Monthly Archives: March 2013

Nontraditional, Easy Fish Tempura/Favorite with Kids!

Friends, this is my version of an easy ‘dry tempura’. Tempura is the term used for batter-fried fish and vegetables; my recipe has the same ingredients, but done in an easy, double-step process: dipped first in liquid, then dipped in dry breading before deep-frying.

I will give my very basic recipe and try it this way, then you can become more adventuresome if you’d like, by adding spices or dried herbs to your breading,
(“Old Bay” seafood seasoning comes to mind, as does paprika, parsley, etc.). This recipe is good for kids and people who do not generally enjoy fish. I like it plain, with a little extra (sea) salt, or you can dip them in many types of flavorings.

This is best with any good white fish, and if you have read any of my previous posts, you know I will foremost suggest cod. Cod is the mildest tasting fish and you can’t go wrong using it in almost any recipe. It is the best choice for anyone who would like to avoid any ‘fishy’ flavor.

 

Fish Tempura, good alone or with a selection of sauces.

Fish Tempura, good alone or with a selection of sauces.

[Shown: approx. half-pound of cod; recipe feeds four with added salad or soup]

Fish Tempura

1 lb. frozen fish filets,[see information in Archives,Feb.2013 “Lent/Easy Baked Fish]
2 Tbs. lemon juice or 1 Tbsp. vinegar {distilled white or rice vinegar

1 cup flour {rice or all-purpose
¼ cup corn starch
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt {preferably sea salt

2 egg whites or equivalent of reconstituted dry egg whites
2 tsp. lemon juice or 1 tsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. water

2+ cups oil for deep frying {peanut or vegetable, not olive oil
Make it hot.

Thaw frozen filets in cool water with lemon juice or vinegar; leave in water.

Mix the dry ingredients well in a shallow bowl; reserve.

Whisk, (with whisk or fork) the egg whites, lemon juice (or vinegar) and water in a shallow bowl.

Cut fish filets into 1-bite or 2- bite-sized pieces, (not more than 1″square; shape does not matter)
Place some of the fish pieces in the wet mixture then into the dry mixture and drop in one layer into hot oil. Turn the fish when lightly browned and drain flat on paper towels.
Serve immediately.

I like these with just a little extra sprinkling of salt; others may like to go ‘Asian’ and use Teriyaki sauce, soy sauce or Thai Sweet Chili sauce. Others may like a honey dip, tartar sauce or cocktail sauce, (which I forgot to add to the picture, and now it is too late, all the fish has been eaten!).

If you keep your fish and egg white mixture very cold and your oil very hot, these should never be oily or greasy, but if you like the “fish ‘n chips” flavor, you can splash them with malt vinegar, rice vinegar,(or really, any vinegar).

These are well served with a salad or steamed vegetables, or soup; I suggest a nice vegetable soup, bean or lentil.[see August Archives, 2013].

This is the last of the Seafood series for now. I have requests for three other ideas, one on oil, one on keeping an emergency supply of food,(with severe weather season approaching, I think it is a good idea), and one on herbs and spices.

I hope all of you enjoy your Spring, Easter or whatever you celebrate and hope to hear from you now or in the future with any questions or comments. Please?

Breaded Cajun Fish Filets

A quick post as I am running behind here.

This recipe is based on one of the late Jeff Smith’s, (The Frugal Gourmet), and, with all due respect to my Cajun friends, I have toned the spiciness down. Feel free to fire it up!

Breaded Cajun Fish Filets; easy and tasty!

Breaded Cajun Fish Filets; easy and tasty!

(These also make an excellent sandwich when placed on a big bun or in Italian bread with a bit of mayonnaise or tartar sauce and some nice lettuce leaves.If you’re feeling really adventuresome, add caramelized onion &/or sauteed or pickled peppers.)

Breaded Cajun Fish Filets

1 lb. fish filets, (preferably frozen whitefish; I like cod. Please see guidelines n the Archive: “Lent/Easy Baked Fish “, Feb. 2013)

1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. Lemon juice

1 cup flour (can be rice flour)
1 cup cornmeal

2+ tsp garlic granules or powder,(if you only have garlic salt, omit salt
2 tsp. salt (any type)
1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper

3+ Tbsp butter and 1Tbsp olive oil, (NOT extra virgin
or 4+ Tbsp. margarine

Mix the milk and lemon juice. (Milk may curdle; that is fine). Soak the thawed fish filets for at least 15 minutes in the milk mixture.

