Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Carved Pumpkin and Pork Chops

Several kids commented on the pumpkin, it's inspired by The Scream. It was much easier this year.  Partly due to me practicing cake decorating and making other food decorations.  A Y shaped peeler and a fine knife are key. The knife I used was about 2" x 3/8" blade, thin and flexible. The key was starting out with a plan. In this case, The Scream. I cut the eyes, nose and mouth then carved the creaseas around the face. and finally the ears. The hair is inspired by Medusa, really I was just trying out the spiral corer or whatever it is. Also I cut the access hole in the back, which made everything much easier. It took about two hours overall.

I spent all afternoon doing the pumpkin so dinner was pretty basic.  I put

1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

in the mortar and crushed all the lumps. Then in a plastic bag and shook the chops individually to coat them. Ordinary mashed potatoes topped with sour cream and artificial bacon bits. Broccoli and carrots steamed and finished in butter and extra virgin olive oil.  The chops were fried but I could have sprayed them with oil and BBQ'd them. Fern's home made ketchup is the condiment.  Dinner was good, not great, but  good. Young people noticed my pumpkin, that's an achievement!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Honey Garlic Pork Tenderloin

I'm still exhausted from wrapping the BBQ shelter in storm vinyl but I did manage to cook dinner. Our friend and volunteer gardener Kevin gave us a honey garlic marinated pork tenderloin. He got a deal on two and was going to freeze one but decided to give it to us instead. So I just sliced it up and put on the BBQ. I steamed some broccoli and made plain white rice.  I put soy sauce on my rice, Fern had his plain. The broccoli was finished in extra virgin olive oil and butter on the stove. I didn't make the marinade but it tasted of garlic and honey so that might have been all there was to it. It wasn't bad. I wouldn't drive across town to get it, again.

On a bad day, that's what we eat. Life isn't so bad.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Icing

This is my second attempt at a chocolate cake from scratch.  The first one I just didn't like.  This one I found on the net somewhere, I was looking for something with more eggs and less baking soda.  I'm hoping more egg yolks will make it moister.

Scratch Chocolate Cake

1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the Vanilla and eggs. Sift and beat in the dry ingredients.  Add the milk. Bake at 350º 35-45 minutes.

I used two eight inch round pans.  I turned a pan upside down to use as a guide and cut a round of parchment paper for the bottom of each pan. Then I sprayed oil on the sides of the pans and coated them with flour.  Then I put the round parchment in the bottom and poured the batter in. To get the cakes out of the pans I only had to run a butter knife around the edge and the cake fell out of the pan. Be sure to take the paper off before icing the cake!

This cake had only two layers so I didn't need all that much icing.

Buttercream Icing.

1 cup soft butter
2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk

Cream the butter, which means beat it till it becomes soft and creamy. Slowly add the sifted sugar/cocoa     so the mixture remains creamy.  Once all the sugar and cocoa powder is in add the vanilla and drip milk in till it's a spreadable consistency.  If it's too thick it will tear the cake instead of spreading.  If it's too thin it will run down the cake and look terrible. Experience is the best teacher here so I just do my best. This is also my first attempt at decorating.  There are actually four roses on the cake as well as the swirls. The roses drooped a bit because my icing is just a touch too thin.

The cake was nicer than the last one but still a bit dry.  I'll research a bit and see if maybe adding 1/4 cup of oil will moisten it up.

Update: I just researched it a bit and the ratio of butter/sugar to flour/egg is already as far to the moist range as it should go. So the most likely reason that it was a bit dry was that it was over baked.  I tested it with a toothpick at 35 minutes and it came out with a few crumbs so I baked it 5 minutes more. What I didn't know was that the cake will continue to cook after it comes out of the oven. If I had taken it out at 35 minutes it would have finished cooking out of the oven and not become dry.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Savory Paprika Chicken

Same recipe as the other night.  Pound the chicken flat to double in size and liberally coat with

Savory Paprika Rub

1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Fry in plenty of oil.

The rice was done with half chicken stock, half water and a pinch of salt.  The carrots and broccoli were steamed then finished in the pan with butter and extra virgin olive oil.

Once again, delicious taste and easy preparation.  I prepped and cooked this meal in half an hour.

