Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Like Mother, Like Son

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach…but you have to stop in Fresh Market’s seafood department first. One of these stores finally opened near my son (the Lauderdale based one, Christopher J. Morgan) early this year.

Word on the street (424 N Federal Highway) is they signed a 15-year lease, a thought that delighted me shopping those exceedingly well stocked aisles, full service meat counters, and bakeries with at least 14 different kinds of fresh pies on daily rotation. I must have been drinking the artisan flavored Kool-Aid that day, because we really booked in Seafood—I stocked Chris’ freezer with enough Fresh Market salmon and sea bass to feed an army—or at least one really hungry guy before our visit ended and it was time to go home to North Carolina.

It’s such a treat to check into Facebook. I can see what my entire family is up to (don’t read that and unfriend me!)—including Chris who’s been photographing his healthy and elegant fish dinners since our Pescatarian spree. Microsoft Word highlights “pescatarian” in red every time I write it. Well, they should. It’s a fairly new concept; at least it is to me. It means that you don’t eat chicken, beef, pork—or any kind of meat anymore, except for fish. I don’t think Chris is a full-fledged Pescatarian yet, but he has been eating healthier lately and looks great. Perhaps he was paying attention to my research when I wrote Gorgeous, because he reminded me of what fishy diets can do for you:   
What the Pescatarians go fishing for:    

·         escape from saturated fat
·         reduction in cholesterol levels
·         increase of essential vitamins and minerals
·         huge dose of lean protein
Those who know me, know I’m big on healthy lifestyle changes, and eating better than I’m sure he ever did in college, is of course something I want to commend Chris for doing right now…but I’m an even bigger foodie, so the way he cooked and plated that fish pleased me all the more. Look at the pics I ran with this blog! Isn’t it all gorgeous? His approach was nice and simple: Chris’ Salmon is a flavor palette for cilantro, rosemary, thyme and a half clove of garlic. His Sea Bass Over Spinach is another revelation; it can’t be improved upon. Though I do cast a suspicious eye at that blue and white china plate. Could that be mine, by any chance?   

Sea Bass Over Spinach

1 pound whole sea bass fillet
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 3 teaspoons
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons fresh coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 lemon wedges
1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1 pound fresh spinach leaves, about 4 cups
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Hot pepper flakes (optional)

1.      Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.      In a cup, mix garlic, olive oil, salt, and black pepper.
3.      Place fish in a shallow baking dish and rub with 1 tablespoon of the Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper.
4.      Pour wine over fish.
5.      Bake fish, uncovered, for 15 minutes; then add remaining tablespoon of Italian seasoning and bake for 5 minutes more, until the thickest part of the fish flakes.
6.      While you wait for the fish to finish baking, get out a small sauce pan and cook the spinach leaves on medium heat until the leaves wilt; add salt, pepper and dash of hot pepper flakes to taste. 
7.      Remove fish from oven and drizzle it with the pan juices; use the lemon wedges to give fish a few squirts of lemon juice.
8.      Serve on a bed of steamed spinach.

Chris’ Salmon

1 (2-pound) whole salmon fillet
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large lemon juiced, about 5 tablespoons
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 head garlic, about 8 cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.      Coat a medium sized baking dish with vegetable oil spray.
3.      Place salmon in the baking dish. Mix together the butter, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl, and drizzle over the salmon. Decorate salmon with the garlic cloves. Season with cilantro, thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.

4.      Bake for 25 minutes, or until salmon is easily flaked with a fork.

Note: You can line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and bake your fish that way too; using a baking dish is an alternative.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Foolproof Food Days are Here Again

Here’s to Healthy, Favorable Food: A Show-stopping Roasted Ratatouille! 
Recipe by Rose Hegele
Ratatouille has different meaning for different cooks. Some view it at a side dish for bread dipping, pasta on the side. Some like their ratatouille heaped ON TOP of rice or fettuccini, while still yet, many a home cook doesn’t feature pasta with this dish at all. Rose Hegele is one such cook. Her Roasted Ratatouille is gorgeous the way a centerpiece is gorgeous. She has surrounded a savory, herb encrusted mountain of fresh vegetables, with cute little New Potatoes, roasted to perfection in rosemary and olive oil. I think the French of Nice—where the tradition of ratatouille started millennia ago—would absolutely love it. As a carb lover, I was practically giddy when I saw Rose’s Roasted Ratatouille.

I was thrilled because I’ve had ratatouille every which way: served as sauce, served as a side, baked in an oven, slow cooked in a crock pot, painstakingly layered with ingredients that were set aside and roasted separately later on. My verdict? It’s all pretty darn good. Ratatouille fulfills the same sort of prophecy as pizza or truffles: good no matter what. But then Rose stepped things up with her version, and I think I fell in love with it—not just because it tasted spectacular—but because it looked so darn good.  Those New Potatoes forming a happy little ring around the ratatouille look so golden and delicious. When is Rose inviting me over? She should understand that this praise is high coming from a meat lover. I love chicken, beef, pork—love it all, and sometimes, I admit it, miss it in a ratatouille. But not this time.

So tell us what YOU think! Try making Rose’s Roasted Ratatouille at home. She allows a lot of creative license with the veggies and spices.  She skips the eggplant recommended in the recipe, and doubles up on zucchini and squash instead.  She was also looking for a little kick and added a pinch of red pepper flakes, not included in her formal recipe. That’s the cool thing about cooking. Nothing is written in stone—there are these little asides cooks share when they exchange recipes. Try this surprise ingredient if you remember. If you don’t, there’s always next time!

Like I said, ratatouille means many things to many people. For those of us who don’t know what it is, and think it’s just a darling Disney movie…well, I cry for them a little. Please forward this article along. Remind them that a Rose ratatouille by any other name would smell as sweet.        

About the recipe contributor:  Rose Hegele has had a passion for cooking and experimenting for over 40 years; her recent diagnosis of gluten intolerance and children’s experience with autoimmune disorders has changed Rose’s approach to eating. She hopes to share her flavorful, healthy food and improve the lives of all. 

Rose’s Roasted Ratatouille

Serves: 4 to 6

Prep Time: about 45 minutes, plus roasting time

1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes, about 3 cups
1 large zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes, about 2 cups
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1-inch cubes, about 2 ½ cups
½ pound fresh Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced, about 2 cups

1 whole marinated roasted red pepper, diced, about ½ cup

1 large red onion, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon fresh thyme  leaves
½ pound fresh spinach leaves chopped, about 2 cups

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces artisanal goat cheese, crumbled, about 1 cup (optional)


Preheat oven 400.

Toss all the vegetables except the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of the coconut oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian herbs and toss to coat. Spread vegetables on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place tin foil over vegetables.

In a separate bowl, toss the tomato halves with remaining (1 tablespoon) coconut oil, thyme and garlic and spread out on a smaller parchment lined cookie sheet. Roast about 30 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes. Check for doneness and cook 5 to 10 minutes more if needed.

Remove roasted tomatoes to a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add tomatoes and spinach to roasted vegetables. Toss to coat with olive oil. 

Garnish ratatouille with goat cheese.

*To prepare this recipe as pictured, prepare Roasted New Potatoes to surround the entrée:

Roasted New Potatoes

1 1/2 lb of new potatoes (red or yellow skinned), cleaned, cut in half or quarters
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Place potatoes into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add olive oil, rosemary, and garlic. Toss until potatoes are well coated.
Spread potatoes out on a single layer of a baking pan. Roast for 40 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and browned. Serve immediately.


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