Thursday, March 27, 2014

Peanut Brittle (in Microwave)

Peanut Brittle (in Microwave)
(1 batch)


1 cup Salted Spanish Peanuts
1 cup Sugar
½ cup White Corn Syrup
1/8 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Unsalted Butter
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Baking Soda


In a large microwavable bowl, combine the peanuts, sugar, syrup and salt. Microwave on high for 2 ½ minutes. Remove mixture and stir. Then return it to the microwave and run on high another 2 minutes. Again remove from microwave and add in the butter and vanilla. Once mixed, return to microwave for another 35 seconds on high. Remove bowl and add baking soda. Stir quickly and spread onto a sprayed sheet of foil that is lining a cookie sheet. Allow to cool to room temperature and then break into pieces. Store pieces in a sealable container.

Note: The above cooking directions are based on a 1200 watt microwave. If your microwave is of a lower wattage, you will need to increase the time. A 1000 watt microwave needs to use 3 minutes, followed by 2 ½ minutes and then 1¼ minutes. Again size matters on time. Kitchen temperature and humidity can also effect the outcome. It may take a batch or two to adjust to your own microwave for this recipe.

Note: It is best to use wooden spoons and rubber spatulas for this recipe.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quick Apple Dumplings

Quick Apple Dumplings
(8 dumplings)


2 large Granny Smith Apples
1 (8 count) pkg. Refrigerated Crescent Roll Dough
¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
½ cup Unsalted Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Fresh Orange Juice
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
½ cup Pecans, finely chopped


Peel the apples and then quarter each apple. Cut out the core and ends of each piece and set aside. Unroll the crescent dough and separate into the 8 wedges. Place one piece of apple on the wide end and roll-up towards the narrow end. Repeat the process with all 8 pieces of apple. Place them in a greased or sprayed 8 inch square baking dish. Sprinkle all 8 with the cinnamon and set aside. In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and orange juice. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Add in the vanilla and then pour over the dumplings in the pan. Top with the chopped pecans and place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are done. Serve warm.

Note: Vanilla ice cream goes very well with the warm dumplings too.

Note: You can use other apples depending on your likes and availability. But it is best to use an apple like the granny smith because they hold up better.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Easy to Make Sweets

I think everyone has a "Sweet Tooth" to some degree.  Some more than others, my wife and I are a good example.  I like desserts, cookies, candy and other types of sweet foods but I'd really prefer another piece of good bread over them.  That's because my mother baked fresh bread twice a week as I grew up.  My wife on the other hand believes a meal can't end without a dessert (of some kind) or some ice cream.  That was how her family did things.

Like I said, everyone likes sweets to some point.  That is not the problem.  Liking something is far different from making it.  There's the problem, most of us don't know how to make it or don't like to make it.

Some of that comes from the fear of failure and also from the lack of knowledge.  As far as the fear of failure goes, it's just something you have to get over.  I believe it is a lot worse to never try for fear of failure than to fail on something you were willing to try.  That goes for everything in your life, not just what happens in a kitchen.  So get out there try things.  Who knows, you may succeed or at least learn from it.  And the learning will help you the next time.

The lack of knowledge really involves more than just knowing how to do something.  Many times it's because we don't have the right equipment for the task.

Take the making of different kinds of sweets.  Some require a double-boiler or maybe a candy thermometer. If you don't have one, what kind you do?  It doesn't make sense to buy them unless you plan to use them enough to make it worthwhile.  So what can you do?

Well one thing you could do is look for recipes that don't require the special equipment.  Those simpler recipes are out there.

This week's two recipes try to do that.  The first one is "Quick Apple Dumplings" and it comes from my Aunt Gabe who is 103 years old.  She really isn't my aunt but we've called her that all my life.  She's my first cousin's aunt but she is still family to us.  Anyway at that age, especially still living on your own, you want to make processes easier.

The second recipe "Peanut Brittle (in Microwave)" comes from a good friend, Mary.  She makes the best peanut brittle without the candy thermometer.  It only takes a few minutes to do in the microwave so it's faster too.

I also want to mention that there is nothing wrong with using box mixes too.  A sweet is a sweet and it's the eating that is important not the making.  It just matters if it is good tasting and satisfies you.  You could also have fun with the box mixes and do some deviating to make your own special treat.

