Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Menu ideas and recipes for black drum, yellowfin tuna, eggplant, sweet potatoes, pasta, gorgonzola, smoked salmon, greens and root vegetables

Menu ideas and recipes for black drum, yellowfin tuna, eggplant, sweet potatoes, pasta, gorgonzola, smoked salmon, greens and root vegetables

Brazilian fish stew

This moqueca de peixe (Brazilian fish stew) recipe is from Jessica Harris, a respected culinary historian and cookbook author. Oh my, we loved this stew—I made it with black drum fillets. No worries if you don’t have dende oil, I didn’t, just omit it.

Yellowfin tuna and gochujang-glazed sides

Another night, we enjoyed pan-seared yellowfin tuna with avocado, soy, ginger and lime, a reliably delicious Tyler Florence recipe. Yes, yellowfin again, what a charmed life—only possible because of my weekly fish share.

On the side, gochujang-glazed eggplant with fried scallions and gochujang-roasted sweet potatoes. I do love my gochujang.

yellowfin gochujang eggplant sw potatoes

Pasta extravaganza

Jim was away on his annual hunting trip for several days last week (two deer!) so I had my annual pasta indulgence festival—and probably gained about five pounds. I made my usual gorgonzola pasta since he’s not a blue cheese fan. This year, it featured shiitake mushrooms and arugula.

I also made a smoked and canned salmon pasta with onion, garlic, peas, lemon zest, dry vermouth, cream, parmesan, asiago, tarragon and black pepper. That was my favorite.

The usual sides

Greens made an appearance once again, sautéed with linguiça, onion, carrot, red bell pepper and garlic. Another regular: roasted sweet potatoes and daikon radishes with red onion, garlic, smoked paprika, ancho chile powder, and thyme.

See you next week!


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Menu ideas and recipes for chicken, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, polenta, mushrooms, greens, chickpeas, yellowfin tuna and black drum

Menu ideas and recipes for chicken, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, polenta, mushrooms, greens, chickpeas, yellowfin tuna and black drum

Embrace the cozy—and cranberries

When it gets cold, I start thinking about cranberries—childhood conditioning, I guess. The star of our Sunday dinner was cranberry chicken parmesan. It may sound weird but it’s really good. While eating the leftovers for lunch, I realized it’s a bit like Thanksgiving and since this Thanksgiving is a no-turkey feast (yay!), that’s fine by me.

On the side, balsamic-maple roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon (double the sauce), and oven-baked polenta with roasted mushrooms and thyme. What a glorious meal it was!

greens linguica and chickpeas

Greens and company

I was getting bored with my usual greens treatments, so I took inspiration from this recipe to make kale, radish, turnip and daikon greens with linguiça, chickpeas, onion, sweet pepper, jalapeño, garlic and smoked paprika.

“Yellowfin tuna, again?”

A phrase often heard in this house but never with a whiny tone, always an excited one. This time, I made blackened yellowfin tuna with a spice rub of brown sugar (responsible for some serious blackening), chili powder, garlic and onion powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt.

And wouldn’t you know it… guess what I got in Thursday’s fish share? That’s right, another pound of yellowfin tuna. Not complaining, trust me.

Drum roll

An even simpler fish dish the next night: black drum fillets baked with butter, lemon juice, Aleppo pepper flakes and Turkish seasoning.

See you next week!


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Menu ideas and recipes for eggplant, yellowfin tuna, salmon, sweet potatoes and green beans

Menu ideas and recipes for eggplant, yellowfin tuna, salmon, sweet potatoes and green beans

Eggplant lasagna

Nearly every week, I’ve been getting eggplant in my CSA share. Instead of my usual eggplant and sweet peppers (plus red onion, garlic, basil and red wine vinegar) dish, I made eggplant lasagna. I did miss the texture and taste of pasta—I’d add a layer or two of that next time. I used basil pesto instead of basil alone in the ricotta and spinach mix—that was a good move.

eggplant kirsty-tg-iyEc3PHk2ZM-unsplash

Yellowfin tuna with chile crisp

I’ve seen lots of recipes for chile crisp (spiced oil) in the past year or so. Last year, I made this chile crisp for fish—it was very good. Last week, I made a half portion of this crunchy spice oil recipe for yellowfin tuna—also very good.

Salmon and sweet potato hash

One of my favorite Sunday breakfasts happens when I have leftover roasted sweet potatoes or root vegetables. But this time I made it for a weeknight dinner. First, make a sweet potato hash (mine had daikon radish too) with sweet pepper, poblano pepper, jalapeño pepper, onion, garlic and warm spices like smoked paprika and cayenne. Then, stir chopped pan-seared salmon into the hash. Serve it with a fried egg on top.

sweet potatoes

Green beans almondine

Here’s a nice idea for green beans. While you’re steaming the beans, sauté garlic and almond slices in a neutral oil supplemented with a few pads of butter. Toss in the steamed green beans along with lemon juice and zest and mix it all together. Yum.

