This is a copy of a blog post (April, 2012) from my now finished blog, dinnerplace.blogspot.com. Such a fun little Easter or post-Easter breakfast made for many years in my kitchen, I thought it deserved its own spot here on More Time. I've updated only the recipe to make it printable.
One of my favorite spring breakfasts is so terribly simple, that it appears I’ve never blogged it. I see the photos on my Pinterest board and on fb, but when I checked the blogs–no eggs on muffins! So here it is: a meal perfect for Easter when you have lots of boiled eggs to use up, but also perfect any other time or for any meal, come to think of it. If you have a plethora of eggs, as does my friend Cathy (we’re trading my granola for her backyard eggs this week), this is a fine use for them. My own kids had this every Easter for years. Well, I served it anyway. Whether or not they ate it is beside the point!
Both my mother-in-law, Lorna Morgan, and my good friends Sue Hall and Audie Dunham are known to occasionally have popcorn and wine for dinner. After all, why not? Popcorn is healthy and full of fiber; wine is made from fruit, isn’t it? (Wink, wink.) There’s no reason we can’t swap in snacks or appetizers for meals once in a while, but if you’re really hesitant, I’ll write you a note. The last Friday Fish of the season, Cheesy Crab Spread, is one of those dishes typically served before a meal (and it is an easy starter), but that also totally works instead of a meal —particularly if you serve it with some raw veggies along with some whole grain chips or crackers. Great on a day when there’s no time to cook or on a hot day when even the stove refuses to work. It mostly whirrs together in the food processor in just a minute or two (use an electric mixer or a wooden spoon if you like) and before you’ve poured your wine, dinner is ready to go. It’s also perfect to take to an Easter potluck or the first picnic of the year because it’s made ahead and travels well. Is it just me or is it always hard to think of an appetizer? Keep this one in your back pocket and you’ll know just where to look when you need one.
For Hot Cross Buns and Easter brunch ideas, scroll down to bottom under LIFE GOES ON.
No matter what kind of fish or seafood you’re cooking, there are two basic secrets to its success. #1 Don’t overcook it. #2 You need a great sauce. I mean, think about it. Even everyday sorts of fish or seafood like fried shrimp or fish and chips come with a sauce you just have to have: cocktail sauce for the shrimp and tartar sauce for the fish. Right? This is also true of fish cooked by chefs in upscale restaurants, though the sauces may (or may not) be a tish more sophisticated. Sometimes butter and/or lemon are all that’s called for, as in Sole Meunière, which is not much more than thin and floured sole fillets cooked in–yes– butter and lemon, then sprinkled with, what else? Parsley. Simple is as simple does. And the dish has been top drawer famous forever! No matter the fish, it is often the sauce that counts.
That’s especially true in my quick Friday Fish for this week, Pan-Seared Halibut with Tomato-Sweet Pepper Salsa. Everyone knows pico de gallo and other sorts of Mexican salsas often made with cilantro and jalapeños, but a fresh tomato salsa (salsa only means “sauce”) without those two ingredients and with sweet peppers, tiny ripe tomatoes, parsley, green onions, and lemon, orange, or lime is something different. That difference is smile-worthy because instead of being overwhelmed by large-scale flavors, this mild fillet is enhanced and freshly seasoned by what is almost a baby salad garnish — which takes the dish over the top to my tastebuds.
You adore clam chowderbut your cupboard is full of tuna. It’s ok; I’ve got it covered. You can still have chowder–with tuna!! Does it work? Yes, yes; it totally does. And is it yummy? It definitely is. I thought about making chowder with canned tuna for a long time before I did it, but now that I have, it’s in my playbook for good. Tuna Chowder is easy, inexpensive, and even qualifies for what we’d call, “Cheap Eats.” This version adds some tiny ditalini pasta for fun and texture, but if you don’t like it, just add extra potatoes and you’ll be fine. Last time I cooked shrimp, I saved the shells in my freezer and was able to make a fast shrimp stock to bolster the flavor of the chowder. (Buying fish stock is above my pay grade at $3 a 15-ounce can. You can make it, though.) Vegetable broth is ok, too, and is better when spiked with a little clam juice, which is sold right near tuna at the store. Even chicken broth works in a pinch.
