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Pan-Fried Walleye with Sauteed Spinach and Roasted Potatoes

walleye

It doesn’t happen often, but once in a while my  local grocery’s fish counter will offer up walleye (or walleyed pike, if you prefer) fresh from the great lakes. It’s inexpensive as fish typically go, and it’s delicious, as well. As you can see from the photo, I got my hands on some beautiful walleye fillets recently and decided to give it a Mediterranean treatment, rather than the traditional deep fry. It was so tasty, I may never go back to deep-frying.

300px-Walleye_paintingFirst, a bit about the fish. Walleye is a freshwater fish common to the upper midwest portion of the U.S. and southern Canada, including most of the Great Lakes. I got my first taste of walleye on a visit to Minnesota. More recently, I’ve been getting it on family visits to northwestern Ohio. The town of Port Clinton, Ohio, where my daughter lives, even has a walleye festival each spring. Walleyes get big, 20 lbs. or more, so the fillets from commercial fishing on the Great Lakes can be a pretty decent size, which means they’re fairly easy to cook. Walleye is very mild in flavor and has a texture much like a red snapper or similar white ocean-going fish.

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Leek and Potato Soup

leek and potato soup

Winter in Virginia isn’t the best of times for those of us who enjoy cooking from scratch with fresh and local ingredients. The farm markets shut down weeks before the holidays, and while I can find some nice-looking produce at the local grocery, it’s been shipped in from half-way around the world and really lacks the robust flavors I’m looking for. Root vegetables are one exception, and fortunately, it’s also soup season, so it’s not all bad. In fact this leek and potato soup is one of the things I look forward to each winter. It’s rich, filling, and with some fresh warm bread, can easily be a meal all by itself.

This version is not vegetarian, but the recipe can easily be converted by subbing oil or butter for the bacon and using all vegetable stock instead of the 50/50 mix of vegetable and chicken stock. Personally, I think the bacon and chicken stock add to the subtle layers of flavor I want, so I seldom skip them.

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Gratin Potatoes

gratin potatoes

Gratin potatoes are one of the all-time favorite side dishes at Chez Discovery  Cooking. They’re a great addition to almost any main course, but they’re especially wonderful when they’re paired with simple fare, like a nice thick steak or simply prepared seafood. The rich, creamy cheese coupled with the texture of al dente potatoes is the definition of comfort food in my book.

At this time of year, gratin potatoes come up on the culinary radar a lot, since they’re a perfect contribution to a holiday potluck. Easy to make, easy to transport and reheat, and really beautiful in a large casserole sitting on a buffet table. I can’t recall ever bringing home leftovers.

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Pan Seared Cod, Potatoes Fandant & Fried Green Tomatoes

Pan Seared Cod

Cod is not a glamorous fish. Amid the snapper, halibut, chilean sea bass, varieties of salmon, and other delectables at the seafood counter, it doesn’t stand out. But when it’s good and fresh, it’s still one of the most flavorful, succulent seafood choices available. Cod also is very easy to prepare and present in a way that would be worthy of any fine restaurant.

We often deep-fry battered cod for sandwiches (a post for another day) but this time around, the idea was to go for something a bit more elegant.

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Potatoes Fandant

Potatoes Fandant

It’s fun to come across a dish that makes you want to slap your forehead (as in the V8 commercial) and say, “why didn’t I think of that?” Potatoes fandant is one of them.

There is very little to it, really, but this is one of those things that’s true to the mission of Discovery Cooking, which is to learn the things — big and little — that can turn a home-cooked meal into a fine dining experience.

Start with russet potatoes. Figure on getting 2-3 finished potato rounds from each one. Choose potatoes that are as straight and cylindrical as possible. First trim off the rounded ends and stand the potatoes vertically. Then, with a knife (not a peeler) trim off the skin and shape the potatoes into cylinders that don’t bulge in the middle. Cut the cylinder into sections about two inches long.

Preheat your oven to 350F. Heat a 2-3 of table spoons of olive oil in a heavy oven-proof skillet until it’s near to smoking. Then place the potato sections, flat end down, into the skillet. If you’re making a large number, do them in batches so there’s no crowding, adding more oil as needed. Brown one side of all the sections and remove them to a plate. The swirl a couple of tablespoons of butter  in the hot oil, along with some fresh herbs. I tend to use thyme or rosemary, but use whatever seasoning you like. If you’re working in batches, add more butter as needed. Then repeat the browning for the other flat side of the potato sections, occasionally spooning some of the butter mixture over the sections.

If all your browned potatoes will fit in the skillet, simply pop that in the oven. Baking time will vary, but normally it takes about 25 minutes or so. You’ll know the potatoes are done when you can easily slip a knife or skewer into them. If you have too many sections for a skillet, place the sections on a baking sheet with a rim and pour whatever oil/butter is in the skillet over them.

That’s really all there is to it. The potatoes will emerge from the over with a wonderful crisp end and a soft creamy texture under that. It’s sort of like a French fry wrapped around a baked potato. You can serve them plain or with the kinds of things you might serve with a baked potato, such as sour cream, chives, shredded cheese, bacon crisps, etc.

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