July 13, 2014

Salt Cod Fritters with Spicy Cilantro Sauce

Salt cod is cod fish that has been preserved by drying and salting. Before it can be used, salt cod must be either soaked in cold water for a few days, changing the water two to three times a day, or boiled to rehydrate and remove some of the salt.

It is most commonly used in brandade, a French gratin of mashed potatoes mixed with salt cod, garlic, and olive oil (which is smeared on bread and is heavenly); with ackee fruit in the national dish of Jamaica; in New England fish cakes; in a casserole with potatoes & onions; or battered & fried (as I did).

So, why use dried and salted fish when you could use fresh fillets? NPR compares salt cod to prosciutto, asking "Why eat prosciutto [...] when you could have fresh ham?"
This is not a gratuitous comparison. As Harold McGee writes in his encyclopedic work of food science, On Food and Cooking
The best of these [salted fish] are the piscatory equivalent of salt-cured hams. 
In both, salt buys time for transformation: it preserves them long and gently enough for enzymes of both fish and harmless salt-tolerant bacteria to break down flavorless proteins and fats into savory fragments, which then react further to create flavors of great complexity.
I made these fritters in a Girls' Night Out cooking class that I taught on Friday. Having never seen, used, or eaten salt cod before, most of the women in class were skeptical. However, this recipe was a hit!

Salt Cod Fritters

July 3, 2014

Blackberry Thyme Margarita

Photos by Corey Woodruff

A couple weeks ago, I was invited to preview the reimagined menu at The Grill at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis. The Grill chef, Damien Faure (who, incidentally, is married to Simone Faure of La Patisserie Chouquette) has designed a menu highlighted by "traditional as well as communal and shared plates [...] along with classic house-made desserts, signature beverage creations, and an innovative Infused Oil offering." Guests can personalize their menu selections with a variety of house-infused oils. Flavors include lemon verbena & avocado, black garlic & herb, bacon & porcini mushroom, purple basil & brandywine tomato, black truffle, and spring onion & chipotle.

Everything that I sampled was delicious. I tried the New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp & grits with grilled chorizo; Prince Edwards Island Mussels with lemongrass & Kaffir lime; grilled Medjool dates with bacon, Cambozola, & roasted hazelnuts; blackened steak & mushroom flatbread; Tuscan kale & hearts of palm salad with strawberries & goat cheese (one of my favorite dishes that night); hot smoked salmon with tomato coulis; center-cut filet; beer-can chicken (that's right...Chef Faure wanted to represent a "local" dish); grilled asparagus, roasted cauliflower, & twice-baked potato. Dessert was strawberry & white chocolate baked Alaska and profiteroles with hazelnut ice cream.

Yep. It was A LOT of food. I was a happy, happy girl.

Before dinner, we sampled a few of The Ritz signature cocktails.  Why am I not having cocktails at The Ritz Lobby Lounge on a regular basis? They have like a gillion kind of martinis. My favorite was the Blackberry Thyme Margarita: "Sauza Blue, Cointreau, Fresh Lime Juice, Muddled Thyme,
House Made Blackberry Simple Syrup, Blackberries."

Here's my recreation:

Blackberry Thyme Margarita

June 27, 2014

Perfect Soft-Boiled Eggs

I'm all about quick, easy, light meals this time of year. One of my favorites for any meal of the day is  soft-boiled eggs. That runny yolk is perfect over toasted bread, sautéed kale (as pictured), grilled asparagus, stir-fried rice, or a bowl of ramen noodles.

To make these sexy eggs, simply put a small pan of water on to boil. When it boils, gently lower the eggs into the water with a spoon. Make sure there's enough water to cover the eggs. Boil for exactly 6 minutes. Immediately (and carefully) drain off the boiling water and run the eggs under cold water until cool enough to peel. Peel gently. Cut open and swoon.

More sexy eggs:

June 19, 2014

Summertime Potato Salad with Tomatoes & Basil Oil

Summer makes me feel sassy, naughty...makes me want to blow off any responsibilities, sit outside, and drink fruity cocktails.

