Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cheap, cheerful and fast: Fish pancakes

So I'm borrowing a few tricks from the food and restaurant industry.  The food industry has lots of tricks up their sleeves, and I don't see why we can't use at least some of them for out benefit.. Call it Food Marketing to Kids 101:  Name it something fun or associate it with something kids really like.  It works for us... see if it works for you.

So all of a sudden we don't like fish anymore.  One of those things that we learned at school.  So now we have fish ....pancakes!  Just in time for Lent when our only act of official observance is to try to remember not to eat meat on Fridays.  [We are post-Catholic...or collapsed Catholic at best.]  As of this writing, I'm on to Fish Pancake 3.0 ...and the good news is that the variations on the fish/pancake theme are many and only limited by your imagination and what is left over in your larder/cupboard/pantry/frig.   A Shepard's Pie for fish.  It's a good way to sneak in all those good-for-you extra veggies.    Another trick from the food industry, all those add-ins double your servings and bring down the cost of your meal.  A lot!  The difference is of course that these add ins are easy to pronounce and don't sound like chemistry class and you even know what they are and they aren't toxic sludge and might even be good for you.  But I figure it's been around $10 each time I've made this meal!  The primary cost is of course the fish so buy what's on sale and enjoy! 

The basic/boiler plate recipe borrowed from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions

1 1/2 lbs of white fish 
2 pastured eggs , lightly beaten
2 small onions, finely minced [or leeks, garlic, finely diced chard]
1 cup of real bread crumbs [or finely grated and sauteed potato]
2 tblesp Dijon-type of mustard 
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 bunch of fresh cilantro [or finely diced and sauteed chard, spinach, greens]
1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind 
sea salt or fish sauce and pepper
1/2 cup of ghee of clarified butter for the frying 
creme fraiche

Place fish in a pan with filtered water and simmer gently until fish is tender. Remove fish and break up fish into very small pieces in a larger bowl.  Combine with eggs, onions, bread crumbs, mustard, cayenne pepper, cilantro and lemon rind.  Season to taste.  Form into cakes.  Saute in ghee until a bit crispy on out outside.   Top with a lovin' glob of  creme fraiche.  

Enjoy! Bon Appetite! Mange! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cheap, Cheerful and Fast: Spanish Omlette

Years ago I was lucky enough to visit Madrid and stay with a real Spanish family. The mother did not speak English and I spoke no Spanish but we all seemed to somehow communicate over the vast amounts of food she prepared for us. This recipe is the Spanish equivalent of Mom's Apple Pie. Like most 'peasant' food, it is easy on the wallet, easy to make and sustaining.

So this is another recipe that calls for culinary improv or clean-out-your-frig thinking.  Maybe it's our celtic heritage, but adding potato to this or any other dish means no leftovers.

We're big meat eaters here so I've added sausage to this basic recipe to meat it up a bit and garlic because I add garlic to just about everything. For best results use the best eggs and sausage you can find/afford.

4-5 organic potatoes sliced very thin
5-6 eggs scrambled
1 onion sliced very thin
sea salt to taste
teaspoon of fresh thyme
pinch of pepper to taste
1/2 lb of sausage precooked removed from casing and crumbled

melt ghee in a le creuset or other stove top casserole add and saute potatoes until tender. remove and place aside

melt ghee and sautee onions and garlic until soft, add potatoes back in and make the mixture flat

lightly beat eggs and add thyme, sausage, salt, pepper to taste and add mixture to the pot covering the potatoes

cook for 10 minutes or so until eggs are cooked, lifting up edges during cooking to let liquid seep under.


Places I love: The Lovely Russo's

It's deep winter here in Boston. We've just made it through our umpteenth sp? snowstorm and as I write the familiar sound of snowplows fills our kitchen. All the berries we picked and froze last summer are long gone and not much else around here is 'local' much less organic. Nothing is more cheery this time of year than a trip to Russo's. It's a feast for all the senses but in the dead of winter an orgy of color. Our friends Susan and Bob turned us onto Russo's a while ago as the go-to place for Boston food lovers who are either priced out of Whole Foods or want to support a local business or just want good produce at a great price. Little here is 'organic' or 'local' but frankly this is New England, it's March and well, with the economy flat-lining...it all seems so irrelevant. Russo's is a lot like an ethnic market to where you can find lots of wierd wonderful stuff or things you won't find anywhere else. And it's friendly too. People who shop here are food people so if you can, relax and enjoy the camraderie. Recently we met a woman in line who chatted us up after seeing carambolas in our cart...she was from Guatamala grew up with caramboloa trees in her front yard.

Ahh, the cheese section. Mark, the manager, got his training from non other than the esteemed Formaggio in Cambridge. His training shows. I could spend all day here!