Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sunday Lunch

Fish and salad seems like a summer meal to me. It reminds me of the beach and crisp, fresh ingredients. That didn’t stop me one sunny, but wintery Sunday, from cooking up a lovely late lunch for S-bo and I. It all started like this: I had some blue cheese in my fridge that was probably near its end. I’ve never made blue cheese dressing so that’s what I had decided to do. But what to serve with the dressing? Yes, I know people generally organise a meal around the staple, but that’s not how this meal was working. So crisp greens were a start and I just decided that a lovely piece of fish would go well.

I’m relatively new to cooking fish so I feel much more comfortable with a recipe I hand. I had in mind a good swordfish steak or similar but every recipe I came across was of the Asian slant. It didn’t seem appropriate with blue cheese dressing. Stephanie Alexander, my ever present “companion”, came through for me with tuna grilled with rosemary. This was also the source of my blue cheese sauce.

Not only have I never made blue cheese sauce, I’ve never made mayonnaise either. It’s always seemed terribly daunting but in the end it was quite a piece of cake, really. A lot of whisking, but otherwise ok. My mayonnaise turned out a little bland because I didn’t include white-wine vinegar, white pepper or Tabasco, I didn’t think it would be necessary when going into blue cheese dressing. My quantities were all a bit out as I only had a little chunk of cheese left but here’s how it went: 1 tbsp finely chopped shallots, 1 clove garlic, home-made mayonnaise (1 yolks worth), some sour cream (don’t remember how much), ½ tbsp red-wine vinegar and salt n pepper. Whizz then add enough parsely to add colour & interest to the dressing. Simple huh!

The tuna recipe is below. I unfortunately don’t possess a barbecue or char-grill plate so I used my trusty frypan. I would imagine the rosemary would have burnt away a little if not cooked in a pan, but I left it there ‘cause I thought it looked good. When I got to the markets there was very little fish left so I had purchased some very pink looking, sashimi quality tuna. I’m not sure if sashimi quality might be a little more expensive, but I really didn’t feel like it cost much more than a piece of salmon.

The fish was great, although I had a little trouble determining when it was cooked enough. Between S-bo and I we managed not to overcook it so that’s a bonus. The blue cheese dressing was very sharp, we both liked it quite a bit but next time I will try and make it a little creamier.
So main course safely served and enjoyed, it was time for dessert. I am lucky enough to live particularly close to Jock’s ice cream in Albert Park so dessert was a very simple affair. Before the meal I cut a square of puff pastry (approx 10 cm) in half diagonally then placed in a moderate oven to cook. Once cooked I split the triangles in half and sandwiched the ice cream in. S-bo produced some chocolate freckles from Haigs and all of a sudden some very humble ice cream (or not-so-humble if you know Jock’s) was transformed into quite a classy dessert.

I think this meal would be great as a dinner party. There’s just so much you can prepare in advance, to the point where salad is plated, the fish is marinating and the puff pastry split. All you do when the guests turn up is cook the fish and serve!

1 egg yolk
pinch salt
lemon juice or white-wine vinegar
100 ml olive oil
white pepper or Tabasco

Work yolk with salt and 1 tbsp lemon juice ‘til smooth. Gradually beat in olive oil a couple of spoonfuls at a time, beating very well after each addition. There is now some info about adding the oil in a steady stream, but I didn’t have said helper so I just continued bit-by-bit. And then I had mayonnaise. Like magic really.

Grilled Tuna with Rosemary
4 x 180 g tuna steaks
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
16 sprigs rosemary, each about the length as the tuna steaks
freshly ground black pepper.

The recipe says, several hours before dinner, to rub tuna with half the oil and cross-tie each steak with fine sting as though tying a parcel. Slip 2 sprigs rosemary under string on each side of each steak. I didn’t have string so I simply wrapped the steak, with rosemary on each side, in some cling wrap and refrigerated. Recipe says refrigerate up to 6 hours…I managed about 1 ½.

Remove steaks from fridge 30 min before cooking. Prepare barbecue or preheat a chargrill pan. Season fish and grill for 2-4 min each side, depending on thickness. It’s best medium-rare. Snip strings and slice steak, or serve whole. Drizzle with remaining oil and serve at once.

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