Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,
Steven
unzeugmatic

Food Post: Last Week's Fish, Today's Cheese

Sometimes I cook something and what comes out is like something I'd get at a good restaurant. I am amazed every time this happens. Last week I made two meals that turned out like this.

I usually cook myself a breakfast on Sunday mornings. Last week I tried a recipe that had just been printed in the NYTimes for scrambled eggs with shrimp. I cut up some raw shrimp and added some salt and pepper and cooked it in hot oil for a small bit. Then I mixed up eggs (I still say it makes a HUGE difference to use organic free-range eggs which I can now get even when there's no farmer's market) with soy sauce and sesame oil and added them to the shrimp. Plus some chopped scallions. I cooked while stirring until the eggs were creamy. On the side I had oven-roasted rosemary potatoes (cut up potatoes small; toss with olive oil, garlic salt, pepper and rosemary; bake on a baking sheet in a hot oven, turning after 15 minutes then after 10 minutes then cook until done). Score!

As I wrote a while back, I now save shrimp shells in the freezer until I have a whole lot of them to make shrimp stock, whose only use is cooking rice. Seems like a lot of trouble, but it's trouble in small batches. I simmer the shrimp shells with onion (skin on) and celery and peppercorns for an hour, then strain it.

Last week I made rice like this: I chopped up carrots and celery and onions and sauted them in olive oil, then I added the raw rice and cooked for another couple of minutes until the rice was toasted. I had thawed only half the shrimp stock I needed, so I added some water and some Oregon dry Riesling that I happened to be drinking. Plus a bay leaf and some basil and I cooked the rice. While the rice was cooking I sauted mushrooms and onions in olive oil and butter, which I tossed with the cooked rice (plus a little butter and salt and pepper). The wine in the stock gave a really intriguing and subtle flavor to the cooked rice. That rice lasted me a week (I made a lot).

On top of the rice I had a piece of salmon that I finally got right. It was a really nice looking piece of salmon I got on the way home from work, a big piece, enough for four meals for me. I rubbed good olive oil all over it, then a heavy coating of Lund's fish seasoning spice mix which I saw at the fish counter and decided to try, then Dijon mustard. It was coated in sort of a mustardy herb olive oil paste. I baked this in a hot oven; it took about 13 minutes and it was oh so delicious. With the rice and the Riesling I felt like a Food King. It took only about an hour, start to finish. I could have fed three more people. Maybe someday I will.

And because susandennis will complain if I don't post this, here is this week's cheese note.

Subject: Cheese on the Morrow

There's still lots of cheeses to try.

Last week I said that the blue cheeses hadn't gone over well so maybe I should give everybody a break, but some folks (remaining nameless) said no, no, blue cheese is good. So I got some "Smokey Blue Rogue Creamery" cheese -- "cold smoked over crushed hazelnut shells" if you can believe it. I sampled the tiniest little bit, and it's strong and very creamy. Maybe the key to blue cheese is that you only ever need the tiniest little bit. This tasted like super-concentrated, super-rich blue cheese dressing. Also it has the word "Rogue" in it, like "Rogue Dead Guy Ale" which is a better beer than you'd think, given the gimmick of the name and label.

On display this week was Coolea from Ireland, which is like a strong slightly stinky (it's made from raw milk) Gouda. It's a little pricey -- as is the Rogue Blue, actually -- but I liked my little sample. This is definitely a week for cheeses that don't take much to show their flavor. One of them is permeating my office with smell already, even still cold.

The third cheese is surprisingly inexpensive: Fromage a Tartiflette from France. I'd call it Brie-like, but that's more about its appearance and texture than its taste. The label says "This cheese makes a fine substitute for Reblochon, which is no longer available for import." Does that help much? I didn't think so, but isn't it the perfectly pretentious thing to announce: This cheese makes a fine substitute for Reblochon. I'll bet it does. But how pretentious can it be if the label also says "This cheese is delicious melted over potatoes and onions". I mean, Kraft Cracker Barrel is delicious melted over potatoes and onions, as is low-fat part-skim previously-frozen mozzerella, if the beer is right.

Why am I talking so much about beer this week?

I'm thinking of branching out into the pates in the coming weeks.

Tomorrow 2:30.

-Steven

One of my co-workers has brought in what he calls a "guest cheese": Some packaged Vermont Cabot extra-sharp Cheddar, which he says is the cheese of his childhood. And the local manager, after reading my note, says he's going out at lunch to get Rogue Dead Guy Ale to drink with the cheese.
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