During the pandemic lockdown, my husband Dave (aka best sous) took to making my homemade pizza recipe every other week. We only ate half and so froze the second half in order to enjoy a fake take-out meal or no cooking night the following week. Pizza, wondrous on the streets of Naples, delivered from our local spot, or made right in my own kitchen’s oven, is probably my favorite food. In other words, doesn’t take much to convince me to bake it in some new guise or getup. As I planned this year’s Friday Fish meals, I thought about pizza but also had crab on my mind. It was either crab pasta or crab pizza and, well, you see what won! The question was, “How did I want to do it?” A really fast version featuring purchased mini-naan flatbread sounded fun and doable for all of you, too. Homemade pizza dough isn’t everyone’s thing, though it’s easier than it looks. Takes time is all. The naan— which is also available in a larger size should you want it, usually has its own display at the grocer somewhere around the bakery area but is widely available. Instead of waiting an hour or two for dough to rise and then trying to shape it into a manageable round (square? rectangle?), these little flatbreads come ready to grill and bake. They fit in the toaster, too. Add a few toppings, some cheese, stick it in the oven, and you have pizza. Even if you chop toppings and grate cheese, dinner’s on the table in under 30 minutes as the pizzas bake only 6-8 minutes. Have kids? They can make their own pizza. Do make your salad first!
Do you know Donna Hay? Sort of the Ina Garten cum Martha Stewart of Australia? Longtime doyenne of beautiful and luscious down under recipes, best-selling author of 26 cookbooks, editor-in-chief of donna hay magazine with nearly 600,000 subscribers; she’s a cook and writer worthy of your attention.
A few days ago, a lovely Donna recipe, Super Green Stir Fry, flew across my fb feed. My eye was caught; my mouth nearly watered. It was SO green. It did have rice noodles, though….but no meat! Probably Meatless Monday, hm? I was going to make it. Just like that. Except I’d been dreaming about a fish stir fry for Friday Fish. But I hadn’t yet figured it out. Dave, the best sous husband said, “Don’t you mean shrimp??” “Nope,” I said. “I mean fish.” Why couldn’t a famous woman like Donna help a home cook out?
Living in land-locked Colorado, we might not expect Front Range cooks to spend a whole lot of kitchen time on fish. Sure we can bring home a few trout now and again — under 16 inches and no more than four at a time — and there are, of course, some other fish in our state. Sometimes we even order online or great fishing friends gift us a few fillets after a lucky trip. Overall, though, we’re mostly limited to buying our dinner fish at the nearest grocery, warehouse, or specialty-food store. It turns out, the warehouse buy is not such a bad deal. The prices aren’t too awfully difficult and you might as well buy frozen fish from the frozen department. It’s less expensive, often flash-frozen at sea, and most likely the fish behind the counter in the grocery seafood department was once frozen, too. For real savings and ease, I buy a bag of frozen, individually cryovaced fillets now and again, most recently mahi mahi –in Hawaiian, it means strong-strong — that came in under $30 for three pounds.
If you’re a regular reader, you might have read about the fish fajitas I made last week and yes, you guessed it, they’re mahi-mahi. Ready for FRIDAY FISH soup this week, I popped out two more 8-ounce fillets to make an herby and creamy chowder with a nice hint of tomato and an itty-bitty kick. Filling and healthy with chickpeas instead of the typical chowder potatoes, this vegetable-laden, high fiber, high protein stew comes together quickly and might take the place of clam chowder in your foreseeable future. Crusty bread? Butter? Cold oaky Chardonnay? Yes, please do!
You know how when you eat with that same someone in various restaurants over the years, you can nearly look at the menu and figure out what they’ll order? “I knew you’d get that.” Hm. Right again. Such smugness. It’s not totally always, but my husband will regularly choose the fish tacos should they have, like magic (not), appeared on the list. And if he has a choice of beans (pintos or black), he’ll choose black even though at home he swears by my pinto beans. So if I’m one smart cookie, I’ll keep nearly-always-the-choice fish tacos on permanent rotation at our house. And I do. But they need a little tweaking or updating from year to year, especially during FRIDAY FISH weeks. This time, not only did they morph into “Fish Fajitas,” but they’re made in the air fryer. Because I could. But could you bake them in the oven? (See recipe) Of course. Might you fry them in oil? Sure. But I hope you’ll choose the air fryer method. It’s fast; it’s healthy; it’s fun.