Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Menu ideas and recipes for catfish, grits, yellowfin tuna, black drum, grouper, sourdough bread, corn and greens

Menu ideas and recipes for catfish, grits, yellowfin tuna, black drum, grouper, sourdough bread, corn and greens

Two fish recipes—including the hot highlight of the week

Our highlight of the week was hot catfish with cheesy grits from Suwannee Rose, her inspired take on Nashville hot chicken. I made my favorite grits recipe—that link also takes you to the best shrimp and grits recipe ever. I can’t take credit. It’s from the late Bill Neal, former chef at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill.

The runner-up for the highlight spot had to be glazed yellowfin tuna with a ginger and oyster sauce. The original recipe called for cod and baby bok choy but our fish share included yellowfin and it fit the recipe just fine as did the grown up bok choy.

sourdough bread with Shug's fig jam

Sourdough goodness

Along with the rest of the herd, I made a sourdough starter recently following this recipe at King Arthur. I made mine with flour from Carolina Ground, a mill in Asheville NC. The wheat in my flour came from nearby Wake Forest so the wild yeast is all NC.

Sunday afternoon, I made two loaves of rustic sourdough bread—a recipe from King Arthur for newbie sourdough bakers since it includes as much commercial yeast as you think you need. I wasn’t sure if my starter was feisty enough but it did fine with a scant teaspoon of extra yeast. I loved the mild tang and soft crust of this bread—the recipe is a keeper. It’s the perfect loaf for breakfast toast with butter and homemade fig jam from my sister-in-law.

Summer corn pasta

The week’s pig-out meal was a pasta dish. Yes, pasta again, blame corn. At the farmers market, some of the farms bring in a pickup truck with a bed full of corn and the prices are good.

My pasta dish started with this creamy corn pasta with coconutty greens recipe. But I added two different kinds of fish—black drum and grouper—plus homemade shrimp broth, jalapeno, ginger, double the corn and kale, onions and scallions instead of shallots, and no thyme. Hot sauce is recommended.

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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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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Menu ideas and recipes for striped mullet, monkfish, smoked salmon, summer squash, roast beef, and pork shoulder

Menu ideas and recipes for striped mullet, monkfish, smoked salmon, summer squash, roast beef, and pork shoulder

Striped mullet and monkfish recipes

We don’t eat much salmon because we get a weekly fish share from the North Carolina coast, but when I saw this New York Times recipe for roasted dill salmon, I wanted to try it the next night with striped mullet. In keeping with the spirit of the original recipe, I used pomegranate molasses instead of maple syrup. Quick and excellent.

Monkfish, one of my favorite fish, was on our menu the following night. I sautéed bacon, red onion, garlic, and tomatoes, put the monkfish on top and kept cooking (covered), then stirred in basil and sprinkled it all with fennel pollen at the end. Pretty darn good! Fennel pollen is one of those magical ingredients that elevates any dish.

Summer squash medley

You know it’s summer when all the ingredients for this veggie side are at the farmers market: a medley of summer squash varieties, red bell pepper, jalapeno, corn, basil and garlic. Give them a sauté and add Aleppo pepper, lemon juice and parmesan. Yum.

summer squash on board

Dip devotee

I call them covid-cravings, those cravings you give into now when you normally wouldn’t, like smoked salmon dip just because. Jim’s not a fan so guess who ate it all? Adding a heaping teaspoon of horseradish was the right move.

Highlight of the week: roast beef hash

The highlight of the week was Sunday breakfast because the roast beef hash I made from leftover roast beef was surprisingly delicious.

I tossed chunks of roast beef along with leftover roasted potatoes and root vegetables into the food processor along with some garlic scallions from the garden. I spread the finely chopped mix evenly over the bottom of the pan, fried it until it got a bit crunchy, then tossed it around and fried it again.

Oh my, so good with fried eggs. So good it convinced me to keep slabs of roast beef in the freezer so I can make this more often.

Instant Pot Italian

For Sunday dinner, the Instant Pot got a workout first with a hearty pork ragù (tasty) and then cacio-e-pepe-style polenta. The polenta didn’t thicken up enough so I had to keep cooking it on the sauté setting until it got to the right consistency.

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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Menu ideas and recipes for herb pesto (lemon basil, Thai basil, mint and cilantro), tilefish, tuna, roast beef, eggplant, potatoes and beets

Menu ideas and recipes for herb pesto (lemon basil, Thai basil, mint and cilantro), tilefish, tuna, roast beef, eggplant, potatoes and beets

Lemon basil pesto and southeast Asian-inspired pesto

Between my deck garden and CSA share, I can’t keep up with all the herbs coming into my kitchen. I made a pesto with lemon basil from the CSA, My recipe mix included cashews (but you can use any type of nut), garlic and parmesan cheese. I put the pesto on top of blueline tilefish fillets that were heading into the oven. Quick and tasty.

