|Sous vide Halibut with Rhubarb Ginger Butter Sauce, from Greg Atkinson's In Season - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Chef Atkinson's name should sound familiar -- he's freshened up the stunning menu at Canlis and is the chef/owner of the beloved and award-winning Restaurant Marche on Bainbridge Island. His adherence to fresh, seasonal cooking isn't just imbued upon any Pacific Northwest chef, he honed his craft on San Juan Island, launching the the dining program at Friday Harbor House. If you've visited the San Juans, it's an idyllic setting to appreciate and learn the skill of preparing food seasonally. There's an abundance of produce and seafood available right outside one's doorstep, and you become acutely aware of what's coming and going as the months pass. His cookbook isn't just recipes, it's a love letter to all the seasons and the delicious gifts they bring. The dishes and essays encourage you to be more aware of your surroundings, appreciate the things that thrive in our charming region. And the recipes are simple -- you're not going to be spending days of prep on everything; the food is meant to showcase the ingredients as simply as possible, highlighting the freshness of each item.
|Our Lush (not lush) Harvest of Rhubarb! - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
|Rhubarb Should Be Called the Christmas Plant! Or the Italian/Mexican Flag Plant - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|The Way God Intended All Foods to Be Enjoyed - Lots of Butter and Wine - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
The resulting dish was truly Spring on a Plate. Tender halibut, sitting on a bed of wilted greens (I just cooked down some Swiss chard, but spinach, rice, or lightly seasoned potatoes would work), and the zesty rhubarb sauce. The rhubarb will definitely give the sauce a Hello Kitty hue, but I think it helps telling people from the get-go that it's a savory rhubarb sauce. It won't taste sweet, but there's a definite fresh sweetness, mostly from the ginger, and the tartness of the rhubarb acts almost like citrus. You're asking: so what's the recipe? As always, I don't like to copy/paste recipes from books, unless a recipe has already been released with permission; it always feels like stealing. I'd rather encourage people to experience In Season for themselves, I think this is a book worth reading, not just for this recipe, but ones you'll be able to use year-round, as you cook with the seasons.
|Keeping it Fresh and Somewhat Healthy for a Weekend With Family - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|A Treat from Last Summer - Ice Cream Made With Last Summer's Blackberry Jam - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
But I did make one sugar-naughty thing: blackberry ice cream. I reduced the amount of sugar in the ice cream base (and there was plenty in the fruit, so this dessert was no angel), but I felt like even if I kept with my original recipe, homemade ice cream still has less sugar than the store-bought stuff. So there. As for the blackberries... hey, that's not a springtime fruit! True, but we were being resourceful, using homemade blackberry jam, given to us by friends from last summer. This is one way to enjoy berries out of season - use jams or preserves to flavor ice cream! A note about trying to cut sugar when making ice cream: I wish I could cut the sugar completely from making an ice cream base, but I've tried that and the ice cream comes out hard as a rock -- even with a fuller-fat base using cream and extra eggs, the sugar must almost be like an antifreeze element, keeping the mixture from totally freezing solid. I need to experiment more, but I may try no/low-sugar frozen yogurt to see if that sets up without turning into concrete.
Having family visiting was a great occasion to try out Greg Atkinson's book, as well as celebrate fresh, simple foods. The meals were colorful, which is a sign of season's change and healthy ingredients at work.