Monday, March 31, 2008

Couscous with Eggplant and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

1.5 cup eggplant, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable)
.25 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
2 cups Moroccan couscous
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

.25 cup diced avocado
3 tablespoons hemp seeds (or sesame seeds)
3 tablespoons hemp seed oil (or olive oil)
.25 cup arugula microgreens (or some other garnish, if you’re inclined to use one at all)

Dry sauté eggplant, salt and pepper in a non-stick pan. Set aside. Bring broth, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper to a boil. Add couscous and eggplant, remove from heat and stir. Cover and let stand 7 minutes then fluff with a fork. Top with avocado, hempseeds, oil and greens. Serves 4.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cheesy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

3 large potatoes, cut up
12 cloves garlic, crushed
3 shallots, chopped

2 tablespoons half and half
1 cup finely shredded gouda (shred this really finely, as gouda doesn’t melt well otherwise)/clock
2 tablespoons butter

Boil potatoes with garlic and shallots until potatoes are fork tender. Drain. Mash with half and half, butter and gouda. Serves 4.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Southwestern Corn

¼ cup chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make this vegan)
1 cup corn
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 serrano, whole
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dill, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, whole

Heat a small skillet. Add oil, garlic and serrano, then allow to heat. When heated, add corn, bell pepper and dill. Sauté for 1 minute, then add cilantro and broth and simmer until broth is cooked off.

Serves 2.

Sautéed Aspargus

I spaced posting this yesterday. Oops.

Sautéed Asparagus

¼ pound asparagus tips
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon tomato bouillon
juice of ¼ lemon

Heat small skillet on medium-high heat. Add oil, salt, bouillon and lemon juice. Heat, then add asparagus. Sauté 5 minutes. Serves 2.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Oreos

Additionally, I made homemade Oreo cookies today. They are utterly delicious. The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen.

Thank you, Smitten Kitchen!

Baked Ziti and Stuffed Mushrooms

So today, we decided to eat dinner for lunch, so we could have dinner twice today. These recipes are super-easy to make, and although the mushrooms have a lot of ingredients, they're still simple to toss together. I believe I spent 30 minutes on preparing the mushrooms, and that includes going outside to forage greens.

Stuffed mushrooms are really one of my favourite appetizers/sides in the world. I like to make them different ways (and for you low-carbers, I didn't put in the bread crumbs today). Yum!

Baked Ziti

3 cups meat sauce
1 16-ounce package ziti (I actually used penne, but whatever)
8 ounces mozzarella
2 ounces parmesan

Preheat oven to 350F. Boil pasta in salted water for 6 minutes, then drain. Place pasta, meat sauce and a little bit of the mozzarella in a casserole dish. Top with remainder of mozzarella and cover with foil. Bake for 35 minutes, then uncover and top with parmesan. Bake 25 more minutes. Let stand 10-15 minutes, serve, eat. Serves up to 4.

Stuffed Mushrooms

6 large button mushrooms
4 tablespoons parmesan, divided
5 tablespoons mozzarella, divided
1 can minced clams, drained (I give the juice to Aleister)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
.5 cup chopped wild greens* or spinach
.5 cup chopped fresh mint
1 minced scallion
.25 cup minced celery
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350F (assuming you haven't already done this for the ziti). Clean mushrooms, then remove stems. Brush caps with vegetable oil and put in a baking dish. Trim end of stems off and chop finely and put in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons parmesan, 3 tablespoons mozzarella, greens*, lemon juice, mint, scallion, celery and egg. Stir well. Fill the caps with this mixture (I like to kind of push it down into the caps so it's really full. This has the added bonus of the filling just being slightly higher than flush w/ the top of the cap which leaves more room for CHEESE!), then top each cap with a teaspoon of mozzarella and a little more parmesan. Bake these for 25 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and the tops are golden brown. Let sit for a minute or five (you don't want to burn your mouth, after all), and eat!

