Wednesday, April 25, 2012

pompano a la nage

   One of my favorite ways to serve fish is "a la nage." It's a classic French dish whose name simply means "swimming." In this recipe, fillets of pompano are swimming in a clam broth. A nage is a good dish for the spring and summer because it's nice and light. Almost any fish can be served this way. Black cod and salmon are two good choices. I originally planned on making this with striped bass, but they didn't have any at the market when I went to go get some. Instead I found pompano. It's a white fleshed fish from Florida that has a similar flavor to red snapper, but the flesh is even firmer and meatier. Whatever fish you do choose, make sure you get the bones too for flavoring the broth. I like to start with chicken stock for a deeper flavour, but you can make the fish stock using only water.   
        I pan seared the fillets so that the skin would get nice and crispy, but alternately, you can poach the fish in the broth. The skin obviously wont crisp up when poached, so it's better to remove the skin first if you are going to poach the fish. The fish sits atop a mound of carrot and leek "tagliatelle." This is simply carrots and leeks that have been cut into ribbons and then poached in the broth until they have the texture of al-dente pasta. The dish is then garnished with a handful of crispy fried leeks to give it a bit of crunch. 
         If you are looking for a quick and easy solution for dinner, you can make a simplified version of this dish. You can skip making the clam broth and simply poach some vegetables and fish in chicken stock. It won't have the full flavour of the long version, but it will still make a great dinner if you start with good fresh fish and vegetables.  

Cooking time 1 hour. Prep time 20 minutes. Serves 2

400g pompano filets + bones
12 littleneck clams
1 leek
1 lbs carrots
1 small onion
1 head garlic
600 ml low sodium chicken broth
200 ml dry white wine
1/4 bunch fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup vegetable oil
salt & fresh ground pepper

1. Peel the carrots, and then using the vegetable peeler, cut the carrots into long thin strips. Set the strips aside and place the cores of the carrots in a large pot. Cut the bottom part of the leek where the roots are and discard. Cut the white part of the leek into two 5cm (2 inch) pieces and set aside. Place the remaining green top in the stock pot with the carrots. Cut the onion and garlic in half (skin on) and add them to the pot. Add the chicken stock and half (100ml) of the white wine. If desired, add a few sprigs of thyme and 1 bay leaf. Add water if necessary to make sure the fish and vegetables are covered. Bring to a gentle boil and then let simmer for 45 minutes. 

2. Take one of two 5cm pieces of leek and cut it down the middle. Finely julienne the leek and then rinse in cold water. Heat 1 cup of oil in a small pot. Toss the julienned leeks in flour and then fry until just starting to brown, about 45 seconds. Transfer to paper towel.

3. Cut the remaining leek into quarters lengthwise and then rinse in cold water. Put the clams in a pot with 100ml white wine. Let simmer with a lid on until all the clams are open, about 5 - 8 minutes. Remove the clams and then add the strained stock. Let simmer until reduced by half. Add the carrots and leeks to the broth then simmer until the vegetables are al-dente, about 3 minutes. Return the clams to the broth, stir in the butter and keep warm.

4. Cut the fish into 2 cm cubes. Heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick pan. Sear the fish skin-side down for 4 minutes. Turn the fish and cook the other side for 2 more minutes.

To serve: Place a small pile carrots & leeks in the center of 2 shallow bowls. Place 6 clams in each bowl. Place the fish over the vegetables and then pour in 1 cup of broth. Garnish the fish with crispy leeks.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Smoked Salmon Omelette

      I love smoked salmon, and I particularly enjoy eating it for breakfast. I already posted a recipe for smoked salmon crepes and I also posted instructions for how to make your own homemade smoked salmon. These omelettes are easy to make and are really satisfying. You only need a few ingredients, and they are ready in minutes. The cream cheese filling is nice and decadent. I like to eat this omelette with a toasted bagel on the side.

Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 8 minutes Makes 1 individual portion omelette.


3 eggs
40g smoked salmon, cubed
30g cream cheese, cubed
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon butter

1. Whisk the eggs until frothy. Heat 1 tbs of butter in a small non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to bubble, add the eggs, then the smoked salmon, cream cheese and the chives.

2. Let cook without stirring until a crust forms on the bottom of the omelette, about 3 minutes. Fold the omelette in half and the continue cooking for 2 more minutes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Grilled Lamb with cucumber salad & garlic sauce

      It's Easter this weekend, and that means it's time for a feast. For many families, Easter dinner is all about lamb, so today I'm posting a recipe for grilled lamb T-bones. Now that winter is gone and spring is officially here, it's a good time to fire up the barbecue and get grilling.
     Because of their small size, lamb T-bones are perfect for sharing family style. Grill 2-3 pieces per person and serve them in the centre of the table with grilled eggplant, garlic sauce and cucumber salad. The garlic sauce is simply made from pureed garlic with a bit of milk, olive oil & lemon juice. The flavour of the garlic is softened by first boiling the garlic in milk. The cucumber salad adds a refreshing crunch and is also very simple: just cucumber, olive oil and lemon juice. Another good side dish to go with this would be some roasted potatoes. For the cucumber salad, I like to use small Lebanese cucumbers because of their wonderfully crunchy texture. If they are unavailable, an English cucumber will do.    

Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time 20 minutes. Serves 6

12-18 lamb T-bones
2 Lebanese cucumbers
1 lemon
8 cloves fresh garlic
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggplants
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper, olive oil

Preheat the barbecue to medium-high heat

1. To make the garlic sauce: in a small sauce pot, combine the garlic and the milk. Gently simmer for 10 minutes and then strain, reserving the milk. In a blender, purée the garlic with 1/4 cup milk, the juice of 1/4 lemon & 2 tbs olive oil.

2. For the cucumber salad: finely dice the cucumber and then mix with the juice of 1/2 lemon & 2 tbs olive oil. Season with salt & pepper.

3. Cut the eggplant into thick slices lengthwise, season with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tbs balsamic vinegar and 4 tbs olive oil. Place on the grill and cook until nicely browned on each side, about 2 minutes per side.

4. Season the lamb T-bones with salt & pepper. Grill the T-bones until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side. For chops that are thicker than 1/2", close the lid and let the lamb cook for another 5 minutes. For medium lamb, cook until the internal temperature reaches 70C (160F)

5. Serve the lamb and eggplant on a plater, with bowls of the cucumber salad and garlic sauce on the side.