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Nuts - Macadamia Nut Crusted Fish Recipe

 Nut Crusted Baked Fish recipe at bottom of page...

I was scouring the fridge and freezer this morning as I developed the weekend shopping list (yes I shop, I also do windows, iron, wash and fold clothes, cook, barbecue and other domestic activities) and I came across a container of macadamia nuts from a past trip to Hawaii hiding in the freezer. I opened them and they looked like they needed some immediate attention so out they came. I was feeling like fish, not that I was wanting to BE the fish or even that I felt fish-like, simply, I wanted to eat fish for dinner, so add fish to shopping list I did. Once list was complete off to the farmers market in Old Strathcona we went.

Returning to the house after maneuvering through the recently fallen, and still falling white shit called snow, we off loaded the groceries and then shoveled snow. Lots of snow. Snow on the driveway. Snow on the city sidewalk. Snow on our walkway. More snow to shovel and expecting another 4 days of it. Glad we stocked up on groceries. We may well end up snowed in, or frozen in, since the forecast is also for a maximum high temperature next week of -18. FOR THE HIGH!!! Selling Chiclets to motorists stopped at traffic lights in Mexico City is beginning to look like a viable alternative to living here and then escaping this fucking frozen wasteland (I apologize for the F-Bomb, but it is the only word in English that adequately assists in describing the way I feel about more snow). I can't take it any more!!! I cant!!! Please make the snowman go away Mommy..... Help me. Dear God help me escape.... I've frozen and I can't get up...

After my sobbing and snow shoveling induced hysterics subsided I ventured inside to warm up and then set to trying to figure out how to cook the fish. After a quick search of the internet I decided to use a few suggestions I found and meld them into one recipe and the following is the result. The very, very delicious result.

 Baked Nut Crusted Fish

500 grams boneless-skinless fish fillets (salmon, snapper, catfish, basa, etc) cut into small serving size pieces

4 oz (1 cup) roasted macadamia nuts, coarsely ground
4 oz (1 cup) toasted sliced almonds, coarsely ground
1 cup Panko crumbs (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Pinch cayenne pepper

1 cup flour

1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
1 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 425° F. Place heavy gauge or clay baking sheet into oven to preheat for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix nuts, Panko crumbs, garlic powder, cayenne, salt and pepper and mix well. Set aside.

Place flour in a ziplock plastic bag with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Place coconut milk and sugar in a deep dish pie plate, mix well.

Place a few pieces of fish in the bag of flour and shake gently to coat the fish. One at a time, dip floured fish into the coconut milk then remove and roll in the nut mixture pressing gently to ensure coating adheres well. Place coated fish on lightly oiled, preheated baking sheet (shameless marketing plug: I prefer the clay baker from Pampered Chef for this and most types of baking). Repeat until all the fish is coated and placed on baking sheet.

Spray the coated fish with a very light coating of vegetable oil (another shameless plug: I use Canola Oil Pam).

Place baking sheet in oven and cook for 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork (thicker and more dense fish like salmon may take longer). Serve immediately.

Serve hot with sliced lemon for flavouring at the table.

I had some left over beef flank steak and coating so I did the same procedure as above to it as a test and it was very, very yummy too. So by extension, I think you could also use pork or chicken in the recipe and I think I will. I removed the beef at the 10 minute mark (it was sliced about 1/2" x 1/2" x 2")then let it rest for 5 minutes. Très magnifique...

For different taste sensation one could use walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts or cashews in place of the macadamia nuts and almonds. Experiment. Live a little. Enjoy!!!

We yummed this up in record time and I was commanded to make it again soon. Not wanting to risk violating a command which results in Bart being a lonely and frustrated man, I will make it again soon with salmon the next time (we used snapper this time).

I looked out the window and yes, it is still snowing, or rather snowing again, since it stopped for a bit and tempted us with some blue sky. I will get a good night sleep and go out in the morning and shovel again, because hey, what the hell else is there to do in the winter in a frozen wasteland? Okay there is THAT activity, but unfortunately my wife is complaining that the formaldehyde is giving her a headache, so, so much for that idea...

I am off to the wholesalers tonight to buy a case of Chiclets to begin the journey that is my next career... See you at the stop light...

Mexican Style Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail recipe at bottom of page....