*Ok, so here's the deal with the greens. I'm pretty weird, and I like wild foods. So when I decided to put greens in these mushrooms, I just walked outside and collected some sorrel, dandelion and other wild lettuces to chop up. Just a handful. I assume most people aren't as weird as I am, so you just use spinach or whatever small handful of greens you like best.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cauliflower and Artichoke Heart Sauté

1 cup blanched cauliflower (can use frozen and thawed)
1 cup frozen, quartered artichoke hearts
¼ cup matchstick carrots
3 radishes, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup celery, cut on a bias
2/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon each: fresh thyme, fresh tarragon and fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/8 cup each: fresh cilantro and fresh chives, chopped
Juice of 4 key limes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat oil. When heated, add remaining ingredients. Sauté 5-7 minutes. Serves 6.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cheesy Pasta

This is basically macaroni and cheese, except.. not. The stilton has a strong flavour, which is a little different from the normal mac 'n cheese. I also like this with cubed chicken breast in it. The first time I made it, I made it with a friend's kid (who was 6 or 7 at the time). I didn't think she'd eat it, but since I'd had her grind the pistachio's with a mortar and pestle, she was emotionally invested enough to consume the food. And really, that was all I looked for, since I never really know what to do w/ children (other than giving them back to their parents).

2 tablespoons ground pistachio nuts
.5 cups finely grated stilton
2 cups small pasta shells
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, pureed

Cook pasta shells for 6 minutes in boiling water. Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheese is melted. Serves 1-2.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

This is one of my favourites.

1 cup white rice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1¾ cup water

1 lb broccoli, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups assorted shredded cheeses

2 tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine rice, olive oil, salt, pepper and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Allow rice to sit, covered, for an additional 5 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.

Add broccoli, olive oil and cheese. Stir to combine. Bake for 30 minutes. Add cream, butter and mozzarella. Stir to combine, then bake, uncovered, until golden brown*. Serves 6.

*If you want to combine these steps to just bake once, go for it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pasta Salad

Today is the day where I make a slew of salads and such for P to eat while I'm out of town for the weekend. This is among the things I made*:

1 package salad macaroni
2 teaspoons salt

1 large tomato, diced
6 pickles, diced (sometimes I just use prepared dill relish)
2 cups diced bell pepper
1 cup diced celery
.5 cup sliced scallion (or diced onion)
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (more if you like it wet)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon each: celery salt, cumin, dry mustard, cayenne, paprika, coriander seed, garlic powder, onion powder (when I'm feeling sassy, I add some fenugreek, too)
1 teaspoon each: seasoned salt, lemon pepper

Cook macaroni with salt. Drain and cool. Combine with other ingredients, stir well. Chill, eat. Makes 2 quarts.

*Ok... in all honesty, I only make half batches of this. He usually eats the whole bowl in one sitting, so I am scared for him if I make the whole thing. But mainly this is how you make it. Oh, and if you like more flavourings, change it up!

Dressings

I thought I'd post some salad dressings I really like today. Some of these have some odd ingredients, so please make substitutions as needed. Enjoy!

Black Currant and Hempseed Vinaigrette

This dressing tastes quite good tossed on an exotic fruits salad (it’s very nice with pineapple, star fruit and the like).

1 tablespoon shelled hempseeds (or sesame seeds)
1/8 cup black currant juice
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 cup coconut (or white wine) vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon tamarind concentrate
½ teaspoon rosehip jam (any mild flavoured jam will do)
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
¼ cup hempseed oil

Whisk together.

Sage Dressing

1/8 cup fresh sage, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Swedish-style (or regular) yellow mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup champagne vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil

Blend all but oil. Slowly stream in the oil while blending.

Caesar Dressing

½ tin anchovies
5 cloves garlic
Juice 1 lemon
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1½ teaspoons cognac or red wine vinegar
Dash worchestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons dry mustard
1 egg yolk
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Combine anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, worchestershire sauce, cognac vinegar and mustard in food processor. Blend until smooth. Add egg and blend again. Slowly drizzle olive oil into running processor. Add parmesan cheese and blend again. Makes 1½ - 2 cups dressing.

Filbert Vinaigrette:

11 Filberts, ground
½ t cranberry juice concentrate
¼ t poppy seeds
1 t sesame seeds
1 T Swedish-style mild yellow mustard (or regular yellow)
½ c red wine vinegar
2 chives, minced
¼ c extra virgin olive oil

Blend. Allow to sit for 1 hour before serving, to thicken.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Poached Trout

1¾ pound steelhead trout loin (or trout of your choice)
juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons butter
½ large onion, sliced
1 sprig mint
4 sprigs thyme
2 cloves whole garlic
3 sprigs tarragon
12 chives
10 ounces chicken broth
¾ cup white wine

Heat a large, deep skillet. Combine lemon juice, butter, onion, mint, thyme, garlic, tarragon, chives, broth and wine in pan. Bring to a strong simmer, then add trout and cover. Cook for 35 minutes. Serves 4.

