Rise and Shine: Part IV

Banana Pancakes 1I’ve always been a morning person, which explains my love affair with breakfast. The alarm clock is my “hallelujah” chorus as I dash into the kitchen and welcome the day with a bowl of delicious food. I love breakfast so much that I would eat it for every meal. It is (as they say) they “most important meal” since it fuels your entire day. Tom and I have started a mini tradition of cooking unique breakfasts for one another, featured as the “Rise and Shine” series on this blog. A few weeks ago, we were huddled in his apartment during a rainstorm and I had a serious craving for pancakes…and not just any pancakes: banana pancakes. So we braved the crappy weather, grabbed ingredients from a local market, and went to work on these Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes with Honey.
Banana PancakesPancakes are so beloved and simple that their equivalent can be found in practically any culture: injera in Ethiopia, blintzes in Russia, bánh xèo in Vietnam, crêpes in France…at its simplest, a pancake is a flat, round cake cooked on a griddle or frying pan. It is typically made from a starch-based batter that is either leavened or unleavened. Pancakes as we know them are typically leavened (using baking soda and/or powder), but most cultures prefer unleavened. In an effort to make our pancakes “healthy”, we used whole wheat flour and all-organic ingredients.
honeyThese pancakes have a perfect balance of sweetness and texture. They’re moist and fluffy, thanks to the addition of puréed bananas, but not as dense as banana bread. The only other sweetening agent is one tablespoon of honey. I love honey, and will often use it in lieu of maple syrup by drizzling it over pancakes or French toast. These banana pancakes were a hit, and both Tom and I had to go for seconds. They will definitely become a go-to treat for rainy days. Click HERE to add this dish to your morning routine!
Banana Pancakes 2Pancakes are a playful dish, and can brighten practically any day (especially the rainy ones). This inspired my musical pairing of Schubert’s Impromptu Op. 90 No. 4. An impromptu is defined as something that is “done without being planned, organized, or rehearsed.” This piece isn’t necessarily spontaneous, but the playful energy and sudden shifts are perhaps more in line with the “unplanned” feeling. It’s overall merriment is very much akin to a childish energy, which can certainly be compared to an impromptu (and pancakes!). The piece opens with a series of cascading progressions, followed by gentle and grounded chords – the juxtaposition of playful with calm sets the opening tone of joyfulness. The middle section suddenly descends into a place of deep brooding and apprehension, as the music unfolds in a minor setting. Both the melody and harmony are immersed into a restless dialogue of self doubt – the pall is suddenly lifted as the opening material resumes and brightens the mood. The pieces end as it began, with a joyful air and light heart. The below recording is with pianist Krystian Zimerman – enjoy!

Sources Cited:
“Pancake,” Wikipedia.com
“Impromptus (Schubert),” Wikipedia.com

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Rise and Shine: Part I

French Toast 5The majority of the recipes on this blog have a dinner and/or dessert connotation – sadly, there is little to no representation of my favorite meal: breakfast. It is the only time of day that encourages both creative ingredients and caloric liberties. Breakfast can make or break your day, depending on how “scrambled” you feel once you walk out the door. As such, I’ve decided to introduce a new series on this blog called “Rise and Shine” – these posts will showcase morning favorites, and natural light is the BEST lighting for foodie photos…so this series is a total win-win. Last weekend I was in NYC for Valentine’s Day, and rather than risk the crowds/drama at local restaurants, Tom and I spent the weekend cooking at home. We ended up making some great meals, including this Whole Wheat French Toast with Bananas Foster.
French Toast 4French Toast is a breakfast icon, and thankfully it’s a cinch to make. The history of this dish is somewhat nebulous, though it finds an affinity with recipes dating all the way back to the 4th century (only the most delicious recipes stand the test of time). It was and still is a great solution for using up stale bread. You basically soak individual slices of day-old bread in an egg & cream mixture, then frying the bread until browned and cooked through. It creates the perfect canvas for any number of toppings, from maple syrup to fresh fruit. We sadly had grabbed a bad batch of raspberries (hate when that happens!) and had to ditch almost the entire crate. The weather outside was discouraging, but we needed a new plan…
French Toast 3Tom decided to brave the wintery slush to grab a few bananas from the corner store. He had some rum in the apartment, which led to my suggesting bananas foster…and Jamaican coffees, which were stellar. Bananas foster is fairly simple, and though I personally believe that the flambé makes all the difference it is optional: you can safely add the rum and allow it to cook down for a few minutes with a simmer alone (and avoid the concern of setting fire to your kitchen). Right towards the end, Tom suggested adding the few raspberries we had salvaged, and it gave the dish a nice Valentine’s Day touch 🙂 I drizzled some clover honey over the plated slices of toast and foster, and the result was…well, I’ll let the photos do the talking. Click HERE for a sweet recipe to start your day!
French Toast 1Have you ever eaten a meal with others in total silence? Granted…there are times when this implies an extremely tense situation (as I imagine celebrity family dinners in the wake of a PR scandal must be), but silence is more often than not an indication of a delicious meal. Once we started eating the French toast, very few words were exchanged. The ability to appreciate without disruption – whether it be food or music – allows you to more fully experience that which you are enjoying. There honestly should be no need for words. This led to my choosing Felix Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words (Lieder ohne Worte): a collection of short solo piano pieces, written between 1829 and 1845. Much the way that the foodie photos above speak for themselves, Mendelssohn was adamant that these works needed no written clarification – he felt the musical messages were far clearer than any program notes could express. The following statement captures his thoughts exactly:

