Tag Archives: Fish

Seared Tuna Salad with Nectarines and Cherry Tomatoes

Seared Tuna Salad with Nectarines and Cherry Tomatoes 001

Happy Friday!!! So, I love discovering new food blogs. There are so many food blogs out there that I don’t think any one individual has any hope of reading, or even knowing about, all of them. And sometimes that fact makes it easy to get in your own patterns and even forget there are tons of great food blogs out there of which you’re completely unaware!

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Thanks to joining a few food blogging related Facebook groups, I met Melissa at The Front Porch Gourmet, a great southern lady featuring delicious recipes and mouth-watering photos. When she posted this seared tuna salad with summer plums, I immediately started drooling and knew exactly what I was making for dinner.

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I ran out to the grocery store and started shopping. Tuna, check. Greens, check. Then I got to the plums, and at that particular store on that particular day they were looking rather Meh-not-so-much-thanks-but-no-thanks. Fortunately they were sitting next to some beautiful nectarines, so problem solved!

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This salad completely lives up to its billing. It’s light, healthy, summery, and perfectly balanced. The nectarines worked very nicely, but really I’m sure any stone fruit would do here. And if you don’t groove on tuna, I’m thinking salmon would be nice as a stand-in. Enjoy this one, while we can still get the last bit of seasonal stone fruit! Before it’s all eggplant and tomatoes (not that I’m complaining). And be sure to check out Front Porch Gourmet!

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{One Year Ago: Peach and Cherry Frittata}
{Two Years Ago: Squid Ink Fettuccine with Shrimp and Chorizo, Peach Cobbler, Fettuccine Alfredo}

Source: adapted from Front Porch Gourmet

Ingredients:
2 small to medium sushi-grade tuna steaks
1 sprig rosemary, minced
About 3 tbs olive oil, plus extra for dressing the greens
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 bag of mixed salad greens, whatever your preference
2 nectarines, pitted and sliced into wedges
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Balsamic vinegar

Directions:
Pat the tuna steaks very dry with paper towels. Preheat a skillet, preferably non-stick, over high heat. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Brush this over both sides of the tuna steaks. Carefully add the tuna steaks to the hot pan. Leave them to cook undisturbed for about 1 minute. Flip them (it works best with a thin spatula) and cook on the other side for about 30-45 seconds for rare.
Remove the tuna steaks to a plate and let them rest about 5 minutes. Then, with a very sharp knife, slice them thinly against the grain.
Pile the greens into a large salad bowl. Add the nectarines and cherry tomatoes, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, just enough to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Transfer the salad to 2 large salad plates and top each with slices of tuna. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.

Deconstructed Fish Tacos

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It’s time for some Secret Recipe Club!!! [Click here for my last SRC post.] This month I was assigned Mele Cotte, a fantastic blog from Christina (or Chris as she is called by her friends).

Chris is a gorgeous redhead who hails from Boston but resides in Atlanta. She held several different careers in marketing and middle school education before realizing that cooking and baking were her true loves. She is quite accomplished in the food blogging and culinary sphere, as she has attended the Art Institute in Atlanta and does smaller catering gigs. Definitely check out her awesome blog!

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Mele Cotte means Baked Apples in Italian (I did not know that!), and yes, Italian is her heritage. So of course, I had to go and choose something Mexican. Because I just do things like that. These deconstructed fish tacos immediately caught my eye. I am a huge fish taco fan, and I love playing around with the whole deconstructed concept, so I think I was just meant to find this recipe on Chris’ blog.

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I adapted the recipe, mainly because it’s written as four servings and I’m only cooking for two people. And then I made a few smaller changes, just added some chili powder to the fish and topped it with some crispy tortilla strips. After viewing the food on the plate and taking my first bite, I remarked to Matt that you could also probably call these upside-down fish tacos, because fish tacos are based with a tortilla and the cabbage is just the garnish, whereas these are the exact opposite.

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And yet, they taste exactly as advertised. So delicious, light and healthy, full of Mexican flavor. We absolutely loved them and I can’t wait to play around with the concept some more and make them again. Thank you for a fabulous recipe Chris!

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Source: adapted from Mele Cotte

Ingredients:
Juice of 3 limes, divided
1 tsp chili powder
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 grouper fillets, or any white fish
1/2 a green cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 tbs plus 3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 corn tortillas
Canola oil, for frying
Guacamole
Chunky salsa
Queso fresco or Cotija cheese, crumbled, for garnish

Directions:
In a small baking dish (I used a glass 8×8 glass baker), mix together the juice of 2 limes, chili powder, 1 tbs olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste. Add the grouper and turn them over a few times so they are fully coated. Set aside but leave out at room temperature while you prep the cabbage and prepare the guacamole, if making it yourself.
Carefully slice the cabbage very thin; using a mandoline works best and quickest. Pile the cabbage into a bowl and squeeze the remaining lime over it. Add the 3 tsp olive oil and toss to combine. Don’t salt it yet. Set aside.
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the fish fillets and cook about 7 minutes total, flipping once, until they are just cooked through. You may need a shorter or longer time depending on your fish’s thickness. When done, remove to a plate and let rest 3-5 minutes. With a fork, flake or chunk the fillets.
Add about an inch of canola oil to a small to medium skillet and heat on high. Cut the tortillas into 1-inch-wide strips, then cut those strips in half crosswise. When the oil is ready, fry the tortilla strips for just a few minutes. You’ll know they are ready when the bubbles start subsiding and their color has turned golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.
To serve, first season the cabbage with salt and pepper and toss. Then assemble as follows: cabbage spread out on a dinner plate, topped with guacamole, then dot liberally or conservatively with salsa, followed by chunks of fish, and finally tortilla strips and queso fresco. Serve immediately.


My Mom’s Blackened Catfish

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Would you even believe me if I told you Matt and I both got sick AGAIN?!?! Third time this year… He’s doing much better, but I have been hit with bronchitis and another ear infection, so I’ve been a bit slow lately. Time to play catch-up!

Last week I blogged My Mom’s Taco Salad, which is delicious and one of *very* few salads I would willingly eat growing up. This catfish is another one of hers that I ate often as a child, and one I always loved.

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Truth be told, my family of origin are/were not big seafood people. We rarely had fish at home, occasionally salmon cakes, and let me tell you, shellfish absolutely never graced our dinner table. But catfish was the crowning exception to this “rule.” Catfish we did have on a regular basis, and everyone loved it. Well, come to think of it… I know I loved it, I know both parents loved it; Megan did you love it? If not, you faked it well. 🙂

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This is not my blackening seasoning used on this fish – I’ve stuck to Mom’s version here, and I love it! Childhood faves definitely deserve a space on the food blog, I think, so I’m very happy to be posting this one today. Oh, and this seasoning works beautifully on chicken breasts, chicken wings, shrimp, other fish fillets, etc. So even if catfish isn’t your thing, take note of the spice rub and use it on your favorite protein.

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{One Year Ago: Orecchiette with Heirloom Fingerlings and Asparagus Pesto}

Ingredients:
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp lemon pepper
2 tsp steak seasoning
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
½ tsp cayenne
2 catfish fillets
2 tbs unsalted butter

Directions:
Mix all the spices, including the salt and pepper in a small bowl. Blot the catfish dry with paper towels on both sides. Liberally rub the blackening seasoning onto both sides of the fish. Pat them in with your palms.
Place a cast-iron or other nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the butter. Once it is fully melted, swirl it around the pan to evenly coat the entire surface. Carefully add the fish to the skillet and cook, flipping once, until just cooked through. Depending on thickness of fish, this will take anywhere from 7 to 12 minutes total. It’s done when it can flake apart with a fork or the edge of a metal spatula. Remove the fish to a cutting board and serve immediately.

Margarita Fish Tacos

Margarita Fish Tacos

We continue our delicious, tequila-filled MARGARITA WEEK – woohoo!! – with something that is actually light and healthy and won’t get you sloshed. Surprised? It’s true. The fish for these tacos is seared in a cast-iron skillet, no breading or deep-frying; the tortillas are corn, which are much lighter than flour, and there’s no cheese, because cheese on a fish taco is just weird (in my humble opinion).