In another bowl, mix the flour and cornmeal; add the salt, garlic and cayenne, adding a little of the pepper and adding more if needed. (Taste at this point for saltiness, a nice garlicky flavor and the ‘heat’ of the cayenne; add more of any of these, if needed.)

Heat some of the butter and oil or margarine in a flat, non-stick pan until rather hot,(do not burn). Place a small amount of the breading mixture on a plate. Remove one filet at a time from the milk mixture and place on the plate. Sprinkle the top of the filet liberally with more breading and press the breading down onto the fish. Carefully flip the fish over into the hot pan. Place more breading on top of the filet and press down. Continue with the remainder of the fish, keeping them in one layer in the pan.(You will need to make only 2-3 at a time). Keep the heat fairly high and do not attempt to turn the filets until they are golden brown on the underside or they may not be firm enough to survive the flip. Check carefully with a spatula or ‘pancake turner’ for color. When browned, flip gently and allow that side to brown. (You may need to add more butter and oil or margarine.) Repeat until all the fish is cooked.
(If the filets break, don’t worry; they will taste just as good. If your filets are thin, you may want to cut them into pieces no bigger than 2 ½-3 ” . They will cook  with less chance of breakage when turning.)

Serve with “Dirty Rice“, (See Archive, February 2013″Mahi-Mahi/Fish with Dirty Rice, Pasta and Potatoes”) and vegetables of your choice, but, as another nod to the Cajun of it, I suggest some sort of ‘Greens’.

Enjoy!

Twice-Baked Potatoes/From Appetizers to Entrées

Twice-Baked Potatoes/From Appetizers to Entrées

Yes, I said I’d put this recipe up before, but I had a quick request for my Codfish Cake recipe by people who missed the Gorton canned codfish cakes,(no longer available.)
Twice Baked Potatoes can be made with many ingredients, but I serve them often with seafood for Lent.

Twice-Baked Potatoes are also one of the tastiest ways to stretch your budget and leftovers. They are very convenient, and can be made well ahead of time and even frozen, ready in your oven or microwave in short order.

From appetizer to entree, an easy and delicious budget-stretcher

From appetizer to entree, an easy and delicious budget-stretcher

[The ones pictured above are made with tiny shrimp and spinach]

Twice-Baked Potatoes can be made with many ingredients, used as a side dish or as an entrée. They can even be made with mini-potatoes and used as finger-food, appetizers or placed on a buffet. They can be made with meat, seafood or vegetables and they can be made completely vegan.

You start with a nice, firm potato, any size. (For an entrée, I suggest russets.) Bake the potato to very soft in the middle. Times will vary according to the size of your potato, and, if using a microwave, the power of your unit. (Use 400F oven for baking 45-60 minutes or microwave on high for about 5-7 minutes for good-sized potatoes.)
Microwaves make perfectly acceptable Twice-Baked Potatoes, and makes them much more quickly, but when done in an oven, the potato skins become nice and crispy and the tops brown. One compromise is to first bake the potatoes in the microwave, (saving up to an hour) and then finishing them off in the oven, or even more quickly, under a low broiler.

If you are unused to baking potatoes, wash them first under running cold water and brush them with a vegetable brush or rub them using a clean cloth. If you usually wrap your potatoes in foil to bake them in the oven, omit for this recipe. Pierce the potato skin with a fork, just once. This will release enough of the pressure from the steam that may build up when the moisture in the potato get heated. If there is enough steam build-up and it cannot escape, potatoes can explode all over your oven or microwave!

When the potatoes are done, (a fork can easily slip all the way into the center of the potato), remove and, using a clean towel, oven mitt or pot holder, carefully cut through the potato length-wise. The potatoes will be very hot and the escaping steam may burn you if you are not careful. Allow to cool slightly, (but don’t let them get cold) and gently scoop out the inside of the potato, leaving the skin intact. (You may want to leave up to ¼ of an inch of the pulp all around the inside so that your potato skin does not break.) Place the pulp in a bowel, and now the creativity begins!

Here is where your taste, what is available and the season challenges you.

From appetizer to entrée any of the suggestions or your own ideas will determine your finished potatoes.

