Archive for July, 2010

Summer means two things in our house-seafood and berries. Ok, maybe three things-seafood, berries and beer (we live in Portland after all). I had something else in mind for this weeks post, but Adam had swordfish on his mind and I thought why not bring the two together? Hence, this weeks dish – Swordfish with Blackberry Mint Chutney.

I know there are many reasons you might be wary about eating swordfish. I won’t list them here, but I will tell you why you want to eat this particular swordfish. We purchased our swordfish from Whole Foods Market who are huge supporters of MSC certified fish. MSC is the Marine Stewardship Council who, through strict standards and a rigorous certification programs create responsible and sustainable fishing. If that doesn’t do it for you then maybe this will-these swordfish are harpoon caught. How cool is that? These cats go out on the Nova Scotia waters with hand thrown harpoons (seriously, click on that link). They specifically target mature swordfish-one by one. Using harpoons means no nets. No nets mean no trawling and catching various species of fish or damaging marine habitat. Supporting these folks means supporting, not only a way of life, but a sustainable way to fish. Don’t we do enough damage?

Ok, I’ll step off of my soapbox now.

Because of the way this swordfish is caught, it calls for a very short season. If you’re thinking about trying this recipe I suggest you hit your local Whole Foods soon.

The blackberries I picked up were amazingly sweet and tart. Some of the riper berries tasted just like blueberries to me. We have the little family run Liepold Farms in Boring, Oregon to thank for these wonderful blackberries.
The mint in this recipe comes from my very own garden….at the end of our kitchen table in our apartment, two flights up. Oh how I dream of having a garden again. Some day….

MSC certified Swordfish with Blackberry Mint Chutney

(New feature on my blog. If you click on the recipe title you will be taken to a printable google page)

Disclaimer: There are about a million chutney recipes out there and none that I came across really jived with me. So I pretty much made this up as I went along. I apologize for the vague directions.

Blackberry Mint Chutney

About a pint of fresh blackberries, halved

Half a shallot, minced

Three or four dried apricots, coarsely chopped

About a tablespoon of minced fresh ginger

Olive oil to coat your pan

About a tablespoon or two of raw honey

A pinch or two of fennel seeds

Zest of a smallish lemon

Juice of half a lemon

Couple of generous pinches of kosher salt

Few splashes of apple cider vinegar

About 1/4 cup or less of water

A couple of generous pinches of ground sumac berries (optional as it can be difficult to find)

One seeded and minced serrano pepper (you could use red pepper flakes too)

Smallish handful of gently torn fresh mint

Warm olive oil in a saucepan-nothing too large.

Sauté shallots, ginger, fennel, apricots, lemon zest and pepper. After a few minutes add honey, water and apple cider vinegar. After everything starts simmering again add berries, kosher salt, lemon juice and sumac.

Cover and let simmer for about an hour. Stirring often. If you notice the sauce reducing quickly, lower heat, or simmer for less time. You want it to be juicy without being watery.

After the hour, gently tear mint leaves and stir into chutney. Let sit on very low heat for a few minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool

While the chutney is cooling warm olive oil in a skillet

Season swordfish with lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper

Place swordfish in skillet and sear for about 30 seconds on each side

Place seared swordfish on your favorite plate and spoon chutney over fish. Serve with fresh summer greens.

Leftover chutney can be stored in a tightly sealed glass jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks.



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Ceviche Cordials

I blame Anthony Bourdain for my changing palate. Ok, really I’m grateful. Before Bourdain, my steaks were cooked medium. So was my fish. I can see some of you cringing.

Here’s the deal. Raw fish used to scare me, except for sushi. For some reason sushi has always been exempt and I have no idea why. I was a very picky eater as a kid and nothing weird or unidentifiable would pass my lips. I didn’t even like orange cheese because it just made no sense to me.  Monterey Jack was as good as it got.

Lately, however, Adam (beautiful boyfriend) and I have been eating our fish (and our meat) virtually raw. Barely searing it until it is beautifully pink and juicy in the middle. The pinker the better. Evidently my palate is changing and I suspect late nights drinking wine with Adam and watching Bourdain eat blood sausage and sweetbreads on No Reservations has something to do with it. And I’m ok with that because the way I see it, how will I ever understand a people or culture if I’m afraid to eat their food? So, the adventure begins and, yes, sweetbread is on the list. But first, let’s start with ceviche.

I’ve never had ceviche, well, because, not surprisingly, it has always creeped me out. I never believed that lime juice and lemon juice actually cooked the fish. There is a very similar dish in Hawaii called Poke (poke-eh). Poke generally involves cubed chunks of ahi, or some other fish, seaweed, Hawaiian sea salt and other seasonings.  It’s more like chopped up sushi (minus the rice) than ceviche. It marinates, but there is nothing acidic in it to technically cook the fish. I once had to shoot an event devoted entirely to poke. Me and my camera, in a hotel convention room with every poke creation under the sun. Boy did it smell good.

My mom loves poke. It’s one of those foods that she’ll buy knowing (until recently) that I’ll never ask for a bite. We all have that sort of food, don’t we?

What’s on your list? Because my list is kinda long. If you’re drinking a root beer, eating rocky road anything, or sour cream/ranch, it’s all yours. I may even wander away so I don’t have to smell it. No offense. Really.

This recipe is an adaptation from Epicurious who borrowed it from Anna Getty’s book Easy Green Organic. My version is a little different.