Halibut with Lemon Sauce and Borscht

I went to the store a bit late looking for fish or pork.  I found two pieces of Halibut packaged yesterday and marked down to less than half price to clear. We're having Halibut! Lemons were on for .99 so a bought a couple extra and I already had cauliflower. Potatoes, fish and cauliflower is going to make a pretty bleak looking meal.  Cauliflower on beat greens and borscht on the side? Sounds good, I bought some beets and sour cream.

Using the recipe in Joy of Cooking as a model, I started the soup first.  I peeled and diced a small onion, a carrot and 3 beets.  I sweated the onion and carrot first then added the beets and covered the lot with beef stock. Add a bay leaf and simmer for 20 minutes then add 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon vinegar, a cup of shredded cabbage and salt to taste. Simmer 15 minutes more then serve with a dollop of sour cream on top.

I put potatoes on to cook for mashed and got the cauliflower prepped and in the steamer.  I wanted a light seasoning for the fish so I put a tsp of onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp turmeric (optional) and 1 tsp salt in the mortar and broke all the lumps up.  I seasoned both sides of the fish and put it in a hot frying pan.  I watch the color of the meat change from translucent to white as it cooks.  When it is about half way up I turn the fish over.  The second side takes less time to cook.

The lemon sauce was straight forward.  A tablespoon of flour and one or two of oil.  Make a slurry and cook off the flour taste.  Remove the pan from heat and whisk in chicken stock till it is a thin sauce.  Add the juice of half a lemon, a pinch of salt and put the sauce pan back on the stove.  Add more stock as the sauce cooks and thickens.

The beet greens I decided to use the stems and leaves so I just chopped up the lot and put it in the steamer. The stems didn't cook through and were bitter so next time I'll discard them. When they were steamed I drained them and put them in the pot with a little butter, salt and extra virgin olive oil.

I plated the greens then the cauliflower on top and the fish and potatoes on the side. Lemon sauce over the fish and cauliflower. Fern thought the fish was delicious, I thought it was good but not quite delicious. It might have been better without the turmeric. For vegetables I would use beet greens and carrots next time. The borscht was very good but a bit too much food.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Poultry Paprika Chicken Breast

"This is delicious!" Fern said before I even took this photo.  Once I sat down he asked, "Did you find this somewhere or come up with it yourself? It's delicious!"
"I came up with it myself."

I started by boning the chicken breasts. It's actually quite easy to do if I start with a bone in chicken breast and a professionally sharpened knife. Hold the knife perpendicular to the high point of the breast bone. Slide the knife tip down the bone to the rib cage. Slide the knife along the breast bone, scraping the meat off.  The knife will slide along the cartilage just as well, if I cut into it I just find the edge again and keep going. Then use the ribs as a guide to scrape the meat off the rib cage.  Cut the tendons holding the meat to the shoulder bone. Finally, cut out the wishbone which extends from the shoulder joint to the breast bone. Feel around to find it all, it may be in two pieces or may be missing. Peel the skin off and I've saved 50% on the cost of  the meat. Plus I use the bones to make chicken stock for sauces all week long, saving even more money.

I put a breast in a plastic bag, unsealed skin side down and flattened it with a mallet till it was about double in size. In another plastic bag I put my seasoning.

Poultry Paprika Chicken Seasoning

In a mortar or small bowl put:

1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Use the pestle or back of a spoon to break up lumps. Put in a plastic bag.

Coats two, maybe three breasts.

I shake each breast in the bag then lay it on a board and spray both sides with oil so I can BBQ it.  The oil will be in the pan if I'm frying it. I give it 2 minutes, rotate, 2 minutes turn over, 2 minutes rotate, 2 minutes and they're done to get nice grill marks.

The rice is plane white basmati with salt and a teaspoon of oil. Carrots and broccoli were steamed then finished over low heat in extra virgin olive oil with a little butter and salt and pepper. Simple and simply delicious.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Beef Tenderloin

The plan was to have frozen prawns unless something really good popped up.  I walked past the fish counter, nothing there.  The Angus beef, what's that? Two large pieces of Angus beef tenderloin marked down more than half to clear. We're having steaks!

I seasoned the steaks with my beef rub and sprayed them with oil. The BBQ was warming up for them. (I put a clamp work light above the BBQ which made it much nicer to work in the dark of winter.)

Beef Rub

1  1/4  tbsp paprika
1   tbsp kosher salt
1   tsp garlic powder
1/2   tsp ground black pepper
1/2   tsp onion powder
1/2   tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2   tsp dried oregano
1/2   tsp dried thyme

Simple mashed potatoes finished with butter and milk.  Carrots and broccoli done in the steamer then run under cold water to stop cooking.  Later warmed in the pot with butter and extra virgin olive oil.

