Recently in Seafood
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

pan-seared branzino with orange-fennel salad

Debating blogging this. One of our favorite dinners and I never seem to take this in daytime. So the result is a poorly lit photo. It is however remarkably good.

These days I test my recipes when I have time to test them – which is not nearly as often I want to, or at a time of day that’s convenient. When I feel that I’ve made enough progress for the day in my other work, if there are enough working brain cells in my head, I turn to food that inspires me, ideas I want to play with. I miss the days when I could test recipes in the morning, with perfect, ample light streaming through the window, but in the real world where you have to pay various bills (and that apartment you just plunked some money on), you do what it takes to make your life sustainable.

It’s not lost on me that a good picture will make it more likely for a reader to click on a post. I’m not even talking about getting more eyeballs, or traffic, or comments, or “likes”. I’m talking about trying to convince a reader that a dish is not only worth his time and effort, but also one he’ll want to make for dinner over and over again. We all know that a good picture is usually one taken in daylight. It’s the single most important thing you can do to improve your food photography, says every food photographer worth his salt. And yet, here I am taking iPhone (no less!) pictures of my messy plate trying to convince you to make this for dinner tonight. How am I doing?

Continue reading pan-seared branzino with orange-fennel salad.

See more: Seafood, , ,
Monday, August 5, 2013

tuna tartare

tuna tartare

When life, or in this case, a good friend, gives you freshly caught yellowfin tuna that her father-in-law caught days before (as in never frozen), you say thank you. And then you say thank you again.

And when you find out that you’re getting the best cut of all, toro, you repeat your thank you’s and cartwheel all the way home determined to make tartare. With fish this good, it’s best to leave it as fresh as possible, and in my case, I didn’t want to cook it in the slightest. A little ginger oil, some heat, a drop or two of sesame oil, and some lime juice to liven it up. That’s pretty much all it took. We served it as an early dinner course last Friday night with a side of good potato chips. By the end, I was so full, I didn’t feel like eating dinner, and yet, I had to get back in the kitchen – I’m starting work on a new project with a very aggressive deadline and every day, I test a few recipes. So much later that night, we had our second meal of the evening. A little excessive, no?

Continue reading tuna tartare.

See more: Seafood, ,
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

spicy tunisian fish stew (chreime)

spicy tunisian fish stew (chreime)

I’ve been thinking about this space in the last few weeks: how it changes with time. Life, itself, isn’t static, so it would be intuitive to think of this as a dynamic space. A year ago, Friday’s links didn’t exist, and today they do. I’m all the happier for it – I hope you are too.

Sometimes I post frequently; other times, not so much. Last summer, when I was in the throes of finishing a cookbook, I didn’t post much. I was too immersed in heavy writing and editing, and my husband and I ate a lot of “toast with things on top” and eggs made whichever way, both of which grew tiresome rather quickly. This upcoming month, in addition to some work I’ve been doing (and loving), I’ve picked up a private chef gig, and there might be another fun project on the horizon. So I might not be posting frequently in June, or maybe I’ll post about what I’m cooking for the private chef gig because these will be the types of things that will reheat rather well and should be a boon for a busy home cook. Friends, I hope you’ll forgive me for poorly lit iPhone photos should I do that, because the last thing on my mind in June will be a well-shot, well-lit, well-composed photo.

The infrequent posting could also suggest lack of interest or commitment to this space. But it’s actually quite the opposite: I only want to write about things that I think you ought to cook right now, without any delays; delicious and, for the most part, straightforward food. Sometimes, I’ll test recipes all week and they’re fine and good, but not particularly blog-worthy. It’s just regular dinner, folks, protein, grain, veg – you know the drill. Sometimes, the testing of a particular recipe takes months to perfect (there’s one on rotation like this right now – grrr). On occasions when I come across fussy recipes that are well-worth the extra effort, I save them for the kind of leisurely cooking when I can spend the whole day puttering in the kitchen. They tend to be weekends, but even Saturdays and Sundays can suddenly become full of those weekend activities like picnics and museums and hosting friends, and being outside in this glorious weather, because who wants to slave over a hot stove on a gorgeous spring (or summer day)? What you need is a reliable arsenal of recipes that will produce stunning results with minimal time and effort. In other words the recipes will have high culinary ROI.

