Saturday, March 23, 2013

The beginning of something new...

In last week's blog post I posted in black and white that I was setting out on a 'cooking quest' of sorts, to create a new meal each week using a different recipe(s) from my plethora of lovely cookbooks that sit in my kitchen looking so pretty and collecting dust. I realized after I posted that lofty statement this could be quite a commitment and one that might be challenging to live up to, however, a great chance to be inspired and learn some new "moves" in the kitchen!

I decided on Wednesday that I was going to cook something from Cristina Ceccatelli Cook's third and newest cookbook titled, "Cristina's of Sun Valley - Con Gusto!" It's a beautiful book loaded with her native Italian recipes and beautiful photos. In this book she's also includes many gluten free recipes, which I'd like to think were written just for me considering I'm a loyal customer of hers, but I'm seriously doubting that I was her inspiration. The irony of choosing one of her recipes, having only received her new book in the mail the week prior, was that Cristina actually called me this same day! It's not often that your phone rings and the caller ID states, "Cristina - Sun Valley" calling. Ironically, I had called her restaurant the day before to place an order of gluten free focaccia bread and a few other items. (If I haven't mentioned before, Cristina's in Sun Valley makes the best GF bread I've ever eaten!) Because Cristina is an amazing business woman and fastidious over attention to detail, she personally called me back to double-check my order and chat about a possible gluten free article I'd interviewed her for a while back. It's always such a pleasure to speak with her. She has a vivacious personality backed with kindness and yes, amazing talents in the kitchen. During our phone conversation I was also able to congratulate her on such a beautiful third cookbook telling her that I'd be preparing one of her dishes for my blog post.

The choice for this post was easy - it's the first week of spring and I wanted to create a meal that was lighter yet loaded with nutrition, flavors, and color. I was stopped in my tracks on page 125 when I saw this gorgeous photo of black cod in a salsa verde - perfectly seared and resting on the most lovely white plate. That's it, I proclaimed! Then I moved onto find a typical Italian recipe for sautéed spinach, chard and kale...three of my absolute leafy greens. And finally, who can resist the nutty and rich flavor of quinoa with chopped green onions for a zip and some color.

There it is menu for this week's spring blog post!

I really wanted to do Cristina's beautiful recipes only shortfall came in the cooking of the cod. Why is it that cod prepared in a restaurant always stays in ONE PIECE, never falling to pieces as it does every time I've cooked it at home?! Can someone please answer this for me? Sorry Cristina...I did my best, but the flavors were terrific.

Black Cod in Salsa Verde ~
Serves 6 (feel free to modify depending upon needed servings)

- 2 Pounds black cod, cut in 6 pieces

- 2 Cups Italian parsley leaves

- 2 Cloves garlic

- 1 Tbsp. capers, plus 1 tsp. caper juice

- 1 Oil-packed anchovy

- 2 Tsp. red wine vinegar

- 1/2 Cup plus 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided

- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

- 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest

- 6 lemon wedges

Rince the cod and set aside to dry while you make the salsa verde.

On a cutting board, finely chop the parsley with the garlic, capers and anchovy. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the caper juice and vinegar. Stir in 7 tablespoons of the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

In bowl, toss the cod with 2 tablespoons of salsa verde.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the cod, skin up, and cook over high heat 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the fish and cook 3 minutes, or until the cod flakes.

Transfer the cod to a warm serving plate, spoon a little salsa verde over the fish, and sprinkle the lemon zest. Serve with lemon wedges.

Sautéed Spinach, Chard & Kale ~ 
Serves 4

- 2 Pounds spinach, chard or kale (I cooked all three)

- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

- 1 Clove garlic, thinly sliced

- A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Blanch greens in boiling, salted water 2 to 3 minutes for spinach, 8 to 10 minutes for chard and kale. Drain and squeeze out water, and sauté with olive oil and garlic 1 minute. Add a little lemon juice before serving.

If you are not going to use all of your greens immediately, squeeze into balls and refrigerate until later...but I'm betting that you'll eat them all.

The finished product was really lovely and the flavors all worked well together. Though the fish prep seems a big lengthy, it's really an easy meal to put together. For more amazing recipes that you will absolutely devour, pick up one of Cristina's beautiful cookbooks - you'll be very pleased that you did.

Con Gusto!!

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