Monthly Archives: December 2015

whole fish red snapper

I’ve recently started visiting my local OK so not so local Whole Foods Market OK so I’ve really only been twice. It’s 45 minutes away but from where I live most things are 30+ minutes away. I’ve heard a lot of chatter about Whole Foods; one of my friends calls it Whole paycheck so I was pretty hesitant to check it out. A few weeks ago we were cooking a World Wide Wednesday meal from Croatia and they have a local cheese that; us being cheese lovers really wanted to try; it is called Paski Sir aka as Pag Cheese which was tooted as being the best cheese in Croatia. I googled where to get it it and guess who had it in stock; yup off to Whole Foods I went. I headed directly to the cheese section and started looking for Pag cheese, the guy behind the counter was extremely knowledgeable and not only knew what my scribbled note said he said oh wait I have a fig spread also from Croatia that would go very nicely with my Pag cheese.  I was very impressed.

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So on my second trip to Whole Foods; I took my daughter for her first visit and we walked by the meat and fish counters. I see why my girlfriend calls it whole paycheck, so many things to choose from.  I have always; well not “always” wanted to try cooking a whole fish and why not a Red Snapper; it is a wonderful flaky white fish and I don’t see it a lot at my usual market; I wish we had a local fish market.  Me never having prepared a whole fish before; this was going to be way out of my comfort zone. At least I thought it would be, yeah it kind of was but I prevailed. While I was pretty nervous and wanted to do the snapper justice, I had the butcher clean and scale the fish for me. I got them home; I bought 2 to feed the 4 of us; Abbi remembered her Anne Burrell cookbook had a red snapper recipe here we go.

 

If you are a little adventurous I recommend giving this a try. It was fairly easy, great flavor and a little bit of a show stopper.

Red Snapper

3 or 4 large potatoes Yukon gold  works well; I used some the ones I had in my garden, sliced 1/8 inch thick I used my mandolin.
6 cloves garlic (4 finely chopped; 2 smashed)
1 bunch fresh oregano (half finely chopped; half as whole sprigs)
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, slivered
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 3 -pound red snapper or bass, scaled, gutted and gills removed (have the butcher do this for you)
1 lemon, sliced
3 fresh bay leaves
1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley
1 cup dry white wine

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, chopped garlic, chopped oregano, olives and red pepper; drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt. Spread out in your roasting pan that is large enough to hold the fish. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Set aside to prep the fish.

 

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Make 3 diagonal slices about 1/2 inch deep on each side of the fish. Season the outside and inside with olive oil and salt. Place the lemon slices, bay leaves, whole oregano sprigs, parsley and the remaining smashed garlic inside the body cavity of the fish.

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Pour the wine over the potatoes, lay the fish on top and toss the whole thing in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the eyeballs pop out – yes that is what I said and I was skeptical at first but now I’m a believer

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Remove the skin and bones and serve the fish over the potatoes.

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Pear Bread

Last night was my annual Christmas party; it was a blast and I am not just saying that because I threw it but we always have so much fun eating, drinking and singing around the piano. Once we make it through all the usual festive Christmas songs out comes Billy Joel, Elton John, James Taylor show tunes and even Abba yes we rocked Super Trouper. We generally average around 50-60 people, some stay a couple of hours, most stay for several hours and some even stay the night. Last night we had a full house; there was a no vacancy sign out front (if we had one) for the tower 🙂 as you can tell SF I am borrowing your comment from this morning. Another comment from one of my overnight guests “I should blog about this” on how to throw an awesome party; thanks for thinking so BF.

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party aftermath photo

 

My best recommendation is prep prep prep as much as you can the day before; and finish everything off the day of the party and that includes having breakfast mostly completed before the party. No one wants to make breakfast for 12-15 people while nursing a little after party slowness. A couple of breakfast casseroles, a bread item and some fresh fruit as well as coffee and juice and voila!

