Friday Fish — Sole Cooked on Kale-Basil Risotto with Green Beans Almondine

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Upcoming Cooking Classes 3rd+4th Thursdays of April, May, and June, 2015,  5-8pm at Shouse Appliance, Colorado Springs, Colorado. $55 adults; $30 kids.  $5 discount for cash/checks.  Includes French Night, Make a Great Pizza+ Salad at Home, Kids make dinner/dessert, Spring Brunch (Master quiche/homemade sausage!) Can’t wait to cook with you. Click here for list and sign-up info.

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The day began beautifully–a little chilly, but gorgeous.  I went to Bible study and when we finished had to run for the car as a white-out snow storm had hit. No hat, no scarf, no boots, I was frozen by the time I started the engine, found the snow brush, got the car cleaned off, and jumped in to head for home. (Channel Saint Paul, Minnesota.) Did I say the temperature was by then 10 degrees colder than when I’d left the house?  Brrr…. Of course the dogs were thrilled with the weather.

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Definitely a soup day today, I’m glad I made this fun one-pan fish meal last night preparing for Friday Fish.  (One more to go after this.)

If you follow a tradition of Lent, you might be interested in reading my Lenten journal (blog), written three years ago and chronicling the entire 40-day journey. Here’s the link for days 33-34; we’re a week away from the end as this Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday and next week is Holy Week. Sigh.

About the fish dish…I’d thought about this meal for a while and just never got around to making it until last night. As Dave asked, “How long does something like this perk in your brain?” (Who knows?)  The crux of it is you make a pan of risotto with a few vegetables and, when it’s done, add a layer of seasoned, thin fish fillets and lemons.  Put the lid on and let it cook just a few more minutes until the fish is firm and opaque and there’s your one-pan dinner.  As far as I know it’s an original dish, but who knows?  If you wanted to do this on a simpler rice preparation (say long-grain white rice cooked in chicken broth), I think it would work with some extra liquid.  If you do want to make the risotto and haven’t ever made it, read Mark Bittman’s article on “Laid Back Risotto,” and fear not!  I did make a pound or so of green beans, too, but just because I love them.  Try this:

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SOLE COOKED ON KALE-BASIL RISOTTO

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Friday Fish — Crab Cakes on Fresh Greens with Lemon Vinaigrette

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Upcoming Cooking Classes 3rd+4th Thursdays of April, May, and June, 2015,  5-8pm at Shouse Appliance, Colorado Springs, Colorado. $55 adults; $30 kids.  $5 discount for cash/checks.  Includes French Night, Make a Great Pizza+ Salad at Home, Kids make dinner/dessert, Spring Brunch (Master quiche/homemade sausage!) Can’t wait to cook with you. Click here for list and sign-up info:  

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During the past two weeks of Lent (if you’re interested, read my Lenten blog here), we’ve gone from cold/snow to 75F/sunnyIMG_2360, then back to 40F with nasty freezing rain.  While we have about one gray day a year, it’s here as I write today.  My good friend Roberta is visiting from the Twin Cities and I know she came for spring sunshine walksIMG_2362 with our puppies.  Instead she’s practicing her Bach on my piano in the living room and the dogs are in jail with wet feet from their fast foray out into the wetlands.

Even so, I’ve chosen a salad --albeit a warm one–for Friday Fish and I’m a thief as I’ve stolen the idea for this Friday’s dinner from one of my favorite local restaurants– Marigold’s. Who knows from whence it originally came as there are a bunch of versions on the internet.  I don’t have the recipe from Marigold’s and have no idea how they make the salad except that it’s good.  My idea for any crab cake is lots of crab, not so much filler and a big lemony punch.  Cue this salad I figured out as I went along catch as catch can. Because I had it,  I served the salad with a cup of leftover Colcannon Soup from St. Patrick’s Day, along with a wedge of Irish Soda Bread. It’s pretty fine all on its own, though, or just with some biscuits. And butter. Try this:

CRAB CAKES ON FRESH GREENS WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE

Serves 3-4 for a main course.  Serves 6 for a first course.

