Welcome to 100 Miles, an exploration of sustaining life by going no further away than 100 miles to gather the things we need to live. This web log is my journal of food-based experiences, memories, thoughts, and recipes. I hope you enjoy reading it. To subscribe, so as not to miss each new edition, please enter your email address.
I have always loved the ocean. It has always been a part of my life. Growing up along the Central Coast of California it was a big part of my childhood. I spent most of my childhood in San Luis Obispo, a medium-sized California city half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. From a very young age I swam in the ocean. My parents tell me they couldn’t keep me out of the water. San Luis Obispo lies inland from the coast by a half hour driving. The closest beach is Avila Beach — a place where I spent many a summer day swimming in the waves, body surfing, and playing in the sand. For my single mother it was an inexpensive way to spend a weekend day; she got to relax in the sun while my sister and I wore ourselves out. We usually went home sunburned and covered in sand.
I have also enjoyed eating the food that comes from the sea. Being that we lived so close to the coast seafood was a big part of our diet growing up. Both my great-grandfather and great-uncle fished the Central Coast waters. My mother often took us to Morro Bay, a coastal town north of San Luis, for fish and chips dinner. The lingcod used in the meal was caught a few miles out to sea. In those days no one gave a second thought to overfishing, pollution, and questions of sustainability. Now we must. We have no choice. We are quickly depleting our seafood sources. I find it horribly sad.
I recently met Martin Reed who started a sustainable fish company called i love blue sea. It’s a genius idea. I know for myself that when I’m in a store at the fish counter my eyes cross, I hyperventilate, I can’t remember which fish is the ‘right’ fish, wild, or farmed; all that confusion overwhelms me and I often don’t buy anything. Martin’s company takes the guess work out of the process. He sells nothing but sustainable fish, and he ships it anywhere in the U.S, overnight. Here’s a quick rundown from i love blue sea’s website: “Wondering where to buy seafood online? No more guesswork! Only the highest quality sustainable seafood. Every dollar spent supports fisheries driving our ocean’s recovery. It’s a simple, nutritious and delicious way for you to make a positive change!” Martin recently sent me some Arctic char and asked me to come up with a recipe which I did. Here’s to the health of our oceans and all the creatures that live in them.
There are several components to this dish but the end result is well worth the time it takes to prepare it. The beans can easily be made ahead of time. The sequence should be: prepare the beans first, then prepare and cook the artichokes about 30 – 40 minutes before cooking the fish. The preserved lemons may be purchased from a specialty food store, or you may make your own but it takes 3 – 4 weeks before they are ‘preserved’ and ready to eat.
2 – 2 ½ hours, all components except for the preserved lemons
45 – 60 minutes
4 – 14 oz. cans of cannellini beans, drained OR 4 cups cooked beans
6 – 8 garlic cloves, chopped
4 – 5 medium sized tomatoes, cut in 1/4ths, or 1/8ths wedges
8 – 10 Tbs olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp herbes de Provence
Sauté garlic in olive oil in medium sized skillet, or sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Do not brown.
Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, and herbes de provence. Stir together and cook until tomatoes soften and lose their shape about 4 – 6 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from burning.
Add beans and stir together with tomato-garlic mixture. Cook until beans are heated through about 5 minutes or so. Check seasonings, and add salt if needed.
1 lb. baby artichokes, about 10 artichokes
3 – 4 Tbs olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
¾ tsp salt
Pepper, freshly ground to taste
Cut the lemon in half, squeeze into a bowl of water with several ice cubes. Save the lemon halves.
Remove tough outer leaves of artichoke, cut 1 inch off top, and rub with the lemon halves. Add the artichokes to the ice water. They can be stored in the refrigerator for several hours until ready to cook.
Cut the artichokes in half, return to ice water if not cooking immediately. If ready to cook, cut them in half, drain off excess water but don’t dry, and place in a 10 – 12 inch skillet, cut side down. Drizzle them with water, sprinkle garlic over. Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of water to the pan, just enough to keep them moist while cooking.
Cover the pan and place over low heat. After about 5 minutes check to be sure they are cooking and that the water has not cooked away. After 10 minutes turn them over and recover. As they cook check to be sure water doesn’t completely cook away. Keep them barely moist. If you hear a sizzle, add more water. Let cook for 20 – 30 minutes. When they are cooked they will be tender, and there will be almost no liquid left. Season with ground pepper.
10 – 15 minutes
2 ½ lbs., Arctic char fillets, skin removed
4 -5 Tbs. olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan
Season the fish with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the fish. Allow to cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes each side.
Reheat the beans over low heat while the fish is cooking. When beans are hot spoon a thick layer of beans on to a platter, or serving dish, or directly onto dinner plates. Lay the cooked fish fillets atop the beans, add the baby artichokes around the fish, garnish top of fish with roughly sliced, or cut pieces of preserved lemon.
Preserved Lemons, (Optional)
10 ripe Meyer, or organic lemons
1/2 cup coarse salt, Kosher salt may be used
Extra virgin olive oil
Scrub 6 of the lemons and dry well. Quarter the 6 lemons cutting from the top to 1/2 inch from the bottom leaving them intact at the base. Open the lemons gently and sprinkle salt on the exposed inner flesh, then reshape the fruit. Toss with the remaining salt and pack into a 3-4 cup dry, sterile Mason jar with a glass or plastic-coated lid.
With a wooden spoon, gently push down the lemons. Squeeze the juice from the remaining 4 lemons and pour into the jar. Close the jar tightly and let the lemons ripen at room temperature for 30 days, shaking the jar each day to redistribute the salt and juice. (Within a few days the salt will draw out enough juice to completely cover the lemons.)
For longer storage, add olive oil and refrigerate for up to 1 year. Rinse the lemons before using.
Recommendation: Savor Los Angeles, Friday, July 30th, 7pm to 10pm ~ a sweets tasting event of one-of-a-kind bites from an exclusive set of L.A.’s best purveyors of sweet treats.
Coming Up: International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC), August 27 – 29, 2010, Seattle Washington. So much fun last year that I’ll be attending again this year. Are you?
Upcoming Posts: Cochon 555 Napa, a write up of the amazing pork festival that I attended this spring. Cookbook Reviews: Steak and Friends: At Home with Rick Tramonto by Rick Tramonto, Spice Dreams by Sara Engram and Katie Luber, Cider Beans, Wild Greens, and Dandelion Jelly by Joan E. Aller.