Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
After the whirlwind I like to call the Holiday season, it’s wonderful to be nestled in and take the time to plan out a home cooked meal. For those of us still in the spirit of gift giving (like me), why not give the gift of delicious food, particularly food that’s wrapped in parchment. Some recipients might not realize, but for me the best gift I can give is food. Food is a source of nourishment for everyone, so why not make something that’s a necessity something special?
With the usual New Year resolutions of losing weight, especially now that I have a bathing suit deadline for March, I’m making every effort to eat healthier and treat my body right. One very late night, my creativity stirred me from my sleep and I drew out the following recipe for a delicate white fish in papillote.
Halibut en Papillote
The pat of butter snuck its way into my first healthy eating post! Forgive me!
One thing to note about this recipe is that the vegetables still have some bite to them after their time in the oven. If you’re interested in baby food, I’d throw them onto a sauté pan for a few minutes before placing them in your parchment parcel.
Also, I’ve recently discovered Sous Style, brought to you by the ever talented Pippa Lord (Photo Director for Elle magazine). The blog covers fashion and food, two of my biggest interests. Plus, the Male Mondays posts (like this one) are a fun way to start your week. You can thank me later.
Happy National Taco Day!!! I only found out around 11:30 today and the tuna taco inception seed was planted. I made a run to Whole Foods, got home at 8 and by 8:30, dinner was on the table! This recipe is easy and is SO, SO delicious.
Tuna & Taco stuff
In a small bowl, combine cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, and coriander. Rub spice mixture generously on both sides of the tuna.
Heat a nonstick pan on the stove over high heat. When pan is smoking hot, add olive oil, wait 10 seconds, then add tuna. Sear for 1 minute per side, or until fish is cooked on the outside, but rare on the inside. Beware! Your spice mixture on a very hot pan will smell very similar to mase. I would know. I was practically choking. Once you begin to breathe normally, transfer to a plate.
In the meantime microwave or heat your taco shells according to the box’s instructions.
Add all ingredients to a medium-size bowl. Toss gently. DO NOT MASH AVOCADO. The chunkier, the better!
Assemble and voila!
Last weekend, I caught up with Krissie and had lunch at Dorado in Brookline. Dorado serves tacos and cemitas, with a focus on Baja-California style fish tacos and authentic cemitas. Krissie and Katie came across Dorado awhile back, and I remember them stating that it was one of the best fish tacos they’ve ever had. I’m not a true connoisseur of fish tacos, but I’ve had my fair share ever since my spring break vacation to Cabo and then senior year living near Sunset Cantina, which served southwestern style cuisine. Ever since, if there are fish tacos on a menu 50% of the time, I’m ordering it.
Dorado offers individual tacos between $2.59-$2.99 or plates for $6.25 that includes 2 tacos, rice, beans, and a charred jalapeno. We ordered incorrectly after the first go around, and only ended up with 1 taco plate with 1 of each fried fish taco (Ensenada and Dorado) and a chorizo taco. Both fish tacos were great, but the Dorado stood above and beyond. Both tacos contained, 1 piece of fried Atlantic whitefish, cabbage, and salsa fresca, while the Ensenada had pickled onions and Baja crema and the Dorado had radishes and spicy chipotle crema. The fish was flaky, hot, and had the crust that was just right to match with the flaky fish meat.
Fish Taco Plate
The house made chorizo wasn’t too notable, but came with guacamole, which was a plus. The rice was mediocre, but the beans were one of the better black beans that I’ve had. On our second round of ordering, we got 1 more of each fish taco and a steak taco, which also gets a good review. The steak was marinated sirloin, and came with guacamole, queso fresco, and roasted tomato habenero salsa. All tacos came with 2 corn torillas.
Ensenada, Dorado, and Steak Taco
Service was very friendly and that included the counter staff and the owner and/or manager. After checking in on Yelp and getting a free Aguas Frescas (Lime, Ginger, and Pineapple drink), the owner/manager began picking my brain about social media sites like Yelp and Foursquare. Good thing I didn’t reveal that I dealt with these sites at my last job, so I could get back to my food asap, but now at least I know that he cares. Overall a good meal with hits and misses, but good enough to warrant further menu investigation. It’s also easy on the wallet and accessible via public transportation.
