Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Poached Brook Trout and Fiddleheads - Caribou, Maine

We headed North for our yearly Memorial Day trip to Caribou, Maine to visit with family, help around the house, and do some Aroostook River trout fishing.

After a cool and rainy Saturday of fishing, the weather cleared and was absolutely beautiful on Sunday. We spent the morning and again later in the evening on the riverside; walking around in our waders in the water, hunting fiddleheads for photos, seeing otters jump in the water beside us, and fishing for trout around the currents and inlets feeding the vast, swollen river.

All fish were safely released, save for this 16-inch, 1.75-pound, absolute beauty of a Brook Trout - which we kept for dinner.

We cleaned the trout by removing the head, making a slit up it's belly and removing the guts, scoring and scraping out the blood vessel on the underside of the spine, and rinsing inside and out really well.

After drying with a paper towel, we rubbed a thin layer of olive oil inside and out, followed by a Lemon Pepper seasoning mix. A few lemon slices and chopped chives in the cavity, and we folded it all up in an aluminum foil pouch, leaving one end open. Into that open end we poured about a 1/3-cup of white wine, then we sealed it up tightly.

That beautiful trout poached on a medium-high grill for what should have been 10-12 minutes (we went too long by accident, 10-12 minutes is the right time). Then, remove carefully and slide that fresh trout meat right off the little bones. So fresh and delicious - on the table just an hour after it was caught.

With our wonderful local Brook Trout, we had locally harvested, riverbed-grown Fiddleheads - par-boiled for 10 minutes and then sauteed with butter until soft and delicious. A very local meal, thanks to the Aroostook.

We had a great trip and can't wait to head up again in September for some end-of-the-season trout fishing.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sweet Potato Chips

We sure do love our Sweet Potatoes!

We've grilled them, we've roasted them, we've mashed them, and we've baked them. But up until now, we haven't "fried" them!

Well, we hadn't in a long time, at least. We decided to revisit this old favorite when the oven was occupied (at too low a temp) and the grill was covered in the rain. How could we cook our sweet potatoes? Thinly sliced and fried in canola oil!

So we brought a thin layer - about 1/3 of an inch - of canola oil up to about 350 degrees in a big pan and we peeled a nice-sized sweet potato. Then we sliced it up as thinly as possible. The thinner the better - thin slices crisp up nice and evenly when frying, while thicker slices will still be a little mushy in the middle (which isn't bad, either!). Using a mandolin might help here...

Into the oil they go in batches - leave plenty of room! Depending on their thickness they'll go 5-7 minutes total, turning once or twice, or until they are just getting a nice tan color and begin to stiffen up. Don't go TOO long, they'll crisp up as they dry. Use your first batch as a test batch (trust us, they'll be eaten well before dinner, anyway).

When the batch is ready to come out, lay them down on some paper towels and dab dry the top with some more towels, then immediately season. We went with some kosher salt and cajun seasoning - but you could go any direction here: parsley and herbs, salt and pepper, garlic and onion, parmesan, or even go sweet with some cinnamon.

These came out great! At least 1/2 of them didn't even make it til dinner time - you have to test for doneness, yaknow!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Stuffed Green Peppers

We really can't believe that we haven't posted this recipe before - as we have made it many times! It all stems from a dish my Mom used to make that involved chopped up peppers and onions with ground beef, rice and a tomato sauce. We do like to stuff food, especially when you can eat the container it's served in! In the past we've stuffed acorn squash, chicken, pork chops - among other things - and tonight we shall stuff green bell peppers.

I must admit, I kinda cheated with this time because I did not make the rice part from scratch. Instead I used a box and a half of Rice-a-Roni Whole Grain Spanish Rice which saved time and tasted pretty good! So as this takes roughly 25 minutes, I started this first.

In another large pot, I brought some water up to boil in order to parboil our green peppers, from which I removed the tops and the inner membranes and seeds. Boil 4 peppers for 5-10 minutes until they are just fork tender, but not overcooked.

While all this was happening (many burners needed although if you are well prepared, trust me, it's not too chaotic!), I browned 1.25lbs ground turkey. After browned, I removed and began to sweat 1 medium diced onion over lowish heat for about 10 minutes. Then I added 15oz petite diced tomatoes and 8-16oz of tomato sauce depending on your tomato-y preferences. The turkey was added back along with a pinch of saffron, 1/2tbsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder (I had forgotten the fresh stuff), and 1 tsp Mexican oregano. Now I had made 2 boxes worth of the rice, but only added about 75% of what I had made... it just depends on how ricey you want this dish. After a stir, I gave it a taste and added salt and pepper to my liking.
Spoon the mixture into the peppers which are now in a 9 x 13" baking dish. Top it off with some shredded cheese and put into a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is starting to brown. Another option is to put chunks of cheese into the turkey rice mixture when you've taken it off the heat before spooning into the peppers... this way you'll have cheesey goodness all thoughout the pepper.