It’s not just where you’re cooking, but where your heart is while you’re doing it.

Main Course / July 12, 2017

Beautiful amberjack fish is a bright reminder of what’s wonderful about food, ​and living in the now.

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We are between addresses at the moment. Most of my pans, dishes and utensils are in a box marked with “T” for Trailer and they are carefully wrapped and inventoried, stacked perfectly straight and sealed with care. They sit now, melting in a storage unit, patiently waiting for the time we transition from our temporary location with friends, to our mobile tiny home, until our carriage house is finished.

​We are not doing this move in the proper order. It should be: Build home. Sell present home. Move into new home. Nah…not us. I’m not sure we have ever proceeded with life in the proper order. But then again, I think we all make plans that get messed up. Here’s what I believe:  Trouble doesn’t start when your plans fall apart, trouble starts when you believe you have the power to KEEP THOSE PLANS FROM falling apart. That’s what swallows you whole and takes away the joy of life. That’s what gives you sleepless nights. In fact, the root cause of your stress, as it turns out, is that you’re mad you couldn’t predict and control the future.

​Join the club.

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Photo by ©Victoria Neer 2017

As you look at the above photo of me smiling at my furry sous chef, Duncan, you must be thinking, “That sure doesn’t look like a trailer, or a tiny home. What an amazing kitchen!”

And you would be correct on all accounts. It is here, with our friends in Weddington, that I maintain my sometimes elusive grasp on the present moment, by cooking. And this opportunity to be somewhere other than home would not have happened to us had our all our plans worked out. We wouldn’t be blessed with the chance to really get to know our amazing and generous friends who have taken us in while we prep our lot. We would have missed the chance to feel the perpetual and authentic love of their Golden Retriever, Duncan whose big brown eyes and wagging tail can literally heal anything. And we wouldn’t have learned the valuable lesson that you don’t have to be “home” to be HOME.

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Cooking keeps you centered. It keeps you present. There are absolutes with food that cannot be mitigated; at least not without consequences, and that is comforting. And like any message sent to you by the universe, it’s never what you expected. And that is the best news of all.

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When I develop recipes, cook my food and then post pictures of my food I have an alternate agenda that goes beyond the whole become-an-internet-sensation thing. (Well, that’s big, too, actually!) I also want you to think about the elegant and beautiful process of creating something exciting and unique. I want you to understand what real food looks like, how it behaves and how mesmerizing a close up photo of something as simple as fish really can be. And … I want you to wish you were at my table. Why? If you were you would be PRESENT. You would be enjoying the gift of your senses. And whatever the ruined plans are that you’re trying to salvage? They would magically melt away with each, colorful, amazing bite.

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My easy and piquant ginger blueberry sauce literally galvanized the flavors of the dish, and brought a bright note of sweetness and heat to the meal.

Below you see the composition of layering flavors. Beautiful and slender yellow and green squash was luxuriously sauteed in butter and garlic, and was crowned by radish micro-greens gently tossed in a light vinaigrette of lemon juice and fine olive oil, with a sprinkling of sea salt. The pearl couscous is almost like the sands of a beach holding up the amberjack fish lest is float away.

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Sauteed amberjack with blueberry balsamic ginger sauce, pearl couscous and garlic butter sauteed squash topped with lemon vinaigrette dressed radish micro-greens.

Ingredients

4, 4 ounce portions amberjack fish or Mahi
5 small yellow and green variegated squash cut into fourths, lengthwise
1 C pearl couscous
Handful of radish microgreens
1 C blueberries
¼ C sugar
Dash of salt
¼ C light balsamic
2 large 1/8” sliced chunks of fresh ginger
2 1/2 T butter
3 T oil
3 cloves garlic chopped finely
1 T lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Method

In a small saucepan combine the blueberries, ginger knob, sugar, balsamic and a pinch of salt. Stir, let simmer and reduce for about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool. Set aside. Make couscous according to directions starting by toasting the couscous in about ½ T butter until toasted. Add the water and about ¾ t salt, and simmer until soft.

In a large sauté pan brought to high heat add 2 T oil and 2 butter, add the fish and reduce to medium-high, searing on the first side for about 3 minutes or until you see the pink change to white around the bottom side of the fish. Turn fish over and add the squash and garlic. Move the squash around in the pan from time to time, bathing in the butter/oil mixture, and blending with the garlic to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Cook until the fish is opaque, about another 3-4 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the micro-greens, lemon juice, 1 T oil and salt and pepper and toss.

To Plate place a stream of the couscous on the plate. Place a filet over that, arrange the squash on top and then a bit of the blueberry sauce. Cover with the dressed micro-greens and serve.



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