The fish is quickly marinated in tequila and lime juice to give it a margarita flavor. The end result is subtle but definitely there. A mild green salsa is the perfect match for not overpowering the margarita flavors, and I used shredded red cabbage as a topping, but you could just as easily opt for lettuce. Matt and I both loved this one. Made us feel like we were in Mexico. Or on a beach. Or on a beach in Mexico… It’s awesome. Enjoy!

margarita fish tacos

{One year ago: Giant Cinnamon Rolls with Buttermilk Glaze}

Source: adapted from Look + Cook by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:
2 oz. silver tequila
Zest and juice of half a lime
¼ tsp orange zest
2 tsp fresh squeezed orange juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp chili powder
¾ lb. cod, pin bones removed and cut into 2 pieces to make it more manageable, if necessary
6 corn tortillas, warmed
Shredded cabbage or lettuce
Green salsa, your favorite store-bought brand is fine, or homemade

Directions:
Combine the tequila, lime zest, lime juice, orange zest, orange juice, garlic, olive oil, Old Bay, and chili powder in a shallow bowl or small baking dish, like a pie plate. Add the fish and turn several times to make sure it is thoroughly coated. Let sit for about 5 minutes, but not much longer.
Preheat your cast-iron skillet to medium-high. Add the fish pieces and cook, turning once, about 3-4 minutes per side. It is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
When the fish has cooked through, remove it to a plate. Let it rest 1 minute, then flake it apart into big chunks with a fork.
Assemble the tacos: place some fish chunks in a tortilla, then top with salsa and cabbage. Serve immediately.

Anchovy Pasta Carbonara

Anchovy Pasta Carbonara

So this Seafood with Pasta dish came about in an effort to use up a box of linguine languishing in the pantry, and I also needed a good excuse to use some Sicilian anchovies I picked up at Fairway. Non-cheap Sicilian anchovies, I might add…

Sicilian anchovies

Now, I am an anchovy fiend. I love them. I’m constantly looking for excuses to cook with them, and if I don’t have one, I’ve even taken to eating them on toast. I just adore them! Matt is…. not as much of a fiend, we’ll put it that way. I have to sneak around with them sometimes. So the night we had this dish, when he asked what was for dinner, I simply said, “carbonara.” Little omission there, I admit.

anchovy pasta carbonara

Well he loved it. I mean, LOVED IT. He even said it was, and I quote, “the best carbonara I’ve ever eaten.” And yes, at some point he did figure out the anchovies. Well, his assessment of the dish was quite accurate. This carbonara is incredible. As is probably obvious, the anchovies replace the bacon/pancetta as the salty component. And it really does work, I promise!

anchovies and linguine for carbonara

This pasta dish is delicious, simple and kinda sexy. Perfect to make for your other half tomorrow! So even if you think you’re squicked out by anchovies, take a hint from Matt and give this one a go. I think you’ll love it!

Anchovy pasta carbonara

{One year ago: Pimento Cheese Spread}

Source: lightly adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients:
1 lb. long-cut pasta (I used linguine)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
One 2-oz. can flat anchovies, drained
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbs chopped oregano
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 extra-large egg yolks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the past until al dente, according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil with the garlic and anchovies and cook over moderately high heat until the anchovies have dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add the red pepper, zest, oregano and parsley, then add the pasta and toss to coat. Remove from the heat.
In a small bowl, whisk the yolks with the reserved cooking water and add to the pasta. Cook over low heat, tossing until the pasta is coated in a creamy sauce, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Soy-Ginger Salmon over Asian Veggie Noodles

Soy salmon over Asian veggie noodles

Continuing our theme this week of Pasta with Seafood, we have a delicious, healthy, flavorful, Asian salmon dish, that essentially got made because I’m trying to clean out my pantry and I ran across a half-used box of dried spaghetti. Score!

Did I mention this is delicious? Because it really was… soooo good. Clean flavors, perfectly cooked salmon that just melted in your mouth, and salty, chewy noodles. So awesome.

