Galangal and kaffir lime leaves can be found frozen at your local Asian specialty market, and are worth procuring. Everything else can be found at the grocery store, and if you don’t see snapper be sure to ask for it. Most of the time this catch will come to the store after having been frozen on the boat, and if it can be thawed immediately before preparation and not left languishing at the fish counter, so much the better. This is a light and delicious dinner, and you can serve it over rice if you wish.
Red Snapper & Bok Choy:
Red Snapper Filets (2)
Baby Bok Choy (6)
Flour (1/4 cup)
Olive Oil (3 Tablespoons)
Salt & Pepper
Thai Coconut Broth:
Ginger (2 inch piece)
Garlic (4 cloves)
Galangal (2 inch piece)
Kaffir Lime Leaves (2)
Lime Juice & Zest (1/2 lime)
Mint (1/2 cup)
Basil (1/2 cup)
Chives (1/2 cup)
Coconut Milk (1 can)
Vegetable Broth Base (1 teaspoon)
Heavy Cream (1 tablespoon, optional)
Onion (1 small) chopped & caramelized)
Thai Coconut Broth:
Wash and peel ginger, set aside the smaller knobs and peels and slice the rest.
Sear ginger peelings in a hot saucepan with a little oil along with sliced galangal, two kaffir lime leaves, two cloves of garlic (smashed), along with the stems and bruised leaves from the mint and basil, and the trimmed ends of the chives.
Once these are getting browned and aromatic, add three cups of water and your vegetable broth base, bring to a simmer, and allow to reduce down to two cups. (This may take over an hour). Add coconut milk and reduce again until slightly thickened. Strain into a clean bowl, add caramelized onion and allow to cool to room temperature.
Finely chop or combine in a food processor your remaining two cloves of garlic, sliced ginger, chopped basil, chives, mint, lime juice and zest. Add this mixture to cooled broth, along with heavy cream, if desired. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Red Snapper & Bok Choy:
Trim and discard the cut ends of bok choy, allow the outer leaves to separate and halve the heart lengthwise. Then wash thoroughly in two changes of cold water to remove any sand and grit, and dry thoroughly on a clean kitchen towel.
Slice snapper into one-inch thick slices on the bias (always cut into filet side, not the skin side). Dust the skin sides only in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and sear in olive oil over medium-high heat, skin side only just until crispy. Carefully set aside (skin side up). The filet side of the fish will still be raw at this point.
In the same hot pan, add bok choy and cook until the leaves are wilted and stems are slightly softened. Spread bok choy in a baking dish, pour broth over, and place snapper (skin side up) over the top. At this point the dish can be tightly covered and refrigerated or frozen.
To serve, bake uncovered for at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until fish is just cooked through, and enjoy!
I have recently returned from Paris, where I spent two weeks visiting a dear friend in Montmartre while endeavoring to learn first-hand about the Parisian food experience. The French people can be counted on to express pride in the traditions of beautiful food which they, understandably, see as the only proper way to eat. As such, it is difficult to find badly prepared food in Paris, which boasts a timeless beauty and superlative excellence in many corners both lauded and hidden.
Although my trip felt lamentably short, I did find time to learn and rediscover. Despite an abundance of pastries and rich sauces, the food I encountered in Paris reminded me that it is not necessary to rely on salt (or even butter) in savory dishes, nor to lean excessively on sweeteners in desserts, as long as the ingredients you use have the greatest integrity possible.
It is, however, necessary to wander a bit aimlessly in Montmartre, as long as you keep your eyes open. You may be approached by the same sketch-artist repeatedly on the cobblestone streets, but it is only once you’ve recognized that you’ve already approached a certain stairway and fall of flowering ivy from a different direction that you begin to understand how the alleys twist as they cling to the hillside.
I also learned that France is a country where mealtimes must not be confused. If one were to sleep through breakfast and lunch, for example, these meals are simply missed – you mourn them and move on. It is unthinkable, even blasphemous, to sever a meal from it’s corresponding notch in the continuum of time, which is to say that lunch cannot simply be pushed back a few hours and be expected to retain it’s character. Instead one begins to plan a delicious goûter (think afternoon snack) and dinner.
Speaking of time, many shops are closed on Sundays, and in the case of the best boulangerie I visited (Du Pain À Des Idées), sometimes also on Saturdays. It is generally understood that all people need and deserve time to sleep, recharge, and enjoy life, despite the dismay of foreigners who are surprised to find work and rest regarded as equally vital.
It is with all of these values in mind that I have returned to the vocation of cooking revitalized, ready to restructure some business practices in an effort to improve my service, and monumentally excited to offer a new selection of classic Parisian dishes in my menu.
When local gardens become jungles the best produce can be found (cheap) at every roadside, and sometimes even abandoned on your doorstep unannounced.
It’s easy to eat a lot of tomato toast and cucumber salads – for awhile. Suddenly you realize that a perfect Caprese salad isn’t as exciting as it should be. The gorgeousness of the long-awaited harvest has almost jaded us… almost.
This is the ideal time to de-mystify a cooking style you want to eat at home more often, and in my case I was eager to jump on the Middle-Eastern bandwagon, a trendy style of fusion representing the melting pot of cultures spanning a swathe of the world from Tunisia to Greece.
