Eclectic Bistro Fare

July 5, 2008

Grilled Pacific Snapper on Mushroom Pilaf w/ Braised Brussel Sprouts

Of all the things I like to cook, a good seafood entree is one of my favorites. I used a technique here that is mostly overlooked by most chefs but is gaining some headway by others in the industry; it's called unilateral grilling or "grill poaching". Basically the method is grilling or searing on one side only, which creates a more tender meat. It doesn't work on more flaky fish like flounder or sole so picking the right fish is just as important as what sauce you use (if any). In this dish, I used a grill pan. When the pan had been heating on the stove for about 15 min. , I seasoned the filets with minced garlic, sea salt, black pepper and oil (grapeseed and olive blend). Then I placed the fish in the pan and cooked it till halfway done (3 minutes) and poured a good chardonnay into the pan, covering it with a lid. I never turned it over and because I left the skin on, the filets curled slightly giving it a cool shape and showing me when it was ready to be removed (3 min.). A glass lid helps to give you a view without letting the heat out until ready.

The pilaf was done with orzo added to basmati rice and toasted in oil and butter, with celery, red onion, carrot and cremini mushroom. I used 3/1 ratio chicken stock and water with lemon thyme and tarragon as my herbs (and more wine). For the brussel sprouts I sauteed them in oil and butter with garlic salt and white wine to finish them.

I've learned to cook more simply over the last two years. I don't over complicate my dishes anymore. Partly this may be due to my growing understanding of wine and also maybe a little maturity. I want to perfect even the most basic side dish now so that I accompany them with whatever protein I serve, this brings a certain synergy to each dish which makes someone remember it as a whole.

July 4, 2008

Sausage Ratatouille and a Yogurt Cheese & Fig Strudel

Summer is here and what an abundance she has brought! The local produce is beautiful and ripe. My herbs are busting out! I felt like making a dish to hail summer and what better dish than a simple ratatouille with some sweet italian chicken sausage and loads of fresh basil. I don't think I need to give you a recipe since there are hundreds for ratatouille on the web. Besides, I rarely measure things out. Just use your imagination (and lots of basil).

Then, yesterday I had the craving to make some yogurt cheese and use up these stewed figs from a canning spree I had about six months ago. So strudel seemed appropriate enough since I had some puff pastry in the freezer. Simple too! Just lay out your pastry and spoon on the cheese and figs. Then sprinkle it all with cinnamon sugar inside and out. Brush it with eggwash and pop it in the oven at 400* until its golden. Voila! Tres magnifique!