Homegrown Food Challenge—Day 2

October 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

One day down in the Homegrown Food Challenge, and it went quite well. A local eatery and leftovers – we eased into it. Nothing wrong with that. Day 2, as I promised, was much more exciting.

Chopping a head off a fish-type of exciting.

But, alas, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s begin at the beginning.

DAY 2

Breakfast:

More coffee from our favorite local coffee roaster, Flat Black Coffee Company, with the Maine’s Own Organic Milk.

More Stonyfield plain yogurt with half a local apple, Topsfield-produced honey and an Effie’s Oatcake crumbled on top. Hey, they’re a local company. It counts. And I’m inspired to make my own oatcakes now.

Lunch:

A big ol’ salad using:

  • lettuce and red pepper from the farmers market
  • a homegrown carrot
  • a local apple
  • a boiled egg – the eggs are local
  • homemade salad dressing – just something I whipped up, no biggie
  • my very own and awesomely tasty pickled beets. That’s right, pickled beets on a salad. It was awesome.
  • some shavings from a homegrown head of red cabbage

Filling and tasty. I washed that down with some home brewed iced tea.

Jennifer had the rest of the leftover pasta and a local apple.

Dinner:

This is where the fish head comes in. Or I should say, where the fish head comes off. Realizing there was way too much to say about last night’s dinner, I posted about the fish and side dish separately. (Click on the lick to check out the dish.) On the menu:

Broiled bluefish with smoky mayo and roasted romanesco

  • Cape Ann-caught broiled bluefish with a homemade smoky mayo
  • Roasted romanesco
  • A glass of white wine. Okay, okay, it was Tohu from New Zealand. BUT, it had been opened a few days earlier ans was in the fridge. That counts as a leftover, right?
  • I may or may not have had a handful (or two) of kettle corn purchased at the Topsfield Fair. It was popped on site! That’s local, right?

Day 3 is already two-thirds complete, and I’m happy to say we are both still on track with this Challenge. Tonight’s dinner is just an hour away. Grilled pizza is always a fun thing to make.

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Broiled Bluefish with Smoky Mayo

October 12, 2011 § 4 Comments

Fish have heads.

That’s right. Fish aren’t just big slabs of fillets that motor around on their own in the ocean or in a river. They have heads. And tails, too. And fins. They even have guts. All of that—plus the nice fishy flesh—constitutes a whole fish.

And that’s what we signed up for when we bought a 5-week share in the Cape Ann Fresh Catch Community-Supported Fisheries (CSF). Whole fish one week, fillets the next.

Yesterday was our first fish pick-up.

“You know you’re getting a whole bluefish today, right?” said the pleasant assistant when I walked into the CSF pick-up location and proudly announcing this was my first-ever fish delivery.

“Yup, a whole fish.”

“You know how to fillet a whole fish?”

“Nope, but I’m gonna learn today, I guess.”

whole bluefish

Meet Mr. Bluefish

Among the millions of dogs-learning-to-talk YouTube videos and clips of hormone-laden boys throwing themselves off suburban rooftops into holly-filled foundation plantings, there are videos that are quite instructional. A quick search for “how to fillet a bluefish” netted me two great videos by none other than Tony Maws, chef over at the Craigie Street Bistro in Cambridge.

Wanna learn how to fillet a bluefish? Check out Tony’s Part 1 and Part 2. He’s a great instructor—my fillets looked pretty nearly smooth for a first-timer. Tony, I did good!

headless bluefish

Compare this photo to the one above: Notice how many more tools I have? An 8-in. chef’s knife, a rubber mallet, kitchen shears. Not kidding. And that was just to remove the head.

Bluefish fillets

In the end, I had two nice 1.5-ish pound bluefish fillets and …

Bluefish heads

… some fish heads, tails and an intact spine and bones. Those were chucked into the freezer for a future turn in a stock pot. Also put in the freezer was one whole fillet. The other fillet was quartered, and two of those slabs were stored in the fridge. The other two were headed for the dinner table.

Finally, getting on with dinner …

For those paying attention, this meal falls into Day 2 of our Homegrown Food Challenge, and we’re doing our best to keep the ingredients either homegrown or locally sourced. The fish was locally sourced: check. The mayo? Jennifer’s a mayo whipper-upper using fresh ingredients. So yes, if it didn’t come out of a Hellman’s jar, this is locally made and sourced. And boy, does she make a yummy mayo.