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Here is a bread item that was a nice surprise for me. Sometimes I guess you can call it over prepping; I have a grand plan of making something different to serve a crowd and I just never get there, this past Thanksgiving it was poached pears, mind you for the first time and I just ran out of steam, time and ambition; it happens to the best of us. What to do with a dozen pears that you know were going to all ripen at the same time; you can only eat so many pears in a day. I personally am not a fan but my guys love them; but even they were done after day 2. I put them in the fridge to slow them down a bit but time was ticking. Poaching pears was out, now they were only good for a baked good or the trash or maybe the compost pile, yeah so far we here in New Hampshire are having a crazy mild December. I know I will regret putting that in writing.  If this winter is anything like last winter, we are in for some serious weather come January.

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I looked online to see what others had done with their over ripen pears and where I have seen many a pear cake recipe I have never heard of pear bread I figured why not? We love banana bread and zucchini bread. I was not disappointed, it was moist, flavorful and a bonus was I didn’t have to throw away any pears. I really didn’t have a backup plan if this didn’t work out. Our usual use for fruit on its last leg is to make a smoothie for breakfast but I didn’t even photograph my pears for you, they were pretty ugly.

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The bread was a hit with the family and I would make it again no questions asked. though I didn’t make this for this mornings breakfast; I would have if I had leftover pears.

Pear Bread – makes 2 loaves

3 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 cups finely chopped peeled ripe pears (about 4 medium)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions pre-heat oven to 350’
In a large bowl or your mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and soda. Stir into the egg mixture just till moistened. Toss pears with lemon juice stir pears and walnuts into the batter.

Fill about half way into 2 greased 9×5 in loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans to wire racks. Freezes well too!

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photo prop silliness me and my girlfriend

Ham Hock and Lentil Soup

I have been trying but failing to eat some things out of the fridge/freezer the last couple of weeks. I am in desperate need of some serious real estate in both the fridge and freezer’s not only for our annual Christmas party coming up this weekend but this past Friday was mine and my girlfriends cookie making day. I have several dough’s and some cookies that need to be frozen or we will eat WAY too many of them you know just so they don’t go stale.

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I have a drawer full of various sized carrots from my garden

Yesterday I also picked up some party supplies that needed to go into the freezer.  You can only rearrange so many times before things start making closing the doors a chore.  Some things just had to come out and either be dealt with or throw away and the Yankee in me has a real hard time throwing out perfectly good food well technically what I took out needed to be made into a meal. One of the bags I wasn’t even sure what it was. Note to self label bags before storing. Apparently one of our World Wide Wednesday: we prepare and eat a meal from a different Country each Wednesday also affectionately known as WWW that required some ham hocks and we put the remaining two in the freezer.

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This morning I made a Fridge Frittata with half a pepper, some left over mushrooms, a few cherry tomatoes and some leftover ham and some chives that were on their way out. One drawer down and several to go! Back to the ham hocks I personally have never cooked with them; my daughter comes up with the WWW meals and I help her when she needs it. So I don’t even remember what she made with them. This last week we ate a meal from Syria and it was a lentil soup and we didn’t use all of the lentils  so abg of those were in the fridge. I currently have on the stove a Ham Hock and Lentil Soup Tada more space in the fridge; we will be eating the soup and any left overs I will send over to my in-laws.

This soup was really easy to put together and has great flavor – if you have never had lentils they are nutty and earthy in flavor and pretty healthy for you. So maybe the lentils will balance out the salty flavor of the ham hocks.

Ham Hock and Lentil Soup

2 tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion diced
2 stalks of celery diced
2 carrots diced
Kosher salt
Freshly crack black pepper
2-3 cloves garlic chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme or 4-5 sprigs of fresh
2 quarts chicken stock
2-3 smoked ham hocks
1 cup Lentils soaked

In a large saucepan or medium sized stock pot, over medium heat add the olive oil. When hot add the onions, celery, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper saute for 4 minutes; add the garlic, bay leaves and thyme saute for another minute.

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Add the ham hocks and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about an hour or until the ham hocks are tender.Add the lentils and continue cooking for another 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and check for seasonings. If needed add a little salt and pepper; mine did not need anymore.

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Remove the ham hocks and remove the meat from them, add the ham back into the soup; discard the rest of the hocks. Serve warm with some crusty bread!

 

Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse