It was just a matter time until food became so carefully parsed that a balanced diet of meat and milk, grains and beans, vegetables and fruits would in turn become a trend – the traditional foods movement.
This is wonderful news. Jennifer Gruther’s new cookbook, The Nourished Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2014), drawn from her nourishedkitchen.com website (information, recipes, ingredient sourcing - you can subscribe), puts butter back on the table. And hefty pots of beans with molasses and bacon. Soups that can stand as a main course. Roasted fruits and spicy compotes. Curds and custards. Meat. Roasts and braises of all sorts.
The Nourished Kitchen celebrates the real thing – sustainable locally grown foods, cultured dairy and fermented foods that are rich in probiotics, and unprocessed, unrefined foods. McGruther endorses milk and butter from grass-fed cows, lard and bacon fat from pastured pigs. She forages; she ferments. It’s the farm-to table lifestyle elevated to an art.
McGruther takes the ingredients and the science behind traditional foods very seriously. You may not have the time, the resources (these foods are not inexpensive, and some can be hard to track down), or the inclination to make the kinds of food commitments she makes in her book.
But there’s probably room in your life for one new food habit. Maybe you could start to make your own yogurt. Or switch to eggs from pastured hens. Or subscribe to a CSA box – and use it. You can make your own kombucha. Or preserve your own lemons. Launch a sourdough starter and bake with it.
Pick just one thing from The Nourished Kitchen to be thoughtful about, and give it a go. See what you think.
But then, that’s the trouble with thinking; when you get started, it’s hard to stop.
While it’s true that The Nourished Kitchen wants you to focus on ingredients, it’s also true that the recipes are really, really delicious, and neither difficult nor overly complicated. Case in point: Pan-Seared Halibut with Melted Cherry Tomatoes, reprinted with permission from The Nourished Kitchen written and photographed by Jennifer McGruther (Ten Speed Press, © 2014).
PAN-SEARED HALIBUT WITH MELTED CHERRY TOMATOES AND TARRAGON
- 4 (4- to 6-ounce) halibut fillets
- 1/2 teaspoon finely ground unrefined sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon clarified butter (recipe follows)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
Sprinkle the halibut with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Set the fillets on a plate and let them rest a bit while you prepare to cook the fish.
Melt the butter in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, arrange the halibut skin side down in the hot fat and sear for 4 or 5 minutes, until the skin crisps and browns. Flip the fish and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it flakes easily when pierced by a fork. Transfer the halibut to a serving plate and tent it with parchment paper or foil to keep it warm.
To prepare the tomatoes, set the skillet you used to cook the fish over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Toss in the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and translucent, about 6 minutes. Toss in the tomatoes and sauté them with the shallot and garlic until they soften and release their juice, about 2 minutes. Add the tarragon and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
Uncover the waiting halibut. Spoon the melted cherry tomato mixture over the fish and serve immediately.
Clarifying butter deepens its flavor and color and concentrates its butterfat by removing its milk solids. The process also helps to extend its shelf life. Store clarified butter at room temperature out of direct light, just as you would store olive oil, coconut oil, or any other concentrated fat. Once you’ve removed the milk solids from the butterfat, there’s little risk of spoilage.
You can apply high heat to clarified butter in ways that would cause regular butter to scorch.
Makes about 12 ounces
- 1 pound unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Place the butter in a wide sauté pan set over low heat. Allow the butter to melt slowly. As it heats, froth and foam will gather on top of the liquid butter. Skim this off and discard it. Continue heating the butter until it becomes perfectly clear, about 10 minutes.
- Set a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and line it with a double layer of cheesecloth or a single layer of butter muslin. Pour the melted butter through the cloth and into the bowl. Discard the milk solids in the cloth, then pour the clarified butter into three 4-ounce jars or one 12-ounce jar and cover tightly. Stored in a cool, dark space, the clarified butter will keep for up to 1 year.