Boston Baked Fish

Food memories can be powerful, in terms of a certain dish conjuring thoughts of a place or event associated with that meal, and vice versa.  The strength of food memories is no surprise, given the fact that eating has the potential to engage all five senses:  taste and smell (obviously); sight (think of a dessert almost too pretty to eat); hearing (just try and resist the urge to watch a movie when you hear popcorn popping) and touch (ever been to a crawfish boil in the spring time?)  For Dan, there is a certain fish dish that will always make him think of the time he spent working at an old-school seafood restaurant called Poli’s in Pittsburgh, while attending law school.  One of the menu staples at Poli’s — and one of Dan’s favorite things to eat there — was “Boston Scrod,” a white fish (cod or haddock usually) prepared simply with breadcrumbs and butter.  While not particularly fond of his time waiting tables at Poli’s, he loved the Boston Scrod and recently found a recipe that is close enough to Poli’s version to conjure images of the unfriendly, elderly clientele who refused to leave a tip one penny over five percent.  The dish is ridiculously easy to prepare — melt some butter, add crushed Ritz crackers, top the fish with the butter mixture and bake for about 20 minutes — and is so buttery delicious that even I (a serial fish-avoider) loved it.  Although Poli’s shut down before Dan could make it back there for a nostalgic helping of Boston Scrod, now he can take the same trip down memory lane with this homemade version, without ever having to leave the house.

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Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:


In a happy coincidence last weekend, we went to our local mall for lunch and to pick up a few things at Williams Sonoma, on the very day that Bobby Flay happened to be there signing copies of his latest book.  We didn’t plan on getting a book signed, especially since we already have one (an awesome gift from my parents) and there was a huge line of people waiting already.  So we enjoyed a leisurely lunch, and by the time we got to Williams Sonoma to do our shopping, the line had dwindled to less than ten people.  So we bought a book, jumped in line and just a few minutes later had an autograph and obligatory photo.  Celebrity-chef stalking at its easiest!

Magic peeler

When we finished awkwardly standing there while he signed our book schmoozing with Chef Flay at Williams Sonoma, we purchased my new favorite kitchen gadget:  the julienne peeler.  One side of the tool is a regular vegetable peeler, and the other side is where the magic happens — the tiny serrated blade shreds veggies into perfectly julienned strips.  Although we already have a mandolin slicer (which is a better tool for bigger slicing jobs), this little peeler is perfect for turning a couple of zucchinis into “spaghetti” in a flash, without any of the fuss (or fear that you might accidentally slice off a finger.)  Simply cut off the bottom end of the zucchini (keep the top end intact to use as handle for holding the zucchini), cut a thin strip lengthwise off one side of the zucchini so it will lay flat on the cutting board, then drag the peeler from the top to the bottom of the zucchini to cut it into strips.  Wrap the zucchini “spaghetti” in a couple of paper towels and squeeze out the excess moisture, then saute the spaghetti in a little olive oil for 2-3 minutes and toss with the sauce of your choice.  We served ours with a tomato basil sauce (leftover from our latest pasta of the month club delivery — so good) for an easy, delicious and super healthy side.

Baby tomats

Speaking of tomatoes, ours are on their way!  All of our plants have a few baby tomatoes just beginning to grow, in addition to tons of flowers that will hopefully mature into tomatoes as well.  Our crop last year was so good that we can barely stand store-bought tomatoes, and we’re hoping for more of the same this summer.


And speaking of summer, the Texas heat has yet to rear its ugly head, and we are more than okay with that.  In fact, we had record-setting low temperatures yesterday and last night.  It was actually cold enough for a fire in the fireplace — in May! — which is unprecedented for these parts, and we thoroughly enjoyed our final fire of the season.


Many thanks to my friend Paula for properly kicking off my birthday weekend (when your birthday is on a Saturday, celebration of the entire weekend is required) by treating me to a pedicure and introducing me to a restaurant that is sure to become one of our favorites:  Whiskey Cake.  Cool name, even cooler place, with an eclectic farm-to-table menu, innovative from-scratch cocktails and an awesome hip-meets-rustic-meets-comfortable atmosphere.  We’ll be back.  Thanks Paula!

Cabbage-Carrot Casserole

File this one under “Interesting.”  One of the cool things about having a food blog is that it’s a natural conversation-starter.  Nearly everyone has an intriguing food anecdote, experience or recipe to share, once they find out we are passionate enough about food to blog about it.  When talking to one of Dan’s colleagues at a work event a little while ago, she told me how her niece is currently living in Russia and has had to adjust quite a bit to cooking and eating over there, especially in terms of food availability.  Apparently meat is very expensive (and quality can be somewhat sketchy), so they cook and eat a lot of vegetables.  In particular, cabbage is abundant and inexpensive there, and they cook with it often.  When I heard that one of their favorite dishes is a casserole made with cabbage and carrots, I was intrigued enough to ask for the recipe, especially since I don’t prefer the boiled cabbage that Dan insists I eat serves with corned beef every St. Patrick’s Day.  The dish sounds a bit strange — and I would definitely call it interesting — but we liked it.  The cabbage has a mild flavor, the carrots add a bit of sweetness to contrast with the spice from the paprika, and the sauce made with butter, flour, chicken broth, milk and cheese ties it all together well.  It may not be the best side dish we’ve ever had, but the fact that there’s a story behind it makes us appreciate this casserole even more.  (And it’s a heck of a lot better than plain old boiled cabbage.)

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