Kathy Schick and her husband, Nick Toth, founders and co-directors of the Stone Age Institute, have traveled the globe and sampled food in more than 40 countries, developing a “great appreciation for international cuisine,” Schick says. “We especially like Indian, Chinese, Thai, French, and Italian.”
They also love to cook. Toth learned “in earnest” how to cook as a graduate student at Oxford University, Schick says. He bought The Penguin Cookery Book (with no penguins on the menu, she adds) and traded cooking duties with his housemates.
Schick, meanwhile, roasted her first Thanksgiving turkey at age 12 and in college ventured into international cuisine. “The Time-Life International Cookbook series helped pave the way,” she says.
That resulted in special dinners on Sundays for the couple, pre-pandemic. “Being homebound for much of the pandemic, we found it easy—and an enjoyable diversion—to focus on cooking a fun meal and exploring new recipes almost on a daily basis,” Schick says. “And posting photos of our dishes on Facebook became a new hobby!”
Here, we present two of Toth and Schick’s favorite recipes from quarantine. —Rodney Margison
Seafood (use an assortment), such as:
• Clams (clean well), about 1 pound
• Mussels (clean well), about 1 pound
• Sea scallops, about 1/2 pound to 1 pound
• Large shrimp, about 1 pound (shelled, leaving the tail on, and deveined)
• Firm whitefish (such as Pacific cod, red snapper, monkfish, turbot, striped bass, porgy, grouper, etc.) cut into edible pieces of about 2 to 2 1/2 inches (keep chilled until ready to add)
• 1 onion, chopped medium fine
• Several cloves garlic, minced
• 2 celery stalks, chopped medium fine
• 1 carrot, finely chopped
• 1 or 2 potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 2 cups chopped tomatoes, with pulp and juice (canned tomatoes are okay)
• Small bulb of fennel, chopped (optional)
Spices and herbs:
• 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crumbled or ground saffron • 1 bay leaf
• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1 to 2 tablespoons Pernod (optional)
• 3 cups of homemade or bought seafood stock (fish, shrimp, crab, etc.)
• Crusty French bread (e.g. baguette)
1. Wash the shellfish, removing beards and debris from clams and mussels. Peel the shrimp, leaving the tails on, and devein them.
2. Chop the vegetables.
3. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil to a large Dutch oven. Heat oil on medium heat. Cook onion, celery, garlic, carrot, potato, and fennel (if using) until vegetables are starting to soften (about 5 to 10 minutes).
4. Add seafood stock, saffron, tomatoes, the bay leaf, parsley, and tarragon and bring to a boil. Cook until all the vegetables are cooked through, and season to taste.
5. Lower heat to a simmer and add the white wine and, in phases, the seafood. Add thicker pieces of fish earlier, then add the mussels, clams, shrimp, and scallops. If some fish are thin and quick to cook, add late. When the mussels and clams are all open, the fish should be cooked through (5 to 10 minutes). If using Pernod, add shortly before taking off the heat. Add additional chopped parsley to garnish at end (optional).
6. Ladle into a serving tureen or into individual bowls, giving each bowl portions of fish and shellfish. Serve with slices of a good, crusty French bread.
Cornish Hens On the Grill With Chili Butter and Grilled Corn Salsa
• 4 Cornish hens
• Chili butter:
– 6 dried New Mexican chilis
– 6 tablespoons melted butter
– Salt to taste
• Grilled corn salsa:
– 4 ears of corn (shucked)
– Olive oil for brushing corn
– 1 ripe tomato, chopped
– 1/2 red onion, chopped
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro and extra to garnish
– 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
– Salt to taste
• 1/2 cup chicken broth
1. Soak the dried chilis to cover in warm water for at least 2 hours. Remove chilis and reserve soaking liquid. Remove and discard seeds and stems. Place chilis in a blender or food processor with 1/3 cup of the soaking liquid. Blend to a smooth puree. Pour in the melted butter and blend. Season to taste. Reserve 1 cup of this chili butter for a serving sauce.
2. Use the remaining chili butter to marinate the hens in a nonreactive bowl, working the butter around them entirely. Marinate for one to two hours at room temperature (so the butter doesn’t harden).
3. While the hens marinate, make the corn salad. Heat a gas grill to medium and roast the corn until it is cooked and slightly charred (5 to 10 minutes). Remove the corn and let cool. When cool, cut kernels from the cobs, add remaining salsa ingredients and set aside or refrigerate.
4. With the gas grill on medium heat, place the hens on the grill and brown on all sides, a total of 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the hens from the grill, and turn off some of the burners so you can continue cooking indirectly. Put the hens on a rack over a drip pan, baste with chili butter from the marinade, and cook until done on indirect heat at around 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 60 to 90 minutes (depending on the size of the hens and the heat of the grill) until the juices run clear or a thermometer placed in the thigh registers 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Transfer the cooked hens to a plate, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 10 minutes.
6 Make a bed of corn salsa on a serving plate.
7. In a small pan, heat the reserved chili butter and add enough chicken broth to make a smooth sauce.
8. Place the hens on top of the corn salsa and serve garnished with chopped cilantro and the chili butter sauce.