06 July 2009

Nora's back...

...and she's swingin' a rutabaga in the kitchen, as the home folks say.

Orange-Scented Roasted Tilapia with Fennel, Carrots, and Arugula
serves two plus one lunch planover - easily scaled up for four or more
~one large fennel bulb, sliced very thinly (fronds reserved for couscous)
~10 to 12 small, young carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
~1 lb. tilapia filet(s)
~zest of one orange, minced (reserve ¼ tsp. for couscous)
~1 c. baby arugula (or chopped standard arugula), loosely packed
~juice of two oranges (reserve 2 TB for couscous)
~1/3 c. of white wine (not chardonnay)
~2 TB butter, divided
~olive oil
~white and black pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss slices of fennel (reserve one slice) and carrot in olive oil.

Arrange fennel slices in one central layer on the bottom of a shallow baking dish; array carrots on either side of the fennel bed. Sprinkle with salt and orange zest. Roast for 10 minutes. During the roasting period, combine the orange juice, white wine, and single fennel slice in a shallow pan on the stove and bring to a simmer. The aim is to reduce volume by about half.

At the ten minute mark, take the vegetables out of the oven and add the tilapia filet(s) on top of the bed of fennel. Drizzle with olive oil and spoon 2 TB of the simmering wine-orange sauce over the fish and return to the oven for 10 to 15 more minutes of roasting, or until fish is cooked through. Meanwhile, when the sauce has reduced, remove the fennel slice and add salt to taste and a hint of white and black pepper. Then mount the sauce with the butter, 1 TB at a time, whisking to incorporate all the fat evenly. Remove from heat and set aside.

To plate, lay down a bed of raw arugula leaves. Dish the fish with fennel and carrots over the arugula and spoon some sauce over the lot. Serve next to couscous salad, below.

Orange-Scented Couscous with Green Olives
~2/3 c. large pearl (Israeli) couscous
~2 TB orange juice
~pinch salt
~olive oil
~1 small shallot, minced
~8-10 green olives, pitted and sliced
~minced fennel fronds
~reserved ¼ tsp. orange zest

Cook couscous until tender in however much water is required; drain excess liquid off in a colander. Return drained couscous to the empty pot and, while still warm, toss with all of the remaining ingredients. Serve warm or cold.

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We joined the local CSA in Queens and have been loving each week's delivery. The big discovery so far has been kohlrabi: looks like a Russian space droid, tastes like the blessed offspring of a mild apple, a red potato, and jicama. NOM. Another thing we've received in abundance has been arugula, which I find nearly magical as a veggie. We had rhubarb in the first week and strawberries in the first two, and only just now have we received the first cabbage of the year. Cabbage: lasts forever and seems to linger on in the fridge, as each portion you use only nibbles away at the almost self-replicating bulk of the cabbage. Oh, ugh. I might just go whole hog and make sauerkraut out of the whole stupid thing.

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Oh, my absence? Yeah. I plead lazy and unmotivated. Oh and, this being food again? I think we're going in that direction after all, especially with the weekly CSA being such a boon. I'm going to aim for a weekly kitchen session that uses the seasonal glut, so you've got some cabbage to look forward to, dear hearts...

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