Summer vegetables (and fruit!) and chilled soups
With the beginning of high summer comes the onslaught of CSA vegetables. Summer squash is always presents a challenge to me; if I had a grill, I’d be set. But I don’t. So I like to make cold vegetable soup instead.
With last week’s Sol Flower Farm CSA box, I made chilled zucchini and basil soup, shown above. It was simple and fast. Be sure to hit it with a lot of citrus juice, as the recipe suggests. You could also finish it with a dollop of plain yogurt or other dairy.  I didn’t make the garnish of steamed zucchini batons, btw. Too much work for too little reward.
Cucumbers make great cold soups, too. Here’s a few chilled vegetable soups you might try:
Chilled cucumber soup with buttermilk and dill  This is a great recipe I discovered several summers ago. I love buttermilk; this recipe uses a quart, which is nice because I hate buying some for a recipe and struggling to use the rest.
Creamy cold avocado and cucumber soup Seems like a no-brainer.
Julia Child’s cold beet and cucumber soup Because Julia.
Chilled beet soup with horseradish cream I haven’t made this one either, but it’s well-reviewed, so I will.
Summer soup also means gazpacho, a specific kind of cold soup from Spain. Many traditionally include bread as a filler. I’ve listed some that don’t (or call for gluten-free bread) below. Another pre-tomato gazpacho ingredient was almonds, which, if you’re trying to adapt a gazpacho recipe that does include bread, are a fine substitute. Use a food processor to pulverize them, and buy almonds that are already skinned.
Cold zucchini and mint gazpacho (calls for a slice of gluten-free bread. I strongly recommend Udi’s; it’s the best GF bread on the market.)
Ian Knauer’s chilled tomato and peach gazpacho   Ian, who now has his first cookbook and a show on PBS,  writes great recipes; several of his creations (from his years in the Gourmet test kitchen) are staples in my everyday repertoire. I’ll be trying this one next. 
NomNomPaleo’s cold watermelon and tomato gazpacho  Tomatoes and melons are right around the corner! Don’t sleep on the tomato/watermelon combo; it’s unexpected and utterly delicious.

Summer vegetables (and fruit!) and chilled soups

With the beginning of high summer comes the onslaught of CSA vegetables. Summer squash is always presents a challenge to me; if I had a grill, I’d be set. But I don’t. So I like to make cold vegetable soup instead.

With last week’s Sol Flower Farm CSA box, I made chilled zucchini and basil soup, shown above. It was simple and fast. Be sure to hit it with a lot of citrus juice, as the recipe suggests. You could also finish it with a dollop of plain yogurt or other dairy.  I didn’t make the garnish of steamed zucchini batons, btw. Too much work for too little reward.

Cucumbers make great cold soups, too. Here’s a few chilled vegetable soups you might try:

Chilled cucumber soup with buttermilk and dill  This is a great recipe I discovered several summers ago. I love buttermilk; this recipe uses a quart, which is nice because I hate buying some for a recipe and struggling to use the rest.

Creamy cold avocado and cucumber soup Seems like a no-brainer.

Julia Child’s cold beet and cucumber soup Because Julia.

Chilled beet soup with horseradish cream I haven’t made this one either, but it’s well-reviewed, so I will.

Summer soup also means gazpacho, a specific kind of cold soup from Spain. Many traditionally include bread as a filler. I’ve listed some that don’t (or call for gluten-free bread) below. Another pre-tomato gazpacho ingredient was almonds, which, if you’re trying to adapt a gazpacho recipe that does include bread, are a fine substitute. Use a food processor to pulverize them, and buy almonds that are already skinned.

Cold zucchini and mint gazpacho (calls for a slice of gluten-free bread. I strongly recommend Udi’s; it’s the best GF bread on the market.)

Ian Knauer’s chilled tomato and peach gazpacho   Ian, who now has his first cookbook and a show on PBS,  writes great recipes; several of his creations (from his years in the Gourmet test kitchen) are staples in my everyday repertoire. I’ll be trying this one next. 

