Pecan Crusted Fish

We have had visitors from Spain over the weekend. We have an exchange student who lives in Spain and her parents have come to visit and see where their daughter has spent her last year.

After eating an awesome lunch prepared by yours truly, along with some dishes from relatives who came, we spent the better part of the day down at the pond on our farm fishing. This was a treat for our new friends, as the waters in the Mediterranean have been so overfished by commercial fisheries that there are almost no fish left.  We also have several native types of fish in our pond that my husband’s great-grandparents, grandparents, and uncle have brought in to stock the pond, including bass, crappie, and bream. Our friends had never seen these particular fish before.

In was a beautiful day to fish. The thunderstorms and rain of the morning and early afternoon gave way to blue skies and a nice breeze. My husband’s very first casting lesson for our friend resulted in a fish. It was too small to keep, but boded well for the afternoon to come. We caught several small fish and 2 bass and 1 crappie that were big enough for my husband to filet for me to cook for our friends to try their catch.  Here is the recipe for the dish that I cooked up with our day’s haul.

Pecan Crusted Fish

Serves 4

6 to 8 nice sized filets of fish (Ours were as long as my hand)

1 lemon

1 cup finely chopped pecan ( I buzz mine in the small bowl of my food processor)

1/4 cup gluten-free baking mix (I used Pamela’s, you could substitute All Purpose Flour here or any other flour you like)

2 eggs

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

Lay filets out on a plate and squeeze the lemon juice over the filets, set aside.

Mix the pecans, baking mix, and all-purpose seasoning together in a pie pan or plate. In a separate pan, beat the eggs well.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a saute pan.

Dip the filets in the eggs, then in the pecan mixture. Place in the saute pan and cook on first side 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Carefully flip to other side and cook another 3-4 minutes until lightly browned. Carefully transfer to a plate.

Serve with sliced lemons.

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May 31, 2010. cooking. Leave a comment.

Ratatouille Casserole

My littlest one and I were watching that famous Disney movie this afternoon and she asked if we could make Remi’s dish. How could I say no. I looked up recipes, but most were for the more traditional version of this dish. So I took the ingredients that are traditional and ran with it. It turned out so good. I have been feeling a lot under the weather since this weekend and this was the first thing I have eaten other than chicken soup since Saturday. The flavors are bright and it comes together perfectly.

Ratatouille Casserole
1 medium eggplant
2 small yellow squash
2 small zucchini squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup red wine
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

Slice the eggplant, squash, and zucchini thinly with a mandolin or knife. Place in bowl and salt and pepper each side. Set aside.
Halve and slice the onions thinly. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onion and garlic. Saute until soft. Add the wine and reduce by half. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and thyme. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn to low and simmer 10 to 15 minutes.
In a greased casserole dish add half the tomato sauce. Layer the eggplant, squash, and zucchini on top. Top with remaining tomato sauce. Cover and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove cover and cook 15 minutes more.
Enjoy.

May 25, 2010. cooking. Leave a comment.

Gluten-Free Pineapple Cheese Bread

If you have ever been to a potluck dinner in the south, you have probably had Pineapple Cheese Casserole. It has that wonderful sweet-salty-cheesy-ooey-gooey-something that just makes you crave it. Fruit, cheese, and buttery crackers all hot from the oven is just the perfect side-dish-almost-desert to take to a potluck dinner.

This bread is reminiscent of that wonderful casserole and not nearly as fattening and much more portable.

Here’s the recipe, an adaptation from Paula Deen’s original recipe:

Pineapple Cheese Bread

2 cups gluten-free baking mix (or gluten-free flour mix plus 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp xantham gum)      

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tbsp canola oil

1 cup crushed pineapple with juice

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

 Preheat oven to 350. Grease sides and bottom of 9 x 5 loaf pan (I spray with canola oil spray).

In a large bowl mix together baking mix (or flour mix plus baking powder, salt, and xantham gum).

In a separate bowl mix together pineapple, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Pour pineapple mixture over flour and sugar. Mix until just combined. Fold in grated cheese.

Scrape mixture into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes then transfer loaf to a wire rack to continue cooling.  Slice, serve, and enjoy.

May 21, 2010. cooking. Leave a comment.

