Recipe A Day #29: Paul Prudhomme-Style Fried Catfish

We're at the end of one of the most aggressive experiments I've done here at Casual Kitchen: 29 brand new recipes, shared daily with readers over the course of the entire month of June.

And today, for our final recipe of my recipe-a-day trial, we're going to feature a chef who has influenced me substantially over the years: Paul Prudhomme, and his exceptional cookbook Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.

Paul Prudhomme is of course a legend for teaching the world about Louisiana Cajun and Creole cuisine, and we've featured him here at Casual Kitchen a few times over the years: with his palate-searing Cajun Meatloaf, his stunning Barbecued Shrimp, his not-easy-but-still-worth-it Shrimp Creole, and of course his simple and staggeringly good Chocolate Mousse.

And today's recipe is one of my favorites. It's easy, and it has all the exciting flavors and spices that you'd expect from Paul Prudhomme. It'll be one of your favorites too, I'm sure of it.


Paul Prudhomme-Style Fried Catfish

Ingredients:
2.5 pounds catfish filets, frozen or fresh
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying

Spice mix: Combine well:
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablepoon black pepper
1½ teaspoons onion powder
1½ teaspoons oregano
1½ teaspoons thyme

Dredge pans:
Dredge pan #1: 1 cup flour plus 1½ teaspoons seasoning mix above, combined well.
Dredge pan #2: 2 eggs, 1 cup milk, and ¼ cup mustard, whisked/combined well.
Dredge pan #3: 2 cups flour, 1.5 cups cornmeal, plus 2 generous Tablespoons of the seasoning mix above, combined well.

Directions:
1) Prepare dredge pans according to instructions above, using three small loaf pans or pie pans.

2) Use remaining seasoning mix to liberally season both sides of each of the fish filets, then cut catfish filets into nugget-sized pieces, about 2-3 inches long and 1 inch wide.

3) Pour oil in a large pan so you have enough to be about 3 inches deep. Heat oil to around 300F or until smoking just slightly. Meanwhile, set up an assembly line with the fish, the three dredging pans and the frying oil (see photo below).


4) Dredge the fish pieces first in Dredge pan #1, next in Dredge pan #2 (the egg mixture), and then, finally, in Dredge pan #3 (flour/cornmeal mixture), making sure you really press the flour/cornmeal mixture firmly into the fish with your fingers or a spoon. Fry the fish in batches of five or six pieces at a time, until golden brown and crispy. Place on paper towels to drain, and serve with a side of vegetables, Lemon-Lime Quinoa, or Savory Blueberry Rice.

Serves 5-6.
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Recipe Notes:
1) Easier than it looks: This recipe at first seems complicated, but it really isn't. There's just a little bit of arrangement involved in setting up your fish dredging/frying assembly line, but other than that this recipe is shockingly easy.

2) Intimidated by fish? I've said elsewhere, probably repeatedly, that I'm often intimidated cooking fish. I cook it for too long, I don't cook it long enough, and because it's a relatively costly food, I feel, I don't know, like a wasteful moron when it doesn't come out perfectly. If you feel the same, do not fear this recipe. I promise you: it's almost impossible to screw up. The fish nuggets have very wide tolerances for cooking time. You'll know when the breading becomes a luscious golden brown that the fish inside is done--and done perfectly.

3) Thoughts on scale: When I cook here at Casual Kitchen, I usually cook for just the two of us. This recipe, with a generous side of Savory Blueberry Brown Rice, (over)fed us for two dinners plus two lunches for Laura to take to work. However, a minor problem with this recipe--a problem common to any recipe where you bread and fry something--is that the breading gets soggy the next day. If you're cooking for two, make the recipe as it is above, but save back half of the fish filets for day two and fry them then. And then, for a time- and effort-saving tip, put the breading/dredging materials into plastic storage containers--just put a lid on each container and stack it in your fridge for re-use with the rest of the fish the following day. And, let the oil cool on your stove and you can re-use that too!

4) Save the spice mix and egg mixture: When you're done with this recipe you'll have some leftover spice mix and some leftover egg mixture. Do not throw them away!! Save the spice mix for other dishes: I sprinkle it over my morning eggs for example, and to mess with Laura's head, once in a while I'll put a generous shake or two of Paul Prudhomme onto her oatmeal. Also, a suggestion for any leftover egg mixture from Dredge pan #2: add it to your next batch of scrambled eggs for a delicious taste experience. PS: You can also freeze the eggs with no problems if you don’t think you’ll need them right away.

