Friday, July 07, 2006

For the Taking

Cherries and apricots are in season. So I threw them into my Pâte Brisée. And baked up an apricot and cherry galette. Fantastic flavors! I made the galette because I figured everyone would at least like dessert, even if the dinner did not go over well tonight.

I guess we all take things for granted.

Makes it easier to move through the days without having to think every little detail through.

I swear I’ve tried some dishes with dill. And no one ate them. For whatever reason. So I don’t reach for the dill anymore. It’s just no fun to cook and be the only one eating.

But we were looking to shake things up a bit. Take a day off from the usual. Keep the balsamic in the cupboard. Save the salmon for another day. And everyone is complaining about the frequency of chicken. Although they won’t eat red meat, pork, most seafood outside of shrimp and salmon, and accept tofu only on occasion. Well, we all have our quirks.

So we got some dill at the farmer’s market. On a whim. Not really a specific concept in mind for it.

And as we were shopping at our local Asian market, with some 35 varieties of fresh fish on display, plus an array of fish balls, pastes, and other goodies, we saw some striped bass on sale. Eyes were still pretty clear. Gills bright red. Fresh enough. So we got a few, and had them filleted. Bones saved for a future soup broth.

I had in mind a recipe I had seen a while ago. Bass, dill, cucumbers. The cucumbers sliced and arranged on the fish to look a bit like scales. Everything sweated in butter for a few minutes. Simple preparation. But sounded good.

I put the fish on some red rice – which is just unhulled Jasmine style rice. Apparently the hull on Jasmine rice is a beautiful red color, which mostly stays during the cooking. Made an interesting contrast to the cucumber. It sells under the name ‘Red Cargo Rice’, where apparently unhulled rice is how rice is generally transported as cargo. The hull is milled off after transport to get the more familiar white rice. I prepared the red rice the same as I would have made white rice.

I figured this would be one of those days were I try to enjoy something different while everyone else did whatever they could to indicate their unhappiness, without actually complaining directly (sensitive chef, you know), and wondering about the leftovers from yesterday.

But to my shock, everyone loved the fish. And the rice. With the dill and cucumbers in butter sauce.

I a million years I would not have guessed this. The dish had a wonderful flavor. And the striped bass was fresh and moist. But butter sauce? Practically a crime here. And dill? I thought that was not on the approved list. And a new thing- red rice – to boot.

I just took it for granted that no one would like it.

Maybe it wasn’t the dill in the past. Maybe it was my poor choice of recipes using dill, or my inept preparation, or both. I just assumed they didn’t like dill.

So, humbled at the praise heaped upon the dill and cucumber striped bass, I served the apricot cherry galette. Which looked beautiful. And tasted even better.

Of course, no one tried a single piece but me. Too much butter (?!). Too full from dinner (?!).

I would never make it as a psychologist. Just a frustrated chef.

Striped Base with Cucumbers and Dill
Recipe from Epicurious
Serves 4

Four 6 to 7 ounce striped bass fillets, with skin
3 tbsp butter
½ tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped fine
1 seedless cucumber, sliced very thin (ideally with a mandoline)
Additional sprigs of fresh dill for garnish, if desired

Heat butter in a large heavy skillet until melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Put fillets, flesh side down, in butter to coat, then turn over so skins are down. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper, and 1 ½ tbsp dill (reserving some for after cooking). Arrange cucumber slices over fish in overlapping pattern (like scales). Season lightly with additional salt and pepper. Cover fish with buttered parchment paper, and then tightly cover skillet with lid or foil.

Cook fish over moderately high heat until cooked through, 4-7 minutes, depending on thickness. Remove parchment paper, drizzle some pan juices over fish, sprinkle fish with remaining chopped dill, and arrange dill sprigs on top, if desired. Serve. Enjoy!

Apricot and Cherry Galette
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 6

1 recipe Pâte Brisée (see previous recipe on this site), chilled
4-5 cups of fresh apricots, cut in half and pit removed, then each half cut into thirds
2 cups fresh cherries, cut in half and pit removed
2-3 tbsp apricot jam

Preheat the over to 400ºF.

On a piece of parchment paper dusted lightly with flour, roll out dough to about a 14 inch circle.

Arrange the apricots in rings, starting about 1 ½ inches from edge of dough. Cover entire interior of dough, heaping the apricot slices a little towards the center. Sprinkle the cherry halves over the apricot slices, and gently massage them into the apricots just a little. Gently pull the edges of the dough up over the fruit so that it covers about the outer 2 inches. Gently pinch the folds of the dough so that no gaps or breaks are left (the juice will run everywhere during baking).

Bake the galette for a good hour, until the crust is browned and has gotten crisp. Remove from oven and let cool. While cooling, heat the apricot jam in the microwave, and brush lightly on the exposed fruit. Serve the galette slightly warm, or at room temperature. Enjoy!

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Blogger Fran said...

Great post! Very informative (the red rice). Beautiful fruit creation.

9:41 AM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

Thanks, Fran!

We are going to try a few rices - red, black, sweet, glutinous, etc., over the next few weeks, and hopefully blog about them. Everyone really enjoyed the red rice - and it makes a nice background for dishes.

2:42 PM  

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