Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Easing Into Fall - Black Cod with Chanterelle Mushroom Ragout

Just as I was beginning to accept the fact that it was fall, and that the Bay Area had completely skipped summer...the heat wave came. You will not hear me complaining about this: bring on the tubing and camping trips! Finally!!! As long as the temperature stays above 80, you'll find me by the water. Hello Russian River! I've missed you! I'm already planning my Sunday getaway. Everyone here is moaning about the heat. What's wrong with you people?! Break out the fans, sprinklers and sunscreen! It's so funny...this is my 7th October in the Bay Area...every October, I'm sure the temperature will drop, and the rain will start...and every October, I'm wrong. Thank god.

My trip to the Farmer's Market this weekend left me with the ingredients for a very fall like dish. Like it or not, I had to turn on the oven in this heat to make this dish I'd been thinking about all last week. Black cod with Chanterelle Mushroom Ragout. Garlic, shallots, chanterelles and white wine...on top of Black Cod. It just sounded perfect. The only possible way I could ease into fall. Now I've thrown the windows open and am taking a few cold showers...but still. It's worth it, to be able to cook my own lunch on a weekday, and enjoy a long awaited summer day. And to top it off, it was easy. Amazingly simple. Simple enough to become a weekday staple...

Black Cod with Chanterelle Ragout

adapted from Bon Appetit

3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound fresh chanterelles, cleaned, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium shallot, sliced thinly
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 large black cod fillets with skin (about 2 pounds)
2 tbsp dry unseasoned breadcrumbs
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Melt butter with 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until beginning to color. Stir in garlic, shallot, and parsley. Add wine; simmer until almost evaporated, scraping up browned bits in skillet, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon peel and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Brush 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil. Place cod, skin side down, in baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan; drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Bake until fish is opaque in center, about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Week 6 - Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lately, my perception of time feels exactly like the summer we've had here in the Bay Area this year: non-existent. I start to work around 8 every morning, and the next time I look at the clock, it's just past 1pm, I haven't eaten, and I feel pretty confused about where those 5 hours went. I get up, try and scrounge together some semblance of a lunch, and then go back to work. Next thing I know, it's 6pm. It's a bit of a vicious cycle at the moment.

They say it takes 3-5 months to finally feel settled in a new job. I'm on week 6. And I'm thinking I need to try and find a balance. Also: don't talk to me about fall. I'm sick about it. We had exactly 3 days this summer where the thermometer climbed above 80. Ridiculous.

When Bon Appetit magazine fell out of my mail box yesterday, I sort of sighed, and put it on top of the growing pile of things I'd like to read, but just haven't had the time to delve into. When a break rolls around, the last thing I want to do is stay inside. To that end, some friends and I found ourselves in the middle of San Francisco Bay this weekend, passengers on the boat The Pegasus. We sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, accompanied by a pod of porpoises, around Angel Island and past Sausilito. We had front row seats to the Rolex Regatta race. It was a memorable experience. Especially due to our Captain: Captain Richard, who taught me this little ditty:

What a marvelous bird is the pelican
it's beak can hold more than it's bellican

in it's beak it can hold, enough food for a week

but I don't know how the hellican.

I have a thing for birds. So much so that it has earned me the nickname "Ladyhawk" amongst my friends. Captain Richard also has a thing for birds.

He and I got along famously.

Anyway. Check out this city, would you? From the boat, everywhere we looked was a beautiful view.

As far as weekend plans go, it was pretty good. And I managed to keep work at bay for an entire day.

I have cooked exactly 0 times this week. Thankfully Leah had sent this recipe for her Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. I had them. They were divine. Thanks to Leah.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from

2 1/4 cups All-Purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 cups dark brown sugar (packed)
1 Tbs half and half cream (or milk)
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 cups chocolate chips

Sift together flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.

Melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Continue to cook on low heat, stirring often, until butter is browned. Turn off heat and stir in white and brown sugars.

Scrape into a medium mixing bowl and use electric mixer to cream the butter and sugars together. Add half & half, lemon juice, vanilla extract and eggs. Mix in until well combined. Add half of the flour mixture and incorporate into the batter with electric mixer. Add the rest and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. The cookie dough will be very soft and buttery. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill until firm (an hour or two).

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop up heaping Tablespoonfuls of cookie dough and use your hands to roll into balls. Place 12 balls on a sheet, keeping about an inch and a half between each ball.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes, depending on how large you’ve rolled your balls (mine took 11 minutes).

Yield: About 2 1/2 dozen

*Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Absent - Peach Upside Down Cake from Leah

I've been shamefully absent in blogging lately, and can't provide much by way of an excuse. Other than the fact that I've been eating out quite a bit lately, and when I'm not doing that, I'm eating handfuls of cherry tomatoes like they're going out of style (or season, as the case may be).

Friday was an embarrassment of Bay Area riches. Literally. Breakfast AND dinner at Pizzaiolo, and what may be one of the best sandwiches I've ever had (Pulled Pork BBQ) from a new place in Berkeley, Ironwood BBQ. Go there. Trust.

It's always fun to bring a person to Pizzaiolo who's never been there before. I talk it up beforehand quite a bit, and people are always skeptical, thinking it won't be quite as good as I've promised, but it always, always is. It was a stellar meal on Friday that included padron peppers with burrata cheese, halibut carpacio with avocado, and a squid and cherry tomato pizza with a farm egg on top. Not once have I ever been anything less than extremely impressed with a dish there. I hadn't been in quite awhile, so I figure 2 meals there in one day make up for it.

Man, am I lucky to live here.

I did stop by the farmer's market this morning to stock up on more tomatoes and peaches. Not sure how much longer they'll be in season. While picking out some juicy and fat looking peaches, I remembered that Leah had sent me this recipe for Peach Upside Down Cake. It comes highly recommended. Just thought I'd pass it on...make it while you can!

Peach Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen by Leah

3-4 peaches - skinned and sliced thinly
1/4 stick unsalted butter - cut into small cubes
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup peach juice or apple juice

Special equipment: A well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9″ spring form cake pan. I used a fluted one because I had it.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Make topping: Arrange peaches in the bottom of the pan in overlapping concentric circles. Sprinkle brown sugar and butter over the peaches.

Make batter: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended. (Batter may appear slightly curdled.)

Spoon batter over peach topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in skillet/pan for five minutes. Invert a plate over skillet/pan and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet/pan firmly pressed together). Replace any peach stuck to bottom of skillet.

Serve cake just warm or at room temperature.