The gravy was 1 tsp flour and 1 tbsp oil mixed to a paste and cooked till it begins to brown.  Then taken off the heat and beef stock added till it's a thin sauce.  Back on the stove and add a dash of Worcestershire Sauce and half an ounce of red wine, some black pepper and a dash of salt.  I also added 1/2 tsp each of ground onion and ground garlic. Simmer gently.  

The steak on the BBQ I did 2 minutes, rotate, 2 minutes, turn over, 2 minutes, rotate, 2 minutes and they're done. If I had gone 15 seconds longer on each sear and they would have been perfect. 

It was a delicious meal, simple and easy to prepare and it didn't break the bank!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Peanut butter and bananas seem to be made to eat together.  So, I reasoned, would adding peanut butter to banana bread bring this same flavor to baking? (Nope!)  I did a little research and the recipes seem to be just banana bread with the addition of some amount of peanut butter. So I'll modify the recipe I have.  It called for 3 or 4 bananas but I only had two, so adding half a cup of peanut butter should about equal the missing banana.  The recipe is simple, mix the wet ingredients then add the dry. Preheat oven to 350º.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

1/3 cup melted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas mashed
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

Thoroughly mix ingredients and bake for one hour or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. I use parchment paper in a bread pan, the bread comes out easily, cleanup is a breeze and the paper covers the base of the cake dome.

It fell a bit in the center when I took it out of the oven but it was cooked through so it wasn't a problem. The taste was neither the fruity taste of bananas nor the fatty taste of peanut butter or the richness of vanilla.  In watercolor painting if I use too many colors together it all turns to brown mud on the paper. That's sort of what happened with the peanut butter banana bread, the three competing flavors combined into an indistinguishable flavor that was neither good nor bad. Maybe leaving the vanilla out would be better but with this experience I would tend to not try this again.

Peanut butter banana bread slices buttered.

Southwest Chicken with Cauliflower in cheese sauce.

Fern wanted pounded chicken again so off to the store I went to see what is on special that could be made into a tasty meal.  Bone-in skin-on chicken breasts are always reasonably priced so the decision was what to pair them with.  Cauliflower was on special for 99 cents per pound and we had loads of cheese in the fridge.  I like cheese sauce on Southwest spice because the milk tempers the spice and gives a nicer flavor than either component alone. I decided to complete the meal with green peas and mashed potatoes.

I started with the chicken.  I buy bone in, skin on chicken breasts and bone them myself.  I start at the high point of the breast bone and slide the knife tip down the breast bone to the rib cage. Then slide the blade along the breast bone and cartilage to the point of the breast.  Go back to the entry point and start to scrape the meat off the bones up to the wing joint. Then carefully scrape the meat off the rib cage till the whole breast is connected only to the wing joint and wishbone.  Depending on how it was butchered the wish bone can almost touch the breast bone or it could be cut somewhere.  First cut the meat off the ball joint then feel around the meat for the wishbone.  I find I have to cut along the length of the bone then I can get the knife under the bone to free it from the meat.  Try not to get too much of the white tendons attaching the meat to the ball joint on the meat.  It cooks up like white vulcanized rubber.

If you like maximizing food value then put the chicken bones in a stock pot and put the pot in a 350º oven for 30 minutes.  Take out and cool.  Fill with water, add one carrot and a stick of celery in large pieces.  Cut an onion in half and put in the pot skin and all.  The skin gives color to the stock. Add a bay leaf and simmer for two hours. Strain and use for sauces, gravies and soups.  After it's been in the fridge the fat will float on the surface.  With a large spoon remove as much fat as possible.

Put one breast in a plastic bag (the clear ones in the produce section are ideal), skin (smooth) side down.  Pound the meat till it is about double in size. Remove and do the second breast.  Season the breasts with Southwest spice and spray with oil for the BBQ or do them in a 12 inch frying pan. These were fried. The skins I fried up for dog treats.

