Friday, June 24, 2011

Family Cooking...

Family Cooking...

Dan and Kath Begin Plating

Every Wednesday for the last six weeks or so, I have been trying to do a cooking lesson for the kids.  In this day and age, it is just too easy for families to be kept apart by busyness.  I know that I regret wasting a lot of the time I put into church music while the kids were growing up because my schedule kept me from attending several of their high school events.  If I had it to do over again, I would definitely put a little less effort into church and a little more effort into attending their school events.

But, it's too late for that.

So, how about a little family time cooking?  I truly believe in the power of the table to bring people together.  A glass of wine, enjoyment of the fruit of God's earth, and great people add up to time well spent.

Dad and Dan (I'm only bigger because of the angle of perspective... uh...yeah.)

This past Wednesday we made a court boullion, poached Chilean Sea Bass in it, then made a Red Pepper Coulis and used it as the sauce for a Pan Seared Chicken Breast, boiled red new potatoes, and  made Sugared Strawberries with Marina Amusin's Apple Cake.

Here are some of the recipes:

Court Boullion
1/2 gallon water
3 fl.oz. White Wine Vinegar
1 fl.oz. Lemon Juice
12 oz. Mirepoix
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. crushed black peppercorns
1 pinch dried thyme leaves
1 bunch Parsley stems

1. Combine all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
3. Strain through a chinois and use or cool for keeping.  It can be frozen easily.

There are several things that you can do with a court boullion, many of them centered around fish.  Many times the broth is used to poach fish.  Simply take a fish or fish fillet and put it in the court boullion at 160 to 180 degrees F.  Keep it at that temperature and if the broth doesn't cover the fish, cover the fish with parchment paper to help it cook.  Cook for 10 minutes per inch of fish thickness at its thickest point. This method produces a perfectly cooked piece of fish which emphasizes the delicate flavor of the fish.  Danny actually doesn't like fish this way because he enjoys fish as an accent flavor to his hotly spiced dishes.  There is no right or wrong, but as time goes on he might learn to appreciate more nuance in his flavors.  If not?  Hey... nothing wrong with blackened fish fillets!

Chilean Sea Bass in White Wine and Vinegar Butter Sauce

The White Wine and Vinegar Butter Sauce actually represents a failure of sort.  (Can you have failure in the same room as your beloved children and grandchildren?  I think not.)  We were actually trying to make a beurre blanc, but Danny didn't quite get the hang of whisking the butter into the wine-vinegar reduction.  No problem... we ended up with a delicately flavored clarified butter that worked quite well.  (Unless you like Blackened Chilean Sea Bass!)

(A word about Chilean Sea Bass.  It is an incredibly wonderful, nicely textured fish that is being driven to extinction in many of its natural fisheries. Normally, I would never buy it.  However, there exists a small fishery off of Paraguay that has developed techniques and an action plan to maintain and repair its Chilean Sea Bass fishery.  The guy we ate Wednesday was one of those fish. It is an incredible pain in the ass, but you really do need to know where your fish is coming from and the impact you have on our oceans' resources when you eat fish.)

Red Pepper Coulis

3 Whole Red Peppers
1 fl.oz. Olive Oil
2 oz. finely chopped Onions or Shallots
2 tsp. finely chopped Garlic
5 fl.oz. White wine
8 fl.oz Chicken or Vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar to adjust taste
Salt and Pepper TT

1. Char peppers over open flame or under broiler, sweat in a bowl under saran wrap.  Take off the char        and julienne the peppers.
2. Sweat garlic and onions or shallots in olive oil until translucent.
3. Add the peppers and white whine and cook until au sec (fluid has boiled off and none remains)
4. Add chicken stock and cook for 15 minutes, reducing volume by a third.
5. Puree in a blender, adjust salt and pepper, and hold for service.
6. If the coulis is too runny, put in pan and gently simmer until thicker in consistency.

Danika asked, "Why char the peppers?".. You could just add the peppers and sautee until soft, but the char adds a lot of flavor to the final sauce even though you remove the char before using the peppers.

Pan Seared Chicken Breast and Red Pepper Coulis

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