The following recipe is adapted from Jerusalem, one of several beautiful books of recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, which I highly recommend: spiced meatballs with warm tahini sauce, toasted pine nuts, and a drizzle of butter.
Served with pita or basmati rice, this dish is the perfect vehicle for beautiful chopped cucumbers and tomatoes. It will be a hit even with the uninitiated (imagine the flavors of a gyro sandwich) and it is the perfect way to rediscover your late-summer harvest.
1 pound ground lamb or beef
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1 large hot chili pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon each: salt, pepper, cinnamon, & allspice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (for browning)
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
3 tablespoons melted butter or ghee
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Finely mince garlic, then crush with the side of your blade, scraping gently against your cutting board until your garlic clove is a pulpy mess. Combine thoroughly with tahini, lemon juice, water, and salt, and chill until ready to use.
If you are fresh-toasting your pine nuts for your kofta and sprinkling at the end I recommend doing this first, in a dry skillet over medium heat until they have just a few brown edges, and always keep a close eye on toasting nuts – they tend to burn the instant they are forgotten.
Combine garlic, onion, and chili pepper in a food processor until finely minced, adding the pine nuts for just a few more seconds until roughly chopped (or you can do this by hand).
Add this mixture to your ground meat along with your salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and fresh herbs, combine thoroughly by hand, and form into oblong meatballs about two inches long. Chill until ready to fry.
Add oil to a heated skillet over medium-high heat and fry kofta about one minute each, turning twice so you get three browned sides. The meat should be only slightly undercooked at this point.
Set kofta aside until almost ready to serve, then pour tahini sauce over and bake at 375 for 3-5 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is warmed. While they are cooking, melt or warm your ghee or butter.
Remove kofta from the oven, drizzle them with melted butter, and sprinkle them with pine nuts, paprika, and more fresh herbs if desired. Serve with cucumbers, tomatoes, and rice or fresh pita.
Shelburne, Vermont, like nearby Burlington and many Vermont towns, is a very food-conscious place. We who live here have small local markets, restaurants, farmer’s markets, farm stands and food shares which give access to locally grown food and a connection to the source of some of our ingredients.
I’m not just talking seasonal vegetables, which are available year-round, but also meat and dairy products, legumes, grains, cranberries, fermented foods, condiments, and candies. Even during the long lulls between picking peaches at the orchard in August and drinking warm syrup at the sugarhouse in March, you can feel a sense of place in your food.
Some of my personal favorites are the Cherry Pit Infused Peach Jam made by The Green Jam Man (cherries are related to almonds and the pits add a nutty flavor), the new lacto-fermented Ginger Kimchi made by Sobremesa (I like to add it to vegetable ramen right before serving), and the thick-cut bacon from Jericho Settler’s Farm (this needs no explanation).
I can usually pick all those things up at the Burlington Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. I also love the raw milk that I drive just out of town to pick up at The Family Cow farm stand. Yes, it has that musty edge that smells like the farm (let’s call it hay), and it also has all the natural sugars and fats and health benefits that some pasteurized milk can lack. Also, sometimes I take quick portraits of the cows grazing at sunset.
We are rather spoiled by abundance, in fact, and that sometimes makes it more painful to lower our standards when we are too tired, too busy, or too ill to cook I could list the improvements to mental, physical, and family health that conscious eating and reduced stress can provide, but most people are already educated in these matters, and anyway they can feel it in their bones.
Taking something hot, inviting and delicious out of the oven is the best way to start a relaxing meal, and planning your meals for weeks to come while still choosing all the ingredients yourself lets you control both your health and your happiness – even on the busiest days.
During a long snowy spring in Vermont it is hard not to dream of the first warm-weather barbecues and picnics, and the long days when our Dutch ovens will be mostly neglected. However, while our floors are still frigid and our windows sealed there is still more time to cozy up with homey braises, like the classic Boeuf Bourguignonne.
It sounds fancy in French, but in English Boeuf Bourguignonne translates to Beef Burgundy, a simple stew that any home cook can accomplish. In Burgundy the regional Charolais cattle and Pinot Noir grapes were naturally combined into a beef stew that utilized the fruits of local agriculture to create the calories necessary to work the farms. Any stew cut of beef or fruity and dry red wine will do. Together with bacon, beef stock, aromatic vegetables, and the flour the meat is browned in, the wine creates a rich and complex gravy.
Ingredients: (for 8 servings)
2 1/2 pounds stew beef, cubed
1/4 pound bacon ends, diced
2 cups red wine
4 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup flour
1/2 pound pearl onions
1/2 pound button mushrooms
4 carrots, chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon each salt & pepper
Cook bacon ends in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently, until bacon is crispy and fat is rendered.
Set aside bacon, dust beef with flour and a pinch of salt and pepper and brown in bacon fat over medium-high heat in small batches, adding olive oil if more fat is needed.
Set aside beef, add pearl onions and button mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat for about five minutes.
Set aside onions and mushrooms. Add tomato paste to the hot pan and stir for thirty seconds until thickened. Add wine, whisking until fully incorporated. Add beef stock, whisking frequently until simmering.
Return beef, bacon, onions, and mushrooms to Dutch oven. Add bay leaves, fresh thyme, chopped carrots and celery, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer over low heat, cover tightly and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until meat is fork tender. Serve over mashed or boiled potatoes, and enjoy!