This is an easy, low-effort quick fish recipe. The beautiful thing about poaching fish is that while many people are afraid to cook fish, it is nearly impossible to mess up when you're poaching it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wilted Romaine and Button Mushrooms

1 small red onion, sliced into half moons
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon each: butter, olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 ounces sliced button mushrooms
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons vegetable or chicken broth
2 heads romaine lettuce, cut up

Heat butter and olive oil together in a large pan. Add tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper and onion. Cook down over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring to coat onion with tomato paste. Add mushrooms, broth and lemon and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add lettuce, stir well as the lettuce cooks for another 5-10 minutes (depending on how cooked you like it). Serves 2.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jewish Penicillin

This recipe should truly be used as a guide, not a be-all-end-all. My mother makes it with wheat berries (which is delicious also), and I don't recall my father ever putting grains into his soup. Every time it gets made, however, it's a little different. Today I wanted a more stew-like consistency than a real soup, next time, who knows? This is also really good with potatoes in it, and just about any variation will be delicious. Oh, if you have kids, or just really like onions, you can do this: both of my parents used to put a whole onion in the soup in addition to the cut up onions. I used to (mostly successfully) petition for the whole onion in my bowl. It is just wonderful. I wish I'd remembered that before I made the soup.

Also, most people make this with a whole chicken, or at least a mix of parts. I was being cheap when I bought the meat, and additionally I wanted to render the fat to make chicken pot pies on another date, so I just got thighs. You get what you want.

This recipe is kind of long and involved (compared to what I normally post). I just feel really strongly about my chicken soup and feel it's worth the extra steps and effort.

Anyway, enough rambling. Here it is:

Ingredients
1.5 pounds chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
2 bay leaves, divided
1 2-inch strip orange peel (or bergamot if you have it)
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 sprigs fresh mint
handful cilantro (if you're one of those who hates it, leave it out)
water
1 small carrot, sliced
1 small parsnip, sliced
2-3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
1 leek, trimmed and cut into chunks (and well cleaned)
.5-1 cup grape/cherry/whatever tomatoes, cut in half, or one regular tomato cut into chunks
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
.5 cup brown rice

Directions
Debone and skin chicken thighs. Cube meat and set aside (refrigerate). Put fat and skins into a pan. Turn pan on the lowest possible setting and let it cook until you can render no more fat from the skins. Pour off fat into a jar or other container and refrigerate (this is good for lots of stuff and can be used just like you'd cook with lard). Blot (or not) the chicken skins and put them in a bowl. I serve these alongside the soup.

While the fat renders from the skins, place the bones in a pot, plus 2-3 cups of water (however much you think), orange/bergamot peel, mint, cilantro, salt, pepper and one bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour (it should reduce down to about 2 cups of liquid). Strain liquid into a larger pot and discard remainder.

Add to stock: chicken meat, carrot, parsnip, leek, celery, tomato, second bay leaf, salt and pepper, lemon juice and an addition cup or two of water (not enough liquid to cover, enough liquid that the ingredients are .75 covered). Simmer for 1-2 hours, adding water as needed. Add brown rice, plus one cup of water. Simmer 30 more minutes. Serve with chicken skin and bread. Serves 2-4.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chicken Pasta Sauce

8 ounces chicken breast
1 teaspoon olive oil

1 shallot, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon oil

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
½ teaspoon each: paprika, dried basil, dried thyme, dried oregano
½ bay leaf
1 - 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 - 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 small can mushroom pieces
½ can chopped olives

1 sprig each: basil, thyme and oregano, chopped

Cut chicken into thumbnail sized pieces and sauté in oil.

Heat a medium saucepan, then add oil and allow to heat. Add shallot, garlic, onion, mushrooms and salt and pepper and sauté until onions are translucent. Add chicken to saucepan as well as tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, canned mushroom , olives and dried spices. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 3 hours. Add fresh herbs and allow to cook, uncovered, for 1-2 hours.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Salt Roasted Shrimp

4 lbs rock salt
½ pound shrimp (with heads and shells attached)*
3 sprigs sage
3 sprigs dill

Divide salt into two baking dishes. Place in the oven. Turn oven on to 400 degrees. Once oven reaches desired temperature, allow salt to cook another 15 minutes. Remove salt from oven. Layer dill and sage sprigs on top of the salt in one of the baking dishes. Lay shrimp on top of herbs, then cover with salt from the other baking dish. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Serves 2.

*If you like salt more than even I do, feel free to take the heads and shells off. However, if you like salt as much as I do or less, leave the heads and shells on until they're cooked. Oh, and if you do decide you like salt enough to eat these after they've been cooked beheaded, please drop me a line and let me know.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Salsas!

Ok, so I had this great bottled green salsa last night that P wanted to try (it's the Pace tequila lime one, of their new line) and it reminded me that at least here in Texas, salsa can be a pretty important thing. So I thought I'd give a few samples of the types of salsas I like to make. They range from not spicy at all, to pretty spicy. Enjoy.

Basil Salsa Verde

1 small shallot
1 small sweet yellow onion
24” sprig basil
.5 cup cilantro
2 garlic cloves
.125 teaspoon vanilla sugar
1 tablespoon cucumber or white vinegar
.25 teaspoon cumin
.25 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
.25 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups tomatillo
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Blend.

This salsa is sweet and not at all spicy. It's also super-easy to make, because you just toss everything in your blender and turn it on. I serve this mainly to people who have no tolerance for spicy foods, but it has a nice flavour as well.

Roasted Habenero Salsa

1 small white onion, sliced
6 roma tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 bulb garlic
2 serrano chiles
1 jalapeno chile
1 poblano chile
1 habenero pepper
1 large green bell pepper
1 large shallot, sliced
Olive oil
Cognac or red wine vinegar vinegar
Salt and pepper

1 whole clove garlic
Large handful chives
2 sprigs mint
1 bunch cilantro
Oil and scrapings from roasting pan
2 tablespoons hempseed or olive oil
2 tablespoons cognac or red wine vinegar
Juice of 3 key limes (or 1 persian lime)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, then arrange onion, tomatoes, chiles, bell pepper and shallot on the pan. Drizzle with oil and vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. With clean hands, mix them up well to evenly coat with oil and vinegar. Roast. After peppers come out of oven, place in a bowl and cover. Let stand 15 minutes then peel chiles and remove tops (leave seeds). Wrap bulb of garlic in a square of foil. Drizzle with oil and seal foil package. Roast.

In a blender or food processor, combine roasted, cooled ingredients and remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan and warm before serving, if desired. Makes 2-3 cups.

This salsa looks fairly complicated, but I promise it's not. It's a spicy, smokey kind of salsa with a broad flavour profile. Roasting the vegetables adds a bit of sweetness to it, balancing out the heat of so many chiles. Of the three salsas I'm posting today, this is by far the spiciest. If you feel like habenero might be a little much for you, take the seeds and membranes out after it's roasted and that will reduce the heat a bit.

Brazilian Pico de Gallo 2

2 tomatillos, diced
3 large roma tomatoes, diced
½ small red onion, diced
1 large jalepeno, minced
1 serrano, minced
3 chives, minced
½ cucumber, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon cumin

Combine.

This is one of my favourite pico de gallo recipes. I love the addition of the cucumber and tomatillo, as it "freshens" up the recipe. I don't know if it's really right to serve a selection of salsas without including a pico de gallo, so here you go. This salsa is of medium spiciness. Not too hot, not too spiceless.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dear Bon Appetit,

Thank you for your lemon raspberry cupcake recipe. Seriously.

Grilled Chicken, plus Strawberry Dessert

This is kind of a low-calorie thing, so I thought I'd include an equally low-cal dessert.

Grill Chicken

16 ounces chicken breast
½ teaspoon each: orange and lemon peel
1 teaspoon each: seasoned salt and cumin
¼ teaspoon each: dried dill weed, garlic powder and poppy seeds
2 teaspoons each: lemon juice and soy sauce

Combine dried spices. Massage spice mixture onto both sides of chicken. Sprinkle half the lemon and soy on one side of the chicken breast. Grill for 5 minutes. Before turning the chicken, sprinkle remainder of lemon and soy on the breast. Turn and grill an additional 5 minutes. Serves 2.

Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar

1 c strawberries, sliced
1-2 T 6 year old balsamic vinegar
1-2 t sugar

Arrange strawberry slices on a plate. Sprinkle with sugar, then drizzle with vinegar.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Beef Tips and Rice

.25 pound beef tips (or stew meat, etc)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon red wine
1/2 c beef broth
1/8 t ground white pepper
1 pinch dried dill weed
1/8 t garlic powder
3 cups water

½ cup white rice
1 cup water

In a deep skillet (w/ a fitted lid), combine butter and flour. Make a dark roux (should take 15 or so minutes). Add water, wine, beef broth and spices, and mix thoroughly.

