Monday, January 9, 2017

Halibut Poached in Bacon Broth

























So I have to say that I love love love seafood.  I have ever since I was a kid, when we would go to a local seafood restaurant called Seven Seas that was all decorated up so that it seemed you were dining 'under the sea.'  (you know, paper Mâché cave walls with fake crabs, lobsters, starfish, treasure chests and even mermaids and King Neptune decorating the place)  Why don't they have restaurants like that any more?

Oh well, despite my love of seafood as a kid, I didn't discover halibut until I was an adult.  And I have to say, it has become one of my favorite fruits of the sea.  It's startlingly full flavored for a whitefish, which are usually sort of bland.  (I'm looking at you, Cod)  No, halibut is meaty and buttery and savory and practically melts in your mouth.  That is to say, it doesn't need much adornment.  I usually just grill it and serve with a little lemon/butter/caper sauce and that's that.

But, my wife got me a new cookbook for Christmas--a bacon cookbook of all things.  In it was this little recipe, which I've modified slightly, but I can affirm that bacon and halibut were truly a match made in heaven, or perhaps 'under the sea.'

Ingredients

8 strips bacon
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 onion
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
4 cloves garlic
2 sprigs fresh dill
10 black peppercorns
4 halibut fillets



Fry four of the strips of the bacon until crisp.



Reserve.

Quarter and peel your onion



And brown it in the bacon grease with the chopped carrots and celery



Add white wine and deglaze pan.



Get yourself a handful of peppercorns, no more than 10-12.



Add peppercorns and fresh fill


Enjoy that fresh dill aroma that wafts up from the pan.

Add chicken broth



With the flat of a kitchen knife, crush your garlic cloves and peel.



Add peeled garlic cloves to stock.

Add four uncooked strips of the bacon along with the crumbles from two of the cooked bacon strips.  (reserve the other two for garnish)



Brintg to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer for 1 hour, covered.



Strain broth into a container and discard solids.  You should have about a two cups of broth.



Note the fat that has separated and is floating on the top of the broth.  You can skim this off for a leaner dish.  Also, if you make the broth early enough, refrigerate it for an hour and the fat will solidify and be easier to remove.

Add skimmed bacon broth back to skillet


Heat it to a gentle simmer.  Enjoy aroma--this stuff is fantastic--I hope you've tasted it by now, because it is wonderful, bacon-y and savory and so on and so on, with a rich brown color.  



Poach Halibut fillets in broth until done



I use a food thermometer and cook them to just to 145 degrees F.  By this time the fillets will have absorbed some of the broth as you can see here:



Serve with some of the thickened broth as a sauce.  You can thicken it with a little cornstarch or just reduce the sauce over high heat.



Until next time,


See you 'Under the Sea,'


Chris




Saturday, November 12, 2016

Greek Orzo Salad




















So that time of year has rolled around again, that time of year that every foodie loves so much, yes Thanksgiving is nigh at hand.  Bring on the turkey,. the dressing, the cranberry sauce, the Greek salad.

Rrrrrrrrrrrrpt.  That's me making the record player needle scratching sound.  Yes, this is my Thanksgiving month post but this month I'm going non-trad for a side offering.  I like to do this from time to time, pull a fast one on the family and serve something they're not expecting.  Oh, we still have the usual stuffing and mashed potatoes and such, but sometimes a little variety is merited.

So, give this simple pasta salad a try, for T-day or just for a Greek night anytime of year.  I'd go great with my Greek Lemon Chicken with Dill Sauce.



Ingredients

12 oz Orzo Pasta
6 oz Artichoke Hearts
1 Tomato
1 Red Onion
1 Green Bell Pepper
8 oz Feta Cheese
4 Oz Kalamata Olives
1/2 teaspoon Cavender's Greek Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Pepper
Juice of 1 Meyer Lemon


Cook pasta according to directions on box.



Drain and cool.



Coarsely chop tomato, onion and bell pepper.  Note, a cucumber, instead of the bell pepper, would be more traditional, but I'm not a big fan of raw cuke, so I've subbed the bell pepper for my greenery.  Feel free to sub a cuke back if you don't want to anger the Greek gods.



Place in food processor with artichoke hearts



Pulse until finely chopped



Add this mixture to the orzo



And blend thoroughly.

Coarsely chop your kalamata olives



Add olives and Feta to the salad


Add seasonings.  Note these include a tasty little seasoning blend called Cavenders Greek Seasoning.


This stuff tastes great, and I never seem to use it as much as I would like.  Really reminds me of the Peloponnese.

Don't forget the lemon.  I like to use Meyer lemons for this when I can get them.



But regular will work fine if you must.  Add the juice to the salad:



Mix and serve, maybe with a few more olives for garnish:



Until next time, Opa! And Happy Thanksgiving...

