Fresh Fish in garlicky tomato sauce- Italian style!



Fresh Caught Red Snapper in from the Louisiana Shores!

When you are landlocked and 7 hours from any ocean it’s pretty exciting to get fresh fish! My husband and son went spearfishing -(a 9 hour drive from Chattanooga) and came home with this beauty and a few others too. Being from San Diego and then living 12 years in Italy I always had access to fresh fish and now I really appreciate it since it’s so hard to come by. The hardest part about cooking any fresh fish is the cleaning and filleting which the boys graciously did for me. Then because it is so fresh you really need nothing but olive oil and garlic, salt and pepper. You want to taste the fish, not have it overrun by sauce. Typically restaurants will sauce it up to cover an aging fish and diminish the fishiness of it. But fresh fish (I mean caught and cooked within 2 days) is delicious on it’s own and to be appreciated for it’s flavor. I had 4 of these big guys so I had the luxury of cooking some in just olive oil and garlic, and some I added the tomatoes and then I did one cooked in coconut milk which was fantastic! I also cooked the heads to make fish soup which my family loves and it was bursting with flavor! They were licking the pot afterward.

Fresh Fish Filet Recipe:

Take your clean, rinsed fish fillet and pat it dry with paper towels
Heat a large fry pan with olive oil then add some chopped garlic. I put 3 cloves.
Add the fish and leave undisturbed at least 2 minutes so it sears the meat and doesn’t stick to the pan.
You can add fresh chopped or canned tomatoes at this point or not.
Depending how thick the fish is determines how long to cook it.
I cooked this fish about 4 minutes on first side then 6 minutes on other side until it flaked easily with a fork and was white inside not pink.
Add sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and that’s it! You can garnish with fresh Italian parsley or rosemary or whatever you have around. With a green salad you have a great, healthy, low calorie meal!
E si Mangia! ( and you eat)

note: The brown meat running through the center is a natural part of the fish  which is bitter to eat.  It is easily removed after cooking.

Raspberry Habanero Freezer Jam

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My friend brought this amazing Raspberry Jalapeno jam to my home last night and I had to make some as raspberries are in the height of their season and cooking seasonal is always best. I happened to have a habanero pepper from a friend in Atlanta which my husband was dared to eat and he did it without thinking of course.  I thought he was going to die!  He was exhaling fire like a dragon for an hour it was so hot!  Then he tried to get me to try it too but I’m not stupid. I was curious so I researched it and found that on the Scoville heat scale it’s 350,000 to 550,000 compared to 8,000 jalapeno or 60,000 cayenne! They are so little and nonthreatening to look at but are they potent! Needless to say you only need 1 of these little power balls- or use jalapeno which is safer.
And… don’t touch the peppers when cutting- use gloves or you will end up rubbing your eyes hours later and wonder why they sting so much.
Raspberry Habanero Freezer Jam

• 1 c. crushed ripe red raspberries (from about 3 cups whole berries)
• 1 minced fresh habanero pepper, for a mild habanero flavor – add more for a stronger habanero flavor – beware! Habanero has a heat unit of 350,000 to 550,000 compared to cayenne of 60k and jalapeno of 8k. Adjust your peppers accordingly
• 1-3/4 c. sugar
• 1 /3 c. water
• 1/3 of 1 packet (2 in box of 6 0z total ) = 1oz SURE-JELL fruit pectin
Wash 4 mason jars or other glass jars and lids with hot water and dish soap. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
Add the sugar to a medium bowl. In a very large bowl, combine crushed raspberries, jalapeno, and sugar. Stir to combine. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.
In a small saucepan over high heat, stir together water and pectin. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Add pectin mixture to raspberry jalapeno mixture and stir constantly for 3 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy. If a few sugar crystals remain, that’s ok.
Immediately fill containers to within 1/2” of container tops. With a damp paper towel, wipe off the edges of containers. Immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Jam can now be used, stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month, or frozen for up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator before using.

is the generic Italian name for hot chili peppers, specifically the cultivars of the species Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens.[2] The sweet pepper is called peperone (plural peperoni) in Italian.
The peperoncino probably came to Italy in the early 16th century, after Columbus had taken samples from the New World to Europe in 1492. Like the tomato, the peperoncino was first considered a decorative and possibly poisonous plant before it was adopted into Italian cuisine. It might have become popular as a food long before the cookbooks attest to its use. These cookbooks were written for the upper classes, while the peperoncino was a cheap and convenient food for the lower classes.

Farro Salad with Tomato, Arugula, cheese, toasted nuts and everything but the kitchen sink!

Farro salad
Farro salad

The kids are away so gorgonzola is here to stay! Until tomorrow that is- they both detest it.
I had a girls night last night and this went well with what my Lookout Mountain friends brought-Caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese crackers, homemade sangria bursting with fresh fruit, cream cheese with jalapeno raspberry jam, fried squash blossoms straight from the garden and chocolate lava cake and key lime pie for dessert!  They are all foodies and great ladies!

I learned about farro salad in Liguria Italy where it’s so hot in summer (no AC) no one wants to turn on the stove much. I love the chewy,nuttiness of farro and it’s so nutritious!  You can put just about anything in farro salad but the kitchen sink!

Farro Salad with Cherry Tomato and Arugula or everything but the kitchen sink!
Serves 6 or so
1 1/2 cups farro (3/4 pound)
1/3-cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Kosher Salt and cracked pepper
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
2 bunches of arugula (3/4 pound), stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
gorgonzola cheese – or goat, mozzarella or whatever you love!
Balsamic glaze – optional
Toasted nuts- optional -pine nuts, almonds, pecans or ???

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the farro until al dente- about 15 minutes. Drain well. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

In a bowl, mix the olive oil and vinegar.
Add the tomatoes, arugula and dressing to the farro and toss well. Season with salt and cracked pepper and serve at once.
Can drizzle balsamic glaze to finish it off

The cooked farro can be refrigerated overnight.

The farro salad calls for a dry white Italian wine with character.

Oregano Pesto

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Sorry I have been so absent. I was in California looking at colleges with my daughter. Looking at a lot of good food too!  But now I am back in Chattanooga and my Oregano plant is bursting! The picture is after I cut it back! So what to do with tons of oregano? Make pesto! In Italy that is how they roll- you use what you have around you and you find ways to utilize the overgrown garden. How do you think canning started? My basil is not ample to make traditional pesto yet so oregano it is. You can make pesto out of any herb but marjoram is the closest cousin to oregano. I took a recipe off the internet and adapted it. I used garlic, evoo and anchovies as I love the flavor they give to anything. I added pumpkin seeds since I had them here but any nut would be good and healthy. It is a little bit bitter- not sweet like basil but everyone likes it so far. I think it would be really good on lamb or any roast for that matter. I put it on bruscheta and even day old polenta I grilled – no not brushetta! brusketa is how you say it properly. It’s delicious on pasta too, diluted with olive oil and some of the pasta cooking water. Try it on butternut squash ravioli- yum!

Oregano Pesto Recipe:

4 cups oregano leaves
4 cloves garlic- peeled
4 anchovy filets – optional
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, or any other toasted nut (toasting brings out the flavor)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

add sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

throw it all in a food processor and mix until it’s the consistency you like. You can thin it out with more olive oil if you need to.  Store in fridge 5 days or freeze for a month.