People often complain that music is too ambiguous, that what they should think when they hear it is so unclear, whereas everyone understands words. With me, it is exactly the opposite, and not only with regard to an entire speech but also with individual words. These, too, seem to me so ambiguous, so vague, so easily misunderstood in comparison to genuine music, which fills the soul with a thousand things better than words. The thoughts which are expressed to me by music that I love are not too indefinite to be put into words, but on the contrary, too definite.

While some might believe this is a matter-of-course statement for classical composers, his music fully supports the sentiment. The pieces in this collection aren’t overly complicated – in fact, many find them lacking in technical dexterity and difficult to interpret as a consequence. Their subtle melodies come across as spoken dialogue, with gentle harmonies that neither overpower the music nor overwhelm the listener. The music’s message is clear and quite literally needs no words. The below recording is the full collection with pianist Daniel Barenboim (this recording is over 2 hours in length…so feel free to listen in shifts). Enjoy!

Sources Cited: 
“French toast,” Wikipedia.com
“Songs without Words”, Wikipedia.com

A Natural Charm

(I would like to dedicate this post to my friend, Sarah Knapp Kidd – Sarah passed away earlier today, having lost a hard-fought battle with cancer. She was loved by many, and will be truly missed. We will forever keep her joy and smile in our hearts.)
Rosemary Tart 1I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, which is ironic given my love of baking! While many see desserts as a godsend, I am often more inclined to choose natural sweets: fresh fruits, floral honeys, maple syrup – all possess a great deal more character than Mary Poppins’ beloved “spoonful of sugar.” We often forget the simple beauty of organics ingredients, and opt for convenient and distilled substitutes. Though I’ve yet to forgo the joys of making cookies and cakes, I’ve been steadily moving more towards rustic alternatives…like this Almond & Mascarpone Tart with Honeyed Fruits.
Rosemary Tart 3This crust is by far one of the best I’ve had – the almond flour adds a crumbly lightness to the texture, while the rosemary lends a savory hint. The two pair quite beautifully with fruits, making it the ideal crust in this setting. This was the first time I had made an actual tart crust, and it was breeze! I just purchased this pan, to which I owe most of the credit – the crust came right out, and the ruffled edges were perfect.
Rosemary Tart 2This tart does little to hide its agrarian beginnings – fruit, rosemary, and honey are discernible in every bite. The beauty of this dessert comes in the preservation of these ingredients, which are easily interchangeable – figs in lieu of apricots, thyme instead of rosemary, maple syrup rather than honey (to name a few!) The trick here is to give yourself enough time since the fillings need to chill prior to serving. It’s even better the next day – in fact, I had a slice for breakfast the next morning (which is when I snapped the below photo). Click HERE to see the recipe for the beautiful tart!
Rosemary Tart 4Given the organic qualities of this dessert, I was compelled to consider a piece of music that had been inspired by nature. Of course…there are TONS of options in the classical repertoire – how can there not be? Music has an ideal voice for capturing nature’s most breathtaking elements. I wanted a piece with a pastoral character, and thus chose Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. Premiered in 1920, the music is highly evocative of an English countryside, with a violin solo portraying the flight of a lark. While Vaughn Williams certainly drew inspiration from his surroundings, English folk tunes and works by the English poet George Meredith played key roles. In fact, he included the following poem by Meredith in the final publication of the work:

He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound,
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake.

