locavore

Adventures With Fish Sauce

by Anne Maxfield on February 26, 2018

Accidental Locavore Fish Sauce Do you use fish sauce?

If you think about what goes into it, you might never use it, but you’d be missing out on an important ingredient in a lot of Thai and Vietnamese dishes to name a few. It’s that umami flavor you get that you can never quite figure out.

It’s made from fish, left out in the hot tropical sun to ferment—sounds yummy right? FYI, it smells pretty much like it tastes, so you don’t want to be inhaling a lot of it. Just sprinkle on whatever you’re making and enjoy (it’s surprisingly good on Brussels sprouts).

There are lots of different types, Red Boat being one of my favorites, but it’s hard to find in this area, so I ordered it from Amazon. No big deal.

Except…

I got a notice in my post office box that there was a package and some damage. Since it was before the holidays, I was terrified that my cousin’s box of incredible homemade jams had broken.

But this was worse.

Much worse.

Suddenly all the really terrific ladies at the post office, were not looking happy.

And I was beginning to feel like Public Enemy #1.

One of them, went to get my “damaged” package. Coming back, she was trying to hold it as far from her face as she could. As she approached, I immediately understood why. This package was wet and dripping into a plastic bag. And it stank!

Really stank. Like fish left out in a tropical sun.

Oops. My fish sauce. Oh s**t.

Somehow, somewhere, someone thought the best way to ship a glass bottle of fish sauce was to put it in a cardboard Priority Mail envelope and (literally) toss it in the mail.

I gathered up my courage, (and the future of all my mail) apologized profusely and asked if I could refuse the package.  I also promised never to order any more fish sauce by mail, so she reluctantly took it to the back room—as far from patrons as possible and said it would go back.

They said it took most of the day to get the stink out of their office once the package had been sent back. I went on Amazon and complained and got my money back, but the damage was done.

I’ve promised June and Pattie no more stinky stuff by mail and we’re back to being friends again.

Oh, and the bottle of Red Boat? I bought it at Kalustyan’s and took it home on the train.

 

 

 

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Accidental Locavore Sheet Pan ChickenThis sheet pan chicken dinner came about because I was stuck in the house on a snowy day, and come across a recipe (this from the NY Times Cooking) for something that sounds perfect for dinner and…

I had all the ingredients!!

Bonus points because it all got prepped in the time it took to thaw out the chicken thighs and clean off a car.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula and Garlic Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 ½ pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 1 ¼ pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons harissa (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 ½ tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt (do not use Greek yogurt)
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 ounces baby arugula
  • Chopped fresh dill, as needed
  • Lemon juice, as needed

Accidental Locavore Chicken Sheet Pan MakingsCombine chicken and potatoes in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together harissa, cumin and 3 tablespoons oil. Pour over chicken and potatoes and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine leeks, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil.

Heat oven to 425°. Arrange chicken and potatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Roast 15 minutes. Toss potatoes lightly. Scatter leeks over pan. Roast until chicken and potatoes are cooked through and everything is golden and slightly crisped, 25 to 30 minutes longer.

While chicken cooks, place yogurt in a small bowl. Grate garlic over yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon yogurt over chicken and vegetables in the pan. Scatter arugula and dill over mixture. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Sheet Pan ChickenMy verdict: Like I said in the intro, miraculously all the ingredients were in the house! I did all the prep and made the yogurt sauce (adding about ½ teaspoon of lemon juice) while the thighs were thawing. Then, all I needed to do was pop it on a sheet pan (which I’ve taken to lining with parchment to make cleaning up easier) and bake it.

It was delicious! The potatoes were amazing, and the chicken was great! We’ll definitely be having this again.

A few comments from readers who had made it, taught me to keep the potatoes on the outside perimeter to help them crisp and try to put the leeks under the chicken and potatoes so they wouldn’t singe. Both worked well. The next time, I might slice the leeks a little thicker, it wouldn’t hurt the cooking time, and there would be less chance of singeing them.

The third helpful comment was to put the arugula on the plates and then plate the chicken and potatoes on top, so the arugula doesn’t get too warm and wilted. Also, a good idea.

If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you might want to go easy on the harissa. My favorite brand is spicy and flavorful, but not killer.

The dill is probably optional, if you have it great, if not cilantro might even be better. I added lemon juice to the yogurt, so went a little easy with it on the chicken.

You’ve got lots of options here and any of them will make an easy, tasty dinner.

 

 

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Silvia Restaurant: Global and Seasonal in Woodstock

by Anne Maxfield on January 22, 2018

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant InteriorIf you’re looking for a restaurant in the Woodstock area, check out Sylvia. Silvia (named for owners Doris and Betty Choi’s grandmother) opened in August on Mill Hill Road.

There’s a big deck (open in warmer weather) and a discreet sign over the door.

