This past weekend, Jack and I enjoyed an extended weekend at his family's beach house in Long Beach Island, NJ, or LBI for short. LBI is a fantastic island off of the southern coast of NJ and is part of the famed (or infamous, depending on which reputation you are familiar with) Jersey Shore. However, this is not the Jersey Shore that you may know of from such programs as "True Life: I Have a Summer Share" (Parts 1 and 2) with orange twenty-somethings who have invested stock in hair gel and wifebeater t-shirts partying at clubs and cursing each other out. LBI is a family place filled with mini-golf, amusement parks, ice cream shoppes (with an "e"), breakfast places such as Uncle Will's and The Chicken and The Egg, and plenty of fried fish. When I am in LBI, I have a daily ritual of going running at 8 am sharp while listening to Bob Marley and smiling at every person who passes by (and they smile back! which is an odd experience for a New Yorker).
3/4 lb Dried white beans (such as Great northern) 1 Medium onion 1 Clove 1 Bouquet garni Salt 2 Carrots, sliced thin 6 tb Vegetable oil 6 tb Unsalted butter 2 Medium onions, chopped fine 2 Cloves garlic, chopped fine 3/4 lb Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped Freshly ground pepper 2 Trout (about 1 lb each) or 1 1/2 lb Monkfish fillets 6 Sea scallops 3/4 c Dried bread crumbs
Soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover. Drain and rinse. Transfer to a large saucepan and cover with 4 to 5 inches of fresh cold water. Peel the whole onion and stud with the clove and add to the pan along with the bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and skim the froth that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Season to taste with salt. Add the carrots and continue simmering until the carrots and beans are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain; discard the bouquet garni and the onion.
While the beans are cooking, heat 3 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a frying pan over low heat. Add the chopped onions and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until tender but not colored. Add garlic and cook one minute. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Cut the monkfish fillets into 1 inch thick slices. Cut the scallops in half cross-wise. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large frying pan over high heat. Saute the monkfish and sliced scallops until golden brown
on both sides; set aside.
Preheat the oven to 450F. Combine the tomato mixture and drained beans in a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Spread one-half of the mixture over the bottom of a 10x15″ gratin dish. Arrange the fish and scallops on top and cover with the remaining bean mixture. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake until the bread crumbs are golden brown, 10-15 minutes.
"Baby!" Jack shouted. "I made my very first batter!"
On this episode of Top Chef, the cheftestants had to make something tasty out of something that looks very unappetizing.
Needless to say, our cheftestants were a bit nervous.
Coincidentally (in my case, at least), the quickfire challenge involved cooking octopus. The chefs had 60 minutes to take an entire octopus and make it a meal - a difficult task on any day, as octopus usually needs to boil for at least 45 minutes. I would have squealed as I did when making octopus here in my place. That, my friends, is why I am not on Top Chef.
In the elimination challenge, the chefs had the pleasure of making a tasty dish out of monkfish. The people who would be judging this dish?
40 ten year olds.
The chefs looked nervous. Tiffani was upset that she was "lowering her standards" to cook for children and noted her disdain for their palates. She then called certain dishes childish.
The group was split into two teams - Team Red and Team Blue. Team Red - the winning Team - consisted of Candice, Cynthia, Miguel, Lisa, and my favorite and yours, Stephen the Sommelier. They were lucky enough to have Cynthia, a mother with two children, on their team. Her knowledge of what children like and don't like to eat won them this challenge. Their menu of Monkfish Corn Dogs (called "Monkey Dogs") with a Mango Ketchup, Fruit Skewers with a vanilla honey dipping sauce, and criss-crossed potato chips was well received by the children. And the children were thrilled to learn that their criss-crossed potato chips were actually called "gaufrettes" by our beloved Stephen (note the sarcasm).
To be honest, I was going to skip this week. I did not know how I was going to make monkfish corndogs, nor did I want to eat them. But then I decided that I took on this challenge for a reason - to challenge myself. So I sighed, headed to the fishmonger (I will use that word whenever I get the chance) and got my monkfish.
2 cups Flour
1 cups cornmeal (fine ground)
1 1/2 Tablespoons baking soda
1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs (separated)
1 1/2 cups milk
3 lbs monkfish
Sift first five ingredients in one bowl, in a separate bowl, mix yolks and milk, in another bowl, whip whites to stiff peaks. Mix wet with dry and fold egg whites in mix. Let it sit for 30 minutes in refrigerator.
Clean and ground fish, then make quenelles and freeze for at least 2 hours.
Coat in batter and fry at 350° until golden brown.
Mango Ketchup - Adapted from Bobby Flay
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add the cinnamon, allspice, cloves and habanero and cook an additional 1 minute. Add the mango and continue cooking until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Place the mango mixture into the bowl of a food processor, add the vinegar and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
1/3 cup parsley, roughly chopped
Jack and I have decided to do a fun project: Each week, we will cook a winning dish from Top Chef.
1 piece Red Snapper
Salmon En Papilotte makes me laugh. When you tell someone, "I think I'm going to make Salmon En Papilotte" tonight, you'll usually get in return a wide-eyed stare of wonderment and curiosity. That's right. You've just impressed someone by using a fancy way to say "I'm going to cook something in paper."
I tested this theory by making this my status update on Facebook a few days ago. I received comments such as "Oooooh, what's that?" and "When is your cookbook coming out?"
It's kind of like saying, "Where is the bathroom?" in a foreign language. In English, it's not that hot. But when you say "Dove il gabinetto?", it's like angels singing.
If you want this particular recipe, purchase The Gourmet Cookbook (a fantastic book with over 1,000 recipes!) I have to respect the book publishers and not publish this recipe online!
BUUUUUT you can check out other "Classy Stuff en Papillote" recipes from Gourmet at Epicurious.com, such as these:
You want a quick, filling and healthy dinner? Try this recipe out. It is so simple and fast, yet the variety of spices will really get your tastebuds working. I like to make this with sauteed asparagus and cinnamon-sugar sweet potatos, but you can make this with whatever side you prefer.
8 ounces salmon fillet
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 bunch asparagus
Sea salt and kosher salt to taste (or just kosher salt)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
Combine brown sugar, coarse sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Slice sweet potato into 1/4" rounds. Place in a shallow baking dish and drizzle with vegetable oil. Sprinkle sugars evenly over potato slices, place in oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Spray a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
Combine first six ingredients in a bowl. Rub mixture over salmon fillets. Bake salmon for 20-25 minutes (or until salmon flakes).
Heat olive oil in a saute` pan over medium heat. Add asparagus and a pinch of kosher salt. Saute` for three minutes. Lower heat to medium low and add enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook for additional 5 minutes or until tender. Drain water, drizzle with olive oil and add coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.