"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bellinis, and Shellfish Watermelon Ceviche, Take One

Oh, you were perhaps looking forward to Bluefish with Green Tomato and Watermelon Salsa? Well, so was I until I looked at the recipe again and saw that it called for sea bass, not bluefish. They don't taste anything like the same, so I cooked the bluefish with the Lemon Caper Brown-Butter Sauce from the Gourmet Cookbook. Mighty fine! But these green tomatoes aren't really going away very quickly so stay tuned--seriously.

So--I effed up the Shellfish Watermelon Ceviche. How, you may be wondering? Argh--really through my own arrogance, which is just so aggravating sometimes.

Here's what happened. Actually first let me tell you how it is that I first found out about ceviche--many many many moons ago at a friend's wedding I had ceviche for the first time. I was amazed when the technique was explained to me--the shellfish wasn't cooked with heat, it was "cooked" with the acidity from limes and lemons. I could go into a long explanation about denatured protiens but it's really kind of boring--the end result is something that has the same basic mouthfeel of fish that's been cooked with heat.

So, that's what I always thought--that ceviche was in essence, raw seafood cured with citrus juice, with some other stuff thrown in. And when I took a look at this recipe, I saw that it called for some poaching of shellfish--the scallops and the shrimp--and the lobster you've bought already cooked. The reason? It "eliminates any food safety concerns", according to the head notes.

Feh! I live in one of the most amazing seafood locations in the world, and I should have food safety concerns? I think not!

So I merrily chopped up my raw scallops and shrimp and mixed them in with the lobster and other ceviche ingredients, and waited for the magic to begin.

And waited.

And waited.

And stirred the ceviche.

And waited.

And 24 hours later came to the conclusion that perhaps there might have been a reason why poaching is called for.

And did a little research.

And discovered (thank you o font of information, Wikipedia) that in every country where ceviche is served (think places with hot weather), the fish is put in raw, but the shellfish is poached.

Also, for those daring enough to drink the ceviche "juice", it's considered an excellent cure for a hangover.

Good to know! But that didn't really help me with my quandry, which is that I had a bowl of mostly raw shellfish, cooked lobster, and ceviche stuff.

Hmm. So I picked out the lobster, and put the bowl in the microwave...and zapped it for one minute, four times in a row, stirring each time and finally coming to the sad conclusion that perhaps it was time to admit defeat and start afresh at a later date.

So I did.

Here's a picture of what it will maybe look like, at this aforementioned later date--and thanks to Anna Williams, who took this picture that's on Epicurious:

Doesn't that look good? We'll get there, promise.

OK, on to happier subjects! Bellinis!!

So this is yet another tasty entry in the Drinks chapter of Gourmet Today, and it only has two ingredients--peach puree and Prosecco. Of course, you have to make the peach puree, and the recipe calls for white peaches but I had some super ripe local peaches that needed doing something with so non-white peaches it was.

Here's what you do--put three quartered peaches in a food processor with a crushed vitamin C tablet (seems weird but prevents browning, and if you think that's odd believe it or not I have a bread recipe that calls for vitamin C too) and some sugar and lemon juice.

You might not be surprised to hear that I didn't read the directions super-carefully and put everything in my blender instead...

...which, I know, does essentially the same thing but with chunky stuff the food processor doesn't mess around and with the blender there is much stopping and stirring and pushing down and trying again before you get enough liquid to really get the party going in there.

But finally I had a puree going...

If you're serving six you're supposed to put this (strained) puree in a pitcher and then the Prosecco (oh and by the way if you're wondering what Prosecco is, it's sparkling white wine from Italy), pouring gently to avoid volcanic foam action.

But if you're making individual portions, it's 1/4 cup per glass, and then the Prosecco. It sure does foam up!

When she was getting a refill, my friend Moira combined them backwards--Prosecco first and then a splash of peach puree--and...no foam. So if you try this at home, try it both ways, just for the sake of experimentation. Why not?

The taste! Well, what do you expect? If you like Mimosas, you'll surely like this--it would be a brilliant drink for a Sunday brunch.


Hey, don't forget about my Win a Double Signed Copy of Gourmet Today contest! Right now Fran has it locked up because she's the only one who's entered. You're not going to let her get away with that now, are you? Give her a run for her money! Contest ends in two weeks so get your entries in!

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