5) This is the end: Finally, readers, I hope you enjoyed my June Recipe A Day experiment, and thank you for coming along for the ride with me. It was hard work, but very much worth it: Laura and I ate really well last month, and we've got quite a few new recipes that we'll likely add to our cooking rotation. I hope you got some new recipes out of it too! I'll put together an archive post and a summary post with the best and most popular recipes in the coming weeks.








How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

Recipe A Day #28: Broccoli and Elbow Pasta Frittata

Readers, we're really getting down to the end of June's Recipe A Day trial, and today's recipe, a simple but not-quite-ordinary frittata, is a textbook type of dish you'll find here at Casual Kitchen.

We've seen frittata recipes elsewhere here at CK, and in fact one of our frittata recipes dates back to the earliest days of CK (uh, and it shows). What's so great about frittatas? They’re easy, they're inexpensive, and you can put into it practically whatever foods you happen to have on hand. Best of all it's a complete, balanced meal.

And (assuming there's any left over) a wedge of frittata microwaves perfectly the next day... providing yet another delicious meal in just seconds.

Today's Broccoli and Elbow Pasta Frittata has yet another twist: with the elbow pasta it's almost a cross between a frittata and mac and cheese! You're going to love it.

Broccoli and Elbow Pasta Frittata

Ingredients:
1 cup elbow pasta, cooked
about 1 -1.5 cups broccoli florets, steamed
2-3 Tablespoons oil
1 onion
5-8 ounces of meat of your choice, chicken, sausage, etc., optional
7 eggs
¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ to ⅓ cup parmesan cheese

Directions:
1) Cook pasta according to directions and also steam broccoli florets until just cooked to your liking.

2) Place eggs, salt, black pepper and milk in a separate bowl. Whisk until well-combined.

3) Meanwhile, in a large, deep, non-stick pan, saute onion (and optional meat) in oil on medium-high heat until onion is soft and beginning to brown and meat is cooked through. Then, add cooked pasta, steamed broccoli and parmesan cheese to pan. Combining well and make sure everything is well-heated through.

4) Next, add egg mixture to pan, shaking and tilting pan so the eggs are well distributed throughout. Cover and cook on medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until the frittata sets. Then place pan, uncovered, about 3-4 inches below your oven's broiler for an additional 7-10 minutes, until the frittata is fully cooked through and beginning to brown on top.

Serves 4.
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Recipe Notes:
1) Meat or meatless ideas: Another key advantage of frittatas is you can make them with or without meat--either way, it's a complete meal. We've made this recipe the first time with sliced-up spicy Italian sausage, and the second time with cubes of boneless chicken thighs. In both cases we simply sauteed the meat with the onions. Obviously you could use pork, beef, beans or even tofu in this recipe too.

2) Spicing variations: Some spicing ideas:

* A minimalist frittata with simple black pepper and salt
* Spicy southwest version: cayenne, mild chili powder and cumin
* Poultry lover's special: thyme and poultry seasoning
* Italian lover's special: with extra basil and oregano
* Fresh garden herbs: fresh parsley and fresh basil, chopped and added to the egg mixture.

3) Oven-safe pan? The pan we used is technically not oven-safe, but you really don't need an oven-safe pan to do the few minutes of broiling required of this recipe. Our solution is simply to leave the oven door partially open and have the pan handle sticking outside the oven so it isn't exposed to the broiler's heat. The potentially meltable pan handle will be perfectly safe over the few minutes the frittata is in there. If you look at the last photo in my How to Make a Simple Frittata post you'll see exactly what I mean.




How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

Recipe A Day #27: Savory Blueberry Rice

Today we feature a side dish that takes regular old rice and makes it into something truly special. We've adapted and simplified a similar recipe from Mollie Katzen's exceptional new cookbook The Heart of the Plate (you can find her original version on page 200). Mollie's recipe was already easy: what we've done here at CK is adapt it to make it both more pantry-friendly and even lower cost. Wait until you see the look on your guests' faces when you put a stunning plate of this electric blue rice in front of them!

PS: Have a look also at CK's great list of easy rice side dishes!

Savory Blueberry Rice

Ingredients:
2-3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 cups brown rice
4 cups water

1 onion
2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
10-12 ounces frozen unsweetened blueberries
salt and black pepper, to taste
lime juice, to taste

Directions:
1) Cook the brown rice: place rice, butter/oil and water in a large pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 40 minutes until rice is done to your liking.

