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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shoot, gotta run....Cornmeal and Pistachio Crusted Trout

So, this is going to be a quick one. Life is going great, writing more and more, on my 4th draft, blah blah blah. Anyways, what I really want to talk about is, how every now and then, you just need a piece of fish. And not just any ol' fish, but the RIGHT fish. For me, that's quite often trout. I don't know why, but I'm crazy about these guys. Maybe it has to do with my first fish memory being my dad frying up a rainbow trout when I was eight for just the two of us. And then my mom yelling at us for making the whole house smell like fried fish. Sweet, right? 

Anyway, this is a classed up version of my dad's recipe. First of all, there is no frying. This puppy is baked in an oven for just about ten minutes, will all sorts of goodies packed on top to form an amazingly delicious crust. I used to be afraid to buy whole fish, because I thought the steps it would take to prep and cook such a thing would NEVER make this a weekday meal. Well, thank goodness fishmongers these days are kind enough people to take care of all the prep work for us. This I made on a Thursday, and took all of a half hour to put together. Thank goodness, because I've got WAY too many pages to proofread. I'll be back soon with more goodies, let me just finish this scene...

I paired this with my ever-present spiced roasted cauliflower and some arugula. 
NOTE: I should warn you, this is probably enough topping for two Trouts. If you're just cooking for one (like I was) you can probably scale back a good amount of the crust ingredients.

Cornmeal and Pistachio Crusted Trout 

2 tbsp cornmeal
2 tbsp flour
2.5 tbsp pistachio nuts, chopped very fine
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
2 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 trout, butterflied (approx. 1 lb)
1-2 tbsp butter, melted
half a lemon
2 tbsp parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the first 7 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Pat the trout dry and rub 1-2 tsp of butter on the skin side of fish. Lay on cookie sheet. On the flesh side, rub another 1-2 tsp of butter. Sprinkle cornmeal mixture onto trout and press firmly to completely coat and cover both filets. Brush off excess.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until flesh is firm. Sprinkle on parsley leaves and a few squeezes of lemon juice. Serve with salad or roasted veggies.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

80 Pages In...Cardamom Apple Cake

So, being back in nyc has been....different. I've gotten so accustomed to a break-neck pace of life, having the next few months to just do what I please (mainly write) has been strange. It's...calm. A little too calm. The grad program is starting up in the next few days, so I think that means some activity will be picking up. On a very happy note, I've completed 80 pages of draft 2.5 of my script! Woo hoo! Alright, now I'll shut up about my life and talk about this cake which, trust me, NEEDS to be talked about.

This cake needs its own word. It's serendipilicious. Right out of the oven this cake smells heavenly of spices and apple and just everything that a luscious apple cake SHOULD smell of. The cardamom is lovely, but make sure you grind it with a mortar and pestle (or in my case, a small bowl and thick wooden spoon) so that you don't have any large crunchy pieces for people to bite down on. I add cinnamon as well, but I think a very tiny dash of nutmeg or ground cloves might be nice too.

I say this cake is luscious because the topping creates this caramelizes unctuous glazed crust that is...oh man, I want to make this cake again right now. Other fruits that might work are pears, bananas (although might become too sweet), peaches, cherries...the list goes on. Just nothing that's too juicy, so I'd stay away from citrus. Also, it's best to eat this cake warm, and the day you make it. It's not difficult to prepare at all (save for the damn crushing of the cardamom), which makes it the perfect dessert for an impromptu potluck or dinner party. To be honest, I'd invite people over just so I can make this cake.

And I did actually accidentally take this thing out a bit earlier than I should have. Be forwarned: the top might brown up before the actual cake is done baking. That happened to me, and since I can't STAND an overbaked cake, I took it out while the very center was still a little goopy. Oh well, who cares. This cake is so yummy I almost prefer it to be on the underdone side. However, if you're not a fan, I'd suggest covering the top with foil if it's getting brown before the cake is close to done. I think I'm going to see if the girls would fancy a casual dinner party this saturday....

Yeah, it's not fully cooked. But who cares, it's delicious anyway.

French Apple Cake (based on Tartlette’s)

1 ¼ cup flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp dried buttermilk powder
¾ cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 – 1 ½ apples, peeled and thinly sliced (Granny Smith are good)

6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch round baking pan with nonstick spray. Whisk together the dry ingredients for the cake in a large bowl. In another smaller bowl whisk the water, oil, egg and vanilla. Slowly pour the wet ingredients over the dry, whisking until just not combined. Finish mixing to just combined with a spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan and arrange apple slices on top.

For the topping, in a medium bowl whisk the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract and whisk together well.

Bake cake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and spread the butter topping over surface (don’t worry, some of your apple slices might shift slightly). Bake cake for about an additional 20 minutes till top is nice and brown, and toothpick inserted at center of cake comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

Allow cake to cool in pan. When room temperature, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.