Long time no post. The holidays got in the way to say the least. That and the fact that I was under the weather most of the time. I did get to do my fair share of food blog and cookbook reading, though. My wife and I visited family in Pennsylvania and I did close to no cooking the entire 18 days we were away, with the exception of eggs with pickled peppers and lots of impromptu sandwich creations. Upon return to Southern California, I wanted to cook, but I didn't have the stamina to cook anything slightly connected to the cold rainy weather we were having. This because I was still recovering from the holiday heavy food bludgeoning we had endured. Both my wife and my families live in the same town, so we split time between them during our annual holiday trip. The result of this is us eating 2 Christmas and 2 New Year's dinners. Actually, we couldn't possibly eat anymore on New Year's, so we saved our plates for breakfast the next day. Double family meals, holiday parties, restaurant dinners, lamb roast, Pittsburgh Italian sausage, Primanti Brothers sandwich, espressos, cookies, biscotti, artisan made schinken, bathtub Slivovitz, holiday release beers, and my achilles heel, homemade Chex Mix.... I'm sure you get the idea.
I digress. What to cook? I searched through cookbooks and landed on of all things, Suzanne Goin's terrific, Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I say "of all things", because I usually consider these recipes to be very rich and not afraid of olive oil, butter and exactly what I wasn't looking for. Her decadent Pork burger recipe almost killed me. Regardless, I found a clean sounding recipe for Halibut, despite the horseradish cream. It was a delicious first cooking experience of the year (not counting our normal salads from our garden and brussels sprouts with pancetta I made the night before this fish, also from Sunday Suppers - fantastic recipe).
I used amazing golden beets from our local farmers' market. The beet recipe alone would make a delicious salad with the addition of some arugula or other spicy green. Keep a close eye on the fish. Overcooking it will ruin the dish and it can happen on you very quickly. Better to take it off a little too soon and then deal with it (it'll keep cooking for a few minutes from it's own heat) rather than too long and barely being able to swallow it down without the aid of liquid.
I adapted this recipe for 2 people. The unadapted recipe can be found here.
Sautéed Halibut with Arugula, Roasted Beets, and Horseradish Crème Fraîche
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
2 halibut fillets, 5 to 6 ounces each
1/2 lemon, zested
1/2 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch arugula, cleaned
Roasted beets with horseradish crème fraîche (see below)
1/2 to 1 tablespoons super-good extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkle the fish all over with the lemon zest, thyme and parsley. Cover in the refrigerator overnight.
Bring the fish to room temperature before cooking - about 15-20mins depending on how cold your fish was and how cold your house is. Ours is freezing right now.
Preheat a large sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes (non-stick would be good with the fish). Salt and pepper both sides of fish to your liking. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil into the pan and wait about a minute. Add the fish carefully to the pan, and cook about 3 minutes. It should be lightly browned. Turn the fish over, and cook at medium-low for about 2 more minutes. As usual with fish such as Halibut, be careful not to overcook. It can change on you very fast. You'll know it's done when the fish will start to flake a little. You want the center to still look slightly undercooked because it will cook a bit on it's own as it rests while you finish assembling the last part of the dish.
Scatter half of the arugula over a large platter. Scatter the beets on top of the arugula and drizzle with half the horseradish cream. Place the remaining arugula in between the beets. Place the fish on top of the salad, and spoon a little horseradish cream over each piece. Lightly drizzle lemon and the good olive oil over the whole dish.
Roasted Beets with Horseradish Crème Fraîche
1 bunch fresh whole beets (I used golden beets)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon diced shallot, plus 1/8 cup sliced shallots
1/2 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1/4 cup goat's milk yogurt or plain yogurt from the animal of your preference
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 400°F.
Trim the beets, leaving about 1/2 inch of the stems still attached. Clean the beets well. Toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Put the beets in a Dutch Oven (I used a 5.5qt) with a bit of water in the bottom. Put the lid on the Dutch oven, and roast for about 40-45 minutes, until they’re tender when you pierce them. When they're done, let them cool, and peel them. You use your fingers to slip off the skin. Cut them into 1/2-inch-thick wedges.
While the beets are in the oven, mix together the diced shallot, both vinegars, 1 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Let the flavors combine for about 5 minutes. Then whisk in the 1/4 cup olive oil. Season to taste.
Make the horseradish creme fraiche. This recipe is for the whole 6 portion recipe. I knew I would find a use for the extra. You could make less, but Bellwether Creme Fraiche comes in 8oz containers, so that would be a waste. (this stuff would be great on a cold roast beef sandwich or steak sandwich with some shallots pickled in red wine). Whisk the crème fraîche and horseradish together in a small bowl. Stir in the yogurt (she uses heavy cream - I thought the whole thing was already rich enough), remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper.
Toss the beets and sliced shallots with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste.