How Lucky Are We?

May 18th, 2011 · 18 Comments · Grilling, Quick, Seafood, Sides, Salads, Soup

Have you ever stopped to think about how lucky we all are to be parents in 2011? Not just because DVD players are built into back seats or that iTunes offers a staggering selection of white-noise-for-baby songs (including vacuum!), but because cooking for our children is overlapping with the here-to-stay movement of cooking simple, fresh, food. I don’t know about you, but when I first decided I was going to teach myself to cook, I was picturing fancy and dreaming big. The recipes I gravitated towards involved lots of steps and artery-clogging ingredients. (I’m talking to you Silver Palate Tortellini with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce!*) Those were the meals that professional cooks made, right? I realize that Chez Panisse had been open for a full 20 years by that point in my life, but if you asked me who Alice Waters was when I was 22, there’s a 100% chance I would have told you she was the author of The Color Purple. The point is, we are so lucky that simple food equals good food, and that you can brush a little smoked paprika butter* on a piece of just-off-the-boat super-mild tilefish and have a sophisticated dinner that doesn’t necessarily alienate the kids. And that’s just what we did last weekend.

**Yes, I debuted it for Andy on July 16, 1993 and took notes.

*I loved every page of Blood, Bones, and Butter, but I think every page I dogeared mentioned smoked-paprika butter.

You can find smoked paprika in the spice section of most ethnic markets or at Penzeys.com.

To make the smoked paprika butter: Beat together 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick) with 1 tablespoon smoked paprika and a large pinch of kosher or sea salt until it’s blended together.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt your smoked paprika butter and pour into a heatproof bowl.

Grilled Fish with Smoked Paprika Butter
This is the second Sunday in a row that we’ve started off on a healthy note and I’m hoping to keep it up through summer. The formula is pretty simple: grilled seafood +  healthy grain + anything with kale.

Prepare Your Grill. Marinate a 1-pound piece of firm white fish (such as tilefish, swordfish, mahi mahi) in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. (Add the lemon only about five minutes before you grill.) Once grill is hot, grill filet about 4-5 minutes a side depending on thickness brushing smoked paprika butter as you go. (Fish is done when it’s firm to the touch with out being rock hard.) Remove fish from grill and brush one more time with butter. Serve with braised kale salad and herby barley salad (simple!) below.

Simple Barley Salad

Bring 1 cup pearl barley, (rinsed and picked over), a teaspoon salt, and 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Cover and simmer for 50 minutes until barley is firm but cooked through. Toss with a few tablespoons chopped herbs (I used parsely, thyme), olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped scallions, and a squeeze of lemon (or tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar).

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