Friday, January 27, 2012

Pan Fried Cornmeal-Coated Smelts with Tartar Sauce

For Christmas, Mush gave me a book I have wanted since I saw Kathy Gunst (Down East author, food critic, and chef) on 207 making her Corn Feta Fritters. Notes From a Maine Kitchen, is full of seasonally inspired recipes and the stories that accompany them. I should begin by saying that I am not a big fan of fish. Smelts being a local and historical fish of Maine winters caused me to feel a certain obligation to give them a shot. Years ago when I started this blog and put up my families recipe of Smelts in Oil, I really wasn't feeling the love. My denial of the inevitable has been nagging me, as if my ancestors were looking down on me in scorn. Finally, I read this recipe and my interest was piqued. Now let me tell you smelt doubters - we are SOLD! 4 out of 5 of us loved them and the youngest? He was chanting for more, grabbing those suckers by the tail and eating every last bite - yes bones and all! Below is the recipe and pictures to boot. At the bottom is the tartar sauce- optional - and while not much to write home about - I do recommend it for those who are fishy about fish.

Now... where can we go fishing for those silvery gems? I see an ice auger and a nice warm shack in my future!

1 pound fresh smelts
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup stone-ground or coarse yellow or white cornmeal
salt and freshly ground black pepper
about 3 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Better Than Tartar Sauce, optional
1 cup mayonnaise
1 small dill or half-sour pickle, finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of the liquid or juice from the pickle jar
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon drained capers
juice of 1/2 large lemon, about 2 tablespoons
1 or 2 dashes hot pepper sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley


1. Lightly rinse the smelts and dry thoroughly.
To clean the smelts: using a small pair of kitchen scissors, hold the
smelt belly up in one hand with its head pointing away from you. With the scissors, open the belly by cutting from the vent to the point of the lower jaw. With the back of the thumb of the other hand, push the entrails out of the abdominal cavity in a single motion. Grasp the gills and the entrails and pull them clear of the head. If necessary, use the scissors to cut the esophagus just inside the jaw. Alternately, ask your fish store to clean the smelts for you.

Hey thanks Hannafords! Someone else did it for me!

2. Place the flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper on a plate and lightly dredge the smelts in the mixture until coated on all sides.

3. In a large, heavy frying pan (cast iron is ideal), heat the oil over moderately high heat.It's hot enough when you add a speck of the flour mixture and it begins to sizzle. Add the smelts, a few at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan, and cook about 2 to 3 minutes on each side (don't fiddle with the fish ‹ let them cook undisturbed).
I really like that statement! :D

4. When you flip the smelts over, they should be golden brown. The timing depends on the size of the fish ‹ a smaller 5-inch smelt will only take about 2 minutes per side and a larger (around 8 or 9 inches long) fish will need to cook closer to 3 minutes per side.

5. Drain on paper towels and serve hot with lemon wedges and the Better Than Tartar Sauce, if desired.

Better Than Tartar Sauce
Makes about 1 cup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 small dill or half-sour pickle, finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of the liquid or juice from the pickle jar
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon drained capers
juice of 1/2 large lemon, about 2 tablespoons
1 or 2 dashes hot pepper sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients until fully incorporated. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, or hot sauce to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Murrays Breakfast Melt

Murray's Cheese is a NYC legend. This sandwich was chosen as one of NYC's Top 5 breakfast sandwiches in THIS CBS Article. I am placing my order for THIS masterpiece to be this weekends sandwich. I have all the ingredients but the English Muffin, so I guess I will use regular bread. This recipe was just posted by Martha Stewart, as noted by the stylized photo below, and written credit to her as well. Murray's in Maine? My dream realized!


  • 1 ounce Fontina Fontal cheese
  • 2 slices extra-smoky, extra-thick cut bacon
  • 1 English muffin, split
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg


  1. Place cheese in freezer until well chilled, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place bacon on a griddle over medium-high heat; cook until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

  2. Remove cheese from freezer, cut two slices, and grate remaining cheese on the largest holes of a box grater; set aside.

  3. Place English muffin split-side down in skillet; cook until toasted. Turn and top each half with a slice of cheese. Reduce heat and cook until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

  4. Melt butter on griddle; crack egg onto melted and fry until whites are set; turn and top egg with grated cheese; continue cooking until yolk has reached desired degree of doneness.

  5. Carefully transfer egg to large muffin half. Top egg with bacon and sandwich with remaining muffin half; serve immediately.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rigatoni with Cheesy Pesto

I made this for dinner last night, thanks to Egg Basket getting me hooked on a new blog, Bake at 350. HERE is a direct link to their recipe. (photo credit to Bake at 350). This recipe is found under their Savory section. My meal looked a bit different. I served it with a side of iceberg wedges and I also added two shredded chicken breasts as well as an extra dollop of cream cheese to make up for the addition. It is yummy! And of course, the kids loved it. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tandoori Lamb Balls

Yum. These are for dinner tonight. Mush gave SP The Meatball Shop Cookbook for Christmas and this is the first recipe we are trying. I can't wait.

This repost of the recipe is from Huffington Post.



  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. Drizzle the olive oil into a 9x13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.
  • Combine the ground lamb, bread crumbs, eggs, cilantro, lemon juice, tandoori spice mix, and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.
  • Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165F.
  • Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.

Seasoned Lentil Stew from Gourmet

We are making Tandoori meatballs tonight and I thought this would make the perfect accompaniment. I saw it on my Gourmet app.
Seasoned Lentil Stew with Vegetables

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thin Mint Truffles

From tasty kitchen, their recipe for Thin Mint Truffles.

Savory Crust Chicken Pie

On a cold and dreary January evening, nothing tastes better than this! The first time I ate this, SP had made several pies for our family when our Mom died. He brought one fresh out of the oven and one ready for the freezer. It keeps well in the freezer and reheats nicely for convenient suppers. Enjoy - a family favorite the kids will love!

