Monday, January 28, 2008


Going to Gary Danko tonight. If memory serves, I am in for about 4 hours of edible bliss. Cheese cart, here I come!

Time for fish 'n' chips, innit?

The weather this weekend was very British indeed. Rainy, windy, dark & depressing. But when a storm sets in, it's the perfect excuse to get cozy in one's local pub (or living room), build a fire, play some darts, drink some Guinness and eat some anglo comfort food. With that in mind, we went UK all the way and fried up a batch of fish 'n' chips.

Note: these are not my recipes. The fish combo was improvised by my sis-in-law Adriana and the chip recipe is from Cook's magazine. As an aside, both are gluten free if you're dining with any diet-restricted types. But if you're throwing culinary care to the wind, you can substitute any old beer for the gluten-free varieties listed here. Regardless, this combo makes the lightest, most delicate & delicious batter, almost like tempura.

Serve with peas & malt vinegar to enjoy a taste of merry old England.

Fish and Chips

2 lbs cod fillet, boned
1 cup rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
3/4 cup Bard's Tale or Redbridge Beer (add a bit more if needed to make batter more liquid)
2 eggs
Veggie oil to fill wok-style pan 1/2" deep

Preheat oven to 250

Gently wash the fish in cold water, making sure to pat the fillets dry with plenty of paper towels. For large fillets, you may want to cut the fish into smaller pieces, making sure to remove any bones before battering.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix beer and eggs separtely then stir into dry ingredients, mix until mixture is smooth. Place fish fillets in batter mixture; coat well, and let stand for 10-15 minutes

Heat oil to 350, gently place small batches of fish in oil to avoid dropping the oil temperature. Fry until golden brown, about 5 - 8 minutes, turning the fillets regularly to prevent scorching the batter.

Remove fish to paper towels to drain excess oil. Keep warm in oven until all the fish are cooked.

Oven Fries

5 russet potatoes peeled, each potato cut lengthwise into 10- 12 evenly sized wedges
5 tablespoons peanut oil
Coarse salt and black pepper

Adjust the oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 475. Place potatoes in large bowl and cover with hot tap water. Soak 10 minutes. Meanwhile, coat heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 tbsp oil and sprinkle evenly with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, set aside.

Drain potatoes and spread them out on triple layer of paper towels and thoroughly pat dry with additional paper towels. Rinse and wipe out empty bowl; return potatoes to bowl and toss with remaining 1 tbsp oil. Arrange potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet; cover tightly with foil and bake 5 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until bottoms of potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15 -20 minutes, rotating baking sheet after 10 minutes. Using metal spatula and tongs, scrape to loosen potatoes from pan, then flip each wedge, keeping potatoes in a single layer. Continue baking until fries are golden and crisp, 5 - 15 minutes longer, rotating pan as needed if fries are browning unevenly.

Transfer fries to a second baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Get ready for Fondue Mac (no relation to Fleetwood)

Let me start with this: desperate times call for desperate measures. And when one's garden stairwell turns into a full-on waterfall, gushing towards ones front door, things get a little desperate. I mean, we've been wanting a water feature to complete the Zen garden vibe, but this is ridiculous.

In any case, after one gets soaked to the bone, trudging through knee-deep water to sandbag the house, one requires coziness and comfort, to say the least. But what's the ultimate soothing, warming dish? Certainly, it involves cheese, but in what format? Fondue? Mac and Cheese? Well readers, necessity is the mother of invention. Like other awesome flavor combos, this is a taste sensation for the ages. It’s a decadent treat that satisfies both cravings. And it’s pretty much the easiest, cheesiest, ooiest, gooeyest goodness you’ll ever lay lips on. So when the winds pick up and the rain buckets, hunker down with a big bowl of this ridiculously comforting combo.

To begin, let it be said that I usually make fondue from scratch, but time was of the essence. Melty cheese, stat! This being the case, I started with one of those fondue kits that have the kirsch and garlic flavors pre-mixed. Very Sandra Lee “Semi-Homemade” of me, I know. Anyway, I heated the packaged fondue as a base, then added about 5 cups of cheese: a grated blend of Emmenthaler, Gruyere, Raclette and Sharp White Cheddar. Whenever it got too thick, I added a little milk. While the fromage was melting, I boiled a bag of macaroni. Once done, I returned the mac to the hot pan, poured the cheese sauce over it, mixed it through and then transferred the whole delicious mess to an oven-proof crock. I sprinkled it with panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and baked it at 450 for about 10 minutes to brown the top. We served it with greens tossed in blood orange olive oil and sea salt and a chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Sitting by the fire eating this luscious yumminess, we forgot all about the felled trees and waterfall in our yard. Oh, and the tequila shots helped, too.