For singing till his heaven fills,
‘Tis love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup
And he the wine which overflows
to lift us with him as he goes.

Till lost on his aerial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.

Vaughn Williams never forces the orchestration, giving this poem an ideal musical setting – the strings and winds play beneath the aerial violin, which renders the image of a balletic lark soaring above the rolling hills and valleys of the countryside. It ends on serene note, where the orchestra is silent as the violin line drifts into the distance and becomes “lost on his aerial rings.” The following recording is with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and David Nolan on the violin – I hope you enjoy it!

Sources Cited:
Heninger, Barbara. “Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending” http://www.barbwired.com

Edible Brilliance

PeachCherryGalette2 2I am a total sucker for food magazines – the too-good-to-be-true photography, elaborated by mouth-watering tales and anecdotes, with star-studded chef contributions…there’s always at least one dish that catches my eye, and receives a “must-make-now” bookmark. I was sifting through some old magazines and happened across a gorgeous galette. This term is used to describe a variety of free-form pastries and cakes found in French cuisine, and is often typified as a “rustic” creation. In reality, most galettes are far from rustic, as the beauty of this dessert is its imperfection. So when I was asked to make a summery dessert for a cookout with my boyfriend’s family, this Ginger Peach and Cherry Galette was my response…and it was truly stunning.
PeachCherryGalette3 2This galette calls for a sweet pâte brisée (or a pastry dough), which incorporates a touch more sugar and eggs than your standard crust. The eggs (inevitably) make for a very sticky dough, so you will want to take that into account when rolling and transferring the pastry to a pan. The texture is also softer than your typical pastry dough, and comes together in much less time. Even so, it is still important to keep your ingredients as cold as possible during the preparation (a cardinal rule for ALL doughs).
PeachCherryGalette4 2The original recipe only called for peaches…I just happened to have poor luck at the market, so 2 of my 4 peaches were rotten. Thankfully I had a bag of fresh cherries in the fridge that I had been become quite addicted to, so this was the perfect solution for both the galette and my self control. The result was a colorful, fresh, and stunning dessert – you can use any fruit you like (except for watermelon or cantaloupe…that would be odd), and even change up the spices. Click HERE for the recipe to this beautiful summer treat!
PeachCherryGalette1 2Edible brilliance is the goal of any chef, and placing a work of art upon a plate after hours of prep can feel like an immense accomplishment. I thought a foray with “color” would be suitable for this musical pairing, which led me to a French composer whose style is notably playful, light, and full of tonal vibrancy: Jean Françaix. Having been born into a musical family, Françaix’s talent was fostered at an early age. His studies with Nadia Boulanger and Isidore Philipp led to a prolific career, and his music consequently flourished – Maurice Ravel had said of the young Françaix

“Among the child’s gifts I observe above all the most fruitful an artist can possess, that of curiosity: you must not stifle these precious gifts now or ever, or risk letting this young sensibility wither.”

The piece I chose for this pairing is Françaix’s Concertino pour piano et orchestre – composed in 1932, the work is less than 10 minutes in length, and is true to the composer’s neoclassical and witty style. The recording included below is by the composer himself (he often performed his own works for piano). Like this galette, the colors and texture are quite visceral. It’s a lovely little piece, and I hope you enjoy it!

Sources Cited:
“Jean Françaix,” Wikipedia.com

A Charming and Brilliant Dessert

OliveOilCake4Exploring what dishes to cook for a meal is always a creative adventure – things can change in the moment, and flavors can complement or even contradict. Yet dessert must be the perfect closing statement – an epilogue of taste and substance that won’t overwhelm…in other words, it can be a challenge. I was invited to make dessert for a dinner party that would have an Indian curry as the main dish, promising spicy and robust flavors. It was mentioned that the hostess has an affection for Mediterranean, so I went with an Olive-Oil Orange Cake with Candied Orange Slices.
OliveOilFor those of you cringing at the thought of baking with olive oil, consider this: olive oil has been used in baking for centuries, serving as the main culinary oil for nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It does have a very pronounced taste, which is often why we stick with canola or vegetable oils. Its flavor is also compromised when exposed to higher heat (like deep frying – bad idea). Yet when it comes to baked goods, not only does olive oil impart a lighter texture than other oils, but its possession of Vitamin E helps to maintain a cake’s moist texture and freshness – it’s a win-win situation! This website has substitution suggestions in case you’re dying to try it in one of your favorite cakes…
OliveOilCake1BUT before you go on an olive oil baking frenzy, take note: olive oil is best used in batters that can complement its fruity taste – citrus is a perfect example. Almond can also work, being a lighter and sweeter nut. While it may seem like it is, this cake is not too sweet. Its heavenly texture and subtle taste will have even the staunchest of dessert-a-phobes cleaning their plates. Click HERE to see the recipe for this showstopper!
OliveOilCake2As I mentioned, this is not an overwhelming cake – it’s quite charming, and can win over just about anyone. This “lightness” of character was reminiscent of opera buffa (comic opera). One of the most famous and beloved examples is Rossini’s The Barber of Seville – a two act opera buffa that has stood the test of time, and is arguably one of the most popular opera works of all time. Our protagonist is Figaro – a renaissance man who is both charming and ingenious. His “bright” personality is the perfect companion to this lovely dessert – the recording below is the Overture with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel – enjoy!

