I had the honor of traveling to Minnesota to go fishing with my father, 3 older brothers, and close friends. It is quite a trek considering that Lake Saganaga borders Canada. The trip provided many highlights and some well deserved down time with friends and family. We had 2 guides and 3 boats that took us The 3rd and final day of fishing I spent on a canoe. Although it was more work, and you end up with a sore back, I think that this is a true way catching these amazing creatures swimming in our beautiful boundary waters.
I brought back some walleye and created a healthy and delicious salad to compliment the fish. This salad can be made with any flaky white fish (assuming that you don’t have access to fresh lake walleye :)
It’s pretty unbelievable how fast a year can go by, and that’s what we’re celebrating. It was 1 year ago on September 3, 2009 that the Foodies officially launched the Four Foodies. We’ve eaten very well over the past 12 months, and it’s been a pleasure sharing and trying some new recipes, flavors, and memories with you. Our favorite thing about the blog has been hearing from you. Your feedback and comments are what keep us going, and we try our best to reply to your questions & comments.
Another thing that we’d like to say- we sincerely apologize for having been negligent over the past month. It’s been a very busy summer between seeing friends and family, and needless to say we’ve dropped the spatula. I’ve been fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and training for the Women’s Nike ½ Marathon in San Francisco. Ben has recently moved into a new studio space that will put us in close proximity to our favorite farmer’s market, so we’ll have inspiration of the local farmers to keep us cranking out new posts. We also went on a long overdue and well deserved trip to Europe. Our souvenirs that we brought back were the few pounds that we gained while dining on the anything and everything that sounded good, looked good, and smelled good. Rest assured we’ll be serving up a new recipe inspired by the Dutch, and no, there’s nothing freaky deaky about it.
So, to mark our anniversary, we are repeating the dinner that we had the night we kicked off the Four Foodies. My first go at this dish was a few years ago. Ben was skeptical- with good reason. It was another one of those odd cravings- “I want it, yet I’ve never had it.” We’ve served it many times since marking other special occasions- the first 2008 Presidential debates, my older brother Scott’s visit to KC, my sister & husband’s visit this past March when she gave me the big news that they were preggers, and of course the launch and now anniversary of the Four Foodies. It’s fun. It’s festivus. It’s Jambalaya
It’s been two years since our last visit out to California to visit my sister Kari & her husband Matt- two years too long. We have somewhat of a tradition- they find us at baggage claim at LAX; we squeal with delight and hug; get in the car; find a suitable driving jam; and then we head to Duke’s in Malibu right on the water and just off the Pacific Coast Highway for a toast to togetherness and a bite to eat. I’d always stuck to the Crispy Coconut Shrimp. I know not super adventurous, but that’s the only place where I’d ever ordered it. Ben on the other hand, would indulge in the grilled Baja Fish Tacos served with flour tortillas, tomatillo white sauce, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo- he loved it. For whatever reason, I could never wrap my mind around the whole fish taco concept. Yes, I love fish. Yes, I love tacos. I guess in my mind the whole idea of it was kind of like- “I love ice cream sandwiches and steak….so why not?”
I guess that it was about a year ago when I had that strange craving for something that I’d never tried before- just like the Shepherd’s Pie- I wanted fish tacos. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we’d skipped our regular trip to California, and I wanted that feeling of sitting on the deck with the sounds and smell of the ocean while sipping on a festive libation with my husband and the Couple Monster. Whatever it was, I had to have them, and being landlocked in the Midwest, I wasn’t about to go find a restaurant that served them- for all I know I would’ve walked into a place serving Van De Kamp’s fish sticks wrapped in a hard shell with wilting shredded lettuce and a packet of Taco Bell sauce. I had to make them the way that I thought they should taste, even though I didn’t know what that taste was.
How did I do? Pretty good, considering they tasted exactly like what I thought they should- light, clean, flavorful and fresh. Since that first attempt, I’ve have managed to give a few friends their first fish taco experience in the comforts of our own home. No Pacific Ocean crashing in the background or seagulls nose diving for their own meal, but it did the trick and took care of the craving.
Number 8 on the list of essential tools. The Peltex spatula is a sturdy, yet flexible tool that can make flipping delicate items much easier. This item went through some heavy debate before making the cut- at a glance it just looks like a slotted spatula, but sealed the deal was a safety issue. One of the most painful burns I have received is from flipping fish and getting hot oil splattering up from the pan. And not only that, it is disheartening when you spend the money on a beautiful piece of fish and it breaks apart in the pan. The Peltex has a flat metal edge that does a great job deglazing, and the surface area makes making a birds nest a breeze.
We decided to create a pecan encrusted tilapia to illustrate the functionality of the Peltex. This is a great way to incorporate fish into your diet. The crust is what makes the dish special. A key ingredient that will help this dish is Panko bread crumbs. Mix the crumbs with the chopped pecans, and you will attain the crunch factor. We also recommend using a cast iron pan. Once again, the thick surface will aid to create a thick, rich, crust.
What do you make when you are having a winter that won’t quit? Here in the midwest we have having a losing battle with old man winter. Just when you think the weather is going to let up, a new storm comes along and traps you inside for a week straight. We are trying to make meals that will help with cabin fever. Risotto is a process, and with patience and a few staples from the kitchen, you can make a wonderful, creamy meal.
One of the advantages of learning the risotto cooking process is that you can use the rice as a foundation to mix and add your favorite flavors. We stayed traditional this round and made a classic sweet pea risotto.
So our good friends, Chris & Adam opened their mid-century modern home to us to do a little cooking for them, their friends and our new friends Scott & Travis, and ourselves. I have to give a little back story- Mark and Jane actually considered buying Chris & Adam’s house before they bought it, so needless to say it was a fun experience cooking in what could’ve been their kitchen. Walking in you can’t help but notice impeccable décor, the chairs that Mark wanted to walk out with, the 1000 cubic foot refrigerator-freezer set up, and the 5 burner gas cook top that is every foodies’ dream. Adam & Chris’s home is a place designed for entertaining, and it was the perfect venue to share one of our favorite appetizers with friends of new and old.
The Four Foodies are landlocked- over 1,200+ miles to the nearest coast going east or west. So, it was an amazing gift that was given to us by our neighbors, Sarah, Bill & Townes, just passed through our fence- filets of halibut. Not just any halibut- this halibut was the product of a fishing trip that Sarah’s father, Dan Darling, had made on a two week trip to Alaska late in late June- early July with his brother-in-law and two other gents. Mrs. Pam Darling provided me with some of the details of the trip that make this dish so special. Dan and his 3 comrades planned this dream trip (I say dream, b/c I dream of doing this with the Foodies) to go fishing in Alaska. From my understanding, this was a serious fishing trip with true professionals that knew the sweet spots to get the goods. Each day the men would venture out on the Pacific Ocean on a fully equipped boat for a two-hour trip (one way) before dropping their lines. Over the course of three days, these four men caught a total of four hundred pounds of fish including lingcod (a gnarly looking fish by the way), rockfish (equally fugly but I’m sure tasty), and the coveted halibut. When they made their way back to land, a crew would be waiting to immediately process the fish which involves cleaning, filleting, flash freezing, weighing and packaging the catch to be shipped back to the lower 48. And so, a generous small portion of halibut was passed to the Foodies. We did our best to prepare it in a way that would maintain its integrity skipping the battering, deep fat frying, hush puppy, crunchity extravaganza, and it went like this.