Fishy Fish . . . Got Milk??

Orange - Ginger SnapperI had a great weekend spending time with my brothers and sisters, something we rarely get to do together. We laughed, we drank and we reminisced . . . but most of all we ate.  My brother and his lovely new bride started us off with Saturday breakfast of French toast casserole, frittata and fresh orange juice while my little sister nailed Huevos Rancheros for Sunday’s breakfast. One of my older sisters made fabulous dinner reservations at a local little Italian eatery which left Saturday lunch for me.  Now those of you with siblings understand the rivalry and competition that occurs, especially, when adult children get together. This left me little room to prepare a so-so meal.

With a busy work week, a lovely visit with a high school friend and a long drive to Arnold ahead of me I didn’t have time to go to my favorite little fish monger where the fish is fresh and the selections amazing.  Instead I was left to shop at the local supermarket and the only “Fresh” option available to me was Red Snapper.  (I probably do not need to point out that I placed the term Fresh in quotes, meaning of course . . .) So here I was with this great recipe for Orange Cilantro Marinated Snapper with an Onion, Zucchini and Yellow Squash salad and my snapper was not very snappy.

What to do?

Got milk??Fish on the Grill

Time to pull a rabbit out of my hat. Now technically the fish I bought was fresh only because it hadn’t been frozen but unfortunately it had not been stored correctly in the butcher’s cooler leaving it slightly ripe.  Thankfully I paid attention in culinary school and a little hand-me-down from my French Cuisine chef Brian Mattingly came in handy. “If your fish is a day or two old, soak it in whole milk.”  So along with my 3 pounds of fish I purchased a quart of whole milk.  After rinsing and de-boning the fillets I laid them in a Pyrex dish and covered them with the cold milk. Plastic wrap over the top and the dish went in to the refrigerator for an hour.  Fingers crossed I set to the marinade.

Snapper Marinade

1 bunch    Cilantro, leaves only – no stems
4               Red Jalapenos, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp.      Ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cups      Orange Juice

Place the first three ingredients in a blender and and start them blending on low. Pour the OJ into the blender in a thin stream just until all the ingredients begin to chop evenly. Blend for about 30 seconds then slowly add the remaining OJ. Reserve.

1 Hour Later – Time to check the fish.

Out of the fridge I uncover my dish and pour off the milk and voila, no more fishy fish. Thank you Chef Mattingly!
I let the fillets drip dry for about a minute, rinsed out the dish then poured a bit of marinade into the dish, laid in the fillets, covered then back in the fridge for another hour.

With the snapper soaking up all that Orange-Ginger goodness I set about making the Squash Onion salad. I thinly sliced the zucchini and yellow squash on a mandolin then cut them int thin julienne strips. Next I Lyonnaised an onion. (This is a style of onion slice that gives julienne thin threads.) A bit of olive oil in a saute pan and in go the onions. After they begin to soften I added the julienne of squash cooking them al dente. After seasoning with salt and pepper I set them aside to cool while I made the salad dressing.

Orange Ginger Salad Dressing

1/2 bunch   Cilantro, leaves only – no stems
4                 Red Jalapenos, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp.       Ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup       Orange Juice concentrate
1 cup          Olive Oil

Place the first 4 ingredients in a blender and blend for about 1 minute. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until fully incorporated.

Time for lunch!

I fired up the grill and set to cooking.  Delicate fish will often stick to the grill so I use aluminum foil pans with a bit of olive oil.  The grill adds a lovely smokey flavor that the oven just will not give.


A bit of Romaine lettuce on the plate, toss the onion squash salad with the dressing and place on the lettuce.  Next the Grilled Snapper and a garnish of avocado and Voila!  (Trust me, my reputation was saved.) Even my sister who does not like fish liked this dish.

All in all it was a great weekend with family.  I hope you have many like this as well.


Eat Well and Smile Often!!


p.s. The whole fish in milk thing . . . just another version of surf and turf.

Fish on the Grill

Front Yard Gardens – Outlawed!!

One of my most popular posts is Organic IS Marketing Hype.  If you have not had the chance please take this opportunity to give it a read.  In it I lay out the reasons why it is a good idea to have your own home garden.  In Canada a family with similar beliefs is being told that by having a front yard garden they are breaking the law.   Just take a look at how beautiful their garden is in this picture. If these were decorative plants they would be in civil compliance but since they dare grow edibles their city is now considering making all front yard food gardens illegal!  The crazy thing is that their neighbors have never complained. They are all happy getting free, fresh organic vegetables!  I mean who would not?  So who is this really offending?

I must tell you that I am really enjoying my little garden. I have pumpkins already and of course tomatoes and squash, lemon cucumbers and peppers too.  These lovely round orange ‘punkins’ are looking forward to becoming pie, pancakes and raviolis.  I also recently harvested a spaghetti squash which I’ll roast and top with my latest harvest of tomatoes.