Corn and Shrimp Chowder(Gluten-Free)

I apologize in advance for the lack of photos, but I can’t find my SD card and this recipe was just too good not to share. I made this the other night and everyone in the house went back for seconds. When the six-year-old goes back for more you know it’s a hit.

Corn and Shrimp chowder

6 pieces of bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch slices

1 onion chopped

2 lbs (about 8 medium potatoes) peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

1 bag of frozen sweet corn

1 pound of shrimp (I would get the small salad ones for this)

5 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cups of half and half

1 tsp red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

In a heavy bottom stock pot or dutch oven, brown the sliced bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and leave the drippings in the pan. Set the bacon aside.

Add the onions and potatoes to the pot and cook 3 minutes or until the onion is softened.

Add the chicken stock and half and half to the pot. Add the corn, shrimp, and red pepper flakes to the pot. Bring to a slow boil and cook 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.

Remove from heat. With either a stick blender or in a regular blender puree the soup until slightly thickened, but still chunky. Test for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve garnished with fresh chopped herbs and crackers (gluten-free, of course)

April 30, 2010. cooking. Leave a comment.

Southern Gumbo (Gluten-Free)

I’ve been craving a really good bowl of gumbo. The ones that I made in the past all had wheat flour as the base for the roux. I decided to experiment this weekend and try making it gluten-free.

I am so glad that I did. And so was my family who got to eat the results.

Here’s what I have come up with.

Southern Gumbo

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free flour mixture (I’ll share mine at the end of the post with a separate recipe)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 onion diced

2 ribs celery diced

3 cloves garlic

 1 28oz. can whole tomatoes with juice

2 cups sliced okra, fresh, frozen, or canned, just not battered

1 tsp thyme

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

hot sauce to taste (I used 5 drops and it was mild but tasty, perfect)

2 pounds shrimp ( or chicken, sausage, ham, fish, scallops, or any combination of any of these)

2 tbsp file powder (this is ground sassafras leaves. You can find it in the spice section. If you can’t just leave it out, but to use it is authentic and lends that something that just makes gumbo)

A good gumbo begins with a good roux. This is the base and foundation of all the flavor and you can not rush it. It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and you have to stir it constantly. It will be worth it. I promise.

Melt the butter in a heavy dutch oven over low heat. Add the flour mixture and whisk constantly. The point here is to brown the flour until it is the color of brewed tea. A dark caramel brown. Do not stop stirring. Do not leave for a moment. If you go past dark brown into burnt, throw it out and start all over. This is the most important part of the whole dish.

Once your roux is dark caramel add the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, okra, and garlic. Continue to saute over low heat stirring 4 or 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften and give up some of their liquid. Add the tomatoes to the pot squeezing the tomatoes to begin breaking them down or processing them in the blender with their juice before adding them to the pot.

Add thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. If using chicken or sausage add it now.  Cover and simmer over low heat 45 minutes to an hour.

Add the shrimp and file powder if using.  If using fish or other seafood add it now. Simmer 5 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through. You don’t want to overcook the shrimp. Just pink and then you’re done.

Serve over white rice with file powder and hot sauce at the table.

Enjoy.  

Gluten-Free flour mixture

This is a good all purpose flour mixture. Use it where you would use plain all purpose flour in the same proportions.

24 ounces brown rice flour (I make mine in my blender)

20 ounces cornstarch

22 ounces potato starch (not potato flour)

24 ounces tapioca starch

6 teaspoons xantham gum

Mix until well blended and store in an airtight container. Can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

March 29, 2010. cooking. Leave a comment.

Perfect Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I apologize in advance for the lack of photos of these wonderful cookies, but my camera is on the fritz at the moment.

My daughter and I made these to take with us to a holiday party, knowing that they would probably be the only cookies that we could eat there. I also made some brownie cheesecake  bites (also gluten-free) that I will post separately.

Perfect Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick of butter softened

1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed into measuring cup tightly, it should retain the shape of cup when placed in bowl)

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 1/2 cups gluten-free baking mix (one with leavening added. I used Pamela’s Baking Mix)

1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar together until well blended. Add egg and vanilla beat until light and fluffy. Add baking mix and chocolate chips and stir by hand until all mix is well incorporated.

