It’s Barramundi Nite….

Of course sung to the tune of ” Ta Rah Rah Boom De Aye”….

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If you’ve been with Cashmere Tea for a while, you know about my affection for Barramundi, the sustainable sea bass from the waters near Australia, although the distance sort of negates the sustainability. Anyway, it’s sold at Market Basket and Friday nite, I tried out my newest twist on it courtesy of Pinterest.

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All you need are fresh tomatoes, olive oil, some basil, garlic and salt and pepper. You need white beans, fish and butter too!  Start out by cutting tomatoes into nickel size pieces, or cherry tomatoes in half. Marinate them and the white beans in olive oil, garlic, and basil. They only need about an hour. Then toss everything in a hot skillet and move it around. The tomatoes will pop and sizzle and that’s ok. They should break down a little.

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Now here’s where I went off course. I did not move everything out of the pan to put the fish in. I just moved things off to the side and made room. I nestled the barramundi right in the pan and gave it about 4 minutes on each side.

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At the end, just add a big knob of butter and let it melt down and stir gently. Remove the fish to a platter and add the beans and tomatoes on top. I added some sunflower sprouts for some crunch.

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This was totally delicious! Very sunny and Mediterranean tasting and dead easy to make. Because of the beans, you don’t even need a potato or rice on the plate. Ok? All together now….”It’s barramundi nite, it’s barramundi nite..” Come on , you know the words.

Just Another Meatless Monday

Inspiration and instructions from Lidia Bastianich…

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I binge watched a Saturday afternoon full of Lidia Bastianich cooking shows on PBS a couple of weeks ago and as evidenced by the success of the poached egg, Lidia makes it look so easy. One of the episodes was about the Italian love for bitter greens like mustard greens, chicory, radicchio and escarole.

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Nothing that starts out with garlic will end badly, so I knew this recipe for Escarole soup would be terrific. I started with some garlic and olive oil in large heatproof pot ( my le Creuset, medium size).

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I added canned white beans instead of using dried ones that have been soaked. Saves time and really doesn’t change the end result. I added 2 quarts of water, bay leaves, more olive oil and left it to simmer for about 30 minutes. (If using soaked beans the time is longer by 1.5 hours)

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Once the beans have cooked down, turn the heat down and add 4 cups of shredded/torn escarole and simmer again for about half an hour.

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Meanwhile, heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and toast some dried hot pepper flakes in the oil.

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Add about a cup of the soup from the larger pot to the hot oil and pepper. It WILL sizzle, so be cautious.

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Add the contents of the skillet to the soup pot and stir well. Season to taste and serve! Mangia!

The Way Back Machine…

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Once upon a time, when I was a catering director and the catering world was moving beyond sliced roast beef and canned green beans ( blech!) and mashed potatoes scooped with an ice cream scoop, I lived and died in these 3 cookbooks! Silver Palate in NYC was a new breed of food shops where you could get take out meals and order party services and explore things. One Christmas I got the idea to cook the famous Raspberry Chicken for Christmas Day brunch for my family and my godmothers. Of course I had to work Christmas Eve, so my father spent a day running all over the south shore of Boston looking for raspberry vinegar, no so ubiquitous, but then, as rare as a rainbow.

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I used these books so much that when inspired this week to produce Chicken Positano, the “New Basics” cookbook opened to that exact page, the binding is completely shot! I started down the Positano path because I had seen a recipe for the 21 Club’s chicken pillared in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago and thought it would make a nice one plate dish. This would be similar but it would not be necessary to shape the chicken like the plate. In the heady days of the late 80’s and early 90’s I probably served this dish once a week to someone on campus!

The recipe is simple enough, although in the spirit of full disclosure I will tell you that I used canned diced tomatoes and it was just as good. Mix 3 finely diced garlic cloves with one finely slivered onion and 8 cups of chopped tomatoes and then add 2 cups of olive oil ( I only added one, let’s be reasonable here), salt and pepper, and seasoning of choice, I added red pepper and smoked paprika, a little celery salt and done. Then you just let it sit in a non reactive bowl for a while. Trust me, it won’t go bad, there’s too much acid in it with the tomatoes.

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Pound 3 full chicken breasts out to within an inch of their young lives and trim an excess fat/skin. Season some yellow stone ground corn meal with salt and pepper and red pepper other spices like chili powder. Beat 2 eggs with some water and then dip chicken breasts in cornmeal mix, then egg, then cornmeal mix again. img_1442img_1444

Pan sauce them in some olive oil, they will cook fairly quick because they are thin. Set aside in a warm oven until they are all cooked. Meanwhile toss about 4 oz of arugula with the tomato mixture. I added a can of cannelini beans that I rinsed to get some additional fiber and in lieu of potatoes or bread. I think mine needed a little more salt, which I never need, but this needed a little oomph, not a lot.

I only used 2 whole chicken breasts and have 2 portions left over. The tomato sauce makes a great soup starter so it’s like 4 meals in one!

I wonder what I will find in the way back machine next time? And someday I’ll cut a chicken pillared to be the same shape as the plate, but not now….

Just Another Meatless Monday

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Remember that scene in the “Fabulous Baker Boys” when one of the brothers buys spray on hair coloring that’s called “a hair system” and the other brother corrects him and says “it’s paint!”. That’s a little like how I feel about  “broth bowls” now surging right along side PS ( pumpkin spice…added to anything) due to the recent calendar pages turning to fall. Panera is serving them and God knows, Noodles and Co. have made a business out of them, but here’s the thing folks…”it’s paint” or more to the point…”it’s soup”!

So when Cooking Light came out with a recipe for a broth bowl WITH EGGS, I paid more attention. To be specific, it talked about “frizzled” eggs, which means cooked in oil until the edges are nice and crispy.

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The broth part is easy enough. A base of garlic and chopped onions caramelized in a little oil, add mushrooms and cook them down, then diced tomatoes, a can of white beans that have been rinsed well, a blister pack of spinach and veggie broth.

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I made mine over the weekend and let it chill till Monday nite. Then I brought it up to temp on the stove top and fried up an egg to top each bowl (and an extra for second helping!). I threw in some of my garlic confit to frizzle side by side with the eggs, and then portioned out some soup and topped with about a tablespoon of shredded cheese ( not included in recipe, but hey, you only live once).

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Then top with the egg and dig in! Very satisfying and the melty yolk mixes with the broth to taste extra rich and silky. Enjoy!

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