I used my wok for this, which worked beautifully, but any high sided skillet will do. This cooks up so friggin’ fast, which is great for a weeknight meal, but I highly advise having all the prep work done ahead of time and definitely do not walk away in the middle of this. I would also caution against marinating the salmon much more than the 5 minutes called for. There’s a bit of acid in the marinade, and if left to its own devices for too long, the acid will start to “cook” the fish, and then when you try to cook it yourself in the pan, the final product will be mushy. And no one wants that.

soy salmon over Asian veggie noodles

I also only call for cooking the salmon about 3-4 minutes per side, because I am so picky about the way salmon is cooked. I like mine to be between medium-rare and medium. To my personal palate, if salmon goes beyond medium, it just tastes like cat food. And if I wanted cat food, I’d go down to my local Petland and buy some salmon cat food for a lot less money than I spent on these beautiful wild-caught fillets. But that’s possibly just me. Of course feel free to cook it to your desired preference.

Soy Salmon over Asian Veggie Noodles

Anyways, enjoy this one, guys!

{One year ago: Malted Chocolate Ice Cream}

Source: adapted from Express Lane Meals by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:
½ lb. dried spaghetti
Kosher salt
6 tbs soy sauce or tamari
1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Juice of 1 lime
¼ tsp crushed chili flakes
4 salmon fillets
Vegetable or olive oil
½ a small head of green cabbage, cored and sliced very thin (I used a handheld mandoline slicer on its thickest setting)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 scallions, trimmed, chopped, green and white parts divided
2 tsp sugar
¾ cup chicken stock

Directions:
Place a large stockpot of water over high heat. Cover and let it come up to a boil. Generously salt the boiling water, then drop in the pasta. Cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain thoroughly when done.
Meanwhile, combine the tamari, ginger, lime juice, and chili flakes in a small baking dish or shallow bowl. Add the salmon fillets skin side up. Let marinate for 5 minutes.
Preheat a wok or high-sided skillet over high heat. Add a few drizzles of oil, then place the salmon in the wok skin side down. Don’t discard the marinade! Cook 3-4 minutes per side, or longer if you desire. When the salmon is done, remove to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Wipe out the wok and return it to high heat. Add another drizzle of oil, then add the cabbage, carrot, and bell pepper. Sauté until the veggies have softened and wilted a bit, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and white parts of the scallions and cook 1 minute more.
Add the sugar to the marinade and stir to combine. Then add the marinade to the wok. Let it simmer about 1 minute. Now add the chicken stock and let it simmer 2-3 minutes. Then add the cooked, drained pasta to the wok and toss to combine.
Pile some veggie noodles onto each plate and then position a salmon fillet over top. Garnish with the green parts of the scallions. Serve immediately.
As written, this will serve 4 people. Since I’m only cooking for two, I just made 2 salmon fillets, but kept the marinade amounts as written, and made the noodles as written, and the leftover veggie noodles are delicious!

Fish, Fennel and Saffron Stew

fish, fennel and saffron stew

Happy No-It’s-Not-Quite-Friday-Yet, where we continue our theme of Winter Stew! Today is a seafood stew, a somewhat new concoction according to Julie’s unadventurous childhood palate. We just didn’t eat much seafood, and I always, repeat always, associated stew with beef. But, I think I’m at least a little bit validated, because in researching seafood stews, they seem to mostly hail from Mediterranean Europe. I, on the other hand, did not.

fish, fennel and saffron stew

In fact, the stew I made for today has some Spanish inspiration, for sure. Saffron. Smoked paprika. Which of course made for an extremely flavorful pot of stew. After making this and eating off it for several days, I’m quite convinced that if you relegate stew to beef, as I did growing up, then you’re really missing out. Seafood stew is healthy, light, and the best part? It cooks quickly while tasting like it slow cooked all day.

Fish, Fennel and Saffron Stew

And, as with most soups and stews, leftovers only get better. And since my dear husband is of the firm belief that there’s a special place in hell for people who reheat fish in corporate break room microwaves, I’ve gotten to enjoy most of the leftovers! Yea for me! I hope y’all enjoy this one, we sure did. It’s especially wonderful with a cold glass of chardonnay to accompany it. Check back tomorrow – we’ll be concluding Winter Stew Week by eating our vegetables, like mom said we should!

