Gravlax with a Twist

Blueberry & Coriander Gravlax with Quick Pickles

Gravlax is something I only think to make a couple of times a year, and then kick myself for not having it at least monthly. It’s incredibly simple to make — the only difficulty is leaving enough refrigerator space for a few days’ curing time — it keeps well and for much longer than you’re likely to have it around, and it’s impressive enough to serve at parties or holiday gatherings. I’m the only one in the house who’ll enjoy gravlax in its standard dill-heavy format, so when I came across a recipe for blueberry-and-coriander gravlax in my weekly Taste email, I jumped on the opportunity to share it with Gil (and with you as well, since I decided to break my blogging fast just to tell you about it).

It’s a treat in every way. I mean, just look at it. They say you eat first with your eyes, and that’s surely true here, especially if you like bold, lively color on your plate. The texture is firm and the flavor is subtly sweet with zesty pops from the coriander and lemon. I honestly can’t gush enough about it.

But wait, there’s more! Darcie Hunter of Gourmet Creative came over to style this up for the cuttingboard.com photo contest we’re entering (#cutthecheese2017, ya’ll!) and brought over some of her homemade pickles to pair with it. She also whipped up a quick horseradish-and-sour-cream topping, and the combo of the gravlax with the pickles and horseradish was outrageously good. Check out Darcie’s pickle recipe at her blog and our behind-the-scenes photo on my Instagram feed, showing off my new cucoloris baby.

If you’re looking for a new spin on an old classic, do give this gravlax recipe a try! You can find it here, and while you’re at it, sign up for their emails. You’ll be happy you did.

Cod and Potatoes — Whole30 Check-In

Cod with Romesco Sauce by Amy Roth Photo. Recipe: Bon Appetit Magazine

A week and a half in, and I’m doing great with Whole30! There have been no mid-afternoon slumps or hangriness to deal with, but eating this way does require much more thought than simply throwing together a quick sandwich or heating up an Amy’s cheese enchilada entrée. (Honestly, I needed an Amy’s intervention, anyway.) Avoiding easy fillers like rice or bread has been a little challenging, but nothing I can’t deal with, and I’ve lost a few pounds, though that wasn’t my goal at all.

I’m still amazed by how much unnecessary sugar is in our food. I’m generally not much of a packaged food eater (save for the aforementioned enchiladas), but love condiments and sauces, and many of my favorites are taboo. Also, I miss cheese. Terribly. It’s my one craving and I’m going to be the saddest person around if I find dairy gives me problems when I start reintroducing food.

The Meals

There were a couple of fantastic meals I’ve had in the past week that I want to share with you today. Up top, you’ll see my photo for Bon Appetit’s Cod with Romesco Sauce, Hazelnuts, Lemon and Parsley. It was eye-opening, mind-boggling… just a fantastic meal with only a few components. And where, may I ask, has romesco sauce been all my life?! I’ve read about it for years, but never took the plunge until I made this recipe, and now it’s all I want to eat. I want to proselytize door to door in my neighborhood so everyone can share in this pure joy of mine! Yeah, I know, but it’s honestly that good. Cod isn’t something I eat very often, but it works so well here, I’m not sure I’d want to change anything next time.

Deborah Madison's Potato and Green Chile Stew by Amy Roth Photo.

And then, there’s Deborah Madison’s Potato and Green Chile Stew from Food52. Whenever I make this, I wonder why I don’t have it more often. It’s part of Food52’s Genius Recipes collection, and with good reason: Deborah Madison is an alchemist, creating kitchen gold from a handful of common ingredients. It’s a recipe that’s easy to convert for Whole30 compliance (skip the sour cream, which I usually do anyway) or for vegan/vegetarian diets (use vegetable broth instead of chicken and skip the sour cream). With our turn to winter weather now that Spring is here, this soup was the perfect thing to warm me after spending a lot of time outdoors yesterday.

Some Exciting News

Last summer, I got a call about a cookbook project that needed a quick turnaround. “It’s Misty Copeland’s Ballerina Body. Are you interested?” Well, my fingers couldn’t hit the keyboard fast enough to reply that absolutely, I was! Because of the abbreviated shooting schedule, I enlisted the help of local food stylist Darcie Hunter of Gourmet Creative for most of the plated dishes, and together we created the food photos featured in the book, released just this week. If you’re interested in creating a lean, strong, healthy body, want some great recipes (and they really ARE great!), or just want to read more about Misty, pick up a copy! I’ve shared a few of my favorites below.

Ballerina Body food images | Amy Roth Photo
Clockwise, from upper-left: Raw Barres, Black Bean Soup with Shrimp, Vegetables, Fruit Still Life, Egg White Fritatta

Tuna Tartare

After a few weeks of indulging in near-daily holiday sweets and rich goodies (an occupational hazard, if nothing else), I start to crave simple, clean foods with salty profiles. It’s when tuna tartare and the like step right into the spotlight, and they don’t leave until well after the new year.

Darcie’s recipe hits all the right notes — salty and nutty, with a little hit of acidity. I could eat this every day, and probably will once we’ve settled back into a normal routine. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Tuna Tartare | Amy Roth Photo

Tuna Tartare

Allergy Fish, Soy, Wheat
Meal type Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish, Starter
Misc Serve Cold

Ingredients

  • 1 Large tuna steak (about 1 lb.)
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 teaspoons wasabi powder
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (plus more for garnish)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • endive leaves (for serving)

Note

Make this gluten-free by replacing the soy sauce with gluten-free tamari.

Directions

Tuna is easiest to chop while at least slightly frozen, so partially thaw hard-frozen tuna or freeze fresh tuna for about 1 hour until firm. Cut the tuna into slices, then finely dice.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together, then pour over the tuna and stir to coat. Try not to over-handle or over-mix the fish. Allow to sit briefly prior to serving, but not too long because the citrus will cook the tuna.
Rinse and trim the endive leaves, then top with the tuna tartare, garnish and serve.

A Crêpesplosion in My Kitchen

When Gil and I visited Quebec City last July, I toured the city on foot during the day while he was working. My very first stop was the year-round farmers’ market down along the water. It was July, so produce was abundant and I ate my fill of flavorful wild blueberries and local cheeses, but once I tried Marche ou Crêpe, my breakfast for the week was decided. No tourist trap, this; it was out of the way enough that I never ran across huge crowds, plus I enjoyed a delicious crêpe each morning that sustained me through a day of climbing the hilly, winding streets.

Since then, I’ve tried my hand at making crêpes from time to time without much success — my sad little pancakes tear or fold over on themselves, inevitably imperfect thanks to my substandard technique — so when Kasha suggested a cooking/shooting play date around the theme of crêpes, I jumped at it. If you don’t know Kasha, she’s the brilliant mind behind The FarmGirl Cooks, one of the faces of Bialas Farms at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market and, as it turns out, a crêpe-maker extraordinaire. So we got together last Thursday and I think I’m still stuffed from the occasion. I contributed some Cajun and Creole fillings, while Kasha made ALL THE CRÊPES along with a savory and a sweet filling. Here’s how it went down.

Mushrooms — I sautéed shallots in butter until they were soft, then caramelized thinly sliced mushrooms in the pan, added a little thyme, salt & pepper, and a touch of cream to finish it off. Once we assembled the crêpe, it seemed a shame not to drizzle it with truffle oil, which was a good call.

Ham & Cheese — Kasha made a scrumptious bechamel loaded with jarlsberg, which went perfectly with a slice of ham. Folded into a little pocket and baked until everything was warm and gooey, this was easily my favorite of the bunch. (Gil’s, too, once he sampled everything Thursday evening.)

Cajun Shrimp — This was a play on shrimp & grits, minus the grits. I essentially used this Emeril recipe, though I didn’t really measure ingredients, and swapped out the red bell pepper for celery. I used much less broth than called for, too, just because such a loose filling would’ve made it impossible to eat. Over the weekend, I combined this leftover filling with the crab filling to make a stuffing for trout, which was excellent. Do try it sometime. (And I highly recommend Emeril’s recipe for Cajun seasoning included at the bottom of the shrimp & grits page. I make it without salt so I can season my dishes as much as I want — which is generally a lot — without turning them overly salty.)

