Monthly Archives: February 2011

Seared Black Cod served on Pommes Paillasson topped with Chanterelles

Seared Black Cod served on Pommes Paillasson topped with Chanterelles

Seared Black Cod served on Pommes Paillasson topped with Chanterelles

People are often surprised by how “well” Matt and I eat. Scoffing at posts on Shut Up and Cook or my Twitter feed, they seem generally surprised that most nights a week we cook a nice dinner consisting of (dare I say) an entrée, a side, and a veggie. Now…don’t get me wrong…we like bad Chinese food and Pizza Hut buffalo wings as much as the next guy but I find that by consistently putting together a meal plan and grocery shopping for nice ingredients I eat healthier, save money, and have more fun doing it.

This year’s Valentine’s Day dinner was no exception. Committed to avoiding the contrived, “romantic prix-fixe dinners for two” we decided to do one of our favorite dishes, Black Cod. For all you East Coasters, Black Cod isn’t actually cod at all but rather a Pacific sablefish, offering a rich flavor and lovely texture. I had a few potatoes in the fridge and the chanterelles at Pike Place Market had looked too good to pass up so what we ended up with was a lovely tower of deliciousness, starting with Pommes Paillasson (or grated potato pancake), then Black Cod Steak, and finally buttery chanterelles.

Don’t let the french name scare you. You can make this and it will be delicious. It’s actually very quick to prepare so would be perfect for a nice dinner party or special occasion meal. Serve with a bottle of red such as Walla Walla Vintners Sangiovese (a personal fave).

Seared Black Cod served on Pommes Paillasson topped with Chanterelles

Serves 2, but can easily be doubled

Pommes Paillasson (Grated Potato Pancake, adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

3/4 lb russet potatoes

2 TB butter (or margarine if making lactose free)

Dash salt and pepper

Peel potatoes. Grate in a food processor fitted with a course shredding disk or on large teardrop-shaped holes of a box grater. Working in small batches, wrap potatoes in a kitchen towel and twist and squeeze tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer to a bowl and toss with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 TB butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides and swirl to coat the pan. Reduce heat to moderate, then immediately spread potatoes in skillet and press down on top once with a spatula. Cook potato until underside is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.

Potatoes Frying

Potatoes Frying

Slide cake onto a large plate. Invert another large plate over it and invert cake onto it. Heating remaining 1 TB butter in skillet over medium heat and swirl. Slide cake back into skillet, browned side up, and cook until underside is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes more.

Slide cake onto a cutting board and cut in half.


1/2 lb wild chanterelles, wiped clean of any dirt

2 TB butter (or margarine if making lactose free)

1/4 tsp salt

While the potato pancake is cooking, in a small non-stick pan add the butter over medium heat until foam subsides. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the chanterelles tossing until all coated in butter. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until wilted and tender. Season with salt and keep warm on low.


Sauteing Chanterelles

Seared Black Cod

2 thinly cut black cod steaks (about 3/4 lb total)

2 TB butter (or margarine if making lactose free)

Handful baby arugula for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Right after you’ve flipped the potato pancake to its second side it’s time to begin cooking the fish. In a cast-iron skillet melt the butter over moderately high heat until nearly smoking.

Steaks Searing

Steaks Searing

Brown the fish on each side until a nice brown crust forms, about 2-4 minutes per side, pending how hot you have your pan. Once you’ve browned the fish on both sides, put into the oven and finish cooking for 5 minutes.


The trick with this is to time it right. The mushrooms are pretty forgiving, so you can just have those cooking while you do the potatoes. The fish should be coming out right as the second side of the potato is complete and then to assemble simply make your tower by plating the pancakes, adding an arugula garnish if you like, adding the fish, topping with the chanterelles, and spooning any juices from the fish pan over on top.



Filed under Lactose Free, Seafood, Uncategorized

Puerto Rico Primas: Mango Cucumber Salad

Jumping for joy in Culebra

“How do you all know each other again?”

“We’re COUSINS!!”

“Oh…huh. Really? Okay. Well, you ladies want a beer?”

So went many conversations during our week adventure in Puerto Rico. Perfectly normal to us that four cousins would fly across the country, pile into a pimped out Honda Accord with a decidedly loud muffler, and explore all over the island, turns out that’s not most folk’s M.O. But it is ours….and it was fun.

The last to arrive in San Juan, I was greeted curbside at midnight by three beauties hanging out of the car with the tunes blasting. From there we would spend a week sunning, laughing, dancing, snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, and naturally, eating.

