A Fish’s Life

It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to our fish, Matt Jr. today. Matthew won him last summer at a camp carnival. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he came bouncing off the camp bus holding up the little baggie housing his new pet. Based on my own childhood experiences with goldfish, I wasn’t expecting Matt Jr. to live longer than a few weeks but he surprised us all by lasting over eight months.

Matt Jr. was the perfect pet. No walks in the rain, no mess to clean, no hair to vacuum off the couch, no chewed up shoes, just a bowl of water and a small container of fish flakes that seemed to last forever. He provided endless entertainment, until the boys eventually moved on to other interests. After that, I’m not even sure if we fed him every day…

In his death, Matt Jr. might have been even more entertaining to the boys. His untimely passing was not met with tears. Instead, there were shrieks of joy and a call of “Yeah, we’re gonna flush him down the toilet!” Not exactly a normal reaction but everyone deals with death in their own way I suppose.

The ceremony, although a bit on the giggly side, was brief and heartfelt. Everyone said a few words and Liam concluded with a “Good job Matt Jr.!” Then it was time to flush. I’m not exactly sure how Matt Jr. ended up going from his bowl to the bathroom floor but eventually in the toilet he went. FYI -it’s not easy to pick a goldfish up off the floor.

Matt Jr. is now on his way to the Great Big Sea, via our bathroom pipes. And now that summer is on the horizon the boys are hoping to win another fish to take his place.

In honor of our beloved fish, we’re cooking up flounder – a bit morbid but the boys didn’t seem to mind one bit.

Garlic Tomato Flounder

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. capers, plus 1 Tbsp. of juice from jar

½ onion, tiny dice

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ cup olive oil

Zest of one lemon, plus 4 slices

2 lbs. flounder

Salt & Pepper

2 cups brown rice, cooked

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the garlic, capers w/juice, onions, cherry tomatoes, olive oil and lemon zest. Set aside.

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Lightly oil a baking pan large enough to fit the fish in a single layer. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Then place filets in the pan and spoon the tomato mixture over the top. Lay the lemon slices over the fish.

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Bake in oven until fish is flaky, about 30 minutes. Serve over brown rice.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “So good! I squeeze the lemon on it right?”

Liam (age 6): “Take those tomatoes off”

Dylan (age 6): “The best fish in the world”

This recipe is dedicated to Matt Jr.

Imitation Equals Flattery

I hate it when Mario Batali knocks off my recipes! Awhile ago I made a delicious chicken dish and last month in Food & Wine Magazine there’s Mario totally taking credit for it. I knew I should have posted it sooner…

Our recipes are slightly different since Mario uses asparagus and we opted for spinach. I also made mine in bite-size pieces. This serves two purposes; I don’t have to give the boys knives (bad idea) and the one bite portion makes it less likely they will pick it apart to remove offensive greenery. Everyone loved this the first time round, so I’m cooking it again, this time with basil.

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it tastes just as good deconstructed as it does assembled. So if life (your children…) get in the way and you have to abandon the assembly part you can just throw it all in the pan at once. It’s just as tasty although not as pretty. And of course the green parts will definitely get picked out!

Chicken Saltimbocca Bites

(adapted by Mario Batali and then readapted by House of Bedlam)

Ingredients

1 lb. chicken breasts or chicken tenders

Salt & pepper

10-12 slices of prosciutto, sliced thin

Basil, one bunch

2-3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. olive oil

½ cup chicken stock

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. capers (optional)

 

Method

Step 1: Begin by preparing your assembly line of chicken, prosciutto, basil and flour. Cut chicken into bite-size chunks and season with salt and pepper. Stack slices of prosciutto and cut into 1” strips. Tear off basil leaves and discard tough stalks. Place flour in a shallow dish.

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Step 2: Place a basil leaf around the chicken and then wrap in a slice of prosciutto. Dredge in the flour and shake off any excess. Repeat until chicken is all wrapped or your children start yelling for your help with something. If this happens not to worry, see note below on deconstructing this recipe.

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Step 3: Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. In small batches add wrapped chicken to pan (seam side down) and cook about 2-3 minutes per side, until chicken is just cooked through and prosciutto is crispy. Transfer chicken to a paper towel lined plate or baking rack.

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Step 4: Add chicken stock to deglaze the pan, and cook down for a few minutes, then whisk in butter and add capers. Drizzle sauce over the chicken bites and enjoy!

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Deconstructing: Heat oil in a sauté pan. Add the chicken pieces to the flour and shake off any excess. Add to pan along with strips of prosciutto and basil. Let cook for about 5-6 minutes until chicken is cooked through and basil is wilted. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Follow Step 4 above, and add chicken back to pan to cook for a minute in the sauce.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Disgusting! April Fool’s! I love it”

Liam (age 5): “There’s bacon in this guys! I like the crispy parts”

Dylan (age 5): “Can you bake more for bread for this?

No matter which way you cook it this dish is a success. Buon Appetito!

And in case you were wondering, no, I didn’t bake the bread…

 

 

A Ninja in a Shopping Bag

When I asked Liam what he was going to be for Halloween this year he proudly pronounced “a Fairway bag!” Clearly I have been dragging this child grocery shopping too much. Not that it is a bad thing; I think it’s important our kids have a vote in some of the food we buy.

I admit, I also love all the free samples we get when I drag them with me. The people working the deli counters are always handing us slices of something. At some stores we get more elaborate fare from the prepared food section, shrimp, and chicken, whatever they see the boys point at. Matthew’s favorite is the lox counter. Liam and Dylan are more cheese guys. I usually plan to take them around noon and by the time we have reached the register lunch is done – and no dishes to wash!

This week I am cooking a dish we recently tried from the prepared food section, lemon chicken. The store version got mixed reviews; let’s see if they like my version.

Lemon Chicken

Ingredients:

1 lb. boneless chicken breast

1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt, divided

1/2 tsp black pepper, divided

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

1-cup chicken broth

1/2 lemon, cut into thin slices

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp capers, drained

1 Tbsp dried parsley

 

Directions:

Cut the chicken breasts into small bite size pieces, season with the salt and pepper. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and season it with the remaining salt and pepper. Toss in the chicken and coat with the flour, shaking off any excess.

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Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook about 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove from skillet, cover with foil and set aside.

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Add the chicken broth, butter and lemon slices to the skillet. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Heat on medium-high heat for about 5-6 minutes until sauce is slightly reduced and lemony. Add in the capers and parsley, cook for another minute.

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Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “The chicken tastes so lemony! Good job Mommy”

Liam (age 4): “Thumbs up – can I eat it all?”

Dylan (age 4): “I really like those little pickely things”

Move over Fairway, our lemon chicken got rave reviews!

BTW, as of press time of this post, Liam had bowed to peer pressure and decided to go trick or treating as a ninja instead of his original plan.

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