Cod with Tomato & Onion and Mashed Acorn Squash

Cod with tomatoes and onions accompanied by mashed acorn squash

Cod with tomato and onion accompanied by mashed acorn squash

As I said recently, I only have time for about one post a month lately, so lets get July out of the way.

I picked up some frozen cod fillets at Trader Joe’s and was in the mood for a seafood dish with tomatoes, so came up with this tasty main and side dish.  The acorn squash has been on the countertop for months – perhaps since wintertime, so it was time to use it… it’s nearly the fourth of July!

Ingredients (to serve 2) for the cod:

  • cod pieces, ~1 pound, e.g., Alaskan cod pieces, thawed from frozen
  • diced tomatoes, 1 can, e.g., Hunt’s natural fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, I used a small red onion cut top to bottom into strips
  • garlic, ~4 cloves, sliced thinly or minced
  • olive oil, a couple tablespoons
  • fennel seed, ~1 tablespoon, or to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cayenne powder, ~1/8 teaspoon, or to taste

Ingredients for mashed acorn squash:

  • acorn squash, 2 medium, halved, seeds and veins removed
  • red potatoes, ~8 small
  • olive oil or butter
  • dijon mustard, ~1 teaspoon, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

First, to prepare the squash, bake the squash halves, open side down, with the whole red potatoes in a baking dish with about 1/4 inch of water, for about 50 minutes at 375° F until potatoes are tender.

While the squash is baking – perhaps 1/2 hour in – prepare the cod, by first sautéing the onion strips in olive oil, when partially cooked, add the cod pieces.  Once the cod and onions are nearly cooked, add the can of diced tomatoes undrained, garlic, and fennel seed and mix carefully, so as not to break up the cod pieces too much. Reduce to a simmer, and add the spices to taste, simmering a while, perhaps until the fennel seeds soften a bit.

Alaskan cod with tomatoes and onion

Alaskan cod with tomato and onion

When the acorn squash is done baking, allow it to cool a bit and scoop it out and place  in a bowl with the whole unpeeled potatoes and mash, e.g., with a potato masher, adding olive oil sparingly to develop the desired consistency and flavor. Flavor with mustard, salt and pepper to taste.

baked acorn squash and red potatoes

baked acorn squash and red potatoes

To serve, place roughly equal amounts of both on a plate and top mashed acorn squash with paprika, e.g., I used smoked paprika.

Cod with tomatoes and onions, accompanied by mashed acorn squash

Cod with tomato and onion, accompanied by mashed acorn squash

This was a nice dish that I’d  make again – both the fish and/or the mashed squash.  I didn’t consult any recipes this time, but I see there are a number of similar cod dishes on web sites, often baked.

I hope you enjoy it or perhaps it inspires you to create something with flavors you love… here I think the fennel and mustard made it great, but those are amongst my favorites!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Linguine

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Linguine

I’ve not posted much lately because of work…umm, and play, but I’m committed to at least keeping up with one post a month, so here’s the latest: Shrimp Fra Diavolo – a devilishly simple American Italian pasta dish. (“Fra diavola” apparently means “brother devil.”)

I don’t cook Italian very often and it’s the food that I least often go out for; perhaps unjustifiably, I just sometimes find it a bit boring.  It’s just so common in the U.S. However, I definitely enjoy spicy food and have been meaning to make a “fra diavolo” dish for some time. Just the other day, I was watching the television program “Lidia’s Italy,” and she made Calamari Fra Diavolo over Linguine that inspired me to do something other than my baked pasta dish that I often make when I don’t have the energy to do something ambitious.



For this recipe, I used the following ingredients:

  • linguine (dry)
  • olive oil
  • diced fire-roasted tomato, 2 cans (undrained)
  • red onion, 1/2 large, finely diced
  • cayenne powder (I used ~1 teaspoon)
  • red pepper flakes
  • garlic powder
  • oregano (dried)
  • fennel seed (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sugar (sparingly, to taste)
  • large shrimp, 6-8 cut to bite-sized pieces
    (I was short on shrimp, so I also cut a swai filet)
shrimp and swai, from frozen, prepped into small pieces.