Fish Fennel Saffron Stew

{One year ago: Homemade Old Bay Seasoning}

Source: adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, February/March 2010

Ingredients:
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, tops removed, cored, and chopped (reserve a few fennel fronds for garnish, if desired)
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbs tomato paste
½ cup dry white wine
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 large sprig of fresh thyme
¼ tsp smoked Spanish paprika
2 pinches saffron
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 lb. skinless thick white fish, such as cod or halibut, cut into 1-inch chunks

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, carrot, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add 3 ½ cups water, the beans, thyme, paprika, saffron, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender and the stew has thickened slightly, about 25 minutes.
Add the fish and stir to combine. Let the fish cook through; this only takes 2-4 minutes, so don’t walk away.
When the fish has cooked through, which you’ll know because it will start flaking apart, shut off the heat and season to taste with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve in bowls immediately.

Bacon-Wrapped Monkfish with Apple-Shallot Jam

Bacon Wrapped Monkfish with Apple Shallot Jam

It’s official: I picked too many apples at the orchard this year. Though I’ve always loved apples, either eaten as is, or used in cooking, or used in baking, I must confess that I got a little sick of them this fall. And I hope you haven’t gotten sick of seeing apple recipes coming across this blog, because yes, I’m aware that there have been a lot of them.

apple shallot jam

But it’s a relief good to know that here we are at the end of the run. Now, in my defense, I didn’t think I’d be blogging so many apple recipes – I fully expected to have some duds. But then I only had three apple recipe flops. Three! Out of… I don’t want to know how many. The first dud was supposed to be some apple crème brulee tartlets, but the pie dough didn’t remotely cooperate. The second flop was some toffee walnut blondies with an apple pie layer on top. The blondies themselves were fabulous, but the topping was beyond ugly. There was too much liquid, and after only a little bit of time it looked gray and very unappealing.

Apple Shallot Jam

And the third, an apple upside-down cake, wasn’t so much of a flop per se; it was perfectly edible and quite delicious in fact. But I really hated the way it looked and the way the pictures came out, so I skipped blogging it.

This dish wasn’t a dud – not in the least. It’s incredibly tasty. If you’ve never given monkfish a try, I highly recommend correcting that. It’s a wonderfully thick, fatty white fish, with a texture something akin to swordfish, but then again something all its own. And if you don’t groove on the fish, this jam would stand on its own quite nicely. It would be perfect for sandwiches or spread on biscuits. Enjoy!

bacon wrapped monkfish

And here’s my round-up of apple recipes for this year, with one special addition: last year, with my apple stash, I made one of the best things I’ve ever tasted – Apple Pie Ice Cream. While it was one of the best things I’ve ever made, it was NOT one of the best things I’ve ever photographed. So I made it again this year and got much better pics. I’ve updated the post, so please, click over and enjoy!

Apple Pie Ice Cream

BREAKFAST(ISH):
Apple Cheddar Quiche
Cranberry Apple Muffins
Savory Apple, Oat and Herb Scones
Apple Pie Bagels
Apple Butter Doughnuts
Apple Streusel Bread
Beer Waffles with Cinnamon Apples and Caramel Sauce

MAIN DISHES:
Apple-Pork Ragout over Pappardelle
Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin over Apple-Turnip Hash

DESSERTS:
Pumpkin Apple Cake
French Apple Tart
Apple Maple Walnut Cobbler
Apple Crisp
Caramel Apple Layer Cake
My Mom’s Apple Cake

Good lord, that’s a lot… Oh well, they were all delicious, I stand by it. 🙂

{One year ago: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples, Onion, and Candied Pecans and Sweet Potato Biscuits}

Source: adapted from The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook by Linda Beaulieu

Ingredients:
FISH:
2 (10 oz.) monkfish tail ends
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 strips bacon
2 tbs olive oil

JAM:
1 cup sugar
4 shallots, chopped
4 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
½ cup red wine, such as merlot
2 cups apple cider
2 tbs maple syrup

