Cousin Jeff’s Bermudian Lobster Risotto

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Cousin Jeff’s backyard view.

So, a few months ago my cousin Jeff moved to Bermuda. I know, right? He keeps posting all these ridiculous photographs on Facebook (see above), and talking about all the delicious, fresh seafood. Apparently, Bermuda also has avocados the size of eggplants.

Since I’ve been on a bit of hiatus here since starting grad school, I asked Jeff if I could post his lobster with pesto and risotto recipe. The lobsters show below were from his local fish truck, and went straight home and into the pot. The result sounds amazing. Test it yourself, and tell me what you think in the comments! I’ll pass them on to the cook, if he’s not too busy soaking up the Caribbean sun and being a gourmand.

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The very same lobster. Well, one of ’em.

Here are Cousin Jeff’s instructions:

Take a whole lobster (mine was a spiny, so I broke it down out of the shell and cut it into cubes), poach it in olive oil and Irish salted butter. [Here’s an overview of how to boil a lobster, if you’re not experienced.] I used the whole shell for the lobster stock, boiling it for about 2 hours with the lobster water and additional water. Meanwhile, Dice a small onion (tangerine size), 3 cloves of garlic (minced), 3 cups of finely chopped kale. Sweat these vegetables in about a table spoon of olive oil. Mix in about a cup of white wine (I drank the rest of the bottle), then added 2 cups of risotto and covered it with the stock. Cooked it down 3 times, adding more water each time, along with some cayenne and grated parmesan to taste. Finally, whip up a fresh basil pesto with chopped onions, olive oil, and garlic butter. Put the pesto into a baggie and chill it, then cut the corner and use it as a pastry bag to garnish.

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Cousin Jeff’s Bermudian Lobster Risotto

Images courtesy Cousin Jeff.

Pan-Fried Salmon and Sage Spaghetti

Pan-Fried Salmon and Sage Spaghetti

This one’s a bit late, but here’s another way to sneak in that weekly fish serving. As always, the beautiful, fresh Atlantic salmon you see above is from Wheatsville Co-op. Fresh sage courtesy the amazing gardener Eric.

I used to make something similar to this in the UK, but it took the form of a casserole and involved a lot more cheese. This is a lighter, tastier version that’s still perfect for cool, late autumn nights (or indeed, weekend brunch—it’s also great with a fried egg, over-easy!). And, of course, my secret ingredient is horseradish.

1/2 lb spaghetti or linguine
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp butter, halved
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb fresh salmon, filleted and de-boned
~1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves
1 tsp horseradish sauce
1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese
extra salt and pepper, to taste

1. Bring about four cups salted water to a boil over high heat. Add spaghetti and cook for about eight minutes, or until al dente, stirring occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, is a large skillet (I suggest cast iron), melt 2 Tbsp butter and olive oil over medium high heat.

Butter

Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about two minutes. Add the salmon to the pan, flesh-side down (if skin is present).

Salmon

Fry for about three minutes, until the underside is somewhat browned, and flip over. Don’t worry if the salmon starts to fall apart.

Pan-fried salmon

Cook on the other side for about three minutes, then flip again. Now the skin will probably slide easily off or crumple; discard (or give to your cat as a snack!). Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until salmon is cooked through. Use your spatula (non-metal if using a cast iron skillet) to further break up the salmon into bite-sized chunks.

Salmon frying

Salmon frying

3. As salmon cooks, drain pasta and return to the pot. Add remainder of butter and stir thoroughly to prevent sticking.

Salmon and spaghetti

Stir in salt, pepper, horseradish sauce, and cheese. Cover and set aside.

Spaghetti

4. Using your spatula, create a small, empty area in your pan. Add sage leaves to the buttery salmon juices and fry for about one minute, until just crispy but not blackened.

Salmon and sage

Salmon and sage

Stir sage and salmon; scrape contents into pasta pot and stir thoroughly.

Salmonn and spaghetti

5. Spoon out into pasta bowls, adding additional cheese, salt, and/or pepper as desired. Serve immediately.

Pan-fried Salmon with Sage Spaghetti

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Serves 4.

You can actually reheat this the next day for an amazing brunch or lunch; and it paired well with a cheap moscato (pictured). Heh.

Stella’s Salmon Croquettes

When I created this recipe for salmon cakes, I couldn’t help but think of the ones my mom and stepdad used to make when I was growing up, which they called “salmon croquettes.”

I suspect the recipe came from the deep recesses of some 1950s dinner party guide.  It was a meal we had fairly often, never with fresh salmon.  I didn’t see any fresh salmon until I moved to the UK in 2001 (and, oh, how I loved the fishmonger, who would fillet the giant, red heap right in front of you, to your specification!). And I didn’t realize until I made these that the ones I grew up eating were always burned.

As you may’ve noticed, we’ve been eating more fish around here lately, so I decided to diversify my repertoire from baked lemon and herb fillets to fish cakes!  Since Eric spent five years in Baltimore, I thought these would be right up his alley, and I was right.  They were a big hit, especially with my quick, spicy, and creamy relish sauce.  I served these with my Pecan-Stuffed Delicata Squash, and we were so full.