Smoky Mayo

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. good-quality mustard
  • 3/4 cup canola or veg oil (not a flavored or savory oil like olive)
  • 2 tsp. smoked Hungarian paprika
  • salt, pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

-In a blender or food processor, add the egg yolk and super-slowly (Jennifer’s exact words) drizzle in the oil. Super. Slowly. It’ll start to thicken and look mayo-ey. That’s a good thing. Want it thick? Less oil. Thin? More oil.

-Add in paprika and give it a whir. Taste and add in salt and pepper to your liking. Then add in the lemon juice and whir some more.

homemade smoky mayo

Smoky mayo

This’ll give you WAY more mayo than you’ll need for two or even four individual fillets. Have fun with the rest of it! We’re thinking grilled eggplant paninnis. Refrigerate and use within two to three days.

Broiled Bluefish with Smoky Mayo
Serves 2

  • 2 6 oz. Bluefish fillets
  • 2-3 Tbs. smoky mayo (recipe above)

-Place your oven’s top rack under the broiler and set your oven on broil. Let that heat up good and hot.

-Meanwhile, place the bluefish fillets in an ovenproof baking dish, skin side down. Spread 1 to 1.5 Tbs. smoky mayo on each fillet. I’d even do a little more than that. Just give the fillet a nice, thick coating of mayo.

-When the broiler is ready to go, place the fillets under the heat—7 minutes should do it. But, keep an eye on them. Broiler distance varies and your mayo could scorch. Some scorching is okay, but you don’t want grizzled char.

Broiled bluefish with smoky mayo and romanesco

Broiled bluefish with smoky mayo and romanesco

The mayo holds in the fish’s moisture and adds a tasty smokiness to the fish. Really quite nice.

I know some think bluefish is … fishy. I grew up eating bluefish, so I had no worries. Jennifer quite liked the fish’s flavor, too. Plus, the fact that the fish was alive and swimming earlier that morning had a whole lot to do with the awesome flavor.

Oh, that green stuff over there on the other side of the plate—that would be roasted romanesco.

Twitter, Union and Craft Beers

January 25, 2011 § 3 Comments

I work from home. Alone. All day. My interactions with in-the-flesh people are minimal. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter – those are the check-ins I have during my daylight hours. Needless to say, it’s good to get out.

And I do make it a point to get out during the day. I signed up for a 1/2 marathon in March, which is compelling me to get to the gym on a regular basis. But the confines of home were a bit much last week—think it was the weather?—and by 8 a.m. on Friday I was already planning ahead to post-5 o’clock. I tweeted something like “I know it’s early, but already thinking of grabbing a drink @UnionBoston.”

Now, I follow a few restaurants on Twitter. Neighborhood joints are the ones I pay particular attention to, definitely if they are within walking distance. If I can find a local place that tweets, I’m definitely following for menu updates, specials, news, etc.

So, last Friday—remember last Friday with that 7 in. of snow?—so last Friday, post 3.5-mile run, I call Jennifer to make sure she can meet me at Union, then tweet to the world that I’m on my way over to grab a drink.

“Hi! Welcome!,” the host says.

“Hi,” I say. “I’m just gonna grab a drink at the bar.” I make to walk in that direction.

“Be sure you tweet about it!” the host says.

I stopped in my snow-boot tracks. “That’s funny, because I just …”

“I know,” the smiling host says. “I’m in charge of Union’s tweets. I recognized your photo.”

Because I follow @UnionBoston, I learned they are big into craft beers, so I chatted with Justin about that while I settled in. He recommended a few he seemed very excited about, and I ordered up a Bear Republic Racer IPA. Excellent recommendation. And yes, I did tweet about it.

By the way, do try Union’s bluefish pate. Bluefish too fishy, you say? Don’t even say that until you try this. Seriously good stuff. And it goes great with IPA.

Union’s Craft Beer Event

Now, I do enjoy craft beer, although I typically order a Heineken or Amstel Light – what can I say? I love the Dutch. I’m hoping to gain an even finer appreciation for craft beer during Union’s Craft Beer Meetup on February 1st from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Is there a better way to spend a Tuesday?

Who’s going? What are you guys looking forward to? Justin, what craft beers can we expect to see in frosty mugs lined up along Union’s famous bar?

Hope to see you there, folks. And do please leave a comment!

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