Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fish and Tomaters

Apparently, Nigella has a problem with combining fish and tomatoes. Not sure why. I've never minded the flavor combo. Two nights in a row, I'm flouting her preference.

Last night's Exceptional Salmon (pg 127 of How to Eat) was, in fact, exceptional. Matt declared it his favorite salmon of all time. This is coming from a man who loves salmon. That's one hell of an impressive introduction to Nigella.
Behold: the world's greatest salmon!
The recipe is simple, which is why I didn't expect to be blown away. All you do is cook bacon in a touch of oil, then sear both sides of the salmon in the bacon grease, turn down the heat, and cook it through. Move the fish to a plate and squeeze a lemon into the bacon grease. Use this as the dressing for the lettuce, bacon, and scallion (and I added tomato) salad that is to be served with the fish. That's it. The salmon browned beautifully without danger of burning, and the onioney, lemony, baconey flavors all worked perfectly together.

Conclusion: Loved it. Pleased to meet you, Nigella.

Tonight, I made Crab and Saffron Tart (pg 227). We froze the leftover crab meat from a week or two ago, so this seemed like a good idea. Turns out, it was a great idea.

Canned tomato that has been cooked down with garlic and herbs until it's thick is layered in the bottom of the tart shell. Crab meat is folded into a custard of saffron-infused heavy cream and egg yolks, poured into the shell, and baked. Matt brought nice saffron back from Bahrain, so I'm always on the lookout for good ways to use it that will do it justice. Apart from the multi-step process that always accompanies a partially baked crust, this came together without much fuss. According to Nigella, she is willing to overlook her distaste for tomato and fish in this dish because "everything melds so harmoniously, seductively together." I'll agree with that.
Conclusion: Loved it. It was not nearly as heavy as I expected it to be. Matt thinks it needs a sprinkling of gruyere on top, because clearly, gruyere makes everything better. Now I just have to remember that if I want to make it again, I have to look up the meal idea titled "Lunch, Tentatively Outside, for 8." If I cross that out and write in, "Dinner, Definitely Inside, for 2," at least I'll have written all over the page and will be able to spot it without too much trouble. 

I didn't bake a bread this weekend, so I decided to mix up my norm and bake Apricot-Ginger Bread (pg 14 of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter). This is a no-knead recipe, but somehow it didn't work out right for me. The dough didn't rise, even after it sat overnight in the oven, which is where I usually let dough rest. I don't know what went wrong. The yeast was still active two weeks ago when I made brioche. Beats me. One thing I thought was weird was that she says to use cold water in the dough. I used warm, because I always thought that was necessary to get the yeast going. Maybe not following that one instruction bungled things up?

Regardless, I baked the bread anyway, even though it hadn't risen. I had to add some dates to mine, because I only had half as many apricots as I was supposed to.

When I checked on the bread at the low-end of the time frame provided, all of the apricots and dates that were poking out the top had burned.
 Those problems easily could be the result of flawed execution, rather than a flawed recipe. Still, I didn't really like the flavor. It was in a weird middle ground between being too gingery and not gingery enough, and the apricots and dates seemed mealy, where they weren't originally.

Conclusion: Dislike. Hopefully, everything looks up from here.

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