Wednesday, May 30, 2007

salad with issues;
what happens when you broil lemons?

radish greens salad

This salad was going to be so delicious: perfectly fresh radish greens from the greenmarket (Windfall Farms) with tender, cotton candy-pink stems, crisp Mutsu apple (Red Jacket Orchards still has good apples), ginger candied almonds, toasted sesame vinaigrette. These flavors were a nice combination — mildly spicy greens and nuts, juicy apple, and a light but well-balanced dressing — but the salad was uncomfortably difficult to eat. The radish greens are too small to be speared with a fork and too crisp to be twirled like spaghetti, and the candied almonds tend to fall off one's fork. Recipes for the almonds and the salad are below, but I think you'll have an easier time of enjoying them if you use them to fill a Vietnamese summer roll.

First, the almonds. This recipe is an adaptation of David Lebovitz's salt-roasted peanuts, which I love. I used powdered ginger rather than fresh because raw almonds need to be roasted for a relatively long time and I was worried about the ginger burning. I also thought it would be easier to distribute evenly over the nuts, which get coated with a very sticky sugar mixture. If you try this with fresh ginger, let me know how it works out. Also note that in David's recipe he calls for good sea salt; I don't think it makes sense to use your best salt in this version because it would only be obscured by the flavor of the ginger. Kosher salt is fine.

ginger candied almonds
adapted from David Lebovitz's salt-roasted peanuts

2 cups raw almonds
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar or turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Lightly oil a baking sheet or line it with a silicone baking mat.

In a bowl, mix together the corn syrup, the light brown sugar and the ginger. Add the almonds and stir until they are thoroughly coated with the mixture.

Spread the almonds out evenly on the baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until they are deep brown in color. Stir them at least once during cooking, and rotate the pan halfway through if it looks like they're browning unevenly.

When you take them out of the oven, the glaze will be sticky and bubbling. Working quickly, stir them with a silicone spatula so that they don't stick together as they cool. If they stuck together in impossible clumps as they cooled, heat them in a 300 or 350° for five minutes or so, just long enough to soften the coating so that you can give them a good stir again.

The almonds will stay crisp in an airtight container for several days.

Yield: 2 cups.

Salad of radish greens, apple, and ginger candied almonds, with toasted sesame vinaigrette
serves 2

1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 box radish greens (approximately 2 cups of greens, not packed-down)
1/2 of a Mutsu apple (also sold as Crispin apple), sliced into thin bite-size wedges
2-3 tablespoons ginger candied almonds (see recipe above)

Whisk together the two oils and the vinegar in a small bowl and season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Mound the greens on two plates and distribute the apple and the almonds among them. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

Our main course was free of issues and I'll likely make it again when I want something really simple and easy: cod with chives and broiled lemon. I love lemons as they are but I was curious as to how their flavor might soften if they were broiled for a few minutes. (Grilling would be preferable, of course, but my fire escape isn't conducive to that). They didn't quite caramelize into lemon candy, but their flavor did soften considerably and it was possible to eat entire segments of warm, juicy lemon without overpowering the fish.

broiled lemon

I strongly recommend that you use organic lemons for this recipe, since you'll be exposing the peel to high heat. You only need one lemon for this dinner but you might as well make two as long as you have the broiler heated up; the other lemon can be used for salad dressing or squeezed on vegetables later in the week.

cod with chives and broiled lemon
serves 2

2 organic lemons, sliced 1/2" thick
enough olive oil to brush the lemon slices and the fish (approximately 2 tablespoons)
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cod fillets, approximately 6 oz. each
a small bundle of fresh chives (enough to yield 2-3 tablespoons when minced)

Turn the broiler on and arrange the lemons in a heavy, oven-safe pan. (I used a cast iron grill pan covered with foil; it's super-easy to clean up afterwards). Brush them with olive oil and broil them for 2-3 minutes, or until they are well-browned in spots. Remove the pan from the broiler, flip the slices over, brush their other side with olive oil, and return the pan to the broiler until the lemons are well-browned on each side.

Remove the lemon slices to a plate or bowl and arrange the fish fillets in the same pan you used for the lemons. Brush them with olive oil and season them with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Broil them for ten minutes per inch of thickness. If they are becoming too brown under the broiler, take them out, turn the oven down to 375° and finish cooking them in the oven. (Usually this is not necessary).

Plate the fish and snip or mince the chives. Squeeze 2-3 slices of broiled lemon over each fillet of fish, letting the juice and the segments of the fruit fall on the fish. Sprinkle the chives over the fish and serve at once.

cod with chives and broiled lemon

Cod with chives and broiled lemon; on the side are roasted Carola potatoes tossed with fresh oregano.

P.S. I did not steal my salad plates from The '21' Club; I'm much too clumsy for that sort of thing. They came from Fish's Eddy, which sells restaurant and airline dishes and utensils along with their own well-designed stuff.

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