After the Pie

Man, what a week. I feel like I need another juice cleanse to get back in the swing of eating non-crap. Of course, everything eaten over the past 7 days has been fantastic (and not literally crap..), but as we all know, it adds up pretty quickly.

But that’s what the Holidays are for, right?!

I don’t have many Thanksgiving pictures to share with you all this year, but imagine a smallish San Francisco condo packed with 14 hungry people, and empty bottles of beer, wine, and cava all over the place. Imagine plates of tasty food, from appetizers to the main feast to a table full of fresh made ice cream and 8 pies at the end of the night. And of course, a little bit of Rock Band (though not nearly enough, in my opinion) was certainly part of the fun.

It was a good day, and while there wasn’t nearly as much chillin‘ as we normally like, it was a nice long holiday week/weekend and we were, as Chris would say, über happy to have our favorite people with us for so long. Next year, we’ll do it all over again, except we plan to make the trip to Minnesota this time around, giving up control of hosting duties for the first time in 7 years.

I can’t wait.

Like the two of us, perhaps you’re filling your dinner menu with light items for the next couple of weeks? Have you eaten so much pie, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole that you broke out your fat pants again? If so, another fish recipe will most definitely fit the bill. Surprisingly, I’ve actually done a decent job of keeping up with the early weekday fish tradition, so this is one made a few weeks back.

It’s pretty perfect for Fall, even though a fish dish isn’t normally something I think of during this time of the year. I think it’s the saffron, which seems to invoke all sorts of feelings of richness and decadence. Who knows.

Either way, it’s a pretty easy dish to toss together in under an hour, and it’s all sorts of good for you. It might make you feel better about all that pie, but I’m not making any promises there…

Cod with Tomato Sauce & Fregola
Adapted from Food & Wine, September 2011; serves 4

time commitment: ~50 minutes (30 minutes active)

printable version

ingredients
4 T extra-virgin olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t crushed red pepper
3 lbs tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/8 t saffron threads, crumbled
5 marjoram sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 orange, in short, thin strips
5 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
2 c toasted fregola*
Four 4-oz skinless cod fillets
Chopped parsley, for garnish

*fregola is a toasted semolina pasta that looks like Israeli couscous. If you can’t find it, you can easily use arborio rice instead (which is what F&W uses). Also, the fregola isn’t gluten-free, so if you need that you’ll definitely have to sub the rice in.

instructions
In a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and saffron and cook over moderate heat until the tomatoes just begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the marjoram and season with salt and black pepper. Cook the sauce over moderately low heat, stirring and crushing the tomatoes with a spoon, until the sauce is thickened and the liquid is reduced, about 35 minutes. Discard marjoram.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, combine the orange zest strips, bay leaves, cloves, and fregola and cook until the fregola is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the fregola, discarding the zest, bay leaves and cloves. Return to pot and season with salt and pepper.

Nestle the cod in the tomato sauce and cook, turning the fillets once, until just opaque throughout, about 10 minutes.

Spoon the fregola into bowls or plates and top with the cod and sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Fishy Alternative

Cod with Chorizo Mussels and Saffron Aioli

By now you’ve eaten just about all the turkey, or roast, or whatever it is you eat over the holidays – that you can stand, right? I mean, I do love me some sweet potato casserole, and I thoroughly enjoy being torn in three over all the pie choices. I can’t imagine skipping Aunt Faye’s chicken pastry, cornbread, and homemade buttermilk biscuits although I easily skip over the collard greens, as I have managed to do for 29 years now. Our families could feed a small village with all the sweets they prepare (not to mention the biscotti I made which is only slightly addictive), and let’s just say that the amount of treats I consume is no small accomplishment either.


mussels

But when it comes right down to it, as good as the holiday food is, for me there’s no better feeling than whipping up a special meal at home. And after all the poultry and beef I’m sure we’ve all consumed these past few weeks I have to admit I’m more than ready to veer away from the land animals for just a bit. (And I mean just a bit). That being said, I think it’s time to take a lil’ dip into the ocean. I found the perfect dish for you – one I’ve been meaning to share for quite some time now.

'imported' Spanish chorizo
Not to worry – ocean creatures are very friendly with chorizo. And where there’s Spanish chorizo, there’s usually some saffron floating around too. This here folks, this is no different. And it’s mighty fine. Mighty fine indeed.


saffron-infused lime juice

I know many of you will scoff at the dishes that have multiple components. This is totally one of them. But wait! I’m sure you’ll change your mind when I tell you one of those components is a few big fat egg-soaked sourdough croutons and one of the others is saffron mayo. Yes, saffron! and, mayo! and croutons! You’ll forget you’re eating fish – not that eating fish is a bad thing, but it isn’t pork stew, that’s for sure :). But this fishy dish? This one is rich and hearty enough to make you think you’re eating that stew again – a perfect seafood recipe for the cold nights.

awesome sourdough croutons
You know what’s also awesome about the croutons and mayo? They can both easily be used again, so you’re really doubling up on the fantasticness. The croutons are great in any soup or stew I can think of and can sop up those juices with grace. The mayo – oh boy – a perfect addition to a sandwich or burger – especially a chickpea-pesto burger with arugula. The rest of the dish is fairly easy, so if you remind yourself of the wonderful recycling properties of croutons and saffron mayo, you’ve got yourself one great meal and a whole lotta repeat variety to boot.

cod with aioli


Cod with Mussels, Chorizo, Fried Croutons & Saffron Mayonnaise
Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2009; serves 4

printable version

ingredients

saffron mayo
1.5 t fresh lime juice
pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 T evoo
1/4 t hot pepper sauce

mussels
2 T olive oil
1/4 c chopped shallots
4 garlic cloves
1 t dried crushed red pepper
pinch of saffron threads
1/2 c dry white wine
2 lbs mussels, scrubbed and debearded
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 c smoked Spanish chorizo, diced
1/4 c finely diced seeded tomato
1/4 c finely diced roasted red pepper from jar
1 T chopped fresh parsley

fried croutons
2 large eggs
1/2 c low fat milk
1/4 t cayenne pepper
12 1-inch torn pieces sourdough bread (5 oz)

cod
1 8 oz bottle clam juice
1 c dry white wine
1 12-oz cod fillet, cut into 4 equal pieces
2 T olive oil

instructions
saffron mayonaise
Mix lime juice and saffron in small bowl. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in mayonnaise, oil, and hot pepper sauce. Cover and chill at least 4 hours to allow flavors to develop. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.

mussels
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, crushed red pepper, and saffron and sauté 4 minutes. Add wine; bring to boil. Add mussels and thyme; cover and cook until mussels open, about 5 minutes (discard any mussels that do not open). Strain mussel broth into large saucepan; add chorizo, tomato, roasted pepper, and parsley to liquid. Remove mussels from shells. DO AHEAD: Mussels and cooking broth can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.

fried croutons
Pour enough oil into heavy large saucepan to reach depth of 3 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan. Heat oil to 350°F. Whisk eggs, milk, and cayenne in large bowl. Add bread; stir to coat. Let soak 2 minutes. Drain off excess liquid. Working in batches, add bread to hot oil and cook until brown, turning as necessary, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and drain.

cod
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring clam juice and wine to simmer in small saucepan. Pour into 7×5-inch baking dish. Add cod pieces to dish; sprinkle with salt and drizzle with oil. Bake until fish is opaque in center, basting with poaching liquid twice, about 8 minutes.

Bring mussel broth to simmer. Add mussels and heat through. Divide mussels and broth among 4 shallow soup bowls. Top each with piece of cod, 3 croutons, and dollop of saffron mayonnaise.