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Saturday, March 15, 2008

How to be The Best Cooker Ever

When my brother was in high school, he informed my parents that, once he was in college, he would live in an apartment and eat nothing but pizza, wings and Chinese food. Thankfully, he came to his senses and eats a more varied and healthier diet. The joys of pizza, wings and Chinese food, however, should not be denied. Before my older children became vegetarians, I was named Best Cooker Ever for serving such dishes as Greek chicken wings, fried rice and Eggplant Mush Pizza. Although they would deny it now, they once wept with joy over a beef tenderloin I made.

Once again, I've been designated Best Cooker Ever. And it was easy. A few days ago, I made crêpes, filled with creamed spinach. And peanut butter and jelly
crêpes, by request, for dessert. They're so simple to make that I didn't bat an eye when the kids asked me to try peanut butter and jelly. I'm slack; all I do is add a lot of extra liquid to regular pancake mix, pour it in a buttered crêpe pan, wait until it starts to bubble, dump stuff in it and fold it over like a dang quesa-dillah. Voilà! Crêpes! The next day, I made Pad Thai, which is always a hit. I bought the shrimp for the Pad Thai at Palmetto Seafood Co.

Tonight, I scored again. The boys and I went back to Palmetto this afternoon. I need to gush for a minute. I love that place. They can always tell me what it is I want. I explained how I wanted to make the fish tonight and they suggested flounder, which was, as the British say so well, spot on. They also sold me the exact amount I needed, based on me telling them who all was coming to dinner. I bought two flounder, which they cleaned and filleted for me while the boys and I sipped ice cold sodas (Diet Coke for me, regular for them, because I like to be the Nicest Mommy in the World once in a while) and waited on our to-go order of fried frog legs. Apparently, their pescetarianism has expanded to include amphibianerianism. They also enjoyed watching the live crawdads crawl all over each other. Lucius Moultrie, the proprietor, is well known as the fish fry master of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn's annual shindig. That's only once a year, far too long to wait, so I recommend stopping by once in a while for a to-go meal. There are too many choices to list here, but I assure you that they're all good. And fried. The smell of that place, fresh fish combined with fried, fills me with joy. I let the boys eat the frog legs in the car, because they need to be eaten hot. The X-Man paused.

"Wait, let me see if I can still sing. Mwaaaaaahhh-la-la-laaaaaa!," he warbled, doing his impression of an opera singer. "Good. I don't have a frog in my throat."

Ha! Is that kid sharp or what? But I digress. Here's what I did with the fish:

Pan-fried Fish, Best Cooker Ever Style

Soak your fish fillets in a bath of milk and beaten eggs for at least 30 minutes. The milk will mellow the taste of the fish.

In a food processor, mix a handful of nuts (I used pecans), an entire bunch of fresh parsley and a little salt and pepper. It should look like a very dry pesto. Dump that onto a large plate.

Heat some butter and oil (choose one that has a pretty high smoke point, like grapeseed oil) in a large pan.

Take a piece of fish, dredge it in the parsley and nut mixture and lay it in the pan. Put as many pieces in the pan as you can without overlapping. You can press more pesto on top of the fish if you like. Cook it for a few minutes, until the edges are white, and flip it, cooking for a few more minutes just until the fish turns opaque all the way through. Slap it on a plate and eat it.

I served it with roasted fingerling potatoes and a mâche salad. We had crêpes for dessert, inspired by the begging of small children and some Brazilian honey we sampled and bought today. It was begging to be drizzled on a crêpe, this "Creamy, Raw Honey, Infused with Chocolate." Yup. I also added chopped pecans. Of all the crêpes we've eaten this week, these were the best.

Namasté, y'all!

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