Red Snapper in a Roasted Bell Pepper Cream Sauce

*** Before I begin, I want to apologize to my blog followers.  Things were hectic for a spell and further complicated by catastrophic computer issues.  I’m back and ready to get the great recipes as of late on the blog!  Thanks for checking in on me. 
You’ve heard it before.  When cooking, buy what’s fresh and what looks good in the case.  My local fish monger had fresh red snapper and I chose to serve it with a roasted bell pepper cream sauce.

Now you can do it the long way and roast the bell peppers yourself over an open flame either on your gas range or on the grill, then put it in a closed brown paper bag for about 20 minutes and peel.  Like that’s not a lot of work!!  Or, you can simply buy your roasted red bell peppers in the jar, like Mezzetta, which come from California and are very good quality.

Ding! Ding!  Table for two please!

1 lb red snapper fillets
2/3 C. roasted red peppers (Mezzetta)
2 cloves garlic
dash salt and pepper
1/2 C. white wine
2 T whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. chopped flatleaf parsley
Remove fish from wrapper and rinse in cold water.  Pat dry with paper towel and set aside.  Combine the roasted red  peppers, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until combined.  Pour red bell pepper sauce into skillet over medium heat.  Add white wine and stir.  Add fillets and cover with lid.  Steam fillets over medium low heat until done, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove fillets onto serving plates. Going back to your sauce, turn off heat and add whipping cream and stir until combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon sauce over fish and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve warm.


Wasabi Wild Salmon

Wasabi Wild Salmon
I was recently asked to duplicate a restaurant recipe I actually never had, nor had I ever seen, or even tasted.  The recipe requestor, who is not long on descripitions or details, does in fact think that I am capable of reading minds and getting drifts, was confident that it would somehow come to me in the night.  I made Wasabi Wild Salmon three different ways in order to successfully secure that tastebud humming moment when all is right with the world and everyone sits back to reflect with their glass of red. 
Farm raised salmon just doesn’t cut it.  First of all, it may be cheaper and look equal to all the other salmon fillets in the case, but it lacks the flavor, the texture, and it is saturated with artificial dyes to make it look like a salmon.  Typing that statement actually made me think for a second what it would look like fresh out of the water.  They do live in water don’t they?  DON’T THEY?  Do yourself a favor and just go wild.
I love wasabi and this is a beautiful looking fish dish, but somehow, I just couldn’t quite catch the moment to get a picture of it, so instead, you get this breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean courtesy my brother in law, Shane.
1 beautiful wild salmon filet, Sockeye or Coho
1 T. powdered wasabi
2 T. water
1 T. sesame oil

3 T. soy sauce

1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground white pepper
1 t. brown sugar
1 t. sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
I always rinse my fish.  Habit?  Maybe.  I don’t like the thought of my fish being “handled”.  Pat dry with paper towels (dry!!).
Using small mixing bowl, add wasabi powder and water and using a fork, blend into a paste.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well until combined.  Place fish in a plastic ziploc bag and pour in marinade to coat.  Let the fish marinate in refridgerator for two hours until ready to bake or grill.
Take the fish out of the fridge.  On a cookie sheet lined with foil, place fish skin side down, flesh side up.  If your fish has no skin on one side, please use cooking spray to prepare the pan prior to placing the fish on it.  This step will help you remove the fish better.  The reason why you don’t use cooking spray with a fish with the skin still on is because the skin will adhere to the foil and when you use a spatula to remove the fish, your skin stays in the pan.  Reserve the marinating liquid.  If there is enough left, drizzle over the top, but be careful not to create pools of marinade.  Your marinade has sugars in it which will burn and stink up your kitchen leaving a very unappetizing smell lingering so be careful not to pool.  Bake fish until flaky.  This is somewhere between 14 and 24 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your fish.  Remove from oven, slice into steaks and serve.  Enjoy with saffron rice and fresh steamed seasonal vegetables. 

