Friday, March 26, 2010

Then, Now, and for Later...

Here's what I made for dinner and feel that you should make it too:

Step 1. Buy some white fish (I used two thick pieces of halibut), kalamata olives (pitted), two heads of fennel and some parmesean cheese if you don't have any. Everything else I should hope you already own (olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper).

Step 2. Olive Tapenade: put all the olives, two or three heads of garlic, lots of pepper (no salt as olives are salty enough!) into your food processor and whiz it up - you may need some olive oil to loosen it up. It should be chunky, not smooth. There, done step 2!

Step 3. Fennel salad: if you've never used fennel before, you want to remove the big thick bit at the base so just slice it out the way you would with cabbage or something (read: two big diagonal cuts and get it out). Slice the tops off too, but save as much of the spindly herby stuff for your salad. Then start slicing the fennel bulbs as thinly as possible and toss it in a bowl. Next take your parmesean cheese, vegetable peeler in hand. As if it were a potato, take big slices off the cheese. Into the bowl it goes... Last into the bowl goes a good glug of olive oil and lemon juice (you should definately be able to taste the zing), followed by lots of salt and pepper.

Step 4. Now to cook your fish. Put it onto a plate and put some salt and pepper on it (always do this before you cook it as you want the salt especially to 'melt' into whatever you may be cooking). Meanwhile, have a pan heating up with a bit of olive oil and maybe a little bit of butter. When it's hot, in goes the fish. You want it to brown on the sides, so only move it a tiny a bit to make sure it doesn't stick. Once cooked on one side (3-5 minutes, depending on how thick it is), flip it and repeat... When it's just about done, put maybe 1/3 of a cup of lemon juice into there. The pan will be so hot that the juice will immediately start to reduce and cook into the fish, making everything start to taste like lemon.

And that's that. One bite of fish with the tapenade on top is amazing, the smooth fish topped with major salty olives, and then the mild licorice-y fennel right after.
This is going to blow your mind.


Here's what I'm making right now:

Yoghurt and lemon cake. I got it here (my favourite, the Orangette blog!), where the author calls it Gateau au citron and I kind of like that... A quick tip if you do decide to give it a shot, a 'jar' is half a cup (the recipe came from France where they used yoghurt jars, which was around 125 mL). It's Friday afternoon and I got home and sat down and read a few chapters of the Orangette book, Homemade Life, with a glass of wine. As soon as I got to the recipe for this cake I just stood up and started preheating the oven. Now I'm sitting at my desk, it's pouring outside and I can smell lemon and sugar... Can't wait to eat it!


Lastly, here's what I want to make... In the very near future, just as soon as I buy enough mushrooms:

Mushroom Bourguignon!
Yes, I have made beef bourguignon before - right after reading Julie & Julia. It was shockingly, amazingly, beautifully delicious. I found Julia Child's recipe online (one day I will own The Art of French Cooking, but not today) and adapted it a bit so that it didn't take two days to make.

But mushroom bourguignon... Intrgiuing. And tasty sounding. My good friend Pia sent me the recipe with explicit instructions to 'Make this immediately, it is the best thing ever.' Hard to fight with that... And I feel guilty for not doing it immediately.
Here's the recipe. Maybe you will get to it before me!

(it looks as though it came from the Smitten Kitchen. Never heard of it, but thanks Smitten Kitchen!)

2 tblsp butter
2 tblsp olive oil
2 pounds portobello mushrooms in 1/4 inch slices (can use cremini as well)
1/2 a carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef being traditional, but can also make this fully vegetarian)
2 tblsp tomato paste
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 1/2 tblsp all-purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions (thawed, if frozen)

1. Heat half the oil and butter in a big Dutch Oven (WHAT is that you ask? It's a big casserole dish that can go both on the stove and in the oven. Fancy that!) over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken but DO NOT yet release any liquid. Remove from pan.

2. Lower the heat to medium and add the rest of the olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme and a good amount of salt and pepper and cook for ten minutes, stirring a few times, until the onions are browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.

3. Add the wine, scraping anything that may have stuck to the bottom off, and turn the heat all the way up and let it reduce by half. Stir in the tomato and paste and the broth, then add the mushrooms and any juices that may have collected back in. Reduce the temperature and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pearl onions and give it all another five minutes.

4. Combine the last tablespoon of butter and the flour with a fork in a little bowl, then add it to the stew (this is going to thicken up all the liquid). Lower the heat yet again, and simmer for ten more minutes. If your sauce is too thin, let it reduce a bit more by simmering it.

There you go! The recipe suggests serving it with egg noodles, but I lean a bit more towards mashed potatoes and green beans... Yum.

Also, I haven't made this yet so I can't make any tiny little changes... That's up to you!! Good luck!


  1. Hold the phone!!! I just went to and it's AWESOME! Go immediately!! New favourite...?

  2. megara, i love your blog. yeah, smitten kitchen is the best thing ever. make her 'ginger fried rice', it is soooooo good. also everything else.

    i don't use pearl onions in the mushroom bourgignon because the comments said they can get kind of mealy. let me know what you think!

    i love reading about food.

  3. p.s. i also LOVE that yogurt cake! last time i made it i also made a chocolate ganache and poured it all over the cake after it had cooled. so, so good.