Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

recipes on my menu and e-cookbooks on sale this week

Tilefish and fish cakes

My cooking week began with blueline tilefish. Before getting involved in a CSF (that stands for community supported fishery which is like a CSA share but with fish and shellfish), I hadn’t ever heard of tilefish. Tilefish is a mild, white, flaky fish found along the east coast. Its diet of tasty sea critters makes it quite delicious—some people compare it to grouper.

A few years ago, I made tilefish with a spiced breadcrumb topping. The star of that topping was New Bay 33—a black garlic enhanced take on Old Bay seasoning. And let me tell you, New Bay 33 is so much better than Old Bay.

This time I made a tilefish cakes recipe from Food52. I used New Bay 33 instead of the Old Bay and celery salt called for by the recipe. And, I added a shallot which is missing from the list of ingredients although it’s mentioned in the instructions—sloppy recipe writing.

I love fish cakes. Maybe because I love meatballs of all types too and what’s a fish cake but a smooshed fish ball, right? This recipe doesn’t have a lot of filler so the tilefish shone through.

On the side, roasted new potatoes sprinkled with a sample of Nons pinching salt I got when I picked up my CSA share at Chickadee Farms. I used all my leftover broccoli stems in a sauté with a mix of summer squash, grape tomatoes, spring onions and garlic scapes—all local veggies.

recipes on my menu (including tilefish) and e-cookbooks on sale this week

This is a golden tilefish fillet, both sides.

Portuguese perfection

The highlight of the week was a dish inspired by an Andrew Zimmern recipe: Portuguese clams with linguica, spinach, tomatoes and orzo. I got two dozen littleneck clams in our CSF share and although I was tempted to pop them open and snarf them down raw, I decided to turn them into dinner. Zimmern’s recipe looked fine but I thought linguica would be so much better than Italian sausage. My real inspiration was the Portuguese habit of combining pork and clams. Here’s my recipe:

  • 3/4 cup orzo, cooked up and tossed with butter as I prepped the rest
  • 12 ounces linguica, sliced in half lengthwise, then into 1/4” slices, cooked in olive oil with a medium chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup diced tomatoes melted with 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup white wine, reduced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth, brought to a boil
  • 24 littleneck clams, steamed in all that goodness until the shells opened
  • 6 ounces spinach, stemmed, julienned, mixed in along with 2 tablespoons butter

I went with my gut and the results were swooningly delicious. Following my gut doesn’t always work out but boy did it ever this time.

Now about that linguica: that’s a Portuguese sausage made, as far as I know, with garlic and paprika. You can find it in Massachusetts and Rhode Island—it’s my favorite pizza topping when I go home. I was ecstatic to find it in Sacramento too—another Portuguese-American area. Now, I order it from Amaral’s. Gaspar’s is another popular brand.

recipes on my menu and e-cookbooks on sale this week

My gorgeous little littlenecks before they headed to the pot

Amberjack and Essence

Speaking of Portuguese, Emeril Lagasse’s Essence was the co-star of the next night’s dinner: pan-roasted amberjack. I made a batch of Essence, a Creole seasoning mix, a while back to keep on hand. I sprinkled two amberjack fillets with salt and Essence and cooked each side two minutes then put the pan in a 375 oven and cooked them four minutes more. The cooked fillets sat in the covered pan on the stove while we ate salad so it probably cooked a bit more. But, oh my, the fish was moist, tender and absolutely delicious.

Amberjack is a game fish. Here’s a description from my CSF: “Greater amberjack has a sweet, mild flavor and is tender, firm, and delicate. The high oil content gives it a buttery texture. Fresh greater amberjack has a bright color and firm, compact flesh.” Accurate on all counts.

For our side, I made a potato, squash and goat cheese gratin from The Kitchn. I added sliced onion to the veggie mix and made the topping with equal parts parmesan and panko breadcrumbs.

recipes on my menu and e-cookbooks on sale this week

Amberjack aka sea donkey

On My Menu

The hot weather is turning me toward Asian flavors so tomorrow night we’ll have roasted salmon with a Vietnamese caramel sauce. Yes, more fish, this time from the freezer. I’ll spiralize two big summer squash for Vietnamese zoodle salad. I may have to increase the dressing ingredients because I want to add four cute little heads of cabbage I’ve been neglecting—two green and two red.

Right before I joined the CSF, I bought several packages of frozen (supposedly) sustainable fish from BJs, hence all fish all the time here. My plan for Tuesday night is baked mahi mahi with coconut cilantro sauce. This recipe looks wicked easy. On the side, kung pao yellow cauliflower and a kale sauté of some type.

And then on Thursday, I’ll pick up more fish from Locals Seafood! What tasty delights await, I do not know. But I do have a spaghetti squash that needs cooking so I’ll make an Italian-style spaghetti squash sauté either Thursday or Friday.

That’s the plan but we’ll see what happens in real life.

eCookbooks and Food eBooks on Sale

Act quickly if any of these interest you, ebook deals last a day, a week, or sometimes longer. Click on the title to get to the Amazon deal. No time for Amazon blurbs this week, sorry, but I feel these are all worthy.

The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum ($3.99) – I’ve had this one in my library for a loooong time. If you need a good baking cookbook, this is the one.

Essential Pépin Desserts: 160 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food by Jacques Pépin ($3.99) – I love Pépin’s approach to desserts. He’s my hero.

The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery by Karen Mitchell and Sarah Mitchell Hansen ($4.99)

Cook Simple: Effortless Cooking Every Day by Diana Henry ($2.99)

Southern Routes: Secret Recipes from the Best Down-Home Joints in the South by Ben Vaughn ($2.99)

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Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a tiny commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you.

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