Sources Cited:
“Baking With Olive Oil Instead of Butter,” The Passionate Olive
“The Barber of Seville,” Wikipedia.com

Challenge Accepted

Iron Chef has transformed the way we perceive culinary challenges – the “blood, sweat, and tears” of cooking finally has a stage, and food’s competitive qualities have been taken to a whole new level. The show certainly left an impression on my mom: a business-savvy, energetic woman who loves the prospect of a challenge. So naturally, my visits home are often paired with an Iron Chef-like arrangement. My most recent challenge: Cornish Game Hens…well, that took me through a loop considering a) I had never prepared these before, and b) couldn’t even begin to imagine how they were suited for spring fare. After stumbling through several menu options, I finally landed on one that suited my standards: Roasted Cornish Hens with White Wine-Scallion Sauce.
Cornish hens are a peculiar kind of bird: they aren’t actually a game bird, but in fact a hybrid of Cornish Game and the Plymouth Chicken. Though identified as “hens,” these birds can be either male or female, and often weigh no more than 3 pounds. I was pretty floored when my mom asked me to prepare these hens for the dinner party she was hosting, especially since I’d always thought of them as that “other” holiday bird (i.e. the simpler alternative to roast turkey).
My trick in making these hens “Spring-friendly” was a combination of REALLY fresh herbs and seasonal ingredients, like scallions and shallots. Complementing these birds with strong flavors is vital considering the meat has a rather dull taste on its own. Rather than stuffing them with actual stuffing (a holiday trend), I threw in a few aromatics to help infuse the meat with more flavor. The result was an elegant, flavorful dish that had all the right notes of Spring. Our guests enjoyed nearly every last bite of their individual helpings (yet in all honesty, I’ll probably reserve future attempts with Cornish hens for the colder months) – click HERE to see the recipe for this unique dish.
For dessert, I wanted to make a cake that packed a punch but was a lighter afterthought to the entree. I’ve got a crush on vanilla beans, so shelled out $14 for TWO beans (that’s not a typo) and made a Golden Vanilla Bean Pound Cake that was out-of-this-world good. The trick with this cake is having your butter and eggs at ROOM temperature. Yes, this means shelving your fears of leaving them unrefrigerated and just letting them sit out – if I can leave you with any piece of advice when it comes to baking, this is it.
In line with the menu’s seasonal trend, I topped each slice with sherry-macerated strawberries that paired beautifully with the cake’s buttery, golden texture. Feel free to pair it with whatever strikes your fancy – ice cream, caramel, etc. Though simple to make, this cake is definitely not simple in taste, and makes for the perfect weeknight indulgence – click HERE for this heavenly treat.
For this pairing, I thought it appropriate to pair a piece of music that took on a classic, venerable topic and gave it an avant garde spin. That led me to Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. In folklore, the firebird is (more often than not) a coveted prize that induces a challenging quest by the story’s hero. Stravinsky acknowledged his own reservations on the “challenge” of composing the music for this ballet (similar to my reservations on preparing this dish):

The Firebird did not attract me as a subject. Like all story ballets it demanded descriptive music of a kind I did not want to write..However…I know that, in truth, my reservations about the subject were also an advance defense for my not being sure I could.”

