Food for Thought from Suzanne Dunaway

P-O Life reader, Suzanne Dunaway, has cooked since she was 5 years old, when she made cinnamon pinwheels from her mother’s pastry dough.

She LOVES to cook. Some might say she LIVES to cook. The smells, the tastes, the textures…

She is a firm believer in simplicity and creates her recipes in the ethos of ‘anyone can cook’.

After years of experience in her own kitchen, cooking schools and private classes all over the world, in this weekly blog, Suzanne shares with us her PO-inspired creations.

With many strings to her bow, she is also an artist and columnist, with two published cookbooks.

Brandade de Morue

I first fell in love with salt cod in Rome, where every Friday in what is known as the Ghetto, you could find traiteurs with stainless sinks in which running cold water slid over the translucent flesh of preserved codfish/morue.

The fish must be desalted, but oh, how delicious it is in what I call my Morue Dauphinoise, or in the lovely paste of fish, garlic and parsley (or cilantro for a change) called brandade, to be eaten hot or tepid with crusty country bread.

I recently bought my salt cod from Intermarché, and it one of the best around, not oversalted and easy to desalinate.

Cut the piece of salt cod in two (to fit a container!), place in a container, larger piece on the bottom, with lid (for safety in fridge) and cover with cold water to desalinate for 24 hours.

Change the water the next day and then check the saltiness again by biting into the fleshiest part of the fish. It should still be moderately salty, but pleasant, as if you had seasoned it yourself.

I love brandade on little toasted French bread slices for apéros.  But it is difficult to keep from eating it right out of the blender with a spoon!  I am especially fond of using fresh cilantro in place of parsley, which could shock a purist, but my French cobaye (guinea pig) loved it.

Recipe 1 : Brandade

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (a generous half kilo) salted cod
  • 1 medium white potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Fresh pepper
  • A squeeze of lemon

Method

Soak the cod in cold water overnight, changing the water once or twice, depending on the thickness of the fish.  You may remove the thinner pieces to wait for the thick one to de-salt. Drain.

Put the cod, cut into about four pieces and completely checked for bones, in a skillet with the potato, celery, onion, and carrot. Cover with water just to the top of the ingredients, cover the pan, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Remove the cod and potatoes and use rest of the broth for soupe de poisson or other fish dishes.

In the bowl of a food processor, put the de-boned cod, the cooked potato, the cloves of garlic and the parsley (or cilantro).

brandadeBlend the ingredients, pouring olive oil in a stream, to a consistency of mashed potato.

Add the cream and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Add a few drops of lemon to finish.

My variation:  Do try a good handful of cilantro instead of parsley. It really is a cilantro addict’s dream brandade. And you may also use Greek yogurt or fromage frais in  place of cream



Recipe 2 : Brandade dauphinoise

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds salted cod, desalinated 24 hours in cold water
  • 1/2 cup flour mixed with a little sweet paprika and a little fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onions, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds (or any way you like to slice potatoes)
  • 1 generous cup whole milk (after desalination, the drained cod may sit in this milk to await its fate)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs
  • Dash of nutmeg (optional)

Method

Soak the salt cod in cold water in a container in the refrigerator, changing the water daily for two days. Again, this will depend on the cod, see above for testing method.

Drain the fish and cut into serving pieces.

Heat the oven to 375 F or 195 C.

Toss the cod pieces (haha) with the flour, pepper and paprika.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic until golden. Place these in a well-oiled shallow casserole.

Sauté the potatoes for a few minutes just until barely soft and add to the dish.

Take the fish from the flour mixture and place it on top of the onions and garlic.

Add the milk and cream to the casserole and dot with butter. Squeeze a few drops of lemon over all.

Sprinkle the crumbs over the mixture

Bake for 35 minutes, then turn off the oven and the morue will hold for another 15 minutes.

Serve with fresh, stewed tomatoes and toasted baguette slices.

As with so many of my recipes, the leftovers may be whizzed up with fish or chicken broth (the broth you saved from brandade, for example!) into a mind-boggling soup.  I add a spoon of Greek yogurt at the finish and the usual squeeze of lemon to keep the acids balanced.

morue

Tempted?

If you test this recipe, please share your comments and photos in the space below.

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