Category Archives: Main Course

Fried Catfish with Hashbrowns

So, I got my big jar of pickled veggies all ready, and wanted something awesome to eat it with.  I remember a dish I had at City House in Nashville that was cracker-crusted fried fish with pickled veggies, and so I decided to attempt something that may be close.  I did not have any crackers at home that I thought would work well for this, so I went with my normal crust of cornmeal and flour.

The hash browns are kind of hiding under there.

Fried Catfish with Hash Browns and Pickled Vegetables

  • 2 fillets of catfish
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup pickled veggies, plus some of the vinegar/juice for drizzling

Combine milk and egg in a shallow bowl and whisk together well. In another shallow container, combine cornmeal, flour, red pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.  Heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat.

In the meantime, shred potatoes.  I shredded mine on the shredder attachment on the food processor, but just use a grater if you prefer.  Put into a colander and toss with a little salt.  Press down on potatoes with a paper towel to remove any excess water.

Heat a pan (ideally a really heavy bottom one like a cast iron) over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.  Add 1/2 of onions and let cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add half of potatoes, mix well with onions, season with salt and pepper and spread in pan into thin layer, pressing onto potatoes to make a kind of large potato “cake”.  Let cook for about 4-5 minutes or until beginning to brown.  In sections, flip potatoes over and let brown on other side about 4-5 mines.  Transfer to a plate, cover with a paper towel to keep warm, and repeat whole process with remaining onions, oil, butter, and potatoes.

Put fish fillets in egg wash and coat.  Let excess drip off, dredge in flour mixture, and place in heated pan to fry.  Fry about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Use care when turning fish so as not to rip the fillets.

Serve fish and hash browns with pickled veggies and drizzle plate with some of the vinegar from the pickled veggie jar.

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Meat Loaf with Creamy Onion Gravy

My dad is a sucker for meatloaf.  It is usually my go-to meal for him if he’s coming over…or if he did something really awesome for me like help me with a fix-it project around the house that is beyond the hubs and I’s skill set (which is often).  I normally go the traditional tomato/bbq base meatloaf, but I had just happened to get in the mail the new Food and Wine and they had this recipe in it.  Figured it was as good as time as any to try out a new approach – with just a couple very minor changes as we halved the recipe and went without cheese in our loaf. We also served ours with mashed potatoes and  sauteed Swiss chard.

I'd like to reference a Will Ferrell quote from Wedding Crashers here, but it's a bit inappropriate as it utilizes the F bomb.

Meat Loaf with Creamy Onion Gravy

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/ 4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 pound ground pork

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a very large bowl and let cool. Add the panko, eggs, mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper and stir to form a paste. Using your hands, work in the ground meats.

Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper or put in a deep Pyrex dish. Firmly pat the meat mixture into a loaf, about 10 inches long. Cook in oven until lightly browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaves registers 150°, about 35 minutes. Let the meat loaves rest for 15 minutes, then cut into thick slices and serve with the Creamy Onion Gravy.

Creamy Onion Gravy

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onions, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, melt the butter in the olive oil.  Add the onions and stir to coat.  Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft, about  10-12 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and cook, whisking frequently, until the gravy is thick, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the heavy cream and simmer gravy for about 5 more minutes.

Transfer the onion gravy to a blender and puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper and place back to pot on stove and let simmer about 5 more minutes.

Clam, Grouper, and Oyster Bouillabaisse (or, at least, my version of it)

This is one of my favorite go-to seafood recipes when I want something super flavorful and fulfilling, but relatively quick and easy. (Is it even a bouillabaisse?  Or more of just a seafood stew?)  Regardless, I like it and its versatile.  Use whatever fresh seafood is available, and sometimes I even like to add sausage to it.  Fennel can be a nice addition, too.

Clam, Grouper, and Oyster Bouillabaisse

Serves 4

  • 1/2 pound oysters
  • 1/2 pound grouper, cut into chunks
  • Clams (I don’t know the pound, but I know we bought it as a bag of about 50 clams)
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine + 1 other cup of white wine
  • 1 cup broth/stock (veggie, chicken, fish, whatever you have) + 1 more cups broth/stock
  • 1/2 pound small/new potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Handful of chopped fresh mixed herbs if you have them

Cook potatoes in a pot of salted boiling water until just cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

In a large pot (I use an enameled cast iron pot), sweat the onions, peppers, and garlic  with the butter and olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Add white wine and let reduce by about half.  Add 1 cup of stock/broth and add oysters and fish.  Season with salt and pepper. Let cook about 3 minutes minutes and add potatoes and let cook another minute longer.

