Fish Cooking Class with Village Fishmonger

This weekend, I led a fish cooking class with Carolyn from Village Fishmonger, our new CSA partners at Crossfit South Brooklyn.

The talented SBK’er Asta F. was kind enough to snap and share some beautiful shots of the afternoon.

cutting boardWe started with scallop ceviche, using a recipe VFM had shared with us previously, during their first visit to the gym to sign up new members. The prep is super fast; you just finely chop everything, toss it in a bowl, and enjoy. Carolyn passed around slices of the raw scallops first, so we could appreciate how incredibly delicious and sweet they are completely unadorned. She explained that good, fresh scallops have a fairly dry texture, unlike the wet or slimy ones you typically see for sale. That is a sign that they are either not terribly fresh, were previously frozen, or both.

We agreed that most of us felt like we were tasting good scallops for the first time in our lives.

The green vegetables and herbs in the ceviche (cilantro, avocado, cucumber) gave it a lovely texture and appealing color, and the hits of chile and citrus brought the whole dish together. We enjoyed the ceviche on tostadas, a technique I’ll definitely use in the future - the textural contrast was brilliant. Carolyn finished the dish with a drizzle of homemade chipotle salsa.

ceviche tostada

Ceviche Verde

  • 1 lb VFM day boat scallops, or other fresh fish such as tilefish, fluke, black sea bass and/or a mixture
  • Juice of 2 lemons and 2 limes
  • A glug of good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 TBS coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 TBS coarsely chopped mint
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large tomatillo, chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, julienned
  • 1 small avocado, cubed
  • Salt to taste

Method

Note: If using fish, be sure to check that all bones and skin are removed from the fish. Cut the fish against the grain into similar-sized pieces in the shape you desire. A typical method for ceviche is to cut all the ingredients into roughly the same size pieces.

1. Cut the fish or scallops, put it into a large bowl, and add citrus juices and EVOO. Let the fish marinate in the fridge while preparing the rest of the ingredients. You will see that the flesh becomes opaque as the juices “cook” it.

2. Prepare the rest of the ingredients, reserving into a medium bowl.

3. Once finished with all the chopping, mix the dry ingredients into the marinated fish and season with salt to taste.

4. “Cooking” times for ceviche vary. (We ate ours right away and it was delicious!) We recommend marinating for 10 minutes to an hour, but mixing the dry ingredients in just before serving. Ceviche verde is delicious on tortilla chips or tostadas, or all by itself.

Carolyn then treated us to a fish butchery demo, using a lovely whole monkfish she’d brought.

carolyn whole fish

Monkfish is an easy fish to process, it turns out, because it has just one bone to remove.

carolyn fish slice After boning it out, the filets are separated, then the skin and membrane are scraped off.

First up was a lovely broiled dish with a super fast sauce of Dijon mustard, fresh thyme, lemon juice and a tiny hit of sugar.

mustard monkfish prepping The fish is broiled without turning until just cooked through; our fillets were fairly hefty, so that took around 12-15 minutes. mustard monkfish oven The result was a very easy, savory dish we passed around to try.

monkfish mustard plated Next, we worked simultaneously on two dishes: bacon-wrapped monkfish (started on the stove, finished in the oven) and a rich monkfish stew inspired by a French preparation called monkfish  à l’armoricaine. We used a Jacques Pepin recipe he calls à l’Américaine.

monkfish stew

The bacon-wrapped monkfish preparation is also straightforward; we sprinkled the fillets with salt, pepper and fresh thyme, then wrapped them in bacon, seared in cast iron on the stovetop, and popped the pan in a hot oven to finish. 

Purely by accident, we wound up wrapping the two fillets in two different types of bacon. One was a conventional brand (Applegate Farms’ Sunday bacon, which I ate before I joined the meat CSA) and Herondale Farms' house-cured bacon. Herondale's is much thicker and therefore took longer to cook, but in terms of taste - it wasn't even a contest.

bacon monkfish double close

Having a fishmonger in your living room is a pretty good way to get a ton of great tips; Carolyn had great advice on everything from improvising ceviche recipes, to how to know if fish is done. But as with most things, a lot of wisdom bubbled up from the class participants themselves, who had diverse experiences with fish, but plenty of individual expertise they were eager to share.

There was, finally, a ton of food to eat. The fish stew is served over white rice, and I whipped up some balsamic brown butter broccoli rabe as well. All that and two delicious bottles of wine donated to the cause - pretty much a perfect spring afternoon! Thanks again to Carolyn, as well as to all the participants: Katie, Akoto, Mario, Andrea, Whitney, and Asta.