So enjoy this week's recipes and, of course, "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Salsa Verde with Roasted Tomato

Salsa Verde with Roasted Tomato
(about 1 cup)


1 lb. Roma Tomatoes, cored & halved
½ medium White Onion, chopped
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, peeled & smashed
1 medium Serrano Chile, seeded
1 tsp. Fresh Lime Juice (more if needed)
1 tsp Salt


Turn on the broiler and set rack for upper third of oven. Place tomatoes skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Scatter onion, garlic and pepper around the tomatoes. Broil until tomato skins start to blacken and blister (about 7 minutes). Transfer all the vegetables to a blender and add the lime and salt. Blend into a smooth puree and taste. Adjust seasoning with lime juice and salt. Transfer to a small sauce pan and keep warm until ready to use over low heat.

Note: If the Serrano chile is too hot for you, try a Jalapeno or even skip it. For those that like things hot, keep the seeds in or even add another chile.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chiles Rellenos

Chiles Rellenos
(6 each)


6 large Fresh Poblano Chiles (see note before starting)
14 oz. Fresh Potato (your choice on kind)
1 cup Cream Cheese, room temperature
1¾ cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
½ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black Pepper
2 large Fresh Eggs, separated and at room temperature
as needed Canola Oil for frying


Peel potatoes and cut into ½ inch dice. Place in a large saucepan covered by water an inch above the potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat than reduce to a simmer and continue for 5 minutes or until they are tender. Drain thoroughly and set aside. In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add the cheddar cheese, ½ tsp. salt and black pepper and continue to mix. Using a rubber spatula fold in the diced potatoes and mix gently. Spoon the potato mixture into the chiles being careful not to tear them and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to firm peaks. In a separate bowl beat the yolks and then fold into the beaten egg whites. Heat a half cup of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes. Then place a half cup of the egg white mixture in the pan and spread out to the size of one of the chiles. Place the chile in the middle and then top with another half cup of egg white mixture to coat. Fry on first side until golden brown (2-3 minutes) then carefully turn using a flat spatula and a fork continuing another 2-3 minutes. If sides are not browned, use tongs and turn chiles on sides to cook. Ladle your favorite smooth Salsa Verde (put through blender if needed) onto a plate and place Chiles Rellenos on top and serve.

Note: Lay a chile down on a cutting board so they lay flat naturally without rolling. Next make a T cut using a pairing knife by first slicing down the middle of the chile from top to bottom. Then cut perpendicular to first cut just below the stem (about ½ inch). Do not slice all the way through the chiles. Carefully now cut out the core with the knife to remove seeds through the opening. Repeat process with each chile. Now place the chiles in a large dry frying pan/skillet over medium heat turning them frequently as they blister and blacken a bit on all sides. Once this is done remove to a large plastic bag and seal. Let them sit in the bag for about 20 minutes. Then remove carefully the blistered skins and using your fingers and the pairing knife. Be sure not to holes in the chiles. Blot dry with paper towels and set aside.

Note: You can use other large chiles in place of Poblano peppers. Anaheim is a good one.

Note: It is best to separate the eggs while they are still cold. Then let them sit to warm to room temperature before using.

Note: You could deep fry the Chiles Rellenos too. In that case you will need to coat them completely before dropping into the hot oil.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Part 2 of Mexican Cuisine (Chiles) cont.

Let's continue on the subject of "Chile Peppers" in Mexican cooking.  We started yesterday with "Fresh" chile types.  It is this fresh chile that can be roasted to enhance flavor and remove the skin.

Roasting Chiles:  Some good chiles for roasting are Poblano, Anaheim and Jalapeno.  Wash and dry chiles first.  Then "Dry-Fry" them in a pan or over a flame.  For a pan, place chiles in a dry pan over medium heat. Turn them as needed as you blister and darken their skin.  Do not over do it and burn the flesh of the chile. Once all the chiles int the pan are ready, place them in a plastic bag and seal.  Let this sit for around 20 minutes.  Now remove chiles from the bag and peel off the skin.  You can use a pairing knife, but have the blade face away from you as you pull it towards you.  You just want to scrape the skin, not cut into the flesh. Once you have them peeled, you can proceed with however you plan to use them.  If they are needed whole but without seeds, make a small slit and cut or scrape out seeds with a pairing knife or small spoon.  If you want to blister the chiles over a flame, carefully place chile (s) over the flame and turn as needed to blister and darken.  Then proceed the same as above with the bag.

