I took a week off from writing, but not from cooking.
And I had three sudden culinary epiphanies that I'm delighted to share.
Seafood à deux... Seared Swordfish Loin with Tomato-Basil-Garlic Salsa, Arugula, Roasted Peppers,
& White Anchovies. The top half of this preparation would by itself make a perfectly
good appetizer; and swordfish is swordfish, which is usually fabulous.
So I simply stacked everything and shared it with Andrea.
* * * * * * *
An idle mind, they say, is the devil's workshop; but for me it's much, much more than that. Give my brain a little breathing room, and the neurons start going off like the firecrackers that punctuated the other evening until nearly dawn. My idle mind tends to conjure and invent a lot of new stuff.
Driving home after five days of living on the road always feels special, as surviving without wine and decent food for nearly a week greatly sharpens my yearnings for both. And for the weekend leading into 07/04, dear friend AndyS. flew in for a brief visit, further elevating my level of excitement. This of course meant that there would be plenty of fine cookery and lots of great wine to accompany it... and also lots of related shopping and kitchen work, which puts me smack in the middle of my comfort zone.
Spoiler Alert: I'm presently working on a compendium of the greatest luxury fishes in the world... what they are, where to buy them, and how to cook them. And since AndyS. no longer eats meat, it was only natural that I "research" a few dishes for his and Andrea's dining pleasure. And so I shopped my two regular Rochester-area stores (Wegmans & Whole Foods) and perused their seafood selections. (NOTE: When it comes to ethical sourcing and chain-of-custody, I have come to have great faith in the quality & integrity of these two seafood departments.)
After shopping and cooking, here's what I came up with:
What have we here? A Seafood Feast! Roasted Sablefish with Shellfish Cream Sauce; Citrus-Marinated Grilled Colossal Shrimp; Arugula-White Anchovy Salad; and Grilled Swordfish, along with Roasted Potatoes and Blanched & Sautéed Broccoli.
A proper wine pairing was in order, and I succeeded in amazing AndyS. with a surprisingly fabulous white from a nearby source– the 2019 Chardonnay from Heart and Hands Wine Company, my new favorite Finger Lakes winery. The three of us had a lovely dinner.
And what were those three bright and novel culinary notions that crossed my brow?
#1: THE PRESENTATION IN THE TOP PHOTO
It might not seem like that big a deal, but topping the swordfish with the mini-salad elegantly answered summer's call for refreshing produce and, I dare say, looked pretty cool. It also fit two courses onto a single plate. BTW, white anchovies are nothing at all like the arguably skanky and definitely over-salted little eyebrows that we love in our Caesar salads.
#2: CITRUS MARINADE FOR SHRIMP
I threw this together on the fly, and it worked so well that I'm happy to share it.
Pure Olive Oil (NOT extra virgin)
Coconut Aminos (a GREAT soy substitute)
Zest & Juice of 1 Lemon
A smidgen of Orange Marmalade (seriously!)
Salt (to taste)
Blend ingredients to taste; striving for a nice balance of sweet, salty, tangy, spicy, and more. Marinate shrimp for an hour or two; dab dry prior to grilling.
#3 CHEESY POTATOES
If you love Mac & Cheese in theory but wish to avoid the Mac part in practice, we now have a perfect solution: Quick & Easy Cheesy Potatoes!
Chop & boil white potatoes until soft. (Skin-on is okay.) Drain, then combine with butter, heavy cream, and– the essential ingredient for homemade Mac & Cheese– Cheddar Cheese Powder. (Avoid brands that contain ingredients other than cheese.) Stir, then scoop it all into a suitably-sized Pyrex baking dish. Bake at 400º until bubbling and nicely browned. Maybe not everyone's idea of a summertime dish, but it can fill multiple needs.
Happy Summer, Everyone!
Respected wine writer James Suckling assigned the 2019 Heart and Hands Chardonnay a 93-point score. Its alcohol content is notably low– 11.4%, vs. 14.5% for many of its Californian counterparts. I find this winery amazing, and I will be following them closely.
I almost always add salt and chopped garlic to my potato-boiling pot.