Sunday, January 24, 2010

This sabbath

I may not be religious, but there is something especially sacred about Sundays; a day of rest even for non-believers...and non-resters. The last day of the week is always special to me, or at least I try to make it that way by reading my favorite section of the Globe, having coffee with a girl friend via telephone, spending plenty of time outside, spending plenty of time in the kitchen. Sunday dinners, a ritual for many families, occurs in my single home too, either with invites, or just me, wine, a piece of fish, and dessert. Which was exactly how tonight, today, went.

To start, I was actually waking up at a normal people (non-bakers) hour. Eight am meant sunshine and CBC radio one as my wakeup call (their morning show is fantastic), and time enough to enjoy breakfast, a restaurant review read, and bike ride before my buddy Andy arrived for another Sunday favorite of mine: canning.

To carry on the Pink Lady obsession (and add yet another preserve to my sagging pantry shelf), Andy came over to make apple butter. Now Andy is no canning amateur, enjoying, in his unexpectedly homemaker sorta way, making jams and jellies with his ma, so he was not visiting this time for a lesson in cookery--he brought some of his homemade mint jelly in the cutest of tiny little jars, along with a batch of muffins (the boy is getting more Sunday invites for sure). However, he has never canned without pectin, or sans recipe. I have never canned with pectin, and make it up as I go, referrencing The Joy of Cooking for processing times and other fickle matters regarding botulism prevention. So it was a lesson in sporadicism, and fun to have company. With cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and bay leaf in the mix, my kitchen smelt fragrant and sweet, and four "pops" later (a very small batch--seriously, my shelf is going to collapse), we considered ourselves successful.

We didnt stop there however, there was far too much Sunday left to enjoy. Even while we waited for the butter to cook itself perfect, we had attempted panna cotta (the results away me in my fridge--the dessert portion of my sacred Sunday). When the kitchen was tidy again and still smelling of spice, we went for a two hour hike up and down and all around Knox Mountain, refueling with caffiene before deciding we had been far to productive for a day religiously devoted to rest and vowed to relax for the rest of the evening. But not before a great dinner.

Andy and I work at the fish shop together, and one of the perks of the job was tonights dinner; ginormous tuna sides get cut into steaks, but the chunk on the end near the tail gets cut up for seafood mix, which we had far to much of yesterday, so it came home with me instead-- Im just taking one for the team, really, saving such a beautiful, albiet out of season piece of fish from being cooked with other random trimmings only to be tossed with pasta and cream and blasphemously topped with cheese. No, it was far to shiny and pink and moist looking for such treatment, and really, it was a small sacfrifice on my part to salvage it for a wonderful Sunday dinner. (Tooting my own horn here) Wonderful. And now I`ll see if those panna cottas are the perfect end to the perfect Sunday. Hope yours was perfect too.

Bay and Rosemary Roasted Tuna with Couscous, Celery Root, Turnips, and Capers
What contributes to Sunday dinner's fabulousness is Saturday mornings Farmers Market finds. I tend to go overboard at the market, especially when the veg offers so much color and freshness in a season typically devoid of such; I started this meal with a shaved salad of heirloom carrots, jeruselem artichokes and fennel. I prefer my tuna medium to medium rare, so feel free to adjust the cooking time to your liking. Portions are for two.

To prepare the tuna, marinate your pieces in:
glug of good olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (or stick 1/2 a sprig in each loin)
1-2 crumbled bay leaves
squeeze of lemon

In a coverable, oven proof dish (i favor my beloved stoneware Creuset knock off), place:
1 large celery root, peel and sliced in half moon wedges
6 small turnips, quarted
2 stems thyme
1 stem Rosemary
Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your couscous (if you own a steamer for this, great, if you dont, just cook it like porridge, as I did)

Simmer gently until softened:
1/2 shallot
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
Add in, making sure you have at least 1 1/3 cup water in the pot:
2/3 cup couscous
Cook, stirring, until all the water is absorbed, about three minutes

Remove your veg from the "Creuset" and set aside, covered to stay warm. Turn the oven up to 400 and in the same dish, pour in couscous and place the tuna pieces on top. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Scatter 1 tbsp of capers overtop, cover, and bake for 7 minutes, adding in your veg for the last minute to reheat, because who wants cold veg or more than one pot on a day of rest? Take time and enjoy, because tomorrow is Monday.

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