Creamy Tomato Basil Confit with Seared Halibut

Creamy Tomato, Basil Confit with Seared Halibut

In my opinion tomatoes are a fruit that really should only be eaten fresh while in season, though I am just as guilty as everyone else when it comes to buying them year round. But now is really the time for some serious tomato indulgence.  Straight off the vine, in salads, drizzled with oil and balsamic, and oh so many other ways, I never tire of ripe tomatoes. This recipe really showcases the flavor they bring when slow roasted and while it seems complex trust me this is a slow cooked but simple to make and simply delicious meal.

Cuttle Fish Ink Pasta

For my birthday, I received this very dramatic spaghetti black with cuttle fish ink that I tried out with this dish, I discerned hardly any difference in flavor between the black spaghetti and regular pasta however the presentation was quite fun!

Creamy Tomato Basil Confit with Seared Halibut:

Tomato, Basil and garlic

To make your initial confit, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and liberally drizzle with olive oil, roll on your tomatoes coating them with the oil, sprinkle a generously with fresh basil sliced into ribbons and finally add several cloves of pealed garlic either halved or whole throughout the tomatoes. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, gently stirring every ten to fifteen minutes, until your tomatoes have softened and wrinkled. Remove from oven and carefully dump your whole parchment paper either into a bowl or jar and set aside. Confit will keep up to four weeks in the fridge if you omit the garlic during initial roasting.

For the pasta with cream sauce you’ll need:

A quart of Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Confit
2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded parmesen cheese
several pinshes of sea salt
a few generous cracks of pepper

For the Halibut you’ll need:

2 lbs halibut, filleted and cut into 1-2 inch wide chunks
2-3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 of a red onion sliced thinly
a few cloves of garlic minced
a few Tablespoons white wine vinegar
a few pinches of salt and cracks of pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan melt the butter for your cream sauce over medium heat, pour in heavy cream and tomato confit, heat till steaming over medium heat, reduce to medium low. Stir in 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese and allow to reduce, stirring occasionally, while you prepare your pasta water, season your halibut and cook both. Salt and pepper your sauce to taste just before pasta finishes boiling.Creamy Tomato, Basil, Garlic Confit

While your sauce is reducing, boil your pasta water and season your halibut with salt and pepper. Cook pasta to al dente, while you melt butter in a pan over medium heat, toss in onions and garlic and pour the white wine vinegar over top. Stir, then lay your halibut chunks on top of the buttery onion bed, skin side down, and watch for the fillet to slowly turn white from the skin up. Once the sides are white 2/3′s of the way up flip over and sear until lightly browned. This should take depending on your fillet thickness 9-12 minutes.

Halibut

Plate pasta drenched in the creamy confit topped with freshly ribboned basil leaves and shredded parmesan and your seared halibut as you choose, I had mine also topped lightly with the confit!

Creamy Tomato, Basil Confit with Seared Halibut

Initial inspiration for the confit came from this delightful Cup of Jo post .

Zucchini Salmon Tart

Zuchinni Salmon Tart

I distinctly remember walking with my mom up and down our garden rows throughout my childhood. I used to dream I was Laura Ingalls swishing my long skirts, scavenged from yard sales, imagining life on the prairie. We always had rows of broccoli, snap peas, lettuce and squash of all colors, and when the zucchini was ready to harvest we could count on a zucchini quiche for dinner. A vegetarian dish that no one in our meat and potatoes family skipped out on. I may have given up some of my prairie living dreams but I will never grow out of cheesy, buttery, zucchini dishes. Though I have made some amendments to the dishes of my childhood, incorporating new dreams of salmon fishing and harvesting a garden of my own, they all come from the same start.

Zucchini Salmon Tart

You’ll need:

1 large or 2 medium zucchini
1 skinless sockeye salmon fillet
1 pie crust (more on this to come…)
1/2 large onion
2 Tbsp butter
a few stalks of Italian flat leaf parsley and oregano
a small handful of basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 eggs
8-10 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
a few tsp of you favorite mustard
a few pinches of sea salt
several cracks of pepper
a few pinches of smoked paprika

To make:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a 9″ pie dish, spring form pan, or tart pan with your crust, now what kind of crust you ultimately choose to use is your prerogative but in this instance, and I’m being serious here, I always use crescent roll dough. Yes, the kind in the tube. I know, I know, not exactly the most sophisticated crust but it’s buttery and flaky and delicious and well I just like it in the recipe. If you decide you are above my preferred crust method, I recommend par baking a regular pie crust for about 10 minutes prior to filling. Before filling the crust smear a coating of mustard in the bottom of the crust. I like to use a stone ground mustard or a white wine dijon for this tart.

