Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Warm Potato Salad in Basil Cream

2 1/2 lb. small new potatoes
1/3 c. olive oil
10 basil leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 c. whipping cream
salt and pepper
1 tsp capers

Peel potatoes, cook in salted water, drain and cut in half while still slightly firm.
Put olive oil, basil, and garlic in a medium pan, heat, mashing basil with a spoon. When the leaves look wilted, turn off heat and steep for 10 minutes. Remove leaves, reheat oil, add vinegar, cream, and seasoning. Mix, add potatoes, stir while cream simmers. When sauce thickens, taste for seasoning, serve with capers and/or small basil leaves.

Squash and Lemon Salad

6-8 zucchini/yellow squash
3 firm tomatoes
1 small tomato half
2 lemons
1 1/3 c. dry white wine
2/3 c. olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 tsp thyme or lemon thyme
salt and pepper

Slice squash into 1/4 inch rounds, tomatoes into wedges, arrange in concentric circles with a small tomato half at the center.
Skin 2 lemons, cut into wedges, remove seeds, scatter over squash. Add everything else. Bake for 25 minutes at 350. Taste to make sure it's still a little firm/crunchy. Serve cool, but not chilled, with fresh bread.

Source: Summer Food by Judith Olney, p. 88

Polenta Tart

For the topping:
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 green pepper, chopped
6-7 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped, or a 28oz can tomatoes, drained
pinch sugar
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, oregano, thyme, mixed
salt and pepper

For the polenta base:
3 1/2 c. water
1 tsp salt
1 c. yellow cornmeal
2 eggs
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil

Cook onions and garlic in oil until soft, add the rest of the sauce ingredients, simmer 30 min until quite dry. Set aside.
Bring water and 1 tsp salt to a boil, pour in cornmeal in a slow stream, stirring. Continue stirring for 15 minutes. When dry, cool slightly, stir in eggs, spread into a pie pan. Pat and smooth with wet fingers until it forms a thin pie shell. Place tomato topping in it, sprinkle with parmesan and olive oil, bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Source: Summer Food by Judith Olney

Sushi rice

Source: chef Shawn Dempsey, Chiso, at Cook's World cooking class

3 cups short grain japanese rice (1 cup is about 3-4 rolls)
3 1/4 c. water
1/3 c. rice vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Wash rice with cold water until water is clear (can soak for 30 minutes before cooking). Add a little over 1 cup of water to 1 cup of rice (or 1 knuckle over the rice). Keep the lid on the rice, or cover with foil with a little hole in it. Cook on high heat until it boils, then turn down to low, simmer 10 minutes. Turn the heat off, let it sit for 10 minutes, do not remove the lid ever.

Transfer to a big mixing bowl or deep plate, spread out evenly, add vinegar mixture, fold in with spatula, cool it with a fan or an open window, let it cool.
10 minutes later, turn it over so it all cools at the same rate. After 15-20 minutes, it'll be ready to use.

Sushi notes

Source: Shawn Dempsey, sushi chef at Chiso, Seattle

Sashimi knife- yanagi- for fish only, made of carbon steel, rusts so dry it quickly, 1-sided so you cut something and it falls away
Make sure everything's dry- wet seaweed is bad news
Peeling a cucumber- use a thing that peels it into sushi-sized chunks, or just peel the whole cucumber into a big sheet like a champ
Avocado: halve, pit, scoop out with spoon, slice
Kaiware: daikon sprouts
When buying nori, don't buy top shelf (too fragile, too fancy) or bottom shelf (cheap and thick). Make sure it's roasted. JFC is a good brand.

To make a temaki (hand roll): put rice on left half (of a wide rectangle), put stuff diagonal from top left to bottom center, bring lower left corner to top center, roll up
Uramaki (like a california roll): put rice on nori, add sesame, turn over, add tobiko (fish eggs) in a divot, avocado, cucumber, crab, shape it with saran-wrapped sushi mat
Futomaki (fat roll)
Hosomaki (thin roll)
Obi: little ribbon around nigiri
Gunkan: "battleship" full of fish eggs or whatever
Cut rolls with a knife that has a little water on the blade
Cut fish across the grain so you don't get a big grain in your fish
Cut unagi (eel) at 45 degree angles

Buying fish:
Tuna, salmon, albacore are easy to get
Yellowtail oxidizes so you can't buy it really
Salmon eggs, tobiko, sea urchin all good
Cooked shrimp/eel, no problem
Whitefish: hard to fillet
Scallops: generally safe
Types of tuna: Bluefin (otoro) is most expensive (and overfished), Bigeye (chutoro, orotoro?) is next, then Yellowfin (maguro?) I think the grades don't exactly match up with the types
"Fresh" tuna not actually good- rigor mortis sets in. Flash frozen is the best.

Spicy tuna: scrape tuna into little bits with a spoon, chop up, add sriracha or sambal