NomNomPaleo’s cold watermelon and tomato gazpacho  Tomatoes and melons are right around the corner! Don’t sleep on the tomato/watermelon combo; it’s unexpected and utterly delicious.

Y’all ready for some yellowfin tuna?
Today’s catch of the day from Village Fishmonger is none other than yellowfin. Like many of the fillets we receive, this one will benefit from as little cooking as possible; below you’ll find several raw preparations as well as a handful of recipes that call for nothing more than a sear.
If you insist of cooking it through, I’ve proposed a few final recipes that I think will still highlight the superior flavor and texture of this prized fish.
A note on soy sauce: if you don’t eat soy sauce for whatever reason, fish cookery can be a bit of a challenge. I keep both coconut aminos and Red Boat fish sauce in my cupboard, and use the aminos to substitute for soy sauce in most recipes. Fish sauce isn’t a soy sauce substitute, but it does provide a huge umami kick to almost any fish dish, especially if it already has Southeast Asian flavors. I wouldn’t use fish sauce in a ceviche prep because those flavors tend to skew South or Central American. But sometimes when I have fish to cook and no inspiration for other ingredients, I simply broil it, drizzle it with Red Boat, and I’m golden.

Raw or Nearly Raw Preparations
Tuna carpaccio 
Seared avocado tuna tartare
Tuna ceviche tacos
Seared Tuna Preparations
Seared tuna pepper steaks
Simple seared tuna with sesame and wasabi
Pan-seared tuna with avocado, soy, ginger and lime

Oven, Broil, and Tuna Burger Preparations
Wasabi-sesame crusted tuna (oven method)
Broiled bacon-wrapped tuna from NomNomPaleo
Tuna braised in olive oil from NomNomPaleo
Spicy tuna burgers
Sicilian tuna

Y’all ready for some yellowfin tuna?

Today’s catch of the day from Village Fishmonger is none other than yellowfin. Like many of the fillets we receive, this one will benefit from as little cooking as possible; below you’ll find several raw preparations as well as a handful of recipes that call for nothing more than a sear.

If you insist of cooking it through, I’ve proposed a few final recipes that I think will still highlight the superior flavor and texture of this prized fish.

A note on soy sauce: if you don’t eat soy sauce for whatever reason, fish cookery can be a bit of a challenge. I keep both coconut aminos and Red Boat fish sauce in my cupboard, and use the aminos to substitute for soy sauce in most recipes. Fish sauce isn’t a soy sauce substitute, but it does provide a huge umami kick to almost any fish dish, especially if it already has Southeast Asian flavors. I wouldn’t use fish sauce in a ceviche prep because those flavors tend to skew South or Central American. But sometimes when I have fish to cook and no inspiration for other ingredients, I simply broil it, drizzle it with Red Boat, and I’m golden.

Raw or Nearly Raw Preparations

Tuna carpaccio 

Seared avocado tuna tartare

Tuna ceviche tacos

Seared Tuna Preparations

Seared tuna pepper steaks

Simple seared tuna with sesame and wasabi

Pan-seared tuna with avocado, soy, ginger and lime

Oven, Broil, and Tuna Burger Preparations

Wasabi-sesame crusted tuna (oven method)

Broiled bacon-wrapped tuna from NomNomPaleo

Tuna braised in olive oil from NomNomPaleo

Spicy tuna burgers

Sicilian tuna

iliftthereforeiam:

#Rippetoe and some of the #NYC area #StartingStrength crew get together at Wolf’s place in Manhattan for #BBQ #bourbon and #beer And creepy red eye photos. #startingstrengthcoach #wolfmanor #meat #strength (at Wolf Manor)

Now you know how I spent (part of) my weekend.

iliftthereforeiam:

#Rippetoe and some of the #NYC area #StartingStrength crew get together at Wolf’s place in Manhattan for #BBQ #bourbon and #beer And creepy red eye photos. #startingstrengthcoach #wolfmanor #meat #strength (at Wolf Manor)

Now you know how I spent (part of) my weekend.

Reblogging my original fluke post because today we are, in fact, actually going to get FLUKE in our CFSBK fish CSA.

Enjoy!

thedailypaleo:

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?

Reblogging my original fluke post because today we are, in fact, actually going to get FLUKE in our CFSBK fish CSA.

Enjoy!

thedailypaleo:

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?

Pistachio-crusted asparagus with feta
Mom loves asparagus and pistachios, so I whipped this up for Mother’s Day dinner. To go with, we had ginger-marinated pork tenderloin and roasted sweet potatoes with lime syrup and chives.
The recipe calls for a fair amount of feta; I was more judicious, per Mom’s taste. If you don’t eat cheese, just increase the salt in the pistachio mixture a bit and leave the cheese out. It’s still delicious.
The recipe comes originally from a cookbook called Handmade Gatherings, but I first saw it on Joy the Baker.
I didn’t make many adjustments to the recipe, other than ignoring the advice to pick “big boy” (thick) stalks. Thick asparagus is often woody and flavorless. I sorted through a large pile at the farmer’s market to find a pound or so of medium-to-thin asparagus that were mostly the same diameter, for uniformity of cooking time.
Pistachio-crusted asparagus with feta

Ingredients


2 pounds large asparagus
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup shelled roasted and unsalted pistachios
1 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
For the Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
pinch of salt
several grinds of black pepper
Method
1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse the asparagus and cut about an inch off of the stem ends.  Pat the asparagus dry.
2. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for about 5 minutes to dry the asparagus completely.  Remove from the oven and drizzle with olive oil.  Toss to coat.
3. Crush the pistachios in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment OR  crush the pistachios in a sealed plastic bag using a hammer or kitchen mallet.  Grind until fine.  Transfer nuts to a small bowl and stir in salt.  If your nuts are salted, use half the amount of salt.
4. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer.  Generously spoon the pistachio mixture over the asparagus.  
5. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender through. Test with a fork - make sure the thickest stalks are soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
6. To make the vinaigrette, in a small jar or bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Drizzle over the roasted asparagus just before serving.  Top with feta and parsley and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Pistachio-crusted asparagus with feta

Mom loves asparagus and pistachios, so I whipped this up for Mother’s Day dinner. To go with, we had ginger-marinated pork tenderloin and roasted sweet potatoes with lime syrup and chives.

The recipe calls for a fair amount of feta; I was more judicious, per Mom’s taste. If you don’t eat cheese, just increase the salt in the pistachio mixture a bit and leave the cheese out. It’s still delicious.

The recipe comes originally from a cookbook called Handmade Gatherings, but I first saw it on Joy the Baker.

I didn’t make many adjustments to the recipe, other than ignoring the advice to pick “big boy” (thick) stalks. Thick asparagus is often woody and flavorless. I sorted through a large pile at the farmer’s market to find a pound or so of medium-to-thin asparagus that were mostly the same diameter, for uniformity of cooking time.

Pistachio-crusted asparagus with feta

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds large asparagus
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup shelled roasted and unsalted pistachios
  • 1 scant teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • several grinds of black pepper

Method

1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse the asparagus and cut about an inch off of the stem ends.  Pat the asparagus dry.

2. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for about 5 minutes to dry the asparagus completely.  Remove from the oven and drizzle with olive oil.  Toss to coat.

3. Crush the pistachios in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment OR  crush the pistachios in a sealed plastic bag using a hammer or kitchen mallet.  Grind until fine.  Transfer nuts to a small bowl and stir in salt.  If your nuts are salted, use half the amount of salt.

4. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer.  Generously spoon the pistachio mixture over the asparagus.  

5. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender through. Test with a fork - make sure the thickest stalks are soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

6. To make the vinaigrette, in a small jar or bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Drizzle over the roasted asparagus just before serving.  Top with feta and parsley and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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.

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