from the kitchen: Salt Cod & Potato Croquettes, Red Pepper Coulis

G&F012011-croquettes_22

Salt Cod & Potato Croquettes, Red Pepper Coulis (Originally published in Plats du Jour; the girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country.)

Croquettes are nice option for a bite that will retain both its texture and temperature at a party.  When using salt cod, make sure ou rinse it very well to get rid of some of the excess salt.  Be cautious when seasoning the mixture, as the salt cod will have enough salt to balance the potato.  Keep in mind this is a 2-day recipe.  It’s not complicated but you will need time to soak the salt cod.

(Note: this is published in Plats du Jour as a recipe for party bites, but I’d have no guilt at all eating this for supper on a winter evening!)

For the salt cod:

8 ounces boneless salt cod
3 cups whole milk
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
5 garlic cloves
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups panko
2 cups blended oil

For the coulis:

2 red peppers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

To prepare the cod:

Submerge the salt cod in a large container of cold water and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, changing the water every 8 hours.

Drain the cod and place it in a medium saucepan with the milk, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic.  Simmer the cod on medium heat for 25 minutes or until the fish flakes.

Remove the fish, reserving the poaching liquid, and add the potatoes to the pan.  Discard the thyme and bay leaf.  Add a touch more milk to cover the potatoes if needed.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.  Place the cooked potatoes in a bowl and add the flaked fish, egg yolk, parsley, and a little bit of the reserved poaching liquid to soften the mixture.  Mix well and let the mixture cool for at least one hour.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl until they become light and pale.

Form the salt cod mixture into 30 equal sized balls (about the size of a ping pong ball).

Place the flour, egg mixture, and panic in three separate shallow bowls.  Dip each ball in the flour, then the egg mixture, and the the panic.

Set a deep fryer to 375 degrees (a deep saucepan filled with blended oil will work as well as a deep fryer) and fry the croquettes golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.  Transfer them to a paper towel to drain the excess oil and season with salt.  Set aside.

To prepare the coulis:

Heat a broiler to high.  Lightly coat the red peppers with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and season them with salt and pepper.  Place them under the broiler turning them occasionally until blackened on all sides.  Place them in a bowl and cover them with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle but not cold.  Peel the peppers, discarding the skins and seeds, but reserving the pepper “liquor.”

In a food processor, puree the peppers with the remaining olive oil, shallot, garlic, vinegar, and butter.  Puree until smooth and season carefully with salt and pepper to taste (you don’t want too much salt).

To serve

Place a small dollop of the coulis on each plate and top with the croquettes.

 

Vendredi Vocab: Sturgeon

Sturgeon2

sturgeon [STER-juhn] A large migratory fish known for its delicious flesh, excellent roe (the true caviar) and isinglass (a form of gelatin). This prized fish was so favored by England’s King Edward II that he gave it royal status, which meant that all sturgeon caught had to be offered to the king. Sturgeon are anadromous, meaning that they migrate from their saltwater habitat to spawn in fresh water. Their average weight is 60 pounds but gargantuan specimens can reach over 3,000 pounds. The sturgeon’s long, thin body is pale fray and has large scales. Its rich, high-fat flesh has a fresh, delicate flavor and is so firm that it’s almost meat like.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 739

Sturgeon8724096632_1cbeb1d541_o

Sturgeons have been referred to as “primitive fishes” because their morphological characters have remained relatively unchanged since the earliest fossil record. They are distinctive for their elongated bodies, lack of scales, and occasional great size: sturgeons ranging from 7–12 feet in length are common, and some species grow up to 18 feet. (source)

 

This week we have a delicious sturgeon dish on our menu – Green Garlic Crusted Smoked Sturgeon with a braised ham tomato broth.

IMG_0383

Check out the rest of the plats du jour menu this week, here.

 

Vendredi means “Friday” in French. Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn something new. We also love Fridays.

Happy Vendredi, everyone!

 

Vendredi Vocab: Maldon Salt

maxresdefault

Source

Maldon Salt is made in the town of Maldon, which is on the Blackwater estuary in Essex, England. The salt is renowned for it’s clean, pure taste, and light flaky texture that seems to melt when it hits food. It is used as a finishing salt (as opposed to a salt used during cooking or backing), and you will find it on many of our dishes at both the girl & the fig and the Fig Cafe. In fact, at the fig cafe it is our table salt and you will find it on each table in the most adorable lidded ceramic salt pots.

Here’s a little backstory from the Maldon website:

Head back into history and the Essex coast was alive with salt making. At least 2,000 years ago, seawater was being partially evaporated and then heated in clay pots over open fires. When the water had gone, the pots were broken open to reveal the precious result: salt. Opening a distinctive Maldon box today is somewhat easier.

By the Domesday Book, 45 salt pans were operating in the Maldon area and hundreds more across Essex as a whole. Salt turns up in place names across the county, the Guild of Saltmakers was founded in 1394 and its sign, the three cups, is still seen in Essex.

