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Garlic & Blue Cheese Green Bean Almondine – I Just Couldn’t Do It

When I went to culinary school in the early Eighties, the
chef instructors used “Green Beans Almondine” as a prime example for the kind
of stodgy, clichéd, faux-fancy, vegetable side dishes that we were supposed to
eradicate shortly after graduation. 

This was the dawn of a new age of American
cookery, and something so old-fashioned as green beans almondine had no place
along side our newfangled raspberry vinaigrettes and cajun fish.


There was only one problem with this prohibition…green
beans and almonds tasted really good together, and made for a lovely side dish once in
a while. Of course, fearing you’d be laughed out of the young, hot cooks club
(hot from heat, not from hotness) you just didn’t dare make or serve such a
dinosaur.


Anyway, to make a long story short, I’ve finally done a
green beans almondine video, but added roasted garlic and blue cheese to it,
just in case any of my old classmates are watching.  I actually did this at Thanksgiving, sans nuts, and it got
rave reviews, so I had a feeling the addition of the slivered almonds would
work just fine, and they did! I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4-6 portions:
1 pound green beans, blanched in boiling, salted water until
almost tender
3 heads garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
1/3 cup sliced almonds browned in 1 tsp butter
2 oz Pt. Reyes blue cheese, or other blue cheese
400 degrees F. for 15 minutes

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Fish Stew – Sexy Is As Sexy Does

You often hear people describe food as “sexy,” but I’ve
always believed it’s really more the occasion and company that makes a meal
sexy. Put your Valentine across a candlelit table, pour a couple glasses of
wine, and no matter what you serve up, sexiness will ensue.


Having said that, it certainly doesn’t hurt to hedge your
bets and serve up a naturally sensuous dish like this simple, but
sophisticated fish stew. This is great for you less than confident cooks, since
your timing doesn’t need to be that precise. Did I mention there’d be wine
around?

You can actually do everything ahead, up until adding the
fish if you want. Since the pieces will cook in between 5 and 10 minutes, when
you’re ready to eat, simply bring the mixture to a boil, add the fish, and
simmer until done. You can also hold the stew over very low heat for a good
15-20 minutes without major problems, in case, well, you know.


By the way, make sure you check and see if your dining
partner likes fish and wine, as this would be a horrible choice if they don’t.
If they do, you’re in business. Almost any type of fish or shellfish will work
in this, as well as any small, cute potatoes. Just don’t forget to peel the middles, as it’s kind of a big deal. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 tbsp butter
1 large leek, chopped
1/2 cup sliced shallots
1/2 tsp salt, more to taste
3/4 cup white wine
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sliced fennel root
1 pound small red potatoes
cayenne to taste
1/2 cup cream
1 pound boneless fish filets
1 tbsp chopped tarragon

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Curried fish in yoghurt

This is a really terrific fish curry that I found in Guardian Weekend by Vivek Singh, via Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Watch out for the chilli in this – the way I use chillies is to buy packs of non-descript chillies from Waitrose and then let them sit in a jar until I need to use them. Of course, while they’re sitting around they famously get very hot. I used one large one in this curry, no seeds, and it was fucking spicy. I mean, I don’t really mind because I’m rock hard like that (I was especially tough and cool when I GOT SOME IN MY EYE!!!).

But the thing is, because you’re not going to cook the chilli much here, you need to have a care for how hot your chilli might be whatever stage in its life it is and you might, perhaps, only put half in.

Anyway I really recommend this, it was delicious and doesn’t take long. Like all curry recipes, the ingredients list doesn’t seem to half go on for bloody ever, but it’s worth buying everything in if you don’t have it, especially the cinnamon sticks, which really make this extra yummy, in my opinion.

Even though I’ve always thought that cinnamon in curry is a bit gross, like fruit in leafy salads. But it’s nearly Christmas for god’s sake!!! You ought to have cinnamon sticks poking out of every drawer.

Curried fish in yoghurt
enough for 4

300g plain whole-milk yoghurt (I used Greek yoghurt, which was fine)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
salt and pepper
500g white fish – haddock or similar, cut into chunks
oil for frying
1 bay leaf
2 cardomom pods, squashed with the flat of a knife blade
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 large onion, or three tiny ones, chopped or finely sliced
chilli, de-seeded and chopped or sliced
Fresh coriander and black onion seeds to scatter over the top if you fancy although on reflection, what with my rodent issues, onion seeds look a lot like mouse poo. This did not occur to me last night as I was eating this, which is a good thing. Sorry I’ve really ruined the whole thing for you now.

1 Mix together the yoghurt, ginger, garlic, turmeric, chilli powder and large pinch of salt. Turn the fish out into the marinade and leave for 30 mins.

2 Heat the oil in a pan then add the bay leaf, cardomom, cinnamon and cloves. Cook these for 2-3 minutes until you can smell the cinnamon and cloves. Add the onion and chilli and turn the heat right down. Cook these, turning often, for 10 minutes (use a timer).

3 Add the fish and its marinade and cook for 10 minutes. Turn it once carefully during cooking as you don’t want to smash up the fish. Cooked yoghurt always ends up looking a bit grainy and gross, so don’t worry about that.

4 Add more salt if you think it needs it (it probably does) and then scatter over coriander and onion seeds if you want to.

In fact, with all these cinnamon and cloves it’s really quite a Christmassy dish.

 

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