Scoop 1 tbsp mounds of dough onto Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. I get 12 cookies on standard 1/2 sheet pan. Press cookies slightly flat with fingers. They will spread slightly when baking.

Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes or until starting to brown on edges.

Cool on pans slightly (2 minutes or so) then remove from pan with spatula to cooling rack.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Y’all Come Back Now.

update: Our cookies were a hit with all the kids. As an extra bonus we met another gluten-free family who was glad to be able to eat something other than just what they brought too. Yay!!

December 18, 2009. cooking. Leave a comment.

The Gluten Free Bread we Love, so far

So, we have been trying several different recipes for gluten free bread in the last two weeks trying to find one that the little one and I both agree on as acceptable.

We tried this one and we both like it.

http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2009/02/delicious-gluten-free-bread.html

It turns out well, but it still lacks the lightness that I am looking for in a sandwich bread. It is great with soup or buttered on the side. My daughter said it tastes like Chik-Fil-A.

I love this site:

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

and while she doesn’t center on gluten free cooking, she does cook that way for her family.  She oftens mentions Pamela’s baking mix in her recipes. I did she research and Pamela’s products are rated pretty highly among those they are gluten free. 

I have also been running all over 3 towns trying to find the different flours to use in the recipes and that in itself is a great investement not only of time, but money when you live so far out like we do.

So, I went online and ordered some Pamela’s Bread Mix and some Pamela Biscuit and Baking Mix from Amazon. I had searched locally for them, but only found the cookie and brownie mixes in my local health food store and only found Bob’s Mills in the local Publix. Neither store is local really, but 30 minutes away.

One of my main reason for ordering these products was that they were in essence, just blends of  flour and not just designed to make only the one product. They are flexible, no different than buying a bag of flour from the grocery store based on it’s use. Cake flour for cakes, regular all purpose flour for cookies and such, and bread flour for breads. They are meant to be used for the purpose that they are best suited and you will get reliable results based on the type of flour you choose.

We made the basic bread recipe as directed on the package and have been extremely pleased with the results. The crumb is soft and chewy like good bread should be, the crust develps well and is neither crispy or chewy, but just right. It is just right for using in sandwiches or eating just buttered with good soup or stew.

I am glad that I ordered three 4 lb bags because it looks like this may be the bread for us.

Y’all Come Back Now.

December 10, 2009. cooking. Leave a comment.

Banana Date Scones

I was inspired by Dandy and her awesome date recipe this morning. It reminded me of one of my favorite breakfast (or anytime I’m craving them) food: Banana Date Scones.

These little jewels are tender and oh-so-good and the little bits of date literally melt in your mouth.

Here’s what you need to do to make them:

Preheat the oven to 450 

Get yourself 3 really ripe bananas

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See all those beautiful black specks? That means our banana is perfect, at the height of sweetness. If you have some not quite ripe bananas and you want to speed up the ripening, just put them in a paper bag with an apple. The gas given off by the apple will make the bananas ripen faster. Also a good reason to not put them in the same fruit bowl on your counter.

 

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Peel them (like I really needed to tell you that right) and squish them up really good in a bowl. I utilized the volunteer services of my 6-year-old for this part.

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Now mix in 1 egg and 2/3 cup of cream (pretend you see cream here, apparently I forgot to take a picture of the cream in the bowl). Set aside.

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In a large bowl add 2 cups of all purpose flour, 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp of baking powder, 2 tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp of salt. I usually use kosher salt, but when baking I use regular plain salt. The grains are finer and you aren’t left with undissolved crystals of salt in the final product.

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Mix it all together with a wire whisk. I hate sifting and this keeps me having having to do so. It will break up any clumps and insure that the baking powder is evenly distributed.

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Now in another small bowl measure out 8 ounces of dates. These beauties are Mejool Dates. I buy them at Costco and I absolutely love them. They are moist and sweet and I definitely understand where date sugar comes from now.

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Pit them and rough chop them into small (maybe 1/4 inch pieces). I usually cut them down the middle, pull out the pit, cut them into fourths, and then cut the fourths into five or six pieces each depending on the size of the date. You want them to be small chocolate-chip-size pieces.

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Now go back to your bowl of dry ingredients and take a couple of tablespoons of the flour mixture and use it to coat and seperate the date pieces. This helps keep them from sinking in the batter or lumping all together. You wouldn’t want them to lump all together because then one scone may have a lot of dates and others not so many.

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Now, pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and mix it up until just combined.

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Add in the dates and mix 10 times. No more. You don’t want to create gluten here, just mix it up. The batter will be slightly sticky and lumpy.

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Scoop out about a 1/4 cup of the mixture and place on a greased or lined baking sheet. If you use the thin aluminum cookie sheets place your sheet in the upper 1/3 of your oven, otherwise place it in the middle. My baking sheets are the half sheet pans like you get at a cooking supply store or kitchen store. My hubby bought them and the Silpat years ago when he knew he was coming home late from a business road trip. Isn’t he sweet?

Anyway, bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

 

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Serve  warm with butter or cream cheese or, if you can get it, clotted cream.

Hint: Split them like an English Muffin. Use a fork and work your way around the perimeter of the scone, poking the fork straight in and then out again. This will keep you from crushing or crumbling your scone and it opens beautifully that way.

Y’all Come Back Now.

August 26, 2009. cooking. Leave a comment.

Revel Bars

Hey, you.

Yeah, you.

The cutie reading this right now.

Stop what you are doing and go here right now:

http://spontaneousclapping.blogspot.com/2009/08/revel-bars.html

You have to try these. They are the best cookies that I have ever had. Oatmeal cookie on the bottom. Fudge on the top.

OMG!! My house smells so good right now. You absolutely wouldn’t believe how good it smells.

That is until you make them. Theeennnn, you’ll know.

Here is the picture that Dandy posted to give you an idea.

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Unfortunately, I don’t have a good picture because I couldn’t get the cookies away from my family. Can you believe it?

Go, try these.

Y’all Come Back Now

August 19, 2009. cooking. 2 comments.

Southern Style Sweet Tea

 

So, as promised here is the recipe for the perfect glass of Sweet Tea.

First you will need the following:

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Sugar (of course),

 tea bags ( I prefer the brand above, but Lipton makes a very fine iced tea),

fresh lemon (don’t use the squeeze bottle stuff. Only fresh if you please).

and last but not least a tea pot. If you don’t have a whistling tea pot like the one pictured, just use a regular small saucepan with a good tight-fitting lid.

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To make a half gallon (2 quarts) of tea add 1 (one) of the tea bags to the kettle (or saucepan with lid on), fill it with water, and put it on to boil. You want the water to come all the way up to a boil. Don’t be tempted to pull the kettle off until it is really whistling. If you do, your tea won’t be strong enough.

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 In the meantime add 1 cup (240 grams) of sugar to a pitcher . I am being less than genrous with my sugar. Most people in the south absolutely put more than this in thier sweet tea. I don’t like it quite as sweet, so I only use 1 cup. If you want, add more. This is your sweet tea.

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This is also the time to cut up your lemon if want to add it. Make sure you wash the lemon. We will be adding it to the tea later on. Cut it in half and then in quarters. Then cut each quarter in half again. Yeah, yeah, I know, that’s eighths, but it just sounded better my way. Anyway, it is easier to cut the lemon from the top as it stands on the flat end you created when you cut the ends off. If you try to cut it from the skin side you will squish all the juice out and that would defeat the purpose of having the lemon. You can tell from the picture that I truly do live in Alabama. See how my sugar has clumped up from the humidity? It won’t really matter though. The clumps will dissolve right along with the rest of the sugar.

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When your kettle finally whistles, the magic happens. Some people leave it to “steep” for a few minutes, but not me, I pour the tea as soon as it boils. Just add the whole kettle and whatever amount of water it takes to make 2 quarts into the pitcher containing the sugar. Stir everything well and pour over a full glass of ice.

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Now, squeeze the lemon into the tea and then drop that squeezed slice directly into the tea. If you don’t like lemon in your tea just leave this step out.

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Ahhhh! Now just sit back, relax, and enjoy the perfect glass of Southern Style Sweet Tea. 

If you start to feel adventerous, you might even garnish the glass with a little sprig of mint or another slice of lemon.

Enjoy.

Y’all Come Back Now.

July 5, 2009. cooking. Leave a comment.