The music is an entirely different matter – even though it was his first, it is perhaps the most widely recognized and acclaimed of Stravinsky’s ballets (even more so thanks to Disney’s Fantasia 2000). The opening passage (alternating between thirds and seconds of a tritone in the cello, bass and viola lines) set the “supernatural” setting of the hero’s quest, which ultimately ends in a truly majestic Finale (an ending that is admittedly uncharacteristic of Stravinsky). Yet the piece still demonstrates what will become the composer’s greatest qualities in later works. The primitive style that would take on a whole new level in Rite of Spring finds a starting point in this work, with metric dynamism that keeps demands a keen concentration from performers and listeners alike. Two examples being the offset downbeat of the Danse Infernale, and the 7/4 time signature of the Finale. Additionally, the orchestration of the work was substantial for the time, with Stravinsky even claiming it to be “wastefully large.” Despite this claim, the orchestral force brings a rich quality to the piece that has truly come to define the music. For the recording, I found a fabulous video of Claudio Abbado with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra‬ – enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI-MG_CXYiY

Sources Cited:
– “Cornish game hen,” Wikipedia.com
– “Firebird (Slavic Folklore),” Wikipedia.com
– Huscher, Phillip. “Program Notes: Igor Stravinsky – The Firebird” Chicago Symphony Orchestra
– “About the Piece: The Firebird (complete),” LA Phil

An Unexpected, Delicious Medley

Dessert tends to be the dish that my friends have come to expect in my home, an expectation I undoubtedly fostered given my endless creation of sweet treats. From cakes to cremes, I seem to always being looking for the next-best-challenge on my dinner parties’ grand finales (it should be noted that I have never set foot in the dessert restaurant Finale given my personal standards, though I’m sure they’re fabulous). For this meal, I just happened to have a GIANT bottle of Moscato that my friend TJ had brought over. Being more of a Chardonnay gal, this was bound to become a dusty relic in my pantry, so I had to find a use for it. Best way to get rid of an excess amount of liquid? Poach or Braise. Since this was dessert, the former option was the winner, and I went with Poached Pears in Honey and Cinnamon Syrup.
Using Moscato in a dessert is quite appropriate given its characterization as a “sweet dessert wine.” It is from the family of vines Muscat, allegedly one of the oldest grape species in the world that is also cultivated for table grapes and raisins. The “dessert” varietals are either harvested once fully ripe (even overripe) or fortified with a distilled beverage (such as brandy). These two methods guarantee that the resulting wine will possess the fullest sweetness of the grape. As I mentioned above, I’m drawn to whites with an oaken or buttery taste, so finding a way to use this bottle was a huge relief.
These poached pears were undeniably gorgeous, beautifully shaped and covered with flecks of vanilla bean.  It also creates a beautiful reduced sauce that would have been a shame to waste it…so I baked a cake (surprised?) The cake was Dorie Greenspan’s favorite butter cake, which you can find the recipe for HERE (I’ll do a more in-depth post on this cake at some point – it is AMAZING!) The cake was the perfect sponge, making this already-elegant dessert even more ridiculous. I served them with a few scoops of French Vanilla ice cream – my friends were practically licking the bowl clean. Whether you’re looking to use an unwanted bottle of Moscato or can’t stand the thought of NOT making this dessert in the next 24 hours, you can find the recipe HERE.
Poaching pears and moscato is not a combination many would consider, yet the end result is stunning. That led me to a piece with instrumentation that, though unusual, has a beautiful result: Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question. There are three layers to this piece, each represented by a separate set of instruments: a solo trumpet consistently asking “The Perennial Question,” a woodwind quartet on a quest for “The Invisible Answer,” and an offstage string quartet who represent “the Silences of the Druids—who Know, See and Hear Nothing.” The intermittent trumpet calls are like “flecks” of vanilla throughout, with the winds bringing a marked presence to an otherwise still environment (much like the moscato to the pears). The recording below is with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic – enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trkFgIMC-Ks

Sources Cited:
“Muscat (grape),” Wikipedia.com
“A Question is Better than an Answer,” CharlesIves.org