Shrimp and Swai (fish), from frozen, prepped into small pieces

To prepare, begin by sautéing the diced onion in olive oil in a large pan.

Sautéing the onion in olive oil.

Sautéing the onion in olive oil.

Simultaneously begin boiling the pasta separately until al dente. Once the onion is tender, add the tomatoes; mashing them either in advance or in the pan. (I actually used a potato masher.) Next, add all the dry spices and sugar and stir regularly, while cooking and slightly reducing the sauce. I also added a generous portion of dry fennel seed because fennel is one of my favorites.

Preparing the sauce with spices.

Preparing the sauce with spices.

Add the shrimp pieces to the sauce and cook a few minutes; when the pasta is mostly cooked (al dente), add it to the pan as well.

Add the al dente pasta.

Add the al dente pasta.

Stir the pasta and sauce, and finish cooking when the pasta and shrimp are the desired doneness/texture.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Linguine.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Linguine.

I made about 4 servings. It’s a simple, yet delicious dish!

Here’s the television program I watched that inspired this recipe, and her quite different Shrimp Fra Diavolo recipe that I just found after making mine:

I hope you enjoy this dish; as with others spiced with cayenne powder, it’s easy to make it as hot (or not) as you like.

I’m cautiously optimistic that I find time to get back to blogging (and blog reading) before July.
Either way – have a great summer! :)

Whitefish with Roasted Fennel and Potato

Pangasius fillet with roasted fennel and potatoes and fresh cilantro yogurt sauce

Pangasius fillet with roasted fennel and potatoes and fresh cilantro yogurt sauce

I love the flavor of fennel, both in seed form and as whole fresh fennel bulb, so I just recently bought some of this springtime favorite at the grocery store. I’ve also started experimenting with eating the stalks and fronds (that many recipes would have you discard or save for soup stock), so I put together a dinner that used the whole thing.

It seemed fennel and whitefish would go quite nicely together, and I found a couple recipes online (linked below) that I used as a guide. I’ve been using pangasius lately (from frozen), for the same reason everyone else is, it’s inexpensive, farm-raised, and tasty.

First, I roughly cut fennel bulb and red potatoes. I also chopped the fennel stalks and fronds, but left them aside, since they don’t need so much time in the oven. I coated a baking pan with olive oil, and tossed the potato and fennel, salt and peppered them, to prepare them for a 425° F oven.

Fennel bulb and red potatoes prepared for oven roasting

Fennel bulb and red potatoes prepared for oven roasting

Roast the vegetables (uncovered), for perhaps 40 minutes, initially; every 10-15 minutes, toss them so they cook and brown evenly.

While roasting, prepare a yogurt sauce to accompany the fish. I made a sauce from homemade yogurt, chopped cilantro, cumin powder, lime juice, salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne powder.

When the potatoes are somewhat tender, mix in the chopped fennel stalks and fronds, and continue cooking for perhaps 15 minutes.

Oven roasted fennel and red potatoes

Oven roasted fennel and red potatoes

When the potatoes are pretty much done, it’s time to add the fish. Since it’s easy to bake fish in a hot oven as well, I decided to make this a one-pan meal, placing the pangasius fillets atop the partially-roasted vegetables for a final 15-20 minutes of baking.  I spread some mashed garlic on the fillets and seasoned them simply with salt and pepper before placing in the oven.

Pangasius fillets baked atop roasted fennel and potatoes

Pangasius fillets baked atop roasted fennel and potatoes

The dish is done when the fish is cooked through and just be flaked slightly with a fork, but not dry.

I served a single fillet atop the yogurt sauce, with the fennel and potatoes on the side, and some lime slices; wedges would have been more convenient for squeezing on the fish.

Whitefish with fennel, potatoes, and cilantro yogurt sauce

Whitefish with fennel, potatoes, and cilantro yogurt sauce

This was really nice and you can see I made three servings, so I’m happy to have leftovers for tomorrow – and the next day. :)

Here are some recipes you might like, that I consulted for ideas:

Vegetable Frittata

Vegetable frittata and romaine lettuce with oil and vinegar.

