Ode to Butter Poaching

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that you can’t trust a skinny cook.

Which perhaps justifies my decision on how to prepare a fish known as ‘butterfish’… why, butter poach it of course! 

The whole meal started with a desire to test out Cottonwood Grille’s new Fresh Market concept - where you can ‘purchase a seasonal selection of exotic meat, game, fish and seafood at market prices.’ Just call ahead or swing by the restaurant and check out the Fresh chalkboard. On the fresh list when we stopped by:
Jumbo Black Tiger Prawns
Fresh North Atlantic Sea Scallops
Black Canyon Ranch raised Elk Sirloin
Local (can’t remember where!) venison
Northwest Premium Buffalo Sirloin
Fresh and Farm Raised Fish (call for most current offerings)
Prime Grade New York Strip Steak
Prime Grade Boneless Rib Eye Steak

I was thinking steak but when the hostess told me they had Walu my mouth started watering and I walked out with two filets. Next to a kickass piece of fresh halibut I had while dining overlooking Victoria Harbor (butter poached of course!), the last time I had such fond memory of a fish was Walu we’d had on a trip to Kauai.

Now, little did I know that Walu (aka ‘Butterfish’ aka ‘Oilfish’ aka Hawaiian Escolar) gets somewhat of a bad rap among certain bloggers and foodies. This type of fish contains a unique oil that – for a small percentage of the population – causes some, ahem, intestinal issues. So if you do the Google and stumble upon those listings don’t be swayed. Per online advice from various chefs – keep your portions to less than 7oz to be on the safe side, and preparations that work for halibut are also great for Walu.
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After going down the rabbit hole after recipes specific to Walu and becoming very frustrated, we (as in Kevin doing the cooking and me jumping around the kitchen) decided to go to the old standby of simple seasoning (fresh basil, pepper & freshly ground smoked salt courtesy the Co-op’s fancy salt shelf) and butter poaching.  Melt chunks of butter, float the fish in the bath of goodness over low heat, and voila!
Love this ode to the simplicity of this fish preparation – the NYTimes ‘A Date with Warm Fish
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And we kept the whole meal simple. Someday we’ll master the art of the multi-colored meal. For now – the Fiesta ware has to provide the color. Idaho’s Bounty cucumbers in simple vinaigrette and quick sauteed red fingerling potatoes with parmesan.    

The Walu rocked – and definitely invoked the foodie memory of Kauai. And I’ll be going back to the Fresh Market at CG – though a tip or piece of advice from the kitchen on prep would be a nice added touch! Else I may try to butter poach some Rib Eye.

- Jess

Gnocchi Part III… & Egg Noodles & Spaetzle

Equal to my love of food in general is my love of two specific food groups – pasta & cheese. This post is focused on the former.

My mom, sister & I recently attended a fabulous cooking class from the Boise Co-Op - ‘For the Love of Pasta’ – with instructor Sylvie Ryan. It was held at the very cool kitchen in Pottery Gourmet on Bannock.Fabulous class, great setting, and a superbly engaging instructor.  While it wasn’t a full-on, hands-on cooking class, Sylvie kept us engaged, full of yummy pasta, and inspired to explore new techniques, toppings and treatments.

Although I went into the class fully expecting to reaffirm my love of all things gnocchi – the true star of the class was Sylvie’s mom’s recipe for Alsatian Kepfle (aka Spaetzle) Here’s a shot to tempt the tastebuds – topped with Red Wine Sauce with Shallots and Mushrooms – although Sylvie made us promise not to share her family’s recipe outside the class :-)
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We also learned to make delicious from scratch egg noodles (tossed with garlic infused olive oil and thinly sliced raw veggies – pretty freakin’ divine!)
And also – gnocchi two ways
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While I always yearn to create homemade gnocchi like those I’ve had in gourmet locales that are like ‘delicious pillows of goodness’, my results usually turn up tasty but more hefty.

So while I enjoyed the traditional potato gnocchi, Sylvie’s take on Quick Riccotta Gnocchi rocked. Simple ingredients: 2 cups drained Ricotta, 1 egg yolk, 1/4-1/2 tsp fine sea salt, 1/4 cup Parmigiano Cheese freshly grated, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour.
Simple yet sublime, especially when topped with toasted pine nuts, infused olive oil and basil.

Gnocchi Part II

For gnocchi part II – a look at the end result
Have to admit my gnocchi didn’t turn out as ‘fluffy pillows of goodness’ (as I like to refer to really rockin’ gnocchi as). But – topped with some nummy balsamic brown butter sage sauce they were substantial yet delicious. Heck – putting brown butter anything ON anything makes it taste awesome. I’m wondering if they held their shape – and their firmness – due to the lack of potato. Previous butternut squash gnocchi I’ve made has included some aspect of potatoes. These – just flour to bring it to a dough consistency. I have no problem continuing on my quest to make the perfect gnocchi.

Here’s the recipe courtesy Emeril & Food Network
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/butternut-squash-gnocchi-wi…

On the side is some of the chicken apple sausage from the Capital City Market vendor I affectionately call ‘Sausage Man’, and a refreshing Guacamole Salad from the Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/guacamole-salad-recipe/index.html

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- Jess

Nothing quite like homemade gnocchi – especially when made with local butternut squash – yummmmm

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