Swordfish – Ortigia Market Dinner

March 2nd, 2010 / comments 14

veg patchwork 0rtigia 01 Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner Most mornings I walk to the open-air market with no idea of what I will buy. The fresh vegetable stalls are piled high with white and purple cauliflower, broccoli, plum tomatoes still attached to vines, fluted heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, fennel, potatoes, carrots, onions and eggplant all carefully arranged to form a patchwork of colors.

There are leafy greens that I can’t identify near the familiar bunches of parsley, mint and basil. I bought a few small potatoes, one zucchini, and bunches of parsley and mint from the vendor who waited patiently as I figured out the correct combination of coins to pay him.

oranges ortigia Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner

The fruit stalls are filled with citrus – blood oranges, mandarins, ordinary lemons and two-fisted, lumpy Sicilian lemons. One stall had five small containers of wild strawberries. They were three times as expensive as the more familiar cultivated ones but I couldn’t resist the extravagance.

The fish section of the market is the most lively.

fish vendor sicily 041 Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner

The loud calls of men selling fish and seafood fill the air with promises and banter that I don’t understand.

fish vendor 02 sicily1 Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner

The metal tables are filled with squid, cuttlefish, three kinds of shrimp, cockles, mussels, sea urchin, octopus, fish filets, mustard-yellow dotted eels, small pink fish, and silver striped black striped fish. A large piece of fish ready to be sliced into steaks sat beside the up-ended head of the swordfish it came from. I decided on swordfish for dinner because it would be the simplest to cook. I used my fingers to indicate that I wanted a one-inch thick steak. I’ll deal with boning, skinning, filleting and cleaning the less familiar fish another day.

The vendors who sell ripe and green, brine and oil cured olives, also sell heads of garlic, and capers and anchovies preserved in salt.

tomato paste ortigia Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner

A spatula that looks like a putty knife sat on a large platter next to a mound of tomato paste made from sun dried tomatoes. I bought an herb blend marked Herba Tipico Siciliano and a small quantity of salted capers to experiment with.

The smoky smell of peppers and onions roasting on a small charcoal grill at the end of the lane perfumed the air. This was the only stall where a woman was working. Her husband was in charge of roasting and negotiating sales and her role was limited to wrapping a pepper after I had paid for it.

The cheese man tempts every passer-by with a sample. He reaches across the cheese case to offer samples of smoked mozzarella or provolone on the tip of his huge knife. When I pointed at the creamy cheese studded with red peppers, he used that same knife to create an instant sandwich with the cheese, bits of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and a crust of ciabatta bread. His smile was at least as sweet as the cannoli I bought from him for our dessert.

chocolate vendor ortigia Swordfish   Ortigia Market Dinner

My heavy market bag made it easy to resist stopping at the stalls with almonds and walnuts, blocks of almond paste, dates, dried fruit and chocolate bars from Modica that are seasoned with black pepper, ginger, orange or chili. I considered menu possibilities as I walked home until I was distracted by a young girl trying to perfect her skating technique in the Piazza Doumo. By the time I finished unpacking the groceries, I had decided to marinate the swordfish and then bake it. Parsley would flavor a mixture of vegetables, and the wild strawberries would top the already perfect canolli. Dinner was meraviglioso! Here’s how I did it: … read more

Swordfish Carpaccio

February 27th, 2010 / comments 8

swordfish carpaccio Swordfish CarpaccioI bought 300 g, a bit more than a quarter of a pound, of fresh swordfish at the market and brought it home is an insulated lunch bag that was extra cold because I remembered to freeze the insert that came with the bag and then to take it all to the market.

Our refrigerator is tiny, and I am trying to be mindful and use every bit of food I have before it gets green and fuzzy with mold. Everything is wrapped in either paper or a white plastic bag and that means that I frequently unwrap and rewrap the same leftover more than once. I have augmented the minimun number of bowls and containers by re-cycling the blue and green plastic cups from the gelateria and four of them where filled with the remainder of a steamed potatoes aand carrots from our first dinner party and there were also bits of mushroom salad and artichoke salad.