Crab — My dad makes an awesome crab filling for stuffed peppers which I thought would be excellent here. Unfortunately, the lump crab meat I bought wasn’t nearly as good as the stuff he gets back home, but it was still quite tasty and very simple to make. Just sauté minced shallot in butter until soft, add a little flour to make a blond roux, then pour in heavy cream or half-and-half and cook until thickened slightly. Add crab and simmer until warmed through and the flavors mingle, then season with salt & pepper or Cajun seasoning to taste. I topped the crêpe with a sprinkling of paprika to fancy it up for the camera.

Grapefruit Curd — Kasha’s inspired creation. Instead of the more typical lemon curd, she played around with grapefruit, and accented it with tequila whipped cream and lime zest. Like I said, INSPIRED.

Bananas Foster — Because you can’t have savory Louisiana-inspired dishes and not finish with this. Again, I didn’t really follow a recipe, but melted brown sugar and plenty of butter in a skillet, then added bananas cut into quarters (halved lengthwise, then halved again crosswise). I flipped them a few times until they were softened, then added some spiced dark rum to the pan and let it cook down a bit. It would’ve been criminal to waste the leftover whipped cream from the grapefruit curd crêpes, so we repurposed it as a topping here instead of ice cream. You could always use the traditional banana liqueur in the recipe if you have it, then add rum and flambé the whole thing, but I have a distinct fear of flambé and a pantry lacking banana liqueur, so we went the easier route.

Naturally, I paid the price for eating so much gluten, but it was worth it to me. I’ll work on a good gluten-free crepe sometime (not just buckwheat) and will post it here once my technique catches up with my imagination. It could be a while, though. Just saying.

Be sure to check out Kasha’s take on the day at The FarmGirl Cooks. And bookmark her site. You’ll learn something new everyday, I promise.

a few outtakes after the jump

Continue reading “A Crêpesplosion in My Kitchen”

From the Market — Week 3

Caramelized Scallops with Strawberry Salsa

I haven’t come close to using everything I picked up at the market this weekend, but here’s a good sampling of what we’ve had.

Strawberries. Oh, yes. Divine, luscious, sweet, knock-your-socks-off strawberries, the memory of which will drive me away from the display at the grocery store that tries to tempt me, so redly and smugly. “Hey Amy, it’s still summer. Doesn’t a large, mealy strawberry sound delicious right about now?” Erm, no. Even more so (possibly) than tomatoes, they’re just so much better from the local growers.

They deserved a more special treatment than sliced over homemade yogurt (though they popped up there, too), so I worked up a strawberry salsa to top caramelized scallops. I tempered the fruity salsa with red wine vinegar so it would balance the naturally sweet scallops.

And we both loved it — if only I’d made more than just the appetizer portion you see here! But I set some aside for a very different, but still delicious appetizer, inspired by this post at Chocolate & Zucchini. Instead of using smoked sea salt, I smoked the remaining scallops with alder chips in my Camerons Stovetop Smoker, but otherwise stuck to the general recipe, then topped them off with fleur de sel.

It wasn’t difficult, but was a bit more trouble than the original would be. I think I’d happily feature the radishes with smoked salt for a party, just for ease of assembly.

My refrigerator is also seriously stuffed with all sorts of greens which I haven’t delved into (much) yet, but weeknight dinners are looking up!

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market — Week 3”

From the Market – Week Whatever

I’ve lost count of the missing weeks by now, but couldn’t let the last vestiges of summer slip by without posting about the latest seasonal finds from our market in Ringwood.

I don’t know about you, but we’ve nearly eaten our weight in corn this summer. Grilled, smoked, raw, creamed, sautéed … it’s all been delicious and now that summer’s winding down, I’m truly savoring fresh corn while it’s still around. But a couple of dishes really stood out from the crowd and I want to make sure I tell you about them, and include links so I can re-create them next year.

This weekend I adapted Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for baked buttered corn (seen above), gilding the lily with burro di parma and wisps of freshly grated locatelli before baking, then finishing with a dab of truffle butter before serving. It sounds excessive, but the extra ingredients were used in moderation for just a touch of earthiness so really, corn was still the star. This dish is a great way to use late-season corn that maybe isn’t quite the revelation it was even a few weeks ago.