Friday, January 04, 2008

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program

to bring you this: a poem by Elizabeth Bishop. At present, we are sitting in our cottage, surrounded by felled trees from this morning's 60-mph winds. With TreeMasters on the way, and electricity on the blink, we're daydreaming of warmer climes and subtropical scenes, like the one in this lovely poem about The Keys, one of my favorite erstwhile escapes. For the faithful among you, this is the poem referenced in the last entry. It only seemed right to give it full presence, having invoked its spirit in the first place. Plus, for the sensualists among you, reading these descriptions should have the same effect as eating something incomparably delicious that explodes with layers of flavors, both subtle and stunning, on the palate. It's not food, but I devour it just the same way. For best enjoyment, read aloud and savor EB's effortless rhyme and metre.

Pleasure Seas

In the walled off swimming-pool the water is perfectly flat.
The pink Seurat bathers are dipping themselves in and out
Through a pane of bluish glass.
The cloud reflections pass
Huge amoeba-motions directly through
The beds of bathing caps: white, lavender and blue.
If the sky turns gray, the water turns opaque,
Pistachio green and Mermaid Milk.
But out among the keys
Where the water goes its own way, the shallow pleasure seas
Drift this way and that mingling currents and tides
In most of the colors that swarm around the sides
Of soap-bubbles, poisonous and fabulous.
And the keys float lightly like rolls of green dust.
From an airplane the water's heavy sheet
Of glass above a bas-relief:
Clay-yellow coral and purple dulces
And long, leaning, submerged green grass.
Across it a wide shadow pulses.
The water is a burning glass
Turned to the sun
That blues and cools as the afternoon wears on,
And liquidly
Floats weeds, surrounds fish, supports a violently red bell-buoy
Whose neon-color vibrates over it, whose bells vibrate
Through it. It glitters rhythmically
To shock after shock of electricity.
The sea is delight. The sea means room.
It is a dance floor, a well ventilated ballroom.
From the swimming-pool or from the deck of ship
Pleasures strike off humming, and skip
Over the tinsel surface: a Grief floats off
Spreading out thin like oil. And Love
Sets out determinedly in a straight line,
One of his burning ideas in mind,
Keeping his eyes on
The bright horizon,
but shatters immediately, suffers refraction,
And comes back in shoals of distraction.
Happy the people in the swimming-pool and on the yacht,
Happy the man in that airplane, likely as not–
And out there where the coral reef is a shelf
The water runs at it, leaps throws itself
Lightly, lightly, whitening in the air:
An acre of cold white spray is there
Dancing happily by itself.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Bonne Année!

As you can see, my New Year's Resolutions are well under way. Mastering French is tops on my list. I should really be perfecting mi Español, as we're going to Mexico in May, but brushing up isn't nearly as fun as learning something new. Other resolutions include getting in shape (yawn; so pedestrian) and, of course, posting on the blog more faithfully. Apparently, I'm a featured publisher on Foodbuzz now, so maybe that will light a fire under my backside and inspire more regular posts. Probably not, but let's aim high, shall we?

In a good faith demonstration of my intention, I'll start with a few tips and tastes for 2008.

1. This may be old news to many of you sweet-toothed readers, but for those not in the know, Miette is home to all manner of sublime sweeties, as evidenced by this lovely assortment, stuffed in my stocking by Santa (also known as The Huzz).

Included here are samples of orange flower water, handmade Parisian candies painstakingly wrapped to include messages of love, Italian chocolates fashioned into flowers, a Jasmine chocolate bar, and cinnamon pastilles. Boys, keep your eyes on the Valentines horizon (Wow, I think just lifted that from an Elizabeth Bishop poem. Something about the slant rhyme "keeping your eyes on/the bright horizon" is ringing a long-lost bell. How I love EB. But I digress...)

2. In my best effort at working towards Resolution #2, the dreaded shape-shifting, I recently created this deceptively delicious Spaghetti Squash Pomodoro. Deceptive because you'd swear you were eating capellini. Delicious because it's tossed in all the de rigeur Italian staples (tomatoes, basil, olives, olive oil and yes, darlings, cheese). Quite simply, you can slice a spaghetti squash into halves, scoop out the seeds, roast it, sliced side down on a cookie sheet for 45, and then scrape the strands out and use as a pasta substitute. C'est bon! (See how much French I already know? I'm practically fluent.)

3. I have a recommendation. And this is it.

Despite appearances, this is NOT some sort of kitsch Hello Kitty knife (let it be known that I have long been anti-The Kitty and always hear its name in the same spitting tone that Newman says "Hello Jerry" on Seinfeld. But I digress.) The knife is, in fact, a ceramic model produced by Kyocera, and it's quite a revelation. Sent to me this holiday from the original Santa (also known as The Mom), it's curiously sharp, slicing through a tomato like nobody's business. Or, like the business of someone who really wants to make a clean cut in a tomato. And that someone is me. Apparently, it doesn't need sharpening, and maintains an edge much longer than your average cutting tool. And it's (pretty in) pink. Barbie Dream Knife.

OK, with that I'll close. The Huzz is lurking about, loudly stirring his Emergen-C whilst waiting for me to repair to the salon for a viewing of "Paris, je t'aime."

Until next time, adieu!