Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

menu ideas for striped bass, mackerel and more

NC oysters

Like oysters? If you see Hatteras Salts on the menu, order as many as you can. I had a few before lunch on Monday at Locals Seafood Oyster Bar in the Transfer Company Food Hall (Raleigh). I’m still thinking about them.

Humongous ham bone

I finally remembered the big ham bone from Thanksgiving lurking in my freezer and gave it a fitting destination: split pea soup with ham. I didn’t have to add any additional ham like the recipe instructed because my bone had plenty extra on it. I used water instead of chicken broth because I knew the meaty bone would provide enough flavor—and it did. I love watching marrow slowly disappear from a bone into the broth to work its magic.

Fish two ways: striped bass and mackerel

My favorite meal last week was striped bass with spiced chickpeas. Bon Appetit calls this recipe “foolproof,” and I suppose it is. I couldn’t get enough of these flavors. You could leave out the fish and just make the chickpeas—they’re so good.

The other fish in last week’s seafood share was mackerel. I like matching mackerel with bold flavors like this maple-barbeque glazed fish recipe. Quick and easy.

menu ideas for striped bass, mackerel and more

Roasted broccoli

When I’m in a need-a-quick-veggie jam, I grab some broccoli, slice them into individual florets, slice big chunks of red onion and toss it all on a sheet pan (or two—might as well make a big batch) with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake at 400. When the florets are just approaching tender, add garlic slices and red pepper flakes, toss again, and bake until the florets are partly caramelized (nearly burnt) and the stems are at the tenderness you desire.

Sunday pancakes

For Sunday breakfast, I made this German apple pancake from Serious Eats. It reminded me of a clafouti—dessert for breakfast, I guess. Satisfyingly tasty. Per the recipe, you need a non-stick, oven-safe pan. My Tramontina non-stick skillet did just fine in the oven, in case you have one of those. Increase the cinnamon, you won’t regret it.

Good reads

I’ll always be a restaurant person. I spent too many years as a manager—and, before that, a bartender and waitress—to get it out of my system completely. This article by Karen Stabinder in The Counter makes me sad: The American Restaurant Is on Life Support. It explains why it’s getting harder to make a living in the restaurant business.

You can help restaurants stay in business. Pick up the phone when you want to make a reservation. The selfish reason is because you might get a better table that way, according to Monica Burton at The Eater. The better reason is the restaurant won’t have to eat into its meager profit margin to pay OpenTable, Resy or whomever for your visit. As one restauranteur said, “When people ask ‘Why is your burger $16?’ I want to show them my monthly bill from OpenTable.”

Now that I’ve depressed myself, I’ll start working on dinner because scientists say cooking and baking help you feel better. I can vouch for that. Danny Lewis at Smithsonian Magazine shares what the research tells us about the magical power in your kitchen.

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Striped bass illustration via Wikimedia Commons

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