Natasha MacAller’s “Vanilla Table” was born out of her passion for the singular flavor and fragrance of the fruit of the Vanilla Orchid. She asserts that although vanilla is known all over the world, it’s anything but plain. Rather, it is second only to saffron in cost because it is so highly sought after and beyond compare. Certainly, in America, vanilla features prominently as a flavor enhancement to sweets. But, having recently enjoyed Dorie Greenspan’s Vanilla Butter-Braised Lobster, I was intrigued to explore using vanilla more in savory dishes. So, when I was offered a copy of “Vanilla Table” to review, I knew it was for me!
As much as I love to bake, and as many delicious-sounding sweet dishes are featured in Natasha’s book, I really wanted to explore vanilla with savory dishes. I tabbed over a dozen recipes to try, but Steamed Barramundi & Fregola Salad won out when Fresh Fish Fanatics had fresh, local Black Seabass at the Channel Islands Farmers’ Market. Since Barramundi is also called “Asian Seabass,” I thought our fresh, local fish would be a good substitute for it – and it was just perfect. The fish is cooked very simply, then drizzled with the most wonderfully delicious Black Pepper Vinaigrette! The mild flavor of the fish shines right through the subtle and complex flavors of the vinaigrette made from a delectable blend of citrus, olive oils, vinegars, and vanilla bean seeds with just a touch of sugar, salt, and pepper. All I have to say is that this vinaigrette is SO delicious, I just want to pour it on everything! It was fantastic with the fresh fish, but we also think it would be delicious on a spinach salad topped with strawberries, almonds, and chevre! The best thing about this recipe is it makes more vinaigrette than we needed for the fish, so we have plenty left for salads. This recipe comes from Christine Manfield, an Australian chef.
- 5 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2½ tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
- Vanilla pod seeds from ½ a pod
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1½ teaspoon muscovado sugar
- 5 teaspoons Colonna orange-infused extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup +2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Whisk together all ingredients with hand-stick blender til emulsified.
- Drizzle all over cooked fish.
Vanilla is a passion. With its captivating scent, it is the power behind the throne of fragrance and flavor. Although an integral component of most chocolate creations, vanilla is often defined as ‘plain’, just ordinary, nothing special. I believe vanilla is anything but plain, as you will discover in Vanilla Table. Vanilla is a universal ingredient — although many imagine it can only be added to cupcakes, custards and confections. In this book vanilla is the highlight of savory dishes as well, such as Island Crabcakes with Vanilla-Grapefruit Remoulade or Slow-roasted Oxtail Pot Pies with Vanilla-Shiraz Gravy! With over 125 recipes including starters, mains, brunch, bevvies, desserts, cookies and more, Vanilla Table will inspire home cooks and professionals to sample this captivating but familiar ingredient in a range of delicious dishes. With the help of 33 outstanding contributing chefs, Vanilla Table is truly an international compendium of vanilla expertise celebrating this most exotic yet everyday spice. ~ Excerpt from Vanilla Table