Scallop Ceviche

Half a pound Bay Scallops, quartered

Couple of handfuls cherry tomatoes, diced

1/4 to 1/2 a red onion finely diced

1/2 cup or so chopped fresh cilantro

1 (or more to your liking) Serrano pepper, seeded and minced

About a cup total of freshly squeezed lime and lemon juice (I went a little heavier on the lime)

Half a cucumber finely diced

1 tablespoon or so shredded, unsweetened coconut

Salt to taste

Place all the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl (glass, ceramic), cover and place in fridge anywhere between 2-16 hours. I tasted mine after 7 hours and it was amazing. The scallops are firm and fall apart in your mouth as if they just had a good sauté or steam.  Serve with corn tortillas or chips and a yummy lager or crisp white. Delicious!


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Chickpeas and Butter = Bliss

I’m a sucker for chickpeas, so I when I came across a recipe in Heidi Swanson’s book, Super Natural Cooking, involving giant cannellini beans, I knew I had to try it with chickpeas. Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, were yet another staple in our house. Generally dumped into a bowl straight out of the can, sometimes warmed on the stove, my dad pronounces them “gardabanzo “ beans. With the stress of the second “a”. Too bad you can’t hear his accent in my head.

My dad:

Yes, he figured out how to grow grapes at just about 700 ft above sea level. In the tropics, in Hawaii. Aside from his constant battle with Japanese beetles eating the leaves off his vines, the fruit is doing just fine. My mom’s counters are littered with old wine bottles with bits of fruit fermenting in them. My dad is awesome.

This recipe is inspired by Heidi’s Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans. My version involves chickpeas, garlic, cilantro, sun-dried tomatoes and butter. Lots and lots of butter. I’m not French, but my love for high quality cultured butter is.  We could just call the recipe: Chickpeas with Cilantro and lots and lots of butter. The special thing about butter in this recipe is that it creates a creamy, crunchy, golden crust on the bean. They look like little suns to me. When you bite into one of these chickpeas you get a burst of buttery joy in your mouth. I love this recipe.

I picked up the garlic and cilantro at the Gathering Together Farm booth at the farmers’ market. Organic, of course. Beautiful, no?

Golden Chickpeas with Cilantro, Garlic, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

You could use canned chickpeas, but I prefer dried beans that I’ve soaked myself.

Soak chickpeas overnight. Be sure to add plenty of water to the bowl as the beans soak up more than you would expect.

Drain and rinse chickpeas

Place beans in a pot and add enough water to cover plus about 3 inches or so.

Simmer over medium to medium low heat for a couple of hours. They’ll cook in less time, but I like to cook my beans long and slow.

While the beans are cooking, place sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil) in a bowl and add boiling hot water.

Let soak for about 10 minutes

Drain and slice or chop tomatoes to your liking

Drain the cooked beans

Heat a few tablespoons or so of butter over medium heat in your largest skillet

Place beans in hot skillet in a single layer (you can do this in batches)

Stir to coat and let cook for about 4 minutes

Give it a good stir, or use a spatula to flip the beans, and let cook for another 4 minutes. At this point I add another chunk or so of butter. Not necessary, but darn tasty.

Towards the end of the 4 minutes, add garlic, salt, pepper and tomatoes and give it another quick sauté.

Place in platter or bowl and finish with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and fresh goat cheese. I used Capricho de Cabra for this batch. Capricho is one of my favorite Spanish goat cheeses. Clean, crisp and tangy, this cheese tastes like it’s been washed in fresh spring water. Yum.

Serve chickpeas with whatever sounds good to you. I’m thinking lightly fried sardines and a Vinho Verde.

Thanks to all of you for the wonderful feedback on last weeks launch of this blog and my site. You helped to make it a success!


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Fava Beans

I’ve decided that my first post will be about fava beans. There are few foods from my childhood that I am more passionate about than the fava bean. An early summer produce, fava bean season is fleeting in the Pacific Northwest. With each farmers’ market, I find I am filled with anticipation and fear, anticipation that these thick, bright, fragrant pods of green goodness will be waiting for me to indulge my need. Fearful that the season is over.

Fava beans, also known, as broad beans are an Old World carry over from the Mediterranean. According to Wikipedia, they’ve been a staple of the Mediterranean diet since before 6000 BC. In my family, fava beans go back as far as I can remember. And it’s one of the few things my dad knows how to cook.

My dad is Portuguese. Actually, technically he is Azorean. The Azores are islands 930 miles west of Portugal, deep in the Atlantic, and are a common stop for sailors and yachters from around the globe. Some say they are the lost islands of Atlantis and if you go there, you will agree.

At our childhood home in Northern California, the hill next to our house was a sea of fava beans. My folks retired to Hawaii- where my mom is from- and on our last visit my dads garden is yet another sea of fava bean plants. When you pull the tender string of a fava bean pod and dig your thumbs into the moist fuzzy insides to separate the husk to reveal the big toe like beans, that smell? That’s what my childhood smells like.

Growing up, my mom always boiled them with onions and a bit of vinegar. We’d squeeze the bean out of the skin right into our mouths.

These days I do things a bit different, but just as simple. You see, I love the flavor of fava beans so I don’t like to doctor them up too much.

These beans were picked up at the farmers market from Two Forks Farm. One of my favorite vendors.

Simple Fava Beans with Mint and Garlic

Boil some water

Have a bowl of cold water near by

Place fava beans in boiling water and blanch for 2-3 minutes

Remove from pan and place beans in ice water to stop cooking

Once cooled, drain and pop the beans out of their skin (skin is edible, by the way)

Saute beans for a few minutes at medium with olive oil, fresh garlic, salt, pepper

Sprinkle with fresh, gently torn mint at the end

You can see how this recipe is really a blueprint for any variations you may come up with.


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