Sunday, August 14, 2016

Halibut with French Herbs

Tarragon, it turns out, is a game changer. Apparently you can chop it up with some parsley and chives and use it to make light-yet-buttery, simple-yet-flavorful, swooningly delicious french fare. Who knew? (Probably the French. But I didn't. You would think, in a fair world, that some people would get life-altering croissants and others would get tarragon, but no, the French got both. Until now. Or maybe it was years ago, when non-French people noticed tarragon but didn't tell me. Regardless, if you need me, I'll be over here, gazing adoringly at my new leafy green obsession.)

½ - ¾ lbs wild halibut (enough for two)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Stone ground whole wheat flour

2 tbsp Meyer lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine
1 ½ tbsp butter
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

(Goes well over black Forbidden rice—sauté a little chopped shallot until soft, then add the rice and water and cook according to package directions.)

Sprinkle the halibut on both sides with kosher salt and a little freshly ground black pepper, then lightly flour on both sides. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, and white wine in a small dish.

Heat a nonstick or ceramic pan over medium heat. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then add the fish to the pan and fry for a few minutes on each side, until just before the inside is cooked through (I always cut into the middle after it's lightly browned on both sides to get a sense of how much longer it has to cook...nobody will ever know if you serve it with the cut face down or with sauce over the top.) 

When the fish is almost but not quite cooked through, serve immediately over rice (it will keep cooking on the plate from the heat of the rice).

Immediately after serving the fish, replace the pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter, let it melt, then add the lemon-wine mixture. Wait 10 seconds for the alcohol to steam off, then add the capers and a pinch of salt, and turn off the heat. Add the herbs, stir a couple times, then spoon over the fish.

Serve immediately.

Serves 2. Pairs very well with sautéed leeks and baby kale and a French white.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Mostly Plants for Happy Hour

Given the existence of a liqueur made from 130 herbs, plants, and flowers, it was surely only a matter of time before this blog incorporated a happy hour. Introducing Trip the Light Plantastic, a summer cocktail made of (what else?) mostly plants, including juniper (gin), green chartreuse (there's the 130 herbs, plants, and flowers), mint, lime, and cucumber. Or stone fruit. Or whatever else strikes your produce-happy muddling fancy. In addition to its pun-based name, it also answers to "ooh, yes please," "one more over here," and "what was that drinky thing you made with the cucumber?"

Note: If you like your drinks on the sweeter side, go for the berry version below at peak berry season when they're super sweet and ripe, and aim for more berries rather than fewer. If you're not a fan of sweet drinks, head for any of the other versions.

Ingredients per drink:
1 shot gin
1/2 shot green chartreuse
5 mint leaves, muddled
1/2 shot lime juice or a bit less
1.5 - 2 shots club soda
and then choose your own adventure:

Cool Cucumber:
   2 sliced cucumber, muddled
Summer Stone Fruit:
   1/2 an apricot or 1/4 nectarine, muddled
   1 peel of Meyer lemon zest (use a carrot peeler)
Berry Blend:
   2-4 strawberries and/or blackberries, muddled
   1 peel of Meyer lemon or orange zest (use a carrot peeler)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint and the cucumber or fruit together, then add the lime juice, gin, and chartreuse. Clink in 2-3 ice cubes and shake vigorously until icy.

Serve into cold glasses on the rocks (an oversized ice cube or scotch rock works particularly well, so that the drink doesn't get diluted as the ice melts). Add club soda to desired level of dilution...I like my drinks strong, so I tend to add 1 1/2 shots of club soda to each glass here, but feel free to up the club soda to taste.

Add garnish as desired—cucumber slices if you're doing the cucumber version, citrus zest if you are doing a fruit version—and serve immediately.