In past years traveling in Mexico I have experienced all manners of gastrointestinal adventures from the benign to the, "Oh my God, sorry about the car seat Mr. Driver!" and everything in between. Oddly, during my recent trip to Mazatlan I did not suffer any visits from Montezuma and that may be attributed to the dramatic lack of alcohol consumption when compared to prior visits as a younger guy, getting older and more responsible really sux. Really! So while not suffering alone in a hotel room I was able to travel with my family and friends to a number of great restaurants and sample more fresh and delicious gustatory offerings, of note was an evening at the Shrimp Bucket.

I will say, that the Shrimp Bucket, while not a Conde Naste recommended destination, is still a great place to enjoy - shrimp. Bet you could tell by the name huh? They do shrimp in a multitude of ways and they do it very well. 25 years ago I had their shrimp cocktail and this time it was just as good as the first time, the only difference this time was, I went prepared to dissect the dish with my taste buds to be able to recreate it at home. And I did! A little trial and error on Sunday and a little help from the internet, multiplied by a little creativity, and there it was! On my kitchen counter! Begging to be enjoyed by others, and so it was.

Mexican style differs from the usual style most are familiar with in North America. Normally the shrimp is served with a tangy horseradish infused tomato sauce. Now don't get me wrong, I love the regular way to make a shrimp cocktail, but the Mexican style is better. Really. I normally make my own cocktail sauce with horseradish, lime juice and chilli sauce and it is very good.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

Poaching liquid:

6 quarts water
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
6 cloves garlic, halved
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 Serrano chili, split
1 Tbsp sea salt or Kosher salt

48 raw whole shrimp with shells on (10 count), you can use previously frozen ones, just thaw completely

Cocktail Sauce:

2 cups shrimp stock (strained cooking liquid)
2 cups Motts Clamato juice or tomato juice
1/4 cup Heinz Chilli Sauce
Juice of 1 lime

2 Roma tomatoes (seeds removed), minced fine
1 large avocado, peeled and seed removed, minced fine
1/2 long English cucumber, (seeds removed) minced fine
2 celery stalks, minced fine
1 small sweet onion, minced fine
3 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro

Add all ingredients for poaching liquid except for the shrimp to a large stock pot. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Turn heat to high and bring liquid back to a full boil.

Drop the shrimp into the boiling water and cook at a boil for 3-4 minutes, do not over cook! The shrimp do not need to be cooked to death, keep them tender! Remove shrimp from hot liquid and place immediately in an ice water bath to cool.

Once shrimp are cold, remove heads and shell; put the shells and head back into the stock pot and simmer for another 1/2 hour. Remove pot from heat and let cool slightly to allow you to strain liquid through a sieve. Place strained shrimp stock into the fridge to chill. At this point if the shrimp weren't deveined, now would be a good time to do that. Place cleaned shrimp into the fridge to chill as well.

Mix the shrimp stock, Clamato juice, chilli sauce and lime juice into container. Place in fridge to chill.

Divide the onion, tomato, celery and cucumber into 6 servings and place in serving bowls or large hurricane glasses. Place 8 shrimp in each serving dish on top of the vegetables and pour the sauce over the top to cover everything. Garnish with 2 tablespoons of avocado and 1 teaspoon of cilantro. Make sure all ingredients are well chilled before serving.

Serve to those you think are worthy of a mind blowing taste experience.

This can be a main course when served with fresh rolls or as part of a large and waist expanding dinner offering if it is an appetizer. The best hint I can offer is to make sure all ingredients are well chilled - cold even. Luke warm is not a good idea. In Mexico this shrimp cocktail is offered hot as well as cold, I prefer the cold version, but if you want to experiment, fill yer boots!

Pacific Spotted Prawns would be best, but if not available, Tiger Prawns or Fresh Water Shrimp work well also. Get the head on 10 count though.

Squash - It's not just for compost anymore! Curry Ginger Butternut Squash Soup Recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Honey recipe at bottom of page...

As I wander through this world, some would say aimlessly, I am always looking to find another soup recipe for my culinary arsenal or any recipe for that matter. I was in a restaurant in Chicago a few years ago and on the menu as the Chef's featured entrée it simply stated Butternut Squash Soup on the insert. Now I have to tell you I hate squash or at least I thought I did and I passed on the soup special and looked deeper in the menu for something else that did not contain squash to eat.