Second recipe with this month’s CSA selection: monkfish. Quite easy, small number of ingredients, and yummy.
Monkfish in Tomato Garlic Sauce

Second recipe with this month’s CSA selection: monkfish. Quite easy, small number of ingredients, and yummy.

Monkfish in Tomato Garlic Sauce

Fish CSA, month 2: bacon-wrapped monkfish
Yesterday we received a gorgeous piece of monkfish from our Crossfit South Brooklyn fish CSA, Village Fishmonger.
My plan was to braise it in tomatoes, garlic and herbs, Provençal  style. My research into monkfish preparation suggested strongly that cooking the fillets in liquid (whether tomatoes, white wine, butter, etc) was the preferred method. While “braising” might not be the best word here - braising indicates a LONG slow cook, and this fish doesn’t need to be cooked long like, say, a pot roast needs to be cooked long - it does convey the idea of plenty of flavorful liquid. Many other fishies can be roasted in the oven (or sauteed on the stovetop) without a ton of liquid, and provided you cook them the correct length of time, they won’t dry out. Monkfish is a bit meatier and certainly my fillet was quite thick - several inches. Hence the recommendations for a “wet” method.
I was thinking of using this recipe for monkfish in tomato garlic sauce, or this one for a slightly more complicated Spanish-style braise, and I also read this thread on Chowhound.
Armed with this knowledge, I came home with my monkfish and got out a can of Italian plum tomatoes, then opened my fridge for parsley. 
I found an open package of Herondale Farm bacon.
I looked at this recipe and this one.
I changed my plan.
With half of my one-pound fillet, I used three strips of Herondale bacon, my personal pan-sized cast iron skillet, and some fresh thyme and oregano I happened to have in my fridge. If you don’t have fresh herbs, just leave them out.
Any oven-safe skillet can be used.
Why didn’t it dry out, you may ask, considering it’s not braised? Answer: the bacon fat keeps it moist. 
Bacon-wrapped monkfish, adapted from Jamie Oliver
Ingredients
Monkfish fillet
Bacon (amount depends on how much monkfish you have)
Olive oil
Optional: a bit of fresh herbs, such as thyme, oregano, and/or rosemary
A bit of lemon zest and lemon juice
Fresh pepper
Method
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Dry the fish and season it with pepper. The salt will come from the bacon. Chop whatever fresh herbs you may have and scatter them on the fish.


 
3. Lay a couple strips of bacon on a cutting board, slightly overlapping, put the fish herb-side down on it, and wrap the bacon around the fish. I used toothpicks to secure the bacon, pushing them almost the whole way into the fish so they didn’t stick out much.
4. Pour a small amount of olive oil in your pan and put the fish in, toothpick side down. Note: if you are using Herondale bacon, you only need a tiny film of olive oil, because the bacon will throw off a LOT. If you are using conventional bacon, you need more olive oil. If your pan is nonstick (but oven safe!) you might need hardly any at all.

5. Put the skillet over medium heat for a minute or two to crisp the bacon. Carefully flip it and repeat. Don’t keep it on the stove top too long.
6. Put the skillet in your preheated oven and cook it until the bacon is crisped and the fish is cooked through. Mine took between 10-15 minutes but it was a very thick fillet. Note again that Herondale bacon takes much longer to cook than conventional bacon. I also had to pour off some fat during the brief roasting process.
7. Remove the fish from the oven just before you think it’s completely done, remove it to a plate, and let it rest for 5 minutes. 
8. When ready to serve, squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over the fish and enjoy.

Fish CSA, month 2: bacon-wrapped monkfish

Yesterday we received a gorgeous piece of monkfish from our Crossfit South Brooklyn fish CSA, Village Fishmonger.

My plan was to braise it in tomatoes, garlic and herbs, Provençal  style. My research into monkfish preparation suggested strongly that cooking the fillets in liquid (whether tomatoes, white wine, butter, etc) was the preferred method. While “braising” might not be the best word here - braising indicates a LONG slow cook, and this fish doesn’t need to be cooked long like, say, a pot roast needs to be cooked long - it does convey the idea of plenty of flavorful liquid. Many other fishies can be roasted in the oven (or sauteed on the stovetop) without a ton of liquid, and provided you cook them the correct length of time, they won’t dry out. Monkfish is a bit meatier and certainly my fillet was quite thick - several inches. Hence the recommendations for a “wet” method.

I was thinking of using this recipe for monkfish in tomato garlic sauce, or this one for a slightly more complicated Spanish-style braise, and I also read this thread on Chowhound.

