Dec 13 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

Published by at 6:00 am under Cooking Classes,Dinner

Not every dish we make at school is one I’m rushing home to recreate. Culinary school teaches you all the basic, French techniques that made food taste good back when ingredients weren’t so ripe — meaning they usually benefited from a good smothering of cream, cheese and breadcrumbs. And more cream, apparently.

These days, of course, things are different. I’m lucky enough to live in Northern California, practically a stone’s throw from where some of the best produce in the world is grown, so eating local and organic means your food pretty much tastes good as is. That’s why covering a delicate white fish in a thick, white floury concoction grosses me out, and so does eating veal with a Bordelaise sauce and a side of Broccoli Gratin in the middle of the day.

But that’s what we’re learning to make, so that’s what we’re eating half the time. And the other half the time… I’m absolutely in heaven incredible recipes that I am rushing home to make. Like one particular one from this week, Black Cod with Sweet and Sour Onions.

This meal had essentially all of my favorite things on one perfect plate. Let me break it down.

First, we marinated filets of Black Cod in olive oil and Sherry, and then seared it on the stove with the skin on. Use a non-stick pan, and that translates to a pleasantly crispy skin and a flaky inside (just trust me and don’t try it without the non-stick pan).

Next, we caramelized red onions until they were completely soft and melt-in-your-mouth buttery, then tossed in a little sugar and vinegar. To finish the onions, we mixed them with toasted pine nuts and currants. Swoon.

After that, we toasted some farro with lemon and parsley to serve alongside the fish. I had never tried farro until recently, but now it’s my absolute favorite grain, making me forget about wild rice, Israeli couscous, and even quinoa (for the moment). It’s deliciously chewy and has a nutty flavor that I go crazy for.

And finally, sautéed kale to provide the leafy green component.

And did I mention that the cod was topped off with a lemon garlic butter sauce spiked with smoked paprika.

Yeah, I feel pretty lucky.

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