Tuesday, January 31, 2012


The mind boggles at the number of bad puns that we could've ran with, but when we chose two nut-emphatic recipes from the A16 book, we didn't have any of those in mind. Instead, we're chock o'nuts for indehiscent seeds, and sometimes a sledge hammer is more fun than a fly swatter.

Braised halibut with pistachios, preserved Meyer lemon and capers

2.5lbs halibut fillet or cheeks, divided into 6 portions
1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
1 tbsp salt-packed capers, soaked
2 wedges preserved Meyer lemons, pith and flesh removed, soaked and minced
1/4 tsp dried chile flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
leaves from 1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley (about 2 cups worth)
1 fresh lemon, cut into wedges for finishing

Season the fish with generous amounts of salt, cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours. Later, remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving (maybe longer), so that it comes up to room temperature before cooking. Preheat the oven to 400F.

Toast the pistachios at a low heat if you haven't already. If you're toasting them at too high a heat, the outside will burn while the inside will remain raw.

Combine the pistachios, capers, preserved lemon and chile flakes in a food processor or a mortar. Pulse or crush until coarsely blended, all while drizzling in the olive oil as it goes. Add the parsley, and pulse/crush until everything is just combined. Taste for seasoning, but remember that the fish is already salted and the preserved lemon and capers were already salty.

Place the fish into a baking pan an divide the pistachio mixture evenly amongst the pieces, covering the tops. Press lightly so it all adheres. Add enough water to the pan to come halfway up the fish, then place into the oven. Braise the fish for 10 to 15 minutes, or until its just cooked through.

Use a slotted spoon - or heck, anything that works - and transfer the fish to a serving platter. Drizzle some of the braising liquid if it, uh, tastes good to you. Finish off with a generous drizzle of olive oil, and serve alongside the lemon wedges for the fussy amongst you.

Roasted asparagus with walnut crema and pecorino tartufo

For those wondering, the walnut crema should please those that want something rich and creamy but without the butter or dairy. It's all just down to the walnuts. All in all, it might be a bit too much, so use sparingly.

For the walnut crema:
Kosher salt
1.5 cups walnuts
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, diced

Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and then blanch the walnuts for 8 to 10 minutes until they're tender in the middle. Drain, but reserve 1/4 cups of the cooking liquid. Set aside.

Saute the onions with a generous pinch of salt, and sweat them until they're golden brown and tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Combine the walnuts, onion and reserved cooking liquid in a food processor, and process until creamy. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if needed. With the processor running, add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil and process until it's got the consistency of a creamy hummus. If it's too thick, thin it out with water. It'll make a lot, and can keep up to 3 days in the fridge.

The asparagus:
Extra virgin olive oil
3 bunches jumbo asparagus (about 30 spears)
Kosher salt
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
sea salt
Pecorino Tartufo for grating, or any aged pecorino

Coat the asparagus with olive oil and season with kosher salt. Roast until tender, or until slightly charred and tender. It might be cold out, but heck: most folks will take any excuse to light up the grill.

In a small bowl, toss the walnuts with a pinch of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

When the asparagus is done, take a serving platter and spoon the walnut crema on lightly (lightly!). Arrange the asparagus on top, and sprinkle the walnuts on top. Grate the pecorino over top, and finish with olive oil.

Check out A16 the next time you're in the Bay Area. You won't be sorry.

the clutterer Web Developer

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