Crabcakes (Makes 6):  

  • 1 pound crabmeat–lump or claw-picked over for shells (in a 1# can, already cooked)
  • 8 Ritz crackers crushed finely*
  • 2 slices baguette crumbs (or other bread)*
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 scallions minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley minced
  • Several drops hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil

Mix all ingredients together well; taste and adjust seasoning.  Heat butter and oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet.  Form crab mixture first into 6 balls, patting together, and then into patties 3-4 inches in diameter. If mixture won’t form balls or patties, let sit a few minutes so that the crumbs absorb the moisture. You can even stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes if needed.  Carefully place in pan. Fry on one side 3-5 minutes until very brown; gently turn over and cook other side another few minutes until it, too, is well-browned.  Serve hot or warm on greens.

*If you have a food processor, you can throw the bread and crackers into it and process using the steel blade until you have very fine crumbs.

Prepare the greens

  • 6-8 cups arugula or other fresh greens
  • 3 radishes sliced very thinly
  • 4 small tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 lemons–1 cut in half and 1 quartered
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Spread greens on a large platter and scatter radishes along the perimeter.  Add tomatoes and quartered lemon to corners of dish.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Squeeze 1/2 lemon over all and drizzle with the first two tablespoons olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more olive oil if necessary.

Put the salad together

Top greens with hot or warm crab cakes. Add a little more lemon juice to each cake.  Serve immediately.

Optional Garnish:  Dab  a teaspoon of mayonnaise on each crab cake and garnish with a bit of chopped parsley, cilantro, dill, or scallions.

Cook’s Note:  You can make the crab cakes ahead ( even the night before), cool and chill them, and briefly warm in a buttered skillet before serving the salad.

Sing a new song,

Alyce

Colcannon Soup–Bacon or Vegan– for Saint Patrick’s Day

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Colcannon, that adoring Irish and Scottish mash of buttery potatoes and cabbage or kale, is the inspiration for my soup that’s feisty without being overblown. The bacon is a salty, crunchy touch that you can easily leave out for a vegetarian or vegan version. You might add some toasted, sliced almonds or crispy croutons instead.  Make sure you have a pepper grinder at the table–or a bottle of hot sauce — for those who chase the spicy life. Scroll down for recipe.

Below:  At the cathedral in Down Patrick, Northern Ireland  August, 2014

IMG_1198Below: outside Waterford, Ireland

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Below:  pub in Waterford.  Dave’s first Guinness in Ireland.  Definitely not his last.

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Below:  Shredded kale (Remove kale stems and slice in 1/4-inch ribbons for soup; sauté sliced stems separately for a salad addition.) Continue reading

Friday Fish — Tuna Melt with Sriracha Thousand Island for my Sister Helen

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I have a sister who just loves tuna fish.  Also green beans.  Also tomatoes.  If you put them all together as in Salade Nicoise, she’s already entered heaven. We don’t live near to one another, but I often think of her as I cook and that’s what happened today.   This sweet old school favorite pumped up with the addition of a spicy thousand island sauce would be her order for lunch if she saw it on Friday’s menu.

Below: We always go out for lunch when we’re together.

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If you’re like Helen and love tuna, this is your Friday!  Fast and homey, great to serve on trays in front of the tv while you watch Chocolat, that quintessential Lenten film.   (Well, it is to me.) You’ll remember when Vianne opens her chocolate shop in the little French village, she’s in trouble for many reasons, but one of the largest is that she opens it during LENT, for God’s sake. What was she thinking? Continue reading

Friday Fish–Garlic + Ginger Shrimp and Broccoli with Sticky Rice

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I made my Friday fish on a cold day in Colorado where we’ve had weeks of snowy weather that I’m only beginning to tire of. Rosie, on the other hand, misses the more frequent walks of sunny days. She spends a lot of time in front of the windows–which are about to be replaced. (These freeze and melt inside the house–very cold and very sad.) You’ll also see Tucker-scroll down- on our in-process new staircase.IMG_2354

 

The beginning ideas for my shrimp, broccoli, and sticky rice meal originate in a book you’ve heard me tout before:  Quick & Easy Chinese by Nancie McDermott. I’ve simply appropriated a few methods and added them up into dinner; I think Nancie would like this meal.  If you don’t own this book, you really might like to buy it.  You’ll still get Chinese take-out, but you’ll also be quite happy with the meals you create right in your own little wok. While I cook many things –most, really — without recipes, I’m not comfortable enough with Asian techniques to go rogue. Nancie’s clear, simple, and concise instructions — along with fine photos — are perfect for me. (This would make a beautiful wedding shower gift and you could give a gorgeous set of rice bowls, a wok, or a tea set for the wedding gift.)