The next night, I made a southeast Asian-inspired pesto with Thai basil, cilantro and mint from my garden to toss with large pieces of pan-fried blackfin tuna. So good! Here’s the recipe.

  • 2 cups of a mix of Thai basil, mint and cilantro leaves (soft cilantro stems are fine too)
  • 2 cloves garlic, each cut in thirds
  • 1/2” piece of ginger, minced
  • 3 tablespoons plain roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon agave, coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or lime juice)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Add enough grapeseed oil to get the right consistency. If you’re not going to use it all right away, spoon the pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. When frozen, pop the cubes into a freezer bag.

One of my favorite eggplant recipes

We’re getting close to eggplant season so keep this one handy. Alongside the tuna, I served a favorite, Chinese-inspired eggplant. I added corno del toro peppers and green onions to the pan.

Menu ideas and recipes for herb pesto (lemon basil, Thai basil, mint and cilantro), tilefish, tuna, roast beef, eggplant, potatoes and beets

Roast beef cravings satisfied

Until last weekend, I had never made roast beef. When I saw this NY Times article, I got an immediate hankering for a roast beef sandwich with cheese, sautéed onions, peppers and mushrooms, slathered with mayo and horseradish. So last Sunday, we had roast beef for dinner and every day since we’ve had a sandwich—or at least I have. Heaven. I added garlic powder to the roast’s salt and pepper rub.

Rachael Ray potatoes

Earlier in the stay-at-home period, I binged on a bunch of videos that Rachael Ray’s husband took of her cooking at home. I’m due for another binge, come to think of it. One night, she made baked salt and vinegar smashed potatoes. I’ve had that stuck in my head ever since so they appeared alongside the roast beef. Excellent!

Menu ideas and recipes for herb pesto (lemon basil, Thai basil, mint and cilantro), tilefish, tuna, roast beef, eggplant, potatoes and beets

Lithuanian chilled beet soup

When I lived in the DC area, my brother and I used to go to the Baltimore Lithuanian Festival every year for our fix of people who looked like our relatives (we’re a strong quarter Lithuanian), sausages, dumplings, potato pancakes, Lithuanian beer, viryta (spiced honey kick-ass liqueur), and šaltibarščiai (Lithuanian chilled beet soup). I found an excellent recipe for shull-tee-barsh-chay in a Facebook group, Our Mom’s Lithuanian Recipes. Jim won’t touch it (fool!) but I’ve been enjoying it as breakfast, snack and appetizer all week.

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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Menu ideas and recipes for catfish, pasta, summer squash, short ribs, basil pesto and kohlrabi

Menu ideas and recipes for catfish, pasta, summer squash, short ribs, basil pesto and kohlrabi

Spicy southwestern pasta

Thinking I didn’t have enough prepared fish for a second night of fish tacos, I baked catfish fillets with a rub of ancho chile powder, chipotle powder, cumin, coriander, dried oregano and salt. But I was wrong about the fish, I had plenty of it, so what to do with all this spicy catfish?

When in doubt, pasta, specifically a southwestern-style pasta with onion, poblano and red bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, calabacitas (more leftovers, a Mexican summer squash dish), cream and cilantro. Oh my. Too good. Dare I say, better than tacos.

Cozy food: beef short ribs

We had a spell of cool weather so last Sunday I made beef short ribs with red wine and prunes in the slow cooker, a recipe from The French Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone. Excellent! Although next time—and there will be a next time—I’ll add mushrooms. What an oversight!

Menu ideas and recipes for catfish, pasta, summer squash, short ribs, basil pesto and kohlrabi

Summer vegetable pesto and frittatas

I served the short ribs with mashed potatoes and veggie pesto (broccoli stems, zucchini, yellow squash, poblano, red bell, onion, tomatoes and corn).

The veggie pesto made a reappearance in a frittata topped with asiago cheese. Earlier in the week, I made a frittata with leftover cheesy black bean bake, beet greens and broccoli stems. Yeah, weird, but good.

New idea for kohlrabi

Kohlrabi has been a regular in my CSA share lately so I searched on Pinterest for something besides a sauté or salad. The Germans have lots of good-looking recipes. I found one in English for kohlrabi schnitzel, easy enough to prep. It was tasty on its own but I dipped a few leftover ones in a mayo/ketchup combo to satisfy a salt/fat craving.

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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Amazon affiliate links allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you!

