The Literate Chef

Posts Tagged ‘Cape Cod’

Poached Cod with Tomatoes, Olives and Capers

In Fish, Recipes on September 2, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Poached Cod with Tomatoes, Olives and Capers

Poached Cod with Tomatoes, Olives and Capers

Despite the proliferation and availability of Cod on the eponymous Cape where we’ve made our home for the past several years, I usually refrain from cooking it, as it does not lend itself to many cooking techniques. You can’t grill it, it falls apart too easily. Similarly you can’t sauté it, it quickly turns to mush. I suppose you could bake or roast it, but who wants to heat up the oven to 400 degrees in the summer. My dear wife (a/k/a Grammy) has been after me to prepare it for some time. So yesterday, after recalling an earlier success with Pan-Seared Cod, I decided to try poaching and picked up a lovely one pound fillet at our local fishmonger. It was a perfect piece, center cut, about one inch thick throughout, which makes for even cooking.

Ever helpful, Grammy suggested a combination of tomatoes, olives and capers, similar to the preparation used in Red Snapper LivorneseI complied with her suggestion, I’d be a fool not to,  and last night’s dinner was a rousing success.

(Total preparation and cooking time 30 minutes; serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 lb. Cod fillet, preferably 1 inch thick throughout
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. chopped shallots
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup clam juice or fish stock
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
1 cup stuffed green olives (with pimento) halved widthwise
5 tbsp. capers with juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:

1. Salt & pepper the Cod fillet on both sides.
2. In a braising pan or a sauté pan  or a skillet that has a cover, heat the olive oil on medium low, add the shallots and cook until soft.
3. Add the white wine, bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the seasoned Cod.
5. Add the clam juice, or fish stock.
6. Add the tomatoes, olives and capers, cover and poach for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fish begins to flake.
7. Gently remove the Cod fillet, divide in two, plate and keep warm.
8. Bring the sauce to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes then, spoon the sauce equally over each plate.

What to Do with a Piece of Cod

In General Articles on November 10, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Living in New England and particularly on Cape Cod, Cod is plentiful all year long. It is healthful, not particularly expensive and, as noted, ubiquitous in the Northeast USA. So then why haven’t I previously posted any Cod recipes; because Cod, despite its many positive virtues, is basically a bland fish; and due to its flakiness, somewhat difficult to prepare.

You can’t grill it, it falls apart too easily. You can’t broil it, it dries out too quickly. You can’t marinate it, it would turn to mush. You could, of course, batter it and fry it, as in Fish & Chips, but that’s too messy for a home cook and besides would stink up the house; no, fish & chips are best left to the professionals. So what can you do with it? You could poach it and serve it with a flavorful sauce, or you bake it and do likewise, but neither of those ideas ever excited me. So Cod has been absent from my repertoire, until last night.

Inspired by a recipe for Pan-Seared Cod with Mustard Greens that appeared in a local newspaper article sent to me by my friend, Dr. A., in what he refers to as a Rochester (as in Upstate New York) Rocket, I decided to take another shot at the almighty, but troublesome, Cod. Instead of mustard greens, I thought spinach would be a tasty and photogenic compliment, and instead of a light dressing for the dish, as suggested in the recipe, I thought that a flavorful and spiced up fish broth would better do the trick.

So, off to the fishmonger for some Cod and clam juice, the latter easier to use as a base for the broth than preparing a fish stock from scratch; then, to the supermarket for spinach and the other ingredients for the broth. Frank’s article mentioned lime juice, soy sauce, ginger and shallots. The soy sauce did not appeal to me and I thought shallots would be too strong for what I had in mind. But I liked the idea of lime juice with ginger, and for a little heat I thought maybe a jalapeño pepper. Finally for a flavorful garnish, cilantro!

It worked and it was delicious, particularly with a crusty baguette and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. So give it a try at: Pan Seared Cod Served on a Bed of Spinach – Ginger, Lime, Cilantro, Jalapeño Broth. Thanks Frank!

