Swimming in Mustard: Halibut with Mustard Sauce

mustard sauce for fish whole foods dinner pescatarian

Halibut Swimming in Mustard

A few years back – this is my old-lady saying for the day – I was on a fishing trip in Florida. We might have gone out the night before until really late (old-lady late, like 11 or something) and we may have had some wine. All of this is irrelevent. Regardless, the 6:30am departure from the dock for a day of off-shore, deep sea, dolphin-fish fishing was a bit rough.

But, I grew up on boats and don’t have a tendency toward seasickness. So, really, I was just very tired.

halibut dinner mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian

We were not hunting Flipper!

We ventured out – way out – like a gillion miles offshore – to hunt down the coveted dolphin-fish – relax, not Flipper, the beloved Dolphin mammal.

The trip out to sea provided me with a much needed onboat nap.

I won’t tell a fisher-gal tale and lie about how many fish we caught. Cuz, we didn’t catch anything for a long, long time. Maybe we caught a handful (OK, two) fish that were too-small to keep…but no more than two.

heminway halibut mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian fish

Read it

Until the very end of the trip. At hour 5 as we were getting set to pull in the lines and head back to the dock, I hooked a dolphin-fish. The fish was a lively one, indeed. OK, it didn’t give me an ‘Islands In the Stream’ (Hemingay reference, not Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton, look it up) battle – But, it did give a bit of a fight. When I pulled the fish into the boat, both of us, the fish and I, were exhausted. The boat guys put the dolphin into the fish well and kept it alive as we motored back to the dock.

When we landed, the guys (they’re not called ‘gillies’ or ‘fish mongers’…not sure what they’re called) filleted the fish and put 3lbs of amazingly freshly caught dolphin fish into plastic bags. They directed us to a dock side restaurant where the chef would cook our catch to our specifications. Amazing concept – like living off the land, or the sea in this case.

One of our crew ordered her fish blackened and the other two of us ordered it meuniere. Within :30minutes of catching the fish, a chef was preparing it – just as we wanted it. Very cool…

Yeah, until I realized what had happened. I couldn’t eat it. Not a bite. This amazingly fresh, fish that I, myself, had caught.

And, neither could my Florida fishing pals.

One of them looked at me and said…’What’s wrong with us?’

And with great sadness for the fish I replied…’One minute you’re swimming in the ocean and the next minute, you’re swimming in butter.’

The timing was just too tight.

So, when planning a fish dinner, I highly recommend buying your fish at WholeFoods or a good fish place…Because catching and eating is just too sad.

Halibut With Mustard Sauce (serves 4)

Tiny Kitchen Tips:

  • Prepare the marinade ahead of time as you’ll need the counter space for the rest of your prep work AND it’s good for the flavors to meld together for a bit in the fridge
  • central park fireworks food recipe dinner halibut

    Dinner Entertainment

    If there’s an unexpected fireworks display out your window AND you’ve invited gays to dinner, be prepared to keep the meal warm while the boys marvel at the lights over Central Park

  • Get a tiny whisk – it’s like my fave new thing BECAUSE 1. it’s tiny and fits well in your limited drawer space 2. it’s incredibly useful for whisking together marinades in small bowls

Ingredients:

  • mustard halibut sauce dinner food pescatarian vegetarian

    Mise En Place

    1 1/2 – 1 1/3 lbs of Halibut (for the hell of it) Cut into 4 equally sized fillets. The halibut at WholeFoods was $22.50/lb yesterday, not bad for NYC

  • Sea salt and pepper – for the fish
  • 1 TSP salt for the sauce
  • 1/2 TSP pepper for the sauce
  • 8 ounces of Creme Fraiche – I bought some at WholeFoods or you can make your own
  • 3 TBSP Dijon Mustard
  • 1 TBSP Whole Grain Mustard
  • 2 TBSP Minced Shallots
  • 2 TSP Drained Capers

