This week’s meal was full of fiddly-ness. It turned out pretty well, considering a major component was somewhat disastrous.
Meal No. 33: Grilled Striped Bass; Corn and Clam Chowder Sauce; Oyster Biscuits; Watermelon and Raspberry Salad from Martha Stewart’s Dinner at Home. Menu and recipes available online here.
Martha says you can substitute a firm white fish such as halibut or red snapper for the bass. Since I just so happen to have some halibut steaks that my friend Caitlin caught with her very own hands in Alaska, I opted to use these. Of course, I was really hoping that the recipe wouldn’t ruin them, since they are very precious!
The fish marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, lemon thyme and garlic for 30 minutes, then was grilled. I thought it was delicious–very lemony. The Husband didn’t think it had much flavor on its own, but enjoyed it with the sauce, below.
Clam and Corn Sauce:
Back in winter I made Martha’s spaghetti and clams recipe, and there was all that concern about whether I had killed the clams prematurely by keeping them in a paper bag overnight in the frig. It turned out they were fine, so I did the same thing this time, except when I pulled the bag out of the frig the bottom broke, due to extreme sogginess, and half the clams spilled onto the floor. The Husband worried that they might bite him, but some were already dead and opened, so we had to throw a third of them away. The rest were cleaned and soaked for 30 minutes. After the clams cooked in some wine, they were removed, and shallots, a potato, celery, corn, the strained clam juice, thyme, a bay leaf and some cream were simmered until the potatoes were tender.
In the intro to the recipe, Martha writes that this is brothier than a clam chowder, but that was not my experience; it wasn’t even close to being brothy. It actually was closer in consistency to the creamed corn we made a few weeks ago. Creamed corn with clam juice, and potatoes and celery. The clams were beyond unfortunate, as they were overcooked and rubbery; basically inedible. I made a half batch, but that was still $10 worth of clams ruined!
The Husband, who didn’t care for the recent creamed corn dish, really liked this one. I thought it was pretty good–I am a fan of anything that involves a potato or corn, so it was fine by me. I thought it was a bit bland on its own but it went well with the lemon flavor of the fish.
Even if they hadn’t been cooked to rubber, we found the clams superfluous to the dish. We had a nice piece of fish, why did we need clams? The same thing could be accomplished by using a bottled clam juice, and using mushrooms for an earthy taste. In fact, I should try that and put it in a cookbook. Where can I buy some minions to do it for me?
I was excited to try these, which are supposed to be a cross between an oyster cracker and a biscuit. I made these early in the morning, and they were pretty cracker-like fresh from the oven. They were a touch salty, but otherwise tasty. I used the variation with cumin in it, and I think next time I would use more cayenne.
By the time we ate dinner, however, the texture was more like a biscuit that had been sitting around all day, which is a texture I don’t particularly enjoy. Martha writes in the recipe that these can be made up to a week in advance, though, so I’m curious to see what happens to the leftovers in a few days.
I thought they were kind of redundantly starchy with the corn and potatoes, but The Husband, who doesn’t even like biscuits in real life, actually enjoyed them with the dish. Go figure!
Watermelon and Raspberry Salad:
The recipe calls for a 4.5 lb watermelon. I had a watermelon, but there was no way I was weighing it. I cut off a hunk that looked like the appropriate amount for a pint of raspberries, and cubed it. The fruit was tossed with the juice of a lemon and a quarter cup sugar, and macerated for 30 minutes. I didn’t know what to expect–lemon and watermelon? Why is the salad all red? But, it was actually good. Martha suggests an option to eat it with vanilla ice cream, but the watermelon was too watery and it was just bizarre, so we nixed that after a bite. I am surprised she didn’t throw in mint, though. The Husband wondered where the booze was.
The meal was fiddlesome– every component except the biscuits had something that needed to soak, marinate or macerate for 30 minutes, so it made the timing tricky There was also a lot of chopping and prep work. I am glad I didn’t try to cook this on a weeknight–the dinner portion took 90 min, and the biscuits took about 40 minutes earlier in the day.If you make this, we recommend having a white Cote du Rhone with it. Mmm. mmm. good.
FISH AND CLAM CHOWDER SAUCE: A (on taste, ignoring the clam debacle)
BISCUITS: A- (A from oven, B later on)
WATERMELON AND RASPBERRY SALAD: A