Our final cooking class focused on seafood. Poached fish served on a bed of herbs cloaked in a rich Meyer lemon aioli, pasta with mussels and squid in a saffron cream sauce with fennel balanced by a beautiful winter salad of chicory, cara cara oranges, and pistachios in a sherry vinaigrette. The perfect, simple dessert is pictured in part above: tangerines, lovely, fresh medjool dates and what you can’t see are the tiny, delicious, addictive sesame cookies.
Tom advices getting dessert taken care of so you can guarantee a great finish to your meal. These unassuming little cookies are made with toasted sesame seeds with a few black sesame seeds included for interest. The dough is dropped by half teaspoonfuls and the resulting little cookie really could be habit-forming. While the cookie baking got going, some people starting prepping the chicory salad.
A combination of bitter winter greens: frisee, escarole, red and white endive, sweet pink-fleshed cara cara oranges, and toasted pistachio nuts were dressed in a sherry vinaigrette.
Both zest and juice from Meyer lemons are used in the aioli. A salad of herbs, small croutons and olives is topped with the poached fish and then draped with aioli. So many flavors and textures in one dish – wonderful.
I don’t think I’ll ever prep squid but having seen it demonstrated twice I could…if I wanted to. The pasta was bursting with mussels and squid, golden with saffron, flecked with green fennel fronds and rich with cream – a decadent dish.
Here is the complete menu:
- POACHED FISH IN WHITE WINE WITH HERB SALAD AND MEYER LEMON AIOLI
- PASTA WITH SQUID, MUSSELS, SAFFRON, FENNEL, AND CREAM
- CHICORY SALAD WITH ORANGES, PISTACHIOS, AND SHERRY VINAIGRETTE
- SESAME COOKIES, DATES, AND TANGERINES
Recipes are here, on Tom’s site.
I’ve been eating cara cara oranges (I found them at Trader Joe’s) almost daily since I first had them in this class. Salads made with bitter greens are now part of my winter dinner menus. I bought fennel for the first time last week.
The other day I was inspired to poach fish, in this case some frozen Pacific Cod I picked up at Safeway, not Berkeley Bowl, toast some croutons and stir together a very quick lemon mayonnaise. I fixed an herbaceous green salad, topped it with the fresh croutons, sprinkled on some capers to sub for the green olives I didn’t have and nestle my poached fish on top. It wasn’t quite the same as the dish Tom created in class, but it was very good and I will try it again. Next time I’ll really make the aioli.
You can too! All Tom’s recipes from this class and much more are on his blog, Whole Hog Blog, here. Stop by and take a look and see what you are inspired to try. Even if you just decide to have some tangerines and dates, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Thanks for taking the time to read through this post.