Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Menu ideas and recipes for flounder, snapper, quesadillas, four-bean salad, pesto potatoes and watermelon margaritas

Menu ideas and recipes for flounder, snapper, quesadillas, four-bean salad, pesto potatoes and watermelon margaritas

Flounder and snapper recipes

How about some simple fish recipes? First, place flounder (or any fish) fillets into a greased baking dish, sprinkle with salt, pour a few tablespoons of lemon juice all over the fillets, and top them with a few dabs of butter. Have any herbs? Aleppo pepper flakes? If you do, add them. Bake at 375 until done. You’ll have to judge that for yourself since fillets vary but the butter builds in a buffer in case you overcook them.

Or, rub snapper (or any fish) fillets with a neutral oil (I like grapeseed), then top with a blackening rub made of smoked paprika (go heavy on that) and equal parts onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme and dried oregano and then a little less of cayenne and black pepper. Pan-fry on both sides until done—again, a judgement call.

Cheeseburger quesadillas

Cheeseburger quesadillas seemed like the right choice for a patriotic weekend. I used a mix of cheddar and pepper jack cheese on corn tortillas and sprinkled sweet onion, sweet pickles and pickled jalapeños over the meat. I omitted the mustard—blame my feller, a mustard hater. I had mine with special sauce—a mix of ketchup, mayo and relish. Mayo will be the death of me, I love it too much.

Menu ideas and recipes for flounder, snapper, quesadillas, four-bean salad, pesto potatoes and watermelon margaritas

Four-bean salad on Day 6 so not the most fresh looking sample

Four-bean salad

Several years ago, we had a family gathering at my aunt’s house in southern Rhode Island. She served a bean salad that I couldn’t get out of my mind. When I got home, I found a recipe from Our State magazine, adapted it to my taste and added some extras I remembered from my aunt’s salad. The resulting recipe is a mix of NC and RI which fits a misplaced Yankee like me.

  • 8 to 10 ounces green beans, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 1/2cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (I plan to omit the sugar next time to see if it makes much of a difference. The original recipe called for 1/4 cup—too much for me.)
  • 1/4cup grapeseed, canola or neutral oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 poblano and 1/2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup corn (or 2 ears, cooked 5 minutes, cooled and stripped from cob)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet pickles
  • 1/4cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Set a large pot of water on the stove over high heat. When it comes to a boil, toss in 1 tablespoon salt and add the green beans. Boil for 3 minutes or until the beans are crisp-tender, meaning they just have a slight crunch still, sort of al dente.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with several cups of ice and cover the ice with cold water—leave room for the beans. As soon as the beans are crisp-tender, drain them, rinse quickly with cold water and dump them into the bowl of ice water. Let them soak in the ice water while you prepare the dressing.

Pour the vinegar (and optional sugar) into a small bowl, whisk until the sugar dissolves, and then whisk in the oil. Whisk in salt and pepper, and taste. Add more vinegar, sugar, salt or pepper if you think it needs it.

In a large bowl, combine the green beans, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, poblano and bell pepper, celery, corn, sweet onion, pickles and parsley. Pour dressing over the mix and toss. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Toss before serving.

Basil pesto potatoes

It’s basil season so grab a bunch, make pesto, grate some Parmesan and try this new way to roast potatoes.

Watermelon margaritas

Our 4th of July treat: watermelon margaritas. Reserve some time to make watermelon juice. Chop up the melon and purée the pieces in a blender. Strain the juice (and seeds) through a fine sieve. Juice some limes too while you’re at it.

Here’s the recipe for one cocktail: 4 oz watermelon juice, 1-1/2 oz tequila and 3/4 oz lime juice. Shake it up with ice and enjoy.

Until next week, stay awkward, brave and kind.*

*I picked this up from Brené Brown whose podcast I’ve been enjoying lately.


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