Codfish with Potatoes Casserole
(Portuguese Recipe: Bacalhau Gomes de S)

Submitted by: Barbiel
2 pounds salt cod (see Note)
6 tablespoons Olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 large yellow onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
pinch nutmeg and white pepper, to taste
4 medium waxy potatoes, boiled, cooled, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
8 hard-boiled eggs, halved, for garnish
olives and chopped parsley, for garnish
Rinse the cod under cold running water to remove any surface salt. Place the fish pieces in a large nonreactive pot, cover with water and refrigerate (covered) for 24 hours, changing the water several times. Pour off the water, refill the pot with clean water and gently boil the cod until it flakes easily with a fork, about 7 to 10 minutes (or longer), depending on the thickness. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saut the onions until barely brown. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Set aside. Drain the cod and let cool. Flake it into a large bowl and remove any bones or bits of skin. Add the onion-garlic mixture, nutmeg, white pepper and remaining olive oil, and toss lightly. Pack the mixture into well-oiled 9-x-13-inch ovenproof casserole dish. Cover the codfish with the potato slices. Lightly oil a cookie sheet, place it over the casserole and invert. Carefully remove the casserole dish to keep the cod mixture intact. Bake in a preheated, 400F (200C) oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cod is lightly toasted. To serve, cut a square of cod and center it on a plate. Drizzle with additional Olive oil to moisten. Garnish with 2 egg halves, several olives and some parsley. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Note: Salt cod (bacalhau) is a dry, salt-cured codfish that must be reconstituted before use. Traditionally, cod was salted aboard the fishing boats; back on shore, the salted fish were laid out in the sun to dry. This method preserved the fish for a long time. Portuguese cooking makes frequent use of salt cod. The best salt cod comes from the cold waters of Norway, but it is becoming increasingly available in North American markets. Portuguese cooks prefer large fillets of salt cod, containing bones and skin, which are removed after the fish is soaked or cooked. These fillets give maximum flavor. Salt cod fillets are available boned and skinned. They can also be purchased in smaller pieces, packed either in wooden boxes, on foam trays, or wrapped in plastic. The day or two before the fish is to be used, rinse and cut the fillets into approximately 4-inch pieces or the size called for by your recipe. Place them in a large bowl and cover by at least 2 inches with cold tap water. Soak the codfish, refrigerated, for 16 to 24 - even 36 hours if need be - changing the water several times to re-hydrate the fish and remove some of the salt. To prepare a codfish dish for tomorrow night's dinner, for example, start soaking the cod late this afternoon, changing the water 2 to 3 times before you retire for the evening and 4 more times tomorrow before using. If you are preparing large fillets that have skin and bones, soaking make take as long as 48 hours. Frequent changes of water hasten the process. Smaller pieces of fish (about 1/2 pound) may take 16 to 24 hours or as little as 10 hours if you change the water frequently. Near the end of the soaking period, taste a small piece of the fish. If it is still too salty for your taste, change the water again and soak it longer. If you are soaking more than 2 pounds of fish, use more than one bowl. Remember that salt can always be added back in at the end of cooking, but if too much salt remains after the presoak, the finished dish will be irredeemably salty. At the end of soaking, the fish should have a mild taste of salt. There is a fine line between removing too much and not enough of the salt. If the fish is oversoaked, flavor is lost resulting in a tasteless piece. Bear in mind soaking times vary not only with the amount of fish but with the degree of saltiness, which varies from batch to batch. The times are given merely as a guide.
Precooking Salt Cod:
Some recipes call for the previously soaked salt cod to be precooked or poached before it is used in the dish. The following method is the one I prefer, and recommend, for most cod dishes.
1. Bring a pan of water, large enough to accommodate the fish, to a full boil. Turn off the heat.
2. Rinse the presoaked fish again and add to the pan. Cover and allow to sit for 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish), until the cod is opaque or flakes easily. Remove the smaller pieces as they become opaque.
3. Drain the cod, discard bones and skin, if present, and place the fish in a bowl. Cover with scalded milk. Cover the bowl and let stand for 1 hour. Drain, taste again for salt, and use the fish as needed.
Additional Note: Soaking the fish in scalded milk is a trick I learned in Portugal. The milk helps the fish retain its moisture and tenderness. Not all Portuguese cooks soak the cod this way, however. I do it both ways: I do not use milk when I make Codfish Cakes, but I find it improves baked salt cod dishes to which little or no extra moisture is added.

Seafood Primavera
Submitted by: Barbiel
Seafood Primavera
2 whole tomatoes, chopped
3 fresh basil leaves, sliced
1/2 bunch of scallions, diced
4 medium mushrooms, chopped
1/2 medium squash, diced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
12 little neck clams
12 mussels
6 ounces small scallops
4 ounces clams, chopped
3 ounces Olive oil
2 cups white wine
2 tablespoons whole butter
pinch of salt
pepper to taste
1 pound angel hair pasta
In a large saucepan heat the Olive oil. When the olive is hot add the mushrooms, onions and garlic. Then add white wine. When the mixture is hot again add the seafood and tomatoes. Stir gently until the seafood is cooked (about 3 to 5 minutes). Add butter and remove from heat, stirring in the melting butter. Place cooked pasta on a platter, add the seafood mixture and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Baked Plaice
Submitted by: Barbiel
4 very fresh plaice or sole on the bone
2 to 4 ounces butter
4 teaspoons mixed finely chopped fresh parsley, chives, fennel and thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375F. Turn the fish on its side and remove the head. Wash the fish and clean the slit very thoroughly. With a sharp knife, cut through the skin right around the fish, just where the "fringe" meets the flesh. Be careful to cut neatly and to cross the side cuts at the tail or it will be difficult to remove the skin later on. Sprinkle the fish with salt and freshly ground pepper and lay them in 3 inches of water in a shallow baking tin. Bake in a moderately hot oven for 20 to 30 minutes according to the size of the fish. The water should have evaporated as the fish cooked. Check to see whether the fish is cooked by lifting the flesh from the bone at the head (it should lift off the bone easily and be quite white with no trace of pink). Meanwhile, melt the butter and stir in the freshly chopped herbs. Just before serving catch the skin down near the tail and pull it off gently (the skin will tear badly if not properly cut). Lift the fish onto hot plates and spoon the herb butter over them. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

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