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Halfway down the stairs is the stair where I sit. Tucker:

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Friday Fish — Fish Taco Salad

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My husband is nuts for fish tacos and, in an effort to provide a more fun Friday night meal, I made them a couple of weeks ago.  (I usually take Friday afternoons to create something gorgeous and time-consuming that requires a knife and fork to eat.) Fun to him means protein between big pieces of some sort of grainy holders or, alternately, anything that gets dipped or is spicy or is slathered in bacon and barbecue sauce.  These tacos were so good that I then made them at work and brought leftovers home. While leftovers from work aren’t typical, they are when the weather is as it’s been for the last week.

(below: look closely–Tucker’s watching a doe in our yard)

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Days of snow and cold drove us indoors where we were sustained by those leftovers followed by vats of barley soup I’d frozen ahead and no small amount of nightly red wine.  When the tortillas were gone, I made a salad we maybe liked better than the tacos.  Maybe.  If you’re eating fish on Fridays for Lent or if you’re just looking for a tasty healthy dinner, try this salad. Even if it’s as cold at your house as it’s been at mine. You’ll have room for dessert if you do! Continue reading

Friday Fish — Asian-Style Salmon on Fennel, Celery, + Onions with Ginger Asparagus

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Friday Fish is a big thing in Saint Paul, Minnesota where Dave and I lived for a few years and where Irish Catholics built the town.  All year ’round, there are Friday Fish Nights at local restaurant-bars, but during the season of Lent, they sometimes become ALL YOU CAN EAT FRIDAY FISH, including at the iconic Groveland Tap,which was just 1/2 block down from our old house.  Currently the all-you-can-eat fish is just over $11 and includes slaw and fries.  Beer’s extra. Sigh.

If, by chance, you’re interested in Lent, you might like to visit my day-by-day Lenten Journey, “Praying in Saint Paul.” There is a post for each day in the season.  For a particular day, click the word CLASSIC in upper left corner and then click on SIDEBAR; the list of each of the 40 days will appear at left.

Stop in at The Groveland Tap:  Fairview/St. Clair — Saint Paul, Minnesota

Living in Colorado Springs, I don’t see this, but perhaps I don’t know where to look.  If I showed up at a bar near one of the big Lutheran or Catholic churches, maybe I’d see a good fish fry. I’ll keep my eyes peeled.  In the meantime, I thought I’d serve up  fish each week of lent just because.  This week salmon caught my eye at Whole Foods, where you can buy individually cryovaced (sp?) packages of salmon fillets for a really good price.  Wild salmon is out of season, so if this is how you get your salmon fix.  (Skip most farmed salmon for health reasons; we’re encouraged to eat it only on the rare–uh–occasion.) Our regular grocery store often has a side of frozen wild salmon, as well and that’s a bargain at $11.99 per pound. See if yours has this good deal.

Belated note:  Upon further investigation, it looks like TONY’S BAR on Tejon in downtown Colorado Springs is serving Walleye and a Draft for $9.95 on Friday nights.  Go Tony’s! I love Walleye, mid-western girl that I am. BTW: I think Tony’s is closer to the Methodists and UCCers than to the Catholics or Lutherans. (below:  courtesy Tony’s)

Friday

 Anyway, try my….

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Chinese/Lunar New Year Dinner: Just Make These Hot or Cold Sesame Noodles

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If you’re wondering how the French cooking class turned out, see the post before this one; I added a few pics from the class so you could be part of it all.  Cook that meal!! It was such a fun day. Many thanks to a great group of students.   Come back soon.