Re-hydrated dried chiles have enhanced flavor and many uses in recipes.  They are not hard to work with either.  So enjoy trying these in your cooking.

Re-hydrating Dried Chiles:  The first thing you do is clean the dried chiles by removing any dirt or seeds that can be seen.  Then place the chiles in a large bowl of hot water.  Let them soak for from 10 to 60 minutes depending on the chiles you are re-hydrating.  The thicker the longer they need to soak.  Their color should be restored, the water darkened, the chiles swelled up and softened.  Drain the chiles well before working with them.  Depending on your need, you want to cut off the stem and scrape out the seeds.  Use a sharp knife for this.  Now slice or chop if not using whole.  If pureeing the chiles, add a little of the soaking water to the blender or food processor to help make it smooth.

Handing Chiles:  Chiles are full of "Capsaicin" which produces the heat in the chiles as we eat them.  It also can irritate ones skin and other body parts.  I wouldn't touch my eyes just after cutting chiles up with bare hands.  From past experience, it burns.  Even some time after washing thoroughly, it will still be on your skin.  Because of this many people use gloves or oil their hands before cutting into chiles as they prepare a recipe.  Now when you do cut into a chile, the capsaicin is mainly in the seeds and white membrane.  To reduce heat in your dish, remove these.  The easiest way to do this is cut the chile in half, cut off the stem going a little ways into the chile itself.  Then remove the seeds and membrane.  If you like the heat, then leave them be.  For a fine dice, cut the halves into long thin strips.  Then turn and cut just as thin across the strips.  If you are cooking the chiles in the recipe, you may be able to chop them in larger pieces

Because chiles have a range of heat, each one can be different.  My brother always cuts a tiny little piece off and tastes it.  This way he knows how hot each chile is and can then adjust how much goes in the recipe.  It helps him control the heat of the end product.  Now if you do this or even when you are eating something that is too hot for you, try the following to cut the heat.  Dairy products such as milk and sour cream help. Another is a spoonful of sugar and I'm not talking Mary Poppins for taking medicine.  Sugar helps cut the heat too.  Don't drink a lot of water, soda, beer or such.  These liquids just help to spread the heat, not cut it.

Buying & Storing:  For fresh chiles, you want to look for firm and shiny skins.  Limp and dull ones are past their prime.  Store these in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to about 3 weeks.  The  dried chiles should be flexible and not brittle.  Store them in an airtight container in a dry cool place.  They should keep for up to a year.  For short term time (a few days at most) they will do well in the refrigerator.  Both the fresh and dried chiles will freeze too.  I put fresh whole ones on a sheet pan and place in the freezer.  Once frozen, I put them in a plastic freezer bag and return to the freezer.  This way I can take out just what I want or need. I do the same with the dried ones too.  Now once frozen, they are not just like using a fresh one.  They have become a little softer but they perform just fine in any recipe.

If you are ambitious and want to grind your own chili powder, start with dried chiles.  Soak the chiles and pat dry.  Remove stem and seeds if desired.  Then in a dry frying pan, dry-fry them until they are crisp.  In a mortar and pestle, grind into a fine powder.  Store in a dry cool place in an airtight container.  I'd use within the year.

Another surprise for you on chiles.  They are good for you too.  Besides vitamins and minerals for your body, they help in digestion and reducing cholesterol.  They help reduce heart attacks, rejuvenate the body, delay aging and help maintain metabolic rhythm of the body.  Not bad for a hot little chile.