Chris


Monday, October 31, 2016

Texas State Fair Corny Dogs



















So I don't get out to the Texas State Fair much these days.  It's just too crowded and there's a few too many carnies for my liking, but one thing I always loved about this annual fest were the corn dogs, or 'corny dogs' as we grew up calling them here in Texas.  If you've never had a corny dog fresh from the fryer at the State Fair of Texas, well, my friend, you've missed out.  They are so flavorful, the batter so crispy on the outside, so flakey and buttery on the inside...such a treat.  Even though I don't do the fair anymore, I still get a hankering for these babies.  What do to?  Well, make my own, of course.

The folks that fry these fancy little feasts on a stick, Fletchers, purports to have invented the corny dog, and who am I to argue with them.  They won't budge on their secret recipe, though, so I experimented around with some various corny dog recipes I found until I got one that tasted pretty close to what I had at the fair.  Give 'em a shot.  They're surprisingly simple to make, particularly if you do them 'mini style' as I've done here.



Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 Tablespoon corn oil
2 Tablespoons honey
10 hot dogs
10 wooden skewers 
1 Quart Peanut Oil


Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix



Add egg, buttermilk, corn oil and honey to this, stir until a thick batter forms



Heat peanut oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I use a small saucepan and fill it up to about an inch and a half below the top.  This should be about a quart or so of oil.



Next.  Prep the hot dogs.  First off, get good quality all-beef hot dogs.  I find the Hebrew National brand to be quite good.  They make a jumbo size frank that is close to twice as thick as a regular run o the mill hot dog.



I find these work better for corny dogs, as they are easier to skewer, give you more meat, and a larger surface area for that delicious batter to coat.  Now, one of the difficulties with making your own corny dogs at home is getting them to fry up perfect.  Problem is, most people don't have a deep enough fryer to fully immerse the corny dog so that it cooks evenly.   And you don't want to lay the corny dog down in a wide shallow fryer, as they float and thus all sides won't cook evenly.  So, the solution, making half length mini-corn dogs.

This way, a simple sauce pan can hold enough oil to fully immerse the corny dog.  It works great, and if you tell me you are sad because you are getting a smaller dog, I will simply point out, as our friend mathematics will tell you--just eat twice as many, and you'll get the same amount.   See, no problem at all.

So, take the franks out of their packaging and cut them in half.



Try to make them all even lengths so they'll take about the same amount of time to fry.  Next, skewer them with a wooden skewer.  You can probably find the flat Popsicle-like sticks that they use at the fair if you look hard enough, but I just use the cheap skewers I keep on hand in a kitchen drawer from when I make Satay or Shish-Kababs.  These work fine.  Make sure you skewer them almost all the way though so the frank won't come off when you're frying.



Next, pour some of the batter into a tall glass



Dip hot dog in the glass of batter



until well coated



Note, let some of the batter drip off of the dog before you move it over your hot oil, otherwise you'll have some drip off in the oil and make little batter pearls that you'll have to fish out before they burn. Anyhoo, plunge the battered dog down into the oil



and fry for two minutes or until golden brown on outside.  Something like this:



Repeat with the rest of the hot dogs.  Note, if you're brave, you can probably fry two at once, but really they cook so fast you probably should just do one at a time.  Hot oil is not something to trifle with, and I treat it with respect.  The bamboo skewers I use are nice because they are long and allow me to keep my hands far from the hot oil.


As each corny dog is done, place them on paper towels to drain.



Then serve them with some good old cheap yeller mustard or the condiment of your choice.



All, note that crispy, golden batter on the outside, bready and sweet on the inside--heaven on a stick, my friends.



Y'all be sure to try these soon, ya hear!

Chris




Thursday, September 29, 2016

Salmon Croquettes




















When I think of salmon croquettes, I find myself pronouncing the 'L' in 'saLmon' in my head, because that's how we all said it when we were kids.  We were backwards Texans and just didn't know no better.  Yes, these little fried delicacies were a staple in my household growing up, and I loved them them, so I thought I've revisit them now and see if I can recapture the magic of what my mom made way back then.

Thing is, I have no idea exactly how mom made them, so I've sort of re-engineered this recipe from the bottom up, and while they don't taste exactly like my memory of 'saLmon' croquettes from Mom's table, they do taste pretty good.



Ingredients

15 oz salmon
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 oz green onion, minced
1 oz celery, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 cup cooking oil

First off a word of warning.  Try to avoid using plain old canned salmon like this.



It's not only a bit dodgy as far as the salmon flavor is concerned, but it's chock full of pin and spine bones that you'll either have to pick out or serve to your guests, and nobody wants crunchy-style croquettes.

Instead, use the foil packets of salmon--these are boneless and seem to contain a higher quality of salmon.  

Heat oil in skillet to 375F

Mince green onions and celery



Place salmon in food processor with 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 1 egg, green onions, celery, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and old bay.



Pulse until well combined.



Shape mixture into small patties.



Dust patties in rest of the breadcrumbs






.


Reserve until oil is heated



fry for a few minutes then carefully flip over and fry until both sides are crisp and golden brown










serve immediately



Until next time,


Chris