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East Coast USA, United States
Lowcountry porch sitter. Appalachian Mountain lover. Finger Lakes dreamer.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yu: The Whole Fish (Progress, Togetherness, Abundance)

Year of the Rabbit. We're hopping right into the Chinese New Year on February 3rd with our usual verve. Three activities I've personally kept constant in approaching this second coming of new year bliss: spring cleaning , painting my toe nails red and consuming "fortune-boosting foods." In years past I've attempted sticky rice cakes and dumplings with glee, but preparing fish is definitely in order for beginning the lunar year. Fish served whole is a symbol of prosperity. As well, the Chinese word for fish, yu, sounds like the word for riches or abundance. Like greens and black eyed peas it is believed that eating fish will help your wishes come true in the year to come. And fish does my heart good, both figuratively and literally. I selected a recipe from Bon Appetit for Whole Fish baked in Sea Salt mostly because of the tag line associated with the recipe "ease of preparation with stunning presentation." And indeed it was! Cracking the salt pack around the fish and simply served with drizzled olive oil and lemon wedges makes for great fun with young sous chefs in the kitchen! [be sure to check out the video link, love it when there's a visual on the process from start to finish].

Recipe: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2008/01/whole_fish_baked_in_sea_salt

For more on Chinese New Year Traditions: http://www.parade.com/news/slideshows/editors-pick/chinese-new-year.html

Friday, January 21, 2011

Carrots not just for dogs!

First, the local veterinarian indicated that I might want to add more carrots to my dog's diet. Then came my Go Red Heart Checkup at Coastal Carolina Hospital. Back to back these experiences were clear indicators that it was time for the dog and I to adopt a healthier regimen in our daily living. So we started this new regimen with carrots just like the vet ordered(sans the dog biscuits, sans the junk food and fat for the human). Carrots come in a wide range of varietals so preparation options are as diverse as potatoes. For me there was a simple first step, start with a great soup. My favorite locale to indulge in carrot soup is at Christine's Cafe on Hilton Head Island. Chef Christine makes a delish Carrot Ginger soup which features frequently on her specials board. My friend Chef Richard also features a Curried Carrot Bisque recipe on his blog...but for this Sunday's experience I'm using a recipe straight from FoodBuzz for Cumin, Coriander & Ginger scented Carrot Miso Soup. For the dog simply adding grated carrot to his food or offering baby carrots as treats did not entice him to cross over to this new way of life. Instead, for him it required pureeing steamed carrots and adding (in his presence)2 tablespoons to his meal. I can only imagine what this must read like to the non-animal lovers out there (admit it you are rolling your eyes). [Were time not plentiful there is a local option for such wholesome goodness for canines, Lucky Dog Cuisine, which simply requires purchase rather than process]. Carrots aren't just for humans (dogs).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Esoteric Chefs, Restaurant Week and Pastrami Salmon with Caraway Celery Root

I have indeed used the term esoteric to describe our local chef population. Each seems to be able to tap into a secret doctrine for delivering divine experiences to the table. So when asked to recommend or suggest a dining environment I tend to take the "long" thoughtful route to answering the question (frustrating many who simply want a quick answer). I start by asking what's desired in terms of experience both in palate and in ambiance, then proceed to inquire about the nature of dining desired...something unusual in format, food items never prepared at home, locale full of local color and character, or perhaps possessing a spectacular coastal view? Typically after defining the attributes of desire and nature, I'm confident in providing what the query demanded. My reservations have followed one particular local chef since my arrival in the Lowcountry. Thus, as South Carolina kicks-off its nine day celebration of everything culinary today, I'm providing a shout out to Richard Wilson of Maggies Pub to highlight his culinary genius. His passion for food exceeds the norm and his willingness to educate his patrons as to the opulence one enjoys in strict adherence to all things local is undeniable. In fact, were he able, he'd walk us all through the garden to the kitchen and finally to the table armed with a greater knowledge of the origins and best practices in honoring food. This salmon dish with pastrami-cure style ingredients marries my desire to honor Richard's passion and provides for an inclusion of another one of Alastair Hendy's Cooking for Friends recipes in this blog.

Salmon Recipe: http://www.waitrose.com/recipe
/Blackened_Pastrami_Salmon.aspx


Caraway Celery Root
1 celery root 1 lb.
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 c white wine
2/3 c double cream
1 tsp mustard powder
salt and freshly ground pepper

Celeriac: though implied this can be purchased in pillow packs at local specialty shops, I'm certain it would have to be sourced or ordered for our local market, this is a great question for Richard when I see him next. Unlike other root vegetables, which store a large amount of starch, celeriac is only about 5-6% starch by weight...also known as celery root, turnip-rooted celery or knob celery. More info

Sidebar: Richard's wife Peggy is a local real estate agent, but she's also a baker extraordinaire. I relish her Facebook posts that indicate what is to appear for service at the pub.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Robert Irvine in our backyard and Octopus Salad with Spiced Cucumber

News that Robert Irvine of Food Network fame will offer another haven for food lovers on Hilton Head Island speaks volumes for his commitment to contribute, participate and create vibrancy in his own back yard. Most noteable of late, he is spearheading an effort to raise funds to support an Extreme Makeover Home Edition in Beaufort County. Thus, I am pulling out a recipe from one of the cooking classes that I took at Robert Irvine's eat!. This salad reminds me of sprightly summer seasons and while sunny skies prevail here in the Lowcountry the temps are far less desirable so my rush for an injection of summer is quite intense. I may be sidetracking my resolution to respect local seasonal offerings a bit, but might as well digress from my intended path immediately (I resolve to never lose sight of my goal). I recall that one could also use scallops or grouper in this recipe for those of you not attuned to octopus. I discovered sambai oelek for my Chick Pea fries and through this cooking class at eat! so too did I develop an affection for sambal. Both are now constants in my kitchen.

sambal: chili based sauce which is normally used as a condiment; more at Wikipedia

Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robert-irvine/octopus-salad-with-spiced-cucumber-recipe/index.html

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Prepare more seafood + Respect local seasonal offerings

2010 was a phenomenal year for living in the Lowcountry! I am one to reflect on the past with affection and do so always with great appreciation for the growth and experience gleaned from what has transpired throughout the year. As such a person, I consider it apropos to recognize the all time #1 post from this blog in 2010 (and no surprise for it was truly unique)....the November entry from Bon Appetit for Celery and Pear Bisque . And likewise, to transition into a new year by making at least one resolution to accompany this blog...prepare more seafood in 2011 while respecting the local seasonal offerings found in my backyard. What can you expect from a year comprised of double ones (11)? A weekly recipe insertion, answers to a hodgepodge of questions and a photo or two. Along the way I'll weave a story that hints at humor, celebrates a passion for food and unveils a bit of the saltlife found along our coast of South Carolina. Happy New Year!
Life Enrichment is like a travel and learn program...offering infusions that make every day life thereafter far more interesting! ~ Ann-Marie Adams, Reflections on a Meaningful Life