Thursday, April 25, 2013

Some Personal Recipes and a Food Experimentation In Process....Cooking Different Types of Fish

The nutrition powers that be like to tell us how we need to eat more fish and alot less red meat. Well we  did get the less red meat down..sort of and were eating more chicken and turkey. But it really wasn't enough variety.

In the meantime the family was sticking to only two kinds of fish: tilapia and salmon on occasion. Hubby was not always fond of salmon. The smell started making him nauseous. I did poach the salmon in some white wine and herbs that seemed to help a bit.  The tilapia I cooked it as scampi. I did not use alot of butter, in fact my last time I only used some noncaloric spray. With all the herbs I threw in, you couldn't even notice the missing fat high from the nonexistent butter.

But as usual everyone was getting bored. Hubby does read Men's Fitness and they do happen to have interesting recipes every month. This month, lo and behold, their recipe section was dedicated to different kinds of fish. He likes to rip out the pages he thinks I would be interested in, mostly of course having to do with eating healthy and the nutritional content of antioxidant foods. I know he's been up reading on the days I wake up to a desk full of ripped magazine sheets.

Honestly these pages have come in quite handy. I leave them up on my bulletin board to remember what veggies to buy at the supermarket. Plus I leave up recipes if it sounds like something the family would enjoy. This time I actually went right out and bought the fishes they recommended: tuna steak, rainbow trout and red snapper.

The family loved the tuna steak. I even made it a little "medium" in the but cooked. No raw fish for us. Apparently you are not supposed to cook the center of the tuna anymore. I could never figure out when and why that fad started. Granted everyone thinks eating raw fish because of the sushi craze is oh so uber cool But really, Homo sapiens invented fire for a reason and it wasn't to make sure to only sear the outside of a tuna steak.

Our experimentation with different types of fish continues. Tonight is snapper. Tomorrow we eat our red meat of the week, I am going to make stew.

My stew recipe:

Make sure the beef chucks are patted dry. This helps with the browning process. Heat the pot on the stove and add in butter and a little olive oil. Let the butter melt most of the way if the olive oil gets too hot it will burn so you may have to lower the heat. Put the chunks of meat in the pot. Brown on all sides. (I use a pair of tongs to help turn the meat rather than a large fork). Remove the meat from the pot and put to the side.

Throw in the pot one large chopped yellow onion, carrots and celery. I don't measure but about a cup of each. On a low heat let the veggies break down and become soft.

Put the meat back in the pot. It is OK if they are on top of the veggies. Add in enough beef stock (I do use chicken or vegetable stock too. It depends on what I have available in the house) to cover the meat. Season to taste. We like cumin, coriander, aleppo chile, thyme, rosemary (not a big fan of sage), garlic (if I have fresh I use that), pepper , salt and bayleaf. I then add about 1/2 bottle of red wine.

Let the sauce come to a boil and reduce the heat down to a simmer. Cover the pot. Check it frequently and cook until the meat is close to tender if you want to add little potatoes. Add the potatoes about 30 minutes before the meat is cooked.

If you see the sauce dissipating (meaning the meat is no longer covered) add some more broth. You could add wine but it is not necessary.

Some people will add flour at the end, right before serving, to thicken the sauce. I find it totally unnecessary. But if you want to add flour use a fine sifted flour, something actually prepared specially for sauces. (No baking flour is not the same thing.)

My stew usually takes 2 to 2 1/2 hours depending on which cut of stew meat I use.

Fish Scampi:

Heat skillet. Add butter and or olive oil. Put fillets int he pan and let them begin to sear. Lower pan heat so the fillet doesn't burn. Add in salt, pepper, capers, fresh garlic and a little lemon juice if desired. Turn fillet over. begin to sear second side. Add white wine. Depending on thickness of the fillet and desired doneness of fish, you may need to cook fish anywhere from 3-8 minutes per side.

Poached salmon:

Place salmon fillet in cool pan. Season as desired. I use salt, pepper, dill, rosemary, fresh garlic (if I have it) and bayleaf. Cover salmon half way with white wine. Bring to a boil. Cover pot. Lower heat to a simmer. Cooking time depends on thickness of the fillet.

Chicken recipe:
Taken from Ina Garten  
Beyond simple, but the chicken comes out unbelievably moist.

Split the breasts. Keep on the skin and the bone. Season to taste. Drizzle olive oil on the skin. Roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Done.

Sometimes the chicken may not be cooked enough near the bone. If that is the case you need to adjust your cooking time to the thickness of the breast and the efficiency of your oven. To solve that issue about 5 minutes before done time, I take out a breast and slice it in the middle to the bone to see if there is any uncooked part and then place it back in the oven, The doneness of the bird will dictate how much longer I cook it. But the little slice in the middle is a way to keep an eye on the readiness of the chicken.

I usually have to remove the breast meat for the boychicks in my family. They have real issues eating off the bone and waste half of the chicken Not that my dogs mind since they get the left overs once I strip the bones. But I would really like the meat in the boys' stomachs and not the dogs. Hence the helicopter-mommy chicken breast denouement.

Qi en pace,

P.S. I do substitute the butter for margarine. I know the powers that be in the nutrition world can't truly agree whether margarine is the devil's food or a godsend to those with cholesterol issues. I have chosen to try a margarine that claims to fight cholesterol. In all actuality we never use that much. I suppose that is the real key. When using fat, keep it infrequent and in small, very small, doses, no matter what kind you use, even the good fats. It's not as if good fats come with a "won't add twenty pounds to your tuchas" pass.


  1. Elise, I bake my salmon marinated in Dijon mustard, lemon juice, olive oil and basil. My kids and hubby love it. It's a really nice flavour.

    1. That sounds really good too. Going to try that next. Have salmon for tomorrow :)


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