Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Early Spring Comfort Food

Spring came in gorgeous and hot, and then turned cold and wet. Add to that three tired kids, one cold-ridden adult and two others back to school after a lovely week off, and it meant one thing: tonight was comfort food. At first glance, it was going to be a struggle to do local, seasonal fare. After perusing the supermarket, all we had come up with were shiitake mushrooms from Pennsylvania that we were considering local enough. Then Keja stumbled upon local beets and fresh cod, plus her by now huge chives in the backyard, and we were on our way. Something to remember when feeling underwhelmed by the local offerings in winter and early spring is that fish is a great way to go. Find your local fish monger, or even the grocery store (we are incredibly fortunate to have New Deal Fish Market a mile from our homes) and ask what's local. 

Cod in a Coat
Serves 4

2 slices thick cut bacon (or 4 slices regular), cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes
2 oz. (~ 2 medium-sized) shallots, diced
6 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded (or saved for stock) and tops torn into large chunks
2 oz. chives, roughly chopped
2 oz. cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 teas. ground black pepper

Coating:
3/4 cup panko
1 teas. ground black pepper
1 teas. salt
2 TBSP sugar

2 lbs. cod

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a frying pan over medium low heat, cook bacon until the fat is rendered, for ~ 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add shallots, and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add mushrooms, cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and stir in chives, cilantro, and pepper.

Put mixture evenly into the bottom of a baking dish.

In a small mixing bowl add the coating ingredients. Liberally cover cod with coating on all sides and place on top of mushroom mixture in pan. Bake for 30 minutes, then broil for 2 to 3 minutes, until coating is starting to brown. Remove and serve.


Pressure Cooker Beet Risotto

makes 8 to 10 side servings

This recipe assumes you have a pressure cooker. We used Lorna Sass's basic pressure cooker risotto as a guide to get started, and then started playing with flavors, adding beets and cheese. We found the beet risotto to be a lovely side to the flavorful fish above. Alone, it would need more spark to hold you interest.

1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
4 cups chicken broth
6 small beets, roasted for 1 1/2 hours at 350, then wrapped in foil to steam for 10 minutes, then peeled and cubed
2 cups grated romano cheese
1 teas. salt
1 teas. ground black pepper

Put pressure cooker over medium heat and add oil. When melted, add onions and sauté until softening, ~ 2 to 3 minutes. 

Add rice and stir well. Add broth. Lock lid and cook over high heat. Once it attains high pressure, cook for 4 more minutes. Do a slow release, following instructions from pressure cooker.

Once slow release occurs, open lid and cheese, salt, and pepper, stir well, then add beets. Stir again. Serve.