Skin and cube your salmon fillet into small 1/2 inch chunks toss in a bowl with 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and a sprinkle of salt turned in, set aside. Quarter your zucchini lengthwise then slice thinly, chop the onion and sauté both in butter over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the zucchini is tender. Stir in your herbs, salt and pepper and remove from heat. Turn in your salmon and garlic mixture, you’ll notice right away your fish turning lighter in shade. Fish cooks so quickly that the residual heat from the zucchini and the subsequent baking are all it will need to cook.

Scoop your salmon and zucchini mixture into your crust, leaving the excess juice in the pan. Beat your two eggs, mix well with cheese and spread evenly over the the top of the tart filling. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and bake for 45 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Keep an eye on the tart while baking, if the crust is darkening too quickly cover the edges with foil or a pie crust shield.

After baking, let tart stand 10-15 minutes before slicing to allow the filling to set. Serve hot with a salad and a crisp cold white wine!

 

Bristol Bay Grounds Price Posted & Tails from Bristol Bay, short films of fishing families

Elijah Lawson

A few major seafood processors, as of yesterday late afternoon, have posted grounds price for sockeye here in Bristol Bay, $1.20 a lb. plus $0.15 a lb. bonus for chilled fish. Down from last year, but still not too shabby…

If you can’t get enough Bristol Bay fishing coverage check out Elijah Lawson’s wonderful project Tails from Bristol Bay. He made three short films about fishing families from the Bay that are really lovely! The photo shown above is also one of Elijah’s!

Bristol Bay Commercial Salmon Fishing Timelapse Clip

This clip was too cool not to share, it’s from Chris Miller’s BBRSDA‘s project bringing the web a photo a day from the Bristol Bay fishing grounds that you can find by following this link!

The 2014 season for Sockeye is really winding down here in Bristol Bay, but Bronson and my brother Ian are still scratching it out over in Egegik, meanwhile every fisherman is on the edge of their seats awaiting the grounds price to be announced. After last year’s price of $1.50 a lb and the preseason frenzy of speculating on this years price, the Bay is bracing for disappointment due to a large Russian Sockeye returns, the bumper return forecasted for Canada’s Fraizer River,  not to mention the nearly 10 million fish larger return than forecasted that hit Bristol Bay. But fear not, the outcome really isn’t as bleak as all that, Alaska Wild Salmon’s marketing power is growing and Bristol Bay has a fishery to be proud of, whatever the price we will just continue laying out the net.

Once Sockeye fishing wraps up, its a Pink year here in the Bristol Bay, they come every three seasons in large returns so fishing is destined to last through early August for salmon this year.

Here’s a shot of Bronson from the 2013 season onboard the F/V Sea Breeze.

Fresh Peach Ricotta Galette

Fresh Peach Ricotta Galette

July seems to scream peaches to me. Peaches and cherries and nectarines, plums and pitted fruits in general, but oh the peaches! There is something seductive about a ripe peach and something powerful about making a pastry.  It strikes me although pastry is prized for being delicate and flaky it takes strong arms to cut the chilled butter into sifted flour and those same arms to roll out chilled dough. Power is not always in sheer strength, but in deft hands the same needed to work a dough, filling and folding to create magic. For me power is in the process, capable hands, creating and sharing; feeding not just the body but the soul as well.

fresh peach ricotta galettes

Creating one for family and one to share, it seems you can never have too much pie!

To make a single galette:

Pastry Dough, easily doubled:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Zest of half a lemon
8 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, chunked
1/4 cup ricotta (plain yogurt or even sour cream could stand in)
3 to 5 tablespoons cold water

Filling:
four ripe peaches, pealed and sliced
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
juice from half a lemon
pinch of salt

Glaze for Pastry:
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water

To assemble your pastry crust use a large bowl, and mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry cutter or by using your fingers to blend until the largest pieces are no bigger than a pea, blend in ricotta with a rubber spatula and lastly sprinkle in the water until moist. Form the dough into a disc by working and kneading it together with your hands until it is roughly gathered up. Wrap your disc in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour, if you are the plan ahead type or like me are easily sidetracked, the dough will keep up to two days in fridge.

When you are ready to assemble the galette, heat your oven to 400 degrees. Make up your filling by placing the peach slices into a large bowl and sprinkle first with sugar, then salt and finally the corn starch, squeeze your lemon juice over top and carefully turn the slices till all the pieces are coated. The magic with the corn starch is that it will almost melt everything when wet so coating the pieces is quite easily accomplished.

