Baked Cod With Spicy Tomato Sauce

We are kinda blessed with two very good fishmonger options. One, a local place down the street is my go-t0 for salmon, in-house smoked salmon, and, their lobster salad?

Yum!

My other option is a national chain, but we are totally in love with their scallops (on sale) and, now, their fresh, wild-caught cod fillets (also usually on sale, but, at around $14/pound, I cannot really complain about the price too much).

The thing is, with the scallops and with the cod, I use a little trick I picked up somewhere back in the day when I was living just outside Boston…

I cover the scallops (or cod) with fresh whole milk, and stash them in the fridge for an hour or three. The milk seems too take away any “fishy” smell from already pretty nice bits of seafood, and, I think it gives the finished dish a sweeter, fresher flavor.

The original recipe, from the very nice folk at bigoven.com, called for using thawed, frozen cod filets – and here, I would think that a good milk soak would be an even bigger help to a fresher tasting, finer plate o’ food. But. You do what you want.

INGREDIENTS
Fish:
•Cod fillets
•Milk
Seasoned Salt
•Black pepper
Aleppo pepper
•Lemon juice
•Olive oil

Sauce:
•1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove garlic crushed
•1 tsp red pepper flakes
•5 tbsp parsley chopped
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•28 oz crushed tomatoes
•1/2 tsp sugar
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 tsp dried oregano
•1 tbsp sherry vinegar

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Cover the cod filets in milk (I use whole milk), then stash in the fridge for a couple of hours.

While the cod is soaking up all the milk goodness, start your sauce by melting the unsalted butter with the garlic in a small pan over medium heat.

Cook for three minutes, then add the red pepper flakes and the parsley and cook for another minute or so.

Stir in the Sherry Peppers Sauce, tomatoes, sugar, and the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer for another five minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and keep the sauce warm.

Heat your oven to 350º, line a baking pan with parchment paper, and brush the parchment paper with olive oil.

Remove the cod from the milk (discard the milk), and season both sides with the seasoned salt, black and Aleppo peppers, and a drizzle of lemon juice.

Place the cod on the parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes, or until the cod is opaque and flakes easily.

To serve, spoon some of the warm tomato sauce on a plate and top with a piece of cod.

Spoon a bit more sauce on top, and serve.

This dish is good enough to justify a full, fancy feast with friends and all the fixin’s thing, but we kinda keep it as a not-so-guilty pleasure for just the two of us and serve it with a salad on the side.

Sooo good!

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Swiss Turkey Casserole

It’s a snowy day bonus recipe!

This tasty casserole recipe, from my Aunt Buzz, originally called for cubed cooked chicken; but I went and in her words “gorped it up” by grabbing some leftover Popeye’s Cajun Turkey from the freezer, and then adding some spices and seasonings that, if my beloved aunt were not already dead, would no doubt kill her.

But then, I have a blog and she didn’t, so this is how it’s gonna be.

By the way, this is still very good with cubed cooked chicken (think rotisserie, from the market), so don’t wait for feast day leftovers to make a batch.

INGREDIENTS
•4 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken
•1 cup diced celery
•1 cup diced onion
•2 cups bread cubes (I used bagged stuffing)
•1 cup mayonnaise
•1/2 cup milk
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce -or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 tsp parsley
•8 oz. Swiss cheese – cut in thin strips

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Heat your oven too 350º and brush a 2-1/2 quart casserole with olive oil.

In a large bowl,  whisk together the mayonnaise, milk, Sherry Peppers Sauce, hot sauce, black and Aleppo pepper, and the parsley until nicely blended.

Note: because I used pre-seasoned (Cajun style) turkey and seasoned stuffing mix, I did not add any additional salt to this recipe.

Stir in the bread cubes and set aside to rest for ten minutes or so to allow the bread to soak up some of the mayonnaise and milk mixture.

Add the celery, onion, turkey, and cheese and toss to mix together well.

Transfer to the oiled casserole, cover with foil, and bake in the hot oven for 35 minutes or so.

Remove the foil and return to the oven for another ten minutes, then remove the casserole from the oven and allow to rest for ten minutes before serving.

Aunt Buzz would serve this with a salad, some rolls, and perhaps a side of Polka or “Beautiful” music from WHOM – “We’re High on Mount Washington!”

