September 16, 2012 – September 22, 2012

River Cottage's Steam-Braised Sea Bass with Thyme and Lemon

Steamed fish doesn't exactly have the best reputation outside of spas and health-centric restaurants, but in the hands of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher, gently cooked fillets are anything but dry and boring. Dubbed "steam-braising" in The River Cottage Fish Book, their method consists of using a rich (read: butter and olive oil) sauce full of herbs, wine, and garlic to gently steam (and braise, I suppose) small medallions of sea bass (or most other white, flaky fish). The emerges from the pan tender and contributes its subtle brininess to the sauce. More

Belgian Pie

Most of the pies I've encountered have had a butter, shortening, lard or cookie crust, but the Belgian Pie consists of a yeast-raised crust and can be filled with any of a number of fillings. Fruit fillings like apple, prune and raisin are popular as is rice. Known in Dutch as Rijsttaart, the filling is akin to rice pudding. More

Chicken Pad Thai

In this famous Thai dish, tangy tamarind, crunchy peanuts, chewy rice noodles, palm sugar, and briny fish sauce combine into a hearty and flavorful way to serve up chicken. The key is a good balance between the tart tamarind, salty fish sauce, and sweet palm sugar. More

River Cottage's Grilled Trout with Fennel

In The River Cottage Fish Book, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher offer a slight variation on the standard stuff-the-trout-with-herbs-and-grill-it method. Instead of picking soft, delicate herbs, they call for overgrown, wild fennel. Then, they not only place the floral, herbaceous plant into the fish cavity (with garlic and bay, of course), but also use the woodiest herbs as a kind of grate for cooking the fish. These woody stems smolder as the fish cooks, adding another layer of smoky flavor to the fish. More

Strawberry Balsamic Custard Tart

This tart brings together excellent combinations of flavor and texture to make one delicious and refreshing dessert. The crust, a crumbly chocolate sable, is filled with vanilla pastry cream, and topped with fresh sliced strawberries and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. While vinegar as a dessert condiment may seem a little unorthodox, the slightly sweet, slightly savory acidity compliments the sweetness of the strawberries and the pastry cream. It's just the thing when you're in the mood for something a little less traditional. More

Nigel Slater's Grilled Eggplant with Creamed Feta

For a long time, I could never get into eggplant. It always seemed mushy and bitter to me, and preparations were often oily, so I tended to avoid it. But then I discovered long, skinny varieties of eggplant from Asia (you often see them at farmers' markets) that come in all different colors, have a thinner skin, and less bitter seeds. Their flavor is more mild and delicate, and they just might convert you, too. More

Grilled Tequila Chicken and Hatch Chile Quesadillas

After roasting, peeling, and chopping fresh Hatch chilis, I like to throw them in between a couple of tortillas, along with some grated cheddar and jack cheeses, and some grilled chicken thighs that were previously bathed in tequila and lime juice. The heat and earthiness of the Hatch chilis are a great match to the citrus tang of the chicken thighs. More

River Cottage's Roasted Whole Plaice with Cherry Tomatoes

Roasting whole fish has got to be one of the simplest ways to impress a table full of diners—throw in a fancy British fish name or two and you've got yourself a winner of a party. Plaice is one of the most common flatfishes eaten in Europe, and lucky for us, it and some of its more familiar neighbors are being fished in sustainable manners here across the pond.* In The River Cottage Fish Book, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher espouse the wonders of whole plaice, praising its subtle, sweet salinity. To bring out the sweetness of the fish, they roast cherry tomatoes alongside, which caramelize and burst in the hot oven, adding their own luscious nectar to the roasting pan. More

Israeli Salad

I spent a semester of my college career in Tel Aviv and developed a strong taste for Israeli salad, which more correctly traces its roots to a Palestinian origin. The combo is a simple mix of diced fresh vegetables, lemon, juice, and oil. More

Kentucky Corpse Reviver from Peels

Perhaps you've had a Corpse Reviver #2, which brings together gin and curaçao, Lillet blanc, and lemon, with a dash of absinthe. Here's a variation from Peels restaurant in NYC that uses bourbon instead of gin, and it's delicious. Pierre Ferrand's dry curaçao is great here, but you could substitute Cointreau if you have it on hand. More

Fancy Free

Erik Lombardo at Maialino in NYC introduced us to this classic cocktail, which is basically an Old Fashioned sweetened with maraschino liqueur (we used Luxardo) and fancied up with a big spiral of an orange twist. More

The Devereaux from Freemans

We've always liked sparkling wine with a splash of elderflower liqueur, but this highball from Freemans restaurant in NYC raises the bar a bit with the addition of Bulleit bourbon and some tart lemon to even it out. More

Admiral Schley Punch

This is a potent tropical cocktail for fall. Cruzan Blackstrap rum from St. Croix is deep and rich, and goes surprisingly nicely with the warm sweetness of bourbon. Tons of tart lime balances it out. More

River Cottage's Gravad Max (Mackerel Gravlax)

Both salmon and mackerel are sweet, oily fish, so it's an easy swap to make. Whole mackerel comes cheap at most fish markets, and they're (fairly) easy to fillet following the hilariously detailed instructions in the River Cottage Fish Book. It's a unique alternative to gravlax that you can make with just a 48-hour cure. More