2) Meanwhile, in a separate pan, saute onion in butter/oil on medium-high heat until soft and beginning to brown. Add frozen blueberries and continue to saute until blueberries thaw and begin to release their juices. Continue sauteing for 7-10 minutes until blueberries thicken and have a sauce/jam-like texture. Turn off heat and let stand until rice is done.

3) When rice is done, fluff well with a fork and add blueberry mixture. Combine well, then add salt, black pepper and lime juice to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 6-7 as a side dish.
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Recipe Notes:
1) Mild taste, stunning visuals: This is not supposed to be a loud-tasting dish. It's basically just... rice, except that it looks really, really cool and it has an unusual, nuanced set of flavors. However, if nuance isn't enough for you and you'd prefer a more aggressive spicing and flavoring, see the following note.

2) Spicing options: Don't want to settle for "quiet" rice? Some ideas:

* Add two cubes of bouillon to the rice before cooking.
* Add 3/4 teaspoon Tabasco or cayenne pepper for a spicy variation.
* Add shredded parmesan or mozzarella for a risotto-esque variation.
* Add seared chicken, browned sausage or beans to make this into a main dish.






How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

Recipe A Day #26: Mote Con Huevos

Today's recipe takes everyday plain old scrambled eggs and--with a minor extra step and an extra ingredient or two--turns them into a memorable and exotic breakfast. We loved this recipe, and you're going to love it too.

Mote Con Huevos

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons butter (or oil)
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon mild chili powder
salt and black pepper to taste
1 15 ounce can white hominy/mote, drained and rinsed
⅓ cup milk
5 eggs
2 Tablespoons chives, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:
1) In a medium-sized non-stick pan, saute the onion, garlic and spices in butter on medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, until soft. Add mote/hominy, combine well, and saute for another 2 minutes. Then, add milk and continue to saute until nearly absorbed, another 3 minutes or so.

2) Meanwhile, whisk eggs well in a separate bowl. Add eggs, chives and parsley to pan. Cook and stir occasionally as if you were going to make scrambled eggs, until eggs are done to your liking. Serve immediately.

Serves 2-3.
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Recipe Notes:
1) Use real butter*: Sure, you can use plain olive oil or some other oil in this recipe, but there's something about the flavor combination of mote, eggs and butter. With butter, this recipe simply tastes better.

* Apologies to Jen Yu for stealing the phrase.

2) Canned vs. dried mote/hominy/giant white corn: Once again, you have a choice with today's recipe: use dried giant white corn, or simply buy it in the can. With this recipe--contrary to our recent Spicy Mote and Chicken Stew--I recommend going the easier route and using basic canned hominy or canned mote, which you can find the latin aisle in most grocery stores. Barring that, today's recipe offers you a gift-wrapped reason to visit your local Latin American grocery store.

3) Spice variations: Feel free to improvise with the spices here: In place of my "cayenne, cumin and mild chile powder" version above, consider using thyme and sage, or paprika only, or a super-spicy version with extra cayenne and Tabasco, or, a simple, minimalist version with just salt and black pepper.


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

CK Links--Friday June 26, 2015

Links from around the internet.

Don't forget! The easiest way to support Casual Kitchen is to buy your items at Amazon using the various links here. Just click over to Amazon, and EVERY purchase you make during that visit pays a modest affiliate commission to support my work here. Best of all, this comes at zero extra cost to you.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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Nine paleo/primal podcasts you ought to hear. (Mark's Daily Apple)

In last week's links we read about the 100-year-old scientist behind the FDA's recent transfat ban. Here's another viewpoint, arguing that this ban does nothing except create intrusions into how and what we eat. (The Federalist)

Whole Foods gets caught overcharging customers? (CNN Money)

Related: Net Weight 3.0 Pounds

Five interesting food trends, plus thoughts on a mindset of curiosity. (No Meat Athlete)

More thoughts on buttered coffee. (Bloomberg)

Nineteen sushi myths you probably believe. (Thrillist) But wait: isn't the one about women's hands being too hot true? No?

Twelve intriguing chicken drumstick recipes. (Community Table)

The "backfire effect" and how it screws up your conversations. (Big Think)

How to unlearn learned helplessness. (You Are Not So Smart)


Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic at your blog? Send me an email!


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.