Start by mashing or even whipping the insides of the potatoes with any of the ingredients below, or a combination: [*See Note for easiest suggestions]

Butter, margarine or coconut oil

Cream cheese, sour cream or vegan sour cream, (made from tofu)

Small amount of cream or milk,{rice, soy, coconut or almond can be used

I usually use tiny shrimp, but have used crab meat and imitation crabmeat,(see ‘Seafood Pasta Salads’; Feb 2013 archive for guidelines), but I have used any pre-cooked fish.
You can also use minced bacon, ham, roast beef, or no meats at all. (For roast beef, you can add a little horseradish to the mix.)

You can add cheeses, (or vegan cheese substitutes); cheddar is the best choice here.

Use salt and pepper of any type.

You can add cooked, minced onion, green onion or onion powder, a little garlic or garlic powder;

Sautéed shallots, leeks, celery carrots, sweet peppers;

Cooked, (or frozen and well-drained), spinach is very good in these, as are canned or jarred asparagus

Parsley, paprika, celery salt, chives, sage

Dehydrated vegetable mix

A couple of drops of sesame oil and sesame seeds

Mix & match the above to taste.

* Note: I suggest you start out simply if you are unused to cooking. Add sour cream or cream cheese, salt and pepper, a little onion of some sort and vegetables, cheese, minced ham or tiny shrimp.

After you have mixed all the ingredients, spoon the filling or pipe it with a pastry bag,( or from a zipper-lock bag with the corner cut off), into the potato skin “boats”; they should be heaped in the middle, as there is more to the filling than what you scooped-out. Place the ‘boats” back in the oven, preferably under the broiler on low setting for a short time or placed back in the microwave until heated all the way through. These can then be cooled, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen in a zipper-lock bag, (with as little air trapped as possible), for months. They are great to have on hand as a quick meal or for an addition when having unexpected guests. You can make the little ones ahead of time for a party or gathering.

I hope you try these.

Easy Codfish Cakes

From what I can gather, I am not the only one who misses Gorton’s canned codfish cakes. The mixture came solid in a can and one only had to slice and fry them in butter or margarine for a real treat. When they started getting scarce where I lived, (and now are non-existent), I developed the recipe based on the label ingredients, which I share with you today. I think it is close to what you may remember.

Codfish Cakes (Gorton-style)

1 lb of cod filets { frozen
1 ½ cups mashed potatoes
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. milk {can be rice, almond or soy milk
2+ Tbsp flour {all-purpose, potato or rice flour
(opt. 1+Tbsp. parsley)
Butter or margarine

Poach the cod by placing the filets in a deep flat pan and covering them with water.(Can be still frozen). Add 2 tsp. of salt and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice. Simmer until the filets are no longer translucent,(nearly clear), but opaque in color, (solid white). [ I used to wrap them in cheesecloth to prevent them from breaking apart while boiling but found that they are fine cooking a little longer at a gentle simmer, just under boiling.] Drain the filets and flake them in a mixing bowl.

Add premade mashed potatoes, [See Dec. 2012 Archive, You Can Do It…Breakfast Potatoes and Leftovers if you need instructions.] and milk and salt. Stir in the eggs, mix well and add the salt then sprinkle in the flour. Depending on the wetness of your potatoes and the absorbency of your flour, more may be required, but please do not expect the consistency of our belated, beloved canned codfish cakes: This mixture will be somewhat loose.

Melt butter or margarine in a large , flat pan or griddle,(preferably non-stick).Keep the pan on a medium-high setting and  pick up the cod mixture, roll into a loose balls and flatten before dropping onto the pan or drop the mixture by a large spoonful and immediately flatten with a spatula.( You need to make these rather thin). Leave the cakes cooking for some time until the bottoms are deep golden-brown and flip them gently with a ‘pancake turner’ once, and allow them to brown equally on the other side.(In the ones pictured,I went heavy on the option of parsley!)

codfishcakes2

I hope that if you grew up loving codfish cakes as I did, these will satisfy you.

One of my son’s friends was a local fellow and one day we were discussing food,(which should be of no surprise). He complained that he had gone to a restaurant with his father somewhere in New England and he had tried to order biscuits and gravy, but the waitress had no idea what he was talking about. I told him that biscuits and gravy was a local favorite and that I had not learned to make sausage gravy until I had moved to Kentucky.
He still did not understand; after all, the restaurant had been one in a national chain and he had ordered the same breakfast at nearby locations many times.
I said, “But the menus vary; they feature local favorites. For instance, I was born in Maryland and if I walked into a restaurant here and ordered codfish cakes, they’d look at me like I am crazy”, to which my Tennessee-born then-daughter-in-law replied, “Kinda like I’m lookin’ at you right now?”

