Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 100 - Sautéed Skate Wing, Peach Ice Cream, and Peach Jam

100 days! Wow... I have to say, it feels like longer, though not in a bad way.

When I was on the phone with Martha telling her I was doing this project, she said something like "You must be learning a lot," and I said "I'm a different person in the kitchen." Which is pretty good for 100 days, right?

Harriet and I have a monthly date, and at my birthday dinner, she invited Adinah to join us this month, so I thought I'd cook for them again....

Sautéed Skate Wing (p. 254)

I don't think I've ever had skate... maybe in a bouillabaise, but never out in the open. It's a prehistoric looking fish, and you can see why the meat is referred to as "wings." The fillets are uniquely shaped and the meat has deep ridges, but it's relatively sturdy and stood up well to dredging in flour and sautéing.

As Martha suggests, this recipe cooks up quick, so you want to do all the prep work beforehand, and there's not too much.

The biggest job is suprêming the grapefruit. I'd seen chefs suprêming on Top Chef, so I knew the gist of it, but until you do something yourself, it's just a concept. It's so much easier than I thought! You literally slice the peel off the grapefruit, top then sides, cutting right through to the flesh, until you have a rounded piece of fruit completely exposed on all sides. (Not peeled, mind you, but inner flesh exposed.) Then you cut in between the membranes to release the fillets/segments, and when that's done, you squeeze the juice out of what's left. It's such a refined way to handle citrus, I never would have thought to do it myself...

The rest of the prep is toasting and chopping hazelnuts, setting out flour, butter, thyme, salt and pepper, oil, making a little lemon juice.

The cooking happens quickly (of course never as quickly as it says in the book - why are my timings still wacky?). I used a stainless steel sauté pan because Martha says to brown the fish, and I've thought maybe the non-stick pans don't brown as well. But even with the oil pretty hot, the fish didn't quite brown, at least not in the 2 minutes she says it takes. No matter... it tasted amazing and was perfectly cooked, but just wasn't very browned.

Once the fish is cooked (then covered and waiting), you wipe out the pan and make the sauce. This is a classic browned butter sauce, so I wanted to make sure at least the butter browned. Again, the timing was totally off. Martha said that browning would happen in 30-60 seconds, for me it was more like 5 minutes. Fine. I can wait.

In went the juices and the thyme and the nuts, and then it was done!

It makes a beautiful presentation, with the grapefruit sections, and it tastes just incredible. Salty, sweet, meaty, crunchy, buttery, fruity, herby. Probably one of my favorite recipes in the book so far, it's a perfect blend of flavors and textures.

Adinah and Harriet also loved it, and they both admitted to a prior skate snobbery, but now they have been converted!

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Peach Jam (p. 471)

I made this so I could make the Peach Ice Cream that follows.

I think there might be a giant omission in this recipe. There's nothing in there about skinning the peaches. I looked at many other peach jam recipes to see if I could find one that used the skins, but they all involved peeling the peaches. So I peeled. I can't imagine Martha didn't intend for me to peel...

Again, things took a little longer than described in the recipe: the 5-6 minutes of cooking to thicken the jam was more like 15. But the results were lovely. Homemade peach jam! Yum.

Mine is quite chunky, and it's a tad sweet for my taste, but you know I'm not a sugar hound. I like things on the tart side... But it's going to taste great in the ice cream!

Jeff: A
Martha B
(A less savvy student might not have known to peel the peaches...)

Peach Ice Cream (p. 471)

This recipe is literally the vanilla ice cream recipe with peach jam folded in at the end.

As you may remember, I wasn't that excited about the vanilla ice cream, so I wasn't really looking forward to this. However, I think maybe I executed this better the second time around, because today it tastes magical to me.

The part of the recipe I think I blew the first time was the cooking of the custard after the egg yolks have been incorporated. You're supposed to cook it until it thickens and can cover the back of the spoon, and I think I quit too soon. This time, I let it get really thick, and it developed a taste that I can't put my finger on, but it tastes somehow "brown" to me. Like toasted caramel or something sweet and browned. It's really delicious! And with peach jam added?? To die.

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Until we eat again....

Adinah (l) and Harriet (r) with their new favorite fish, skate!


  1. I think you need to do that whole meal again so you can get the times down to what Martha said they should be. And you should invite Charles and me over for this go-round. Seriously, this sounds like the best yet. Also: from that linked picture, the fellow looks like a relative of the sting ray! Also also: I admire your restraint in not making a pun about "cheap skate."

  2. Funny you should say "cheap skate," because I was struck by how much less expensive skate was compared to other fish at the market.

    As for the sting ray comparison, I just did a little research and yes, the skate is a ray, but a distant relative to the sting ray. The major differences are that sting rays have venomous barbs, skates do not, sting rays can gravitate to brackish and fresh water habitats, skates are marine only, and sting rays give birth to live young, skates lay eggs.

    As for repeating a dish on you, never! You're one of the people I don't mind crashing and burning with - I'm not going to polish my chops on you! I'm going to go out on limbs with you! I'll have you back over for Rabbit and Pavlova! :-)

    Meanwhile, you should make the skate for Charles! He'll plotz! :-)

  3. I just made the skate last night and I had the same thing happen. It took longer and some of them got beautiful and brown and some of them didn't. I wish I could figure out what I'd done... Also the pan was so messy at the end, I couldn't "wipe it with a paper towel" and had to just use a new one to make the butter sauce, which took longer than the recipe said. Still, the results were delicious. I did substitute blanched almonds for blanched hazelnuts because my boyfriend doesn't like hazelnuts...

  4. Hey Aaron- I've been thinking about cooking this recipe again for a while. I'm guessing you didn't use a non-stick pan, either, since yours was too messy to wipe with a paper towel. I wonder if skate would brown in a non-stick pan....
    Great recipe, though, right? Thanks for posting!