Stella’s Salmon Croquettes
4 heaping Tbsp coconut oil
~1 lb cooked salmon (I baked a large, de-boned fillet)*
1 cup Italian bread crumbs (fine)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 heaping tsp Old Bay
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 lemon, zest and juice

Stella’s Spicy Fish Sauce
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1 Tbsp horseradish sauce
1/2 cup Cholula or Tabasco sauce (the latter is spicier)
1 heaping tsp pickle relish

1. Wash your hands. In a medium mixing bowl, mix cooked salmon and breadcrumbs with your hands.

2. Add eggs and mix lightly until evenly absorbed. Add Old Bay, dill, peppers, and lemon zest and juice. Mix again with your hands until well combined. If the mixture is too clumpy, add a little water; if it’s too wet, add more breadcrumbs.

3. Using your hands, roll mixture into balls and flatten. Each one should be about one inch thick and about three inches in diameter. You’ll have about eight cakes. Place each one on a plate as they are formed and set aside.

4. Melt coconut oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Gently slide each cake into the pan and fry about five minutes on each side until crispy, golden brown. You may want to add additional oil as you fry; make sure it’s hot before adding the next round of cakes. As they are done, remove them to a plate and place them between paper towels to drain and cool.

5. Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients in a measuring cup and stir vigorously until well combined.

6. Once the croquettes are all done, serve immediately with a generous drizzle of the spicy sauce.

A nice, simple side salad with vinegar and oil dressing complements this meal perfectly.

Serves 4.

These will keep for a couple of days if refrigerated, and can be reheated. Be careful not to overcook, or they will become rubbery. For best results, reheat in an oven for ten minutes at 300°.

Enjoy!

Pictured here with Pecan-Stuffed Delicata Squash.

* Brush your salmon with a little olive oil or melted butter and bake for about about 20 minutes at 400° in a very lightly oiled baking pan or Pyrex dish, skin side down. When it’s done, it will be pink and flaky. If using several smaller pieces of fish, the baking time will be less.

You can also used canned fish if you want to be more authentically East Texas! Use about 16 ounces of quality canned salmon.

Fish Tacos with Sweet and Spicy Carrot Slaw

Here it is, as promised!

This one’s really easy, yet the results are pleasingly complex in flavor.

For the tacos
~1 lb. fish fillet of your choice – we used red drum
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, sliced thinly, plus juice
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 corn tortillas
1 tsp bacon fat
extra lemon wedges, for garnish

For the slaw
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 small sweet peppers (like small bell peppers, Cubanelles, and/or Dulcetta, which I used here)
1 Tbsp hot sauce (I used this, which was sweet and spicy itself and added to the complexity)
pinch of brown sugar
2 Tbsp cream

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place a large piece of aluminum foil a shallow baking tin, and gently lay the fish fillet atop it. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, turning fish twice to make sure it is evenly covered in both. Sprinkle red pepper flakes, dill, salt, and pepper on fish. Place lemon slices under and on top of the fillet. Wrap foil around the fish to make a tent, leaving the ends open a bit. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. When done, its flesh should no longer be pink, but rather solid white and flaky. For about a pound, which I cooked here, it took 20 minutes to achieve the perfect doneness and texture.

2. While the fish is baking, fry your tortillas in melted bacon fat over medium high heat in a large skillet. Flip them with a spatula so that both sides are evenly cooked. If using a large skillet, you should be able to do at least two at a time. Don’t allow them to become crispy, just softened and lightly browned. As each tortilla is done, set it aside on a plate between paper towels to drain the grease and retain heat.

3. After the tortillas are all cooked, drain any excess grease from the pan, leaving just a little, gleaming layer for flavoring the slaw. Add the carrots and peppers and toss over medium high heat for just a couple of minutes, until their colors intensify. Reduce heat to low and add hot sauce and brown sugar; still thoroughly. Finally, add the cream and stir again. The slaw should now have a nice, thickened consistency, and smell sweet, spicy, and fragrant. Remove pan from heat. For me, all of these elements were done at the same time, so it was easy to prepare the tacos while the separate ingredients were still warm; this is what you should be shooting for with this dish.

4. Once the fish is done, remove it from the oven. Unwrap the foil and, using your fingers or a fork, shred the flesh into bite-sized pieces.

5. Place the tortillas on your serving plates. Scoop up the pieces of warm fish, carefully avoiding any lemon slices, and place them on the tacos. Top with freshly mixed slaw and serve immediately with lemon wedges for garnish.

Serves 2.

Pan Seared Lemon Tilapia with Parmesan Pasta

We had a half pound of filetted tilapia from Wheatsville, some lemons, and a whole garden overflowing with fresh, aromatic herbs.  So I Googled those things, and found this recipe.  Though I using a cast iron skillet, fresh oregano, double the lemon juice, and a dash of balsamic vinegar, I stayed pretty close to the original recipe, and the result was really good.

We’re trying to incorporate more fish into our diet, and this was right up our alley.  The tilapia was filling, summery, and not too fishy, balanced nicely by the heavier, slightly creamy macaroni.  The fresh herbs gave the whole dish both a brightness and a little crunch, and made our dinner!  Next time I will cook it at a slightly higher temperature so as to brown the fish better, and I’ll probably add even more lemon juice.  I love summer