Cooking Up a CSF Feast with a Jody Adams Bluefish Recipe

Grilling the bluefish

Grilled Bluefish with Pomegranite Glaze

Michelle and I spent six woman-hours last night cooking a delicious dinner featuring the bluefish from our final Community Supported Fishery (CSF) delivery for the August 2010 season. The six hours doesn’t include the time I spent trolling the aisles of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods looking for pomegranate molasses (couldn’t find it so we made our own from pomegranate juice), chicory (must not be in season, so I bought other greens), and whole coriander seeds (not in stock, had to make do with ground coriander).

Cooking molasses

Cooking down the pomegranate juice into molasses

The pomegranate glaze features the aforementioned pomegranate molasses, garlic, red onion, mint, coriander seeds and orange zest, and it’s a delicious complement to bluefish, which I always think of as a very “fishy” fish because it’s so dark and intense. Although the molasses has sugar in it, there’s only a hint of sweetness in the sauce.  The rich flavor is a perfect foil for the oiliness of the bluefish.

The reason the dinner took so long to make—besides making the molasses from scratch—was that it was actually five dishes. In addition to the bluefish, the recipe called for “Dukkah,” garlic yogurt sauce, farro, and “Fiery Greens.”  While the entire recipe is not online, there’s a link for the fish and a similar yogurt sauce at starchefs.com.

Farro with carrots, celery and onions

Farro, which I’ve never made at home before, is a delicious healthy grain that reminded me of barley, although the grains are larger and toothier.  Adams adds the farro to a sauté of onion, celery, carrots and garlic and cooks it with chicken stock—we used veggie stock—and bay leaves.

Cooking the greens

Fiery Garlic Greens featuring broccoli rabe and arugula

The greens are blanched and then sautéed with lots of olive oil, garlic, and hot pepper flakes. The Dukkah is an Egyptian seed, nut and spice mix of blanched almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and coconut, all of which have to be separately toasted and then ground together.

The Six Hour Recipe

Dinner was worth the wait!

The mixture of all these tastes on the plate—sweet, spicy, fishy, oily, salty, bitter—was what made it worth the effort.

Besides the recipe, the other star of the evening was the bluefish from our CSF, Cape Ann Fresh Catch. I was delighted to open my email on Tuesday and find that the fish of the day was a gorgeous two-pound bluefish fillet. I picked up my share at Community Servings, cut it in half, carefully wrapped the pieces in plastic wrap and freezer bags and froze them. When we opened one of the packages, we defrosted it and it was still beautiful and as good as fresh.

Our CSF bluefish

Beautiful fresh bluefish from Cape Ann Fresh Catch CSF

This is the first time that I’ve belonged to a CSF, and it’s been a wonderful opportunity to support local, sustainable fishing and learn a little about the ups and downs of the industry. Each week, we get an email telling us what they’ve caught, the boat that caught it, a little information about the fish, a recipe, and a blog post.  Over the six weeks, we’ve enjoyed a variety of fish, including hake, fish dabs and bluefish.

The catch—no pun intended—is sometimes there is no catch.  Deliveries have been cancelled due to quality issues and weather. While as a CSF member, you share the risk with the fisher folk, Cape Ann has made an extraordinary effort to provide us with the best possible fish each week.

If you’re lucky enough to live in their delivery area, I encourage you to sign up for Cape Ann’s next season, beginning November 1,  or check out this list of CSFs around the country.

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What’s Cooking at the Museum of Science?

It was a beautiful fall day in Boston today, the perfect day for an outdoor cooking demonstration on the banks of the Charles River at…the Museum of Science?

The last place I expected to see a cooking demonstration was a science museum, but when I think about it, it makes sense.  Growing and preparing food involves many sciences, including agronomy, nutritional and environmental sciences, not to mention molecular gastronomy.

But, as Chef Chris Douglass said, cooking requires both art and science. Understanding that something you are roasting will “carry over” cooking when you take it out of the oven is the science, he said, but “getting it right is the art.”

Today’s event, “Citizen’s Chefs Meet Boston’s Best,” was part of a weekend kick-off for the Boston’s Museum of Science’s two-year “Let’s Talk About Food”  initiative. Six of Boston’s top chefs—Jody Adams, Chris Douglass, Tiffani Faison, Rahul Moolgaonkar, Jason Santos, and Ana Sortun—were paired with six non-professionals—“citizen’s chefs”–to demonstrate how to cook a delicious, healthy, sustainable meal that can be prepared at home.

Writer and journalist Louisa Kasdon, a project consultant for “Let’s Talk About Food,” told the crowd that she hopes that the Museum of Science will serve as a “Big Tent” to bring people together to discuss all aspects of food and food policy.

As a long-time PescoVegetarian, I was already familiar with the cooking techniques and nutritional value of many of the foods being used, but I was delighted to collect some new recipes and expand my knowledge.  Here are a few tasty tidbits I picked up, accompanied by a slide show of photos by Michelle Johnson:

Commentator Edith Murnane, Food Policy Director for the City of Boston, said that Brussels sprouts were one of her favorite vegetables, because of their sweetness.  “As we go into later fall and winter months, Brussels sprouts become even sweeter,” she noted.

“This is the only time of the year when you have two seasons of vegetables at once” [both summer and fall], chef Ana Sortun pointed out.  “Right now, leeks are magical,” she said.

Chef Tiffani Faison, runner-up on Season One of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” cooking competition show, stated that it can be hard to get kids to eat fish. Faison showed us how to make “meatballs” from scallops and monkfish, two fish that “tend to be a bit sweeter” and appeal to kids.

“Bluefish are local and they are good for you,” said Chef Jody Adams, who demonstrated her “Grilled Bluefish with Pomegranate Glaze, Garlic Yogurt and Fiery Greens” recipe. “Lots of people think bluefish are too oily, but fresh bluefish is delicious and doesn’t taste too oily,” Adams said. She also prepared farro, which she said has a lower gluten level than wheat and is her “favorite grain in the world.”

Ana Sortun combined escarole, cucumber, dill, parsley, spearmint, garlic, lemon, and  olive oil with Greek-style yogurt to create a “Cacik,” described in the program as “anything or everything green with thick garlicky yogurt.”

Commentator Kathy McManus, Department of Nutrition Director at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, sang the praises of Greek yogurt.  In addition to being wonderfully thick and rich, McManus said, “Greek-style yogurt has twice the protein and is lower in carbohydrates and sodium than regular yogurt.”

Since I love Greek yogurt, I was glad to hear that.  But I went home reflecting on something else McManus said: “Being mindful and thoughtful and savoring our meals is as important as the foods we eat.”

And that, dear reader, is where the art of food trumps the science.

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