A word of caution, Cod being so delicate, should not be flipped. So to cook it evenly, I pan-seared it, then quickly roasted it in a very hot oven…7 minutes in total. The spatula touched the fish only twice, once to gently remove it from the pan and once to gently place it on the bed of spinach.

My Cousin Vinny to the Rescue

In General Articles on October 15, 2012 at 7:42 PM

As the daylight hours grow shorter here on Cape Cod and the autumn chill creeps in, my thoughts turn to soup; and when I think of soup, I naturally think of Uncle Fred. Fred always made big batches of soup, broke them down into 1 and 2 quart containers and froze them for quick, nutritious and delicious meals for Aunt Jo and him to enjoy during the long, cold, New England winter. He usually kept one in the back of the freezer as a welcome for when my wife and I would arrive with our children for our annual August vacation in Falmouth. Even though it was mid-summer, that soup would become our first night’s meal.

One of his favorites, reflective of the large local Portuguese speaking community, was Kale Soup. It’s an amalgam of chopped kale, white beans (I used canned beans, which saves time and effort, just be sure to rinse and drain them first), Portuguese sausage and potatoes; delicious, nutritious and sticks to your ribs.  I know that Fred wrote down the recipe for me, but I was unable to find it yesterday when I went to the market to pick-up the main ingredients.

However, I did find a batch of recipes and notes from my cousin, Chef Vincent, Fred’s son. Vince’s Kale Soup is a little different from the version I concocted yesterday, he doesn’t use beans.   Nonetheless, we share a penchant for good eating, something obviously inherited from our fathers and grandfather. But I don’t ever remember Grandpa in the kitchen, Grandma did all of the cooking, so whatever skill Vince and I have in that regard, must have been passed down from her.

Here’s Vince’s take on soup:

‘There’s nothing like a nice hot bowl of hearty soup on a cold winter’s day!  I love cooking soups in the cold months (and it gets cold – for a long time – in Massachusetts!).  The aroma fills the house, and the stove keeps the kitchen warm.  It’s such a cozy feeling.  It’s even more comforting when you get to eat the finished product!  My soups are a meal in themselves.  Eat them with a nice loaf of warm bread.  Man, that’s living!’

I can’t improve on that testimony, so without further ado, check out Portuguese Kale Soup and do cook up a batch as the Autumn Leaves  start to fall.

Uncle Fred, The Godfather

In General Articles on August 30, 2011 at 6:23 PM

Big Mike‘s older brother Fred was my godfather and favorite uncle. Fred was born in Italy and at the age of 7 emigrated to the U.S. aboard the Principe di Piemonte, accompanied by his mother and two younger sisters. They were met in New York by my grandfather, who had arrived in the U.S. a few years earlier in order to get established. Big Mike was born three years later in what was then known as Italian Harlem. Grandpa later moved the family to Yorkville, where he had a shoemaker business and where Big Mike grew up before he left for service with the CCC. Later grandpa and grandma moved to DeKalb Avenue off of Gun Hill Road in The Bronx, where, I believe, this photo was taken.

Dapper Fred with Grandpa

Fred was a consummate New Yorker whose sartorial elegance can be attested to in the above photo. He raised his family in Parkchester, the Bronx, while working for the Agence France-Presse in Midtown Manhattan. When Fred retired in the 1960s, he and his wife moved to Falmouth on Cape Cod. My wife and I, along with our two daughters, spent many summers on the Cape during the 1970s, 80s and 90s, before establishing residency there ourselves, a few years ago. During those summers we always stopped in to see Uncle Fred and Aunt Jo and bring them a supply of provisions from New York, which were unattainable on The Cape.

Fred invariably reciprocated with something from his freezer, which would serve as our first night’s dinner in our rental house. He also was generous in sharing his recipes, one of which was ‘Kale with Black Olives’. Kale, a dark leafy vegetable that serves as an excellent source of vitamins A and C, calcium and fiber, was one of his favorite vegetables and he used it both as a side dish and in soups. More of his recipes will be published in the future, but for now, I begin my tribute to Uncle Fred with Kale Steamed with Black Olives.

Also see: Uncle Fred’s Lentil Soup

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