Continue reading spicy tunisian fish stew (chreime).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

pasta con le sarde – pasta with sardines

pasta con le sarde

Last winter, while Andrew was away for work, his cousin Mike happened to be in town. Mike is an entrepreneur who lives in Boston, and if I had to catergorize the kind of person Mike is, well, he’s a bringer-of-people-together. Thus, Mike, being Mike, gathered a bunch of folks: cousins, significant others of cousins who couldn’t make it (that’s me!), and friends – for a brunch at Morandi. It turned into a swell afternoon.

Morandi, for those who don’t live in New York and might be contemplating a visit, is a great place for eating. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – they are all fantastic. But my favorite time to go there is for brunch. It’s boisterous, almost too-loud, but in a gregarious, fun-filled way, as if to remind you that hey, it’s the weekend, live a little. And so we ordered food: eggs, toast, pancakes, bloody mary’s and mimosas. There were at least two orders of Morandi’s famous ricotta fritters. When we got to the last fritter, everyone feigned a polite, No, you go ahead and take it, all the while hoping to be the lucky one on the end. While looking over the menu, out of the corner of my eye I spied pasta with sardines in tomato sauce with raisins, pine nuts, and fennel. I ordered it, and it’s been about a year now that I’ve been meaning to tell you about this dish.

Continue reading pasta con le sarde – pasta with sardines.

Friday, September 28, 2012

branzino with roasted grapes

You would think that working from home might mean that we dine on fancy, elaborate dinners, and that Andrew eats like royalty around here. I run an elaborate ruse: come weekdays, we’re all about quick meals around here. Roast chicken is for the weekend, and so is stuffed cabbage. Mondays through Fridays, it’s all about the manageable, or if I am feeling lazy – take-out.

Our regular weeknight rotation includes: shrimp and broccoli, deconstructed banh mi, merguez burgers, Thai beef salads, and lots and lots of pasta dishes.

But sometimes, instead of cooking a meal I can’t wait to write about, I fail. I burn dinner. I discover that chickpeas and kale stewing together in a slow-cooker, while sounding amazing in theory, look like the split pea soup they used as vomit in Poltergeist.

[I just wrote “vomit” on my blog. Excuse me for my brutal honesty.]

Continue reading branzino with roasted grapes.

See more: Seafood,
Friday, August 3, 2012

hake with olive oil, butter, and lemon

cooked hake - our saturday night dinners post farmers' market

Things they should tell you when you’re writing a book.

  • You will spend three times as much time on it as you think you will. Plan accordingly.
  • Life will happen as you fast-approach deadline and you have to juggle it.
  • On Monday, you might this it’s Friday, and on Wednesday you might think it’s Monday. Days of the week will cease to have the same meaning they do for people with regular desk jobs.
  • You will treat taking a shower as a major accomplishment. At times, you will skip it and not think twice on your decision. But when you do, you will pat yourself on the back if only inside your head.
  • As for getting dressed, you might find yourself at 2 o’clock in the afternoon still in your pajamas. And you’ve been writing since 7 am. You might stay like this ‘til dinnertime and change into shorts and a tanktop before your husband comes home for dinner.
  • Your idea of a nutritious meal will be peanut butter toast and coffee. Anything requiring chopping, stirring, kneading, and most importantly, clean up – are way too time consuming. Dishes with crumbs will pile up by your desk or on the coffee table.
  • You will order more take-out than you care to admit to others. And it won’t be the cooking that you won’t have time for – but the clean up.
  • You will develop that weird cramp in your shoulder which will switch sides on occasion, but will be mostly persistent in one pesky spot. Aleve and Advil will fail you. So will a chair massage in a local nail salon. You might even stop noticing it for awhile or accept it as the new phase your body has entered. Much like that one stray grey hair you found the other morning, but chose to pluck before it saw the light of day.
  • You will ask for an extension. You will be granted an extension. You’ll feel terrible about because you’ve never, not once in your life, handed something in late.
  • Continue reading hake with olive oil, butter, and lemon.