Ok, maybe that’s not the first thing you thought when you saw this picture. Believe me, I was skeptical, too. Especially since I’m actually talking about bacala, or salt cod. Yah, the stuff you can probably cause some serious brain damage with if you decide to backhand someone with the nearest piece of dried fish. But bear with me for a second; I promise, I won’t lead you astray. Unless, of course, you hate fish — in which case, I really can’t help you.
So imagine the best white fish you’ve ever had, paired ever so perfectly with amazingly buttery, completely creamy mashed potatoes. The combination of the creamy, buttery smoothness with that addictive fatty fish taste is essentially highlighted in this brandade, and pairs beautifully with crusty peasant bread and a few other basic necessities. Apart from that, we’ve been eating it all week, and aren’t sick of it yet. So if you’re curious about bacala, go try it!
On a completely unrelated note, I sometimes think it’d be cool to have a more interesting name. See, everyone knows a Liz or two, so when Marty memes me, he might not actually mean ME. But hey, I’ve never been memed, so I’ll give it a go regardless.
Here are the rules:
A) The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
B) Each player answers the questions about himself or herself.
C) At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
1) Ten years ago I was…
A very awkward high school student, and the new kid, at that.
2) Five things on today’s to-do list:
Update my publications list, finish a proposal, clean up my office, procrastinate on my blog, and wash lots of a scary amount of fries down with plenty of cheap beer (and an awesome Guinness cake).
3) Things I’d do if I were a billionaire:
Revolutionize the school cafeteria programs across the country in an effort to change food culture in the US for the better, set up some education programs to help people all over start local agriculture projects and make some progress on ending world hunger, and throw some serious money at revolutionizing the public transit / pedestrian / bike systems in the US in order to help wean us all off our gas guzzling lifestyle. Ok, that’d all probably take more than a few billion, but it’s good to dream, no? Alternatively, I could build my own radioactive beam facility. Frankly, I think the first few projects are more worthwhile (shh, don’t tell my lab!).
4) Three bad habits:
(1) I can’t make a decision to save my life, (2) I know I’ll forget people’s names unless I see them written, so I tend not to try very hard, and (3) Caffeine:Liz :: Speed:Everyone
5) Five places I’ve lived:
- San Jose, CA (don’t remember that one. Was it Santa Clara? I don’t know — somewhere near the two)
- Fresno, CA
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Los Angeles, CA
- Santa Barbara, CA
- New Haven, CT (Yes, that’s 6, but experimentalists can’t count anyway)
6) Six jobs I’ve had in my life:
Custodian, Returns Processor, Bakery clerk, Library slave, Medical records entry slave, Lab slave (see a theme?)
This recipe is from last week’s episode of The Cook and the Chef. I had a packet of bacala (bought on a whim) in the fridge, and was trying to figure out what to do with it… The next thing I know, James and I are watching this week’s show, which happens to feature this very ingredient. My version is pretty much the same as theirs, except I add some paprika, use a mixed pepper blend, and skip the parsley.
- 1 lb. salt cod / bacala. If you can get a boneless version, your life will be much easier.
- 1-1/2 c. milk
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 medium potato (they suggested something like an Idaho spud, but I think Yukon gold would work well), baked or microwaved until soft and peeled
- 1 c. olive oil, heated
- Juice from 1 lemon
- Paprika and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Soak the cod for ~24 hours, changing the water whenever you feel like it. You want to wash some of the salt off of the fish, so make sure you feel like it a few times, at least.
Add the salt cod, 3/4 c. of the milk, bay leaves, and garlic to a heavy pot. Simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the fish is soft. Discard the milk and bay leaves, but keep the fish and garlic. Don’t worry about the milk proteins (the little white curdled milk bits on the fish). They’ll be good in the final product.
Heat olive oil and remaining milk in separate pans until hot. The milk should be scalded, and the olive oil should be at a similar temperature.
Break the salt cod into chunks with a fork. Discard the skin and bones, and then place the remaining flesh in a blender or food processor (the latter’s better, but I don’t have one, so I made do). Add the oil slowly, while blending, and then add the garlic. Finally, add in the milk. Your blender will be complaining, but keep trying — once you add enough liquid, you should be good to go. If need be, add a bit more oil until you get the blender working. Once the fish is smoothly blended, add the potato. Keep blending until the whole mixture looks like creamy mashed potatoes, and then stop.
Pour into a storage or serving container. Mix in the pepper and paprika, to taste, and chill before serving (or don’t — it’s pretty good warm, too).
Challah recipe is forthcoming … I am too lazy to write it up now.