We kept ours simple with garlic rolls and bit of ranch dressing on the side, but you go ahead and do what you want.

As it happened, Rich wanted seconds, so…

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Garlic Butter Crescents

?!???

Yeh, I know. This does NOT look like “crescent” rolls, but…

They are; and I am almost embarrassed to tell you how often I have made them in the past week or so.

TWICE, for the record, and not more often because I only had two tubes of crescent roll dough in the fridge, and was getting over a cold and not up to going out for more.

See. The thing is. I picked up some crescent roll dough to make baked stuffed Brie for our post-holidaze gatherings; but, then I got that cold, and was trying to keep things simple, but still nice for folk, so, I skipped the Brie and then had a couple of tubes of dough hangin’ around the spare fridge.

Baked Brie for just the two of us was a non-starter, and, since our first post-holidaze gathering sent me straight back to bed for a day or two, we opted to postpone the second.

What to do?

Enter the very nice folk at Pillsbury with this kinda marvelous suggestion:

Slice the dough, brush it with garlic and herb butter, sprinkle with cheese, then bake and serve with ranch (!) dressing.

I know, ranch?, but, trust me, this is a match made in heaven!

INGREDIENTS
•1 tube crescent roll dough
•2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
•1 tsp Italian seasoning
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
•Grated Parmesan cheese

First things first, heat your oven to 375º and line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Open the crescent roll tube and, keeping the dough whole, slice into 12 discs and arrange on the baking pan.

Stir the Italian seasoning and garlic powder into the melted butter and brush over the top and sides of each sliced piece of dough.

Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and pop into the hot oven for about 12 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown.

Serve warm with ranch dressing, or, if you must, marinara; but, again, the ranch dressing is kinda magical here.

Recovering from a cold as I was, the first batch was made to go with some homemade chicken and veggie and ramen soup.

Tasty!

The second batch, when I was feeling a touch better, was with spaghetti and meatballs.

Both times, I have to say, the ranch dressing for the win!

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Dark Chocolate Bourbon Balls

These tasty treats were (mostly) met with approval earlier this week.

The Bulgarian in our midst went a little, teeny bit bonkers over them – proclaiming them to really be a truffle; and a mighty fine one at that. Our hostess thought that they could use more bourbon; an opinion I can wholeheartedly support.

And my husband thought they were good, but a bit too rich – so mebbe I will swap out half and half for the heavy cream next time.

Still and all, these are wicked simple to toss together, and, did I mention?

They are GLUTEN-FREE!

INGREDIENTS
•10 oz bag 60% Cacao chocolate chips
•1/2 cup heavy cream – or half and half
•1/4 cup bourbon – I’m gonna say to bump this up to 1/2 cup
•Chopped pecans

Stir the cream and bourbon together in a small pan over medium heat until they are simmering.

Pour the cream and bourbon mixture over the chocolate chips in a bowl.

Allow to rest for one minutes, then stir until nicely blended and smooth.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stash in the fridge for two hours.

When ready to make the balls, line a pan with parchment paper and spread the pecan pieces onto a platter.

Using a teaspoon – or – I used a one inch scoop – scoop and shape your chocolate into balls and place on the platter with the chopped pecans.

Roll the balls in the pecans and transfer to the parchment paper lined pan.

Stash in the fridge for another hour or so to firm them up, then transfer to a covered container and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

I got 26 pretty nice bourbon balls, more than enough for the six of us gathered for a holidaze lunch; but, really, these come together so quickly and easily, it would not be a hardship to double or even triple the batch for a larger group; though, for ease of preparation, I would probably keep it to single batches, and then repeat the process until I had all the gluten-free bourbon balls I could possibly want.

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My Take on Nashville Hot Wings

Right from the start; allow me to state that this is not an “authentic” or even really all that “faithful” take on the whole “Nashville Hot” chicken thing – so spare me the indignant emails with comments about how this is not at all like the chicken you have/had/want/wanted in Nashville.

It is, however, wicked tasty; and, if you use the right flour, it is even gluten-frikkin’-free; so, if you want the “real” thing, by all means go to Nashville. Otherwise, sit down, shut up, and try these wings.

You’ll be glad you did.