Menu ideas and recipes for speckled trout, striped mullet, mahi mahi, rice, kale, summer squash and taco night

Menu ideas and recipes for speckled trout, striped mullet, mahi mahi, rice, kale, summer squash and taco night

Quick dinners with speckled trout and striped mullet

I’ve mentioned this recipe before: pan-seared fish fillets (this time, speckled trout) in a white wine, tomato and basil sauce. It doesn’t take much effort and the results are spectacular.

Another quickie fish idea for baked striped mullet fillets. Just top them with a bit of butter, salt and shichimi togarashi—a Japanese spice blend of orange peel, black, white and toasted sesame seeds, cayenne, ginger, Szechuan pepper and nori.

Rice and greens

This dish is so good: one-pot turmeric coconut rice with greens, kale in my case. We had it as a side with the striped mullet. But it was also fantastic for breakfast with a runny fried egg or two on top.

Menu ideas and recipes for speckled trout, striped mullet, mahi mahi, rice, kale, summer squash and taco night

Taco night

Sunday was fish (mahi mahi) taco night with homemade corn tortillas. The tortillas were easy to make—I used a Pyrex pie dish because I don’t have a tortilla press yet—but I have my eye on one. The tricky thing is having the right water to masa harina ratio. Like a pie dough, you have to judge it by feel. Mine probably could have used a tad bit more water because although they turned out well, they got stale after a day or so in the refrigerator.

I baked the mahi mahi fillets with a rub of ancho chile powder, chipotle powder, cumin, coriander, dried oregano and salt. Our taco toppings and sides were:

Quite a feast with enough leftovers for a second night.

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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Menu ideas and recipes for chervil, shrimp, mackerel, duck, basil, peas, rice and kale

Menu ideas and recipes for chervil, shrimp, mackerel, duck, basil, peas, rice and kale

A long awaited introduction to chervil—plus shrimp and mackerel ideas

When I opened my CSA bag last week, I found a bunch of herbs that looked like a cousin of parsley but had an anise-like aroma. What the deuce? I asked my farmer about them and she said, “Chervil. I knew you would appreciate it.” She’s right. For years, I’ve read about chervil but never saw it in any market. I made it the star of the show that night, sautéing some North Carolina shrimp with shallots and finishing them with lemon juice, butter and lots of chervil.

Some of the chervil remained for the next night’s mackerel. I lined the bottom of a baking dish with sliced shallots, fresh orange juice and lemon zest, put the fillets on top, seasoned them, then slid the dish in the oven. When the fish was done, I topped it with a mix of basil, chervil, parsley, orange zest and butter, and let it all melt together.

Menu ideas and recipes for chervil, shrimp, mackerel, duck, basil, peas, rice and kale

My first duck

On one of my trips to Mae Farm (the meat/dairy store) at the farmers market, I saw a whole duck from Dawnbreaker Farms in the case and decided to splurge. On Sunday, I watched a couple of videos then sort of followed this recipe for roast duck with potatoes, figs and rosemary—but used dried figs and added half an orange to the “stuffing.” The skin didn’t get quite as crackly as I wished but it was still darn good.

Fried brown rice and kale

I pulled out some of the cooked brown rice I stowed in the freezer and riffed off this fried brown rice with kale recipe. I didn’t want the recipe’s flavor profile in the dish so I substituted bacon, jalapeño and black pepper for the ginger, lime and turmeric. But the original version looks delicious, so I’ll return to it one of these days.

Menu ideas and recipes for chervil, shrimp, mackerel, duck, basil, peas, rice and kale

Pruning basil—a good excuse for pasta

My basil plants needed pruning so I made a big batch of whole wheat spaghetti with basil-pea pesto for lunch this week. Hopefully all the rain we’ve had won’t cause a mildew problem for the basil—they’re susceptible to that. In past years, I’ve lost all my basil plants midway through the season to mildew, so fingers crossed for many healthy harvests ahead.

Until next week, stay safe, stay well, take care.


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Menu ideas and recipes for striped bass, yellowfin tuna, tuna salad, meatloaf, blueberries, brown rice and black beans

Menu ideas and recipes for striped bass, yellowfin tuna, tuna salad, meatloaf, blueberries, brown rice and black beans

Striped bass and crunchy rice

Two words: crunchy rice. I’ve always heard people rave about the crunchy rice (tahdig) at the bottom of a pot of Persian rice and now I understand their obsession. I made this recipe for striped bass (instead of cod) with soy-caramelized onions and potatoes, but I used cooked white rice instead of the potatoes. Little did I know how good it would be. If the potatoes in the kitchen now are still hanging around later this week, I might make this again.

