Lemon Red Snapper With Herb Butter…

A couple of weeks ago a new Whole Foods store opened near my home. I’m not particularly a big fan of Whole Foods as some of their prices, in my opinion, are completely outrageous. But I do like the fact that if I need something, especially something out of the ordinary, I can always find it there. I also like the fresh seafood they carry. They often carry varieties of fish I can’t find in my local grocery stores. And the fishmongers will filet and debone any whole fish for you on the spot.

I went to the store on opening day and it was crazy. The place was packed but there were so many great things to see and sample. At one point they were cooking lobster tails and giving away samples of them. I actually found yellow grapefruit, which is my favorite. Most stores only carry pink grapefruit  and I prefer the tanginess of the yellow.

And when I walked by the seafood department I was so impressed with the variety of fish they had. For months I had been looking for red snapper filets and there they were, beautiful specimens, right in front of my eyes. I was so excited that I was finally going to be able to try out this recipe.

Now if you’ve not made a lot of fish and are unsure of your skill in this area, I would not start by making a recipe like this using red snapper as the fish. Not that this recipe is all that difficult but snapper is expensive (it cost me $20 for two filets). You might want to hone your fish making skills on less expensive types of fish like tilapia or cod before you venture into making red snapper. This recipe would work very well with either of those types of fish.

But lets talk about lemon red snapper with herb butter…

Lesson Learned 1 – Cut the lemon slices at least 1/4 inch thick: I cut my lemon slices about 1/8 inch thick and they cooked down more than I would have liked. They still infused the fish with great flavor, but you also use the lemon as a garnish when you serve the fish. By cutting the lemons 1/4 inch thick they will have more body after the cooking process.

Lemon Red Snapper With Herb Butter

Lesson Learned 2 – Not all filets cook the same: It’s never one size fits all when cooking fish filets. Some may be longer and thinner while others are shorter and thicker. The trick is to try to get filets that are similar in size so that they all cook for the same amount of time. The last thing you want to do is overcook an expensive cut of fish like red snapper.

My filets were longer and thinner but still about 1/4 inch thick at the center. When I researched how to cook the snapper the overall consensus seemed to be at 425 for about 13 minutes. But you can’t always follow that. It is important when making fish to develop an eye for determining when the fish is cooked. I judge my fish by looking at the thickest part. It will start to look opaque at each edge and as the fish cooks the opaqueness fills in. When it is almost completely opaque on the side I know my fish is done. These particular filets only took about 10 minutes. So learn how to develop that eye. The filets you choose may have to cook for 13 minutes. I can only tell you that it will take time as well as trial and error to get good at cooking fish.

Lemon Red Snapper With Herb Butter

Lesson Learned 3 – Don’t be afraid to make fish: I think the key to making fish is to err on the side of underdone. You can always put the fish back in the oven but you can’t do anything with an overdone dried out piece of fish. Be prepared to do that a few times.  It’s no big deal. I guarantee you that after a while you will develop that eye and become a master at cooking fish.

If you are looking to add more fish in your diet, this is a great recipe to start you on your way. Try it and let me know what you think…

LEMON RED SNAPPER WITH HERB BUTTER...

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Medium
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INGREDIENTS:

2 lemons

Lemon Red Snapper With Herb Butter

Lemon Red Snapper With Herb Butter

Non-stick cooking spray

4 (6 ounce) red snapper filets

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. freshly cracked pepper

2 Tbs. butter, softened

2 Tbs. fresh thyme, chopped

1 Tbs. lemon zest (the zest of a medium sized lemon)

DIRECTIONS:

Remove the filets from the refrigerator and let them stand for about 20 minutes. (this will take the chill off of them and make the cooking time more true. It is completely safe).

Zest one lemon and set aside. Cut lemons into 8 quarter inch pieces. Place slices in pairs on a rimmed baking sheet covered in foil and coated with cooking spray.  Place 1 filet on top of each pair of lemons. Combine salt, paprika, garlic powder and pepper and sprinkle over the filets. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

While the fish is in the oven, combine the butter, lemon zest and thyme in a small bowl.