INGREDIENTS
Wing Seasoning:
•Chicken wings or drumettes
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp curry powder
•1/2 tsp paprika
•1/2 tsp dried parsley
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
•1/2 tsp onion powder
•1 tbsp flour (gluten-free flour works a treat)
•1 tbsp veggie oil

Nashville Hot Sauce:
•1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp Mike’s Hot Honey (or regular honey)
•1 tbsp brown sugar (I used smoked brown sugar)
•1 tbsp rice vinegar
•2 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tsp Cayenne pepper
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Important Note: if you are making these wings for a crowd – number one, they will be very happy. Number two, for each tray of ten to twelve chicken wings, stir together a separate batch of the wing seasoning blend, and double or triple the sauce, again depending on how many wings you are making.

Heat oven to 400º, line a rimmed baking pan with foil, then place a rack in the baking pan.

Apply cooking spray to the rack.

Add all of the wing seasonings, except for the oil, to a gallon sized zippy bag and toss to blend.

Add 10 to 12 wings, close the bag, and toss to coat well.

Open the bag, pour in the oil, then close and toss to coat again. Arrange the wings on the rack in the pan.

Repeat this process with every tray of 10 to 12 chicken wings you are preparing. At some point, depending on how many wings you are making, you may need to use a fresh zipper bag.

Pop the wings into the hot oven and bake for 45 minutes.

While the wings are baking, make your sauce by stirring all of the ingredients into the melted butter.

Once the wings are ready, remove from the oven, transfer to a large bowl, and toss with the sauce.

Rearrange the now nicely sauced wings back on the rack in the baking pan and return to the oven for another ten minutes.

Serve with ranch dressing and raw veggies.

These are now officially our favorite wings.

Authentically “Nashville” or not.

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Holidaze Bonus! Blushing Mimosas

If there is one thing holidaze gatherings call for, it is cocktails!

One very nice thing about this particular cocktail, however, is that we discovered, quite by accident, as it happened, that it is pretty much as nice without the sparkling wine as it is with – though our unplanned and unwitting test subject at the time was not happy when she learned that she had had two glasses of juice! See, I like to mix everything but the sparkling wine together in a pitcher, and add that at the end.

Oh well, Mira caught up, and we all agreed that, with or without the sparkling stuff; this is a lovely party drink.

Note: I used this grapefruit Prosecco we find at Trader Joe’s, and we all loved it. Go ahead and use your fave sparkling wine or rose – it should all work well.

INGREDIENTS
•2 cups orange juice
•1 cup pineapple juice
•2 tbsp grenadine
•1 bottle Champagne or other sparkling wine, chilled (ginger ale would work, too)

Note: thanks to the nice folk at Southern Living for publishing the original recipe.

To make, stir the juices together with the grenadine in a large pitcher, then chill.

Pour into your glass of choice, top with sparkling wine, swirl a bit to blend, and serve.

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Parfait! Sherry Peppers Sauce

And so, again I find myself, for the fourth time since last December, making a batch of Sherry Peppers Sauce, which, I totally do add to every single savory dish I make.

A good friend adds a splash of good vinegar to most every sauce, soup, and stew that she makes, maintaining that it helps to balance out all of the flavors.

And it does, I now do that as well, but, I am firmly of the belief that Sherry Peppers Sauce at the beginning starts the whole

thing off properly.

The recipe – which I based off of a sauce featured in a cookbook from Bermuda that I picked up at an antique store – is notable for the fact that all of the ingredients are easily available from most markets…

the most notable possible issue being the deli-sliced hot cherry peppers. I have two rather well-stocked supermarkets that carry this brand – from California – but if you have a decent Italian deli/food shop in the neighborhood, they (or Amazon) should also be able to set you up.

Now, you might think that the tamarind nectar would be a touch exotic, as my Indiana mom-in-law sometimes (lovingly) refers to my foodstuffs – but in fact, if you check the Hispanic section of your supermarket, you will more than likely find it, and usually at a pretty decent price.

All the hard stuff taken care of, let’s make us some Sherry Peppers!

Note: this recipe does involve canning – processing jars of comestibles in boiling water until sealed and shelf stable. Do not freak, it is really pretty simple and basic.