See you next week!


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Creative Commons photo of eggplant by Kirsty TG via Unsplash

Menu ideas and recipes for ground lamb, baked pasta, greens, vermilion snapper, speckled trout and sourdough discard

Menu ideas and recipes for ground lamb, baked pasta, greens, vermilion snapper, speckled trout and sourdough discard

lamb rigatoni

Pasta and greens comfort

Our Election Night tradition is a big plate of cheesy baked pasta. This year, I went with a recipe for Baked Rigatoni with Lamb Ragu from Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Modern Comfort Food. Oh my, so good, a huge casserole of comfort food that provided leftovers all week. Add it to your repertoire—if you’re a lamb lover like me, or use a different ground protein.

I probably should have chosen a different preparation for the greens I served on the side—a mix of kale, collards and baby mystery greens—but I guess I had comfort on the mind when I picked my creamed greens deluxe recipe. Swoonworthy, I’m telling you, so good.

creamed greens

Snapper and speckled trout

Earlier in the week, we enjoyed pan-seared vermilion snapper in a dry vermouth (instead of white wine), tomato and basil sauce. It’s one of my favorite ways to prepare all kinds of fish.

The next night, I baked speckled trout fillets with lemon juice, Aleppo pepper flakes and butter. Nothing else is needed to enhance that amazing trout flavor.

Sourdough maple walnut bread

Every two weeks, after I feed Tony, my sourdough starter, I need to do something with the discard. Last Sunday, I made sourdough maple walnut bread for a breakfast treat. It was sort of like a quick bread—no rise needed.

See you next week!


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Menu ideas and recipes for shrimp, striped mullet, vermilion snapper, summer squash, zucchini and basil pesto

Menu ideas and recipes for shrimp, striped mullet, vermilion snapper, summer squash, zucchini and basil pesto

The best shrimp and grits

I know, I know, I always say that, but if you’ve ever made this shrimp and grits recipe, you know it’s true. And if not, once you do, you’ll never be satisfied with any restaurant’s shrimp and grits again—unless you’re at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill NC, where this recipe originated.

Take this dish to the next level by making your own shrimp broth from the shells. Take it to the manic nirvana level by getting shrimp with the shells and heads on so you can throw the heads in the broth too.

shrimp broth 10-20

Striped mullet and vermilion snapper

Here’s a much quicker dish to make: garlic and herb baked striped mullet topped with panko bread crumbs mixed with melted butter.

Another simple one: baked vermilion snapper with curry butter. I only made the curry butter portion of the recipe. I recently bought some curry powder from Spicewalla and WOW. Pricey but powerfully aromatic.

Farewell summer veggies

Greens were on the menu again this week, as usual. But I also purchased the last of the season’s summer squash and zucchini at the farmers market and made summer vegetables al pesto. I added broccoli stems, carrot, red bell pepper and tomatoes to the pan too.

Making a cozy Ina Garten dish for tomorrow and Tuesday. More on that next week, see ya!


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Menu ideas and recipes for carrot tops, flounder, shrimp, ground pork, green beans, delicata squash and mushrooms

Menu ideas and recipes for carrot tops, flounder, shrimp, ground pork, green beans, delicata squash and mushrooms

Flounder with carrot top pesto

I hate wasting food so I sauté all kinds of greens, use broccoli stems (and leaves), and occasionally make pesto from carrot tops. Recently, I topped baked flounder with carrot top pesto mixed with melted butter, parmesan cheese, additional lemon juice and panko bread crumbs. Here’s my recipe.

Carrot top pesto

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin (pepitas) or sunflower seeds
  • 2 cups lightly packed carrot leaves, stems removed, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them in a preheated 350-degree oven or toaster oven. Toast until fragrant and lightly browned. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.

In a food processor, combine the nuts, carrot leaves, parsley, oil, garlic and salt, and process until finely minced. Add more oil to get to the consistency you want.

If you’re not freezing the pesto, stir in the Parmesan. If you’re freezing it, wait until you defrost the pesto to add Parmesan. Taste the pesto and add salt and/or lemon juice if you think it needs it. Freeze in ice cube trays, then plop out the cubes and store in freezer bags.

Here’s how you can use carrot top pesto:

  • Stirred into a vegetable sauté.
  • Tossed with pasta—I used it with cheese-filled tortellini once.
  • Stirred into egg or tuna salad.
  • Tossed with roasted potatoes or other root vegetables.
  • Spooned on top of bruschetta with goat cheese.

