Whitefish Salad

Whitefish Salad

Whitefish

Show up as early as you can get yourself to drag out of bed.

Wander around the industrial section of Greenpoint at dawn.

Sneak into the unmarked, graffiti-ed door, looking behind you as if you were trying to throw the mobster trailing you off your scent.

Buy pastrami lox and whitefish from the no-nonsense, lab-coat clad fishmonger – after much sampling, of course.

Rendezvous with the friend responsible for the bagels + cream cheese.

Plot your next Acme Smoked Fish heist between ravenous bites.

Whitefish Salad Ingredients

Salad Building

Whitefish Salad

Whitefish Salad

The following recipe is a variation of this recipe by Bobby Flay.

Whitefish Salad

  • 3/4 cup good-quality mayonnaise (I used olive oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 pounds smoked whitefish, skinned, boned and flaked
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bagels, for serving (I used baked spaghetti squash)
  • Pickled Red Onions, for serving, recipe below

Pickled Red Onions:

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced

Whisk together the mayonnaise (or olive oil), lemon zest and juice until combined. Add the whitefish, celery and onions, and gently mix until combined; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Pickled Red Onions:
Combine the vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and peppercorns in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Put the onions in a medium bowl, pour the vinegar mixture over and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours before serving.

Seafood Curry

Seafood Curry

This fantastic bowl of food was made using this Nigella Lawson recipe as inspiration. It’s from the “TV Dinners” episode of her show, and although it is overall a fairly simple dish to prepare, any dish that involves shelling and deveining shrimp isn’t in on my list of quick & easy. I’ll try pumpkin instead of butternut squash next time for a more carb heavy, filling wintry main.

Ingredients

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (about 1 2/3 cups)
1 tbsp red Thai curry paste
1 1/2 cups fish stock (I used broth from boiling the shrimp shells for about an hour)
3 tbsps fish sauce
2 tbsps sugar (I left this out)
3 lemongrass stalks, each cut into 1/3’s and bruised with the flat of a knife (I used a tsp of ground lemongrass)
3 lime leaves, stalked and cut into strips (I couldn’t find this in my grocery store)
1/2 tsp turmeric (I forgot this)
2 1/4 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into large, bite-sized chunks
1 lb salmon fillet, skinned and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 lb peeled raw shrimp
bok choy or any other green vegetables of your choice (I used peas)
juice of 1 lime
cilantro

I added:
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
4 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 medium white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, julienned

Skim the thick creamy top off the can of coconut milk and put it into a large saucepan with the curry paste, over medium heat. Beat the cream and paste together until combined. (Here I added the onion, then the garlic and ginger). Stir in the rest of the coconut milk, fish stock, fish sauce, and lemongrass. Bring to a boil and then add the squash (and red pepper). Cook on a fast simmer until the squash is tender, anywhere from  5-15 minutes.

You can cook the curry up until this part in advance, maybe leaving the squash with a tiny bit of bite to it (it will soften and cook as the pan cools). Either way, when you’re about 5 minutes from wanting to eat, get ready to cook the seafood.

So, to the robustly simmering pan, add the salmon and shrimp (if you’re using frozen shrimp they’ll need to go in before the salmon). When the salmon and shrimp have cooked through, which shouldn’t take more than 3 to 4 minutes, stir in any green vegetable you’re using – sliced, chopped or shredded as suits – and tamp down with a wood spoon. When the bok choy is wilted, or other green vegetable is cooked, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and taste and add the juice of the remaining half if you feel it needs it. Take the pan off the heat and pour the curry into a large bowl, and sprinkle over the cilantro; the point is that the cilantro goes in just before serving. Serve with more chopped cilantro for people to add their own bowls as they eat, and some plain Thai or basmati rice (I used brown rice).

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

Flourless Chocolate

I prefer my brownies baked just enough to remove the fear of eating raw eggs from the experience, gooey enough to require a spoon. Rumor has it that Suri Cruise sides with me in the fudgy vs. cakey debate

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 3 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate
  • 2 sticks + 2 tablespoons butter, warmed to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 300°.  Melt chocolate (carefully!- do not overheat) and put into mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachment. Add softened butter in small chunks to melted chocolate on low-speed. Mix and heat water, sugar and salt until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add warm (again, not hot!) water mixture to chocolate mixture once butter is incorporated. Add eggs and egg whites slowly on slow speed.  Mix, scrape down sides of bowl, then mix again to make sure batter is combined. Fill cups a 1/4 inch from the top and bake mini size for 30 minutes, standard size for 60 minutes.

An Unorthodox Christmas Eve: Split Pea & Sweet Potato Soup

My sister has never been one to follow any directions closely. Including Bisquik pancakes and Betty Crocker brownies, she estimates accurately following recipes perhaps a dozen times . . . in her entire life.

Despite all that, she fearlessly took charge of Christmas Eve Dinner.  And in so doing, she illustrated what I love most about my family: unconventional, unpretentious, and bucking any but the bits of tradition that truly hold value.

Her inspiration was this recipe, given to her by a coworker (a dietitian). The original garnishes the soup with pumpkin seeds, but true to form, she took a vegan recipe and topped it with ham. The seeds would have added texture and crunch, but the spicy sausage was undeniably awesome.

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

The original recipe says to saute the onion in water. Heresy!
The original recipe says to saute the onion in water. Heresy!
Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas
Vanna White after discovering the difference between mircoplane and box graters

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Split Pea & Sweet Potato Soup

  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 lb spicy sausage
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Bring 1/2 cup chicken broth to a simmer in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes or until translucent, adding more broth, butter, or olive oil as needed to keep from sticking to the pan. Stir in ginger and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add remaining broth and water, peas and sweet potato cubes, and additional seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Uncover and purée soup with a hand held immersion blender or in batches in a food processor until smooth. Taste for sea and garnish with pan-fried sausage cubes.

Garlic Butter

  • 3 cloves garlic, or to taste (oh, go ahead and do the entire head, you will find a use for the extra)
  • 1/2 stick butter, warmed to room temperature

Wrap cloves of garlic in aluminum foil and roast at ~350° for ~20 minutes. Unwrap, peal, and mash garlic cloves. Mix with softened butter.

Bread with garlic butter
Bread with garlic butter

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Christmas morning
Christmas morning

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Roaming Hostess: How to Throw a Party and Move at the Same Time

In between cramming cardboard boxes full of my belongings, I made a big pot of chili and a double batch of pico de gallo the day before moving. After the long day that followed, I threw a housewarming party that featured a homemade meal. Hearty, satisfying, and personal, it was the perfect way to feed my the friends who volunteered to help and introduce myself to my new roommates. And it doesn’t get more PRACTICAL: easy to make, the flavor only improves after a night in the fridge, economical, vegetarian, gluten-free, and interactive (bowls of mix-ins like cheese, sour cream, and bacon pieces allow every palate to be satisfied). Another bit of gold: mix pico de gallo into some mashed avocado and presto, fresh guacamole.

Pico de Gallo

  • 4-5 diced tomatoes, cored and seeded
  • 1/2 diced red onion
  • 2 big cloves minced garlic
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, stems removed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Drum roll, please:
    Combine all ingredients.