Armed with this knowledge, I came home with my monkfish and got out a can of Italian plum tomatoes, then opened my fridge for parsley. 

I found an open package of Herondale Farm bacon.

I looked at this recipe and this one.

I changed my plan.

With half of my one-pound fillet, I used three strips of Herondale bacon, my personal pan-sized cast iron skillet, and some fresh thyme and oregano I happened to have in my fridge. If you don’t have fresh herbs, just leave them out.

Any oven-safe skillet can be used.

Why didn’t it dry out, you may ask, considering it’s not braised? Answer: the bacon fat keeps it moist. 

Bacon-wrapped monkfish, adapted from Jamie Oliver

Ingredients

  • Monkfish fillet
  • Bacon (amount depends on how much monkfish you have)
  • Olive oil
  • Optional: a bit of fresh herbs, such as thyme, oregano, and/or rosemary
  • A bit of lemon zest and lemon juice
  • Fresh pepper

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Dry the fish and season it with pepper. The salt will come from the bacon. Chop whatever fresh herbs you may have and scatter them on the fish.

monkfish herbs 

3. Lay a couple strips of bacon on a cutting board, slightly overlapping, put the fish herb-side down on it, and wrap the bacon around the fish. I used toothpicks to secure the bacon, pushing them almost the whole way into the fish so they didn’t stick out much.

4. Pour a small amount of olive oil in your pan and put the fish in, toothpick side down. Note: if you are using Herondale bacon, you only need a tiny film of olive oil, because the bacon will throw off a LOT. If you are using conventional bacon, you need more olive oil. If your pan is nonstick (but oven safe!) you might need hardly any at all.

bacon monkfish raw

5. Put the skillet over medium heat for a minute or two to crisp the bacon. Carefully flip it and repeat. Don’t keep it on the stove top too long.

6. Put the skillet in your preheated oven and cook it until the bacon is crisped and the fish is cooked through. Mine took between 10-15 minutes but it was a very thick fillet. Note again that Herondale bacon takes much longer to cook than conventional bacon. I also had to pour off some fat during the brief roasting process.

7. Remove the fish from the oven just before you think it’s completely done, remove it to a plate, and let it rest for 5 minutes. 

8. When ready to serve, squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over the fish and enjoy.

Classic beef meatballs: Easy enough for a weeknight, delicious enough for a party

Wow.

I never thought I’d ever post another meatball recipe. There are hundreds of them around and dozens of Paleo ones worth making.

Plus, it’s getting to be spring, right? Right? So farewell to dishes like this?Time for chicken on the grill? Right?

I threw this dish together in an hour and brought it to a cocktail party, where it became clear it wasn’t your average meatball recipe.

I admit I used jarred tomato sauce - the first time I’ve ever done such a heretical thing - but I don’t regret it. It was fabulous. 

I’ve never made all-beef meatballs successfully before; previous attempts came out like little round hamburgers. I like hamburgers, but they are not meatballs. This recipe incorporates a generous dollop of ricotta cheese, which lightens the mixture up admirably.

The only change I made to the recipe was to substitute gluten-free bread crumbs for regular ones. They are easy to find these days, and their contribution is just texture, rather than taste.

meatballs in a dish 

This photo doesn’t really do justice, but none of mine do, do they?

Look how happy I am to be serving them.

meatballs with mig

Anyway, here’s the recipe, straight off Epicurious.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds 80% lean ground beef ( I used whatever I had)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 4 cups tomato/pasta sauce ( I used high-quality jarred pasta sauce)

Method

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Drizzle the olive oil into a 9×13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.

Combine the ground beef, ricotta, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes, and fennel in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.

Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165°F.

While the meatballs are roasting, heat the tomato sauce in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often.

When the meatballs are firm and fully cooked, remove them from the oven and drain the excess grease from the pan. Pour the tomato sauce over them. Return the meatballs to the oven and continue roasting for another 15 minutes.

Two Faces of Agriculture: Industrial vs Agroecology

A crossfit gym with a groundbreaking CSA program (which I manage) explains why the CSA model makes sense.

How happy am I that I froze a bunch of late-summer ratatouille last year….? Just what I needed on yet another cold night. I can see spring from here.

How happy am I that I froze a bunch of late-summer ratatouille last year….? Just what I needed on yet another cold night. I can see spring from here.