Being Interviewed Regarding my Yelp and Social Media Habits
… or should I say Shrimp Salad with French Cocktail Sauce. This was by far the easiest recipe. Yes, I am aware that I’ve only done three.
Shopping for this recipe was a breeze. All I needed was Boston lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, grapefruit, armangac (another one of Boulud’s expensive alcohol choices) and shrimp. I’ve decided chefs like expensive alcohol… and at the rate I’m going, I will have a very well stocked personal bar by the time I pass the CPA. Woo, party at my house!
To get back on topic, I made the salad and the cocktail sauce ahead of time. For the salad, I first peeled the grapefruit, taking care not to include any bitter white pith, but not taking enough care not to avoid slicing part of my finger off in the process. Yum. That will teach me not to sharpen my knives on a regular basis. I cut away the remaining pith and supremed the grapefruit. Then I juiced the membrane into a small sauce pan and boiled until the juice thickened to around 2 teaspoons. While that sat aside to cool, I made my very first homemade mayonnaise. I even have a twitching bicep muscle to prove it! Egg yolks, a little big of oil, and a whole lot of elbow grease go a long way. Once the mixture emulsified, I added dijon, ketchup, Worcestershire, Armangac, the grapefruit juice reduction, and salt and pepper to taste.
The salad was very easy and only required some handy dandy chopping of avocado and tomatoes. I assembled catering style by putting the leaves down on the plate. This is something that is a particular pet peeve of mine, because I think it’s a tacky way to make food look “presentable”. I only did it because Boulud instructed me to, and I follow him blindly into battle. Once that was done (gag), I piled up my diced tomatoes in the center of the plate, followed by the avocado and grapefruit surrounding the tomatoes. Easy peezy. To cook the shrimp, I had a gallon of boiling water and threw in a hefty amount of salt, a pinch of cayenne, the grapefruit rinds, a bunch of tarragon, cracked pepper, and the shrimp. After about 2 minutes, the shrimp was just cooked. I took them out and let them cool before placing them on top of my tomato mound.
Ingredients including Armagnac (far right)
Homemade Mayonnaise // Raw Shrimp (deveined and shelled)
Salt, Cracked Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Tarragon, Grapefruit Rind
Shrimp Salad with Avocado, Grapefruit, and Boston Lettuce
Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce
I’m sure shrimp is photogenic, I just had a hard time making my shrimp photogenic. The taste? The best shrimp cocktail I’ve ever had. Typically, I have the normal crowd around to eat my culinary experiments. Today, no one was around to stop me from eating about half a pound of shrimp myself. Holy cannoli! Not only is this blog endeavor making me poor and fingerless, it’s also going to make me fat. AHH.
The next recipe coming down the pipe is Crayfish Salad with French Cocktail Sauce. This recipe stuck out to me the day I picked up Cafe Boulud Cookbook almost 5 weeks ago. I read through the recipe and thought, this is it. This is why we’re going to make our blog. It’s easy and really representative of a somewhat “fancy” dish that a home cook can really make, thus Boulud delivering on his promise of French American recipes for the home cook.
5 weeks later, I’ve almost forgotten this. This whole week I’ve been thinking, where in the world will I get crayfish? I think about it before bed, in the shower, during my 4 hour CPA class. I live in the northeast, which at the moment is under the never ending blizzard siege. I only need 3 lbs and it seems like the minimum is 10 lbs on most web vendors. I love you Daniel, but I can’t afford to keep up with you and your crazy live crayfish requests. I plan to be out of commission for the last three weeks of February. Maybe I should just go balls to the wall and fly myself to New Orleans to get some live crayfish myself. Joking.
I’m expecting a huge snow storm on Friday, so I have to make a game time decision tomorrow at the market — shrimp or lobster? The crayfish cartoon above looks kind of like a lobster and from the countless late night web research hours I’ve put in, crayfish sounds like it’s closer to a lobster texture than to shrimp. Ah. Decisions, decisions! You’ll have to come back this weekend and find out which I bought. It’ll be a surprise to you and me both.