This weekend I’ll be grilling some snapper for my siblings that has been marinated in ginger, cilantro, orange juice and chili peppers and served with a sauted salad of zucchini, yellow squash and onions tossed in a dressing made just like the marinade. Keep a watchful eye for the recipe.Squash

If you have some time please read the Huffington Post article on this family and lend them your support.

Eat Well and Smile Often,




p.s. What’s in your garden??


Here Figgy Piggy!!

Figgy PiggyMy niece Colleen is an amazing woman. Not too long ago over coffee she shared an insight with me about gift giving. “Most people appreciate an experience rather than a thing.” She’s right.  I remember most easily and warmly those times that I have received dinners, cocktails, gift certificates to the theater and the like from my family and friends.  So when a long time friend of mine recently reached 50 I decided to help her commemorate with a feast from my kitchen!  I call it Figgy Piggy.

In my back yard I have a fig tree that I know to be about 50 years old.  My father’s aunt planted it and it still bears the most luscious figs twice a year.  This last week the first of the summer crop came in full force.  I picked as many as I could and invited friends over to help take away the plethora.My Figs I like the ones that have almost dried on the tree.  They have that rich chewy texture with a mature fruit sweetness.  My dogs even like them.  Whatever falls on the ground is fair game to them. One summer I reduced a pan of them and made Burnt Fig Ice Cream.  A double yum and 20 minutes on the Ms. Right workout scale.

Something new this time I thought.  What goes good with figs I asked?  Pork, I answered. Pork chops to be precise.  Here is my recipe for Figgy Piggy.


Figgy Piggy

Mix in a bowl

2               Figs, ripe
1/4 c         Walnuts, toasted , chopped
4 oz           Feta cheese
dash          Apple Cider vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Prepare the following by inserting a knife  into the side and cutting a pocket

2               Pork chops, 6 – 7 oz each

Stuff each pork chop with the fig mixture.  Close the openings with toothpicks.  Season the outside with salt and pepper. Place a light coat of olive oil on one side of each chop Using a saute pan that can go into the oven add:

2 oz          Olive oil

Set oven temp to 350 F.  Place saute pan with olive oil over high heat.  When oil starts to shimmer place both chops in the pan oil side down.  Brown for about 3 minutes then turn over.  Place pan into oven for about 20 minutes.  Check with a fork for doneness. (Honest to goodness – Doneness- is a culinary term.)

Serve with a teaspoon of Pepper Jelly on top!

Figs & Ice CreamI served it with strings of fresh zucchini and yellow squash from my garden saute’d in butter with salt pepper and a deglaze of white wine.  For dessert we had Vanilla Ice Cream, fresh Figs and Maple Syrup

It was a good meal and a great experience.  At least that’s what she told me.


Eat Well and Smile Often!!




p.s.  Maple syrup and figs? – The bomb!!



3 Little Words . . . Nobody Wants To Hear!!

I have an friend Melani Robinson who writes a blog 1 Year of Online Dating at 50. She’s an amazing writer and has done much to encourage me with regards to my blog. Melani is openly in search of her next great love, blogging about every up and down she experiences, waiting to hear those 3 little words.

Blossom End Rot. No, these are NOT the words that Melani wants to hear. In fact, nobody wants to hear them. Certainly not me with all the love I’ve put in to my garden. But yesterday they rang in my ear like a bell that can’t be unrung. “I’m sorry to tell you Tom, you have Blossom End Rot.” Thank goodness it was my advice gardener and not any other professional. Blossom End Rot. Really??

Blossom End Rot

It seems I have been taking too good a care of my plants in one respect and not in another. Here, you tell me, don’t my plants look healthy? They look great! In fact that is one of the symptoms. It seems that my plants are overcharged with nitrogen, the stuff that makes them leafy green. But they are sorely lacking in calcium and water. Who knew? Not me. So my first little pushes of fruit have Blossom End Rot. Shucks.


7/1/12 Garden

Luckily I caught them in time and began watering heavily; giving them a really good drink then following up daily with a regular soaking. This may seem contrary to the gardener who says, “Once the tomatoes come cut back on your watering.” I did and I got . . . Blossom End Rot. Also I need to up my soil calcium levels. Since I don’t eat a dozen eggs everyday, eggshells are a great source of calcium, I’m off the the garden supply to pick up a small bag. I am saddened because my first few peppers were destined to become Pepper Jelly. My Jalapenos are doing great and I will harvest this week and set them to dry but it will be another few weeks before I’ll have peppers again.

Patience and learning, isn’t that what parenthood is all about? (I feel like such a failure.)


Eat Well and Smile Often,




p.s. Really??