A tip-top Asian cook, I’m not. Dave has always been the wokker in our kitchen. (Is “wokker” a word? I fear not. Maybe it’s “wok man?”)  But in recent years, as his work load keeps increasing, he often defers to me for a little blast from China, Viet Nam, Thailand, etc., or a reasonable melange from a couple different lovely Eastern cuisines.  He and daughter Emily always insist they must go out for a Chinese lunch alone because “Mom doesn’t like Chinese food.”  (Whatever the reason, daughters and dads should have lunch alone.)  There’s nothing farther from the truth.  I just don’t like greasy Chinese food or huge bowlfuls of deep-fried whatever the nugget it is covered in slimy-sweet orange sauce.  Now I’ve really got your tastebuds going, right? I’d just rather make it in my own kitchen unless I’m near a fabulous restaurant I’m sure of.  (In Colorado Springs, I’ve been to really few, but am partial to Saigon Cafe downtown or Bhan Thai on Centennial.)

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If I have to say what my favorite Asian dishes are, I’d have to go with noodles or soup… or soup with noodles even.  The comforting heat and fresh herby fragrance wafting up from the plate make me swoon.  This combo noodle-chicken-vegetable dish arrived on our table after I’d seen a very popular, though couple-year old BON APPÉTIT recipe for Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions and was dreaming about something scrumptious for Chinese New Year Dinner.  At first I didn’t pay close attention to the amounts of Szechuan pepper plus crushed red pepper, nor did I (silly girl) read the COMMENTS, which indicated a “too much vinegar” feeling. (Not at all for us.)  No tears here, I loved the idea, knew we couldn’t stomach all that heat once I read the recipe thoroughly, and wanted a much more rounded dish at any rate.  Here’s what I came up with…  We ate it warm for dinner, and then ate off it for a couple of days cold. You could have very happy lunches. Heaven.  (above: Rosie and Tucker hoping  for a piece of chicken) Continue reading

Simple French 3-Course Meal to Make at Home for Valentine’s Day

IMG_5300On occasion, or when someone requests it, I teach a short course on making a simple French or Italian meal at home.  Sometimes it’s quiche and salad, complete with learning how to make a crust and vinaigrette from scratch. For the Italian cooking session, it could be learning to make your own pizza and/or crostata.  Other times it’s something like this soup-fricassee-mousse meal where all my food fantasies merge into one happy morning/afternoon and lunch or dinner.  Soup, chicken, chocolate, paired wines: what more could you want for a short French menu class or for Valentine’s Day at home?

NOTE TO READERS: I’VE INSERTED 2/14/15 CLASS PHOTOS INTO THIS POST, WHICH WAS WRITTEN BEFOREHAND.

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 This Saturday’s class is full.  I might repeat it if enough students are interested. Let me know if you are by leaving a note in the Comments, on fb, or via email.  I’m currently looking at a 3-month series at home beginning next September — one Thursday night or one Saturday per month focused on basic French menus.  I’ll keep you posted.

For those enrolled in this Saturday’s Valentine class, here are recipes and a few basic instructions with photos.  I’ll have the whole deal printed off for you–no need to copy and paste from here.  We’ll take some photos together and I’ll replace these as needed or make another post just for grins and giggles.

Bon appétit, mes amis!  I can’t wait to cook with you. Continue reading

Frozen Pot Roast Slow-Cooker Dinner in 4.5 Hours + Leftover Beef-Vegetable Soup

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If you wanted a slow cooker pot roast recipe, I doubt you’d look here.  (I don’t do a lot of slow cooker.) Maybe you wouldn’t look anywhere; you’d just put your meat and vegetables together into the pot with your wine, broth, or herbs and turn it on.  That’s what I do on the occasions I make this meal.  I decided to blog it, though, because I had such good luck getting a big frozen piece of meat cooked and on the table quickly using a slow cooker.  No more excuses if you’ve forgotten to unthaw your meat and the morning has disappeared; you can still make a great no-watch meal in a short afternoon.  The rest of the time is yours to take a bath, watch the dogs sleep, read the paper, garden, call your daughter, or binge-watch Downton.  So put this one in your back pocket for when you need it…

(Below:  Right after the Super Bowl.  All worn out.

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TRY THIS:

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FROZEN POT ROAST SLOW COOKER DINNER with horseradish, carrots, and onions  IN 4.5 HOURS

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