TGRWT #21: Sage and Roasted Peanuts

Martin Lersch at khymos.org started a food blogging event a while back called “These Go Really Well Together (TGRWT)” to explore flavor pairings.  His theory is that if two food share common odorants, they might taste good together.  For every round, the host picks two food items and everyone else makes a dish and writes about how well the items paired.  I have been reading the blog and entries for a little while, but haven’t participated until now.

For this round, Greg at Humbling Attempts at Creativity chose sage and roasted peanuts.  Another item listed in the announcement post that shares volatile compounds was cooked cod.  After thinking about those ingredients for a while, I decided to make peanut crusted cod with some type of sage sauce or oil.  I see the chefs on Chopped quite often take one of the ingredients and grind it up to make a breading out of it.  I thought I could do that with the peanuts.  Initially I bought roasted peanuts in the shell and smashed them with a kitchen mallet after shelling them.  When I used this as the breading, it came out a little bland in my opinion.  The second time I decided to use dry roasted peanuts for a little extra flavor. I also used my food processor to get the peanuts a little bit finer and more even.  Then I just did a standard breading process on the fish (flour, then egg, then peanuts).

For the sage, I initially wanted to make a sage oil.  I see Bobby Flay make herb oils on Iron Chef America all the time and it seems pretty easy.  I don’t have a blender, so I had to use my food processor.  I put the sage leaves in the bowl, add some heated (I hoped this would have the same effect as blanching the sage without any introducing water) canola oil, and whirred it for a while in the food processor.  Then I strained all the bits out.  It didn’t end up as green as I would have liked, but it did have a bit of sage flavor.  Because of the color, I decided not to use the oil during plating and instead used it to pan fry the fish.

I served the fish over Israeli cous cous, and for a little more sage flavor and a little color, I fried a few sage leaves and put them on top.

I really enjoyed the flavor of the cod and the peanut together.  They complimented each other nicely.  The peanuts also added a nice texture to the dish.  As far as the sage, I didn’t end up with a whole lot of its flavor  in the final dish.  When I got a bite with some of the fried sage and the fish, it worked well.  The sage added a bit of brightness and freshness to the overall profile.  I also enjoyed the crispiness of the sage after it was fried.  I had never used that technique before. Next time, however, I need to work on a way to get a bit more of the sage flavor.  Perhaps some sage butter or some kind of sauce. Thoughts?

Ad Hoc at Home: Melted Onions

Next up from the cookbooks is Melted Onions from Ad Hoc at Home.  I was excited to try these because of a burger that I’ve had at a local restaurant.  It was called a Zin Burger, and instead of the normal raw onion slices, it had onions that were cooked down in wine.  I knew this recipe wouldn’t be exactly the same since it didn’t hae any wine, but I hoped it would still be good.

I bought the above onions at the Growers Market that takes place each Wednesday at Lake Ella.  The farmer selling them called them Talladalia onions.  It is the same onion, but just can’t be called Vidalia since they weren’t grown n Vidalia, Georgia.  I’m enjoying going to the market every week and seeing what is being grow locally.  I hope to start checking out the other markets held around town throughout the week.

The recipe was rather simple, but just took a little bit of time.  You slice up the onions.

Add salt and cook them down.  Then add butter and a sachet (herbs wrapped up in cheese cloth) and cook some more.          

The onions end up very creamy.  

These also turned out sweet.  I ate them on top of some slice of a rump roast that I made.  Different types of onions may not turn out as sweet.  Later in the week I will try these on a hamburger, and in the future, I’ll make them again using wine for another layer of flavor.

Ad Hoc at Home: Chicken Pot Pie

Welcome back! It’s been a while. Hopefully updates will be coming a little more often than they have been.  In a previous post I floated the idea of picking a cookbook and cooking my way through it.  I was thinking about doing the Les Halles Cookbook or Momofuku.  I’ve done some recipes from these books, but haven’t felt there was enough to post on.  After thinking about it a bit more, I don’t think I’m going to pick just one book.  I have several cookbooks that have recipes that I really want to try.  So I’m just going to cook the recipes that I want and post about them here.  You can follow along if you want and maybe eventually I’ll make it through some of my books.  Hopefully this will also give you an idea of what’s in each of these books in case you are considering buying any of them.

So the first recipe that I’ll post about is the chicken pot pie from the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook by Thomas Keller.  Thomas Keller is known for his high-end restaurants, The French Laundry and Per Se, which are consistently ranked near the top n the country.  Ad Hoc originally started as a temporary restaurant, but was so popular that it has stayed open since.   Ad Hoc is more casual and the food is served family style.

