Sunday, March 2, 2014

A New Twist on a Pilaf and a New Recipe for Cod

I am always interested in going back to basics when  making foods, partly because it was something I had to do in Guatemala and that is how I learned. When what is locally available is all you can use, one learns quickly. Back in the 1970s there was no availability of every thing one could imagine on the internet. There was no internet. No cell phones. It is hard to even remember what we did back then. No remotes for the TV. Two or three channels at most. Foods that were available locally were what could be used. Period.

When I came back to the US, it was the time when using whole grains, higher fiber and jogging came into vogue. I never got the jogging bug, but was always interested in being healthy. Using foods with higher fiber seemed natural. I really liked all those things, so there was no difficulty in it for me. But, just because something is high fiber does not immediately turn out tasting good. We have to try new ways to make some foods taste marvelous. Now, here we are, 40 years later. I am still experimenting. I buy foods like whole oat groats or raw buckwheat, raw cashews, millet, teff, amaranth. The list goes on and on. Not all of those were immediate hits. Not all of those were even something I tried more than once. Still, because once they weren't my cup of tea, doesn't mean that at some point they won't taste really good made in a different way.
Green Lentil and Millet Pilaf with Baked Crusted Cod

Recently a friend gave me a recipe for waffles using soaked buckwheat and millet. No cooking of the grains beforehand. I loved those waffles. I wish I could claim that recipe as my own, but it is not. I have been meaning to get them out and make those waffles again, but have yet to get to it. Meanwhile, I keep seeing the bags of the seeds in my freezer
(where I keep anything that doesn't get used too often), and was thinking what I might do with them. A few days ago, I got an idea for a sort of pilaf with less-used or -known grains, lentils or seeds. I ended up making a Green Lentil and Millet Pilaf, which I just loved. I have been eating it the past few days, all on my own, as it is not a dish my husband would touch, though I keep hoping. I had green De Puy lentils because I had used them in another dish from the Food and Wine magazine. Their recipe was with these little green lentils, red quinoa and cauliflower and I loved that too. So, the lentils were there in the cabinet, and the millet was in the freezer and I decided they would make a nice looking dish; it remained to see what I could do with the flavor. 

Green Lentil and Millet Pilaf

Green Lentil and Millet Pilaf
Serves 4 - 6

1/2 cup green (De Puy) lentils
1 small carrot, grated
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup millet
1 cup water
1 small knob fresh ginger, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 - 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste

Place the first 3 ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes, until cooked through. In another small saucepan, bring the next 3 ingredients to boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 to 18 minutes or until tender. 

While these are cooking, heat a skillet and add the olive oil. Add in the shallot with the first half teaspoon salt and saute until soft. Add in the garlic, celery and green pepper and saute for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Add in the drained lentils and the millet and the second half teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine.

A few weeks back, I bought some frozen cod. The pieces were individually wrapped so they were just fine in the freezer. But, I like fish and my husband doesn't, unless there is enough breading, it is fried and there is plenty of ketchup to smother it in. I like fried fish just fine. Just not as the only way. I like eating fish made in other creative ways. So, there is this cod. I had made Beef Vegetable Soup, which is a favorite of my husband's, so I left the soup for him and made myself a piece of fish. Mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese make a nice topping for things. I have long made pork chops by setting them onto a baking sheet, setting one (1/4-inch thick) onion slice on top of each, placing a dollop of mayo onto the onion, and then Parmesan over the top of the mayo. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes at 350 and o-m-g! So, with a little play on that concept, I made my cod. The recipe was just for the one piece, so if making more than one, just multiply the recipe as needed. It took longer in the oven than I anticipated, so the next time I might set the oven to 400 degrees and bake for less time.

Baked Crusted Cod

Baked Crusted Cod
Serves 1

1 cod filet, (about 5 ounces)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 on Convection). If the cod filet is very thick in the center, butterfly so it lays flat with a more even thickness all along the length. Salt and pepper both sides of the fish. If you have white pepper, try using that instead of black. 

In a little bowl, combine the mayonnaise and the 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Spread this paste over the top of the fish, evenly. In another small bowl, combine the panko, 1 tablespoon of Parmigiano-Reggiano and the olive oil. Press these crumbs onto the mayonnaise mixture on the fish. Set the filet onto a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. [To prevent messy cleanup, line the baking sheet with foil first.] Set the filet into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it flakes in the center. 

The cod was delightful. I smeared some tartar sauce onto my plate and set the fish on top of the tartar sauce to serve. It made for a prettier photo. You can always serve more tartar sauce on the side. Together these two recipes were just wonderful for dinner.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.