Menu ideas and recipes for carrot tops, flounder, shrimp, ground pork, green beans, delicata squash and mushrooms

Shrimp scampi

Shrimp is always the highlight of the week when it’s in the house. Last weekend, I made my delicious shrimp scampi recipe. It’s super-duper on pasta, as you can imagine, but couscous works well too.

Green chile pork stew

I love a green chile pork stew—or green chili, which is what the Washington Post calls it. I pretty much stuck to their recipe except I used a pound of ground pork and added seven chopped tomatillos to the mix.

green beans tomatoes etc

Fall vegetables

More green beans this week, this time sautéed with bacon, halved grape tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. If the mix gets too dry before the beans are cooked, add a little chicken broth.

Delicata and other winter squash are all over the farmers market now. I roasted slices of delicata (no need to peel!) with a chile-honey sauce. I skipped the tofu and forgot about the sesame seeds, scallions and lime juice. Still, it’s a keeper.

Sometimes I crave mushrooms, especially when I see a photo of them in a pasta or rice dish. This mushroom rice hit the spot last week.


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Menu ideas and recipes for tuna, catfish, mackerel, drum, flounder, chickpeas, ground beef, greens, root vegetables, green beans, carrots, eggplant and peppers

Menu ideas and recipes for tuna, catfish, mackerel, drum, flounder, chickpeas, ground beef, greens, root vegetables, green beans, carrots, eggplant and peppers

Gusto fell off my weekend to-do list while we were on vacation and I just now noticed. Whoops!

The new tuna noodle casserole

While we were away, my weekly fish share was frozen and put aside for me, which is how I ended up with a pound of frozen yellowfin tuna. What to do? I defrosted it and made a luxurious tuna noodle casserole. Casserole recipes are flexible by nature, so instead of asparagus and scallions, I included broccoli stems, carrot and garlic chives along with the other vegetables.

Menu ideas and recipes for tuna, catfish, mackerel, drum, flounder, chickpeas, ground beef, greens, root vegetables, green beans, carrots, eggplant and peppers

Tuna casserole before the breadcrumb topping was added

Catfish, mackerel and drum

I found an old bag of jalapeno pretzels hiding in my pantry—which is actually a designated bookcase in my office. Since the pretzels were stale, I crushed them in the food processor and turned them into a coating for pan-fried catfish—first dredging the fillets in flour and then egg—buttermilk works too. I must say, what a super idea it was.

When in a time crunch, this recipe for maple barbecue glazed fish is a cinch. It’s one of my standbys for boldly flavored fish like Spanish mackerel.

Another simple fish preparation is blackened fillets. One night I made blackened red drum with cheesy grits—a winning combo—and another night I did the same with black drum.

Indian fish fry

I was hankering for Indian food so one weekend I pan-fried flounder per this recipe for chepa vepudu aka fish fry. Ooh, that spice paste was excellent. I served the fish with mint-cilantro chutney, a recipe from Modern Spice, an Indian cookbook by Monica Bhide.

On the side, I made mustard greens (and kale) masala. The recipe didn’t include ingredients for the ginger-garlic paste so I used some of the fish recipe’s spice paste. So good. The leftovers have been great for breakfast in an egg fried rice type of thing.

On the side, a fantastic chickpea salad with dried apricots and almonds.

Indian feast 9-20

Taco casserole

Southwestern flavors are always a favorite in this house, so we enjoyed this taco casserole. I went with two layers instead of three (so less cheese and tortillas) and added jalapeños to the mix. I used this recipe for homemade taco seasoning.

Fall veggies

Green beans are looking really good in the farmers market right now. I can’t resist their deep color and snappiness so I just lightly season and steam them.

Roasted root vegetables will make regular appearances from now on. This week, I served sweet potatoes and baby turnips tossed and roasted with red onion, garlic, smoked paprika and thyme.

Another good recipe to keep handy is roasted carrot fries.

I can only go a week at most without having greens. Lately, we’ve been enjoying mustard greens, kale, radish greens and baby greens sautéed with red onion, sweet peppers and garlic.

Since I’ve been getting all kinds of peppers (sweet, bell, shishito and poblano) in my CSA share, I’ve been sautéing them with eggplant, red onion, garlic, basil and red wine vinegar.


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Menu ideas and recipes for ground beef and pork, collards, amberjack, yellowfin tuna, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers

Menu ideas and recipes for ground beef and pork, collards, amberjack, yellowfin tuna, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers

Gochujang burgers

To prepare for the inevitable long days when I’ll have no time to cook, I made up a double recipe of these spicy Korean-style gochujang burgers (instead of meatballs) for the freezer.