INGREDIENTS
•32 oz sliced hot cherry peppers, drained
•1/2 cup juice from the peppers
•2 (11.3 oz) cans tamarind nectar
•2 jalapeños, quartered and sliced
•3 cups water
•2 cups white vinegar
•3-3/4 cups sugar
•4 tsp pickling salt
•1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
•2 tbsp hot sauce
•1-1/4 cup sherry
•1 (3 oz) pouch liquid pectin or 6 tbsp powdered pectin

A note on the pectin: add powdered pectin in the beginning, before boiling; add liquid after boiling.

Drain the cherry peppers, reserving 1/2 cup of the juice from the jars, and add to a large, nonreactive pot.

Wearing protective gloves, slice the jalapeños and add to the pot with the cherry peppers and the 1/2 cup liquid for the cherry pepper jars.

Add the remaining ingredients (unless you are using liquid pectin) and bring to a boil, stirring often, for three minutes.

If you are using liquid pectin, stir it in now.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

And here, folk, for the second time just this week – a prime reason to have an immersion blender in one of your kitchen drawers…

with the sauce simmering, run the immersion blender through it, nicely chopping the peppers into small bits with minimal muss and fuss – the blade part of the blender is dishwasher safe.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the sauce in batches to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth-ish (a few pepper strips are not a bad thing) and then return to the pot.

Once the sauce is blended to your preference, ladle into prepared canning jars, I normally use half-pint jars for this recipe, apply lids and bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Note: you can sterilize canning jars in the dishwasher, if it has a “sanitize” setting, or by arranging the clean jars on a rack in a hot 225º oven for 20 minutes. Lids can be boiled for ten minutes, or placed in a single layer in the 225º oven along with the jars.

Remove the jars from the boiling water and let rest on a rack.

You should hear a “pop” from each jar – that is the lid sealing itself. Check this by pressing lightly down in the center of each lid. If it is down – or presses and then stays down – your jar is sealed. If it does not stay down, try re-processing in the boiling water; that will usually do the trick.

If it doesn’t, your biggest issue will be that, once the jar that didn’t seal has cooled, it will need to be stored in the fridge.

All of the sealed jars are shelf-stable until opened, and then should be stored in the fridge until needed.

Which, if you’re like me, will be a lot.

 

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Pear and Ginger Preserves

A recipe for gingered pear preserves came across my email last week and it looked…

tempting, but…

The recipe did not call for processing, and so could only be held in the fridge for about one month, so, I went looking, and…

found several similar recipes which did list canning instructions, only made about two pints of preserves, and I am not gonna drag out for big pot for two measly pints!

So…

I considered a bunch of different recipes, tossed a few things around in my head, and came up with this recipe. Quite nice, actually, a bit spicier than most I came across because I added allspice to mine; and, I ended up with three-and-a-half pints of  nicely ginger-y pear preserves.

INGREDIENTS
•4 lb D’Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and sliced – about 8 cups after coring and slicing
•2-2/3 cup sugar
•2/3 cup brown sugar
•1 tbsp smoked brown sugar (optional)*
•1 tbsp ground allspice
•Zest of one lemon
•1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
•2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
•Lemon juice (for keeping the pears from turning brown)

*Available at Amazon or at some really well equipped gourmet shops.

Note: I planned on using my immersion blender to chop the pears after they had cooked until tender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, or do not want to bother with it, just chop your peeled and cored pears instead of just slicing them.

As you are slicing and/or chopping your pears, toss them in a large bowl with some lemon juice to keep them from turning brown while prepping the rest of the pears, I tossed every two pears or so with lemon juice, then repeated every time I added another couple of pears.

Once the pears have been sliced and/or chopped, transfer them to a large pot and add the sugar, brown sugar, smoked brown sugar (if using), the allspice, lemon zest, crystallized ginger, and minced ginger.

Stir together and bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring every couple of minutes.

Note: I use my g0-to favorite non-stick pan for this – and, really, for most any – recipe. If your pan is not non-stick (or not very non-stick), you will want to keep and eye on it and might need to stir a bit more often.

Simmer, stirring often, until the sugars are melted and the pears are tender, 30 to 50 minutes, depending on whether you sliced or chopped your pears.