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For a couple of weeks in August, I was obsessed with cooking variations of Shrimp with Sweet Curry and Coconut Creamed Corn. We had it 3 times in the span of two weeks and I could still go for more, which will probably happen next weekend, now that I think about it. The only reason for adapting the recipe at all was because I didn’t have the specific spice blends called for, but after working around that problem, I’ve discovered that there isn’t a way to mess this up. The first time around, I left the curry out of the corn mixture and coated the shrimp with it instead (using Singapore curry from World Spice Merchants). The curry blend was light and paired perfectly with the shrimp; it accentuated the shrimp’s natural sweetness and, with a dash of cayenne pepper, added a touch of heat which cut through the richness of the coconut corn.

Nina found herself up to her ears in callaloo this summer, after deciding to grow it on a whim. Since I’m a sucker for any new (to me) ingredient, I made a beeline for the strange-looking vines when they appeared at her booth and managed to work it into a couple of other iterations of the shrimp and coconut corn recipe. If you’ve never had callaloo, it’s similar to water spinach or chard, but cooks down to something that seems much less virtuous, with a thick, silky, rich mouthfeel. I used madras curry in the corn base this time and simmered the shrimp along with it, so the dish was more of a stew than it was the first go-around. (No picture of what was an otherwise delicious dish because the callaloo turned the whole mixture a thoroughly unappealing-looking shade of bile green. And because I cobbled together a few recipes without writing down any of the steps/measurements, there’s no real recipe for you. But I’ll try to re-create it this weekend and let you know how it turns out.)

continued after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market – Week Whatever”

Deeeeep breaths…

The Saints game is about to start. As such, I have no time nor the presence of mind to write a real post, so I’ll leave you with a few pictures and a promise to do better next weekend. I’ve been creatively moribund since the holidays, but hope it’ll pass soon.


Got my gris-gris going first thing this morning with shrimp & grits. I hope the spirits aren’t too upset that my coffee lacked chicory.


And since it’s old home day, why not have a little old-fashioned banana pudding with Nilla Wafers? (I’ve been playing with the recipe I got from my mom, who got it at her wedding shower, but it’s not quiiiiite there yet. Will post it once it is.)


And on the topic of comfort foods, all I wanted last weekend was graham crackers and milk.


OK, that’s not entirely true. These Szechuan noodles with shrimp really hit the spot.


How could they not?

Time for a beer, maybe some wings. Geaux Saints! No matter what happens tonight, nothing will ever beat this fan video or the run that inspired it:

Amy’s first risotto

091222_risotto

So… yeah. It’s been a while. How’ve you been? You’re looking great — have you lost weight? My apologies for abandoning this site, but things got seriously out of hand at work those last few weeks leading up to Christmas, and I couldn’t find time to do any cooking at all, and what’s a food blog without food? Keeping quiet seemed like the way to go.

The weekend before Christmas was a little less hectic, so I did manage to cook something before taking off for Louisiana — a risotto. Actually, my FIRST risotto. (Oh, stop your gasping.) I’ve always avoided it because the thought of standing in one spot stirring for so long didn’t appeal, but it was snowing and I had a bunch of mismatched ingredients in the house that didn’t add up to much else, so hey. Why not? It was that or shovel the driveway.

My parents sent me back to Jersey with about five pounds of frozen shrimp and crab meat the last time I visited. All that was left in our freezer was one container of crab, so I set my sights on turning out a delicately-seasoned risotto. (Going easy on seasonings isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but crab requires a light hand.) It couldn’t have been easier, really. I sweated some onion in a decent amount of olive oil and butter with 4 bay leaves, added a little garlic once the onion was translucent and cooked it for 30 seconds or so, then added a cup and a half of arborio rice, stirring it in the fat until the grains were just starting to look chalky. Then the laborious process (or so I imagined it would be) of adding liquids and stirring, stirring, stirring started. I began with 1/2 cup of dry white wine, cooking until it was absorbed, then added warmed shrimp stock one ladle at a time, until the rice was creamy and cooked through.

At this point, I stirred in about 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, then folded in the crab and some finely chopped green onions. And you know what? It blew my mind. I really thought that making a passable risotto would be beyond me, but when you start with great ingredients, I guess it isn’t so hard.

