We had an honored guest tonight: Keja's mother, Amy. She is an excellent resource, constant reader, and frequent source of moral support in this cooking endeavor, so it was great fun to be able to share this with her.
The fish, cornbread, and shortbread all cook for about the same time, so timing-wise, have fish stuffed and ready to grill, cornbread mixed and ready to put into the pan and shortbread in the pan and cook everything at once. The cooking is fairly hands off, so meanwhile, make the compote and cornbread butter. The fish can sit in the foil for 10 to 15 minutes once cooked, if need be.
This meal serves 4 adults.
Dave was late joining us so we were on our own for cocktail inspiration. We think he would approve, though we're not sure since we had finished the cocktails by the time he arrived.
Blend until smooth:
2 cups frozen strawberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1 bottle white wine
Serve with a mint sprig.
This cornbread is moist, slightly sweet, and addictive. Pouring the batter into the hot oil creates a crisp crust, which helps seal in the moisture.
Preheat oven to 350. Put 2 TBSP safflower or other high heat oil into an 8 or 9" square dish or pie plate and put into the oven while it gets up to temp.
1 cup corn meal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teas. baking soda
1/2 teas. baking powder
1/4 teas. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup bacon drippings or melted butter
Mix dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Add wet and stir until mixed.
Pour into the pan with hot oil, being very careful to not get splashed with the oil, and cook 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out with a few crumbs attached.
Serve with butter or Keja's treat: 5 TBSP butter softened and mixed with 2 TBSP light Karo Syrup.
Fish in the Weeds
Heat in a large frying or saute pan:
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 cup garlic scapes (or onions or scallions) cut into 1" pieces
Saute 2 minutes then add:
2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 teas. pepper
In a separate pan, saute 8 oz. bacon, cut into 1" pieces until browned. Add to spinach mix.
1/3 cup coarse brad crumbs. Stir well and remove from heat.
Stuff the cavities of:
2 whole Hake, cleaned
with the stuffing. Wrap each fish with 4-6 fresh herb sprigs (we used oregano and mint) and tie cooking twine around each fish to hold cavity closed and herbs on.
Wrap each fish in tin foil and grill over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Flip and grill another 10-15 until cooked through.
Unwrap and serve each fish at the table, opening from the cavity and gently removing the backbone.
Shortbread cookies with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
Preheat oven to 350.
In a bowl mix:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
Press dough into a small pie plate and poke all over with a fork.
Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly browned and good smelling. Remove and let cool. Slice into 6 or 8 equal pieces.
In a sauce pan over low heat, cook:
1 cup rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 cups strawberries
Stir occasionally. When juices have released (~20 - 30 minutes), add sugar to taste (we used 1/4 cup).
Serve over shortbread. You can also serve with ice cream or creme fraîche to make it super rich, but we liked it with just the compote and cookies.