In meantime (like while peppers are sweating), get clams started. Combine one cup wine and one cup broth in large pot with clams over medium high heat.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Let cook for about 4-6 minutes until clams open.  (If you have a steamer insert for the pan, use that for the clams – it makes transferring them to the big stew much easier.)  As clams open, transfer them to big pot of stew.  Some clams will take longer than others to open, but discard any that don’t open at all.

Steamy, delicious stew

Add about 1-2 cups of the clam’s broth to the stew.  Add herbs if using and season with any extra salt and pepper.  Serve in big bowls with good crusty bread to sop up all the juices.

Our Florida Surf and Turf

On our Florida vacation, our beach house had a grill outside.  We found a nice meat market and picked up a large beef tenderloin, portioned it up, grilled it, and served it with some very garlicky shrimp and a side of potato and brussel sprout hash.  After a day on the beach coupled with this big meal and a couple bottles of red wine, we were all done for after eating!

Beef Filets with Butter Garlic Shrimp

Serves 4

  • 4 portions of beef filets
  • 1 pound large-ish shrimp, shelled, de-veined, tails removed
  • 4  cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 more tablespoons butter,  cut into smaller chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine

Generously season both sides of steaks with salt and pepper.  Grill over hot grill about 4-5 minutes per side (depending on thickness) for medium rare.

White steaks are resting, make shrimp.  Heat cast iron pan over medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil.  Add garlic and slowly cook until bubbly and just starting to brown, about 2 minutes (don’t burn!).  Add shrimp, season well, and cook about 2 minutes. Add white wine and let reduce by about half, about 2 minutes.  Once reduced, turn heat off and slowly start stirring in butter chunks, about one at a time.  Taste for any final seasoning and serve over steaks with lots of garlicky sauce.

Potato and Brussel Sprout Hash

  • About 3/4 pounds small potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • About 3/4 pounds brussel sprouts, ends cut off, sliced in half
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into dice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons  butter

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until just about cooked through, about 9 minutes.  Drain thoroughly.

Blanch brussel sprouts in boiling salted water until just cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Drain thoroughly.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive in cast iron pan over medium high heat.  Cook onions until cooked through and starting to brown in areas. Season and stir in butter and mix until melted.  Add to a large serving bowl. Tent with foil to keep warm.

Do the same with the potatoes and brussel sprouts, separately in two batches:  Heat a cast iron pan with the oil medium high heat, add the vegggies and season, cook until starting to brown in spots, and melt in the tablespoon of butter.  Add to serving bowl.  Once all veggies are done, give it all a good mix and serve with steaks and shrimp.

Our dinner table at the Beach House

BBQ Grouper

I recently went on a week long vacation to Florida (more specific details in an upcoming post), but we rented a beach house and were able to cook several meals at home, which was great because there is so mush fresh seafood there.  Grouper, snapper, oysters, clams, crab, shrimp. I was in heaven! I think I probably ate over a hundred oysters while there, and, sadly, I’m not kidding.  So, the next few posts will feature lots of that seafood!  Oh – and the plates we had at the beach house are pretty flashy, so just bear with it.

The below recipe is pretty basic – seared grouper with some bbq sauce slathered on, grits, and sauteed spinach with garlic.  Normally, I would like to make my own BBQ sauce (like here), but you have limited means in a unfamiliar kitchen with only so many pantry supplies, so we went with store bought.  As for the grits, just use my recipe here (yes, mine is with yellow cornmeal, but I could not find white corn meal that was more coarse ground).  I did do some improvising because we did not have any Parmesan, but we did have cream cheese so I threw some of that in.

Fish and Grits - the perfect combo!

BBQ Grouper with Grits and Spinach

Serves 4

  • About 2 pounds grouper (or a little less will be fine, as our portions were quite large)
  • About 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, preferable homemade, but go with store bought in a pinch (like I did)
  • 2 cloves garlic, VERY thinly sliced
  • 1 big bag baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large cast iron pan, heat some olive oil or vegetable oil (about 2 TBS) over medium high heat.  Season fish  with salt and fresh cracked pepper on both sides.  Once pan and oil is hot, add fish to pan.  My cast iron is fairly big so I was able to fit all portions into one pan. If yours is small, do it in 2 batches.  Sear fish on one side about 2-3 minutes.  Turn and sear another couple minutes.  Brush top side of each piece of fish liberally with bbq sauce.  Place in oven and cook another 3-5 minutes depending on how thick/large you grouper portions are.

Look at this gorgeous, giant piece of fresh grouper!

While fish is cooking in oven, melt butter over medium heat in medium sized skillet.  Once butter starts to get foamy and turn brown (but not burned!  It will smell kind of nutty when ready), add garlic slices.  Let cook for 1-2 minutes until garlic browns (but not burns! Adjust heat if necessary). Add spinach to pan, toss with butter and garlic and cook until wilted all down, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with fish and grits.

