Where were you raised? On the Atlantic coast of France. The beaches of Brittany—at Quiberon, exactly.
Ah, you must have been raised on fresh fish! Yes, my father was a fisherman, and we ate fresh seafood most of the time.
I guess it is because Hervé Bochard (chef-proprietor of Les Baux) is from Brittany, the French home of the artichoke, that he seems to procure the very best artichokes and prepares them so well. We always order them when we find them on the menu. Some friends and Gerard and I alert each other when we see it in the menu.
Roasting is probably the easiest cooking technique, with the most satisfying results. Your oven does most of the work while you spend time on the side dishes or dessert. Roasting involves cooking food in an uncovered pan in the oven. It is a dry cooking technique, as opposed to wet techniques like braising, stewing, or steaming. Dry, hot air surrounds the food, cooking it evenly on all sides. Depending on your recipe, you can roast at low, moderate, or high temperatures. It is the ideal method for large cuts of meat or poultry: rib roasts, ham, whole turkeys or chickens, or tenderloins. Smaller cuts, such as boneless chicken breasts or fish fillets, tend to dry out in the oven (they're usually better sautéed). Roasting is also ideal for dense vegetables such as potatoes, beets, and winter squash, as it concentrates their natural sugars and intensifies their flavor.
I have friends who have told me about this place for quite some time, but I have been satisfied with the fish at Adams so I never ventured over there. This week I was in Sharon and stopped by. I was bowled over. It is inspiring to see such a variety of fresh fish. Makes me want to cook. I bought some filet of sole, and Gerard and I had them "Meuniere" for lunch. I have been back to buy fish twice since then and am so impressed with the quality and freshness that I asked owner Chuck Lee to pose for a photo with one of his whole salmons for you. Chuck tells me he gets fish fresh three times a week in the winter and more often four times a week in the summer. This week was the opening of Shad Roe season, so any aficionados know where to go for it.
I had not been to Aurelia for a while, so Gerard and I stopped in for lunch last week. I was pleased to find this salad on the menu. This salad featuring octopus, squid and shrimp with confit tomatoes, marinated red peppers and arugula it was quite enjoyable. I understand they are in the process of developing a new spring menu. Susan, please keep this dish on. It should be a summer favorite.
In his book Braise, A Journey Through International Cuisine, Daniel Boulud explains that every new cook who comes to work in his kitchen is asked to prepare for the staff a dish from his or her home country. While the chefs come from the four corners of the earth and the taste and ingredients differ, the dish is almost invariably braised. This ancient technique is popular everywhere because it transforms inexpensive, tough cuts of meat (beef, lamb, veal, pork, poultry or seafood ) into succulent morsels and creates a perfect sauce to accompany it. The technique is therefore very economical—especially for a large group. It is also very easy to do. For anyone who has mastered the basic "secrets," braising can make a casual cook seem like a talented chef.
The Differences between Braising and StewingBoth braising and stewing cook pieces of meat with selected vegetables in liquid at fairly low temperatures, but there are many differences. (See the visual above).
If you like homemade pasta but have neither the time nor inclination to make it the way Italian grandmothers did, try my recent discovery. These small pieces of chicken breast and rosemary wrapped in thin pasta are delicious. The package directions suggest three minutes in boiling water—do not overcook them, or you will be disappointed. I prepare the chicken ravioli with Doppio Burro sauce—which is basically butter cooked until it starts to burn, mixed with a ladle full of the pasta water and some grated parmesan. I understand they are also great with Alfredo sauce. You can find them at Marona's in the cool cabinet (not freezer) section. You will have to look for them, because they are currently displayed on the bottom shelf, somewhat out of sight. I have also loved the Tagliatelle and Fettuccini, but I have not yet found them at Marona's. Maybe Matt and Zach will add them if enough of you ask for them...
Candy bars, potato chips and doughnuts in school vending machines will be replaced by granola bars, fruit cups, trail mixes, pretzels and baked chips. The ruling of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (inspired by the leadership of first lady Michelle Obama) is scheduled to go into effect by July 1, 2014. The new regulations set limits for fat, salt and sugar on items sold in places such as vending machines and snack bars. School foods must contain at least 50 percent whole grains or have a fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein as the first ingredient. Foods that contain at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetables will also be allowed. Sports drinks that contain relatively high amounts of sugar are prohibited, but the low-calorie versions will be for sale. Low-fat and fat-free milk, 100-percent fruit and vegetable juice and no-calorie flavored waters are permitted. Potable water must be made available to kids for free where meals are served.