Two years ago I used to proudly tell people, "I don't cook, but I can dial takeout like a champ." Avoiding anything complicated in the kitchen had always been easy enough. My mom prepared all of my meals when I was a kid because I wasn't a picky eater, and I ate whatever she was eating. In college, the sorority made us pay for all of our meals at the house, so who was I to pass up a free meal? And even post college, late nights at work ordering steak or picking up Eatzi's (how did that place ever close???) was enough to get me through to the nights when I ate out with friends. It wasn't until I started dating Jeff that I felt any need to try my hand at cooking. It must have been some long dormant nurturing gene that he activated, but suddenly I wanted to be able to cook something decent for him to eat. Why I waited until I lived in a 400 sq. ft NY studio with a postage stamp sized kitchen, I'll never know, but that's where I got my start.
Now my Atlanta kitchen is gloriously large and offers plenty of space for me to make an unholy mess. I still don't do so well off recipe, but I can whip up some pretty tasty dinners nowadays. As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently saw Top Chef winner Hung do a cooking demo. He emphasized that with proper technique, you could wing it on the actual ingredients, and it would still turn out great. So that's just what I tried to do the other night.
His recipe called for Hamachi, which Whole Foods was out of, so I decided to try out Halibut. He also included asparagus, but I'm on a "what's in season" kick, so I ditched that and kept it simple with wild mushrooms, and at the request of my boyfriend, included frozen fava beans (we couldn't find fresh ones, and I should have taken that as a hint that it was a bad idea) So my adapted recipe looked like this.
1 shallot sliced
1/4 pound of mixed wild mushrooms
1 clove of garlic sliced
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 - 5 oz Halibut (I just bought a big piece and had them cut it in half)
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
Dash of sea salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove minced garlic
wild mushrooms cleaned
frozen fava beans (big mistake - don't do it!)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Season Halibut with sea salt, thyme, parsley, and garlic, drizzle with olive oil and let marinate for 30 minutes. For the mushroom sauce, heat a saute pan over medium - high heat. Put 1 tablespoon of oil in pan and add the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Never salt mushrooms because the salt with draw out the moisture! Cook until mushrooms are tender and liquid has evaporated.
Add the wine and reduce by half. Place mixture in blender and puree. Slowly drizzle in remaining oil to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To cook fish, place onto lined baking sheet and cook in oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until it is white throughout. While the fish is cooking, heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the veggies and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add the chives and basil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. The frozen favas were a big mistake and turned out soggy and bland. Stick with fresh, in season veggies.
To plate, place a small amount of veggies in center of the plate, top with a piece of fish, and spoon sauce over top and around plate.
Although my veggies were a bit of a flop (damn you favas!), the rest was light and tasty and made good use of my farmer's market purchased herbs.