Fresh Cod and Vegetable Medley with Sherried Saffron Cream Sauce

Fresh Cod and Vegetable Medley
with Sherried Saffron Cream Sauce

Olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 small *zucchini, cubed
1 small yellow crook neck squash, cubed
1/4 C. carrot shreds, using carrot peeler to shred one carrot
dash of salt and pepper
1 pat of butter
2 T. flour
4 C. chicken broth
1 pinch of saffron threads
1/4 C. cooking sherry
1 lb. fresh cod fillet, sliced into one inch pieces
1/4 C. whipping cream
salt and pepper

In a dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion about three minutes until soft.  Add garlic and saute with onions 1 minute. Add zucchini, squash, and carrot shreds.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook vegetables about four minutes.  Remove vegetables from pot into separate dish.  Add butter and flour and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.  This is called a roux (pronounced ‘roo’).  A roux will turn color from ‘blonde’ to ‘brown’ depending on how long you let it cook.  This step is to thicken your broth and add a rich flavor to your dish.  When your roux turns blonde, add broth, saffron threads and cooking sherry.  Stir mixture together until combined.  Bring to a boil and turn down heat to medium.  Add vegetables back into pot.  Add cod pieces and cover to simmer for seven minutes.  Uncover and add whipping cream salt and pepper and slowly stir to combine.  Spoon out over or along side rice.  I used jasmine rice here because it is my favorite and the jasmine flavor is wonderful with saffron.  You can find jasmine rice in the asian section of your grocery store, usually along the bottom shelf.  Serves 4. 


*Use your vegetable peeler and run it down the length of your zucchini to take the skin off while rotating it in your hand.  This way, it’s softer and smoother for eating.
Truth be told – It was Saturday night and I was hoping to make coconut curry cream sauce, but I didn’t have any coconut milk!  I came up with this recipe instead.  Im a true believer from experience that not all recipes turn out great the first time, but… I must be getting better because this was wonderful and  yes, I’m saying so myself!  Toot toot!

Fish Chowder

Today it rained and rained and rained.  Where has our summer gone?  The wind is coming up and the leaves are starting to turn. There was one small moment that the rain stopped its noisy downpour this afternoon, but everyone was sleeping so we missed our chance to get out and get some fresh air.  Maybe tomorrow.  All this weather has made me crave a hearty soup with potatoes and celery and a creamy broth. I spent some time crafting this recipe while the snoozers were still snoozing.  When everyone woke up, the whole house was filled with the smell of simmering chowder and hot french bread.
Most of the recipes I researched to make Fish Chowder started off with dicing up about five pieces of bacon, rendering the fat and using it to start your saute of vegetables.  I love bacon, but good lord that would make for an intensley unhealthy soup and isn’t soup supposed to make you feel good?  Lets put some good stuff in it.  For the potatoes, you can use Yukon, yellow, red, white, sweet potatoes, whichever.  Be sure to do your chopping ahead of time which will make your assembly smoother and expect to eat as soon as the soup is complete. Reheating this soup with the previously cooked fish is possible, but it tastes better when eaten immediately.  If you want to make it ahead of time, prepare it right up until you add the fish and refridgerate it.  Reheat the soup to a simmer and start adding the fish from there the day you expect to serve it. The salt content may appear high, but remember you are seasoning 4 cups of potatoes, 10 cups of broth, and this soup feeds eight people.
Fish Chowder
2 swirls of olive oil
2 t. butter
2 yellow onions, chopped 1/2 inch dice
1 1/2 C. celery, chopped on bias
2 t. white pepper
2 t. salt
1 t. thyme
1 bay leaf
4 C. potatoes, diced 3/4 inch
10 C. fish stock, shellfish stock, or chicken broth
1 T. chicken boullion cubes or consumme’
1 thick cod fillet cut in healthy pieces
3/4 C. milk
1/2 C. whipping cream
2 T. chopped parsley
1 T. bacon bits
In large dutch oven, add olive oil and butter over medium high heat.  Once melted, add onions, celery, pepper, salt, thyme and bay leaf and saute about 6 minutes until soft, but not browned.  Add potatoes, stock and boullion and bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes or until potatoes are done cooking.
While your soup is simmering, add the fish pieces and cover for about 8 minutes.  By this time the fish should be cooked through and perfectly flaky.  Pour in milk and cream and gently stir to combine.  Spoon into soup bowls and garnish with chopped parsley and bacon bits.
Enjoy it with a loaf of warmed french bread.

Spicy Fish Tacos

 Spicy Fish Tacos

Earlier this year I participated in a pedometer game at work.  The goal was to get people moving and focus on health and wellness. There were several groups of ten employees each trying to log as many steps as they could in a day.   The game lasted six weeks.  Although my team mates were active, I would not say that most of them were “athletic”.  Where they lacked in physical fitness, they certainly made up in competitiveness.  What you should know is that despite my being new to the game, most of them have been participating for the last two or three years and were tired of finishing in second place.  They wanted to win.  They wanted to be number one.  They wanted it bad. 