1. Whisk together with your tiny little baby whisk the two mustards, creme fraiche, shallots, capers and salt / pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least :30mins

mustard halibut marinade dinner vegetarian food

Use your tiny whisk here

mustard sauce for fish recipe food vegetarian pescatarian

MMMMustard Sauce

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees

3. Line a baking dish with Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper – expensive, but I love it

pan lining paper spinach balls recipe

Shiny on the bottom, parchment on the top

4. Place the fillets skin side down on the paper and sprinkle with salt and pepper

halibut with mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian dinner fish

See, my fillets weren’t all the same size. FAIL

5. Cover the fillets generously – more of a slather, really – with the mustardy sauce

halibut recipe dinner mustard sauce

Smothered in Sauce

6. Bake for :15 minutes…until the fish is flaky

7. Plate the fish – preferably on a sea-themed platter and spoon the sauce from the baking dish over the fish. The fish should be swimming in sauce

pescatarian recipe dinner food halibut sauce

Swimming in Mustard Sauce

8. Serve

I like fishing. I do. But, I really don’t need to catch anything and eat it. Maybe this is part of the evolution of man (woman)…We have WholeFoods. We don’t have to live off the land or the sea.

So, I’ll leave the fishing to the fisher-people. And, stick to what I know: I love a fish dish swimming in mustard as long as I didn’t find the fish first swimming in the ocean.

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Baked Salmon, Or At Least I Think So

whole foods baked salmon

Simple Baked Salmon

This week there have been reports that a good percentage – or bad depending upon how you think of it – of the fish we eat, isn’t what we think it is. In NYC up to 39% of the fish tested was fraudulently labeled. Sometimes the labeling was as quasi-harmless as ‘Wild Salmon’ vs the truth that it was actually farmed.

Other mislabeling, however, wasn’t so innocent. In certain cases, tilapia was sold as red snapper. And, in the worst or most dangerous of cases, fish labeled as ‘white tuna’ was actually escolar (what is escolar???) which can cause acute gastrointestinal problems (according to Oceana officials – I’m just guessing that this Oceana is not the same Oceana Airlines from LOST).

We, as New Yorkers, should consider ourselves lucky. In Los Angeles and Boston the percentages of mislabeled fish were much greater. Boston surprised me at 48%…I mean don’t they pride themselves on their seafood? And LA was well worse at 55% – but, really, should we be surprised?…I mean, I love LA and…there’s a ton of fake stuff in LA – ’nuff said.

And, enough about that. As far as I know, I made an easy baked salmon Sunday night for my pescatarian friends.

In an apartment kitchen, baking the salmon is a good idea for so many reasons:

  • Salmon is a fishy smelling fish.
  • If you pan sear it in your tiny NYC apartment kitchen, the smell can linger for days
  • You don’t want to be ‘that fishy smelling neighbor’

So, simply baking it, is probably your best bet.

Here’s how:

Simply Baked Salmon (serves 4)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

1. Buy what you think is salmon…About a 1 1/2 lb fillet for four people. Ask the ‘fish monger’ – or guy behind the counter at Whole Foods – to cut it into 4 equal pieces and to deskin it. This is called ‘deskinification’ – far as you know.

Actually, the NYC Whole Foods generally has pre-cut individual salmon fillets for $5.95 each.

2. Place the fillets in a pan and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil

salmon filets whole foods

Lined Up and Ready

3. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper

4. Bake in the oven for :15 minutes – or until you achieve the desired doneness. I’m not a big fan of rare salmon…and I generally err toward medium doneness

whole foods salmon fillets

Look! It’s a Seafood Themed Platter

5. Remove from oven…Garnish with some lemon wedges and serve – maybe with peas and the vegetarian pie from yesterday’s post…

peas defrosting

Peas – I always have frozen peas

I’m pretty sure what we ate was salmon…either way, it was simple and delicious and didn’t leave me with a fishy smelling apartment.

Plus, after a full day of Christmas Cookie baking (see tomorrow’s post) – and with the vegetarians coming over – simple was definitely the way to go.

