Monday, October 22, 2012

Cartoccio: Fish Fillets with Olive Paste

One of the nicest and best looking chefs I know is Benny the Chef. His newest book, The Art of Cooking According to Me, sits happily in my kitchen with multiple crimped corners leading to pages covered in a variety of food splatters. I have learned so much about Italian cooking from this book and am deeply indebted to him. Like his Facebook Page! Many thanks to Benny for allowing me to share this recipe with you.


Ingredients for 4 people:

4 big fish fillets (salmon, trout, sea bream, red snapper, white fish, halibut)
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 Tbsp capers
2 Tbs bread crumbs
2 anchovy fillets
2 slices stale bread
A handful of black olives
A bunch of fresh parsley
Extra virgin olive oil
Ground white pepper


In a food processor put the olives, the bread, the capers, the bread crumbs, the anchovies, two cloves of crushed garlic, a few leaves of parsley, and a couple tablespoons of oil. Process until you have a thick paste.

Now, take the fish fillets and season with salt and pepper,. Spread the paste over the top and press firmly for it to stick to the flesh. Place the fish in the refrigerator and let it rest for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, combine a couple tablespoons of oil with the rest of the garlic.

Cut four large sheets of parchment paper; they have to be long enough to cover the length of the fish. Fold each sheet in half lengthwise and spoon the garlic oil over them.

Put a few branches of parsley on each paper. Arrange the fillets over the parsley and drizzle with oil.

Buy it here!
Fold the paper in half over the fish. You should fold the open ended part of the paper back over the top to make a pleat and then tuck the sides of the paper underneath. Make four tightly sealed packets.

Arrange the packets on a baking sheet and place in the oven at 450F. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the fillets).

Take the packets out of the oven and place onto plates. Serve the fish inside the paper and open it in front of your guests.

(!): The steam that will be released when opening the packets will be an explosion of aromas, but be careful because it will also be very hot.

(?): Cartoccio is a classical Italian preparation for fish, seafood, vegetables, and pasta. In Central Italy it is made especially with freshwater fish; very tasty is the Cartoccio with the trout. This preparation is very good for fish with a lean flesh because the steam inside the packets will cook it gently and the flesh will be more juicy and digestible.

@: Before closing the packets, sprinkle the fish with ground hazelnuts.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mindful Palate the Dot Com

I am so happy to announce that Mindful Palate has a new website! *drum roll* Mindful Palate

The website is already stocked with a few things that we just cannot do on a blog.

The great recipe files will grow and be in a format that is even more helpful to even the novice cook!

Our new Chef in Charge of Explaining Stuff is The Spoon Mage (tm)!

There will be games! Right now there's a link somewhere in the site just awaiting a good click or two,

Instead of just recipes, there will be musings on my two favorite other subjects: Mindfulness and Peace.

You will find two separate recommended Link areas with terrific sites to enjoy and helpful tools to bookmark.

I will continue to post recipes at this blog, some will be just for this blog, other recipes will direct you to head on over to Mindful Palate the Dot Com for the full recipe.

I very much hope you enjoy Mindful Palate so much you will bookmark it and register for the every now and then (once a week maximum) emails. I cannot wait to grow this website so that it will be of even more use to you than the blog.

Visit often, interact with the Spoon Mage (tm), find the game, enjoy the recipes and musings, and have a very mindfully wonderful rest of the day.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Leeky Mushroom Bourguignon

Would meatless Bourguignon shock the Great Julia? I hope that she would be as intrigued as I was with this variation on a Bourguignon Theme.

Leeky Mushroom Bourguignon
nutrition facts were set as a topping not a main dish.

This is the part you eat.
What to assemble:

2 pounds mushrooms
3 medium or 2 large leeks
3 T garlic
2 T butter
2 T grapeseed oil
3 T flour
1 1/2 t thyme
fresh cracked black pepper
2 T Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups good Burgundy wine
2 T fresh parsley

How to prep:

Set out one very large wide skillet to which is added 1 T oil and 1 T butter. In a larger heavy pot with a lid, place the other T each of oil and butter.

sliced clean leeks
Rinse and dry the mushrooms. Cut them into chunks - ie small mushrooms are cut in half, medium sized shrooms quartered, and large shrooms cut in half and then into thirds.

Trim the dark green woody leaves and roots off the leeks - add them to your compost pile. Rinse the remaining white and light green part of the leek.

Slice into rings, separate them and swish around in a bowl of cool water, drain, and repeat until all the grit is removed and the rings have separated. Drain and dry on a tea towel.