I thought that swordfish carpaccio would  pull all of the odd bits of food together. When we had finished lunched and washed up there were fewer packages in the fridge and more empty small bowls in the cuppboard. Lunch was a culinary success, a successful use of leftovers and certainly a dietary success. We ate a small amount of swordfish seasoned with lemon and olive oil and lots of vegetables. The carpaccio was a breeze to make. Here’s how I did it: … read more

Sushi Today – Airplane Food Tomorrow

February 18th, 2010 / comments 3

My son Noah and I made sushi for lunch the day before we were to fly off to Sicily for our two month adventure.

sushi 01 Sushi Today   Airplane Food Tomorrow

Noah cooked the rice and cut the carrots and avocado and I went to the market to get yellow tail tuna and ‘crab with a k’.  Crab with a k or krab is also called imitation crab meat or seafood sticks. Krab originated in Japan and is a type of processed seafood made of ”Surimi” or finely pulverized white fish.

Along with the fish, I found pickled ginger powered wasabi and seaweed sheets called nori in the Asian Food aisle of the well-stocked grocery.

sushi 02 Sushi Today   Airplane Food Tomorrow

Ella made sushi hand rolls and Dylan opted for peanut butter. Noah and I made sushi for everyone else. Here’ how we did it .

… read more

Salmon Citrus Salad – Dinner on the Road

February 11th, 2010 / comments 2

Rosie is feeling blue. Hiding in the closet didn’t work, standing outside and looking disinterested  wasn’t convincing. After an undignified trip to the car, we resorted to a pharmacologically induced calm.

After a couple of tranquilizers, her trembling and quaking disappeared along with her appetite.
Rosie 02 Salmon Citrus Salad   Dinner on the Road

On the other hand, her human traveling companions, that would be me and Charles, shared an inspired salmon salad that combined poached salmon, ripe olives, mixed greens, feta cheese, red onions and Clementine’s. Proof  that careful ordering is as important as careful cooking.
blue fish c egbert  Salmon Citrus Salad   Dinner on the Road I don’t have a recipe for this salad (yet), but I look forward to combining fresh fish and citrus from the market in Siracusa as soon as I can and sharing what I learn.

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White Burger – Cod for Dinner

October 30th, 2009 / comments 2

On a rainy autumn evening, a burger and fries and a favorite Hitchcock film is perfection. The movie may be Rear Window, Dial M for Murder or The Man who Knew Too Much and the burger may be red meat, poultry or fish.

Fish c egbert White Burger   Cod for Dinner

Yep, a FISH burger! Made with minced cod, this burger is delicious, an excellent low-calorie source of protein, a good source of omega – 3 fatty acids, a good source vitamin B12 and B6, and niacin. When you taste it, you will forget the health benefits and simply enjoy dinner and the movie.  Here’s how I did it. … read more

Salade Nicoise – A Dinner Salad

July 18th, 2009 / comments 3

Salade Nicoise has been one of my favorites since my first date with Charles. We met for lunch on a pleasant spring day at a small French restaurant in Georgetown. Charles ordered crepes morvandelle and I ordered a salade Nicoise

Dinner+Salad+Icon Salade Nicoise   A Dinner Salad

The conversation was more carefully considered than my salad that consisted of cold boiled potatoes, tuna and green beans from tins, a few nice olives and slices of hard boiled eggs, all dressed with a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

I cannot remember if there was a lone anchovy on top or not.

Fish+02 Salade Nicoise   A Dinner Salad
In spite of the minor shortcomings of the salad the date was an unqualified success – we just celebrated our thirty-first anniversary.

Since that lunch, I have reconsidered the salade nicoise many times. I made a list of possible ingredients – tuna, potatoes, olives, green beans and anchovy are a must; supporting players include beets, onions, carrots, capers, parsley, dill, tender lettuce, and a vinaigrette. This recipe and presentation requires a fair number of bowls and steps but the results are worthy of your fanciest dinner party.

Here’s how I did it. … read more

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