Directions:
Season the monkfish all over very lightly with salt and moderately with black pepper. Wrap 3 strips of bacon around each piece of fish and secure with toothpicks.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a cast-iron or other ovenproof large skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. When it is nearly smoking, carefully place the fish in the pan and sear for about 1 minute per side. Place the skillet in the oven and cook the fish until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to be sure. You want it to read 145 F.
While the fish is cooking, make the jam. In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook the sugar until it caramelizes. If it is seriously refusing to caramelize over low heat, inch the heat level up until it cooperates. Don’t walk away during this process though. Sugar can go from beautifully caramelized to burnt in a split second.
Add the shallots, apples, wine, apple cider, and maple syrup. Cook until thick and reduced by half. Again, your heat level and cook time may vary. I kept mine around medium heat and it took around 10 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid scorching the bottom of the sauce.
Remove the fish from the oven and remove the toothpicks. Serve immediately with a dollop of jam. Store leftover jam in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Adobo Salmon Salad Tartines

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I still have the flu. It’s getting better. My fever broke yesterday morning, which is great news, but I am still fatigued and dizzy and generally not terribly coherent, so we’ll see how blogging goes.  If it’s just too painful to read my illness-induced prose, at least you can look at the pictures.

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A tartine is simply a fancy French word that means open-faced sandwich. Adobo is a crazy good Mexican sauce/marinade usually seen with chicken, but it also works with fish, shrimp, and pork quite nicely. It’s made with dried red chiles and garlic, and it turns this lovely brick-red color.

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Now, this salmon is poached. And in the past, I have found poaching salmon to be quite a scary undertaking. The first time I tried it, it was so bad that I swore off poaching for good. I spice crusted the fish with Indian flavors, then overcooked the salmon and basically made us some Indian-spiced cat food. And thanks to the garam masala, my cats wouldn’t even eat it.

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Fortunately, I ventured back into the land of poaching, initially with chicken, to discover that it’s a very useful kitchen skill to have in one’s arsenal of tricks. It produces a moist, tender protein and it’s really quite easy once you figure out the method. So don’t be afraid of the poached salmon – it’s wonderfully moist and flaky in the end.

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So go out and cook this one. It’s a lovely, elegant treat that is light and flavorful and will maybe, possibly, trick your mind into thinking you’re somewhere warm and festive during this longest, coldest month of the year.

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Source: slightly adapted from Cowgirl Chef, by Ellise Pierce

Ingredients:
14 oz. salmon fillets
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup water, maybe more
3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 small shallot, sliced
2 (3-inch) strips lemon zest
10 black peppercorns
A big pinch of kosher salt
2 tbs mayonnaise
2 tbs Adobo (recipe to follow)
2 tbs minced scallion
Handful of fresh cilantro, minced
1 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
4-6 slices good quality sandwich bread, like a Pullman loaf, toasted and cut in half on the diagonal
1 medium avocado, sliced
1 tbs fresh dill, chopped

Directions:
Place the salmon fillet(s) in a medium saucepan. Add the wine, water, parsley, sliced shallot, lemon zest, peppercorns, and salt. Bring the heat to a simmer, then turn it down to medium-low to low heat. Poach for 3 minutes, then test for doneness. It will likely take a bit longer; mine took around 8 minutes. Remove the salmon from the pan, place in a large bowl, and cool.
Using a fork, gently flake the salmon into large pieces. Add the mayo, Adobo, scallion, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When ready to eat, heap a couple spoonfuls on each toast point and smooth out. Top with two avocado slices and sprinkle on some fresh dill. Serve immediately.

ADOBO

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Ingredients:
5 dried guajillo chiles
3 dried ancho chiles
2 dried cascabel chiles
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste

Directions:
Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles. Preheat a medium saucepan to medium heat. Toast the chiles for about 30 seconds per side, just until they are fragrant. Don’t let them burn. Cover the chiles with hot water and return to high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover and shut off the heat completely. Let them sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the softened chiles to your blender, along with the rest of the ingredients and about half a cup of chile soaking water.
Puree until completely smooth – give it at least 5 minutes.
This makes about 2 cups. Use the rest to marinade chicken, pork, or shrimp later in the week.

