Over the Memorial Day weekend, I had my children over for a barbecue. I served maple-barbecued chicken, grilled marinated London broil, grilled yellow and green zucchini and asparagus, and tri-color pasta salad. Links to these recipes can be found on my recipe page.
I wanted an easy, but tasty way to prepare the striped bass. Thumbing through Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen cookbook provide such a recipe. Although her recipe called for cod, why not try it with the bass? The recipe starts by creating your own infused garlic olive oil. If you don’t keep fresh garlic on hand, Carter and Cavero Old World Olive Oil store, sells olive oil infused with garlic. They have several stores in New Jersey and also do mail order. You’ll also need fresh parsley and thyme, six 1-inch cod fillets and fresh lemon juice. All told, the recipe takes approximately 45 minutes to prepare.
You drizzle the garlic olive oil over the fish and then spread a seasoned breadcrumb mixture with fresh thyme, parsley and olive oil on top of the fish. My husband and I loved this preparation. The fish remained moist through baking, there was just a hint of garlic and the seasoned breadcrumbs gave the fish a fresh taste. This was an easy and delicious way to prepare both cod and sea bass and other firm white fish.
Lobster Mac’n Cheese is a decadent meal. However, Ina’s recipe uses a combination of both extra sharp cheddar and Gruyere cheese. Compared to the Betty Crocker mac’ n cheese recipe that I make, we both thought that despite its richness, this mac’ n cheese wasn’t heavy tasting at all. Perhaps it was the white sauce you make for the dish. It uses one quart of whole milk along with 12 ounces of Gruyere cheese and 8 ounces of extra sharp Cheddar that seemed to lighten this dish.
I purchased three, 1 to 1-1/2 pound, pre-cooked lobster tails at ShopRite so that all I had to do was extract the meat from the shells. This wasn’t too difficult. I used a meat mallet and nut crackers (it’s what I had on hand), to get to the lobster meat. I did this a day or two earlier. The day I made the recipe, all I had to do was to mix in the lobster meat. I also purchased a loaf of buttered top white bread that was made by Breadsmith in Cranford, NJ. I needed the bread to make fresh breadcrumbs that topped the mac’n cheese. I pulsed 4 slices of bread in my food processor then sautéed them in a pan with butter. Once baked, you had a buttery crunch against the rich, creaminess of the mac’n cheese. Decadent, yes. Fairly easy to make, yes. Will I make this again, you bet.
With the summer season getting under way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy making and eating these dishes as much as I did.
Lobster Mac’n Cheese
Recipe from Ina Garten Food Network-Barefoot Contessa Episode-Perfect Pasta
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Total: 1 hr 25 min Prep: 15 min
Cook: 1 hr 10 min
1 pound cavatappi or elbow macaroni
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
2. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according
to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
3. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes.
4. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
Fillet of Fresh Cod with Lemon-Parsley Sauce
Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen
By Lidia Matticchio Bastianich ©2001
Makes 6 servings
8 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry, unseasoned bread crumbs
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped crushed hot red pepper
Six 1-inch-thick fresh cod fillets (about 2-1/2 pounds)
Salt, preferably fine sea salt
4 cups yellow and red cherry tomatoes, stemmed, washed and drained
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Whack the garlic cloves with the side of knife and stir them into the olive in a small glass. Let steep at room temperature 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 475° F. Stir the bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons of the infused oil, 2tablespoons of the parsley, 2 tablespoons of the thyme, and ½ teaspoon of the crushed red pepper together in a small bowl until blended.
Season the cod fillets with salt and brush both sides well with about 1 tablespoon of the infused oil. Set the cod on a lightly oiled or nonstick baking sheet. Distribute the seasoned bread crumbs over the tops of the fillets, patting them lightly to help them stick. Bake the cod until it is opaque white throughout and the crumbs are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
While the cod is baking, make the tomato salad and prepare the sauce: Cut the tomatoes in quarters and toss them in a mixing bowl with salt to taste. Spoon in 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil and toss gently.
Strain the remaining infused oil into a medium skillet. Add the lemon juice, the remaining 2teaspoons of thyme, and the remaining ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until lightly thickened and emulsified. Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley into the sauce and season to taste with salt.
Remove the fish and transfer to warm serving plates. Taste the tomatoes and their juice, adding more salt if necessary. Spoon the tomatoes and their juice in small mounds around the fish fillets. Spoon some of the sauce between the mounds of tomatoes and serve at one.
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A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.