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Tag: entree (page 2 of 2)

Memory Lane Leads Right to the Beach: Heirloom Swordfish

swordfishsteak1It’s too early for tomatoes, after all, and no doubt we’re not supposed to be eating swordfish at this point either, but in honor of the Family J’s spring visit, we had swordfish over the weekend. I’m sure that we will be informed in no short order that this is a heinous crime against sustainability, but for this dinner at least, I’m not going to care.

Anyway, to the fish–we prepared the beautiful steaks in the traditional family manner. Pioneered over countless sunny Cape Cod summers by none other than Grampy J, I have never had a better tasting swordfish than this. And I’m pretty sure that the rest of the far-flung aunties and uncles and cousins J would agree with me that this is de rigeur for a proper beach vacation, along with soft serve, mini-golf, lobster night, sunburns, sandcastles, trips to the ER, Trivial Pursuit marathons, and of course a night out for “fried ocean”. And, unlike many of these wonderful memories, the swordfish can be replicated at home. Lightly seasoned with lemon and dill, then lightly spread with just a little mayonnaise before being wrapped up tight in foil and plonked on the grill (or in the oven), it’s a rare taste of summer and childhood we’ll never tire of.

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Quick Broiled Lamb with Mustard Breadcrumbs

broiledlamb1Well. Given the results of our informal Easter poll, ladies love the lamb. And, never being one to deny the ladies (nothing good ever came from doing that…), I sensibly elected to make lamb for dinner on Saturday evening. I decided, however, that the usual roast leg–either bone-in or stuffed–was a bit more than I wanted to deal with. It’s already hot enough in D.C. for me to want to minimize oven time, and since I’d also decided to make a rather time-consuming ratatouille as an accompaniment, I also wanted to minimize my kitchen time. So, lamb, and on the quick.

Taking a page from my camp catering playbook, I picked up a butterflied leg of lamb at the market–one that’d been removed from the bone and opened out into a sheet of meat. Since I don’t (as yet) have a grill, under the broiler it would go after a quick rub with rosemary and garlic. Then, just before it was done, a layer of mustardy breadcrumbs patted on top would add some  crunchy contrast. It may not look like much, but wow, did this ever deliver.

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When Life Gives You Lemons… Make Chicken Piccata!

chickenpiccata1It’s probably apparent by now that I tend to favor tangy, bright, acidic flavors. I’m sure, in fact, that those very words would loom large in a tag cloud of my posts. I love the spritzy, mouth-filling tingle of the lemony, the vinegary, and the just plain puckery.

Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite ways to hit my sour sweet spot–it’s also a great weeknight supper of some distinction since it doesn’t take that long and is uber-delicious. It’s certainly my favorite thing to do with chicken breasts, which–while speedy–can be a bit of a drag on their own. But napped in a smooth lemony sauce punctuated with briny capers and verdant parsley, it’s hard to imagine a better preparation for them.

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Take a Spin with this Spinach-Merguez Spiraled Pork Roast

stuffedpork1With its moist and toothsome whirl of spinach and spicy merguez stuffing, this pork roast makes a lovely and delicious Sunday supper. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as it is inspired by the stuffed leg of lamb in Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Luques. The lamb is all big flavor and one of my favorite dishes from the book. This roast is similarly robust in flavor, but seems lighter, benefiting I think from a milder meat and a greener stuffing.

Opening out the pork is quite easy–you can hack away in the most ineffectual manner and still end up with the beautiful spiral. I served this with potatoes parboiled and then tossed into the roasting pan in the last 30 minutes of cooking and a pea and watercress puree.

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Cod and Lentils

CodAndLentils

The Lenten season is upon us and this Catholic plans to bring you one fish dish a week until Easter. And, like a good, multitasking Cafeteria Catholic the season allows me to honor one of my resolutions for the year: cook and eat more fish.  More importantly, cook and eat more sustainable fish. The fish I used in this recipe was longline-caught, Pacific Cod, a safe choice according to the gurus at Monterey Bay Aquarium. I’ve raised this point before but if you haven’t downloaded their Seafood WATCH pocketcard for your wallet or or PDA, do it!  It’s a fantastic cheat sheet, giving you quick access to the most sustainable fish to purchase and consume.

So, Friday night’s cod…

I thought it turned out quite well. It’s a mild, relatively oily fish and it withstood a fair amount of heat and aggressive cooking I applied. I have not cooked much fish in the past and I’m trying to get comfortable with the concept of under-cooking my fish, resting assured that the residual heat, from pan-to-plate, will finish the cooking process, beautifully. I will elaborate a bit more on under-cooking fish–and quality meats, in general–in a future post as I think it’s an important point to make. Under-cooking is also a sign of confidence in the kitchen. However, I would only advise doing this if you know the sources of your protein! Again, more later.

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Red Roast Cornish Game Hens

rrhen1These burnished little birds are quite fancy. And we like fancy. Scented exotically, if subtly, with soy, ginger, chile, and anise,  they are first poached and then finished off with a blast of dry heat to crisp up the skin. My version is inspired by the Ginger Duck in Amanda Hesser’s lovably twee Cooking for Mr. Latte, but gets nudged back towards its Chinese roots with some judicious additions to the poaching liquid.

Though somewhat time-consuming, most of the work is both dead easy and night-before do-ahead. A la minute, the birds demand only a little baste before a quick spell in a hot oven to rewarm and crisp them up.  This frees up time to fiddle with more complicated sides, but I generally forgo any Herculean efforts as the hens are quite elegantly at home atop a bed of gingery mashed sweet potatoes and a tangle of quickly-sauteed greens or snuggled up with some roasted potatoes and shredded parsnip and carrot.

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