Tomorrow's recipe is for "Chiles Rellenos" and this one has a potato and cheese filling.  You can put different fillings in these.  The typical one is for just cheese but meat fillings work well too.  This week there's a Friday recipe.  It's "Salsa Verde with Roasted Tomato" and should be put on the plate before placing the Chiles Rellenos on it.  I hope you have learned something from the 2nd installment of Mexican Cuisine. Well, enjoy the recipes and "Happy Cooking" until next week.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Part 2 of Mexican Cuisine (Chiles)

Variety of Fresh Chile Peppers
When you say "Mexican Food" different ingredients quickly come to mind.  Each of us may be different about which ingredient comes to our minds first but eventually it comes to "Chile Peppers."  They are what puts the spice in some of our favorite foods.

Today and tomorrow we will talk about both fresh and dried chiles.  The most common or used. The different ranges of heat they offer and how to handle them.

Let's start with naming some of the most popular ones and give a little description of them.  They will be in no particular order.  You'll note that many of the chiles come in more than one color.  The longer they are on the vine causes that change.  The heat of the chiles really doesn't change that much because of color.  I will show the Scoville scale for each chile.  The higher the number means the higher the heat.  Each has a range of heat.  Each chile can be different in its heat level.  That's why you sometimes think a dish hotter than the last time you eat it.

Jalapeno:  One of the most popular and known chile peppers.  These are great in salsa.  They run about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length and 1/2 to 1 inch in width.  You can find them in green or red color.  They run 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale

Serrano:  This pepper is slightly hotter than the Jalapeno.  Works anywhere you would use the Jalapeno too. It's length is about the same as a Jalapeno but is much thinner.  They are green and red in color and run 5,000 to 30,000 on the Scoville scale.

Anaheim:  Light green is the color of this chile and one of the mildest of chiles.  It can run up to 6 inches in length.  The Scoville scale has this one at 500 to 1,000.

Poblano:  These chiles are about 3 1/2 inches long and dark green in color.  Sometimes called heart shaped, they go about 2 1/2 inches wide.  They will turn red as they ripen.  These and the Anaheim are used a lot for stuffed peppers (Chile Rellenos).  Their Scoville scale is 1,000 to 2,000.

Habanero:  This has become a very popular chile in the USA over the last 10 years or so.  It is much hotter than the other chiles mentioned already.  usually orange in color it comes in at 100,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville scale.

The chiles listed above are all "Fresh" chiles.  Below I will list a few "Dried" chiles.

Chipotle:  These are red (ripened) Jalapeno chiles that have been dried and smoked.  You will find these in cans.  They will be in a tomato sauce called "Adobo."  It is hot and has lots of flavor.  It's listed at the same 2,500 to 8,000 of the fresh Jalapeno but seems to always be spicier.

Ancho:  These are dried Poblano chiles and they are reddish in color.  If they are black in color, then they're called Mulato chiles.  Both are Poblano chiles to start and no one knows why they turn out this way. However, even though they are listed at the same Scoville scale, they seem hotter.

Gaujillo:  This is a dried red chile.  They are long, tapered an reddish in color.  The Gaujillo is used for added heat, some flavor and mostly for color to the finished product it's in.  Scoville scale of 2,500 to 5,000.

This has been only a short list of the many chiles grown and used in Mexico.  Tomorrow I will continue talking about how to "Roast"  fresh chiles, "Re-hydrate" the dried chiles, how to "Handle" chiles while working with them and a few "Tips" regarding chiles.

There will still be two recipes too.  One on Thursday for "Chiles Rellenos" and then on Friday for "Salsa Verde with Roasted Tomato."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cannellini Bean Dip

Cannellini Bean Dip
(about 1 ½ cups)


1 (15 oz.) can Cannellini Beans, drained & rinsed
2 cloves Fresh Garlic
2 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1/3 cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Fresh Italian Parsley (loosely packed)
to taste Salt & Black Pepper
serve with Pita Chips


Place the beans, garlic, juice, oil and parsley in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove to the serving dish you wish to use. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with pita chips and/to crackers.

Note: You can spice this up by adding a Jalapeno pepper. Remove seeds or not depending on your degree of desired spice.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spicy Mustard Dip

Spicy Mustard Dip
(1 ½ cups)


8 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
¼ cup Dijon Mustard
¼ cup Sour Cream
1 tbsp. Fresh Green Onion, finely chopped
1 (4 ½ oz.) can Tiny Shrimp, drained
garnish Fresh Green Onions, sliced
Assorted Vegetables and/or Pretzels (your choice on types of vegetables & pretzels)


Using an electric hand mixer on medium, blend cheese, mustard, sour cream and onion in a medium bowl. Stir in shrimp carefully and place in desired serving dish. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish with green onions and serve with vegetables and/or pretzels.