Menu ideas and recipes for striped bass, yellowfin tuna, tuna salad, meatloaf, blueberries, brown rice and black beans

Yellowfin tuna and tuna encore

The following night I was crunched for time and my original recipe plan wasn’t a great choice for yellowfin tuna. I looked at the condiment shelves in the frig and decided to sear the tuna, flip it and baste it with a mix of hoisin sauce and Kashmiri coconut hot sauce from Tattoo. Very tasty.

The next day, I chopped the leftover tuna (with sauce) and added chopped hard-boiled eggs, sweet onion, celery, pickled kale stems, cilantro, turmeric, black pepper and mayo for a crazy delicious tuna/egg salad.

Bulgogi meatloaf

This bulgogi meatloaf from Bon Appetit is the gift that keeps on giving. We had it for dinner twice and then I enjoyed a few meatloaf sandwiches for lunch. The gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) mayonnaise mixture I slathered all over my sandwiches took them to 11.

Menu ideas and recipes for striped bass, yellowfin tuna, tuna salad, meatloaf, blueberries, brown rice and black beans

Blueberry muffins

It’s blueberry season here in North Carolina. Jim and I both brought home a few pints so I made Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins. Jordan Marsh was a department store chain in Massachusetts that was famous for its big blueberry muffins—mine aren’t as big but they’re just as good.

Instant Pot staples

Peering into one of the top shelves of our kitchen cabinets, I spied some opened bags of brown rice and black beans that had been there a while. I pulled out my Instant Pot and cooked the brown rice first, and then the black beans. Since I didn’t have any immediate plans for the black beans, I froze them, but I used some of the brown rice—more on that next week—and froze the surplus.

Until next week, stay safe, stay well, take care.


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Menu ideas and recipes for shrimp, shrimp broth, kohlrabi, amberjack, ground pork, frozen peas and corn, and sweet potatoes

Quick shrimp dinner, plus a broth recipe

We’re starting to get North Carolina shrimp again in our seafood share. This simple yet excellent cumin-lime shrimp with ginger recipe doesn’t take long to make once you’ve shelled the shrimp. I added a little shrimp broth and butter to the sauce and served it over rice. It’s a keeper.

Whenever I get fresh local shrimp, I make a broth out of the shells, but this time the shrimp came with their heads, which takes the broth to a different level of goodness. My usual broth recipe is:

  • Shrimp shells/heads from 1# (or more) shrimp
  • 1/2 onion (chopped into large pieces)
  • 1/2 carrot (chopped into large pieces)
  • 1 celery stalk (chopped into large pieces)
  • 2 smooshed large garlic cloves
  • 8-12 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves

Put all the ingredients in a pot—I didn’t have celery this time. Add water to at least 2” above shrimp—I fill it almost up to the top but allow at least an inch or two for foaming up. Bring the water to a boil then turn it down and simmer for at least 15 minutes, taste to see if it needs salt. I usually let it go longer than 15 minutes. Strain through a sieve and let cool.

Fill up an ice cube tray and/or measure out 1- to 3-cup portions in freezer bags so you have whatever quantity I need.

Kohlrabi salad plus Menu ideas and recipes for shrimp, shrimp broth, amberjack, ground pork, frozen peas and corn, and sweet potatoes

What to do with the kohlrabi in your CSA share

It’s also the season for kohlrabi. I waited until I had enough to make kohlrabi salad with cilantro and lime. I didn’t have to supplement the kohlrabi with other veggies like the recipe suggested, although I did add a whole jalapeño (chopped). I’m eating the leftovers right now doused with some sriracha, it’s hitting the spot. Next time, I’ll add carrot for color.

I’ve used kohlrabi in sautés too:

Save the kohlrabi greens. Since they’re pretty hardy, I store them until I have other greens and then make a sauté out of all of them.

Amberjack with shichimi togarashi

I’m playing with shichimi togarashi spice blend these days—a mix of orange peel, black and white toasted sesame seeds, cayenne, ginger, Szechuan pepper and nori. It worked well on pan-fried amberjack fillets.

Refreshing Thai-style ground pork dish plus a peas and corn idea

I love this dish: herby pork larb with chile. My herb mix was cilantro, mint and basil. Once my Thai basil plants are big enough, I’ll use that instead of regular basil. I also subbed peanuts instead of jasmine rice powder, and habanero instead of bird’s eye chile.

The larb went really well with frozen peas and corn sautéed with garlic, curry powder and Aleppo pepper—a combo I will make again.