When fish is done, plate fish and lemon slices. Top each filet with the herb butter, spreading it to allow it to melt. Serve immediately.

Herb Butter Mixture

Herb Butter Mixture

Herb Butter Mixture

Herb Butter Mixture

Lemon Red Snapper With Herb Butter

Lemon Red Snapper With Herb Butter

Parmesan Crusted Halibut…

My husband and I have been trying to eat fish more regularly and so I’ve been experimenting with various methods of cooking different types of fish. Not all fish are created equal. I have to admit that it can be a little unnerving trying to master the art of cooking fish as it can go from underdone to overdone in the wink of an eye. But this particular recipe is very easy and if you follow the instructions you will have a delicious mouthwatering piece of fish.

Most of the work in this recipe is in the prep (that seems to be a recurring theme for me, doesn’t it). Creating the breading station and preparing the fish is what takes up the most time. But bottom line, within 20 minutes you can go from prep to table and that’s pretty quick. Your side dishes may take more time than it does to make this halibut recipe.

So let’s talk parmesan crusted halibut…

Lesson Learned 1 – Halibut is expensive: Compared to talapia, cod and catfish, halibut can be pricey. The filets I use in this recipe are frozen and between 5 and 7 ounces. They cost about $10 each. So depending on your budget halibut may be a special treat versus a dinnertime staple. I usually buy them when they go on sale at my local supermarket. Every once in a while they go on sale for 20% off and I stock at that time. Halibut freezes nicely so you don’t have to worry about getting it fresh which also tends to be more expensive than frozen. My advice is to check the specials at your local supermarket. Every once in a while halibut goes on sale and that is definitely the time to buy it.

Lesson Learned 2 – Follow the directions in this recipe: Although halibut is more expensive than other types of fish it has a nice meaty texture and is very flavorful if prepared correctly. That is why I cannot stress enough to follow the directions in this recipe. The overall tendency with fish (or maybe it’s just my tendency) is to cook it longer than you should. If you’re not sure it’s done, take a fork and try to flake off the end of one piece. If it flakes (as seen in the picture below) it’s done. Trust me, after you make fish more often you’ll be able to eyeball it to see if it’s done.  You can always put it back in the oven if it’s not but you don’t want to spend $10 for a piece of fish and overcook it.

Parmesan Crusted Halibut

If you’re planning on serving fish to company and are concerned about presentation make sure you are adept at cooking that type of fish so you don’t have to do the fork test. I can’t tell you how many times my husband got a piece of “forked” fish but never minded because he knew it would be cooked appropriately.

My husband absolutely loves this recipe and I think you will too. Try it and let me know what you think…

PARMESAN CRUSTED HALIBUT…

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Medium
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INGREDIENTS:

Parmesan Crusted Halibut4 five to seven ounce halibut filets, skin removed

1 extra large egg

1 Tbs. water

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 Tbs. fresh thyme (just take the leaves off the stem – no need to chop them)

1/2 cup all purpose flour

Zest of one lemon (you can cut the remainder of the lemon into wedges and serve with the fish)

2 Tbs. olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400. Make a three part dredging station. Part 1 is the flour. Part 2 is the egg and water whisked together. Part 3 is the panko, parmesan, lemon zest and thyme combined.

Dredge a filet in the flour on both side. Shake off the excess flour. Dredge the filet on both sides in the egg mixture. Place the filet onto the bread crumb mixture and cover both sides pressing down on each side to ensure the breading adheres to the filet. Repeat this process with the other three filets.

Heat an ovenproof pan (preferably a cast iron skillet) over medium high heat. Once the pan is heated pour the olive oil into the pan and make sure the bottom of the pan is completely coated. The pan is sufficiently hot if the oil smokes. Place the filets into the oil and brown them for 3 minutes. Turn them over and put them in the oven for an additional 5 – 7 minutes depending upon the size of your filets.

Remove the filets from the pan and serve immediately.

Parmesan Crusted Halibut

Parmesan Crusted Halibut

 

Grilled Salmon In Foil Packets

It’s getting close to the time when grilling food will be less and oven prepared food will be more. Well, this recipe gives you that grilled look from being baked in the oven in a foil packet. What I like about this recipe is it’s so easy to prepare and cook, so even if your a novice at cooking fish this recipe will turn you into a pro!