In It to Win(e) It: Post-PowerBall Packets of Fish

Lo-Cal Dinner

For those who are wondering…I didn’t win the half a billion dollar PowerBall lottery last night. This really blows my retirement plan and is sort of ruining my Thursday morning. I think in order to win, you have to live in a place like Missouri or, even, apparently, Arizona. And, no, I’m not even one of the two $1million winners in New York State. Very disappointing.

Sad Losing Ticket – with two worthless matching numbers

So, I’m still – like so many – watching my pennies. Trying to use every ounce of everything in the kitchen…Staying on top of expiration dates in the cupboard and fridge…

When people come for dinner or drinks  at my apartment they are charged with bringing white wine. I don’t drink white wine. Ever. Like as TSwift might say: never ever ever. Even in the summer. Even at a ladies luncheon. OK, once I drank white when I was at a holiday party at the apartment of a friend who – due to her entirely white interior decorating scheme – served only white wine. But, I didn’t enjoy it.

People Just leave Wine!

So, in the rare instance that there is left over white wine in my apartment, I try to cook with it. Left over wine is an unusual occasion – you should meet my friends.

This morning I found a half drunk bottle of Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge. I thought about drinking away my sorrows from the PowerBall loss…but, let’s face it…It wasn’t even noon and that would just be too sad.

I also found some capers and lemons in the fridge…thyme in the freezer and, of course, frozen Whole Foods Tilapia. I’m a little obsessed with always having it on hand.

And, I’m still on my quest to lose the Sandy 15lbs.

So I made:

Tilapia En Papillote (serves 2)

OK…first and foremost, if you are using frozen fish, take it out of the freezer, remove it from the packaging, place in a baking dish, cover with Saran Wrap and store in the fridge at least 7 hours before you want to cook it.

Ill-Advised Defrosting

Now – honestly, I’ve forgotten to do this and you can just leave the frozen fish in a covered baking dish on the kitchen counter…but, for whatever reason, you’re not supposed to do it that way. Whatevs, I lived.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Place one Tilapia Filet in the center of a 10ish inch x 10ish inch piece of either heavy duty tin foil, or as I did on that fancy Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper: Parchment on one side, tin foil on the other. It’s like the mullet of cooking papers (business in the front, party in the back)

Fancy!

2. Sprinkle the filet with Thyme or Lemon Thyme

Thyme Sprinkles on the fish on the Parchment side of the pan lining paper

3. Layer on some capers – I love capers, they’re like salty goodness – just thought you should know

Capers On…Lemons Staged

4. Sprinkle with salt – and pepper, if you want

5. Cover the filet with lemon slices

6. Place one pat of butter on top of the lemon slices

Give ’em all a little pat of butter

7. Spoon about a TBSP of white wine over the fish – be careful, you don’t want the wine to (eeks!) spill outside of the parchment paper and be wasted!

8. Fold up the sides of the fancy Reynold’s Parchment/Tin Foil (mullet) wrap around the fish. Make sure there is space between the fish and the wrapping as you want the fish to have room to steam. And, be sure that the packet is completely sealed.

NOTE: if you see the pros do this – they create a perfect half moon shaped packet… I’m just not that artistically skilled or creative. And, you can get the same effect with any shaped packet.

No Points for Style

9. Repeat with three other filets

10. Put the pretty (or not so pretty) packets on a rimmed baking tray into the oven and bake for :12-:14 minutes depending upon thickness of fish

11. Carefully remove the fish from the packets, plate and serve

Pretty Pescatarian Plate

So, with my losing PowerBall ticket I won’t be dining at Perse or jetting off in my private plane to St. Bart’s. Nope. I’ll be hoping that I can continue to count on my white wino friends to leave just a few tablespoons of wine in my fridge to dress up a meal…or two. And, I’ll continue to buy PowerBall and MegaMillions tickets…Cuz, you gotta be in it to win it!

