smoked mackerel thrown in too.  Well, enough speculation, here is the basic recipe.  If you get around to trying it with crab before me, let me know.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 really small onion or a shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon each of chopped red bell pepper and mild fresh chili pepper
  • Half teaspoon of curry powder (I make my own from whole spices that I mix, roast and grind, but store-bought should work just fine)
  • 1 handful of baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 handful of plum/cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 eggs, beaten with juice of half a lemon
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, torn up for garnish

Instructions:

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat.  Sauté the ginger, garlic, onion, peppers and curry powder until the onions are translucent.  Season with some salt.

Add the bok choy, tomatoes and green onions and sauté until softened.  Turn the heat down to low.  Add in the eggs and stir until partially set.  Just remember, this is more of an eggy curry sauce than firm curds of scrambled eggs.

And for dessert, a fruit plate:

This was my first time trying a donut peach, which is like a normal peach, but smaller and looks like a donut.  I noticed a slightly more intense peachiness in the flavor too.

Bluefish Curry

Bluefish Curry

This dinner is a improvisation that I put together last night (Saturday, 9 August 2008). I would characterize this meal as Mediterranean-meets-Malay-in-a-Manhattan-love-affair. Full of flavor, yet light enough for a balmy late-summer weekend evening.

The locally-caught wild bluefish and the veggies are from FreshDirect, while the seasonings come from my eclectic pantry of global flavors and some extras from my last WholeFoods excursion. You will need a mortar and pestle for this project. I got mine I guess you could also use a food processor, but I prefer the meditative tactile quality of the mortar and pestle. Besides, a mortar and pestle is much easier to clean than a food processor and is a good form of stress relief and DIY aromatherapy.

Ingredients and Prep

Sauce

  1. Six cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
  2. A two-inch segment of ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
  3. One-third cup of unsweetened dried coconut
  4. Five to six anchovy fillets in oil, along with about one tablespoon of the oil
  5. Two teaspoons of Sriracha hot sauce, or to taste (or substitute with fresh chili peppers if you have them, but in that case, add more sugar)
  6. Half teaspoon of brown sugar
  7. One teaspoon of tamarind concentrate (AKA tamarind paste
  8. One and a half teaspoons of turmeric powder
  9. Two-thirds cup of boiling water
  10. Juice of one lime
  11. Salt & pepper to taste

Vegetables and Herbs

  1. One medium zucchini (courgette), cut into bite-sized half moons
  2. Two handfuls of grape (or cherry) tomatoes, halved
  3. Four green onions (scallions), cut diagonally into 1.5 inch (4 cm) segments
  4. One handful of fresh basil
  5. Four to six kaffir lime leaves, cut into a chiffonade

Two wild bluefish fillets (10-12 ounces/280-340 grams each, substitute any firm, oily fish), scaled, deboned and rinsed in cold water and dried with paper towels

Cilantro (fresh coriander) to garnish

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit (220 Celsius).

Bash up the garlic and ginger in a mortar and pestle. Add the coconut and bash up some more. Add sauce ingredients 4 to 8 one by one and mix thoroughly. You might need a spoon or a spatula to help you out at this point. Add the boiling water and half of the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt since the anchovies are already salty. Mix to incorporate.

Just barely coat the bottom of a 10 x 10 inch casserole or baking dish with some of the sauce mixture.  Put the bluefish fillets into the baking dish skin-side down.  In a large bowl, mix together the remaining sauce mixture and the vegetables and herbs.  Spread this mixture on top of the bluefish fillets.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Serve with rice and some simply sauteéd greens. In the picture above, I have mixed-grain rice and bok choy and carrots sauteéd with garlic, ginger, and a little dried chili pepper.

Drink Paring

I had some Varanda do Conde, a Portuguese vinho verde with this meal. I nice tart rosé or a nice cold lager would work too.
Varanda do Conde

Arugula, Walnut, Blue Cheese & Fig Preserve Salad

This salad is one of my current obsessions. I just can’t get enough of this stuff. It’s a real orgy of flavors, with tangy, creamy blue cheese gettin’ it on with the nutty walnuts, peppery arugula, sweet fig preserves and crunchy croûtons. (Recipe below)

Arugula, Walnut, Blue Cheese & Fig Preserve Salad

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. Two handfuls of a baguette or other crusty bread cut into 1-inch cubes (This is a great way of using up your day-old leftover bread)
  2. One handful of raw walnut halves
  3. One clove of garlic, finely chopped
  4. Three or four handfuls of arugula, washed and thoroughly dried
  5. One or two green onions, thinly sliced
  6. One handful of blue cheese, crumbled, or cut into little cubes
  7. Extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper to taste
  8. Fig preserves (I used the sun-dried fig jam preserve from Mymouné)

Instructions:

  1. Put the bread cubes, walnuts and garlic in a mixing bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix in some olive oil to lightly coat the bread and walnuts.
  2. Transfer the mixture to an oven-proof baking dish and bake in a 425 degree F oven (220 Celsius) for 10 minutes, or until the garlic is cooked through and the bread is crunchy. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Mix together ingredients 4 to 6 in a bowl. Add the bread and walnut mixture. Season with a bit more salt and pepper, and dress with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss.
  4. Transfer the salad to a plate and top with some dollops of fig preserve. Serve immediately