So let’s talk about grilled salmon in foil packets…

Two Six Ounce Salmon Filets

Two Six Ounce Salmon Filets

Lesson Learned 1 – The portion size for salmon: I had a butcher tell me that the correct portion size for salmon is eight ounces. I don’t agree with that. I think it is six ounces. If you’re feeding big eaters get eight ounce portions, but for most six ounces is more than enough. Both six and eight ounce portions cook for approximately the same time, give or take a few minutes for the larger size portion. Stick with a 6 ounce portion and the cooking time in the recipe and the salmon will turn out perfectly every time. I have a wonderful grocery store nearby that always has large pieces of salmon in the meat case. I get the butcher to cut them fresh for me every time. I also ask the butcher to cut the piece from the center and not from the ends.

Lesson Learned 2 – Removing the skin from the salmon: This is probably the most time consuming part of the entire recipe. You need to remove the skin of the salmon before baking it. Now you can always ask a butcher to do that, but I prefer doing it myself as I like to make sure that I am removing the skin with the least amount of flesh attached to it. But if you’re afraid to do it or feel like you don’t have the time, just ask your butcher.

Removing the skin from the salmonTo remove the skin you need to work with a very sharp knife. I use a boning knife. Start at the thick end of the filet and see if, by hand, you can slightly lift up part of the skin. Normally you can. Then place the blade of the knife up against the skin and slowly begin to move the knife down the skin. While your moving your knife, try to get as much of your hand holding the skin and pull toward the thin end of the filet as you move the knife.

This process may take a little time and you want to make sure you are removing mostly skin and not flesh. That is why you need a very sharp knife for this. Otherwise you may sacrifice a lot of the salmon to the skin. Take your time and don’t get frustrated. Just continue to methodically move the knife down the skin will pulling the skin toward the thin side of the filet.

That grilled look from baking in the ovenLesson Learned 3 – Getting the grilled on the salmon filet by using a foil packet: Once the salmon has marinated you just put it in a foil packet on a baking sheet and roast it in the oven for 15 minutes. No need to prep the foil in any way. Since the marinade has brown sugar in it, the bottom of the salmon will slightly caramelize. When removing the salmon from the packet simply flip it over when you put it on the plate and the salmon will look like it was made on the grill. It’s so easy and such a neat trick!

This is my go to salmon recipe. I love it because it is quick and easy and, by the way, did I tell you it’s pretty darn delicious. So try this one and tell me what you think…

Grilled Salmon In Foil Packets…

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

4 six ounce salmon filets, skin removed

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup water

half of a third of a cup of vegetable oil

2 medium-large garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves, slightly chopped (I used lemony thyme)

1 tsp. lemon pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Put the brown sugar, soy sauce, water, oil, garlic, thyme and lemon pepper into a bowl. Whisk completely making sure to incorporate all of the brown sugar into the liquid.

Place the salmon filets into a resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the filets. NOTE:  You may need to use a spatula to get the residual brown sugar from the bottom of the bowl into the bag. It is important that as much brown sugar as possible is in the marinade mixture while the filets are marinating. Marinate the filets for 3-4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil. Using a piece of additional foil for each filet, loosely wrap the filet in the foil folding the edges up at the ends to make a packet. Place all the packets on the foil lined pan.

Bake for 15 minutes. When removing the salmon from the foil, make sure to flip it over so the caramelized side is on the top when serving. Serve immediately.

The Marinade

The Marinade

Marinate Filets In A Resealable Bag For 4 Hours

Put the salmon and marinade into a resealable plastic bag…

A Foil Packet

Salmon in a foil packet…

Serving Suggestion: Grilled Salmon with Panko Crusted Tomatoes and Roasted Baby Red Potatoes...

Serving Suggestion: Grilled Salmon with Panko Crusted Tomatoes and Roasted Baby Red Potatoes…

Chicken Cutlets with Thyme Mustard Sauce…

I’m always looking for a quick and easy dinner recipe and I’m always on the hunt for new ways with chicken. This particular recipe definitely fits the bill in both areas. I like this recipe for a variety of reasons but mostly because it’s so easy and so flavorful. If you’re a chicken fan like I am, this recipe will become one of your favorites.