Add meat slices, cover, and set on VERY low (lowest setting you have) temperature. Let simmer 3 hours (replenishing water as needed). If "sauce" is still thin, remove meat and bring sauce to a boil (keep meat in warmer). Allow to reduce, pour over meat.

Combine rice and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, then allow to rest for another 5 minutes.

Place rice on a plate, then pour beef tips and sauce over rice.

Serves 1-2.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Breakfast Taco Frittata

This recipe works really well in instances when you want a breakfast taco but um... ate all the tortillas and didn't get more.

8 pieces of bacon, diced
1 cup onion cut into quarter slices
.5 cup diced potatoes or frozen hash brown cubes
.5 cup chopped cilantro
.5-1 cup Mexican mix shredded cheese
4 eggs
.25 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F. Fry bacon in a 5" pan*. Remove bacon and pour off half the rendered fat (here, you can add a pat of butter if you like but it's not required). Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes to onion and cook another 5 minutes or so. Whisk eggs and milk with a fork, then add cilantro, salt, pepper and cheese and mix well. Put bacon back in the pan with the onions and potatoes. Top with egg mixture and make sure it's all mixed in together. Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the top is browned and the eggs are set. Remove from oven (carefully!) and let stand 5 minutes or so. Cut into wedges, serve, eat. Serves 2.

*You can use whatever size you want, but pick a smaller one and make sure it's oven proof.

I burned my left index finger really badly in the oven today, so I will be typing nothing for the next couple days now that I know how hard it is to type w/o this finger.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Filling:
6 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon each: cumin, paprika, garlic powder, tomato bouillon*, chili powder and oregano

1 small yellow onion, minced
6 ounces Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese, shredded

Season chicken with salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, bouillon, chili powder and oregano. Bake for 10 minutes (5 per side). Allow to cool slightly, and then shred chicken. Combine chicken with onion and cheese.

Sauce:
1 – 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cognac vinegar
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne
¼ cup chicken broth

Combine.

2 large poblano peppers, deseeded, with top reserved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stuff mixture tightly into poblano pepper then seal with top of pepper and a toothpick. Place side by side in a small baking dish that just fits the peppers. Pour sauce over the top of the peppers. Bake for 15 minutes. Serves 2.

*I use Knorr brand tomato bouillon. If you don’t have it, don’t want to get it, or don’t have access to it, leave it out. It’s not going to make a significant enough change in the recipe to worry about it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Indian-Inspired Broiled Cod

This recipe looks really, really long, but it's a trick. It's actually very easy to make.

Curry:

¼ teaspoon grains of paradise or black peppercorns
3 cardamom pods
¼ teaspoon celery seed
1 allspice berry
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried bergamot or orange peel
½ teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
½ nutmeg pod, freshly grated

Heat a nonstick pan to medium-low heat. When heated, add grains of paradise, cardamom, celery seed, allspice, paprika, bergamot, fenugreek, marjoram and nutmeg. Toast in the pan, stirring periodically, until fragrant and fenugreek turns a darker, brownish-yellow (about 10 minutes). Transfer to spice grinder or mortar and pestle and finely grind.

Fish:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil*
½ pound black cod

Preheat oven to broil setting. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season cod with spice mixture (use all of it) and transfer to baking sheet. Drizzle remaining oil on cod and broil for 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow fish to remain in closed oven for another 15 minutes. Top with cucumber yogurt sauce.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce:

¼ teaspoon fresh dill
3 tablespoons minced cucumber
1 teaspoon stone ground mustard (recommend: Plochman’s)
6 ounces plain yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together.

Serves 2.

*The first time I made this, I used tea oil. Tea oil is delicious, but extremely costly, so I no longer use it. Just use vegetable oil or whatever you have.

Poached Peaches with Caviar

This recipe is a lot fluffier than I normally like my food, but I've found it works well for parties given for special occasions.

4 large white peaches

2 cups sake
2 cups plum wine
3 cups water
1 teaspoon fig vinegar or other sweet vinegar
8” sprig fresh rosemary

1 ounce perignord truffle chevre (or other soft goat cheese)
.5 ounce Osetra caviar

Blanch peaches. Remove skins and pits, cut into quarters. In a large sauce pan, combine wine, sake, water, vinegar and rosemary. Bring to a simmer. Add peaches and poach until soft, about 20 minutes.

Strain and lay in a single layer on a sheet pan. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Spread a thin layer of chevre on the “pit portion” (the part of the peach that was touching the pit) then top with a generous dollop of caviar. Serves 16.