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.

Roasted Romanesco

October 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

I love funky-looking things. Especially vegetables. Remember my experiment with growing kohlrabi?

Romanesco is a a funky-looking thing. And when I had a choice between broccoli and romanesco, I jumped on it.

It’s a bit like broccoli, taste-wise. Look-wise, though, it would be what Escher would paint/draw if he took the vegetable route with his art.

romanesco

Am I right or what?

Now, the thing about romanesco is that a good portion of it is stem. If you cut off the stem portion and leave just the florets, you’ll be left with not so much. Eat the stem, people. It’s tasty.

What to do with romanesco? Well, when I see the Brassica genus, I think roasting. And that’s exactly what I did.

Roasted Romanesco

  • 1 head romanesco, separated into individual stem-florets or clumps of smaller florets.
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • salt and pepper

-Heat oven to 425F.

-If any of your romanesco sections look particularly large, feel free to cut them in half. Place romanesco sections in a big bowl. Douse with the olive oil. Sprinkle two or three large pinches of kosher salt on top (depending on the romanesco’s size) and give it a couple turns from a pepper grinder. Toss.

-Spread romanesco onto a rimmed baking sheet and pop in the oven for about 23-25 minutes or until they develop a nice brown char and a fork can just be inserted.

Finally, a new item to share space with broccoli and cauliflower in the winter months.

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