August 30, 2006

Low Tidings

People who know me know I'm quite the chef, and like everything I do, there is a method to my madness.

By procuring, preparing and serving all the food in our household, I control what and when we eat. More important, I eliminate the danger of putting Karen in the kitchen where she is even money to harm herself and others, most notably me.

About eight years ago I asked her to have a television put into the kitchen for my birthday. It was all part of my long range plan to watch as much sports as possible while assuring I ingest edible food.

Karen has never figured out that our dinner time is solely derived by what sporting event is on television. On Sundays during football season, for example, we always eat at 7:15, which, not coincidentally, is right after the four o'clock game ends. We finish just as the eight o'clock game begins, which means I cheerfully do the dishes (very slowly) while I wait for her to fall asleep.

During baseball season, our lives revolve around the Mets and Yankees. On days when one or both have evening games beginning at 7:05, I leisurely prepare a feast that might take hours — depending on how long the games are. On the other hand, if a game is slated for an 8 p.m. start, we finish, amazingly, at 7:55.

People always ask me for recipes. Sure, I could reveal the secrets of my Apricot and Laurentian Foie Gras Stuffed With Bob White Quail, but then I'd have to kill you. Do I have 47 recipes involving my homemade veal demi-glace? Yes, but you'd need a double-header to do all the prep work. Here are a couple simple items using our own very best treasures.

Striped Bass with Corn Relish and Tomato Salad

This recipe takes advantage of the three shining stars of August and September: local corn, local tomatoes and striped bass right from the water to the plate. Remember, nothing tops freshness!

Two seven-ounce striped bass filets

Two local tomatoes, vine ripened

Two local cucumbers, freshly picked

A handful of diced olives

A can of black beans

One red onion, sliced

1/2 red onion diced

1/2 cup of virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Fresh oregano, basil and parsley

3/4 stick butter

One cup dry white wine

1/4 cup dry sherry

1/2 cup lemon juice

Salt, pepper, paprika

Four ears local corn, white and/or yellow and white

Put the fish in a broiling pan, add wine, butter, lemon juice, sherry, 1/2 cup water and some finely diced parsley. Sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika generously on top of fish.

Steam corn, let cool.

Cut tomatoes into wedges, peel and cut cukes, slice red onion thinly, add the olives. Mix together.

Add 2/3 of vinegar and olive oil, generous amount of finely diced oregano and sugar in cup. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture over tomatoes and cukes and turn frequently with a slotted spoon.

Put fish under broiler for about eight minutes.

Meanwhile, shave corn into a bowl, rinse and add black beans, finely diced fresh basil and diced red onion and remaining oil and vinegar, and mix.

When fish is done (paprika should be dark and melted) place each filet on a plate. Ladle liquid from pan around each filet. Use slotted spoon to put corn mixture on top of fish. Serve tomato salad on side.

That's it. Incidentally, everyone should have a fresh herb garden, even if you live in an upstairs apartment. I have two kinds of parsley, cilantro, chives, basil, oregano, lemon thyme (which tastes suspiciously like soap) and sage, but my wife won't let me use the latter because she claims she saw the dog lift his leg on the pot once.

Pop open a good Sauvignon Blanc and enjoy the East End's finest bounty before it's too late. And don't forget my little secret — serve before or after the game, but never during it!

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