Mince garlic. Measure flour, thyme and black pepper into a small bowl. Set out Worcestershire Sauce, measure wine, and chop the parsley.

How to Bourguignon:
Caramelized mushrooms

Heat the large wide skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until well caramelized. This will take as long as 25 minutes. Don't over stir as that will keep the mushrooms from browning and you need the brown for flavor. When they are nice and brown, deglaze the pan with a splash of red wine, stir to scrap up the bits, and set the skillet aside.

Heat the larger heavy pot on the same medium high heat and add the leeks. Saute for about five minutes stirring frequently. Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic. Saute for two more minutes. Add the flour and thyme and pepper and continue to saute for another couple minutes or until the flour has become incorporated. Pour in the browned mushrooms, Worcestershire Sauce and wine. Stir constantly until the mixture becomes incorporated. Continue to cook, bringing the sauce to a simmer.

Not the most attractive dish in the world, but
it sure is the tastiest!
Reduce heat to low and cook covered for 40-45 minutes until the color begins to deepen. Taste and adjust seasonings. You may need to add salt. I am not used to it and so did not include it here except in the form of Worcestershire. If the sauce seems thin, simmer it uncovered and let it reduce a bit. You want to achieve a juicy thick consistency.

This is particularly delicious on a baked potato. It would make a terrific Vegetarian entree when served with brown rice. If you are calorie counting you will need to adjust the numbers for the nutrition facts as those are set for use as a topping only.

Baked Leeky Tortellini

If you prefer, sub in a jar of your favorite pasta sauce. Marinara is an excellent choice. The combination of prepared foods and home cooking makes this a wonderfully satisfying weekday meal - with left overs to take to work for lunch!

Baked Leeky Tortellini
nutrition facts for 8 servings

What to assemble:

27 oz packages tortellini (I used three 9 oz spinach tortellini packs)
2 large leeks (or 3 medium)
2 T olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1/4 t black pepper or to taste
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
45 oz canned or boxed chopped tomatoes (or fresh if it is tomato season)
1/4 cup red wine
2 T tomato paste
1 large handful fresh picked basil leaves
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 oz fresh Mozzarella

Add 1 cup peas to the boiling water with the toretllini
Add sliced mushrooms or spinach when sauteing the leek
1/4 cup cream mixed into the sauce before baking

How to prep:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Set out a large pan or casserole (9x12 works great) and spray with your favorite cookery spray, or line with foil and spray the foil. Set out a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to cover the pan when it is cooking.

Clean and slice the leeks. The white and light green parts are to be used in the dish and the rest added to your compost bin. Rinse the root end of the leek to remove the external dirt. Slice the roots off the bulb, then cut off the dark green woody leaves. I like to remove the outer layer as I would an onion. This is easy to do if you make a thin slit in the layer. It then peels right off. Slice the leeks into thin ringlets. Add to a large bowl of cool water and separate the rings. Swish a bit, drain into a fine mesh colander. Return to the bowl with more cool water and rinse again. Repeat until all the dirt is removed. Drain well, lay in a tea towel and pat dry. Return to the dried bowl.

Set out the tortellini, measure the oil, mince the garlic, and open the container of tomatoes. Rinse and tear the basil leaves. They don't have to be small, just 2 or three pieces for each leaf. Dry in the tea towel and place in a bowl.

Measure the black and red pepper into a small bowl. Measure wine and set out tomato paste. Grate the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and make thin slices off the block of mozzarella.

The Cookery:

Do not over cheese, this is just right.
Turn the burner on to medium and bring the olive oil to a shimmer. Add the leek rings and saute for a couple minutes, lower the heat to medium low and continue to simmer about five minutes (or until softened). Stir every now and then. During the last two minutes, add the minced garlic, black, and red pepper.  Add the chopped tomatoes and stir. Heat until the sauce is simmering. Add the basil.

Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. I've given you starter amounts. You may love more garlic. If so - add it! You might like it with a more peppery kick - add more crushed red pepper flakes! I do not salt. But if you need it, go ahead... just not too much, ok?

Once the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the tortellini and boil for just two minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the finished sauce and stir. Drain the tortellini and return them to the pasta pot. Mix the sauce with the tortellini  Pour into the baking pan and spread smooth. Dot with circles of mozzarella.

Tightly cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, raise the temperature to 425 F and bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes - or until the cheese begins to brown a bit.

Remove from the oven and allow to set five minutes before serving.