Recipe Rating – A+: This recipe is so good and easy to prepare that even I was a little amazed. My husband, who normally just gives me either a thumbs up or thumbs down on a new dish, felt compelled to comment. He must have said at least three times, “this chicken is really good.” That in itself is super validation for this particular recipe.

IMG_0548Lessons Learned 1 – Never underestimated the power of having a glass of wine while preparing a new recipe: I just had to put this in here. Usually I am a little nervous when trying out a new dish. Those few sips while I’m cooking away make the experience pleasurable. Add a little music to the mix and I begin to feel like Julia Child’s got nothing on me. I know I’m being slightly tongue and cheek here, but the idea is to do whatever you can to make the experience a good one. Anything that helps you enjoy the process is worth it. Have fun in the kitchen. I know I do.

Lesson Learned 2 – Prepping ahead always makes it easier: A couple of years ago my husband got me a Christmas gift of some cooking classes. One of the things that really stuck with me from those classes was the importance of prepping all of your ingredients first. Cooking time should be cooking time and not prepping time. So mince your shallots, slice your mushrooms, chop your garlic and thyme, measure out any ingredients that you don’t feel comfortable eyeballing, such as the sour cream, wine and mustard, and have everything set and ready to go before you start the cooking process. You’ll find it will help keep your kitchen cleaner and more organized and that will also make the experience better.

IMG_0544Lesson Learned 3: Don’t be afraid to substitute herbs: I used thyme in this recipe because I have it growing in my garden, but fresh tarragon would also work very well. My only caution would be not to substitute dried herbs for fresh ones. I think using fresh thyme provided more depth of flavor, especially with the short cooking time in this recipe.

Lesson Learned 4 – Cooking with chicken cutlets can be tricky: By chicken cutlets I mean boneless skinless breasts that either have been cut or pounded to about 1/4 inch thick. I actually found them at my local grocery store so that made it even easier. Chicken cutlets take no time to cook at all and you can easily make them taste like leather if your overcook them. I cooked mine for 3 minutes on each side before taking them out of the pan and preparing the sauce. I kept them on the plate covered with foil which resulted in some minimal carry over cooking. Once the sauce was made I put them back in the pan and let them simmer in the sauce for no more than two minutes. They came out juicy and tender.

IMG_0553

This is a great recipe for the burgeoning chef. The only area I would caution you on is to make sure not to overcook the cutlets. Because they are so thin they cook in no time flat. There is not a lot to prep for this recipe and within 20 minutes, including prep, this chicken is ready to plate. I served it with roasted butternut squash and balsamic roasted potato wedges and it was a big hit. Try this one. I know you will like it.

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Chicken Cutlets with Thyme-Mustard Sauce…

  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:IMG_0597

2 TBS. extra virgin olive oil

1 pound chicken cutlets, 3-4 pieces

6 ounces baby bella mushrooms, optional

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

1 medium size shallot

I clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. flour (for the sauce – additional needed to dust cutlets)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup sour cream, light preferred

1 TBS. dijon mustard

2 TBS. chopped fresh thyme leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Do all prep work first. Chop the shallots, mince the garlic, chop the thyme and measure out any remaining ingredients that you do not feel comfortable eyeballing.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Dust cutlets lightly with some flour. Sprinkle cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper. Add oil to the pan. Place the cutlets in the oil and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Remove cutlets from pan to a plate and cover with foil.

Add some additional olive oil to the pan. Saute mushroom until lightly brown. Add shallots and cook for about 1 minute. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over shallots and mushrooms and cook for an additional minute stirring constantly. Add wine and bring liquid to a boil. Stir with a spoon to loosen all the brown bits in the pan.

Lower heat. Add mustard, sour cream and thyme. Stir until combined. Add chicken back to the mixture and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Add some additional thyme as garnish when serving.

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IMG_0597

Serving Suggestion: Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash and Balsamic Roasted Potato Wedges

Serving Suggestion: Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash and Balsamic Roasted Potato Wedges