Three Citrus Saltfish Tostadas

IMG_5480

When a food product evokes happy childhood memories one can’t help but want to experiment with it. Here I am with Buena Ventura saltfish pollock fillets and wondering why my dad never made his famous bacalao salad during any other time of the year but Christmas and then me following the exact same tradition. Why just serve this delicious fish on just one night? IMG_5483

This is premium pollock fillets sourced from the cold waters of the North Pacific and salted under strict quality conditions. Readily available and easy to prepare why not cook it for a meatless Monday meal, a taco Tuesday or even a “wild-caught” Wednesday. I first tried using the salt fish in a filling for potstickers and egg rolls. The fish certainly holds its own against bold Asian flavors, but I wanted it to shine a bit more brightly rather than being covered up in a wrapper. IMG_9431

A Mexican inspired salt fish tostada it is. A perfect main dish for any night of the week this recipe shines bright with a citrus and spice marinated pollock, crispy corn tortillas and plenty of healthy crunch from fresh vegetables. It will evoke memories of the freshest fish taco you’ve ever eaten, if I do say so myself.

IMG_9447

To prepare salted fish for recipes soak it in fresh cold water in the refrigerator for 8 hours, changing the water three times. For more info & recipes check out www.cfeboston.com.

Three Citrus Salt Fish Tostadas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 (16 oz) package Buena Ventura Salted Pollock Fillets, prepared

2 lemon slices

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced

1 tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

3 grinds fresh black pepper

8 corn tortillas

½ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 cup shredded purple cabbage

1 small red bell pepper, seeded, diced

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, chopped

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 bunch fresh cilantro

½ cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese

Cook fish in a pan of boiling water that contains the two lemon slices for about 2 minutes or until the fish flakes. Transfer fish to paper towels; pat dry. Place fish in a heat proof bowl. Using two forks or your fingers flake fish into bite-size pieces; keep warm. In a small saucepan, over low heat, whisk lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, garlic, honey, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and black pepper just until honey is melted and mixture is warmed through; pour over fish. Toss fish with marinade, cover to keep warm, and let stand for 10 minutes. Fry tortillas in hot olive oil until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle each with a little salt.

To serve, top each tortilla with purple cabbage, red pepper, avocado, green onions, cilantro and cheese. Using a slotted spoon remove fish from marinade and place on top.

IMG_9445

For lots more delicious fun and information connect with CFE International social media.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BacalaoCFE/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bacalaoCFE

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/bacalaocfe/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bacalao_cfe/

Store Locations: Cousins, H-Mart, Jetro, Price Chopper, Price Rite

611

 

Turning the Tables

IMG_7794

Team Saucy Mama

You all know how much I enjoy a good recipe competition. Well, recently the tables turned and I became a judge instead of a competitor. My favorite ladies at Saucy Mama sponsored a recipe contest looking for a third competitor to join us at the World Food Championships 2016. I was so very honored when they asked me to do some preliminary blind judging of the recipes they received in the categories of Bacon, Seafood, Steak and Burger.

2016-recipe-logo

 

So what was it like reading through many recipes, preparing them as written and then judging them? It was a real learning experience and it was fun, but I won’t lie I was harsh. As my kitchen got a work-out I was looking for the best of the best to represent this company that I love so much. I wanted the Saucy Mama flavors to shine without over powering the star of the dish. I wanted innovation and I wanted beauty. No doubt the flavors had to be balanced, but dance on my tongue. It was no easy task, but a few recipes did all those things and easily rose to the top of the list.

IMG_0676

Once the judging was complete it was great fun to learn whose recipe belonged to whom as the owners posted their recipes to their blogs and social media. Today, I want to share a few dishes that really highlighted Saucy Mama in a most innovative way. First up is Paula Todora’s Saucy Shrimp Pad Thai in Roasted Spaghetti Squash Boats with Candied Pecans. I love a good Pad Thai and Paula’s clever twist of using strands of spaghetti squash in place of noodles was not only delicious, but a refreshing healthy spin as well. Topped with some very flavorful candied pecans this recipe was one of my husband’s favorite recipes and I will be making it again. Maybe next time I will top it off with some fresh herbs. Well done, Paula. You can find her recipe here: twistedhomecooking.com

IMG_0735

Next up is Debbie Reid’s Grilled Steak Slices with Apricot Ginger Cream Sauce and Pacific Rim Ginger Fried Rice. Debbie’s quick and easy and super flavorful fried rice is out of this world delicious. Her innovative cooking method of adding one of my favorite Saucy Mama dressings to the rice cooking water completely eliminates the need to cook and cool the rice ahead of time. I prefer frozen peas to canned so that is the only change I will make going forward with this recipe. Check it out at debbiescookingaddiction.com

IMG_0863

Finally, and just to further illustrate how versatile Saucy Mama products are I just loved the pickled onions created by Areli Valles Biggers with her recipe Orange Habanero Tacos Al Pastor. I love topping a taco or a sandwich with pickled vegetables and Areli’s red onions are crisp tender and fully flavored with Saucy Mama’s Red Raspberry Vinaigrette, clove and Mexican oregano. The red onion color and flavor really pops from the red raspberry dressing. Areli does not have a blog, so here is her recipe.

Pickled Onions

2 cups water

½ cup Saucy Mama Raspberry Vinaigrette

3 whole cloves

1 tsp. Mexican Oregano

1 Pinch of salt

1 red onion (sliced)

In a small pan, combine water, Saucy Mama Raspberry Vinaigrette, cloves, oregano and salt. Mix well. Add red onion and let the mixture come to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn it off and remove from heat. Let onions cool, drain and refrigerate until ready to use.

Saucy Mama Products

you can buy on-line at www.barhyte.com

Back to judging as a learning experience. I have always appreciated a judge’s feedback following a contest. It has made me a better competitor. I think it is very important to share constructive criticism with contestants. So here is what I recommend when it comes to putting your best recipe down on paper or in this age the computer.

  • Please consider putting your ingredients in a list in order of use.
  • Check your ingredient list against your instructions and vice versa to insure all the ingredients are accounted for. Proofread!
  • Be detailed about the ingredient measurements. For example: an “8 ounce steak, cut 1-inch thick” tells exactly what a tester needs. Just an “8 ounce steak” comes in many shapes and thicknesses and leaves too much open to interpretation. Same thing when it comes to vegetables. Your idea of a large onion may be different than the tester, so be more specific and add a weight or measurement like this: “1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)”
  • Be detailed in your cooking times and temperatures. Give precise times and a visual for what “done” looks like and use an instant read thermometer, if you want your dish perfectly cooked by a recipe tester.
  • Take a critical look at your final presentation. Those small points for appearance can make all the difference in the world. Don’t forget a fitting and fresh garnish.

For the grand prize winning recipe check out Kim Banick’s  Orange Habanero Coconut Shrimp Po Boy Lettuce Cups with Spicy Orange Slaw and for the runner-up Veronica Callaghan’s Mini Chipotle-Lime Steak Tostadas with Pomegranate-Avocado Salsa and Poblano Ranch Sauce Try these stunning and prize worthy recipes to better understand why it was so deliciously awesome to be a judge. Welcome to Team Saucy Mama.

IMG_0954

Then this happened and the tables sure turned for me. Best prize ever!? You be the judge.

World Food Championships & Moving Forward with Egg Salad

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Like a pat on the back for a job well done once in a while I need a reminder from William he is here with me. When I cook he comes through, so I cook. This past week I was celebrating him at the World Food Championships in Kissimmee, Florida. He and I along with my Comare* Lynn cooked up a few recipes including one bad-ass egg salad sandwich. More about that special sandwich later.

Lynn, my maid of honor and William's godmother is my sous chef. I have always referred to her in Italian as my “comare”. Here is more of a definition:

*Lynn, my maid of honor and William’s godmother is my sous chef. I have always referred to her in Italian as my “comare”. Here is more of a definition:
“Comare… women used this term… [to describe other women in their group] to honor a close bond of mutual assistance.”(Guglielmo, 2010). It was a woman who worked with other women while the men were in the fields, they relied on each other for support in Sicily in the early 1900’s.
When my son passed away, Lynn never left my side. I am so honored to have her cook with me and so our team name (as we both are suffering with hot flashes right now-lol): “Too Hot Comares”.

The World Food Championships (WFC) brought hundreds of professional chefs and home cooks from around the globe to compete in 9 categories for over $350,000.00 in prize money and bragging rights. IMG_7713Having played this game before and getting my butt whooped I never in my wildest dreams thought I could advance through the ranks in my qualifying category of “sandwiches”. Luckily, it’s never about winning or losing for me. I just like being in the mix, cooking to the best of my ability and hoping for a little extra icing on what is already a spectacular cake. Truly, this competition feels more like a family reunion than a cutthroat kitchen. To be passionate and endure in this hobby it has to be about friends first and competition second. Think about those athletes who only care about winning and how quickly they lose the love of the game. I never want that burn-out to happen to me.

