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

Happy Mother’s Day To All . . . Especially!!

Mother's Day!!I want to start off by wishing an extra special Mother’s Day to Melani Robinson who very kindly has taken me under her protective mother-blogger wing. Melani, who authors an emotionally brave blog 1 Year of Online Dating at 50, has been uncommonly generous with her time, advice, and support . So much so that she has created a special section on her blog entitled: Things I’m CRAZY About, where she graciously included a link to my humble little blog. Although, we’ve never met, her brand of kindness reminds me that the unselfish acts of mothers around the world should be celebrated. My hat’s off to you Mrs. Robinson.

Speaking of generous mothers, I wish my mother the happiest of Mother’s Days! Passed almost 20 years now, my mood brightens daily at the thought of her smile and the happy sound of her laughter still rings in my ears. My mother was extremely supportive of my quitting work to attend culinary school and happily shared in both my joys and frustrations while I was there. There were very few things that I was able to do for my parents while they were alive but one memory comes readily to mind.

My father would fish and often bring home the fruits of his leisure. What wasn’t immediately consumed was wrapped and frozen for some unknown future meal. Enter one culinary graduate of a son. “Tom,” my mother said one day. “Your job is to come up with a dish using all the fish in the freezer.” Imagine my dismay, frozen fish . . . and me, full of my fresh-cuisine-ness. Of course, anything for my mother.  So I set to my cookbooks in search of inspiration and low-and-behold Bouillabase caught my eye. Now the following isn’t exactly line for line from the recipe. Actually I had to adapt a bit bit to make it work but here goes.

Start with a lovely fish fume’ – check – plenty of salmon bones
Saute’ onions – check
Garlic – check
Saffron – double check and double cool
Cook fish in fume’ – check
Serve with crusty bread to mom, dad and mom’s friends. (The ones who always brag about their 2 children graduating culinary school) – check

Here it comes, mom’s friends asked for a second helping. Now I know that mothers love their children unconditionally but it was a nice feeling to sense her pride in my accomplishments. It also felt good that she could brag right back to her friends about me and my various travels around the globe cooking. It wasn’t on Mother’s Day that I cooked for her but I was happy to repay a mother’s love and kindness with that simple meal made with a son’s love and gratitude. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!!

Eat Well and Smile Often


p.s. Give a man a fish . . . and he’ll ask for seconds.

I’d Like Some Soul Please!!

Dover Sole with Beurre BlancThe man behind the counter asked, “How can I help you?” Who knew the chain of events that simple question would set into motion. “I’d like some sole please?” Just then, in what was obviously a hunger induced hallucination, James Brown came dancing by. I would have shaken it right off but I swear the produce man next to me was side shuffling to the beat in my head. I looked around; nobody else seemed to notice The Godfather of Soul, so I paid for my purchase and made good my exit before Isaac Hayes popped into view. (I’m a Soul Man . . . )

I tell you my muse rarely fails me, this time she hit on a winner. As you may recall I purchased a half pound of lovely butter, this last weekend, from the kind folks at McClelland’s Dairy. What to do, what to do, what to do? A Beurre Blanc of course! And what better for this butter than a delicate bit of Dover Sole. My mouth all a water, I rushed to the kitchen and turned everything on! A busy meal for pots and pans but Wow, was it worth it.

I started with Jasmine rice cooked and topped with thin slices of bitter Mandarin oranges.

2 cups cold water      Bring salt and water to a boil in a small sauce pan with lid
pinch of salt

1 cup Jasmine rice      Add to boiling water, stir and return to boil, reduce heat to low

1 Mandarin Orange, bitter, sliced paper thin
Add 6 slices to top of rice water and cover, steam for about 12 minutes

Next on the stove was the Beurre Blanc. (You’re going to love this!)

3 T Shallot, finely diced
1/2 C White wine vinegar
1/2 C White wine

Combine all 3 ingredients in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat and reduce to about 5 tablespoons in quantity. When reduced, remove from heat and let pan cool a bit

3 oz McClelland’s Butter, soft, in pieces

Whisk in a 2 pieces at a time keeping sauce emulsified, reserving 1 oz to finish.
(if you see the butter separate your pan is too hot. Let the pan cool more before you finish)

Next I turned the oven to 350 F degrees and set out a plate with flour mixed with a bit of salt and pepper. A sauté pan on the stove on medium high heat with about 5 tablespoons of olive oil starting to shimmer was just right. I floured both sides of my Dover Sole filets and placed them meaty side down in the pan, moving them gently back and forth in the oil so they wouldn’t stick. About 2 minutes later, when the had just started to turn golden, I flipped them in the pan and placed the pan in the oven for about 7 minutes.

On the chopping block came onions and mushrooms; which I quickly diced and sliced and tossed into yet another sauté pan hot with a fair amount of olive oil. After they started to sizzle and brown I dropped in chopped mustard greens, salt and pepper, tossed and took off the heat.

My lovely McClelland’s butter was patiently, softly waiting and now its time had come. I placed the sauce back on the heat for a minute just until it started to steam, turned off the heat and dropped in the remaining ounce of soft butter and stirred. Careful, if the pan is too hot the butter will start to break, keep stirring in cold butter to keep it emulsified. I left a few solid pieces of butter sitting in the pan while I removed the sole from the oven. You can always add another piece of solid butter to pull the sauce back together again, if need be.

I set my plate with rice, greens and fish, whisked the Beurre Blanc to a sheen and drizzled it on top. I tell it was so good that I phoned my cooking buddy Suzanne with a full mouth and before she could say hello I blurted, “This is so good!”

She laughed, I ate, no more hallucinations. Later that night, I fell into a peaceful sleep humming to myself, “I’m a sole man. Did-it-good, oh so good. I’m a Sole man, do-do-do-doot!”

Eat Well and Smile Often,


I will be performing at a live concert near you soon . . .