LittleJudeonFood

One kid's adventures in gastronomy


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Break out the Grill

First, let me wish all the mamas out there a belated Happy Mama’s Day. We had a fun day, as the sun finally decided to grace us with its presence. We even wore shorts!

It was such a nice day that we took out our kayak for the first time.

Mama’s Day was such a nice day that we took out our kayak for the first time.

If you haven’t already, you should bring your grill out from wherever you’ve stored it for the winter. Please don’t wait until Memorial Day. Your grill deserves better than that.

Mama brought home some Idaho-caught rainbow trout from the fish market. Here’s what it looked like: fish heads/littlejudeonfood.com We’ve done whole fish on the grill before. Don’t fear it just because it has a head and eyes. If I can touch the fish, you can, too. Preparation is super simple: stuffed fish/littlejudeonfood.com Salt and pepper the flesh, add a few slices of organic lemon and whatever herbs you have on hand. We used dill, but tarragon, basil, or chives would have been equally good. Mama stuck a couple toothpicks through the bellies to help keep them closed, then she rubbed a little bit of olive oil on their bodies. Ready to go:

Up in the corner you can see Brussels sprouts in their cute little cages.

Up in the corner you can see Brussels sprouts in their cute little cages.

Set them on a hot grill and close the lid. Mama used medium to medium-high heat. It took about 10 minutes, turning them over once. The flesh will be opaque and flaky. easy grilled fish/littlejudeonfood.com The fish should slide out from the skin quite easily, but be careful of the bones. We enjoyed this fresh-tasting fish with grilled Brussels sprouts, chickpea salad, and cucumber salad (which I did not eat—no matter how often Mama tells me it’s “like pickles,” I know that’s just not true). So treat your grill to the way it wants to be treated, and put a fish on it tonight.

Love, Jude


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Dessert on the grill?

Yes!

Mama went and made that bluecherry pie, and the house has been hot ever since. She brought home some lovely, luscious apricots from a farm stand, and she decided it would be worthwhile to adapt a simple oven recipe to the grill (since she was using it to cook dinner anyway).

Apricots are at their peak right now. In fact, they’re probably on their way out in most places. Mama will be lucky if she can get any more this weekend (but she sure put up a heckofa lot of them). The little ones you get in grocery stores in early June don’t have anything on the sweetness and suppleness of those freshly picked from the tree. And they’re the perfect size for me to hold as I munch around the center stone, which actually comes out fairly easily. (But whether I throw said stone or give it to Mama to throw away is anyone’s guess.)

Mama says you can grill fruit directly on the hot grates. She lightly oils or sprays either the fruit or the grates. Sometimes she mixes a bit of honey with something sour like lemon or lime juice and brushes that on the cut side of the fruit. And that’s it. Grill it until it has grill marks on it and gets somewhat soft. If you want to push it until it’s very soft with deep grill marks, that’s up to you!

For this recipe, however, Mama used foil and closed the lid of the grill to simulate the inside of an oven. The foil caught the fruit juices, as well as the melted butter and brown sugar, so there was no mess to clean up afterward.

A pat of butter, a spoon of brown sugar, and a hot grill are all these little apricots need to become just a little more special.

A pat of butter, a spoon of brown sugar, and a hot grill are all these little apricots need to become just a little more special.

The good news: I got to enjoy these with ice cream!! (The secret news: I would’ve eaten them without it, they were so scrumptious.)

The warm apricots started melting the pecan ice cream. Mmm....

The warm apricots started melting the pecan ice cream. Mmm….

Go ahead an try this with any type of stone fruit–plums, peaches, nectarines. But don’t forget to try it with apricots.

Love, Jude

Grilled Sweet Apricots

3 apricots, halved & pitted
1 tablespoon butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Get your grill going. Ours is gas, and Mama had it on medium-low, but it still got up to about 400°F. Place apricot halves, cut side up, on a sheet of aluminum foil. (You can do this directly on the grill, as Mama did, or prepare them ahead of time and transfer the entire sheet of foil to the grates.) Add 1 piece of butter and ½ teaspoon brown sugar to the center of each apricot. Close the lid of the grill and cook until butter & sugar are melted and apricots are soft and gooey, 10–15 minutes. Perfect as a treat on their own, or even better with ice cream. Be sure you eat all those sugary, buttery juices, too.

Serves 3 people.

Note: You don’t have to be exact about the measurements, and clearly, you can increase and decrease the amounts for as many apricots as you like. If you want to make these in the oven, lightly spray your baking pan and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, or until they’re soft and starting to turn golden.


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More than one way to skin a fish

Last night, Papa made pecan-crusted rainbow trout with citrus butter from one of his and Mama’s favorite restaurants. (It was really yummy. You could taste the citrus, and the fish had a delicate crust.) Mama brought home fillets with the skin on, and I thought I’d show you how simple it is to remove, in case that sort of thing makes you squeamish. You can always ask the fishmonger (isn’t that a funny word?) to do it for you, or choose skinless varieties, but don’t let a little skin on a fish keep you from trying it!

Start with a cutting board and a sharp knife—not a serrated one. A boning knife is ideal, but Mama likes using her chef’s knife for most things. If your fillet is really thick, like from a fat old salmon, lay an edge of the fillet flush with the edge of the cutting board closest to you. This is less important if you have a skinny fillet, but Mama still likes to line them up. Position the tail (narrow) end toward your non-dominant hand. Mama’s left handed, so the tail is toward her right.

About ½” from the tail, take your knife and put a little notch in the tail, in the direction of the tail’s tip. Mama’s cutting a wee tab, heading toward the right, or the tip.

making a notch/littlejudeonfood.com

Now pivot your knife so it’s headed in the opposite direction. Keep it in that notch you just made. You made it just for this purpose! Because fish are slippery, use a paper towel (or kitchen towel if you don’t mind) and grip the tail (the tip on the other side of your freshly made notch) between your thumb and first finger. Mama uses the side of her knuckle, but do whatever feels most comfortable. You need to get a good grip. Her knife is now facing left, toward the body of the fillet.

preparing to cut/littlejudeonfood.com

Now comes the amazing part. With the tail gripped in your non-dominant hand, and your knife’s blade at an angle (think of a shovel moving snow), pull the tail in one direction while pushing your knife in the other.

starting to skin fish/littlejudeonfood

For Mama, she’s pulling the tail toward her right and pushing her knife toward her left, while skimming her knife along the inside of the skin. She’s basically scraping the flesh off the skin, but really, it’s the pulling of the tail that’s doing most of the work.

skin be gone/littlejudeonfood.com

And that’s it! It took longer to take these pictures than it did to skin the remaining fillets. Those bits of silver don’t amount to much and will essentially cook off. (They’re not hunks of scales, if that’s what you’re worried about.)

skinned fillet/littlejudeonfood.com

This method works on any size fillet. If you try this technique and you find that it’s just not working, Mama suggests a sawing, back-and-forth motion with your knife instead of pulling. This is where you’ll want your fillet and cutting board edges lined up so you can see where your knife is going—you want it to remain as parallel to the cutting board as possible so you’re not leaving unfortunate chunks of fish on the skin.

Incidentally, Mama grilled asparagus (love it!), sweet peppers (yucky!), and fresh peaches picked from a local farm (wow!) to serve with the buttery fish. I liked this dinner very much.

eating a grilled peach/littlejudeonfood.com

Love, Jude