Whitney H’s Roasted Tilefish with Sauteed Vegetables

Whit made a gorgeous looking tilefish dish last night. Here’s what she did:

Roasted Tilefish (serves 2… or 1 plus leftovers)

2 fillets golden tilefish
1/4-1/2 lemon
1 tbsp butter or oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels
Grease a baking pan or shallow baking dish. I used butter.

Place fish fillets skin-side down on pan/dish. Scatter a few thinly sliced pats of butter over the fish or drizzle with oil. Squeeze lemon juice over top and add salt and pepper to taste.


Bake the fish according to thickness — about 10 minutes per inch in the thickest part of the fillet. Be careful not to overcook. Fish is done with it begins to flake with a fork and is completely opaque. (Mine was perfect in 20 minutes). Serve immediately. 


Sautéed Swiss Chard with Mushrooms and Shallots (serves 2)

1 tbsp olive oil (or preferred cooking fat)
1 shallot, sliced thin
2 cups cremini or baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 bunch Swiss chard, thick stems chopped, leaves rolled and cut into ribbons
garlic powder (or minced fresh garlic if you have it!)
salt and pepper

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add shallots and mushrooms; cook on medium-high heat until mushrooms brown a bit, 4-6 minutes. Be sure not to over-stir the mushrooms so they get nicely crisped on the edges instead of mushy! (If you’re using fresh garlic, add it in now.)

Add the chopped chard stems, then layer as much of the ribboned leaves on top as will fit in your pan. Drop heat to medium, cover with lid, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove lid and stir the now-wilted greens. Add in the rest of the leaves and repeat. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste and stir well. 

Whitney H’s Roasted Tilefish with Sauteed Vegetables

Whit made a gorgeous looking tilefish dish last night. Here’s what she did:

Roasted Tilefish (serves 2… or 1 plus leftovers)

2 fillets golden tilefish
1/4-1/2 lemon
1 tbsp butter or oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels

Grease a baking pan or shallow baking dish. I used butter.
Place fish fillets skin-side down on pan/dish. Scatter a few thinly sliced pats of butter over the fish or drizzle with oil. Squeeze lemon juice over top and add salt and pepper to taste.

Bake the fish according to thickness — about 10 minutes per inch in the thickest part of the fillet. Be careful not to overcook. Fish is done with it begins to flake with a fork and is completely opaque. (Mine was perfect in 20 minutes). Serve immediately. 


Sautéed Swiss Chard with Mushrooms and Shallots (serves 2)

1 tbsp olive oil (or preferred cooking fat)
1 shallot, sliced thin
2 cups cremini or baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 bunch Swiss chard, thick stems chopped, leaves rolled and cut into ribbons
garlic powder (or minced fresh garlic if you have it!)
salt and pepper

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add shallots and mushrooms; cook on medium-high heat until mushrooms brown a bit, 4-6 minutes. Be sure not to over-stir the mushrooms so they get nicely crisped on the edges instead of mushy! (If you’re using fresh garlic, add it in now.)

Add the chopped chard stems, then layer as much of the ribboned leaves on top as will fit in your pan. Drop heat to medium, cover with lid, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove lid and stir the now-wilted greens. Add in the rest of the leaves and repeat. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste and stir well. 

Talk about a fluke….

Village Fishmonger posted the wrong fish on “catch of the day” yesterday, so yesterday’s post about fluke was, in fact, a big fat fluke, because we all received golden tilefish in our shares.

On the positive side, several of us went ahead and cooked this fish last night, so I’ll post the recipes and photos later this afternoon. Sorry for the mix-up!

Welcome to our first CSF delivery: FLUKE!
Fluke is a flat fish with tender, mild white flesh. Recipes for fluke and flounder are generally interchangeable (if you’re interested to know why, read this) so take a look at the following as you think about what to make with your share. Uncharacteristically, I haven’t tested all these recipes, but I did curate the list to include those that looked reliable, tested well, or had positive commentary.
Good methods for fluke include pan-frying, broiling, and baking. Always take care not to overcook fish. Take this advice from Fine Cooking:


"The often-quoted theory of cooking fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickness may be a good guideline, but in reality 8 minutes is a better timeframe in which to at least start checking for doneness.
Fish will continue to cook for a minute or two off the heat. Be sure to stop cooking when the fish is just shy of done; otherwise, it will overcook by the time you serve it.
Use the tip of a small knife to peek at the interior of the fish. Many cookbooks tell you to cook fish until it flakes; this is too long. Once it flakes, the fish has lost too much moisture and will be dry and bland. As you peek, see how easily the fish gives way. It should gently resist flaking but show signs of firming. 
Raw fish has a translucent appearance that turns opaque during cooking. Most types of fish are considered done when they’re just opaque throughout. Many people, however, enjoy some types of fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon, a little less done. These should be opaque on the outside but still translucent at the center.”