Sweet potato bread plus menu ideas and recipes for shrimp, shrimp broth, kohlrabi, amberjack, ground pork, and frozen peas and corn

Sweet potato bread

I wasn’t planning to bake anything last weekend but I a leftover baked sweet potato so decided to make cinnamon and spice sweet potato bread even though I only had about 1 cup of sweet potato, not 1-1/2 cups like the recipe instructed. It’s a good recipe, although I did cut back the sugar to 1 cup. Next time, I’ll add pecans.

Until next week, stay safe, stay well, take care.


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General Tso's bluefin tuna salad plus Menu ideas and recipes for soft shell crabs, pasta carbonara, tilefish, blackfin tuna, greens, strawberries, asparagus and gnocchi

Menu ideas and recipes for soft shell crabs, pasta carbonara, tilefish, blackfin tuna, tuna salad, greens, strawberries, asparagus and gnocchi

Softie season

The highlight of the week (in the non-pasta department) was soft shell crabs. I love when these exquisite creatures show up in my fish share. I cook them simply: dredge in flour, pan-fry in butter, then douse with lemon juice. I bought a dozen Pirate Pearls oysters when I was at the fish market and had a few beforehand, saving the rest for an afternoon delight on Saturday afternoon. I know what you’re thinking.

Smoked gouda carbonara plus menu ideas and recipes for soft shell crabs, tilefish, blackfin tuna, tuna salad, greens, strawberries, asparagus and gnocchi

Carbonara excess

The other highlight of the week was smoked gouda carbonara. Yes, you read that right. Travesty? Not in this house, although now I have a hankering for traditional carbonara. Oh my, this dish was really good. The onion and parsley I added made it even better. Pasta has always been and will always be my happy place.

More North Carolina fish

Another night we had pan-seared blueline tilefish in a white wine tomato basil sauce—a timely choice because my young basil plants needed pruning. I’ve relied on this recipe for years—it goes well with all kinds of fish. For the side, I roasted bite-sized pieces of potatoes and tossed them with sage pesto—a great combo.

I was planning to have the carbonara a second night but we ate too much on Sunday, and I thought the leftovers would make a better lunch, i.e., I didn’t want to share. So, plan B: pull some blackfin tuna from the freezer—and do what?

We’ve had a bottle of General Tso sauce in the cupboard since god only knows when—Jim bought it a long time ago—so I decided to give it a try. I seared chunks of tuna, then removed them from the pan. Sautéed red onion, poblano pepper, garlic and ginger, put the tuna back in with the gooey dark sauce (sugar and corn syrup were high on the ingredient list, ugh, but it served my purposes) along with a few generous spoons of sambal oelek (chile sauce) to balance out the sweetness. The results were pretty darn tasty.

But it got even better… The next day, I chopped up the tuna in the leftover sauce to make tuna salad. I added sliced green cabbage and green onions, diced carrot, a big handful of chopped cilantro and some mayo. Wow. I’ve been having it in pita halves. I will be so sad when it is gone.

General Tso's bluefin tuna salad plus Menu ideas and recipes for soft shell crabs, pasta carbonara, tilefish, blackfin tuna, greens, strawberries, asparagus and gnocchi

Spring gnocchi

I had high hopes for this sheet pan gnocchi with asparagus, leeks and peas recipe, but I messed up. I followed the advice in the comments and didn’t cook my shelf-stable gnocchi (I was lazy). If I had boiled it first, it probably would have been soft inside and crunchy outside instead of chewy.

Otherwise, we liked the dish, although I used red onion instead of leeks, skipped the shallots, and added only dill pesto (which has parmesan in it) and lemon zest. Got to do what you got to do.

Greens of the week

I sautéed bacon, spring onions, carrots and garlic in a mix of grapeseed and walnut oil with cumin, coriander and red pepper flakes. Added some sliced dates and almonds, then kale, radish, turnip and kohlrabi greens. Very nice. After two nights, the rest went into a frittata with chopped broccoli stems and gruyère cheese.

Strawberries round 2

Strawberry season is on full blast right now so I bought another bucket—and then thought, what the heck am I going to do with all these strawberries? I know, make strawberry margaritas for happy hour on Saturday. Although a strange accompaniment to my oysters on the half shell, they were quite tasty.

Here’s the recipe I came up with:

  • Purée 1# strawberries in a blender.
  • Add 1/2 cup lime juice, 1 cup tequila, 1/4 cup triple sec and 1/3 cup agave syrup and blend again.
  • Pour over ice into pint glasses.

Sunday morning, I baked these fantastic strawberry scones to have with our breakfast frittata and leftover roasted potatoes. I didn’t make the glaze for the scones, they were just fine without it. And the rest of the strawberries? I froze them.

Until next week, stay safe, stay well, take care.


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