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Friday, April 9, 2010

Clean Eating Magazine Reader Recipe Testing

As you might have read here, I recently started serving as a reader recipe tester for Clean Eating magazine. I really like this publication. Their editors are committed to healthy eats, but still love good cooking and good food.

A few months back, I tested about five recipes, and they used one of my comments on their web site. Check it out!

If you're into healthy eating, or just want to learn more, I highly encourage you to pick up the May/June issue and try a few recipes yourself. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Life on a Plate: Recipe Testing -- Risotto

A few weeks ago, food52 started giving its community cooks the opportunity to test a selection of recipes as potential Editors' Picks. An Editors' Pick is considered an honorable mention, and I've been fortunate enough to have a few recipes selected as EPs.

Amanda and Merrill, who founded food52, test a lot of recipes each week, but they're not always able to test every Editors' Pick, relying instead on their well-honed instincts. So, since they prefer to have all the recipes curated, they've given us, the cooks, a chance to participate in the process.

The lovely risotto, made by food52 cook kristalberg, ended up as an Editors' Pick -- take a look to hear more about this great dish. In fact, we've really enjoyed testing and eating all the dishes.

Testing these recipes and serving them to my family has been an inspiring endeavor. It feels more personal than preparing a recipe from a cookbook or magazine. As I cook, I can't help but imagine the people who developed the recipes -- people I "know" from the site but have never met -- and then wonder if these are heirloom recipes, family favorites or if they were created specifically for food52.

Every recipe has a story -- whether it's a celebration, joyful memory or simple, satisfying moment -- in the end, it all adds up to life on a plate.

Barramundi with Lemon, Garlic and White Wine Sauce

So, it's been a while. Quite a long while, actually. It's a little embarrassing. 

And yes, the usual excuses apply. Long work days, business travel, no time to plan, shop or cook -- much less photograph, write and post. When I've found my way to the kitchen, I've relied on standbys -- meals you've read about here, or, frankly, meals that just aren't blog-worthy. 

I've learned that for me, blogging is a little like exercising: when I drift away from my routine, I have to really push myself to get out there again. So, I'm pushing. Easing back into the kitchen, trying to get creative, planning menus.

I started slowly. You know, walking before I run. And, honestly, since my actual exercise routine has also been somewhat neglected these past weeks, I was thinking about something light. Something spring-like.

At first, I was thinking salmon. But then, at my local market, I saw something new to me: Barramundi. A sturdy white fish that apparently boasts as many Omega-3 fatty acids as salmon. Or so says Dr. Oz. And my fishmonger.

I was intrigued. At home, I unwrapped my catch, sprinkled on some sea salt and freshly crushed black pepper, and allowed it to sit for a bit. Meanwhile, Wes prepped a green salad and some roasted grape tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and a bit of grated parmesan. 

I poured olive oil into an enamelled cast iron skillet, patiently waited it for it to get hot, and slid in the fillets. It sizzled comfortingly, a familiar, welcome sound. About five minutes later, as the sides of the fish began to whiten more brightly and I could tell they wouldn't stick to the pan, I flipped and waited another few minutes. 

Then, I slipped the fillets onto a platter, tucked a minced garlic clove, a tablespoon of chopped lemon thyme and the zest and juice of a Meyer lemon into the pan, and deglazed with a big splash of dry white wine. Another satisfying sizzle. A final step: a small pat of butter, enough to give the sauce a little depth and a silky finish. Swirled it around a few times -- done.

I plated, drizzled some sauce atop the fillets and tried my new find. Barramundi is mild and meaty, with a texture and flavor resembling halibut. I learned it should be well seasoned and can stand up to strong, hearty ingredients and sauces. And I discovered a new find for my repertoire.

Truly, a simple dish. But a great start. I think I'm finding my stride again. Next up, that nice long run...