Remember, if you don’t want to cook it in a day or two, pop it in the freezer and cook it later.

Recipes without wheat:

Pecan-crusted fluke (or flounder)
Baked flounder (or fluke) with fresh lemon pepper 
Broiled fluke in lemon butter
Paleo blogger’s Pan-fried coconut fluke 

Recipes using flour or breadcrumbs:
Baked fluke with parmesean crumbs from Food and Wine
Scandanavian-style pan-fried flounder with potatoes and parsley
Lidia Bastianich’s Italian preparation for Lemon Sole, which she has also made with fluke 
Michael Symon’s Fluke Milanese
—————————————————————————————————————————————-
What did you make with your fluke?

Welcome to our first CSF delivery: FLUKE!

Fluke is a flat fish with tender, mild white flesh. Recipes for fluke and flounder are generally interchangeable (if you’re interested to know why, read this) so take a look at the following as you think about what to make with your share. Uncharacteristically, I haven’t tested all these recipes, but I did curate the list to include those that looked reliable, tested well, or had positive commentary.

Good methods for fluke include pan-frying, broiling, and baking. Always take care not to overcook fish. Take this advice from Fine Cooking:

"The often-quoted theory of cooking fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickness may be a good guideline, but in reality 8 minutes is a better timeframe in which to at least start checking for doneness.

Fish will continue to cook for a minute or two off the heat. Be sure to stop cooking when the fish is just shy of done; otherwise, it will overcook by the time you serve it.

Use the tip of a small knife to peek at the interior of the fish. Many cookbooks tell you to cook fish until it flakes; this is too long. Once it flakes, the fish has lost too much moisture and will be dry and bland. As you peek, see how easily the fish gives way. It should gently resist flaking but show signs of firming. 

Raw fish has a translucent appearance that turns opaque during cooking. Most types of fish are considered done when they’re just opaque throughout. Many people, however, enjoy some types of fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon, a little less done. These should be opaque on the outside but still translucent at the center.”

Remember, if you don’t want to cook it in a day or two, pop it in the freezer and cook it later.

Recipes without wheat:

Pecan-crusted fluke (or flounder)

Baked flounder (or fluke) with fresh lemon pepper 

Broiled fluke in lemon butter

Paleo blogger’s Pan-fried coconut fluke 

Recipes using flour or breadcrumbs:

Baked fluke with parmesean crumbs from Food and Wine

Scandanavian-style pan-fried flounder with potatoes and parsley

Lidia Bastianich’s Italian preparation for Lemon Sole, which she has also made with fluke 

Michael Symon’s Fluke Milanese

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

What did you make with your fluke?

Broccoli Rabe with Balsamic Brown Butter

Holy cow is this good.
The butter + balsamic combo is absolutely dynamite, and the whole thing takes less than five minutes to make.
Until there are fresh local greens available, this will be a staple in my kitchen.
Broccoli Rabe with Balsamic Brown Butter, from Leite’s Culinaria

Ingredients
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt, plus more to taste
 Freshly ground pepper
Method
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Let the butter remain over the heat until the white solids sink to the bottom and turn a light brown and you no longer hear a sizzling sound, about 5 minutes. Carefully stir in the vinegar (it may splatter) and cook for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat.
3. Plunge the broccoli rabe in the boiling water and add the salt. Boil, uncovered, until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain quite well and then pat the broccoli rabe completely dry.
4. Dump the broccoli rabe in a serving dish, drizzle with the balsamic butter, and toss to coat. Season, if desired, with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Broccoli Rabe with Balsamic Brown Butter

Holy cow is this good.

The butter + balsamic combo is absolutely dynamite, and the whole thing takes less than five minutes to make.

Until there are fresh local greens available, this will be a staple in my kitchen.

Broccoli Rabe with Balsamic Brown Butter, from Leite’s Culinaria

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt, plus more to taste
  •  Freshly ground pepper


Method

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Let the butter remain over the heat until the white solids sink to the bottom and turn a light brown and you no longer hear a sizzling sound, about 5 minutes. Carefully stir in the vinegar (it may splatter) and cook for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat.

3. Plunge the broccoli rabe in the boiling water and add the salt. Boil, uncovered, until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain quite well and then pat the broccoli rabe completely dry.

4. Dump the broccoli rabe in a serving dish, drizzle with the balsamic butter, and toss to coat. Season, if desired, with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.