Yukon Gold potatoes

Smoked Trout Brandade

by Anne Maxfield on November 20, 2014

Accidental Locavore Smoked Trout BrandadeBrandade is one of those dishes that can be really good or totally awful. The Accidental Locavore has never been terribly fond of salty-fishy food, so foods like anchovies or caviar need to be carefully disguised. Same for salt cod, which is what brandade is usually made from. When I saw this recipe for a brandade made from smoked trout, it gave me the perfect excuse to toss a couple of trout on the smoker (and bring home another baguette from Maison Kayser). This filled two small gratin pans, so dinner for 2 or appetizers for 4 or more.

  • 1 large russet potato (about 10 oz.)
  • Olive oil- 1 teaspoon for the potato and ½ cup for the brandade
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 8 oz. smoked trout, skin and bones removed
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 baguette, sliced, toasted

Accidental Locaovre Smoked Trout and MilkHeat oven to 400°. Rub potato with 1 teaspoon olive oil and bake directly on oven rack until tender, 50–60 minutes. Let cool slightly, then peel. Put in a small bowl and mash potato with a fork or potato masher, until nearly smooth.

While potato is baking, bring garlic, trout, and milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat; let sit 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of trout to a plate; flake into small pieces.

Put the garlic, milk, remaining trout, lemon juice, paprika and remaining ½ cup of olive oil in a food processor; process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and gently fold in the mashed potato and flaked trout. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Accidental Locavore Preparing BrandadeTransfer trout mixture to a 1-qt. shallow baking dish or four 6-oz. ramekins and top with Parmesan. Bake until cheese is melted and golden brown and brandade is heated through, 15–20 minutes. Serve with toasted baguette slices and enjoy!

My verdict: Potatoes and smoked fish, what’s not to like? This makes a nice, simple supper with a side salad or veg. I did have it with the toasted baguette and would serve it that way as an hors d’oeuvre, but didn’t really need it as dinner. I had smoked two trout and this used one of the two. I did use a russet potato, but Yukon Gold or two would work well. If you wanted to save time, you could pop the potato in the microwave to bake them.





Accidental Locavore Finger LimesSuddenly, the Accidental Locavore has been hearing a lot about finger limes. For something that wasn’t even on my radar, all of a sudden, they’re everywhere. When Fresh Direct had them as a President’s Pick recently, I decided to take them for a test drive.

If you live in a more citrus-friendly place (almost anywhere south of here), you’re probably thinking, finger limes, no big deal. Fine. For the rest of us, they’re kind of cool. Small and in various shades of red/burgundy/brown/green, finger limes have very distinct flesh, resembling grains of caviar (except prettier, being the palest pink). And treating the pulp like caviar is a great way to serve it.Accidental Locavire Finger Limes Cut

The Locavore decided to use them as a garnish for seared sea scallops on sliced Yukon Gold Potatoes in a beurre blanc sauce. This, with some sautéed spinach, fed 2. Timing is a little tight, but you could do what I did and just keep all the components in a warm oven until you’re ready to assemble.

  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced into ½” slices (peeling optional). You need 8 slices
  •  1/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used 2 tbsp white balsamic, 1 of sherry)
  • 1 large shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in tablespoon-sized pieces
  • Salt & white pepper (if you have it, it’s just for looks, otherwise use black)
  • 8 sea scallops
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or a mix of butter & oil)
  • 5-6 finger limes, cut off the end and gently squeeze the pellets into a small dish

Accidental Locavore Finger Lime CaviarBoil the potatoes in a medium pan of water with salt added, over medium-high heat until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

Boil the vinegar, water and shallots in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat until mixture is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add cream, reduce heat to low. Whisk in one piece of butter at a time, until they’re all melted and combined. Strain sauce, pressing on shallots, to get as much liquid out of them. Return to pan and place in a warm (as low as it goes) oven to keep warm.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add the potato slices and cook until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes a side. Put on a plate and keep warm in the oven

Pat dry the scallops. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour, shaking off excess. Add the scallops to the pan that the potatoes were in and cook until golden brown and just opaque in the center about 1 ½ minutes a side.

Pour the beurre blanc sauce on two plates. Place the potatoes on the sauce and top each with a scallop. Garnish with the finer lime “caviar”, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Scallop PotatoMy verdict: The finger limes added a nice citrus crunch to the scallops. It was like the crunch you get from an inside-out sushi roll. I’m not a caviar fan, so this was a great way of getting that nice tiny crunch without the fishy taste (and not so budget-busting). The scallops were perfectly cooked and went well with the beurre blanc sauce. I thought about adding a little lime zest to the beurre blanc, but got lazy. Not sure the potatoes were essential and if I did it again, might use a more starchier potato. This was a very fancy looking dinner, (that tasted as good as it looked) without being too fussy or time-consuming.