They say that Puerto Rico isn’t know for its food, and I would be tempted to agree. There is an abundance of slightly tired, deep-fried “things” (sorry, can’t think of what else to call them), but the real culinary beauty of PR comes in the incredible fruits and vegetables that one can buy for next to nothing from little stands on the side of the road.

This Mang0-Cucumber salad was the perfect accompaniment to the Citrus Shrimp (recipe coming) and Pilaf we enjoyed our first night at the Culebra Beach Villas.* Exceedingly simple and fast to prepare, it is also very refreshing. We were out of avocados, but you could definitely toss some of that in as well. Serve when looking out at the ocean from your private villa, feet covered in sand, cheeks kissed with sun, and surrounded by the laughter and love of dear family.

Mango Cucumber Salad

Mango Cucumber Salad

Mango Cucumber Salad

2 large cucumbers, peeled and diced

2 large mangoes, peeled and diced

1 lime

Salt and Pepper

Mix the cucumbers and mangoes in a large bowl. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over it. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

*For the record, these villas are outstanding. We stayed in 2B, and it literally was steps from the beach, with grand vistas out to the ocean and surrounding cliffs. Culebra itself is a small island approximately 17 miles off of Puerto Rico. Accessible via ferry it offers the perfect respite from the bustling, and at times overwhelming, San Juan. The people are lovely, the pace relaxed, and the beaches breath-taking.


Erina, Kate, Margaret, and Annie-Laurie


**All photos by my lovely cousin Annie Laurie Malarkey.**


Filed under Health Conscious, Month of Exploration, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Day 30: Gourmet Meatball Subs

I can be a bit of a snob sometimes.

I don’t mean to be, but there are moments when seemingly out of my control, my East Coast upbringing kicks in and up my nose turns. It might be the result of poor manners, tacky decorating, or bad food. You know what I mean…those meals they served in elementary school like Sloppy Joes or Tuna Casserole? Up until a short period of time ago I would have included Meatball Subs in the shun-worthy category. That is…until I tried the recipe from the “Tartine Bread” cookbook.

Tartine Bread

The book that changed it all

These things are amazing. Granted…the addition of pesto, fontina, and arugula definitely provide for a lift in status, but in addition to that they’re just really dang tasty.

Having reached Day 30 of my “Month of Exploration” these feel like the perfect culinary representation of what I’ve learned: Faster isn’t always better, glamorous isn’t always worth it, and sometimes it’s okay to admit you’re happy with just plain ‘ol good.

Serve these for a casual weeknight dinner with friends paired with a great bottle of red wine, such as a Malbec.

Gourmet Meatball Subs, adapted from Tartine Bread to make a bit easier to prepare and lactose free

Serves 6

3 TB Olive Oil

1 large white onion, chopped

1 lb ground beef with at least 20 percent fat

1 pound ground pork

4 large eggs

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

3 cloves garlic, chopped

Two 16-ounce cans chopped tomatoes (splurge on the good, organic option)

6 crusty sub rolls, or one large crusty baguette cut, split in half lengthwise

Good pesto, store-bought (yes, homemade is better, but for a Wednesday, store-bought is just fine)

6 slices fontina

2 cups baby arugula

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×12 baking dish. To make the meatballs, in a large deep skillet over medium-low heat, warm 2 TB of the olive oil. Add the onions and saute until they are translucent and beginning to color, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. In a large bowl combine the beef, pork, eggs, panko, parsley, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and cooled onions. Mix well to combine. Form the meat mixture into balls the size of golf balls. Add to the baking dish and bake until cooked through, but not overcooked, about 25 minutes.


Ingredients for the meatballs

Meanwhile, in the onion skillet add the remaining 1 TB olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and deglaze the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned residue. Bring the tomatoes to boil and reduce the heat to very low. Add the cooked meatballs to the pan and simmer for 20 minutes, turning occasionally.

Simmering meatballs

Simmering meatballs

Spread the top half of each roll with the pesto spread. Add the cheese to the bottom half (skipping if you’re making lactose free) and top with meatballs and sauce. Add the top back on and loosely wrap in aluminum foil. Bake until the cheese has melted and the bread is crispy and toasted, about 25 minutes. To serve, unwrap from the foil, top with fresh arugula, and offer extra sauce for dipping.


Filed under Comfort Foods, Lactose Free, Month of Exploration