But like so many good things, saltmaking was taxed and, eventually, taxed almost out of existence. Except that is for Maldon, the last survivor of the Essex saltmakers and proud standard bearer of traditional high quality salt making.

There are good reasons why Maldon Salt is in Maldon. Flat tide-washed marshes and low rainfall mean high salinity and the ideal place to start the Maldon Salt Company in 1882.

There was something special about this salt from the beginning: sold in Harrods and Fortnums within a few years, first exported (to Sweden, land of salt connoisseurs) in the middle of the last century, recommended by St Delia in 2000, and granted the Royal Warrant on its 130th birthday in 2012.

Source: official Maldon website

 

 

landscape mixed

Source

We are currently garnishing the bistro plats du jour appetizer with Maldon salt. It pairs beautifully with the creaminess of the marinated ricotta, and the freshness of the olive oil.

Marinated Ricotta Crostini: frill mustard, saba must, olive oil, maldon salt.

IMG_0162

Photo credit: Chef Jeremy Zimmerman

For the a look at the full Bistro Plat du Jour, click here, or come visit us at the girl & the fig!

Vendredi means “Friday” in French. Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn something new. We also love Fridays.

Happy Vendredi, everyone!

Vendredi Vocab: Pistou

imgp0119b

Source

pistou [pees-TOO] A mixture of crushed basil, garlic and olive oil used as a condiment or sauce. It’s the French version of Italy’s pesto.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 581

Pistou! It’s the cutest little word, with the simplest definition, but for some reason, I had never heard it before the girl & the fig. And I am often asked by our customers what it means. At any given moment, we are sure to be using pistou somewhere on our menu. Such a classic combination of ingredients and an integral compliment to our style of food – country food with a French passion. It’s also a wonderful combo because you can make it your own by adding other ingredients.

The only difference in ingredients compared with pesto is that the Italian version traditionally includes pine nuts and cheese (parmesan or pecorino) in addition to the basil, garlic, and olive oil. Traditionally, the ingredients of pistou are crushed and mixed together in a mortar and pestle (pistou means “pounded” in the Provençal language). The word “pistou” was introduced from Genoese dialect “pesto” after being brought into Provence in the 19th century by Italian immigrants from Genoa and Ligury (30% of the Provençal population is of Italian origin). (Source)

On our menu right now is this dish of goodness…Lamb Shank with white beans and nettle pistou – the main course on the Bistro Plat du Jour this week.

IMG_0056 IMG_0053

Photos courtesy of Jeremy Zimmerman

We are also doing an appetizer of risotto, grilled spring onions, mascarpone, and a green garlic pistou…it’s rich and delicious and the green garlic makes for a flavor that you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s a subtler version of garlic that almost has sweet qualities to it.

If you aren’t in the neighborhood to come enjoy our current pistou dishes, you can make your own at home and try it atop your favorite meats, fish or soups. It would go wonderfully with a white bean soup and it also works very well for vegan dishes, like farro with roasted vegetables…mmm.

 

Vendredi means “Friday” in French. Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn something new. We also love Fridays.

Happy Vendredi, everyone!

Word of the Week: Charcuterie

Steffen_TGTF_fig-food_Jan2015_AI9A1541_hi

Photo credit: Megan Steffan

charcuterie [shahr-KOO-tuhr-ee; shar-koo-tuhr-EE] Taken from the term cruiser de chair, meaning “cooker of meat,” charcuterie has been considered a French culinary art at least since the 15th century. It refers to the products, particularly (but not limited to) pork specialties such as pâtés, rillettes, galantines, crépinettes, etc., which are made and sold in a delicatessen-style shop, also called a charcuterie.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 150

At the girl & the fig, we started making our own small-batch charcuterie about four years ago. We call it MANO FORMATE, meaning “hand formed.” We started with a select few and once we got the process down, realized we could make all the cured meats for our restaurants, including the thick cut bacon for our burgers and grilled cheese sandwich (upon request, but highly recommended!) and the crispy pancetta for our fig & arugula salad. And of course we make all the meats for our charcuterie platter; coppa, lonzo, pâté de campagne, pork rillette, mortadella, and various sausages.

IMG_2935

Salumi is a meat product that is air-dried, salted, cooked, and/or smoked. The tradition, with roots in France and Italy, dates back thousands of years and was used to preserve meat before the invention or refrigeration. We primarily use pork, but have tried our hand at beef and lamb as well.

Chef prepping to smoke pork for bacon.

IMG_2752

IMG_2770

IMG_2923

Mortadella in the making.

IMG_2924

Pâté de campagne with pickled garden vegetables for the Restaurant Week appetizer.

IMG_9982

Photo credit: Chef Jeremy Zimmerman

Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn something new.

Cheers to the weekend!