Monthly Archives: September 2014
On first glance, ceviche, the Latin American cured fish salad and this week’s selection for French Fridays with Dorie, doesn’t seem very French. Dorie explains that this dish inspired by the cuisine of Senegal, who exports avocados and mangoes. I’m not clear how those influences jump from Africa to the Americas but I’ll take it on faith.
I love sushi, and I’ve ordered ceviche in restaurants. It never occurred to me to make ceviche at home, mostly because of the raw fish issue. Somehow I trust a restaurant’s sources more than my own. I’m just not sure how comfortable I am with the quality of what I can buy, and whether the citrus juice really cooks the fish enough for it to be safe to eat.
As I did for the tuna confit, I bought frozen ahi tuna steaks at Trader Joe’s. It wasn’t sushi quality, but it was frozen which I think kills any parasites. Because the package of tuna was a full pound, I added the juice from an extra lime for some added “cooking action”. We didn’t get sick so that was probably OK.
The rest of the dish was reminiscent of the mango guacamole that we make all the time, with the extra addition of grated ginger.
This made a lot, and since it didn’t seem like it would keep, the two of us ate most of it for dinner. With the leftovers, I picked out the tuna chunks and microwaved them, then stirred them back in. It wasn’t as good as dinner, but at least nothing went to waste.
This definitely wasn’t my favorite from Around My French Table, probably not even in the top 50%, but I chalk that up more to comfort with food safety, than flavors.
Lentils are my favorite bean. I love lentil soup, lentil salad, and even lentils as a side. This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is “a basic recipe” for French lentils, which I made as a side.
Dorie suggests using French Le Puy lentils instead of the brown lentils you usually see at the grocery store. I know that some Doristas had trouble sourcing these, but fortunately, my local Whole Foods always has these in the bulk section where I buy them by the pounds. I love them, particularly in lentil salad, because they hold their shape instead of getting mushy. I agree that they are worth seeking out.
This recipe’s preparation is similar to my usual method, but also a little bit different. I’m always up for trying new ways of doing things before deciding whether to adopt some or all of the experiment for a new and enhanced “usual” method.
For this version, first the lentils are boiled for two minutes, then drained before continuing. This is to give the lentils a cleaner flavor. I’m not sure I could tell the difference, but I might try it again.
The lentils are simmered with an onion studded with a clove, a carrot, a celery stalk, a smashed garlic clove, and a bay leaf. Once they are tender, some brandy is stirred in for just a minute, before draining the lentils again. My question about this step is: what’s the point of the brandy? I didn’t notice any residual taste. Even though I didn’t use fancy brandy, just Christian Brothers, it still seemed like a waste of brandy.
At this point, cook’s choice: discard the vegetables or chop them up. I chopped them up, mixed them into the lentils, and adjusted the seasoning.
The lentils made the perfect accompaniment to duck confit, beet salad, and braised kale. This dish, or maybe it was the whole meal, felt like a baby step towards welcoming the crispness in the air as summer comes to an end and autumn is upon us.
As far as adjustments to my favorite method, I would try the initial quick boil and drain step again before making a final judgment on that step. I usually simmer my lentils with chopped onion and carrots (and a bay leaf). I found the chopping of the warm (well, hot, I was impatient) vegetables fussy, though I did enjoy the flavors, so I might start adding chopped celery and garlic to the mix. but not whole vegetables. Also, no brandy unless I just stirred it into the warm lentils. So, mixed results on takeaways for me.
I was at Squam Lake in New Hampshire overnight with a couple of my morning boot camp buddies. This morning, we hiked to the top of Rattlesnake Mountain, and this is the view back over the lake. Gorgeous, no?