Vegetable frittata and romaine lettuce with oil and vinegar

I’m not a big fan of just eggs for breakfast – one is usually enough for me, and must be accompanied by more interesting textures. But, of course, eggs are inexpensive and nutritious, so I decided to try a frittata again. I had some fennel stalks around, and was curious to try them (since I love the flavor), after having used the milder fennel bulb for fennel au gratin at Christmastime and not wanting to merely discard the green stalks.


  • 1 1/2 – 2 T. canola oil
  • 3 small to medium red potatues, cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 fennel stalk, finely sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T. basil pesto
  • white button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • scallion, white portion cut finely, greens coarsely
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 whole eggs and 4 egg whites, whisked with milk
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • swiss cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 425° F.
In an oven safe skillet, over medium low heat, sauté potato and fennel with salt and pepper until potato is somewhat tender. Add white portion of scallions and mushrooms, and lighly sauté. Stir pesto into vegetables and immediately pour egg mixture into skillet evenly over sautéed ingredients.  Cook for a few minutes, until egg mixture begins to set and top with tomatoes, shredded cheese, and scallion greens. Place skillet in oven for 7-15 minutes, until egg appears firm on top and is cooked through.

Vegetable frittata

Vegetable frittata

I served frittata wedges with chopped romaine lettuce and a dressing of simply olive oil and red wine vinegar. This one came out nicely, and the bit of fennel stalk worked nicely to flavor the potatoes.

Open-Faced Poached Egg and Hummus Quesadilla

Open-Faced Quesadilla with Poached Egg and Hummus

Here’s a colorful quick breakfast (and, for me, lunch) idea: poached eggs atop hummus on a open-faced quesadilla of flour tortilla with sharp cheddar cheese, tomato salsa, fresh scallion and habanero pepper.

This is simply a melenge of favorite ingredients that I almost always have on hand.

Poached Egg and Hummus Quesadilla

Oh, on an urelated note, Happy Canada Day! :)
Here some interesting Canadian craft beers for the occasion:

Salade Niçoise

Salade Niçoise: a french treat with tuna and anchovies

Here’s a delicious and colorful salad that makes a whole meal… and it’s perfect to make with your fresh vegetables on a warm summer day.

There are a number variations of the Niçoise Salad, common in its namesake city, Nice, France, and along the rest of the Côte d’Azur, where I first enjoyed it.
Apparently it became popular in the states because of Julia Child.

Last night, in anticipation of this salad, my companion and I biked around our city to procure vegetables from the yard and from a little farmers’ market (4-7pm!).  After a nice summer evening’s ride with a short stop for live music and visiting friends, we prepared our ginormous Niçoise salad from these ingredients (for 4 meal-sized servings):

  • romaine and other leaf lettuce, torn to bite sized
  • Nasturtium leaves, chopped
  • fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • scallion greens, from 2 scallions, finely cut
  • green beans, 1 pound, blanched (we substituted some nice Dragon Tongue Beans that surprising lost their purple stripes when cooked)
  • ripe roma tomatoes, 3, quartered and coarsely chopped
  • eggs, 4, hard-boiled, and quartered
  • fingerling potatoes (~1/2 pound), boiled (e.g., with the eggs)
  • green olives, pitted
  • tuna, 1 can, partially drained of oil
  • anchovy, about 2/3 of one very small jar

Dressing ingredients:

  • balsamic vinegar, 1 T.
  • apple cider vinegar, ~1/8 cup
  • Dijon-style mustard, 1-2 T. (e.g., Grey Poupon Country Dijon)
  • honey, ~1 t., to taste
  • olive oil, 1-2 T.
  • water (sparingly, to dilute slightly if desired)
  • capers
  • salt & pepper, to taste if desired

Niçoise Salad

To serve, we tossed the cooked beans with dressing, and placed them atop the chopped lettuce on a large platter and arranged the other toppings, leaving the tuna and anchovies for last, and finally lightly drizzled the salad with the rest of the dressing and olive oil.

Salade Niçoise, plated

I enjoyed this both for dinner and my subsequent day’s lunch. :)

Give it a try and experinece this tasty sample of southern France, especially if you can find some beautilful vegetables in your garden or at your farmers’ market!

