During pre-Callie's Cabin days, I was a busy author but I admit that I was going through an anti-cooking phase. I didn't like to cook or bake. I'm talking during the beginning of The Great Recession. Not only did I avoid going to the kitchen to create food, I was on a mega budget so it was a hardship to eat healthy. Think raw, seasonal food: Fresh fruit, whole grains and veggies.
One winter, though, I found myself at Safeway stocking up on those healthy-type of fish frozen dinners that were on the cheap. I thought it was a great catch, sort of. But I felt guilty since I am a down-to-earth granola girl who takes pride in what she eats. After all, when I read the nutritional label on the dinners the list of ingredients embarrassed me. I wanted to put on a hat and wear sunglasses to hide the fact that I was buying processed food. But, the quickie convenience of it was worth it or so I thought back in the day when the word "cooking" wasn't in my vocabulary.
Fast forward to present-day. On Monday, while working at the computer and watching Food Network (my TV program of choice) I was craving hot and crispy fish and chips. Sure, I could have gone to one of our popular restaurants that offer this fun-to-eat food. But the economy is still choppy like our Lake. And since fish and chips is a popular food, especially among the working class folks, like me, in the U.K. and Ireland it made sense to do it myself.
Simply put, fish and chips is battered, teamed with chips and deep fried. I decided I could do it myself but oven bake it for health's sake. When I opened up the butcher's package of cod from Safeway, I was pleasantly surprised. The white fish looked different than salmon or shellfish that I'm familiar with - but I like novelty. Once I breaded it (for the crunch and taste of it) and prepared the chips, I sensed it was like catching a big fish. Success.
Fish and Chips
1/2 pound boneless cod fillet, 1 inch thick
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 brown egg
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon European-style butter
2 medium-large russet potatoes
1 teaspoon European-style butter
1 teaspoon lemon honey
1 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh lemon and parsley for garnish
In a bowl mix bread crumbs, egg, and flour. Dredge two pieces of rinsed fish into the batter. Cut in 4 pieces. Place in pan. Put small pats of butter and spread with honey. Set aside. Wash two russet potatoes. Slice in wedges. Put in separate pan. Sprinkle with pepper. Drizzle with a bit of butter. Bake at 425 F degrees for approximately 25 minutes. Fish should be flaky, crispy on the outside. Chips should be brown and crispy. (They may take a bit longer to bake.) Serves 2. For a nice effect, place fish and chips in two separate baskets with a piece of parchment or butcher paper. Provide a small container of ketchup, and slice of lemon, parsley.
Once you taste these home fries and fish going back to frozen dinners will be history. The cod fish is light and the crust is oh-so crispy. The fries are tasty and you know the only oil is a little butter (or you can use a tad of extra virgin olive oil). Fish and potatoes baked are healthier than fried. And the fun finger food is a must-have on a cold, wintry Tahoe day for lunch, a snack, or dinner paired with a spinach salad drizzled with red wine vinegar and olive oil.
Motto: Fishing at the same place gets old. Try something new. It'll feel like going to a special Irish getaway.
- Cal Orey is an accomplished author and journalist. Her books include The "Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate and Honey) published by Kensington. Her website is www.calorey.com.