In Which I "Cleanse"

Hello! Happy New Year! I’m back!

Although I did manage that one post during the holiday season, by and large it was far too full of family, food, celebration, and adventure for too many updates. Plus, as noted, I wasn’t really in my apartment, so technically it wasn’t topical. Anyway – one week, four cities (or so), three states, and a LOT of holiday later, here I am. The apartment is in shambles, halfway between Christmas decoration and normalcy and packing and unpacking. Hopefully soon I’ll have some improvements for you, but for now I’ll start with a more traditional New Year’s topic: holiday rehab.

I do not regret a single bit of the deliciousness I consumed over the holidays (an entire package of rainbow-brite gummi worms in my stocking eaten in a day…ok, well, I don’t regret most of it), but by the time January 2nd rolled around, it was time to give my body a break. In moderation (I am not known for my self discipline in the diet/exercise region).

Hence, the Boy and I are taking a stab at the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse. Now, I have to be clear that we are most definitely not following the plan, good as it seems, completely or exactly. We don’t really have the time or budget to make every meal, nor are we refusing offers of dinner or lunch with friends still in town for the holidays (plus my birthday’s coming up, and I dare any healthy living plans to get in the way of THAT. Ha ha.). But we are trying, when at home and in our lives in general, to cook from the plan for the next couple of weeks and be at least a little bit detox-y and healthier. Which brings me to…

Day 1: The Cleanse Begins
The Boy most unfortunately had to work Monday, so I set out to do grocery shopping for the first day of our “cleanse.” After Whole Foods and Ralph’s, I headed home, dumped my stuff, and rushed to meet a friend. In my typical fashion, I hadn’t left enough time for shopping and also had to hit up Gelson’s (and later Ralph’s again, but I’ll get into that later. The lesson is live near a grocery store, people). Anyway, at night, far too late, we finally began cooking.

First off, the Boy made caramelized onions:

Caramelizing onions.

Look at ’em caramelizing.

These were to play a role as part of our dinner that evening: Black Cod with Caramelized Onions and Apples and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chile and Orange.

After an incident in which our apple for dinner was accidentally thrown in with other apples for some Maple Applesauce I was making as part of the “Cleanse” pantry, which sent me running to the store for the FOURTH time that day (seriously, people), we set about making the cod.

Sauteeing apple in olive oil.

Sauteeing that precious apple in olive oil.

Portioning and seasoning the fish.

Portioning and seasoning the fish.

Deboning and skinning fish is a big fat word that rhymes with witch. I kind of got the hang of skinning, but after futilely plucking at tiny but very attached bones for ten minutes (and this is after the Boy had been trying for his own twenty) I cursed the heavens and hacked off the chunk of fish that had the bones in it. Get your fish skinned and deboned where you buy it, people. I would have, had I known. And had I thought of it.

At last, we were ready to cook:

Cooking Black Cod with Caramelized Onions and Apples

Fish and apples and caramelized onions.

And in the end, it was DELICIOUS. Worth eating at 10pm? Maybe. I really really liked it. And it made good leftovers for work lunch the next day too (I brought the extra fish with leftover sweet potatoes tossed in a spinach salad with balsamic dressing).

Black Cod with Caramelized Onions and Apples

Don’t judge that it’s still Christmas in our apartment…

 

Black Cod with Caramelized Onions and Apples
All recipes adapted from Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse 2012
As noted, I loved loved loved this recipe. I made barely any changes, save omitting the juniper berries, and we now have caramelized onions frozen in the freezer.

Portions to Serve 1: 4-6 oz. cod; 1/2-3/4 cup onions and apples
Recipe: 4 Servings
1 1/3 lb. black cod, skin removed, in four 6-oz. portions
Kosher salt and red pepper (cayenne)
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 large firm apple (such as Braeburn), skin on, cored, cut into 8 wedges
1 cup Caramelized Onions (see recipe below)
11 oz. dry hard cider
1 tsp. juniper berries (I omitted these as the Boy hates juniper.)
1 bay leaf

Season cod with salt and red pepper (use a light touch with cayenne). Heat a large deep nonreactive skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and swirl to coat pan. Add apple wedges in a single layer and cook for 4-5 minutes, until browned on the bottom. turn apples and cook for another 3-4 minutes until browned on the other side. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate.

Pour remaining 1 Tbsp. oil on pan. Pat cod dry with a paper towel and place in pan. Cook for about 5 minutes until one side of the fish is lightly browned. Temporarily remove fish to the plate. Add the caramelized onions, cider, juniper berries and bay leaf to skillet and stir. Once mixture is boiling, arrange fish, raw side down, and apples in pan. cover, turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook until fish is opaque at the center, 4-6 minutes longer. Remove fish from pan. Increase heat and cook onion mixture, uncovered, until thick and saucelike, about 3 minutes. Divide the onion mixture among low bowls and arrange fish and apples in each bowl.

Caramelized Onions
Yield: 2 1/2 Cups
This recipe makes extra in order to stock the Week 1 Cleanse Pantry.

1/4 cup olive oil
5 lb. yellow onions, cored, thinly sliced
3 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp. kosher salt

Heat oil in a large (at least 5 quarts) skillet over medium heat. Add onions, thyme, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until they are soft and golden brown, 45-60 minutes. If the onions start to brown too much, add 1/4 cup water and scrape onions off bottom of pan, then reduce heat and proceed. When cool, remove thyme sprigs.
Do Ahead: If you haven’t already, freeze 1 1/4 cups of the onions for the next two weeks of the Food Lover’s Cleanse and reserve the rest in the fridge.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chile and Orange
These were also delicious, with a hint of warming spice and a delicate citrusy-ness, and SO easy. They were also good cold the following day!

Yield: 4 Servings
1 lb. garnet yams or other sweet potato, washed, unpeeled
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 orange zested
1 tsp. ancho chile powder or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425°. Slice sweet potatoes into 1/2″ rounds, discarding any gnarled ends. toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, orange zest, and chile powder.

Lay potatoes out in a single layer on a sheet pan, and roast at 425° for 20-25 minutes until the tops of the potato slices are toasted in spots.

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