Spicy peanut pork and collards pasta

The highlight of the week was pasta. What a surprise. I dug out an old recipe: linguine with ground pork and collard greens in an Asian-inspired peanut sauce. I’ve made many changes to the original Bon Appétit recipe: increasing the peanut butter and other liquids in the sauce; adding onions, sweet peppers, and carrots; and, this time, adding gochujang paste too. So good.

spicy peanut pork and collards pasta

Amberjack and yellowfin tuna

I saw this recipe for seared scallops with jammy cherry tomatoes and decided to use it for amberjack instead since that’s what I had. I added lemon juice at the end for a hit of brightness.

Another night I made Thai tuna burgers because I wanted leftover burgers for lunch. It may be sacrilege to use yellowfin tuna that way but I munched on a bunch of it while cutting it up for the burger mix—sashimi privileges for the cook. The pickled red onion and cucumber is a must, but instead of the ginger-lemon mayonnaise, I simply mixed sriracha into Duke’s mayo.

Eggplant and peppers

On the side, once again, sautéed eggplant with sweet bell and shishito peppers, red onion, garlic, basil and red wine vinegar. And guess what, my CSA share this week included more shishitos and sweet peppers so I’m thinking about taking advantage of any end-of-season eggplants and making this again.

We’re heading to southern Utah (Monticello area) for a week of hiking in the gorgeous red rock country so I won’t be publishing Gusto next week.


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Menu ideas and recipes for snapper, fig jam, catfish, corn, skirt steak, eggplant, peppers and blackberries

Menu ideas and recipes for snapper, fig jam, catfish, corn, skirt steak, eggplant, peppers and blackberries

Snapper and catfish

Thanks to my sister-in-law’s fig harvest, we enjoyed baked vermillion snapper topped with fig chipotle jam. I doctored up the jam with shallots and chipotle per the recipe.

Enjoying the last of corn season, on another night we had saucy spiced catfish with corn and basil.

Skirt steak

For Sunday dinner, I made skirt steak for the first time, specifically pan-fried skirt steak with shallot butter. It was excellent—what a flavorful cut of meat.

On the side, roasted baby potatoes tossed with leftover red chimichurri. I also pan-fried a mix of shiitake and cremini mushrooms with garlic and thyme because steak and mushrooms, mmm. Our veggie was zucchini pesto sautéed with yellow carrots, orange bell pepper and tomatoes.

skirt steak etc.Eggplant and peppers

This vegetable dish is on frequent rotation here: pan-fried eggplant with a mix of peppers (shishito, poblano and other sweet peppers), red onion, tomatoes, garlic, basil and a dash of red wine vinegar at the end.

Blackberry happy hour

I’ve been getting the best blackberries lately at the farmers market. For our Saturday happy hour last weekend, I made blackberry margaritas. They were quite tasty. I used agave syrup instead of making simple syrup, and triple sec instead of Grand Marnier.

Until next week, stay awkward, brave and kind. (phrase from Brené Brown)


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Menu ideas and recipes for swordfish, salmon, zucchini, green beans and boiled peanuts

Menu ideas and recipes for swordfish, salmon, zucchini, green beans and boiled peanuts

Swordfish with red chimichurri

This smoky red chimichurri recipe is great on baked swordfish—and I’ve also made it for tilefish and dogfish. Tomorrow, I’m tossing the leftover chimichurri with roasted potatoes. Let nothing go to waste! (Or at least try not to.) Red chimichurri is made of garlic, shallots, cumin, parsley and olive oil, plus the red ingredients—red wine vinegar, smoked paprika, chipotle powder and red pepper flakes.

Creamy lemon salmon and zucchini spaghetti

I pulled some sockeye salmon out of the freezer to add to creamy lemon zucchini spaghetti. The shredded zucchini just about melts into the pasta. I used onion instead of shallot, and added yellow bell pepper and tomato to kick it up a bit. Salmon wasn’t part of the original recipe but I thought it was a natural match.

salmon lemon zucchini spaghetti

Green bean favorite

On the side, we had green beans sautéed with bacon, mushrooms, red bell pepper, red onion, garlic and a little chicken broth to keep the beans cooking.

Boiled peanut salad

One of my guy’s favorite beach snacks is boiled peanuts topped with slices of pickled jalapeño, passed around to our beach buddies on a frisbee, of course. It’s even better on a cracker with a dollop of pimento cheese—or low-rent canned cheese.

I made this boiled peanut salad with bacon dressing for him. It’s a keeper and would be great for potlucks, especially with his family. I added sweet onion and substituted basil for the cilantro, but forgot to serve pickled jalapeños on the side. Next time!

Until next week, stay awkward, brave and kind. (phrase from Brené Brown)

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