Once the waiter came to take our order I offered up my request and as the waiter talked he went on to brag about the soup and how I was passing up an opportunity to taste a bit of Nirvana and I should at least try a small sample to confirm that I hate squash. So I gamely acquiesced to his polite suggestion, well okay it was more of a pretentious demand but I was trying to be kind here, and I asked him to bring it on.

I must state here and now that I hated squash with a passion unless it was a pumpkin squash and made into spiced pumpkin pie or tarts, other than that squash was a compost filler for me. Eggplant and other items that are shaped like squash or squash-like in texture or appearance are things I despised with a hateful passion normally reserved for liver or other awful offal.

A few moments later the waiter brought the sample of the squash soup to the table and set it before me. The other diners looked on at me as I gulped and grabbed the soup spoon to lift the first taste to my mouth and I am sure they were fully expecting to see some sort of gustatory upheaval emanating from my quivering swallower but I soldiered on and tasted the first spoonful. It was wonderful. Sublime even. I finished it very quickly and then I asked for another bowl, a full size bowl at which point the waiter tells me that my reaction is not uncommon and he then brought a bowlful to the table for me to enjoy.

I dissected that bowl of soup one spoonful at a time trying to determine what the sensual pleasure was comprised of. I tasted a hint of nutmeg. A very slight but enjoyable hint if ginger. It was creamy and unlike many cream based soups it was not thick and gluey with a flour thickener. It had a background flavour that I could not quite figure out until the waiter offered that there was a special chef's blend of curry in it along with the dollop of crème fraiche artfully knifed into the soup to form a palm tree kind of thingy floating on a sea of bright yellow goodness.

I finished the second bowl and thanked the waiter for forcing the soup onto me and I vowed to recreate it at home and therein lay a quest that took a while to complete but complete it I did. The waiter offered me good luck in my quest and no I could not get the recipe from the Chef.

It is in my cookbook and I offer it to you tonight since I made a pot of it and it now rests in the fridge to get better for dinner tomorrow... Don't turn your nose up at it! Don't be boorish! Give it a try and enjoy. Hell even my youngest kids love it and it is squash. Amazing...

Butternut Squash Soup

6 cups chicken stock
4-5 cups spaghetti squash or butternut squash (1 large squash)
1/2 cup heavy cream or more if you like it really creamy and don’t care about the artery clogging fat that it adds. Go ahead! Walk on the wild side!!!!
1 medium potato peeled and diced
1 medium onion minced
4 cloves garlic crushed and chopped fine
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp dried ginger powder
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp of crème fraiche if you're so inclined, but with the heavy cream included already it would be superfluous I figger, but it would add a bit of pretension if that is what you're going for, I don't use it in this recipe.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove innards and seeds. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on the halves, cover with foil to seal and place in 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cooked squash has cooled remove from rind and set aside.

In large pot melt butter then place onion, garlic and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent

Add chicken stock, potatoes, and squash to sautéed onion mixture and bring to a boil. Once to a boil lower heat to simmer and simmer for 1/2 hour.

Once all vegetables are cooked remove from heat add cream and puree mixture with a stick (submersible) blender to a smooth velvety consistence, ensuring no lumps remain. The secret here and I have to thank a nameless author on the internet for it, is the potato. It thickens the soup and adds some heft to it, is not gluey and no miserable flour/dumpling lumps endanger the effort either. Wonderful...

After mixture is pureed return to low heat and begin to add curry, honey, nutmeg, turmeric and 1/2 tsp salt to the soup. Be careful to only add a small portion of the total spices and honey at a time to ensure you arrive at the taste you desire, and don’t end up over-sweetening it or putting too strong a flavour into the broth. If you want more or less, go for it.

What you are after is a subtle flavour, a hint of exotic spice, a tantalizing background taste that adds to the taste of the soup and not killing it with kindness. You can add more of one or the other to your liking. Hey, there are no rules here so go with whatever you like and damn the recipe. Spices are an individual preference, no two people are alike and since you are cooking it, flavour it to your liking and if someone does not like it, fuggem, they can go to KFC.

Enjoy. This is wonderful stuff and as a note, I really don’t like squash, but this is fantastic.