The Fantastic Mr. Feedbag

A website celebrating and enumerating Juneau, Alaska's food culture

Posts Tagged ‘local food

Pesto Rockfish with Rebecca

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Becca

For just over a year, I was in the Masters of Arts in Teaching program in secondary education. The experience was incredible. I loved student teaching at Floyd Dryden with my awesome host teacher, and peer learning community. It may sound cheesy, but I’ve missed my students this summer, and I know that they’ll all go on to do some great things with their lives.

The MAT program is only a year long, and so the course work is intense. The summer session has classes that span about three weeks long. One of my favorite people to work with in the MAT program has been my friend, Rebecca. I made a lot of friends in the program who are going all around the world, and state to teach. I’ll miss them all – especially old Jim-Bob, Chris, Nick, Mara, and Abe. I’ll be thinking good thoughts for Summer and Jennie as they go on into the next two quarters of the program, and finish up their student teaching.

A difficult thing for me during my Master’s program was not having enough time to prepare good food, and not getting enough sleep. I worked part-time during the program, an average of three evenings a week at two different local restaurants. It was difficult, but the reward of not having a student loan payment makes me feel like it was worth it. My friend Rebecca and I bonded the last couple of weeks of class. During our break we’d work on course work, and share our lunches. Often we had strangely constructed salads, made from random scraps we grabbed from our kitchens in the morning mad dash to school.

Last week we got together a couple of times to work on our Teacher Work Samples and portfolios, and ate decent food. Rebecca has a pretty good line of fresh local fish, and this fresh rockfish was fabulous.

We prepared the rockfish by baking it in an iron skillet with a simple rub of pesto, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Fresh fish doesn’t need much to be delicious, but it’s easily dried out if you bake it without a source of moisture. This iron skillet recipe could accommodate many kinds of fish.

rockfisher

Rebecca and I talked about how rockfish is often called a poor man’s version of halibut. We decided that this particular rockfish was actually just as flavorful, if not better than halibut that we’d both had this summer. Rockfish can be rad!

Ingredients:
– Three to four filets of fresh rockfish (or whatever fish you have available)
– Two tablespoons of olive oil
– Fresh ground pepper & sea salt to lightly coat the filets
– One to two tablespoons of pesto (freshly made, or store bought: Costco brand is good & affordable) to coat each filet

Instructions:
– Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
– Coat the pan in one to two tablespoons of olive oil
– Grind fresh pepper & sprinkle sea salt liberally on each side of your filets
– Rub a tablespoon or two of pesto into each side of your filets
– Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes (check on your filets at 20 minutes, or so to see if the fish is flaking – a good indication that it’s done)

Serving Suggestion:
We made an awesome fresh green salad with pine nuts and feta cheese to accompany our pesto rockfish filets. I’d suggest serving this fish with a Pinot Grigio, or an Alaskan Pale Ale.

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Matty’s Law & Order Soup

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Puréed acorn squash, beet & leek soup

Puréed acorn squash, beet, & leek soup.

In the soup world, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups:  The cooks, who make the soup; and consumers, who eat the soup.  These are their stories:

This is the time of year to harvest all your hard work in the garden.  Not only am I an avid soup eater, I also love to cook using fresh ingredients obtained from our garden.  I had some success on our garden this year, with enough greens and snap peas to last us through the summer.  We have been enjoying fresh salads consisting of cabbage, Kale, and carrots this fall.  Some of the less successful crops this season were the leeks, broccoli, and potatoes.  I read that it’s best to plant leeks indoors in the early spring and then transplant as soon as the soil can be worked.  I think next year I’ll take this advice more to heart.

My biggest disappointment was my potato crop.  Potatoes grow great in Alaska.  I’ve usually had good luck when it comes to potatoes. This year I think I didn’t plant them deep enough.  This resulted in smaller and not as many spuds.  So I have been thinking about what to do with my failed crops.  I hate to waste anything so Kim suggested I make a potato leek soup.  I thought this was a great idea and decided to expand on it.