Southwest Spice Rub

2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp granulated garlic
4 tsp kosher salt (1 tbsp + 1 tsp)
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp cayenne

I did the cauliflower and frozen peas together in the microwave.  Potatoes were already bubbling away on the stove.  The final component was the cheese sauce.  I was going to use extra old cheddar but when I opened the fridge I found the half brick of Velveeta left over from a recipe Fern tried.  The box said it melts easily so I thought, the Southwest spice should hide the processed cheese taste well enough so I'll use this up.  I put a tablespoon of flour in a sauce pot and put the chicken fat rendered from the skins in it.  I added more oil till I had a thick slurry.  I put this on the burner for a few minutes to cook off the flour taste. Then I took it off the heat and added a quarter cup of chicken stock and enough milk to thin the slurry.  Keep adding milk and whisking till there is about a cup of milk or the sauce is a bit thinner than you want. Bring it to a simmer and add the cheese cut up.  I used half a brick but a quarter brick would probably do. Keep stirring till the cheese is melted and the sauce has thickened.  If it gets too thick, thin it with milk. Taste the sauce and add salt if necessary. I added a few drops of white wine vinegar to give it a little tang.  Plate the potatoes, chicken and vegetables then smother with as much cheese sauce as desired (I like lots).

The whole meal was outstanding for flavor and the cheese sauce with the spice rub was a delicious combination, I thought.  My partner didn't like it as much because he has always had cauliflower with ham and cheese sauce. Cajun chicken didn't meet his expectations, something I've run into before. The problem is that even for the home cook, the customer is always right. If people don't like the food, it doesn't matter why, it has to be changed.

I would not buy Velveeta but if I had some I would make this sauce again. The rest of the cheese sauce will be our mac and cheese for lunch.

Ginger Beef on Steam Fried Noodles

Finally the last of the roast beef gets used up.  I got three meals for two out of a $6 roast so that's a good run.  I thinly sliced the beef, carrots and mushrooms.  Diced a green pepper, celery stick and cut up the broccoli. I microwaved the carrots and broccoli a bit to give them a head start. I set a pot of water to boil for the noodles and put a large sauce pan on the burner.

I started with the mushrooms, giving them a nice sear then removing them from the pan.  Next I sweated the green pepper and celery then removed them from the pan.  A heaping teaspoon of flour in the pan and enough oil to make a slurry.  Cook the flour taste off then start adding beef stock till it is a nice gravy, then add a tablespoon of soy sauce.  Add the meat to the gravy and all the vegetables and stir to coat everything.  Put the steam fried noodles in boiling water and cook for 1 to 3 minutes depending on brand.  Add the finely diced ginger to the pan and stir to coat everything.

When the noodles were done drain and put back in the empty pot.  Add some oil and a little soy sauce to the noodles then plate them.  Finally plate the ginger beef over some of the noodles (or rice). I dove in before I took a photo, I was hungry and it was really good! After a few bites I remembered to snap a photo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Coconut Curry Prawns

Our favorite restaurant called with a last minute dinner invitation.  When the chef hasn't got enough reservations for the buffet he has prepared he will call us to come down for a free meal. He knows we'll tip the wait staff based on the full price and we also tip the musicians because we are his best customers. All we do to get than honor is go there once a month for dinner.  I include this story to encourage people to find and support a favorite restaurant, they will give you special treatment without ever having to ask for anything.

Last night it was a roast beef buffet.  I had already bought a small roast to have yesterday so it was going to be dinner tonight but neither of us really felt like a heavy red meat meal again. So I suggested a stir fry? Nothing with soy sauce. A curry? That would be good.  So I headed off to the store to get something for a curry. A big bag of frozen raw prawns was on special and that would certainly be light. Rich, but light, so I bought a bag. I picked up some mushrooms and celery too then off to the checkout!

I was only going to use half a can of coconut milk so I shook the can really hard for a while to mix it up before opening it. I counted 10 prawns each into a bowl of cold water to thaw.  I diced and sliced an onion, carrot, stick of celery, red pepper and six mushrooms. That was the prep, it doesn't get much easier.

I put the rice on to cook and started sweating the vegetables.  I had sliced the carrots thinly hoping they would cook through but they were crunchy raw.  Next time I would either boil them for a couple of minutes or microwave them just to soften them a bit before sweating with the rest of the vegetables.

Once the onions were translucent I took everything out of the pan, added much more oil and put the mushrooms in on higher heat so they would sear a bit. When the mushrooms looked good I took them out and added the prawns.  They only take a minute or two and can be turned over.  When the prawns were just cooked I added back all the vegetables, 1 to 2 tablespoons of curry powder, salt, a pinch of cayenne and a tablespoon of flour. I cooked off the flour taste for a couple of minutes then took the pan off the heat to add the chicken stock.  An ounce or two of stock, just enough to get the lumps out of the flour.  Then I added half a can of coconut milk and put the pan back on the heat.  I brought the coconut milk up to a simmer and cooked it for a couple of minutes while I retrieved warm plates and dished out the rice.  I then plated the curry over top of the rice and served dinner.

