Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mom Takes Back the Kitchen

In case you haven't read my posts from the past few weeks, I love my job.  However, after two months of being a full-timer, I have found one thing that I dislike - the lack of time for cooking.  When I was unemployed, I balanced my time between laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and Lifetime movies (my only downfall).  I had way too much time on my hands to think about food, and browse the internet for new recipes, and shop, and prep, and execute the dinner I had so carefully planned.  Now, after eight hours serving other people, all I want to do is flop down on the couch and have some sort of food placed in front of me.  There's something semi-mind-numbing about asking the same questions all day every day ("Here or to go? Coleslaw or potato salad?  Small or large?  Napkins and silverware in the bag?"), that by the time I'm done my brain can't even formulate a full thought, let alone plan a dinner menu.  And, if by chance, I do find enough mental and physical strength to cook, I rush the process (mainly so we don't end up eating at nine at night) and I don't really get to enjoy it.  

Now I don't want to seem all woe-is-me.  I take full advantage of my days off, which actually makes those nights that I do get to cook even more enjoyable - and delicious.  And it also gives my parents a chance to put their aprons on and get back in the kitchen.  A few weeks ago, I served as my dad's sous chef when he made Panko Crusted Cod and Two Toned Potatoes.  This week, my mom was chef, however, she didn't let me step foot inside the kitchen.  Actually, she wouldn't let me know what she was doing, or even look inside the grocery bags.  My only job was setting the table and pouring the wine, which allowed for a quick nap before dinner.
The smells wafting down the hall to my room from the kitchen were absolutely lovely, but I was unsure what was being made.  Even after the plate was set down in front of me, I wasn't quite sure what all the components were.  I anxiously waited for my mom to finish plating so she could spill the beans (baked beans, that is).  

Mom made a whole golden trout stuffed with apples and caramelized onions, baked potatoes which she then served with some of the apple-onions stuffing and a small dollop of chipotle mustard on top, and roasted asparagus with raspberries.  The meal was the epitome of balance between sweet and savory (which you know I love), with a subtle smokey undertone.  When I asked her how she came up with the ideas, she said that at a work conference, they had served a chilled asparagus and raspberry salad, but wanted to know if it would work as a hot dish - it did.  Begin a warm spring night, she went to the store with the image of a whole fish with barbeque sauce in her head.  She found a whole golden trout, but when she went to find a good barbeque sauce, she realized that every single one had high fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient.  Not being a fan of artificial ingredients, she decided to do her own spin on barbeque.  She also noticed that a large amount of sauces were Applewood-Smoked Bacon flavored, a flavor which she tried to create by using the apples, caramelized onions, and cherry juice - and I have to say, using the combination of sweet, savory, and tart, she pulled it off.

Apple-Onion Stuffed Golden Trout with Baked Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus with Raspberries
2 medium sized whole trouts
4 small butter potatoes
1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
¼ cup raspberries
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large green apple
½ tsp chipotle mustard per serving
¾ cup tart cherry juice
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tbs butter
olive oil
salt and white pepper

+ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
+ Wrap each potato in foil and bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on size.
+ Place asparagus in a shallow baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes.  Add the raspberries, bake for 10 minutes, or until asparagus is cooked through.
+ While potatoes and asparagus are roasting, caramelize onions in a splash of oil in a medium sauce pan.  Once the onions are done, add the cherry juice to deglaze the pan.  Set onions aside.
+ Once the vegetables are done roasting, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.  
+ Rinse the fish thoroughly, then place in a large baking dish.  Salt and pepper the inside of the fish. 
+ Slice ¼ of the apple very thinly.  Place apples inside the fish, then top with half of the caramelized onions.  Pour the cherry juice from the onions over the fish.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, basting the fish or adding more juice if the fish begins to dry out.
+ Dice the remaining apple, place in a medium sauce pan.  Add cinnamon, a dash of sugar, and butter.  Cook the apples - adding water if needed to keep a little moisture in the pan - for about 10 minutes, or until caramelized.  Combine cooked apples with remaining onions.
+ To serve, cut cooked potatoes in half, top with a table spoon of the apple-onion mixture and chipotle mustard.  Finish fish with a good-sized spoon-full of cherry juice from baking dish.  Add a few fresh uncooked raspberries on top of the asparagus.  A scoop of baked beans on the side rounds out the whole barbeque feel.

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