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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Asian Fish in Papillote

Shiitake mushrooms 1

Cooking fish in papillote - cooking in paper - is a classic French cooking technique. You don't need to use parchment paper. Aluminum foil works fine too. It's a self-contained steaming method, locking in flavors and making clean-up a breeze.

I used whole pompano but I wrote the recipe below to use any white fish fillet, such as sole, striped bass, or snapper. We stopped in a major-league Asian supermarket and they had beautiful pompano for cheap, cheap, cheap. It's a great fish, with white, slightly oily flesh. If you can find it, I recommend it but if you cook them whole, you are in for a little surgery. Their bones are big and there are no pin bones at all, which makes them easier to eat than trout. But, if you don't like dealing with bones, stick to fillets. That said, fillets are perfectly delicious prepared this way.

This recipe grew out of one in Mark Bittman's Fish. His recipe is pretty classic with pine nuts, shallots, and lemon juice. I had also bought some beautiful fresh shiitakes at the Asian mega-mart (again, cheap, cheap, cheap) and wanted to use them. Which led me to an Asian spin on the classic recipe.

My experiment can guide you on your own variations of the classic recipe. Use a different fat, preferably something tasty like butter, good olive oil, even bacon fat. Switch out the mushrooms for another quick cooking vegetable (or julienne it to speed up cooking - good for carrots). Instead of rice vinegar, use another acid such as lemon or lime juice, or another type of vinegar. You get the idea. It's a great way to throw together a tasty fish dish.

Asian Fish in Papillote
(serves 4)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cheesecake Cupcakes, the decorated version

One of my first posts was about cheesecake cupcakes, a recipe I inherited from my mom. It also happens to be my daughter's favorite recipe to bake. Her friends devour these things whenever she makes them. Traditionally, she makes them at least every February for her friend Celeste's birthday. I thought I would share her awesome decorating  from the latest batch. Can you guess the theme*? She uses a toothpick as the brush and supermarket food coloring. A couple of years ago, she painted on the NY Yankees logo and baseballs. I have to say the kid has talent with food coloring!

Check out the recipe. It's so delicious and simple. It's getting cheesecake without having to make a whole cheesecake. Nice little bite-sized cheesecakes. Highly recommended for Valentine's Day!

Link to PDF of cheesecake cupcakes

*They are flags from countries in South America. Celeste had visited them all during a gap year. Except the US flag, of course. But, as a proud American, my daughter had to throw that one in too.