Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Random Cookbooks - Julia's Kitchen Wisdom & Good Eats 2

Catching up on two weeks' worth of random cooking:

Last week I drew Julia's Kitchen Wisdom, a brief book by Julia Child focusing on basic techniques of everyday cooking. Because I'm trying to eat more fish, I chose:

Fish Fillets Poached in White Wine

For sole, trout, and other thin boneless fillets, 5-6 ounces per serving. Cooking time: about 10 minutes.

For 6 fillets. Score the skin sides of the fish and season with salt and white pepper. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of minced shallots in the bottom of a buttered baking dish; lay in the fillets, skin side down and lightly overlapping. Scatter another tablespoon of shallots on top. Pour around them 2/3 c. of dry white and 1/3 c. of fish stock, chicken stock, or water. Cover with buttered wax paper and bring just to the simmer on top of the stove, then set in a preheated 350F oven. The fish is done in 7-8 minutes, when just lightly springy to the touch and opaque. Drain cooking juices into a saucepan and boil down rapidly until almost syrupy. For a simple sauce, whisk in droplets of lemon juice and minced parsley and, if you wish, a tablespoon or two of butter. Spoon over the fish and serve at once.

I used trout and chicken stock. This turned out pretty well, though I think I like my trout better sauteed or pan-fried than poached. I'm finding trout and salmon are my favorite fish despite their strong fishy taste because they have such a nice, meaty texture, and the poaching gives it more of that soft, flaky fish texture I'm not so crazy about.

(I really wish I could wave a magic wand and make myself like fish and shellfish better. I'm going to France, Spain, and Portugal next year. My taste buds are looking forward to the inland bits more than the coastal ones, which makes me sad.)

This week Alton Brown's Good Eats 2: The Middle Years came up, and I chose:

Bananas Foster

2 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1 T. banana liqueur (I substituted water)
2 under-ripe bananas, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 c. dark rum
1/2 tsp grated orange zest

1. Melt the butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over low heat. Add the brown sugar, allspice, and nutmeg and stir till the sugar dissolves. Add the liqueur and bring the sauce to a simmer.

2. Add the bananas and cook for 1 minute on each side, carefully spooning sauce over the bananas as they are cooking. Remove the bananas from the pan to a serving dish.

3. Return the sauce to a simmer and carefully add the rum. If the sauce is very hot, the alcohol will flame on its own. If not, using a stick lighter, carefully ignite the sauce and continue cooking until the flame dies out, 1-2 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, cook 1-2 minutes more, until it is syrupy in consistency. Add the orange zest and stir to combine. Immediately spoon the sauce over the bananas and serve with waffles, crepes, or ice cream.

I had some leftover plain polenta I needed to use up, so I cut it into rounds and sauteed it in butter to use as a base for the bananas foster and frozen yogurt. It was a good idea, but I cut the polenta a little too thick, and I probably should've sweetened it a bit when cooking instead of counting on the sauce and frozen yogurt to provide all the sugar needed. Still, on the whole, this was a quick, delicious dessert which I will make again.

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