If you’ve followed the blog for long (THANKS!), you’ll know that I’m a midwest girl. Born to southern parents who moved north for work during the depression and settled in Chicago, I grew up with nearly all of the basic northern Illinois culture. That meant lakes or even the Kankakee River on the weekend with the whole fam, a Polish for a special lunch out whenever I could and Italian Beef or thin crust pizza (yes, thin) the rest of the time, tobogganing at Palos Hills in the winter and riding the rollercoasters at Riverview in the summer, visiting Marshall Field’s at Christmas, shopping German bakeries for coffeecake and bread, vacationing in Wisconsin and Minnesota (more lakes/more beer), and so on.
When I was a junior in college, I shared an apartment with three other women. Someone had the great idea of splitting the cooking chores and proposed each one of us would cook dinner one night a week for all four us, Monday – Thursday. Too many people went away or home on the weekend to worry about any of the other days. We didn’t know a whole heck of a lot about cooking, but gave it our best and were thrilled that we came home to a cooked dinner nearly every school night. Might have saved a few bucks, too. I have no idea what I made, but one roommate, Jan Jellinek, often made her mom’s famous TUNA MELTS. Now this wasn’t a diner-style grilled hot tuna and cheese sandwich, but instead was tuna salad with maybe cheese on a bun and heated in the oven for what I remember to be 45 minutes. That had to have been waaaay too long, but that’s my memory. (The oven’s a lot faster than skillets if you’re making several melts.) I married the next summer and Jan’s TUNA MELT was on our newlywed menu fairly often. It slipped off the weekly rotation somehow after we made a move or two, but 48 years later, I’ve never forgotten about it.
This week is the start of my once-a-year FRIDAY FISH series. Since 2015, I’ve each spring been posting six fish or seafood recipes, one for each Friday in Lent, the season of thoughtful observance leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus on Easter. Whether or not you follow any sort of faithful journey, you can still get some new ideas for cooking fish–who doesn’t need those? For grins and giggles — I think some of these meals qualify as fun— and to see what’s happened in other years, click on FRIDAY FISH in the topics cloud or type “Friday Fish” into the search box. To give you a few ideas, I’ve included in this post photos and links for some favorite FRIDAY FISH posts from the last couple of years.
Late to the date this week due to travel and weather, it seemed a good time to share something so simple and homey that it might not deserve space? But it does. Totally yummy small sides that make a thrown together meal or a bowl of soup into something you can’t wait to eat are worth knowing about. Plus! Any way I can tell you about using up the bread on your counter is well, not priceless exactly, but definitely a fun talent to have in your back pocket. Waste not, etc. I call this “Cheese Bread.” I think it’s a cooking game changer because its method will take any number of meals up the proverbial notch.
The beauty of a vegetable soup is manifold. It’s mouthwatering, colorful, done in a snap, affordable, versatile, full of vitamins and fiber, accessible, easily vegan/gluten-free, and pantry-friendly. Wow! The beauty of a vegetable soup with legumes, or in this case both lentils and chickpeas, is even greater as there’s the addition of plant-based protein (and lots more fiber) which makes the soup increasingly healthful — to say nothing of filling. Now all those things are true, real, and make me feel happy about putting a pot of this goodness on the table anytime. But I mostly want to make vegetable soup because I like to eat it (especially right after Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day!) and before that, I like to smell it cooking in my house. Is there anything better?
If someone asked me, “What is a romantic meal?” I’m sure I would be expected to have an answer. After all, I’m a food blogger; I’m a cooking teacher. I’m married to the man of my dreams. I don’t think I do, though. (Today’s Pork Chop Parmesan with Lemon Mushroom Risotto might qualify!) Do I even know how to define “romantic”? To begin with, the word “romantic” is both an adjective and a noun. Leave it to the English major to think of that. If you just drop the word “romantic” into a conversation, I’m likely to think of Brahms, Chopin, Verdi, or Beethoven because I’m also a musician. While several definitions pop up when you search, here is one likely to make sense to most folks:
...conducive to or characterized by the expression of love.
"A romantic candlelit dinner."