Note: You could try spicy brown mustard for a little more tang. Or one of your choice.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March Madness Dips for Basketball

NCAA Men/s & Women's Basketball Championships are coming.  March and early April are crazy months for basketball in the USA.  The big one is, of course, the Division I Men's Championships.  But Division II and III also have their championships at this time.  Not to mention the women's side of all these tournaments goes on at the same time.

The 2nd & 3rd weekends of March gets everyone through their league tournaments and then you have the announcement of the teams going to the big dance that 3rd weekend.  If your team is in it, then it's basketball party watching time.

My excited this year as my almamater, Creighton University Bluejays, are having an outstanding year so far. I'll be watching them and others as the games play out.

What's a person to do with so many games and weekends involved for party food? Don't want to get bored with the food and beverage during these sometimes stressful games.  So I guess it will take a little game plan just like the teams are doing to get ready.

There are always a few staples that you can have game in and game out.  But you need to change up the menu just to keep everyone guessing what's next.  The b-ball coaches do this with their offense and defense each game.  Yes they have that core but there is always a few different wrinkles for each team they face.

The easiest place for you to put in few wrinkles is in the snacking area.  Offer different dips or salsas for each party day.  It doesn't matter if you're hosting or bringing something to a friends place.  Have something different each time.

I'm giving you two quick, easy and different dips to try out this year.  The first one is "Spicy Mustard Dip" and it goes well with veggies or pretzels of any kind.  The second dip recipe is for a "Cannellini Bean Dip" works with pita chips.  As I mentioned earlier, both are quick and easy to make.

Also, don't forget that there are plenty of great recipes already in the links above.  I'm just going to remind you of a few dips and salsas to mix and match with these two new recipes.

To start, there standard Mexican ones like Guacamole (Villa del Arco) (V), Mango Salsa (V) and Tomato Corn Salsa (V).  Then a few dips like Party Shrimp DipRoasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Dip (V), Greek Layered Dip (V) and Matt's Hot Artichoke Dip (V).

These are dips and salsas out of the "Odds & Ends" recipe tab above.  There are some other recipes that would make for great items to offer at any of the b-ball parties too.  Of course, under some of the other recipe tabs there are some other neat offerings for these events.  Check them out and "Happy Cooking" too.  I also hope your team or teams do well in any of the different divisions (men's & women's).

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sauteed Halibut with Lemon-Parsley Sauce

Sauteed Halibut with Lemon-Parsley Sauce
(4 servings)


¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
2 large Shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup Water
½ cup Heavy Cream
4 cup Fresh Parsley, loosely packed
2 tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
as needed Salt & Black Pepper
4 (6 oz.) Halibut Steaks, ½ inch thick


In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tbsp. of oil over moderate heat. Add shallots and cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Next add water and simmer until reduced by half (about 6 minutes). Add the cream, mix and reduce by 1/3 (about 6 minutes). Let mixture cool for 10 minutes and then add the parsley. Carefully transfer mixture to a blender and coarsely puree. Return the mixture to saucepan and add the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and then keep warm. Using 2 large nonstick skillets with a tbsp. of oil in each, bring to a shimmer over high heat. Season both sides of each steak with salt and pepper before placing in pans. Saute the steaks until brown and just cooked (for about 4 minutes total) turning halfway through the process. The halibut should flake when done. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the lemon-parsley sauce.

Note: You could use Red Snapper or Striped Bass instead of Halibut with this sauce.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Roasted Cod with Orange & Fennel Marinade

Roasted Cod with Orange & Fennel Marinade
(4 servings)


¼ cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1 tsp. Fresh Orange Zest
¼ tsp. Fennel Seed
¾ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
4 (6 oz.) Cod Fillets, ¾ inch thick


In a pan large enough to hold the cod fillets, combine the juice, zest, seed, salt and pepper. Place the cod fillets in mixture to coat both sides and leave in dish. Cover dish and refrigerate overnight turning the fillets several times during the process. Spray a 9x13 baking dish before removing the fillets to it. Place the dish in a pre-heated 450 degree oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until fillets are done and flake. Serve with favorite side dishes.

