This week I left the main part of the meal up to Tony (usually I don’t even tell him what I am making, I like to surprise him). I like getting fish the same day that I cook it and since I shop on Thursday I would have to go out and drive 45 minutes to my favorite store…not this week. I asked Tony to pick out a fish that would go well on the grill on his way home on Friday. I got that idea from Laura Calder’s book (my favorite book these days). I was reading the introduction to a lentil dish and she said it goes great with grilled fish, so there you go. So he chose sea bass and it was a very good choice.
Savory Carrot Cake
I looked at the title of this recipe a few different times in, where else but my Laura Calder book, and flipped the page every time. It sounded strange and a carrot cake without cream cheese frosting sounded weird to me. But then I read the introduction to the recipe and she has a way of making me want to make a recipe, plus the fact that every single recipe I made from this book always amazes me. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a wide saucepan and sauté 1 lb carrots peeled and sliced, until lightly golden about 5-7 minutes. Pour 1 cup chicken stock over the carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the cover and cook 10 more minutes to completely evaporate the liquid. While the carrots cook, melt 1 Tbsp butter in a frying pan and soften 1 chopped shallot for about 3 minutes. Add ¼ lb button mushrooms that you have chopped finely and cook until soft about 5 minutes. Add one garlic clove that you have minced and cook 2 minutes. Pre heat the oven to 450 degrees; line a 4 cup loaf pan with wax paper. Mash the carrots and get them as smooth as you can. Whisk 2 eggs into the carrot mixture then stir in the mushrooms. Stir in 1 ounce of Gruyere cheese finely grated and 2 handfuls of finely chopped basil, chervil or parsley. Put the mixture into the loaf pan and cover with aluminum foil and place the loaf pan into another baking pan that’s larger. Pour hot boiling water into the larger pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. She recommended this dish to have an orange dressing. She says you can serve this as a starter with a salad or as a main course with other vegetables. I didn’t get salad stuff at the store so I figured it would be great just as is with the sauce and a parsley sprig.
Grilled Sea Bass with Herb and Lemon Pesto
So Tony got the charcoal grill going and he also grilled the star of the show, the sea bass, to perfection (4 minutes per side). I made some basil and lemon pesto just minutes before sitting down to eat. I went out to the garden and got some basil and bashed it with my mortar and pestle. I started with one garlic clove that I bashed first. I then added the basil and bashed it, a couple Tbsp of capers, some salt and pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil. Taste it and see if it’s perfect.
This was the recipe I was reading that said it’s great with grilled fish, and that’s how this menu started. You start by cooking French lentils (lentilles du Puy) for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are al dente. Drain and reserve. Remove the skin from 3 tomatoes (by cutting an X in the bottoms and putting them in boiling salted water for 12 seconds, remove to a ice bath, then peel), seed them and chop them into a small dice. Peel and dice one large carrot and blanch for a few minutes in boiling salted water. She seeded and diced one red pepper and blanched that in boiling salted water (I diced a roasted red pepper instead). Make the vinaigrette; whisk together 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard and 7 Tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add 2 minced shallots. Combine the lentils, vegetables, vinaigrette and 2 handfuls of chopped fresh chives in a serving bowl and check for seasoning. Let this mixture sit at room temperature for an hour before serving.
Fresh Apricot Pie
When I was at Whole Foods I couldn’t help but notice the fresh apricots. They were calling to me. I don’t usually buy fresh apricots so I thought OK, that will be dessert. I grabbed about 10. I had no idea exactly what I was making but I thought it might be a pie or tart and they were small so…10 it is. I just watched an episode of Everyday Italian on foodnetwork.com and she made a pie crust with crushed up biscotti cookies and butter. I wasn’t sure about that idea but I grabbed some biscotti from the bakery department. I typed in apricot dessert and a lot of recipes came back that looked OK. This simple fresh apricot pie caught my eye because the ingredients were simple and that’s what I wanted. I wanted the freshness and quality of the apricots to be the star.So I followed this recipe, which is quite easy and basic, but I did a spin on the crust. I started to make a regular pie crust, I love this one by Julia and Jacques. But while I combined the butter with the flour in the food processor I also added a couple biscotti cookies. I followed the rest of the recipe as you normally would. I loved that biscotti idea. It just gave it more flavor and I will do that again, for sure. We just ate it as is without ice cream or whipped cream. Really good as is, but I think vanilla ice cream would have been even better.