Spicing Things Up

Cauliflower and squash – these seasonal crops can be rather uninspiring when taken at face value. Yet it is this very insipidity that provides a perfect blank canvas for some truly amazing dishes. The other night I hosted a “girl’s night in” with two very close friends of mine – these evenings are often characterized by simple eats, bubbly drinks and thoughtful conversations (with the occasional touch of meaningless gossip, of course). While the latter two require minimal effort, I focus the majority of my planning energy on the first. Simple doesn’t meaning flavorless, in my world, so I tried to showcase dishes that give the most bang for the buck. With the right amount of spice, these two did not fail to please – Curried Butternut Squash Soup and Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Salted Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds.
I should give butternut squash more credit, perhaps – it is one of my favorite winter squashes. it achieves a taste that’s somewhere between a sweet potato and pumpkin. Roasting is the most common preparation, which helps deepen its natural sweetness.  The term “winter squash” pertains not to its growing season, but to its ability to withstand storage (post-harvest) during colder climates. This is thanks to a tough outer skin (as opposed to the thinner skin of summer squash), allowing us to enjoy this hearty squash year-round.
This soup gets a boost from a potpourri of spices – a potent mix of curry, cumin and mustard seeds. What I like about this recipe is that its creaminess relies on the squash (rather than cream). Using a blender or processor works great, but I am a personal fan of immersion blenders (less mess = happy Anne). Any who, this soup is wonderfully simple yet beautifully flavorful. If you are looking for a quick dish that packs a LOT of flavor, this is it – click HERE to learn how to make this flavorful dish.
The pomegranate – as beautiful as it is sweet, this fruit has held symbolic relevance in a number of cultures. Whether signifying authority, death, or fertility, this fruit has a number of connotations. Aside from its aesthetic (and suggestive) references, the pomegranate is also endorsed for its health benefits. That being said, it’s no picnic to peel – I suggest opening the fruit in a bowl filled with cold water (prevents stains AND assists with peel removal).
This dish was beyond amazing – it was fantastic! Roasted cauliflower on its own is one thing, but paired with cumin, pomegranates, and yogurt?? Well, let’s just say you’ve found your new side dish “candy.” With a spicy edge and sweet touch, this dish has it all. The yogurt is a creamy (yet healthy) garnish, and the pomegranate seeds add a beautiful finish. Don’t hesitate on making this fabulous recipe – click HERE to learn how. 
In researching the ingredients of these two dishes, I discovered a shared trait between them – both have ingredients that are commended “aphrodisiacs,” being the curry and pomegranate. This led me to a very obvious selection: Danse Bacchanale, a fiery dance from the opera Samson et Dalila, by Camille Saint-Saëns. While I’m not necessarily affiliating love with the blatancy of the bacchanalian character, the passion of this work certainly lives up to the spices and flavor of these dishes – enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4TrxDKsMHI&feature=related 

Jamaican Me Hungry!

There’s something almost to good to be true about grilled meat with fruit – chicken, pork, fish, anything. Not only is it incredibly easy to prepare, but it always delivers amazing results! All it takes is a little creativity – for this occasion, I had leftover bananas from a bananas foster evening (will be blogged about one day if I can beat the melting ice cream in time!). Swordfish steaks were on sale at Whole Foods, so naturally I bought two and made Jamaican-Spiced Swordfish with Banana and Pineapple Salsa.Swordfish are very popular sporting fish, yet these agile predators are no easy catch: measuring up to 14 feet in length and weighing as much as 1,500 pounds, swordfish are quite powerful and highly elusive. As a food, its tough meat is a comparable trade for steak. While considered to be a delicacy, the FSA advises consuming swordfish (shark and marlin as well) no more than once a week; pregnant women and children should avoid it entirely. When choosing swordfish at the store, look for steaks with for healthy pink meat and dark red strips.
This salsa was DELICIOUS! I mean, who thought bananas could take the leap from sweet to savory so effortlessly? As I learned with a previous fruit salsa, ginger does wonders in these settings, so I added a touch to this recipe. Feel free to substitute another fruit for the pineapple, like mango or peach. This salsa was ridiculously good with swordfish, though any fish will do (heck, try it with steak even!) – click HERE to give this fantastic entrée a shot!
This was quite unique recipe, and almost “daring” in theory – thus I wanted a musical piece that was edgy and provocative. I tend to think of Piazzolla when I think of “edgy”, and his Estaciones Porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires) captures a raw energy that pairs perfectly with this dish. The original composition was written for his own quintet, with bandoneón, violin, piano, electric guitar, and double bass. It has since been transcribed for a number of ensembles, from piano trio to solo violin with string orchestra. I have included a recording of the transcription for piano trio below of the third movement: Primavera Porteña (Buenos Aires Spring). Definitely take the time to listen to the to other three as well, it’s worth it – enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJzogioRx6A

Sources Cited:
– “Swordfish,” Wikipedia.com
– “Mercury in fish: your questions answered,” Food Standards Agency website.
– “Estaciones Porteñas,” Wikipedia.com