The pressure was on.  There was a strategy from the start.  No matter what you did, you better log 12,500 steps in a day or higher.  This was genius.  We were off and running.  We walked on breaks and lunches, committed to walking meetings, and walked in place when at the copy machine or while waiting for meetings to start.  We shamed those who took the elevator and who failed to make it to 12,500 steps in a day.  I admit running up and down my street and around my house at night just so I wouldn’t let anyone down.  It was a lot of work and it was worth it.  We came in first place this year.
My participation in this game was great for me.  We had commeraderie and showed commitment to each other.  When someone was not able to make their steps, others put forth extra effort to cover them by making up the difference.  We had each other’s backs and we were not going to fail.  In order to ‘compete’, we had to be able to perform and that meant taking care of ourselves in order to be successful and win the game.  Think about that for a moment.  Don’t you have commitments to your family to be well and take care of yourself for their sake and that of others?  This thought forced me to focus on my personal health and wellness.  Maybe it was time to make some changes to what I was putting in my body.  After all, there are people relying on me to be at my best.
This recipe is healthy and good at the same time.  I actually made up this recipe in a moment of despair.  I needed something healthy that wasn’t going to take forever to make and would be impressive enough to serve guests.  It actually was a smashing success.  I can’t say they all turn out this way, but this was a hit.  I’ve made it over and over with repeated success.  On your marks, get set, GO!
Spicy Fish Tacos
1 fillet of cod or halibut, skin removed
1 t. chile powder
1 t. cumin
1 t. onion powder
1/2 t. salt
3 T olive oil
juice of one lime
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Remove fish from wrapper and rinse in cold water.  Lay flat and pat dry with paper towel.  Place fish on foil lined prepared baking sheet.  Set aside and make rub.  In a small bowl, combine chile powder, cumin, onion powder and salt.  Drizzle olive oil over fish and massage in the dry rub mixture.  Make sure to cover both sides of fish.  Bake for about 10 minutes depending on size of fillet and watch closely to not over bake.
Remove from oven and let it rest for five minutes.  Using spatula, break up into healthy sections and place in decorative dish.  Drizzle lime juice and remaining sauce over the top. Serve in taco shells with thinly sliced red cabbage, chopped tomato, chopped red onion, avocado and chipotle sour cream*.
*Chipotle Sour Cream
1 tub of sour cream
1 or 2 canned chipotle chilis, chopped
Blend these two ingredients until combined.  Serve in decorative dish.

Environmental pictures by Shane Boyd, 2010

Halibut with Coconut Curry Sauce

My sister came and spent the weekend with us.  She was helping celebrate my motherhood and kindly offered to make me dinner.  This was a nice change for me since I make two or three different dinners every night to the tune of tears, scrunchie faces, whining or occassionally all three.  The dish Tiffany prepared was delightful.  She confided that she borrowed it from a well known friend chef Ellie Krieger.

This recipe below is a spin off.  I like the taste of tomatoes with curry sauce so I have added them here.  As she suggests, you can make this recipe lighter by using Lite coconut milk, sodium free broth, etc. which is okaaay, but my version tastes better!
Halibut with Coconut Curry Sauce
2 t. Olive Oil
3 Shallots, finely chopped
2 t. Red Curry Paste
2 C. Chicken Broth
7 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 C. Coconut Milk
1 t. Salt, divided. Halibut:                                         
(6-ounce) halibut fillets, skin removed

Last Minute Ingredients:
1/2 C. chopped fresh cilantro
2 scallions
2 T. lime juice
Freshly ground pepper
Preparing the sauce:  Place a large saute pan over medium heat and add oil.  When temperature is up, toss in the shallots and cook until they begin to brown, stirring often.  This usually takes about 5 minutes.  Stir in curry paste, tomatoes, chicken broth, coconut milk, 3/4 teaspoon salt and simmer about 5 minutes until reduced and thick.  Set aside until Halibut is done cooking.
Preparing the halibut:  Season the halibut with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange the fish in the same pan as the Coconut Curry. Cover and steam cook until the fish is done cooking about 7 minutes depending on the thickness of the halibut steak.

To Serve: Arrange a pile of steamed spinach* in the bottom of plate. Place cooked halibut on top of spinach. Stir the cilantro, scallions, and lime juice into the Coconut Curry sauce and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the sauce over the top of the fish.  Serve along side rice; jasmine, basmati, your choice.
* To steam spinach (this is so easy!), using a corning ware dish with a lid.  Place the cleaned spinach in the dish, put the top on and place in the microwave for two minutes.  Using tongs, remove from dish to plates as indicated above.

Environmental Pictures Courtesy Jolene Hansen, 2009.