My mother, although multi-talented, had an aversion to the kitchen and has often said that I learned to cook at an early age “out of self-defense.” When she made chicken à l'orange by smearing a chicken with powdered Tang, I quickly developed a necessary passion for creating tasty things to eat. Somewhere in the family photograph album is a picture of me at the stove, age ten, happily stirring marinara sauce.

I developed a lifelong fascination with food; good food. There was even a foray of working as a chef’s assistant at a French restaurant during my mid twenties, just for fun. I had always loved watching Julia Child and knew that Mastering the Art of French Cooking was to be revered. It wasn’t until I read her biography (long before the Julie & Julia movie) that I really became fascinated with her work. From that book, I decided to prepare her recipe for mayonnaise.

Upon tasting it, I wept. . . .

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Nigella's Roasted Seafood

Besides Julia, I also enjoy the talents of Nigella Lawson whose motto is “maximum pleasure with minimal effort.” Yes, I find a lot of pleasure in the maximum effort that some of Julia’s creations entail. But there are times when one is pressed for time, when the workday leaves you a bit worse for wear, and the idea of creating a perfect beouf bourguignon seems insurmountable.
Enter Nigella.

I have made a few of her recipes and, yes, they are amazingly effortless and tasty. (Her chocolate Guinness cake is absolutely astounding and, true to form, is very easy to create. On a recent episode of her new program, Nigella Kitchen, she featured a “roasted seafood” that caught my attention. I made it after a harrowing day at work and am very glad I did.

No fiddly techniques are required whatsoever. Bung the following items in an oiled roasting pan: A couple of potatoes cut into one-inch chunks, a sliced onion, a lemon cut into quarter-inch bits, and a head of garlic separated into cloves. Bake at 400 for an hour. You don’t need to peel the lemon, garlic or potatoes (see? easy-peasy). The lemon peel caramelizes and the garlic cloves become crunchy savory-sweet morsels of yum.

After an hour, scatter your choice of seafood over the roasted bits. Nigella used clams (in the shell), squid and unpeeled shrimp. The heat from the roasted potatoes, etc, gets the seafood jump-started. Give the pan a splash of white wine (about a quarter cup) and return to the oven for 10 minutes.

I used a half pound each of scallops, shrimp and a couple of salmon filets. I’m always wary of using clams because one gritty clam can ruin a whole meal. I love squid but the seafood lady didn’t have any.

Plunk the entire roasting dish on the table and dig in.

Even Nigella has mentioned Julia’s motto:
Everything in moderation . . . including moderation.

So, in the vein of obligatory immoderation, I served Nigella’s creation with Julia’s beurre blanc. Each diner was supplied with a bowl of it for dipping and slathering. What a meal!

Trust me, Nigella’s roasted seafood didn’t require it. Lemony, garlicky, savory seafood. It’s pleasurable enough on its own.

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