091222_arancini

Of course, I made extra so we could have arancini with the leftovers the following day. To start, I made a quick tomato sauce with another freezer find — a Ziploc bag containing about half of a large can of crushed tomatoes. (I don’t throw anything away if I can help it.) I added it to some sauteed onions and garlic, then hit it with a shot of sherry vinegar, a pinch of sugar and some crushed red pepper, before setting it aside to simmer while I finished up the rest of the meal.

The spinach was simply wilted with some olive oil and green onions. It would’ve been heavy on the garlic if only I had some in the house, but no. Rassafrassin’ snowstorm.

For the arancini itself, I mixed in a little more cheese and some milk to the cold risotto and formed it into golf ball-sized portions, stuffed with a small piece of cheese. (Which I think was taleggio, but can’t say positively. We always have a few types of cheese in the fridge at any given time.) The rice balls went into flour, then egg wash, then panko bread crumbs before spending about 15 minutes in the freezer to firm up.

Now, for someone raised on deep fried foods, I have a distinct fear of frying on two fronts: leaden, soggy food and an oily smell permeating the house. So this was the first time in maybe 20 years I’ve actually fried anything in more than a few tablespoons of oil. Heating the oil to 375F helped with the leaden aspect, and the fact that each batch took only a minute or so to fry didn’t leave my house smelling like a fast food joint. Can’t say deep fried stuff will appear on the menu very often, but I’m much more comfortable preparing it now.

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Due to circumstances beyond my control, there wasn’t much in the way of cooking at Christmas, either. My parents are renovating their kitchen (and it looks AMAZING), but the appliances didn’t make it on time, so we ate out. A lot. Not a problem if you like fried seafood (which I do), but let’s just say it’s good to be back in my own kitchen, reacquainting myself with green vegetables and whole grains.

It was a difficult Christmas, to be honest. Everyone was “off,” as we had an unexpected death in the family just a few weeks ago and, as always in such a large extended family, someone’s going to be in terribly poor health. But it wasn’t all bleak by any means and there were many bright spots to be found — laughing with my cousin over her mother-in-law woes, watching a young cousin pulling a flaming barbecue pit on a toy wagon tied to a modified big wheel (no, seriously, I was crying with laughter and yes, I have pictures, but I’m pretty sure his mom would kill me if I published them), talking food and dogs with one of the best cooks in my family (who promises to give me his recipe for pickled mirliton, mmmm). But the icing on the cake was seeing two of my oldest and dearest friends from high school again, one for the first time in about 20 years. I can’t even tell you how happy Facebook makes me at times.

Because we ate out so much, I have almost no food pictures, but did snap a few of my dad shucking oysters on Christmas Eve. Good stuff.

091228_oysters

091228_shucking

091228_shells

Hope you all had a great holiday. Here’s to 2010 and wishing you all a happy turning of the page. Thanks for stopping by in 2009!

Happy Bastille Day

We spent a very busy weekend with family, celebrating niece Sela’s SIXTH BIRTHDAY. Plenty of pics to come, but I couldn’t let this date go by without posting a French (ok, Cajun/Creole)-inflected dish from Saturday: Shrimp boil seafood salad.

090713_seafood_salad

See, my parents sent me a lovely care package a few weeks ago, and that Zatarain’s had been taunting me every time I opened the pantry, so I decided on a shrimp boil seafood salad, using good gulf shrimp and lump crabmeat liberated from my parents’ freezer when I was home last month. Since Gil and I were the only two eating, I didn’t fire up the crab pot, but kept the whole thing indoors. I boiled water, salt and Zatarain’s seasoning together for a couple of minutes before tossing in 4 small yellow onions and a whole head of garlic to season the water to perfection. Once they were cooked through, I fished them out and added baby red potatoes, then shrimp in the last couple of minutes. I turned off the heat as soon as the shrimp went in, and when they floated to the top, the salad was ready to assemble.

I diced the potatoes along with carrot, avocado and red bell pepper, added some of the boiled garlic, salted capers (soaked in water and chopped) and the seafood, then tossed everything with a gorgeous Creole remoulade from Chef John Folse. Shame I didn’t make more, but there were tacos and cake to look forward to at Sela’s party and it would’ve just put us over the top.

But if you’re looking for something more properly French on this date, you could take a gander at my Paris pix from our seven-month anniversary. What I wouldn’t give to go back…