Once inside, you’re looking at a big open dining room, an active, open kitchen and a smaller more intimate room with additional seating and a lively bar.

We were seated at a corner table near the bar, where we could see all the kitchen activity.

The star of Silvia’s open kitchen is a massive wood-fired grill (which was one of the deciding factors in ordering that night’s special—a massive pork chop).

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant BBQ BeefWe started with the Grass Fed BBQ Beef. It was shredded beef to wrap in lettuce leaves and garnish with cabbage salad, kimchi, and topped with the traditional miso garlic paste. The beef was tender and flavorful. We all liked it a lot, but being veterans of many Korean dinners, would have liked the kimchi to pack more heat.

Frank ordered the Chicken Liver Toast, which looked great with its decoration of jeweled beets. He loved it, and we all really liked the horseradish mustard that accompanied it.

Although we scoffed at him when he ordered a salad (thinking it was going to be too much food), the Crumbled Caesar was a terrific riff on a Caesar salad. It featured a poached egg on a bed of escarole, studded with crispy shiitake mushrooms, Parmesan crisps and sourdough croutons in a Caesar dressing. We loved the crunch of the shiitakes and Parmesan crisps.  It was, as Frank said, “simply terrific.”

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant Caesar SaladAs I mentioned, the pork chop special caught my eye. It was a massive 22-ounce chop from Chaljeri Meats, one of many local farmers they work with. It was perfectly cooked, tender and delicious, on a bed of grilled red cabbage. A terrific chop!

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant Pork ChopMy friend went for the Pan Seared Arctic Char which came with broccoli rabe, grilled lemon, parsnip chips and charred leeks with a salsa verde. The sweetness of the fish went well with the bitterness of the broccoli rabe and the salsa was a perfect accompaniment to the char.

Frank got the burger, a tower of meat, shredded Brussels sprouts, cambozola cheese (think Brie meets Gorgonzola), caramelized onions with fries and house ketchup. The fries were good as was the ketchup, but he was way too full from the appetizers and salad to really do justice to his burger.

Portions were generous and everything we took home made for a great lunch the next day!

We didn’t have a chance (or the room) to explore the vegetable menu, but there were some very tempting dishes offered, ranging from pan seared Brussels sprouts to grilled shisito peppers and an ash-roasted kuri squash to name a few.

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant Chocolate TorteAfter a fairly meat-centric menu, it was surprising to see the dessert menu veer towards healthy. There are 5 selections, with a seasonal panna cotta, a butternut squash pudding, a raw chocolate torte, a raw cashew key lime pie and a beet chocolate pots de crème. Both the torte and key lime pie are vegan, and gluten free. Frank had the chocolate torte, which looked amazing—dense layers of chocolate. He thought it was excellent! Because it was vegan and gluten-free, a mixture of nuts, dates and coconut oil replaced butter and the other usual suspects, so it was sadly off limits for me.

The restaurant has two main seating areas, we loved our seat in the bar room, it was cozy and surprisingly quiet even with a busy weekend crowd. If you’re with a family or in a larger group, you might want to opt for the livelier main dining room.

 

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Thai Duck Curry with Pineapple

by Anne Maxfield on January 8, 2018

Accidental Locavore Thai Duck CurryDuck curry is one of the things we always order in a Thai restaurant, so it seemed like the perfect use for our leftover slow-roast duck. This feeds about 4-6 and comes together in the time it takes to make a pot of jasmine rice (hint, hint).

Thai Duck Curry with Pineapple:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red or massaman curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half, or zest of 1 lime (optional)
  • 8 ounces roast duck in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Asian eggplant, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced crosswise into wedges
  • ¼ cup bamboo shoots (optional)
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups diced fresh pineapple
  • 8 small cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tablespoons fresh Thai or Italian basil leaves
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 tablespoons fresh mint leaves

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium and add the curry paste, stirring to break it up, about 1 minute. Stir in the fish sauce, brown sugar, and kaffir lime leaves, if using, and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the duck, eggplant, coconut milk, and chicken stock and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the pineapple and cherry tomatoes, simmer for 2 more minutes.

Finish with the basil, fresh coriander leaves, and mint leaves; cook for 30 seconds or until basil is wilted. Serve with jasmine rice and enjoy! 

My verdict: Really good! I used a combination of red and massaman curries because I ran out of the massaman curry paste. Surprisingly, we couldn’t find any Japanese eggplants in the stores, so threw in the bamboo shoots (yes, I know, it’s hardly the same). Mushrooms are also a nice addition.

The great thing about curries like this is that they’re easy and forgiving. You can substitute any meat or fish for the duck and add whatever vegetables you have on hand. And with the leftover pineapple, you can make pineapple upside-down cake.

What’s your favorite curry combo?

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