good old days with my family

good old days with my family

Others strongly believe in me when it comes to food sport. My daughter Caitlin for one. She never stops believing I can win. She nudges me forward with her simple notes and texts, “You got this mom” or “I know you can do it mom”. Does she know how much her thoughtful, gentle touch means? Same with my husband. He is the perfect coach. His support and encouragement never waivers. He never acts surprised when I bring home a medal or a prize when usually I am picking myself up off the floor in disbelief. And then there is William…..

homemade focaccia filled with a candied orange walnut pesto, speck, fontina and roasted red peppers and arugula salad with cranberry balsamic

homemade focaccia filled with a candied orange walnut pesto, speck, fontina and roasted red peppers and arugula salad with cranberry balsamic…cooking from the heart always wins ❤

Like in sports the WFC is a tournament style competition. My first sandwich requiring the use of Kansas City Steaks ribeye was judged at #6. Next up is my signature sandwich inspired by my lunch dates with William at Aventura’s Italian deli in Waterbury. The judges liked it and launched me into the #4 position. What?  Hot damn! After two rounds of judging I am still in it. I made Top 10 and would be required to create an egg sandwich in the final round using American Humane Certified free range eggs from The Happy Egg Co.

Smokehouse Steak Sandwich

Smokehouse Steak Sandwich

Just one problem. I never believed I would make Top 10, so I never prepared any kind of elevated egg sandwich recipe before I left home for the event. Exhausted but exhilarated I had less than 24 hours to figure it out. Before I went to bed that night I had nothing. It was like recipe writer’s block. Lot’s of anxiety. This is going to be embarrassing.

my good luck charm

my good luck charm

…..and then there is William. Just before I turned out the light I held a good luck charm in my hand (thank you Patrice Hurd) and had a little chat with my boy. I closed my eyes and hoped for a little Will Keys intervention. He never disappoints me.

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Guess who woke with a start and jumped out of bed at 3 am with a complete egg sandwich recipe in her head? Not just any egg sandwich, but one bad-ass egg sandwich that scored the second highest score of the Top 10. It shot me into a 3rd place finish, but more importantly it reminded me that William is always here helping me move forward. This is why I cook. This is why I love the competition. It’s putting my grief into a passion. What is your passion?

Too Hot Comares both placed in the Top 10

Too Hot Comares both placed in the Top 10

As always I owe a debt of gratitude to those who went above and beyond to support me at the WFC. Big thanks to Felipe Rivera and Jennifer Daskevich for rescuing me from a major bread snafu; to Amoroso’s Bakery for supplying the most delicious rolls; to Carlino’s for vacuum sealing the imported speck and to Suzy and Colette of Saucy Mama for seeing and believing in me and taking me on this whirlwind of a ride. I am so proud to be a part of your team.

IMG_7943

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Bacon & Crispy Potato Strings

12 large Happy Eggs

2-tablespoons Saucy Mama Orange Habanero Wing Sauce, divided

1-tablespoon water

1-tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon Saucy Mama Smoky Garlic mustard

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

½-cup diced Duda Farms Dandy Celery

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle

1 tablespoon Saucy Mama Backyard Brat Mustard

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1-teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 slices Wright Apple Wood Bacon, diced

1 russet potato or other frying potato, peeled and thin julienne

Canola oil for deep-frying

1 teaspoon smoked salt

6 (8-inch) whole grain sandwich rolls

½ cup clarified butter

1 bunch fresh arugula

Place eggs in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover the eggs. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let eggs stand in hot water for 16 to 18 minutes. Immediately remove eggs from hot water and plunge into an ice bath. When cool, peel eggs. Separate the yolks from the whites. Chop egg whites and reserve in a large bowl. Place yolks in the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade. Add wing sauce, water, vinegar and garlic mustard; pulse to blend. With Food processor running, slowly add olive oil, processing until mixture is smooth, stopping and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites. Add celery, dill, chives, pickle, whole grain mustard, zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to assemble sandwiches.

In non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally until fat is rendered and bacon is browned and crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper towel and discard grease from the pan. Return bacon to pan. Over low heat, add remaining 1-tablespoon orange habanero sauce to bacon, stirring to coat the bacon. Set bacon aside in a single layer until ready to assemble sandwiches.

For crispy potato strings: Fry potato strings in 350F hot oil for 1 minute or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towel; sprinkle immediately with smoked salt.

Brush cut sides of rolls with butter. Place rolls, butter side down, in skillet over medium heat. Toast 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.

To assemble sandwiches: place a layer of arugula on bottom half of roll. Top with egg salad. Sprinkle with bacon and crispy potato strings. 

use a russet potato and pat dry with paper towels for extra crispy potato strings

use a russet potato and pat dry with paper towels for extra crispy potato strings