1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup red pepper
1/2 cup green pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
generous shakes of lemon pepper
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter softened
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon dried sage

Preheat oven 400 degrees.
Cook chicken. Add generous shakes of lemon pepper.

When chicken is cooked, add the vegetables.

When vegetables have cooked about 10 minutes, add the can of soup. Continue stirring as mixture heats.

While mixture cooks, combine crust ingredients in a mix master or by hand.
Fold crust into baking dish - a round ceramic type - and press generous amounts of crust up onto sides of pan.

When chicken mix is finished cooking, fold into pan lined with crust.

Cover open center with the shredded cheese.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kale Chips

Lavender honey pork salad

Stupid upside down photo - I'm sorry! I took this photo from a copy of Ladies Home Journal I saw while visiting Mush this summer.
It's the only copy I have so here it goes!

Pink lemonade cake

Another find from Ladies Home Journal.

Spiced munchies

When and where did I take this and what does it say? I'm guessing its another post from Ladies Home journal. Sorry... but cleaning phone out of pictures so this is all I have.

Chai spice cookies!

I made these for SP in January for one of his many weeks working away from home. Of course, my baker friend Dawn gave me the recipe. She has an uncanny ability to post and bake many many sweets and never eat any of them. Well THIS RECIPE is from My Baking Addiction, another blog that Dawn has me add to my blog roll.

Hambone and Lentil Stew

Braised Cardamom-Curry Lamb

For Christmas, SP received a copy of the book Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan.
SP has wanted this book since we made "Pumpkin stuffed with everything good" back in November of 2010. Dear Hi-Ho's birthday was on January 12th and I wanted to make something in her honor. When I asked Mush what Mom would have had, she said leg of lamb. So the search for a lamb dish was on and this is the delectable feast we settled on. I highly recommend the book and the recipe! The pictures don't do the recipe justice- and I really need a camera versus just my iPhone.

And following in Hi-Ho's tradition of marking our recipes, SP added a special notation for Mom. Love and miss you Mom- happy birthday!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The wonders of Crescent Roll Dough

Why is it that years ago when I began making Taco Ring, I did not make more quick kid dinners a thousand different ways?
Maybe it is because I would rather have my own home made pre-fab crescent dough ready at hand.
Wow. Wouldn't that be nice? Now that's dreaming.

Then late last week on a busy guitar practice Friday, I saw this idea on Pinterest. It was destiny.

I saw two different recipes on Pinterest and combined them.

The two recipes were:
Jenna's Journey's Chicken Roll Ups
and - AGAIN
Tracey's Culinary Adventures Buffalo Chicken Rolls. * please note that these were made using egg roll wrappers - I will return to this recipe and make it again.

This past Friday night I made a mash-up smash of an easy dinner out of the two.
I made Buffalo Chicken wraps for Puckstopper and a friend who spent the night. He's sitting here right now and says about the meal, "I think it was great. Buffalo Chicken I really like and that was even better than normal!"

This is an easy dinner that can be prepped ahead of time (and saved in fridge for a day or two) and cooks in 20 minutes! I will use this again for busy work/hockey nights. Any sort of meat or vegetable salad/gruel could be made and baked into a rolled up bread roll concoction. I see some tuna casserole rolls in our future this week.

Ingredients - for the Buffalo Chicken version
2 chicken breasts - boiled and shredded
1 block cream cheese - room temp or warmed
A cup or two of shredded Monterrey jack
Buffalo Wing Sauce - I didn't use a whole bottle
chopped celery
2 rolls (Pillsbury type) big and buttery dinner roll or crescent roll dough
blue cheese dressing for dipping

Preheat oven according to dough directions.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. It should be a sticky consistency that can be spooned and formed on top of crescent roll dough.

Unroll dough one piece at a time onto baking sheet.
(One roll of dough makes one tray or batch of bundles to be cooked)
Place a good dollop of mixture onto largest piece of dough.

Roll up and pull bottom corners up and around mixture.
Make them into enclosed little bundles and space over baking sheet.

Pop them in the oven and cook for at least 20 minutes.
I checked on mine and they looked like this

but I put them back in until they looked a little browner, like this

But please, let cool before serving.
They really are full of molten yummyness and will hurt if you try to scarf them down too fast!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cheddar Ale Soup

I found this recipe originally on Pinterest. There are recipes for it in several different places.
This recipe on Fake Ginger is the recipe I ended up using since it was printed out. I did not however make the pretzel bowls. I made croutons instead and served the soup in mugs.
This was the idea of the Pinterest link that I pinned on my board of this recipe on Tracey's Culinary Adventures. Tracey is the one that recommended making croutons. SP made the croutons using left over baguette from New Years fondue baguette, olive oil spray, and rosemary.
A quick consult and I found Williams-Sonoma's identical recipe.

I highly highly recommend making this. Any soup that begins by frying slices of bacon in the bottom of your Dutch oven is bound to be pleasing. On top of this you then slowly cook carrots and onions and celery. Long after you add the garlic, and flour, and Worcestershire and ale, then milk and broth and voila!
You have this.

Time for the immersion blender.

While this close up picture is unattractive, I included it because of the color and consistency it ended up as. I blended for a rather long time trying to get the chunks smooth. It was such a hearty broth it never attained a single hue. Flecks of bacon were evident. I loved it.

At this point I was getting really excited about the next step.
Adding the cheese. Add cheese. Cheese and more cheese. 4 cups of it.

Cheese glorious cheese.

Stir, heat, stir, wait patiently for the consistency to even.
Patience. Smell. Savor.
Serve in a mug with home made croutons and enjoy, salivate, want more.

Food is love. Amen.