Maryland or any where else, I hope you are crazy about the recipe for codfish cakes that you found here.

Last Minute Dinner Salads/Lent or Anytime

Last Minute Dinner Salads

One Ash Wednesday Husband came home late as he went to Mass after working overtime. Our sons and I had eaten our Twice-Baked Potatoes(next post) and the one good thing about them is that it is easy to make just enough, if you don’t care for leftovers. (Although they do freeze quite well for a short term, like 4-6 months).
When Husband came in, he informed me that his boss had been at Mass as well and he had invited the man to dinner.
Husband has done this to me a few times. When we got married I had never cooked for less than six people and we ate a lot of leftovers,(fortunately, I learned to freeze things well.) Let me make a couple of steaks, or a couple of chicken breasts and, used to having too much food, that seemed to be exactly when the Husband would invite someone to stay. I was always last-minute hustling!

I had to stow the baked potato and put together a salad with what I had on hand. I added small shrimp which I fortunately had left over from making the potatoes and I put in some diced cheese. I served rolls and crackers and the men ate well…the boss was none the wiser!

If I have posted on salads before, it bears repeating: Almost any vegetable can go into a salad, as well as fruits and not all of them need to be fresh. I have had someone break up a head of iceberg lettuce, pour on bottled ranch dressing and call it salad and I have had salads that included everything imaginable. You can put together a nice salad with many things you should already have on hand. Hopefully, you have some greens, a lettuce or spinach. Even if you don’t, you can wing it. Here is a list, although not complete, of what you can include in a nice dinner salad:

Any type of ‘greens’, iceberg or leaf lettuce, spinach, parsley, mustard greens, turnip greens
we all know:
carrots
tomatoes
cucumber
radishes

but how about:
celery
shredded parsnips
fresh pea pods
broccoli
cauliflower,
sweet peppers
bok choy
grated zucchini or squash
thinly sliced onions or leeks
diced green onions

Use your imagination

You can add fruit in with vegetables as long as they are firm, such as :
Pears
Apples

If you know your guests can tolerate seeds and nuts, you can add:[*See Note]

Almonds/Hazelnuts/Walnuts/Pine nuts, etc.

Peanuts

Sesame seeds

Sunflower seeds

Pumpkin seeds (roasted)

 

And, especially in a pinch, these canned items do a good job in rounding out sparse fresh veggies:
corn
peas,
beets
green beans
wax beans
chick peas/black eyed peas/
kidney/navy/pinto/black beans
black or green olive
pineapple
sliced apple rings
pearl onions

And I always keep pickled vegetables,(giardiniera ) on hand.

Mix and match, pick and choose. Add tiny shrimp/ crab or imitation crab meat, shredded or diced cheese,(Cheddars, Swiss, Provolone, Monterrey Jack, Pepper Jack, Havarti Muenster); you can also do a great job with diced ham, chicken, roast beef or turkey cold cuts, (or ‘Tofurkey’). Diced hard-boiled eggs can be added at the last minute,(they will break up in the tossing and it isn’t pretty.)You can use leftover roasts, chicken or whatever flavorful meat you have on hand.
With this type of salad, you may find that you don’t need dressing. If you have guests, allow them the option. On the other hand, I have found that if the flavors are a bit bland, I add some that I like to whip up quickly on my own using Olive oil and pomegranate molasses, which is bitter, contrary to it’s name, so I add honey or a syrup. I also have several vinegars on my shelf to use. However, there are perfectly good bottled dressings out there, and several flavors are in my refrigerator as I type this; use them.

As I did, serve with crackers, fancy beads or rolls. You can add prepared rice, couscous, barley or small pasta for a one-bowl meal, or serve a simple couscous, rice or pasta dish on the side.

[*Note]The real beauty is that these can be made for Lent, pescaterian, vegetarian or vegan.It is gluten-free, (without  cheese), dairy-free and can be served with meats, cheeses, fish, seeds/nuts, grains and  pasta on the side, if you are unsure of your guests’ needs.

I hope this gives you some ideas…and I hope you try some of the ideas, not only for Lent,(meatless), but throughout the year. These are wonderful in hot weather for a light but filling and nutritious meal that anyone can be proud to serve…quick and praise-worthy!

Sweetest,(and Last) Award

Last but not least Fae, of Fae’s Twist and Tango, has nominated me for The Super Sweet Blogging Award, which is funny, because I just had a discussion with Princess Rosebud, The Tugboat Captain’s Wife, [http://enchantedseashells.com]  as to whether I was ‘sweet’ or not. Frankly, I’m not always, but my baked-goods, candy and desserts are!

