FFWD – Sablefish with Double Carrots

Sablefish

One of the things you learn when taking part in a virtual cooking club is that there’s no such thing as universal. I don’t just mean time zones or even seasons, though our southern hemisphere friends have had to put up a valiant effort in the face of a schedule based on North American food cycles. Whether or not you’re able to complete the week’s assignment as written can depend on whether you’re urban or rural, on the coast or in the interior, near the equator or near the permafrost line.

We’ve had lively discussions about whether or not certain vegetables would be available when we wanted them and the substitutions we’ve seen give us insight into the personalities of our fellow cooks as often as they teach us about the regions where they live.

I’ve been pretty lucky in finding the ingredients I need, but it seems in the fish category there are a lot of Atlantic choices that don’t appear regularly in West Coast markets. This week’s dish called for monkfish, a fish that needs to clock a lot of food miles to find its way to Vancouver. I decided to look for a sustainable alternative and asked for some advice.

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There was some nice BC sablefish at the fishmonger, so I went with that. It was a good choice for this dish – the flesh is rich and stands up well against the intensity of the carrots. Carrots cooked in carrot juice sounds a little strange, but the result is tender medallions in a sauce boosted with butter and fresh rosemary. This would have been nice with mashed potatoes or celery root purée, and that’s what I’d serve it with for a dinner party. Tonight, though, I was more than satisfied with the fish and carrots. I suspect the bits of bacon added at the end were what made me feel I had a well-rounded meal.

Back-of-the-Card Cheese and Olive Bread

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This quick bread is the reason this week’s post became a French Saturday entry. After dinner, I really wanted to bake something. Baking is an excellent antidote to a busy week for me. So, I took a look at my catch up list and got to work on this one. I had some Asiago cheese in the fridge to use up and I made a vegan tapenade (for what it’s worth in a loaf full of milk and cheese), but those were my only deviations from the recipe.

There’s so much Asiago packed into this bread that I’d nearly classify it as a bread-studded olive cheese, rather than a cheese and olive loaf. It’s full of Mediterranean flavours, with the tapenade and lemon zest providing bright notes against the sharpness of the Asiago.

My only regret is that I don’t have any bubbly wine to accompany this loaf. I urge you to pick some up before you attempt this recipe, which you can find on Dorie’s website.

Here are the links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe: Monkfish and Double Carrots. And go way back to June of last year for a look at everyone’s Back-of-the-Card Cheese and Olive Bread.

Tuna and Mango Ceviche – A French Fridays Catch Up

Ceviche

There are certain advantages to being an omnivore who lives with a vegan. I will happily eat the meals I cook for Kevin, but there is now an undercurrent of “more for me” when I’m making French Fridays dishes. Though there are lots of dishes – more than you might guess – that work for vegans in Around My French Table, there are many glorious meals that are decidedly not vegan-friendly.

This ceviche is one of them. I’m getting lots of practice in minification à la Mardi, because even a dedicated omnivore can’t be expected to finish meals meant for four, especially when they’re as perishable as ceviche. For this recipe, I decided to make enough for a generous appetizer for one. I headed down to the local sustainable seafood store for 100 grams of Ahi tuna and made about one-quarter of the recipe.

Dorie’s ceviche is sweet with mango, creamy with avocado, tart with lime, and rich with tuna. There is crunch from the onions and heat from the hot sauce. There’s just as much going on visually, too. Though I didn’t really want to share, I wished I did have someone there to admire it. (Not Kevin, because giving up sushi was quite a sacrifice for him and I didn’t want to torture him.) No matter, I’m filing this away for a dinner party idea someday. This dish would look gorgeous in a pretty bowl, set inside another pretty bowl filled with ice. Whatever followed would have to be absolutely smashing, though, to compete.

If you’re worried about making ceviche at home, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook will set your mind at ease, give you some tips and a recipe you can try, too. You can find Dorie’s version in Around My French Table. It’s yet another recipe that’s worth the price of the cookbook.

Find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts here: Tuna and Mango Ceviche

FFWD – Crab-Avocado “Ravioli” & Salmon Rillettes

Salmon

This post will have to serve for both this week and last, as I was laid low with a nasty flu over last weekend and into this week, so I’m just catching up on life now.

I made the salmon rillettes earlier this week. The combination of poached and smoked salmon is fantastic, especially when combined with chile pepper,spring onion, pink peppercorns, and lots of lemon. I halved the recipe, but it still made quite a bit of this spread. I can see serving half as an appetizer and saving hoarding the rest for sandwiches the next day.

Avocado

The crab-avocado “ravioli” came together in less than half an hour this evening. The fussiest bit is slicing the avocado to make the ravioli, but the one I picked was just barely ripe, so it held together quite well. I couldn’t get fresh crab meat – there is some sort of supply issue right now, according to my fishmonger, but the canned stuff wasn’t bad, I thought. I quartered this recipe, as crab doesn’t keep very well and there’s only two of us. It still made enough for a small plate of “ravioli” with enough left over to put on toast later. I thought the combination of lime, cilantro, and shallot worked well with the crab, but am I a cretin for wishing there had been a little cream or mayonnaise in the mix, too? Probably.

These were both delicious appetizers that I’ll be making again. This group has been a boon to my entertaining recipe repertoire – so many of the light and first course recipes have been winners, haven’t they? So much so, that I keep imagining that if we ever had a Dorista potluck, we could safely cover the table with enough delicious pre-dinner nibbles that we’d never make it to the main course.

Find out what the rest of the French Fridays crew thought about this week’s recipe: Crab-Avocado “Ravioli”

You can find links to everyone else’s posts on last week’s recipe here: Salmon Rillettes

FFWD – Warm Scallop Salad with Corn, Nectarines, and Basil

Warm scallop salad with nectarines, corn, tomatoes, basil coulis, and lime dressing.

It’s about time we had another scallops recipe in the group – they’re probably my favourite seafood (though mussels run a close second). I also appreciate a recipe that makes use of height-of-summer produce. Chilliwack corn, farm-fresh tomatoes, and basil from my own garden are part of this salad and the taste is phenomenal.

This recipe is really about small parts coming together well. Lime dressing, basil coulis, chopped tomatoes, kernels of corn, all served with grilled or pan-fried scallops and nectarines. They worked together even better than I’d imagined. My presentation, however, was not as pretty as I’d imagined. No matter, we had a delicious dinner.

Every summer I try to make as much use as I can of the succession of fresh, local fruit and vegetables. Every year I feel like I’ve fallen a little short. A recipe like this certainly helps me feel like I’ve succeeded. A gourmet treat full of summer goodness – we’ll be having this again.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Warm Scallop Salad with Corn, Nectarines, and Basil