In creating any dish the approach for me is to begin with a need. Why do I need to create this dish? What is the season? What is the reason? I don’t approach food just to create, for me that would be too easy, like turning on a machine and sooner or later it all becomes just pieces moving in a direction.
My approach to food is like my approach to life, Fired Up! So I take a path less traveled and use a different method in creating dishes. I call it boxing. Here is an article I wrote for Catersource Magazine about boxing. This will help illustrate the concept and hopefully open you to a new way of thinking about food.
Fire it up!
1/2 fennel bulb (sometimes called anise)
1 small onion
1 large plum tomato
1 large garlic clove
1/2 pound mussels (preferably cultivated)
1/4 pound large shrimp (about 7)
1/2-pound piece skinless scrod or halibut
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups fish stock
Broth preparation: Trim fennel stalks flush with bulb, discarding stalks. Finely chop fennel and onion. Seed tomato and finely chop. Mince garlic. Scrub mussels well and remove beards. Shell shrimp and devein. Cut scrod into 1-inch pieces. Stir saffron into wine.
In a 4-quart kettle cook fennel and onion in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine mixture and simmer until reduced to about 1 tablespoon, about 3 minutes. Add mussels with 1/2 cup stock and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until most mussels are opened, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp, scrod, tomato, and remaining 2 1/2 cups stock and cook at a bare simmer until fish is just cooked through, about 2 minutes. (Discard any unopened mussels.) Season mixture with salt and pepper.
3ea Plum Tomato
Tomato Crisp preparation: Prepare on oven to 125 F. Slice tomatoes paper thin by hand or by slicing machine. The thinner the better. Place a cooling rackon a sheet pan and lay the tomatoes on the rack. Place into the oven for 8 hours or until dry. Another method would to use a dehydrator for 10 hours at 125 F.
6ea Peruvian Purple Potato (10pc each)
6ea Yukon Gold Potatoes (10pc each)
3c Fish Stock
Potato preparation: With a small baller, ball both potatoes, keeping them separated and hold in water until you are read to serve. When you are ready to serve place potatoes in separate pot with enough stock to cover potatoes bring to a simmer and cook until tender to a fork. Reserve potatoes for plating.
8 pc 6-8oz
6oz Olive Oil
Halibut preparation: Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Heat a 12″ non stick pan, add oil, before oil starts to smoke add fillets flesh side down and seared until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Carefully turn fish onto skin side facing down and cook for an additional 7 minutes or until fish is cooked to desired temperature. Remove from pan and reserve on paper towel until ready to plate.
6ea Leek Stalks, white parts leaving about 1/2 green intact
3tsp olive Oil
Grilled Leeks preparation: Heat grill to medium heat. Split leeks in half lengthwise, wash all dirt from leek leaves and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Grill inside of leek until well marked and tender. Remove from grill and cut into 4 wedges each. Reserve 18 wedges and chop the remainder for garnish.
To assemble the dish
Place 3 pieces of grilled leeks in center of plate
Place 3 pcs of purple potato and yukon golds on each side of fish alternating colors
Place fish on top of leeks
Pour 4oz of Saffron broth over fish
Top fish with slices of tomato chips
Top tomato chips with Chopped Leeks