Note: You could also use Orange Roughy or Haddock in place of the Cod.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fish Goes Hand in Hand with Lent.

One presentation of our Mahi Mahi at Villa del Arco in Cabo.
Since I'm talking fish this week, thought i should start with a photo of one of the presentations that Executive Chef, Saul Garcia Ramos, and his staff prepared of the Mahi Mahi fish we had caught in Cabo in January.  It is being served here as Ceviche (raw marinaded fish) on the left side of plate and as Sushi (Japanese dish) on the right end.  It was delicious.

So now on to cooking and eating fish.  As the title of the blog today states, fish and Lent go hand in hand. For many Christians in years past one did not eat meat of any kind of Fridays.  Now that tradition is followed just during this Lenten period.  It also includes Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of these 40 days of Lent.  But there is more to eating fish today.

Today dietitians and health experts say everyone should eat fish and/or seafood twice a week.  They recommend two 3 1/2 ounce portions each week.  One of the reasons behind this is to help get more Omega-3 fatty acids in our system.  These are very good for us.  But remember that not all fish are equal in the Omega-3.  Those of you that think just taking Fish Oil pills will cover you, think again.  Fish is good for you for many other reasons too.

I know there are people who say they don't like fish.  I know, I was one of them most of my life.  Today I do like fish, but not every kind.  I am not a fan of Salmon.  I'm sure it goes back to my childhood days and eating canned salmon with bones in it.  Today I have a few favorite fish to eat.  I love Walleye for a fresh water fish.  For salt-water fish, I like cod, haddock, red snapper and fresh tuna.  I'll eat others but the ones mentioned I'll pick first if offered.  You need to find a type of fish or two that you might like.

How the fish is prepared does make a difference for many people.  Deep fried is probably the least healthy pick for preparation but if it gets you to eat fish, then do it. There are many other ways to fix a piece of fish. You might want to try pan-searing, poaching or roasting (baking) your fish.  Each of these techniques are easy to do. Just make sure that you cook your fish to an internal temperature of 145 degrees or until it easily separates or flakes.  I'm not going to go into each of these techniques today.  If you do want to know more about them, let me know and I will follow up at a later date.

One of the reasons I hear from those that say they do not like fish, is that they smell and/or taste fishy.  Well they are fish and should taste like fish but not fishy as people refer.  Part of this has to do with the fish you are buying and how you handle them.

If you are buying fresh fish, there are things to look for to insure freshness.  The eyes of the fish should be clear and fresh looking.  There should be no fishy smell and the gills should be bright in color.  That's fine for whole fish but many fish counters offer fillets or steak cuts of fish.  Here you need to get to know the people you are dealing with when purchasing fish.  They can and are very willing to help you.

Frozen fish is another matter.  Today most fishing ships process and freeze product right on-board the ship. The fish are as fresh as possible for you.  But how do you need to handle the frozen fish?  This goes for fresh fish as well as frozen.  Thaw or hold fish in the refrigerator by placing them in a rimmed pan with a rack.  The rack keeps them out of most liquid that drains.  You want to keep the fish covered with ice until you are ready to use them.  This may mean that you have to drain the pan from time to time and add more ice.

Another way to thaw frozen fish and help keep that fishy smell or taste away, is to thaw it in buttermilk.  The buttermilk draws out that problem.  Before processing to cook in whatever recipe you have chosen, rinse the fish off and pat dry.

If you are using whole fish (either filleting or cooking whole), don't waste the scraps.  You can make a good fish stock for future needs.  Just put the pieces left (skin included) into a pot.  Cover with cold water and add some vegetables and/or herbs and heat to about 180-185 degrees for 2 to 3 hours.  Drain through a fine colander or cheesecloth.  Then seal in a container, make it with date and what it is and freeze it until needed.

This week's recipes are for "Roasted Cod with Orange & Fennel Marinade" and "Sauteed Halibut with Lemon-Parsley Sauce."  Enjoy trying them and eat more fish.  Until next week "Happy Cooking."