Summer reminds me of when Cari and I did just that in college. We’d rollerblade across campus to Marty's bar for 4:00 club, then laugh hysterically at each other as we tried to blade back to our apartment after a few beers.

It reminds me of The Sarah & Kelly Summer of Fun '93, when we moshed hard, discovered Bennett Lieberman & his velvet wallpaper, rode in the convertible until our hair was a mess of tangles, played minigolf with Rob & What's His Name, and met the infamous Bench Nickel...

Of being a "Duga"...

Of our summer soundtracks, albums we played over and over, songs that became our personal mottos during those months...

Of listening to The Urge, Fragile Porcelain Mice, My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult, Moby, Pearl Jam, The Smiths, The Violent Femmes, and the beloved Beasties...

Of watching Singles and Reality Bites...

Of wearing cut-off jean shorts, concert tees, backwards caps, and Chuck Taylor's...

Of spontaneous road trips.

Of new love affairs...

Of house parties on Anthony Street...

Of the ocean and wild horses...

Of a 28-inch pizza called The Captain.

Of concerts by the pond.

Of walking around downtown Indy.

Of going back to Eastern with Erin a few years ago on Good Friday and getting into the Counting Crows concert for free.

It reminds me of being younger, carefree and fearless, hopeful...

"And I can’t stop thinking about the [...] months that were hectic and raw and so full of hope and panic that every day seemed like it would collapse in on itself."

June 5, 2014

Summer 2014 Cooking Classes

I have several new classes on the Kitchen Conservatory summer schedule, including a burger class (July 6), Girls' Night Out tropical seafood feast (July 11), Girls' Night Out vegetarian (August 23), boozy desserts (August 24), and Girls' Night Out pizza & pasta (September 6).

Below is my schedule through September. To register, call Kitchen Conservatory at 314-862-2665 or register online.

DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: SUSHI U FOR TWO - June 29 @ 5:00-7:30  OR August 8 @ 6:00-8:30 (hands-on)
  • This menu includes tempura-fried shrimp rolls, sesame tuna hand rolls, smoked eel rolls, spicy scallop rolls, hot-smoked salmon rolls with mango and jalapeño, plus ginger-peach green tea ice cream - all served with cold beer.
BURGER U - July 6 @ 1:00-3:30 (hands-on)
  • Cuban-style beef burgers, Carolina barbecue pork burgers, tuna burgers with roasted garlic-tomato aïoli, perfect French fries, beer-battered onion rings with blue cheese dipping sauce, and roasted pineapple-rum milkshakes.
GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: SOMETHING TO BEACH ABOUT - July 11 @ 6:00-8:30 (demonstration)
  • I'll create a tropical feast perfect for a hot summer night, starting with cod fish fritters with spicy cilantro sauce. Sip on a rum runner cocktail and enjoy hearts of palm and mango salad with avocado dressing, smoked jerk-rubbed shrimp with yogurt-lime sauce, cumin-spiced black beans and rice, plus coconut sorbet with macadamia sablé cookies.
DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: READY TO RUM-BLE - July 19 @ 6:00-8:30 (hands-on)
  • Learn to prepare coconut bisque with rum flambé, macadamia-crusted scallops with rum beurre blanc, jerk pork tenderloin with spiced rum glaze, Caribbean rice, mini-hot buttered rum cheesecakes with caramel sauce, plus a piña-limonada cocktail.
HEIR AND A PARENT: WIZARDS IN THE KITCHEN - July 27 @ 1:00-3:30 (hands-on)
  • Attention all Muggles! Experience the world of Harry Potter and make magic in the kitchen as I help you prepare delightful dishes described throughout the J.K. Rowling series, including The Three Broomsticks' butterbeer, ham-and-cheese pasties from the Hogwarts house-elves, and Mrs. Weasley's potatoes with béchamel sauce. Before you apparate home, you'll make Aunt Petunia's individual berry-pudding trifles. This class is designed for children, at least 7 years of age, plus a parent.