This Dame Cooks A Collection of Recipes from Alaska to the South Pacific and Caribbean

Daikon (Salad & Pickles)

daikonDaikon radish is fairly common in supermarkets and Farmers Markets these days.  And it’s not just for Asian cuisine anymore either.  It tastes very much like our little red radishes, perhaps more mild.  If you haven’t tried daikon,  it could be an acquired taste, I urge you to buy a small one and experiment.  Here’s a couple of simple ideas :

Wash and peel daikon like a carrot.  Make long threads of daikon on a mandolin or with a zester.  Do the same thing with a carrot so you have  equal  parts daikon and carrot.  In a small bowl whisk together 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or any vinegar you have on hand), 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp soy sauce.   Pour over the angel-hair daikon and carrot and toss lightly.  This can be added to a master-piece Chef salad or your favorite green salad.  It’s crunchy enough for a sub-sandwich and of-course it can be added to a sushi box or sashimi plate.

Daikon has amazing health benefits, such as digesting fats and as a diuretic, and you can get those facts on the web, just google daikon health benefits.

This Japanese pickled daikon (called Takuan) is good with fish and meats and very simple to make.   It’s usually yellow in color from the addition of yellow food coloring, however you can attain the same color with a small slice of fresh turmeric or 1/4 tsp of ground turmeric.  Fresh turmeric  is available at Asian markets and looks like ginger root.  Once pickled, Takuan will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks and makes a great gift for foodie friends…add it to a basket of your homemade pickles. 

Takuan (Daikon pickles Japanese Style) 

 6 medium Daikon radish – peeled, sliced 1/4 inch thick and halved

1/4 cup sea salt or pickling salt

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1 sliver fresh turmeric root (or 1/4 tsp ground turmeric)

1 dried chili pepper – chopped

1 cup water

Pack sterilized canning jars with daikon.  Boil all the brine ingredients until sugar is dissolved.  Cool.  Remove turmeric root.  Pour over daikon in jars and cover.  Place in refrigerator.   Shake jars occasionally.  Pickle will be ready in about two days.

Swordfish & Zucchini Pie

03.24.2009 · Posted in Main Dishes

ist2_6222730-grilled-swordfishThere is nothing quite like reeling in one of these sport fish.  They put up a hero’s fight and are beautiful breaking the surface with their long lances flailing the air.  The flesh is much like halibut, dense and pink in the raw.  Swordfish grills beautifully, even without marinating, though the marinade helps retain moisture.  This recipe is from the classic cookbook by Dorothy Batchelder, The Fishmonger Cookbook.  Tuna or halibut also work well in this recipe.  It was so popular at my restaurant in Tonga that lunch customers would come early so they wouldn’t miss out on this Friday special.  It is a bit time consuming with many steps, but it is not a difficult recipe and is well worth the effort.  Serve this with pickled lemons or hot and spicy mango chutney, a Greek salad, and a glass of wine.

 

Orange Zest Crust:

2 Tbsp orange zest

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar

1 cup cold butter, 4 egg yolks

Cut butter into dry ingredients and mix in egg yolks just till crust holds together.

Knead together 2 or 3 times.  Roll out 3 rounds of crust to fit a 9-inch spring form; use the bottom of the form for a pattern.  Transfer to a flat baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and chill until assembly.  Sprinkle 1 Tbsp bread crumbs in the bottom of the 9-inch spring-form pan.

Zucchini Filling:

4 pounds zucchini julienned

1/2 cup flour, 1 beaten egg

Olive oil for frying

Dip zucchini in beaten egg then dredge in flour. Fry little bundles of the zucchini in oil until golden brown. Drain on a rack.

Halibut Filling:

1 1/4 pound swordfish steaks- cut into chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic minced

1/2 cup onion minced

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 celery rib, finely chopped

1/2 cup green olives chopped

1 Tbsp capers chopped

Sauté onion, garlic, and celery until translucent, add tomato paste, stir, and then add the fish.  Cook just until the fish is done, add the olives and capers.  Cool.

Assembly

Place one crust on top of crumbs in spring form, top with bundles of fried zucchini, add another crust on top of zucchini, fill with swordfish, and top with last crust. Cut vents into top crust and egg wash.  Bake at 350° F. 45-60 min or until golden brown.  Let cool for 15 minutes before removing sides and slicing.

Salad Niçoise

03.18.2009 · Posted in Salads & Dressings

j04365891The term Niçoise refers to the region of Niçe in France.  Salad Niçoise and Niçoise olives are specialties of the region.  There are as many recipes for this salad as there are chefs.  Some prefer the classic ingredients with anchovies, green beans, new potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and olives.  Others prefer tuna and capers as anchovies are not too popular with most restaurant patrons.  At my restaurant in Tonga, we served marinated and grilled tuna on this salad with lots of veggies, olives, eggs, and a Caesar dressing, made with anchovy paste.  It’s a meal in itself with just a side of garlic toast.