Hookers – Like People Who Catch Fish

Tilapia in a Lemon, White Wine, Caper Sauce

Hook Yourself Up with A Grown Up Dinner for One

With Halloween rapidly approaching, I think back on all of the costumes I selected growing up. For the first 8 or so years, I was a witch – spare me the life-art comments. Then, when I was finally allowed to select my own costumes, I was a cat (hate cats, not sure why I did that), a hobo – cuz I was going to Halloween during the depression? A candy striper – always the do-gooder – smiley face.

Most of the time my parents were OK with whatever I chose to be. My mother even made the witch costume that I wore for the first 8 years – hold comments until the end. But in 7th grade my friends and I on the verge of becoming little women decided to go a little more risque.

Risque…hmmm.  Bear in mind that in my somewhat conservative catholic home I wasn’t even allowed to wear a non-competitive swim suit in 7th or 8th or 9th grade. And, when I sported my first ‘fashion’ swimwear at 14, my father sent me home from the pool.

Toddlers in Tiaras

She’s such a pretty woman!

So, when I announced proudly that the girls and I were going to be hookers, you can imagine the reaction I received.

Yep, hookers.

I’m not even sure that I knew what hookers really did – but I did know that we would be able to look a lot cuter than we had as hobos the year prior.

Naively, I didn’t really anticipate any negative reaction from my parents. I mean I pretty much figured: Hookers. Hobos. Whatever.

Uhm, no.

My father instantly put the kibosh on that idea and informed me that the only hookers in the family would be people hooking fish.

OK. So candy striper repeat it was. Of course, it was an over-made up candy striper – but a do-good candy striper nonetheless.

As far as fishing and hookers…A couple of nights ago, I hooked a couple of tilapia filets at Whole Foods and made:

Tilapia in a White Wine Sauce (serves 1 – there’s no reason you can’t have a real meal when dining alone)

Frozen Tilapia Pescatarian Vegetarian

Have on hand

NOTE: If you’re using the Whole Foods frozen tilapia, 7 hours before you intend to cook, take one package out of the freezer, remove the packaging, place the filets in a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

1. Mise en place:

  • 1 tsp of capers rinsed and drained
  • 1 small shallot minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine – I used chardonnay because that’s what I had, but you might want to use a drier one
  • 1 tsp parsley chopped
  • the zest of one lemon
  • the juice of one lemon
Whole Foods frozen tiliapia

Mise En Place to Make even Anne Burrell Proud

2. In a 10-inch skillet over medium, heat 1 tsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter.

3. Salt and Pepper the filets on both sides, gently coat in flour and place in the heated skillet

Tilapia searing in butter olive oil

Browning the Fish

4. Cook on each side for +/- :04 minutes – depending upon the thickness of the fish.

Lemon Caper White Wine Shallot Sauce

Beautifully Browned

5. Once the fish is wholly cooked, remove from the skillet and keep warm

6. Add the shallot to the skillet and saute until fragrant – about 2 mins

Lemon White Wine Caper shallot sauce

Saute the Shallot

7. Add the white wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Allow the sauce to thicken slightly – about :03mins. If you don’t feel like it’s thickening enough…throw in a little butter (1 tsp) and stir until it melts into the sauce

Whole Foods frozen tilapia

Add in White Wine and Lemon Juice

8. Stir in the lemon zest, parsley and capers

Lemon White Wine Shallot Caper Sauce

Stir in Parsley and Lemon Zest

9. Stir to combine flavors – about :02 mins. Then pour over the fish and serve

Cooking with Wine

Pour the Sauce over the Fish

Halloween is a time when you’re allowed and encouraged to be something you’re not. Whether it’s a witch (stop it), a hobo or even a hooker.

And, while I wasn’t ever allowed to dress like Pretty Woman, I ultimately became quite the skilled hooker…and cooker of fish.