So, as much as I have appreciated all the awards that have come my way, I am going to retire from them after I acknowledge and play along with this one. Fellow bloggers have been very SWEET to me, but the awards are extremely time-consuming; I do not wish to disappoint or ignore anyone who has been so kind as to give me a boost and a pat-on-the-back, but I am taking a lot of time away from my blogs and other endeavors. I will not be contacting those mentioned below, as many of them have had many awards given to them previously.

I hope all of you visit those I mention here and have in my previous Award posts. I have tried to spread the joy and kindness around that I have been shown. And I hope to visit all of you and many more. Leave me comments! I will always give you a personal answer.

Xmas cookies

This badge does not have to be the badge exhibited in your blog.
Please exhibit Super Sweet Blogging Award badge of your choice.

And now The Super Sweet Blogging Award questions:

1. Cookies or Cake? Cookies

2. Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate

3. What is your favorite sweet treat? Chocolate and nuts or strawberry shortcake

4. When do you crave sweet things the most? After eating a meal.

5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be? I have no answer for that!

The Baker’s Dozen I want to acknowledge, (or nominate, if they care to participate), in no particular order:
[Note: not all of these are food blogs]

Earth in Black and White http://earthinbw.wordpress.com

Canadian Hiking Photography http://hikingphoto.com

Lisa Is Cooking http://lisaiscooking.blogspot.com

Sarah Ballance http://sarahballance.wordpress.com

Witchin’ in the Kitchen http://witchinkitchen.wordpress.com

Rocco (Toni Lo Tempio; interviews) http://www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com/

Homemade with a Mess http://homemadewithmess.wordpress.com/

Mama’s Gotta Bake http://mamasgottabake.wordpress.com

Laura Love to Cook http://en.gravatar.com/lauramm082

Iconically Rare http://iconicallyrare.com

Sufey http://sufey.org

Rants From My Crazy Kitchen http://rantsfrommycrazykitchen.com

I Married an Irish Farmer http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog/i_married_an_irish_farmer

Requirements:

1 Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2 Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back.
3 Answer the “Super Sweet” questions.
4 Nominate a “Baker’s Dozen” (= 13)** blogs the award, a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.
5 Copy and paste the award on your blog somewhere.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Candy of Lovely Buns [lovelybuns.wordpress.com] nominated me for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award sometime back. I am so sorry I waited this long to acknowledge and pass it along.
I will not, however, be contacting those I mention below. I hope you check out all of my blogging friends in this post , the previous and the next, as I intend to honor those who honored me with ‘nominations’ but I truly cannot spend the large amounts of time the lovely, encouraging and thoughtful awards entail. Thank all of you for your consideration .

Yet another considerate  award

Yet another considerate award

7 things about myself:

1: I was born and raised in the Washington, DC area
2: I lived out west, in Idaho and then in the Denver, Colorado area
3: I now live smack-dab in the middle of Kentucky (USA)
4: I have been married for over 30 years,(to the same man!)
5: I have two grown sons
6:I have 3 beautiful and smart grandchildren
7: I am having a ball with blogging!

Since I just nominated a group of bloggers for the last award, I would like to ‘nominate’ (acknowledge) others for this one.

They are :

The Clotheslinehttp://theclotheslineie.wordpress.com/

Arlen Shahverdyan http://arlenshah.wordpress.com

EpEva http://epicureaneva.com/

The Healthy Flavor, http://thehealthyflavor.com

Plant Based Diet http://plantbaseddietadventures.com/author/plantbaseddietadventures/

Bam’s Kitchen http://bamskitchen.com

Manningtree, http://manningtreearchive.com/

eclectilamb http://en.gravatar.com/eclecticlamb

Sarah Balance http://sarahballance.wordpress.com/

Perky Poppyseed http://theperkypoppy.com

A Taste of Wintergreenhttp://lindymechefske.com/

Albertocook http://en.gravatar.com/albertocook

Chef in Disguise http://chefindisguise.com/

The Cooking Doctor http://www.thecookingdoctor.co.uk/

Rules for acceptance of the Very Inspiring Blogger Award: — 1. Display the award logo on your blog. 2. Link back to the person who nominated you.3. State 7 things about yourself. 4. Nominate other bloggers for this award and link to them. 5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.