Tilapia with Chile Butter and Ricotta Grits Cakes

This is Part 3 of the Dining at Bar Americain series.
Part 1: Chocolate Crepes with Rum Whipped Cream
Part 2: Shrimp and Grits
Part 4: Molasses Mustard Pork Chops
Part 5: Roast Chicken with Honey Mustard Black Pepper Sauce and Hatch Chile Spoonbread

This was the entrée I ordered at Bar Americain.  It’s actually supposed to be made with skate wing, not tilapia.  That was how I had it at the restaurant, and that’s how it is written in the cookbook.  Skate is related to sting rays, and the edible part is its wing.  I really enjoy skate; it looks a lot like a thin white fish, and the taste is very similar.  It’s a flavor blank slate, so you can spice crust it, sauce it up, marinate it lightly, whatever you want.  The texture is what makes skate so awesome.  It’s lighter and almost airier than white fish, if that makes sense.  It is moist and tender and all around amazing.  I love it and I don’t hesitate to order the skate dish on restaurant menus when available.  However, it can be difficult to locate in grocery stores and fish monger stores.

Case in point – I couldn’t find it at Fairway.  I asked the seafood counter manager if they happened to have any, and he quite literally asked me if I was crazy.  While you might initially think he was being very rude, he actually knows Matt and me since we’ve been shopping at Fairway for years now, so it’s okay.  But, no, they didn’t have any skate.  So I subbed in tilapia, and I think it worked well.  Matt even said he liked the tilapia better than the skate.  I told him I think he’s crazy. 🙂

So let’s talk grits cakes.  Those are just little round bites of perfection if there ever were any.  These use ricotta and parmesan, which is very tasty, and inspiring: it got me thinking of all the Cheddar and pepper jack possibilities that now must be in my future.  The book instructs to drain them on paper towels, which we did, only to find them sticking to said paper towels.  I’m not sure what the more elegant solution is.  They did come off, but slowly and with a few small tears.  If anyone knows a better way, please share in the comments section.

Moral of the story: if you can find skate, please do use it instead of the tilapia.  But tilapia is a fantastic sub.  Treat skate exactly the way the tilapia is written out in the recipe, except that you may have to adjust cooking times as it will likely be thinner.  Otherwise, proceed as directed and enjoy!

Source: adapted from Bar Americain Cookbook, by Bobby Flay

TILAPIA:

Ingredients:
4 tilapia fillets
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup flour or Wondra flour
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbs capers, drained
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tbs chopped fresh tarragon

Directions:
Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Spread out the flour on a large plate and season it with salt and pepper. Dredge the skate on both sides in the flour and tap off any excess.
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook the fish on both sides until light golden brown and just cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Add the wine to the pan and boil until reduced by half. Remove from the heat. Add in the capers, lemon juice, and tarragon and stir to combine.
To serve, place a fish on a plate with a dollop of Chile Butter on top and two Ricotta Grits Cakes alongside.

RICOTTA GRITS CAKES:

Ingredients:
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup fine white cornmeal, plus 1 1/2 cups for dredging
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs unsalted butter, chilled
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
Canola oil

Directions:
Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray it with cooking spray.
Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the cornmeal a little at a time, whisking constantly. Pour in the cornmeal slowly or you will get lumps in the finished product. Once the cornmeal is added, turn the heat to low and continue whisking for 25 to 30 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the grits are creamy.
Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, butter, salt and pepper. Fold in the ricotta. It’s okay if it’s a little streaky.
Spread the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet to a thickness of half an inch. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the grits, and chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Spread 1 1/2 cups cornmeal onto a large plate and season with salt and pepper. Cut the grits into eight 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter. Dredge each cake on both sides in the cornmeal. Heat about 1/4 cup canola oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Saute 4 of the cakes until golden brown on each side, 1-2 minutes per side. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels (?) and season scantily with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining oil and cakes until they are all done.

CHILE BUTTER:

Ingredients:
8 tbs unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 tbs chopped chipotle in adobo
2 tsp honey
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:
Combine the butter, chipotles and honey in a small bowl. Mash with a fork until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and continue mashing until perfectly smooth.