I should have cooked only 8 prawns each but other than a little too much it was a delightful meal.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chicken Cordon Swiss

It was so good two nights ago I decided to do it again.  This time with Swiss cheese. Same procedure.  Pound the meat flat then lay a piece of ham and roll it up around a piece of cheese.  I put onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper in a plastic bag and Alpine bread crumbs in another. I shook in the first bag to coat with seasoning then dipped in egg and then shaken with bread crumbs to coat.

Mashed potatoes and carrots and broccoli done in the steamer and finished with xv olive oil.  I did another tomato, after cutting add salt and black pepper then sprinkle with grated parmesan and put in the oven.  The leftover parmesan I put in two small piles on a silicone sheet and baked them into crisps for the potato.

Once again it was DEEEEElicious!

Country Pork Ribs

I was feeling particularly selfish at the grocery store today.  The only thing on special that appealed was pork country cut ribs.  The selfish part is I like to make them as pictured and Fern doesn't like it particularly.  It's mostly the fat that bothers him so I made sure there was a nice lean piece for him.

This meal is so simple it's almost cheating.  Brush Kraft Regular BBQ sauce on the pork and put it in the oven at 375º for about 75 to 90 minutes or use a meat thermometer like I did. I took them out half way through and brushed more sauce on them.

I made white rice and carrots with peas.  Of course there weren't enough peas so I filled it up with corn.  I love the pan drippings from this on rice.  Even with my new found skills, I still think this tastes really good and it would be a struggle to screw it up.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chicken Cordon Edam

A really big meal! This morning Fern was still talking about how good it was, that is a first! I started out just getting some chicken but while I was shopping I thought it would be nice to have something a bit different.  I had Edam cheese in the fridge and if I got some ham I could make a variation on cordon bleu. I've been pounding the chicken flat lately anyway so it was just an extra step of rolling up around some ham and cheese. (of course it's never that simple)

I started with peeling potatoes to mash and getting them ready on the stove.  The carrots and broccoli were going in the steamer. Once the starch and vegetables were prepped I went back to the chicken.  I pounded the breasts flat in a plastic bag to about triple in size.  (The heavy clear bags from the produce section work great for this.)  On each breast I laid two pieces of deli counter ham. (it was too much, I'll use only one next time.) Then a nugget of Edam cheese and rolled up the chicken around it all. In another plastic bag I put 1 tbsp of flour, 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder,  1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper.  (I put the seasoning in the mortar and pestle to remove lumps first) I put a rolled up breast in the bag and held the breast from outside the bag and shook the bag. This worked surprisingly well and didn't unroll the chicken. I had an egg well whisked to dip the chicken in. Then in another plastic bag of Alpine Bread crumbs the final coating went on the chicken. I had two slices of ham left over so I put them down on the baking sheet and sat the breasts on top. Finally, so the bread crumbs would brown nicely I sprayed oil on the bread crumbs.

I buy Alpine Bread and never finish a loaf.  The second half of the loaf goes stale and I take some croutons off it.  When it's completely dry I break it up and put it in the food processor to create whole wheat panko that is full of flavor. Any favorite bread can be substituted.

I turned the heat on under the potatoes and steamer and put the chicken in a 350º oven.  It will take 35 minutes to cook. That left me with nothing to do for a few minutes so I got a beautiful tomato and my V cutter. I cut all around the tomato to produce two zigzag tomato flowers.  I put grated parmesan on top and put them in the oven during the last 10 minutes of the chicken.

I had some leftover parmesan grated so I got out my silicone sheet and made two small disks of cheese. I put this in the oven for the last 5 minutes of the chicken.  The steamed vegetables were done so I ran them under cold water to stop cooking and poured out the boiling water.  Just before the chicken was done I put the steamer pot back on the burner with a little oil so the butter doesn't burn.  I took the chicken, tomatoes and cheese disks out of the oven. The vegetables went into the steamer pot with some xv olive oil on top. I tossed the vegetables in the pot to warm them up while the plates warmed in the oven.