Roll out your dough about 12-14 inches wide in all directions and transfer the pastry to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. I think this is most easily done by loosely folding the dough for transfer then unfolding once on the cookie sheet. Line your peach filling slices up in the center as carefully or haphazard as you wish leaving about 2-3 inches of border around the edges where you will fold up the pastry over the filling, pleating the dough to get a snug fit. Before baking whisk your egg white and water until frothy then brush over the dough to achieve a shiny golden finish in baking.

Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown, turning your pan halfway through if baking two at once. Allow to rest for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet out of the oven before serving. Some juice eeking out of the crust is bound to happen so don’t fret the sticky caramelized goodness it makes, embrace it and serve with ice cream if that’s your fancy.

Fresh Peach Ricotta Galette

Pastry recipe adaptation and inspiration came from this scrumptious Smitten Kitchen post.

A bit of fiction…

Peaches

500 words, no more. Short stories at times desperate to escape, in search of a reader or just single page to be scrawled upon. Below is the first of perhaps more to come…

A Summer evening commute…

Crinkling paper bags with cellophane windows steamed from hot bread inside, surely from the bakery on the corner just above the subway stairs. Callused deeply tanned  hands, clutching the bags tightly and pushing past you to find a seat. Briefly you wonder how he makes his way in the world, your thoughts shift as the smell overwhelms the train car making you acutely aware you have no plans for dinner. Idly you fiddle with your bag, the heat is oppressive and you had to run to make the train. A drop of sweat slides down your back, your dress clinging to your skin. All you can think of is getting home, slipping into the shower before your young son notices your arrival, the bottle of Riesling cold in the fridge. Perhaps the sitter won’t mind lingering an extra 15 minutes so you can rinse the salt from your skin and breathe for a moment before the tales of bugs on sidewalks, elevator rides with strangers, and how there were pancakes for lunch again today begin. It’s then you notice the smell of peaches faint but sticky and sweet next to you. This time of year you are always caught off guard when the market shelfs announce the arrival of summer with pitted fruits ripe, ready to eat. Your chest tightens and you exhale slowly remembering juice dripping down your arm, laughing as wipe your chin with your wrist. Fruit so soft you can hardly hold it for hopes of not crushing it. You offer him a bite, when instead he takes your hand and one by one licks the sweetness from your fingers.You slide off the table where you sit, bare feet brushing the cold brick floor you take his hands in yours sticky and slick. You lean in gently allowing your lips to flit across his. It has been nine years and a world away but he changed everything, taught you to be bold, taught you what is so special about being a woman. He would run his fingers over your hips and trace the edge of your waist as though every inch of you was impressive. He was much older but you would have followed him anywhere had he let you. No; self preservation, that is why you told him it had to stop. You loved him, and in your own way you love him still or the memory of him. He is like a secret place in your thoughts where sultry confidence lingers. And then it’s your stop, people rush to be on their way. Slowly you rise and smile at the woman holding her bag of peaches the moment slipping away as quickly as it came before you depart for home.

Photo by Christopher Baker

Putting up Fish

Fourth of July weekend at it’s finest, canning, stripping, smoking and putting up fish for winter is how my days were spent. It was a fifty fish weekend with fillet after fillet, cut and vacuum sealed to freeze, case after case of fresh salmon jarred, and a smokehouse working on being filled with strips to smoke.

Now don’t fret Bea and I got a kayak in, some BBQ-ing and playing in the sun while Ethan was off at Camp Tanalian, but there is an innate satisfaction that comes with having a freezer literally filled to the brim with fish your family caught and you processed. Having shelfs lined with jars of fish and knowing you need to run out and make sure your smokehouse fire is still lit. The feeling of being bone tired but so exhilarated all at the same time, it’s summer when work and fun seem to have no clear line drawn between.

If you have been feeling the itch to can up some fish yourself, I wholeheartedly encourage it but be sure to safeguard your catch by using the proper methods, I tend to put my stock in our local Cooperative Extension for all my canning Q & A’s.

As you can see in the photos I like to spice up my jars, especially the half pints. We called them our snack packs, shown are jars filled with salmon, jalapeños, a 1/4 tsp Old Bay Seasoning and a half clove of garlic. Really anything flies. I like to do a bit of salt, cumin, garlic, cayenne pepper, and paprika for fish tacos straight out of the jar.

What do you love to can?