This is where the immersion blender comes in so very handy – use it to finely chop the pears in the pan until you have a more or less uniform liquid. If you do not have an immersion blender, but want your preserves to be a bit less chunky, you might could try a potato masher; or, transfer the preserves in batches to a blender and pulse unttil you have reached your desired consistency.

Really. Just spend the $30 or so and buy one an immersion blender already – I use mine for everything from jams and jellies to sauces and salad dressings.

Some chunks are fine – this is home made, after all, not some big batch jelly from the market.

Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes more, until the mixture has thickened a bit; then transfer to prepared canning jars and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.

Set aside to cool for 24 hours before enjoying on, well, yeh, toast and muffins and waffles and such, sure

but…

just imagine how very fine these preserves would be spread over brie, then baked.

With or without the pastry wrapping, this is gonna be a part of my remaining holidaze offerings to friends and family.

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Asian Style Noodle Soup

I stole – ermmm, borrowed – the basic idea for this soup from the very nice folk at delish.com, but needed to make a few changes based on my pantry and the current leftovers in the fridge.

See, I only had one can of coconut milk, and then there was the leftover ranch marinated barbecued pork (details to come); and the fact that I was without a car for a couple of days, and so I was gonna be using whatever I had on hand. All in all, it worked out really well, and we both agreed it is a fine soup.

INGREDIENTS
•1 tbsp avocado oil
•2 cubes Sofrito
•2 cloves minced garlic
•1 tbsp curry powder
•1/2 tsp dried lemon grass
•1/2 tsp Cayenne
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
•4 cups unsalted chicken broth
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1/2 cup Sweety Drop peppers, drained
•1 tbsp chopped parsley
•1 tbsp chopped basil
•2 cups chopped cooked pork
•2 packages ramen noodles, sauce packet discarded
•1 tbsp lime juice

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: this soup was, for us, nicely zippy. If you would like a milder version, try cutting back on the curry and Cayenne; and perhaps add a second can of coconut milk, as the original recipe called for, but I did not have. Mebbe think about adding that second can of coconut milk anyway, this could’ve used a bit more broth.

Warm the avocado oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the sofrito cubes and cook for six to ten minutes.

Note: no sofrito? Use two minced onions, two chopped red bell peppers, and one large carrot, diced.

Add the Sherry Peppers Sauce and garlic, then cook for about one minute more, just until you can begin to smell it.

Add one cup of the chicken stock, the curry powder, dried lemon grass, Cayenne and Aleppo pepper, and the Seasoned Salt and stir until the well blended.

Add the coconut milk and remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer for about five minutes, then stir in the Sweety Drop peppers, parsley, and basil.

Add the pork and return to a simmer until the pork is heated through.

Once the pork is warmed and the soup is nicely simmering; add the ramen noodles, cover the pot, and remove from the heat.

Set aside to rest for about five minutes, until the noodles are soft.

Add the lime juice and stir to break up and distribute the noodles throughout the soup.

Nice!

Serve it with sliced limes and, heck, even peanuts, if you like.

Note: you like the idea of this soup, but gluten is an issue? Try it with rice noodles instead.

Another Note: No leftover barbecued pork? The original recipe called for using pieces of rotisserie chicken.

So… go ahead and make a batch of this most excellent soup! I plan on making it, a lot, this winter, and mebbe even into the spring, summer, and beyond!

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Honey Butter

Feasts were planned.

Folk were coming.

And I had some plans of my own.

Friends were kind enough to bring their signature home made rolls for the Thursday feast; and I had made gluten-free green chile corn bread for earlier feasts and snacking.

I thought the feasts, and the friends and family, deserved more than just… butter.

Clearly, Honey Butter was called for!

INGREDIENTS
•1/2 lb unsalted butter
•2 tbsp honey*
•1/4 tsp cinnamon
•1/2 tsp vanilla
•1/8 tsp salt
•1/8 tsp black pepper

*Go ahead and use Hot Honey if you like; or split the difference and use one tablespoon each of regular and hot honey.

Soften the butter in a mixing bowl, then add the honey, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and pepper.

Beat together with a hand mixer until nicely blended and a little bit fluffy.

Transfer to a stoarge jar, cover, and stahs in the fridge until needed.

Note: it helps to take the honey butter out of the fridge about an hour before you plan on using it.

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