I plated the chicken and the potatoes opposite.  I didn't make a sauce because I wanted crunch on the chicken.  On one side were carrots and the other broccoli.  Tucked in beside the broccoli was the roasted tomato.  I stuck the parmesan cheese disk in each potato pile and called Fern to dinner. He came into the kitchen and just said, "Wow!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pork Tenderloin Kebabs

Pork tenderloin was on special so I picked up a nice one.  I cut it into 1 inch thick slices and marinated it in 3 cloves crushed garlic, tbsp fresh oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, tbsp oil and 1/4 cup red wine.   I marinated it for at least 4 hours then made the kebabs with just green pepper and cherry tomatoes from the garden.

The rice was done with half chicken stock, half water, salt, pepper, dried oregano and oil. The peas were frozen by the Green Giant and carefully microwaved to perfection.

The kebabs had so much flavor and the rice just punched it up over the top.  I've never had pork kebabs this good anywhere. Must have been the Valpolicella.

Spaghetti - Home grown tomato sauce

You'll never find this dish in any restaurant because everyone's favorite variation was made by their mother, good or bad, it's what they like. My partner made this batch but instead of canned tomato sauce he made his own from fresh tomatoes. The taste is brighter and fuller than any canned sauce I've ever had so if you can, grow some tomatoes. Here is what our tomato ranch looks like.

It's 8 feet wide to give an idea of scale. There is a planter at the bottom with red tomatoes and the hanging baskets have sweet yellow tomatoes. Somewhere inside hides my BBQ.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Beer Batter Green Ling Cod with chips

Yesterday one of our friends took one of our house guests fishing and he came home with a 5.5lbs Green Ling Cod. They left this morning so they didn't get a chance to join in the feast they provided.  Another friend came over providing it was beer batter fish and chips.  I've made french fries several times in the deep fryer but never anything battered.  It was with a little trepidation that I approached this meal.

First I had to take the fillets off the fish.  I haven't tried to do that since I was nine and back then I probably wasn't good at it. I sharpened my knives and set to work.  Slice down to the bone along the back, cut the meat from the ribs and clean up the bottom end. There were a few smalls bones to pull. One diner found one small bone, so I did a fairly good job.

Beer Batter

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
1 bottle beer

I did the fries first. 3 minutes at 325º then 3 minutes at 375º. The fish I cut into 8 pieces and dredged them in flour then dipped in the batter.  I did 3 pieces at a time at 355º. I held them in the oil for a few seconds so they would float above the basket. About 3 minutes a side on the fish was all it took. Everything came out crisp and perfectly done.

Tartar Sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 tsp prepared mustard

Friday, October 5, 2012

Southwest Snapper with Lemon Sauce

More house guests, partner's sister and brother in law this time.  They drove across the continent and are leaving Fern the car and flying home. We need more house guests like these!  They want fresh fish because they don't buy it in Montreal. Snapper is a great local, sustainable fish so I bought two large fillets.  I trim off any bits of skin still on the meat, it tastes fishy and unpleasant.  There are usually 5 or 6 bones down the middle of the fillet.  Start at the head end, which is not symmetric. The tail end is shown and it is symmetric. Use a pair of pliers to pull the bones through your fingers.  That way the meat stays on the fillet.

I seasoned it with my Southwest Rub this time but I thought it really needed more salt.  It probably always did but my palate is finally catching up to my skills and I can now identify what is missing. So here is my updated rub with double the salt.

 Southwest Rub

2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp granulated garlic
4 tsp kosher salt (1 tbsp + 1 tsp)
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp cayenne

I fried the fish in a hot well oiled pan.  About 2 to 3 minutes per side but I watch the meat change color and texture as it cooks so I can turn it at just the right time. I had potatoes almost done and carrots and broccoli in the steamer when I started the fish. The lemon sauce was simple but really makes an impact.

Lemon Sauce

1 heaping tsp flour
1+ tbsp oil (enough to take up all the flour)
1/2 cup chicken stock
rind and juice of 1 to 2 lemons (rind optional, leave out if pressed for time)
1/4 tsp salt

Cook the flour and oil paste to remove the raw flour taste but don't brown the mixture.  Off the heat, add the chicken stock a little at a time, whisking it in till the paste turns to sauce.  Use more than half a cup if needed.  Back on the heat, next add the rind, juice and salt. Taste. If it's too thick use lemon juice, chicken stock or water to thin depending on taste. When plating, spoon sauce over the broccoli and fish. Delicious!