Frank’s verdict: “Excellent!” He would have poured some of the sauce over the top of the scallops and spread out the lime a little more (he didn’t know how sticky it was!). Otherwise he was a happy eater!


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Accidental Locavore Pizza Bianco With Ramps

The Accidental Locavore’s friend Cozy had asked about ramps. If you’re not familiar with ramps they’re a trendy locavore Spring obsession-otherwise known as wild onions. They have a taste similar to a scallion but more mellow and not as sharp. Since it had paused raining for an hour or so, I decided to cruise down to locavore heaven, the Union Square Greenmarket, in search of ramps and possibly more rhubarb (for chutney, recipe Friday). Found plenty of ramps and more. For dinner that night, I decided to do a pizza bianco based on a recipe from Food & Wine with the addition of some local bacon and the last, lone corolla potato from farmer Paul. This made one 12″ pizza good for two greedy people.

  • 1/2 batch pizza dough
  • 10 ramps
  • 3 slices of bacon (I used my local favorite from Dickson’s), sliced into 1/2″ strips
  • 1 small Yukon Gold or Corolla potato
  • Olive oil (use something flavorful here) for brushing
  • 1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella (I used a small 1/2 pound ball)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Set a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Blanch the ramps until they are bright green but still al dente about a minute. Remove them from the pot, pat dry and cut into 1″ lengths (I used the entire ramp and actually preferred the white bulb to the greens).

When the ramps are done, add the potato to the boiling water and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, and when the potato is cool enough to touch cut into 1/8″ slices.

Heat a small saute pan over medium high heat. Add the bacon strips and cook until crispy. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb the fat.

Lightly flour your work surface, roll out the pizza dough to a 12″ circle, about 1/8″ thick. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured (or use a little fine cornmeal) pizza peel or an inverted baking sheet (you want a flat surface so you can transfer the pizza to the very hot stone). Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle the grated mozzarella evenly over the surface. Scatter the ramps, bacon and potato over the pizza and season with salt and pepper. Top with the Parmesan cheese.

Slide the pizza from the peel (or baking sheet) onto the hot stone. A side to side movement is supposed to be better than back to front, however this is still a move the Accidental Locavore has to master. Bake for about 10 minutes until the crust is browned and crispy. Serve and enjoy.

The locavore rating: 3.5 out of 5. My pizza dough needs work. It didn’t have that good yeasty taste, needed a bit of salt and the crust was too thick. I thought long and hard about using smoked mozzarella instead of regular. On this pizza I used regular  and got the smoked flavor from bacon. If you used smoked mozzarella you could skip the bacon, keep it vegetarian and maybe give the ramps a better showcase.

If ramps aren’t in season you could blanch scallions, but roasted garlic would probably be a better flavor profile. You could also do a version of an Alsatian pie with a very thin crust, the ramps, Gruyere, bacon and crème fraiche.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy ramps?


Recipe for Lemony Lamb Shanks, Great for a Slow Cooker

by Anne Maxfield on November 4, 2010

Accidental Locavore Lemony Lamb ShanksIf you like lamb, this is a good, easy, one pot dish for a slow cooker or the oven. If you’re going to use a slow cooker, learn from the Accidental Locavore’s mistakes and make sure you have all the ingredients the night before, so you can just pop it in and go in the morning. This is a recipe my mother’s best friend Nancy gave her many years ago. It does call for one pantry staple of the past, Lipton Onion Soup.

Two generous servings:

  • 2 lamb shanks (figure one shank per person)
  • Flour, salt, and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive or other cooking oil
  • 1 package Lipton Onion Soup mix (if you want to make your own, here’s a link to a copycat recipe, I haven’t tried it)
  • 1 bunch of scallions, green parts thinly sliced (save the whites for something else)
  • 1 lemon, zested, and juiced
  • 1 cup wine (red or white, your choice)
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth or water
  • 4 small Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1 package frozen artichoke hearts (optional, but good. You can also use fresh baby ones, trimmed, but put them in at the beginning of the cooking process.)

Accidental Locavore Lamb & PotatoesIf you’re using the oven, preheat to 250°.

Season the lamb with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat, and brown the lamb until browned on all sides. If you’re using the oven, add the rest of the ingredients to the pan EXCEPT the artichoke hearts.  If you’re using a slow cooker, put the lamb and all the other ingredients (except the artichoke hearts) in the slow cooker. The liquid (broth and wine) should come halfway up the shanks. Add more of either if you need.

Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours, add the artichoke hearts, and finish cooking until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. For the slow cooker, put it on low and leave it. About a half an hour before serving, add the artichoke hearts.

Serve and enjoy!