dinner from a Paris market

Bastille Sunday Market

On Sunday we made sure to make it up to the Bastille open-air market on Boulevard Richard Lenoir. It begins at Place de la Bastille and stretches for several blocks, four aisles wide and teeming with people, dogs and little wheeled shopping carts.

Bastille Sunday Market

You can buy everything from tomatoes to underwear. Not to mention foie gras. And wine.

Bastille Sunday Market

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aioli

dinner

It was the asparagus’ fault. Last weekend Jon went to the farmer’s market by himself (it was my Saturday to work) and picked up some unusually beautiful Eastern Washington asparagus. Then he found some really attractive sockeye steaks. It all looked so good, but it needed a little something extra…I decided it was about time I made another attempt at homemade mayonnaise.

I’d been scared of making mayonnaise for a while. The one time I tried, I used the large food processor for too little sauce and it didn’t emulsify properly. But I’ve watched chefs make aioli at cooking classes, and it didn’t look hard – then there was John Thorne’s essay about learning to make mayonnaise with nothing but a plate, a fork, one egg yolk, a little vinegar and some oil. If making it by hand was really that easy, it seemed like I had no reason not to try. Besides, I know I can make a very good hollandaise, so what was I afraid of? I checked proportions in a few cookbooks and gave it a whirl.

oil

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roasted parsnips and friends

parsnip

The fish guy at the supermarket had arctic char (one of our very favorite fishes) a couple of weeks ago, but we had other plans for dinner that night. I asked him if he thought it would keep until Friday if I bought some that day, and he gave me a firm “nope.” Sigh.

But char doesn’t come around every day. Feeling uncharacteristically optimistic, I bought a filet anyway and stuck it directly into the freezer when I got home. The following week, I thawed it out and improvised a meal to go with it. And it worked, hurrah!

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spicy green sauce

green sauce

For some reason last week turned out to be a major seafood fest: oysters, fried calamari, fish chowder, rockfish and halibut. Not bad – usually we settle for shrimp curries and the occasional piece of salmon. The halibut was the only oceanic item I actually cooked myself, and it turned out very nice if I do say so.

In the spirit of using up stuff from the fridge before it went all slimy, I dug out a bag of slightly wizened serrano chiles and the remainder of a huge bunch of parsley. I seeded the chiles and tossed them into the little food processor with the parsley, a couple cloves of garlic, half a lemon’s worth of juice and a little olive oil. I zizzed it smooth, then added salt. It was very sharp and green with a definite chile buzz.

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oysters at sunset

Otter Cove oysters

We don’t usually go to chain restaurants (although I’m well acquainted with the appeal of an Egg McMuffin), but a friend gave us a coupon to Anthony’s that needed to be used during March. I’d only been to an Anthony’s restaurant once, in Richland, and wasn’t thrilled by the experience, but we figured they’d at least have oysters and booze, and if we didn’t like it we could have dinner elsewhere. Much to our surprise, we had a great time.

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cabbage & cod

cabbage & cod

I thought I was being so virtuous when I thought of doing a piece of fish and some braised cabbage for dinner on Sunday. Simple, low-carb, easing us off of the rich food bandwagon. Ha.

cabbage gratin

The trouble was, I had half a head of Savoy cabbage in the fridge, needing to be used up. And since the last time I made Molly Stevens’ recipe for braised Savoy cabbage with triple-cream cheese, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do much else with Savoy (I didn’t print the recipe last time, but I’m sure going to now). And as it turned out, the only suitable cheese we could find at the supermarket was Cambozola – wowie. A mite stinkier than the Delice de Bourgogne I used before, with the added exciting feature that the bits of blue mold in the cheese remained behind as the cheese melted, creating strange little blue growths in the cabbage. Sounds revolting, I know, but YUM. Continue reading

fish at the Fish Tale

Fish Tale Brewing

I recently returned from a short sojourn in Olympia, Washington. I was there for a conference, which involved some pretty forgettable hotel food, a lot of coffee and sugar and a surprising amount of time spent in the hotel bar. Luckily, my coworkers and I had time for one dinner on our own.

None of us knew Olympia very well, so we scanned the visitor’s guide that had come with our conference packet. The first place to catch my eye was “Dirty Dave’s Gay 90’s Pizza Parlor” – I mean, how could anyone resist that name? – but what we settled on was the Fish Tale Brewpub. I generally find that brewpubs have something for everyone, and this one was no exception. Continue reading

a successful first gravlax

gravlax

I am ridiculously impressed with myself – I made gravlax! Why this should seem to be such an accomplishment, I have no idea – dumping a lot of salt and seasonings on a nice piece of salmon and turning it twice a day isn’t really a lot of work. But I am just really, really pleased with the results.

gravlax

I discovered I liked gravlax a few years ago, after a family visit to Restaurant Österreich in Leavenworth. Then I realized that I liked lox quite a lot, after a number of bagel breakfasts with J’s family. Lately, I snap up cured salmon wherever I see it – which isn’t very often, in this neck of the woods. In the Pacific Northwest, salmon seems to come fresh, smoked or nothing – salt-cured fish just isn’t happening. So when I saw a very reassuringly simple and well-illustrated article on making gravlax in a recent issue of Saveur, I decided my time had come. Continue reading

eating dandelions

dandelion greens

Sometimes, when shopping at the co-op, I have a bad habit of scooping up some item that is not on my shopping list, simply because it’s pretty (or because I’m hungry). This has happened with loaves of Breadfarm bread, gorgeous French cheeses, bunches of baby beets, and heirloom tomatoes – despite the fact that I have no menu plan for them and I have to haul them up the hill along with everything else I’m buying that day. This time I fell for a bunch of red dandelion greens: they were in big fat fresh bundles and looked so springy, it didn’t matter that I had no idea what to do with them. I went home and rifled through a number of cookbooks, particularly anything by Alice Waters or Deborah Madison, and came up with a few possibilities of what one should do with dandelion.

salmon and dandelion greens

While the salmon was roasting (not Copper River, but from somewhere nearby – almost as expensive) I tore up the greens and washed them – a really impressive amount of dirt came off. Continue reading

halibut with thyme & lemon

lemon and thyme halibut

After a short trip out of town last weekend, we did a quick swing by the grocery store to get something easy for dinner. Pacific halibut is still looking wonderful, so I picked up a fillet and went home to peruse another of our new cookbooks, West Coast Seafood. This is the book we’ve been needing for a long time – it sometimes seems like all the really comprehensive fish books are either too elaborate for my sort of cooking, or they use fish that we simply never see in this part of the world (turbot? mackerel?).  This new book seems like it strikes a nice balance between accessible and interesting, and it uses real fish that we can actually buy around here.

For my halibut, I picked an easy recipe that sounded good, wasn’t too involved, and also used up an old lemon that I didn’t want to waste. I zested the lemon over the fish, then sprinkled on fresh thyme leaves, salt and olive oil. The recipe was for grilled halibut, but we didn’t have time to fire up the grill that evening – so I put the fish in the oven along with the Yukon Gold potatoes I was roasting, and it came out perfectly – tender, juicy, just cooked through, with lots of clear lemon flavor.

roasted potatoes

I used the juice from the zested lemon to make a salad dressing, with olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped fresh basil. The lemony greens with the lemony fish were wonderful with the sturdy, crisp roasted potatoes. Also, I had just picked up a bottle of La Piece Sous le Bras chardonnay/viognier/roussanne, and it was magnificent with the fish and potatoes. A lovely, summery supper to finish out the weekend.

wine