Scallops and Cauliflower with Caper-Raisin Sauce

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Not to pat myself on the back too eagerly, but it takes a certain talent to adapt a fancy restaurant dish into something that you’d really want to eat at home. Years ago, when I was lucky enough to eat at Jean-Georges, I ate one of his more famous dishes: a thin sliver of cauliflower balanced on a perfectly seared scallop sitting in a pool of a delightfully exotic caper raisin sauce. That sauce was unforgettable: both sweet and briny and endlessly fascinating. I knew I had to make it for Sauce Week, but I didn’t want to do anything overly fussy with the cauliflower and scallops. What I ended up making is maybe one of the best weeknight dinners I’ve ever made, and the sauce is so easy, you won’t believe your eyes.

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Seared Salmon with Roasted Broccoli

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This post is a bit of a cheat because it’s really a combination of two posts that already exist on my blog: How To Cook Perfect Fish At Home and The Best Broccoli of Your Life. The only innovation is that I served these two things together on the same plate and instead of using cod, like I did in that Perfect Fish post, I used really good salmon (Scottish salmon, if you must know) and did away with the Parmesan on the broccoli because I don’t like cheese and fish together. Oh and one more thing…

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How To Cook Perfect Fish At Home

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Very rarely does a chef get a 4-star review while a critic is still at the table, but in my case our resident critic (that would be Craig) exclaimed, on biting into the fish you see above, “This is seriously the best fish I’ve ever had in my life. You could charge $40 for this at a restaurant!”

You might think Craig was hyperbolizing, but when I bit in I felt the same way. And it wasn’t like I considered myself a big fish expert by any means; because good fish takes more effort to find than good chicken or good produce, I very rarely make it. This dinner was a total anomaly but because it turned out so terrific, I’m thinking it’ll become a regular weeknight staple for us. Why did it turn out so good? Let’s examine.

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How To Cook Fish For A Crowd

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Our friend Emily (who also happens to be Craig’s awesome manager; she’s in the apron on the right) had us over for dinner the other night and she pulled off something I would never be brave enough to attempt at a dinner party: she cooked us fish.

Fish is so tricky and temperamental, I’m nervous just to cook it for myself, let alone a crowd of people. I’ve seared fish in a pan, I’ve broiled fish in the oven. These techniques work fine for one or two, but for four? Five? Six? What do you do? Emily had the perfect solution. And it was such a smart solution, I plan to steal this idea for my own fish dinner parties in the future. Not only that: the results were so good I may use her technique for cooking fish just for Craig and myself. And that technique is…

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Bouillabaisse! A French Seafood Odyssey At Home

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Certain recipes are so complicated, so expensive, and so high-stakes that they become, for adventurous home cooks, the equivalent of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or sailing a boat around the world.

Bouillabaisse is that sort of recipe. Originating from Marseille (in France), bouillabaisse–at least, the authentic kind–asks you to make your own fish stock (with fish bones that you have to collect from a fish purveyor), to use that stock to flavor bread for a rouille (an emulsion of garlic, egg yolks, the soaked bread and a roasted red pepper and tomato), to marinate fish in a mixture of white wine, Pernod and saffron, to form a soup base with chopped leeks, onions, tomatoes and white wine, and finally to cook the marinated fish (which, if you buy it fresh, will be expensive) in the soup (made with the stock) along with mussels and clams just enough so nothing overcooks. Yes: that’s a lot of work but then the results speak for themselves. When I made this last week, our dinner guests swooned over their bowls of bouillabaisse–there were actual groans of pleasure at the table–and I’d easily list it as one of my greatest culinary triumphs. Here’s how the whole odyssey began.

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Cornmeal-Crusted Catfish

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I recently downloaded the Monterey Bay Aquarium app for my iPhone. It’s a great way for those of us who want to buy sustainable seafood to know what’s ok and what’s not. Only a few fish get the designation “Best Choice”–most fish, like monkfish, cod, flounder, and skate are to be avoided, and other fish like haddock, hake, and pollock are “Good Alternatives”–but “Best Choice”? That’s an exclusive designation. And I was surprised to see, while checking the app at Citarella, that catfish–which is actually pretty cheap–is a “Best Choice” fish.

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Jambalaya

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My dad used to watch a cajun cooking show (yes, my dad, who’s probably never cooked a meal in his life, watched a cajun cooking show) where the host would yell out with his thick N’awlins accent: “Spiccccy cajjjun fooood!”

(Did you ever see that show? I think it was on PBS and the host had white hair and glasses.)

Surprisingly, in my six years of running this site, I’ve never cooked a cajun dish. Shocking, I know, and deeply irresponsible. Cajun food, like jazz music, is one of America’s great indigenous art forms and the fact that it’s taken me this long to finally cook something cajun should be cause for mass rebellion amongst my readers. But I’ve repented with the dinner you see above: two nights ago I made that Jambalaya and I bet even that white-haired guy from the Cajun cooking show would’ve loved it.

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