Emergency Fish Fry

Fried Fish

Egg White Batter Fried Tilapia

During the days leading up to 2011’s Hurricane Irene we did what all New Yorkers did – planned a party. The news warned of apocalyptic flooding and power outtages. Told us to stock up on supplies and provisions. I raced to the grocery store to stock up on the necessities. Except that I was really puzzled by what those were. I watched other shoppers – all of whom looked equally confused as to what to buy.

No power? In New York, we just don’t lose power (save the blackout of 2003). And restaurants aren’t really ever closed. So, trying to wrap your head around no food and no power isn’t easy. I grabbed what I thought might be ok to sustain me and went home.

That night as we gathered at the apartment of a friend to hunker down for the storm, we all compared what provisions we had procured earlier that day. You have to love New Yorkers….Some of us bought canned tuna. Some bought large jugs of water. Some of us bought toilet paper and paper towels. Some of us emptied out our bank accounts – you know in case we had to use stacks of cash to buy transport off of the island.

All of us bought wine, beer or vodka. And, my favorite: All of us bought canned artichoke hearts. Because, like, if there was biblical flooding and no power, we would totally need to make an artichoke dip.

Frozen Tilapia Fillets

Fave Frozen Fish From Whole Foods

Even when not faced with the storm of the century, we might all want to have emergency food in the fridge. Something that can be whipped up pretty quickly and lasts a long time in the freezer.

Before I cooked so much, my freezer always held an emergency frozen pizza. Since then, I’ve evolved and now you can always find a package of frozen tilapia fillets from Whole Foods. I love these – $2.99….last a year and easy to prepare.

Plus – tilapia is a totally non-polarizing white fish.

Last night, there was no emergency, except that I didn’t want to venture out for supplies. And I hit up the Whole Foods emergency tilapia and made…

Egg Batter Fish Fry (Serves 2)

Heat about 1.5 inches of oil in a pot over medium heat. Oil needs to heat to 375 degrees

1. In a medium bowl using a hand mixer, beat two egg whites to stiff peaks

NOTE: I love my Cuisinart hand held mixer. It has this plastic case to hold all of the accessories AND the mixer itself. It’s apartment perfect!

Cuisinart Hand Held

Apartment Perfect

Beat Egg Whites with Cuisinart Hand Mixer

The Hand Mixer Magic

2. In a second, smaller bowl, combine 1 egg yolk with 1 1/2 tsp of flour and 1/4 tsp of salt

Combine egg yolk and flour

Mixing Flour and Egg Yolk

3. Mix about 1/2 of the egg yolk/flour mixture into the whipped egg whites

4. Carefully fold the remaining egg yolk/flour mixture into the whipped egg whites

Egg Whites Batter

Whipped Egg Whites

5. Gently fold in 1 tbsp of fresh lemon thyme leaves into the batter. If you can’t find lemon thyme, substitute 1/2 tsp of lemon zest and 1 tsp of thyme

Fried Tilapia Whole Foods

Lemon Thyme Egg White Batter

6. Cut two tilapia fillets into 4-6 pieces each

Fish Fillets Whole Foods

Sliced Tilapia Fillets

7. Pat the fish dry on both sides and lightly coat each in a flour mixed with a little salt and pepper

8. Dip each floured fish fillet piece into the Egg Batter – You will need to use a spoon or spatula to help cover the fillets with the batter

9. Carefully place each piece into the oil and allow to brown – about :03 mins

Whole Foods Frozen Fried Tilapia Fillets

Gently Frying

10. Flip each piece to brown the other side – about another :03 mins

Tilapia Fillets in Egg Batter Fry

Flipped

11. Using a spider transfer the fish to a brown paper bag to drain

12. Make a dipping sauce:  In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp of sour cream, 1 tbsp of mayonnaise, 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, the juice of one lemon and 1/2 tsp of Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt

13. Serve while warm

I don’t generally like to fry in the apartment – because the apartment will now smell like fried for a couple of days. But, this was really good. The lightness of the egg white batter and flakey white fish is a nice contrast to a typical heavy fish fry.

And, I’d eat this emergency or not! Off to Whole Foods to restock the tilapia now.