It’s Football Snacking Time!

Are you ready for some football??!! I’m not! I have close to zero interest in it, and could easily live the rest of my life and never watch a game again.  However, my hubby is a die-hard Bears fan, and he loves him some football.  So, with that, Sunday’s in the fall often mean friends, food, and football.  And I certainly do like friends and food, and I’ll  take pretty much any reason to make snacks to share with friends.

To me, football just means a reason for me to make delicious snacks!

I wanted to do more of a from scratch pulled pork – meaning making a rub for it, searing it, and braising it low and slow.  But, I had spent most of the day Saturday at an Oyster and Beer Festival (it was awesome!), and had my fair share of beers and was in no condition to neither sear nor braise anything.  With that, I went the really easy route and threw the pork in  the crock pot with a can of beer and some fresh cracked pepper, turned it on low, and let it cook overnight.  Normally, I would make my own BBQ sauce, but considering my previous day of drinking, and that I still needed to make slaw, a snack of pimento cheese, tidy up the house, and set things out, from scratch just did not happen.

Pulled Pork BBQ Sliders with Creamy Slaw

  • 1, 3.5-4 pound pork shoulder
  • 1 can beer
  • 1 bottle BBQ sauce (I LOVE Sweet Baby Ray’s – don’t know if that is everywhere or just a Midwest thing)
  • Mini buns
  • 1 medium head cabbage
  • 1 red onion, sliced very thin
  • 1 red pepper, sliced very thin
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • couple pinches of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed

For pork, set pork in crock pot. Add can of beer and some fresh cracked black pepper. Set on low heat for 10-12 hours.  Once pork is cooked, dump out excess liquid from crock pot. Shred pork. Add bottle of BBQ sauce and keep pork on warm.

For slaw, very finely slice by hand or with grater attachment of food processor cabbage.  Grate carrots by hand or process them through grater in food processor.  Combine cabbage, carrots, red onion, and red pepper in large bowl. In smaller bowl, combine mayo, sour cream,  vinegar, sugar, celery seed, and salt and pepper. Taste to make sure its balanced.  Add to cabbage and mix well. Season with any more needed salt and pepper.

To make sliders, place some pork on a bun, top with some slaw, and top with bun.  I recommend eating multiple sliders

Salmon with Potato and Bean Pesto Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

This dish was so light yet so satisfying.  I picked up about 4 bunches of basil at the market, and made several jars of pesto.  I love warm/room temp potato salads so I decided to pair it with fresh green beans and just use the pesto for a dressing.  I felt like maybe the dish needed just a little something else to tie it all together, so I threw together a quick vinaigrette by grating a tomato on a hand grater and mixing with some vinegar and oil, and there you go – a light vinaigrette that would pair perfectly the salmon and pesto salad. Wanted to grill the salmon, but weather prevented it.

Salmon with Potato and Bean Pesto Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

  • 2 servings salmon
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed (I used a variety of beans from the market)
  • 1/2 pound new potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1/4 cup pesto (click on link for my recipe or just use store bought)
  • 1 medium sized tomato
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered mustard (use Dijon if you don’t have powdered)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and oregano)

For potato salad, place sliced potatoes in a pot of salted, cold water.  Set on stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring temp back to medium to medium high heat (keep it boiling, but not super rapidly so that it tears all the skins off the potatoes). Once potatoes are tender, drain and toss with just a bit of olive oil.  Blanch green beans in pot of salted water about 5 minutes or until tender (might be more or less time depending on how thick or tender your beans are).  To save time, I just added my beans to my potatoes that were boiling when about 5 minutes was left.  Drain.

Mix potatoes and green beans with pesto.  If seems a bit dry, drizzle with just a bit of olive oil.

For tomato vinaigrette, slice a tomato in half crosswise.  Give the tomatoes a bit of a squeeze of the sink to force out some of the excess water and seeds. Then, using a hand grater, rub the cut, fleshy  side of the tomato on the grater until all of the tomato has been pressed through (except for the skin – this should be left in your hand.)

Add the red wine, shallots, and mustard to the tomato  juice/pulp.  Season with some salt and pepper.  Slowly whisk in olive oil.  Mix in herbs and taste for any other seasoning needed.

To cook salmon, heat a pan over high.  Add a couple teaspoons canola or vegetable oil (those 2 oils have a higher smoke point that olive oil – meaning it won’t burn at high temps – and you want to use that since we are searing the fish over a high temp). Add to pan and let sear on one side about 3 minutes.  Turn and let sear another 2-3 minutes.  Pop into a 400 degree oven and let cook another 2-3 minutes or until almost cooked through (I like my Salmon at medium – not well!)

Serve salmon with potato salad and some tomato vinaigrette.  You’ll have left over vinaigrette.