Monthly Archives: October 2013

Spanish Mackerel – Not Your Typical Mackerel

One of my favorite whole fish is Spanish mackerel.  Typically, I can only find these fish at Whole Foods; however, today I saw several staring back at me from the case in Feby’s Fish Market.  Wild Spanish mackerel are an attractive silvery color with yellowish spots.  They have a white, flaky flesh and a milder, more appealing taste than Atlantic mackerel.

whole mackerel

The fishmonger gutted and scaled the fish, leaving the head and tail intact.  I used the very simple preparation below, steaming the mackerel on the grill in an aluminum foil pouch.

Place the fish on a sheet of aluminum foil and top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Place additional slices of lemon on top of the mackerel along with fresh herbs.  Cook on medium heat on a gas grill for 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the size.  Test its doneness by sticking a fork through the flesh.  If the fork goes straight through, the fish should be cooked.

To serve, remove the head and tail with a sharp knife and slide a flat spatula down the spine to remove the top fillet.  Remove the spine from the bottom fillet and then lift it with the spatula.  Serve with your favorite rice.  (Tonight I prepared a basmati rice cooked in coconut water to add a sweet, nutty flavor.)


Cheese + Pumpkin = Perfect Cheese Board

cheese 2

Today in Honors Algebra 2, my class that has embraced the ingredient of the month, I prepared a cheese board to highlight this month’s star – pumpkin.  We enjoyed five cheeses paired with a pumpkin compote, and the variety gave students an opportunity to sample various textures and sources.  Starting to the left of the crackers:

  • Morbier (France) – a semi soft cow’s milk with vegetable ash through the middle
  • Brillat Savarin (France) – a soft, decadent triple cream cow’s milk (the class favorite)
  • Pepato (Sicily) – a semi hard sheep’s milk with black peppercorns
  • Valdeon (Spain) – a semi soft cow’s milk blue wrapped in chestnut leaves
  • Manchego(Spain)  – a firm sheep’s milk

Please pardon the paper plate…remember, the cheese (and pumpkin) are the stars!

cheese 1

Autumn Soup at Sbraga

My favorite Philadelphia restaurant, Sbraga, is currently serving the ultimate autumn soup – carrot ginger.  The ginger provides a kick that is balanced by the sweetness of the carrot.  A perfect spoonful will include a piece of the charred marshmallow slowly melting into the velvety gold puree.  You will also notice an occasional surprise hidden in the rich, creamy soup – chopped pistachios.  This first course is sure to stimulate the palate for the courses to follow.

carrot soup




Cute as a Pumpkin

Each month my Honors Algebra 2 students select an ingredient of the month and sign up to bring in foods inspired by our theme.  Of course, October’s ingredient is pumpkin.  Two recent items were creative twists on pumpkin cupcakes…

Vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese icing

Vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese icing and a pumpkin top

Chocolate cupcakes decorated like Jack O'Lanterns with pretzel stems

Chocolate cupcakes decorated like Jack O’Lanterns with pretzel stems

Ladurée Macarons

A thoughtful friend recently brought me a box of macarons from Ladurée on Madison Avenue in New York City.  Although I have visited a Paris Ladurée, I have not yet been to the only Ladurée “maison” in the United States.  I understand that the line usually stretches out to the sidewalk.

This French sweets house established in 1862 is one of the most famous makers of macarons.  Some of the flavors included in my box were coffee, pistachio, raspberry, vanilla of Madagascar and chocolate coconut.  Seasonal flavors and interesting new flavors are always popping up, like the “pink pepper” filled with cream infused with pink pepper.  Each and every macaron is like a mini work of art – almost too pretty to eat if it were not for the message in every box stating that the sweets should be consumed within three days.  This box is now down to two…