I started with the pot pie because it was something I grew up eating.  We would buy the individual pot pies from the freezer section, pop them in the oven, and enjoy.  This recipe is a little more involved than that.  I won’t post the actual recipe, but I’ll talk about some of the steps along the way.  A couple of days before, I had roasted a chicken according to the method Mr. Keller demonstrated on No Reservations.  No basting, no fat,nothing inside.  Just truss the chicken, season with salt and pepper and roast.  Easy as that.

The day of the pot pie, I started with the pie crust.  I’d never made pie crust before, so I thought this turned out fairly well.  Just flour, salt, butter and water.  Just make sure everything stays cold.  While the crust was chilling in the fridge, I got to work on the vegetables.  This pie had potatoes, carrots, pearl onions, and celery.  In the book all the vegetables are cooked separately, but I just combined them all in one pot.  Next is the bechamel, which is a classic French white sauce.  Make a roux, add some milk, and cook it until it thickens.  When it was done, I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

After all that, you’re finally ready to put the pie together.  Roll out the crust, add the vegetables and chicken, pour on the bechamel, and add the top crust.  After it bakes and rests, all you have to  do is enjoy it.

I’m going to work on updating more regularly.  More cookbook posts, some creations of my own, and other random things I feel like posting about.  See you soon.

Edit: By the way, thanks to my sister for buying me the book.  The French Laundry, Bouchon, Momofuku, Les Halles, and Live to Cook to come in the future.

Breakfast for Dinner

Making breakfast for dinner is one of life’s simple pleasures.  I’m definitely more of a night person than a morning person, so many of my breakfasts are a bowl of cereal or maybe a granola bar.  It’s always a nice treat to bring out the eggs, bacon and other traditionally breakfast ingredients and have them for dinner.

I cooked some grits I got from Bradley’s Country Store.  Grits couldn’t be more simple to make.  Just boil some water, add some salt, and add the grits.  Turn the heat down to low and let them simmer until they are done.  You can add whatever you, but this time I had them plain.

This was also the first time I made bacon in the oven.  I’ve seen people do this on tv, and it worked out really well.  Line the bacon up on a baking rack over a sheet pan and put it in a 400° oven.  They’ll be done in about 10 minutes.

As for the eggs, I had some leftover ribeye, so I chopped it up and tossed it in while I scrambled the eggs.

A pretty simple and tasty meal.

Red Grouper

Red grouper was the second type of fish I bought from Southern Seafood Market.  Again, I sautéed it on the stove with some butter and olive oil after seasoning it with salt and pepper.  I think this had a little bit stronger of a flavor than the amberjack.  The amberjack was also slightly sweeter.

Amberjack

Today, I decided to stop at Southern Seafood Market on the way home from work.  This i the first time I’ve been  here, but I will definitely be going back.  I want to start eating seafood more often again; at least once per week.  This shop offers fresh fish caught here in the Gulf of Mexico as well seafood from farther away, such as salmon and lobster.

Going in, I knew I wanted to try something new from the gulf.  Today the amberjack caught my eye.

When I got home, I knew I wanted to prepare the fish simply, so I could actually taste the fish and see how I liked it.  I seasoned the fillet with salt and pepper and heated some butter and olive oil in a saute pan.  When the pan was hot, I seared one side of the fillet for about 2 minutes.

After the 2 minutes, I flipped the fillet and stuck the pan into my oven, which was at 350°.  I left it in the oven for about 3 minutes.  I checked the internal temp by using a paring knife.  You just stick the tip of the knife into the fish for a few seconds.  When you pull it out, touch it to your lower lip.  If the knife is warm, your fish is cooked correctly.  If it is cold, cook it longer.  If it is hot, your fish is overcooked.  You can also use a metal skewer.

This fish turned out to be delicious.  The flavor is mild, but distinct.  I tasted what seemed almost citrusy, but that may have been from olive oil.  I will definitely be cooking this again.  I ate it with a potato that I cut up, boiled, and smashed with a fork, mixing in butter and salt.

I also bought a red grouper fillet, so that update will be coming soon.  If you haven’t been there yet, you should definitely go check out Southern Seafood Market in Market Square.

P.S. I’ve been thinking of starting a new project of cooking through a cookbook.  I’d still post these regular style posts, but every now and then I’ll post about a recipe from the book and eventually get through them all.  I’m considering Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook and David Chang’s Momofuku.  Any preferences?  Leave a comment if you have any thoughts.

Spring is here!

At least sport-wise.  Maybe not quite weather-wise.