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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fiddle-dee-dee Fish Cakes & Choices

Crab cakes, shrimp cakes, salmon cakes and now fish cakes. I recently dined at a Beaufort restaurant called Paninis where a precocious waitress attempted her very best to get me to order the custom made fish cakes...apparently the chef uses "fresh catch" determination in selecting fish to become the feature fish cake on the menu. Clever. And a good attempt by the waitress to make a pairing recommendation -- to accompany the wine spritzer that I had just ordered. But I didn't order the fish cakes. I went with the antipasto starter instead (which by far is the best North of the Broad River offering of such). And wouldn't you know I've done nothing but think about those darn fish cakes since. Fiddle-dee-dee. I'll just aim for a smoked fish variety of fish cake this week as my own "catch" to please the palate and return another day for the Paninis fish cake. Choices in life...sometimes they take you on the path truly intended, at least that's how I see things. So, I'm back to the Cooking for Friends text again (love you much Alastair Hendy). Simply poach smoked haddock in milk for 5, remove, cool and flake (easy). He uses champ, sometimes referred to as poundies, an Irish dish of mashed potato infused with scallion as the base for the cakes. This recipe for Smoked Haddock Fish Cakes is a bit of a twist from Alastair's version in using corn kernels (which I adore the inclusion of) but pretty much replicates his preparation and delivery (with the exception this recipe does not use champ as the base). Throw out your hollandaise and tartar sauce desires and use a lemon butter drizzle-tossed with fresh baby spinach leaves in plating these cakes. Choices, some good, some bad...some simply reserved for another day.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Popovers and Reminiscing

Breakfast is my dad's meal. For the life of me I don't think I ever witnessed my father prepare (from scratch) anything other than breakfast food my whole life. My fondest memory of his kitchen adventures totally revolve around a mental picture I retain of the state of the kitchen after he had finished cooking...flour everywhere, as if the experience was not complete unless there had been a baptism of some sort (and this transpired every single time). To this day, morning is my father's oyster and though he no longer engages in the grand production of yesteryear breakfasts I still think he reigns the breakfast hour. I love breakfast food myself, Prosciutto with Figs, Buck Rarebit, Croque-Monsieur, Spanish Omelet, Quiche Lorraine...but these are not the dishes my father would crave, one has to keep it simple to appeal to his taste buds. I turn to Herb Popovers with Butter Eggs to salute my dad this Father's Day. Out will come my all time favorite breakfast guide, a 1990 The Book of Breakfasts & Brunches Kerenza Harries, HP Books. You know how some introductions to cookbooks just read like accolades, acknowledgments and blah blah blah, well this one is different it traces the significance of the breakfast meal and the various means by which it can be delivered. There is a specific reference to brunch that caught my eye when I bought this book way back when. It describes brunch, combining both breakfast and lunch, so loved by the Americans, Australians and English, as reminiscent of the splendid English country house breakfasts served in the 1800s. "Breakfast for their house guests ran from early in the morning until the final stragglers appeared later in the day, and there was a wide choice of sausages, bacon, fish and egg dishes set out on the sideboard." We have something just like that here, Southern Graces housed in the Beaufort Inn,that on any Sunday is truly reminiscent of those English country sideboards. But for Father's Day we keep it simple because were it any other way it would not be a fitting tribute to a man like my dad who's influence and love made breakfast a meal memory that I'll relish a lifetime.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Forget the wake just roast it

Some aspects of one's life really should not go "out" with a sad remorseful departure. Rather, they should be roasted with humor and accompanied by an acknowledgement of the humility, compassion and wisdom gained from having had the experience. Favorite foods, spirited past times, and even some people all have their proverbial day (or days) in the sun. At certain junctures one must say goodbye to even the most treasured elements of life to garnish well-being. Our household said goodbye to gluten this week and though we will slip out of the "free" zone while attending wine dinners, chef demos and cooking classes we have opted to retain the state of "no gluten" at home. Thus, creatively we must expand our palate away from chips, breads and pastas to link our brains to other texture-rich and flavorful foods. Back to relishes we go this week. I've prepared this Emeril Lagassee dish for Roasted Fennel and Green Bean Relish at Thanksgiving in the oven so this week I'd like to revive it on the grill for summer enjoyment. The moral of the story is while some foods must go, others may be reoriented to fit the season.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sultry, Dry and Chilled 3 Ways

Sultry summer heat has arrived early in the Lowcountry. It's drier than dry here and locally we have moved to the first stage of drought conditions. My lawn, even in good years, strives to thrive in the midst of neighbors who manicure and water their lawns to obsessive plushness. I casually refer to the "saltiness" of my lot as a character trait, but truly it's an attempt to explain my simplicity and inability to join the ranks of those that procure a carpet of lush green around their homes. This week the concept of creating a bocce court in one particular area seemed like a grand idea that could shift the pendulum in my favor. That is, if one considers shifting dry sandy dirt randomly situated into a competitive game of sport in your personal outdoor space. In some ways the theme of shifting a state of existence fits the weekend agenda in the kitchen. A recent purchase of a couple pounds of carrots turned into a marathon of recipe searches to find ways to recreate raw product into several new and interesting dishes. Back in January we introduced the Ginger Miso recipe that accompanied our infusion of pureed carrot to the dog's diet. In June we're ready to venture a little further with carrots as consuming foods prepared for consumption on the cooler side of things is far more attractive than the alternative (though grilling has not been eliminated as it lends to the outdoor experience). So here we go chilled three ways and each uniquely flavorful and fitting for the climate upon us 1) Chilled Carrot Honey Soup ; 2) Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint ; 3) Raw Carrot & Parsnip Salad
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