Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rockfish in Cava and Caper Sauce

Home alone late, John over at the "Green" Home Show pouring organic and other wine by the buckets for four hours, so dinner alone. As always, cappellini is in order for short order.
The only wine in the house is a split of Codorniu Cava, not chilled, so necessary to get the ice bucket out and fill it with cubes and water for a quick chill.
There's a bit of fresh rockfish, a bit of orange cauliflower (!) a fresh carrot, some salad, and some great croutons.
Put the water on to boil for the noodles, chop up the veggies and start them to gently steaming in another pan. Toss the salad. and put in on the plate. Slice a really good crispy apple.
Lightly flour the rockfish slices, and sautee them over moderate heat in butter with a bit of olive oil. Turn them to the second side and add a goodly spoonfull of drained capers. Squeeze a meyers lemon over it, and splash in some of the Cava, but no too much, leave a little for dinner. Drain the noodles, add a bit a butter, put on the plate, top with the fish. Add a nob of butter to the pan, with a splash more of wine, swizzle it around until it is nice and saucy, and pour over the fish. Fill the champagne flute, take a picture, and chat with friends on line. Delicious.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Really good turnips

My father claimed to like turnips. Whenever he would come visit us, he would go to the store and get a turnip, ostensibly to eat as a midnight snack. When he left, there would be this turnip in the vegetable bin for months until we would finally throw it out.

John's father refused to eat turnips. "Even when we were poor, we never ate turnips." he would say.

In an unguarded moment, we got a bag of smallish turnips in our vegetable box, and they've been in the vegetable bin for several weeks.

Last night, I came home from work late. John was in Ketchikan for their Wearable Art Show. I was alone in the house with not much in the frig, except this bag of innocent but emotionally laden turnips, and a soon-to-be-over-the hill eggplant.

Deborah Madison's book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is really good, so I looked up turnips. Here's what I found:
Roasted Turnips.
1) Peel and quarter them. While you are doing this, put a pot of water on to boil. Put the oven on 375.
2) Blanch them in the boiling water for 3 minutes, drain, and blot them to remove excess water.
3) Put them in a small shallow baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and put in a bay leaf and a bit of rosemary.
4) Bake them for a while.

While you are doing that, make sort of eggplant parmesean - peel and slice the eggplant, getting rid of the parts that are over the hill, salt and drain the good slices. Dip in beaten egg, flour, and sauteed in olive oil. Make a quick tomato sauce from onions, garlic, oregano, thyme, canned diced tomatoes augmented with a bit of tomato paste and a goodly slug of red wine, although not too much because just like the shoemaker's children, the wine pimp's house is always out of wine, and one does want some with dinner. Layer of eggplant, spoon of sauce on each, slice of fresh mozarella on each, and repeat, topping with thin slices of Fontina. Put in the oven with the turnips.

Bake until you can smell the aromas and remember that there is stuff in the oven.

Remove, toss a small green salad and slice up and apple, pour the rest of the wine in the glass, and serve up the eggplant, accompanied by the turnips.

The eggplant was good, but the turnips? Those were really good turnips. Tender, melt in mouth, sweet, flavorful, and delicious.

Thanks dad. I can eat turnips now.

PS For those of you unfamiliar with Wearable Art, it is an adventure worth flying places for. Here's a bit about Juneau's which is this weekend and we still have some tickets available. Wearable Art.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Eating Around in Anchorage

I had the pleasure of going to Anchorage for a once-every-ten-years Alaska Arts Conference this past weekend.

The weather was wonderful - crisply clear most days - 9 F is warmer in Anchorage than 23 F in Juneau - fluffy snow, no wind.

Lunch at Snow City, a fun bustling diner next door to the Captain Cook, where we were staying (the hotel is wonderful and all the meals they prepared for the conference were quite good.) was a Tabouli Salad with feta, tons of olives, and grilled chicken. Very good! Excellent freshly brewed iced tea. Fast, good service, comfortable for a single person.

The opening reception at the Anchorage Performing Arts Center was catered by Ginger: Really quite nice, flavorful, interesting and wine selection looks like Specialty Imports has a good working relationship with the group.

The first evening we ate at Orso, a restaurant that I've enjoyed in the past, but this evening pretty much of a disappointment. Ordered the Wild Mushroom Ravioli, which might have been tasty except they were watery and a little bland. Service was erratic and just not up to it. I think we were a big table full, maybe that had something to do with it. I would have had another glass of wine.....At my end of the table were two independent bookstore owners (Tom from Babbling Book, and the gentleman from Palmer), and Jack Lew, one of the keynote speakers, a digital animation expert. conversation at the end of dinner (while waiting endlessly for the check, I hate having to go ask for it but a girl has to do what a girl has to do) got out of hand when several of us whipped out our iPhones and started comparing the apps we have installed. Awkwardly, Mr. Lew has "Classics" installed on his, an app that cost $2.99 and allows him to read all sorts of books on his iPhone. Hello iPhone, goodbye bookstores.

Friday night, we went to Sacks, and a delight it was. Excellent service, wonderful wine (Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc), wonderful meal (Scallops on udon with light sauce, a chiffonade of lettuce and black beans). Conversation wafted around contemplation of the digital media world, and wondering about the effect of the violence depicted in the games on our collective community. One interesting note from Mr. Lew's presentation was a comparison of the range of "safe" territory children have and how it has shrunk to next to nothing for our current generation: Great-grandparents had a range of about 8 miles to ramble around in, grandparents had about half that, to now today's children have 1/2 a block or about 300 yards. Exactly how did that happen, and what are we afraid of? Certainly there were significant dangers for children in the 8 miles of yesterday?

Saturday night, dinner at a modest Japanese restaurant Kumaguro, before heading to the The General accompanied by the Anchorage Symphony, which was great fun. (I note that they have $2.50 fee on top of the ticket fee for "roof". Perhaps we need to do that at the JACC.) Atmosphere casual/diner style, service was friendly and attentive. Wine selection nothing to write home about (selection?). Chicken teriyaki, enough to feed a small starving African country, on top of a melange of somewhat overcooked veggies. Seemed a little expensive, but, it was adequate.

The Symphony was swell, and I especially liked the part where, as we were wondering if we had time to swill a glass of wine prior to the concert, the bartender told us they take preorders for intermission - pay for it now, and it will be sitting on the table with our name on it when we come into the lobby. YES! Yalumba unoaked chardonnay for me please!