Monday, May 30, 2016

Summer Special: Fish Burgers with Fruit Salsa

When Nancy and I lived in Tulsa, we sometimes shopped at a fishmonger place called Bodean. Unique at the time, they received fish by air daily. For Tulsa that was impressive.

After several years they opened an upscale restaurant next door. From time to time we ate there as well.

As wonderful as all that may have been, our favorite was what they did with leftovers. They chunked the fish pieces and made them into spicy fish burgers. After we moved away, we missed the fish burgers.

I began to experiment and finally came up with a recipe and method we enjoy.

Sometime later we discovered how fantastic a fruit salsa went with the burgers. Depending on the season, I use strawberry, peach, apricot, or nectarine

Salsa Ingredients

1 quart of fruit, rough chopped in 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.
1 onion, diced and rinsed in cold water
1 to 2 jalapeƱos, seeded and chopped small
1 clove garlic, minced
juice of one lime
1 tablespoon chili powder
a small double handful of chopped cilantro
salt, as much as needed
sugar as needed


Combine the ingredients and taste the salsa. It may need sugar or more lime juice or both. Let the salsa sit for an hour or two before service.

P.S. It may need a splash or two of sriracha as well. 

Fish Burger Ingredients

You will need 4 to 6 ounces of fish per burger. Salmon, trout, cod, halibut, walleye, crappie, white bass, and striper have all been in my burgers. Do not be afraid to mix and match. Pat the fish dry before you begin. That is important so I'll say it again. Pat the fish dry before you begin. If the fish is dry, it is easier to form the burgers.

12 to 16 ounces fish, cut in 1/4 to1/2 inch chunks
1/3 to 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 shallot, minced
zest from one lime
1 Tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 egg, beaten
a handful of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper!


Thoroughly mix all the ingredients except the egg in a bowl. Wait 10 minutes for the panko to absorb moisture. Slowly add some of the egg and mix again. Continue to add egg until the mixture will form balls that hold together. If your mixture is loose and damp, let it sit, uncovered, in the refrigerator to firm up.

Form thick patties and place them on parchment paper in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Pan fry the burgers in 1/4 inch of shimmering oil. Try not to move them around, especially just after you place them in the pan. You want the burger interior cooked and the outside gold brown. Please note some fish browns more than other kinds, so the uniformity of color depends on several factors.

Serve the burgers with salsa and grilled vegetables.

Enjoy your summer!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Early Summer Farmers Markets Rock!

Tonight's meal features four items I found when I visited the farmers market Thursday. Farmers markets are the ultimate "support your local merchants" opportunity. The big conglomerates at the farmers markets are family operations or communes or monks. Hardly the types to set up superpacs.

One item I found was a cheese smith who featured goat milk chevre. It had just the right tang to it. Even though I felt the price high, I bought a small portion.

Another, and even more elusive find was fresh green peas. Frozen peas are a great product - arguably the best frozen vegetable that exists. Having said that, fresh peas have a grassy quality the frozen never convey.

One vendor had Spring onions with bulbs about 1 inch in diameter and beautiful thick green stalks.

Last of all, I found some end of the season asparagus. You could tell the vendor was clearing the beds; the stalks were decidedly non-uniform in size.

For tonight, the asparagus will be the salad. I blanched it Thursday night and chilled it. I will dress it with a Spring onion and cherry tomato balsamic dressing.

The main course will feature the peas and the chevre, plus some of the excellent slab bacon we order from Nueskes. I guess we should call it Bacon and Pea Penne with Chevre.


1 pound dry penne pasta
1 quart fresh green peas
1/2 cup of 1/4 inch bacon strips cut from slab bacon (5 slices of thick bacon cut in 1/4 inch strips)
1/4 cup chevre cheese
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
1 large clove garlic
fresh grated parmesan or romano cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Blanch the peas in heavily salted boiling water until the flavor just begins to change. Do not over cook. Drain and cool the peas with cool water.

Start 6 cups of well salted water over high heat. Drop the clove of garlic in the water. Bring the water to a roiling boil. If ready ahead of time, turn it off to wait on the best time.

Add a tablespoon of of the olive oil to a cold skillet and add the bacon. Set the heat to medium low and slowly cook the bacon until crispy but not dark brown.

Remove the bacon lardons and set aside. Bring the water back to a boil and add the penne.

Add the peas to the hot bacon/olive oil and saute as you cook the pasta. Do not cook the peas to the gray stage.

When the pasta is very al dente, reserve 1 cup of the liquid and drain the pasta.

Add the chevre, peas, and bacon to the pasta and mix. Add the pasta water gradually to melt the cheese and finish cooking the pasta.

Garnish with freshly grated parmesan.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Summer Vacation Grilling and Chilling

Between now and mid August, I am committed to only four teacher related days in late June and early July. Those days are for training in aspects of teaching, professional development to improve my craft. Other than those days I am free to do as I want - sorta, kinda. After all, I am married.

This morning I drove into town to visit the farmers market. I picked up local made feta cheese, peas, radishes, new potatoes, asparagus, spring onions, and arugula.  On the way home, I stopped at the grocery and bought a tri-tip roast.

I blanched the asparagus and chilled it to use in a salad later this week. The peas will go in tomorrow's bacon, peas, and penne meal.

For the potatoes, I used the Ina Garten No Eggs No Pickles Potatoes Salad recipe to make a potato salad sauce. Some of the Spring onions are mixed into it.

I steamed the new potatoes after I cleaned them up and quartered them. The salad now sits in the refrigerator chilling.

After the potato salad went in the refrigerator, I tackled the roast. The first step was to clean it up.

No one wants to eat something with that much fat and silver skin. I spent about 15 minutes and wound up with a much more attractive chunk of meat.

Next I mixed Greek seasoning, Northwoods seasoning, tandoori seasoning, and chili powder with salt and made a dry rub for the roast.

The roast now sits in a plastic bag in the refrigerator to become flavorful.

Where is this all headed? Why to the grill, of course!

I will build the fire on one side of the grill and place the roast on the other. I will cover and cook until the meat registers 115 degrees. Then I will move it over the coals and char the exterior while pushing the temperature to 125 degrees. After I rest the meat, I will slice the roast thinly across the grain as if it were flank steak.

When it all comes together the plate looks like this: