Sunday, July 10, 2005

once in a while

I cook so seldom that I'd better make it interesting every time or this blog is going to degenerate into a series of restaurant reviews.

I'm at IRK's. Goodwin the neurotic orange cat is in a sunbeam at my feet. Last night I said "let me cook"; to get a sense of the dread this must inspire, take a look at David Jaggard's hilarious description of the production of Skip's Famous Spaghetti.

The menu:


2 lb tilipia filets
6 zucchini
Salt, pepper, oil spray

4 roma tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons capers
1 handful chopped fresh marjoram
(or substitute fresh oregano -- I only got
marjoram because I couldn't find o., but
it was good)
Salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice zucchini lengthwise and arrange on one baking tray using oil spray on both sides; arrange fish on the other likewise. Salt and pepper both. Dice tomatoes and mince garlic, set to simmer with wine and capers and salt and pepper. Give zucchini a 10-minute head start over the fish in the oven; I think both were done once the fish had been in 10 or 15 minutes (better check it frequently). Throw the marjoram into the sauce to heat just before serving. Arrange a fish filet and several zucchini strips on a plate and spoon sauce over both. I never noticed, but Rich says tilipia has the "bottom-feeder" taste of catfish. I don't mind it, but use any mild fish you like. Farmed tilipia is sustainable and environmentally friendly. And cheap.


Something like this used to be served in several Italian restaurants in the Bay Area that seemed to share an executive chef and most of their menu, even though they all had different names. Use real, intensely flavored Italian Fontina cheese (Fontina Val d'Aosta). I'm not usually a quality nut, so you can believe me when I say something like that.

1 lb orecchiette or small shell pasta
3 medium russett potatoes
2/3 lb (approx) Fontina Val d'Aosta
1 large yellow onion
4 tbsp truffle-flavored olive oil,
if you have it (a rant on this is coming up soon)
Salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes, dice to a size between about 1/4 and 1/2", and boil until just about edible but still firm. Boil the pasta until al dente (but also ready to eat). Grate the cheese. Mince the onion quite fine and sautee in 1 tbsp of the oil. Toss all the ingredients together (including 2 tbsp of the oil), oil a large baking dish with a rounded bottom, if you have one, using the last of the oil, and bake in this dish (covered) for about 45 minutes. What's supposed to happen is that much of the Fontina melts down to the bottom of the pan and forms a nice brown crust down there. That's more likely to happen if you use more cheese than I called for here. My version isn't as oily and cheesy as the restaurants' version. A ceramic-lined Le Creuset casserole dish worked really well. I started prepping for the other dish after I put this in the oven, and the timing worked pretty well.



1/2 cup powdered chocolate or cocoa (unsweetened) and 1/2 cup sugar
OR 1 cup sweetened powdered chocolate or cocoa
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
OR 1/8 cup lemon juice plus 1/8 cup valencia orange juice

Whisk ingredients together and serve (serves 4). When I was a kid I used to squeeze a lemon over chocolate ice cream. The rivulets of juice freeze.


At 12:54 PM, Anonymous one who might remember said...

I don't remember you putting lemon juice on chocolate ice cream!!??

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous been there, done that said...

Sounds wonderful! You can cook for us anytime! ;-)

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous killerbee said...

it was DEEeeelicious :-) thanks again!

p.s. are you trying to make your childhood weirder than it actually was? i'm going to have to double check some FACTS with your parents...

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous one who might remember said...

Was your childhood weird at all???

At 11:38 PM, Blogger nightquill said...

Well I know I often squeezed lemons on chocolate ice cream. And put liqueur on vanilla ice cream (maybe we're up to high school here). I'll save my favorite sandwiches for a post of their own.

I may not have had a weird *childhood*, but
I was a weird *child*.



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