This last Saturday I was balls deep in a Law and Order marathon when I got the sudden urge to make some soup.  I had a bunch of little leeks, beets, and carrots that I managed to salvage from the garden.  These would form the base of my soup.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough potatoes for the potato leek soup that I was craving.  I realized I needed something else to make the soup magical.  I put some pants on, loaded up the old pom-chi, and headed to the local store.

I ran the gauntlet that we call Foodland, avoiding eye contact with people so I didn’t have to do the dreaded stop and chat.  It was during one of these moments that I spotted what I knew would be perfect.  Squash!

It’s fall after all. What better way to warm the soul than a hearty cup of squash soup?  I carefully picked through the many varieties of squash and stumbled across an orange acorn squash.  Just like the Dude, I knew this squash would tie the soup together.  I rushed home to begin preparation.  The first thing to do when preparing a squash for soup is to cut the ends off and remove the peel using a vegetable peeler.  Then carefully cut squash lengthwise and remove middle part making sure to save the seeds for a healthy snack later.  Once the squash is de-turded you can begin to make the soup.

Ingredients:

-2 tablespoons butter of olive oil

-1 leek chopped into fine pieces

-1 small beet diced

-1 diced carrot

-1 diced celery

-2 pounds winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 ½ -inch chunks

-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

-3 cloves garlic

-2 sprigs fresh thyme

-Pinch of nutmeg

-1/4 cup fresh basil

-1/2 cup coconut milk

-Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Begin by heating the butter or oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the leek and cook until softened, about five minutes or so should do the trick.  Then stir in the beets, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, thyme, basil, nutmeg, and chicken broth.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until squash is softened about ½ the episode of a Law and Order should do the trick.

2.  Once the squash is done remove the pot from heat and discard thyme sprigs and puree soup with an emersion blender, food processor or any old kind of blender.  If the soup is too thick, you can always add more stock until you get the desired consistency.

3. Next you add the coconut milk and bring back to a brief simmer and then remove and add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy your soup with some warm bread and a nice fresh garden salad.  I would also recommend this soup on a cold wet fall afternoon while in the midst of a Law and Order Bender.  Garnish with fresh basil & enjoy!

Dinner and Canning Heirloom Tomatoes with RP

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Yeah, this dinner is good! What?

A look which says to me, “Dude, what? You know this shit is good!”

Yesterday was a beautiful cool Fall day in Juneau, without much rain. Yesterday evening I made the familiar trek from my house, up to Starr Hill to visit my good buddy Sarah. It was one of those legendarily picturesque Juneau evenings in the old ‘hood. The nether regions of downtown seemed miles instead of blocks away and it felt like I was moving figure in a Rie Munoz painting. Sarah and I have been homies since the 2nd grade, where we shared an affinity for denim jackets and side pony tails.

roasted goodies

RP roasting corn, beets, and Yukon Gold potatoes for dinner. A little olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary on the potatoes does the trick. Dinner included a salad with fresh greens grown right here in Juneau.

blanched

Here are the tomatoes freshly blanched. Our mission on this fine Juneau evening was to can these bad boys with sautéed onion, garlic, fresh basil, parsley, balsamic vinegar, and red Hawaiian salt and fresh ground pepper. Heirloom tomatoes are not native of our homeland. They’re beautiful stripped exotic fruits from far away, worth their weight in gold.

peeled

After Sarah blanched the tomatoes, we got to work peeling and cutting them into can ready chunks. We sterilized our little pint jars to get them ready for their filling. There are many online resources on canning and preserving food online and at your local library so I won’t go into much detail.

little jars of wonderment

Little jars of wonderment and glory – layers of tomatoes, herbs, and awesome!

RPs

Our total haul: 5 cans of heirloom gold to be savored on the crappiest winter days soon to come.


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