The Marinade:

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tsp minced onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 anchovy fillet, mashed to a paste

Pinch of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine

2 dashes Tabasco sauce

2/3 cup olive oil

Salad for 2:

½ lb. tuna fillet, 3-4 oz per person

2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved

1 waxy potato, boiled, coarsely chopped and tossed with a little marinade

1 cup of fresh green beans (young tender skinny beans), steamed 5 minutes, tossed with a little marinade

4 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped (reserve a few large leaves for lining bowls or plates)

1 small fresh carrot, scraped and julienned

1 small daikon radish, scraped and julienned (may substitute jicama)

1 small cucumber, washed and sliced thin

 A few paper thin slices of red onion

12 Niçoise olives

6 green olives

12 cherry tomatoes

4 marinated artichoke bottoms

Whisk all the Marinade ingredients together in a small bowl or shake in a jar.  Pour about 2 Tbsp of marinade on a plate and dredge tuna fillet on both sides and set aside to marinate while preparing the eggs and veggies.  To assemble:  arrange large lettuce leaves on a plate, top with chopped lettuce, arrange the eggs, veggies, olives and artichokes around the circumference of the plate, leaving the center for the tuna.  Heat the grill or non-stick skillet over medium high heat and cook tuna until barely done… no more than 2 minutes per side.  Place in center of salad and sprinkle with capers and parsley if desired.  Remaining marinade may be served as dressing. Wedges of lemon are a nice touch and add color. 

Real Tomato Soup

03.16.2009 · Posted in Soups

tomato-soupNothing says “comfort food” like a bowl of creamy tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.  It is so basic, no wonder kids love it.  Campbell’s may be convenient but the healthier version is homemade with fresh ingredients and no preservatives.  When tomatoes are in season, buy a box of them and make your own puree.  Pureed tomatoes freeze beautifully and make the best sauces, V-8 juice, and soup.  With a simple food mill, there’s no need to skin tomatoes before cooking.  If you don’t have a food mill, a China Cap or sieve will work.  The trick is not to overcook these beauties.  Wash and quarter tomatoes, place in a sauce pan over medium heat with a pinch of salt, do not add any water.  The tomatoes will make their own juice so stir ocassionally and cook only until juices are rendered and tomatoes are tender but not mushy.  Transfer the solids to a food mill and puree.  The skins and seeds will be left in the food mill.  Stir the juices and puree together and pour into freezer safe containers or zip-lock bags.   You may can the puree also.   Seal in sterilized jars and water-bath in enough boiling water to cover for 20-25 minutes.  Jars will keep in a cool, dry pantry for several months.

Okay, now for the soup.

1 Tbsp butter (or olive oil)

1 carrot, chopped

1 stock of celery, tops and all chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

4 cups tomato puree (homemade is best)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp sugar (or honey)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 dashes Tabasco sauce

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried thyme and 1 tsp dried dill)

1 cup half and half

Saute onion, celery, and carrot in butter, transfer to food processor or blender.  Add 1 cup of tomato puree to blender and process until smooth.  Transfer to a sauce pan, add remaining tomato puree, cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, add thyme and half and half.  Cook until heated through.  Adjust seasonings and serve.  Garnish with croutons, fresh basil, dill, chives, scallions, or parsley.  Serve with crakers or your favorite toasted cheese sandwich.

Potato Leek Soup

03.16.2009 · Posted in Soups

soupLeeks are giant spring onions (scallions).  They must always be washed thoroughly so slice them down the middle and rinse under running water, inspecting the layers for dirt as you rinse.  The leaves make an elegant terrine for brunch or canapés and the entire stock, leaves and root, make this soup stand out.  Puree half the veggies for a super creamy style. 

4 slices bacon, chopped

2 large leeks, washed and sliced thin

2 russet potatoes, diced ½ inch

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 dashes Tabasco sauce

½ cup dry white wine

2 cups chicken stock (homemade is best)

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 cup half and half

1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

Chopped parsley or scallions for garnish

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until browned.  Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of fat, add leeks and potatoes, cook 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 3 minutes more.  Add Tabasco then the wine to deglaze the pan.  Add the stock and salt and pepper.  Simmer until potatoes are very soft, about 30 minutes.  At this point, you may puree a third or a half of the veggies and return to pot.  Add half and half and thyme, cook over medium heat until heated though.  Garnish each bowl with parsley or scallions.  Serve with crusty French bread and your favorite salad.

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