Update (June, 2013):

I made this again… this time with the traditional green (string) beans and used a combination of pimento-stuffed spanish olives and jalapeno-stuffed olives. Also, I used a spicier Dijon mustard (Trader Joe’s)… mmm, still awesome.

Salade Niçoise

Salade Niçoise

Mediterranean White Fish Salad

Mediterranean White Fish Salad

I visted the farmers’ market this morning and found some nice romaine lettuce and slender green onions (amongst other things) and decided to make this quick salad for lunch – before, hopefully, heading out to the lake with some friends.

Ingredients, for the fish:

  • white fish filet (I used swai, from frozen; tilapia would be a good choice as well)
  • lemon juice
  • dill
  • mint leaves, finely chopped
  • rosemary
  • fennel seed
  • oregano
  • green onion, whites cut finely
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • kyopoolu (I used Trader Joe’s Red Pepper Spread;
    You can also find kyopoolu or avjar at Polish, Bulgarian, etc. delis or stores.)

Ingredients for the salad:

  • romaine lettuce
  • green onions, greens cut finely
  • kalamata olives
  • balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • olive oil

To prepare:

Pat the filet mostly dry and coat liberally with all the spices, i.e., everything but the green onion and kyopoolu, as if you were making blackened fish, for instance.  In a cast iron or other skillet on medium high heat, pan fry the filet in olive oil.  When the fish is nearly done (flip to cook both sides), add the green onion to the hot pan and spread a teaspoon or two of kyopoolu on onse side of the filet, and flip that side down briefly.

Here, I served the fish filet atop a salad of the ingredients above, drizzled with some olive oil.

This was a tasty salad; I hope it inspires you to have a nice summertime lunches too. :)

Blackened Catfish Sandwich

Blackened Catfish Sandwich with tzatziki and pea shoots

Here’s a nice, simple, spicy catfish sandwich.

First spice a catfish filet generously with a mix of: oregano, thyme, granulated (dry) garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne powder to taste.  (I used a frozen swai filet, thawed in water, then patted dry.)

Pan fry the filet in oil (I used sunflower oil) on medium-high heat, until it is cooked through and possible to flake with a fork.  The hotter the pan, the more likely the spice mix will blacken.

Place the filet atop a nice roll and top as you like.  I smeared the sliced roll with a homemade tzatziki sauce (greek yogurt, dried dill, minced garlic, salt, pepper) and added coarsely chopped fresh pea shoots (these typically being available from asian grocers.)

While I have only recently started using this asian catfish, sold in the U.S. as “swai,” it definitely has a wonderful taste and texture that rivals our american catfish and it cooks similarly, i.e., it is forgiving to pan fry owing to, I assume, it’s relatively high fat/oil content.

I like the combination of the spicy fish with the soothing, garlicky tzatziki sauce, and some sort of fresh greens; give it a try!

Blackened Catfish Sandwich

Mediterranean Veggie Wrap

Mediterranean Veggie Wrap

In olive oil, sauté sliced garlic, sliced scallion, red onion strips, tofu strips, and chopped mint leaves. Add red pepper and baby bella mushroom pieces, season with oregano and black pepper and sauté until those are slightly tender. Add chopped Romaine lettuce and sliced cucumber with a splash of balsamic vinegar and sauté perhaps 30 seconds and remove from heat. Wrap in a flour tortilla with hummus and tzatziki sauce.  (See this post for tzatziki ingredients.)


Italian Sausage Frittata

This Frittata was prepared in a cast iron skillet, so that I could finish it in the oven.  Additional ingredients were: Italian sausage, mushroom, garlic, bell pepper, spinach, fresh basil, oregano, fennel seed, red pepper flakes, cheddar and parmesan-reggiano cheeses.

Earlier today I watched this rather pedantic, condescending cooking show, “Food for Thought with Claire Thomas.” While she’s beautiful and quite possibly a wonderful person, I found it annoying; even the name of her blog: “The Kitchy Kitchen?” Ugh.
Anyway, here’s a video clip from the show: Farmer’s Market Frittata (sic).

I hadn’t made a frittata before, so here it is. Take that, Claire Thomas; thanks for teaching me something.

Here’s her recipe for reference: