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By learning about basic ingredients and how to use them, you can create simple, quick and delicious meals your family will love!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

NuWave Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Now that the outside temperature is heating up, it's once again time to turn on the A/C...and it's only March!!  This is the time of year when I start thinking of new ways to get dinner on the table, without heating up the house.  One way to do that is with a NuWave Oven. 
Seasoned and ready to cook

This little oven is so easy to use, that I hardly ever use the big oven any more for cooking a roasted whole chicken .  The skin cooks to a golden crispy crunch and the inside is perfectly cooked and juicy!  But so far I've only used it for a whole chicken...so why not try pieces of chicken? 

Crispy outside and juicy inside
My first test using chicken drumsticks was a great success.  I used a simple coating of Seasoned Salt and Pepper, so this isn't really a recipe so much as a demonstration, but I did want you to see the crispy crunchy results.  Use any seasonings you like such as a cajun blend or italian blend and generously coat one side of the drumsticks.  Place the drumsticks seasoned side down on the grill.  You will want to flip the grilling rack over so you have the 4-inch height, not the short 1-inch height.

Since these drumsticks were pretty thick I started them on the HI setting and cooked for 12 minutes.  When the oven beeps, remove the top (be careful it does get a little warm), turn the drumsticks over and season the other side.  Replace the top of the oven and set for an additional 12 minutes.

At the end of the 12 minutes I sliced into one drumstick and they were just a tiny bit pink, so I replaced the lid and cooked 3 minutes longer, and they were ready to serve.  On a health note, while the chicken is cooking you can see all of the fat dripping off into the drip pan. (Just line the drip pan with heavy-duty foil and there's no clean up.)  This is so much healthier than having the chicken cook IN all of that fat.  Much healthier, much quicker and so easy!  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Banana Bread with Oat Flour

Nothing tastes better than a slice of warm banana bread.  This recipe is very easy to make and makes use of a few bananas that may have been sitting on the counter for a little too long.  Prep time is only 15 minutes, so this recipe is simple to throw together and it can bake while you're having dinner.

This Banana Bread also provides some health benefits.  I am always trying to incorporate oat flour into standard recipes and I love the difference in texture and the added health benefits of the oats.  To add oats to your favorite recipe, try replacing 1/3 of the regular flour with oat flour.  I have found that with most recipes you can replace up to half of the flour with oat flour and not need to change the amount of liquid in the bread.  If the batter does seem a little too thick, just add 1-2 tablespoons additional liquid as called for in the recipe (milk, applesauce, water, etc.).  Enjoy!!

2 1/2 cups  All Purpose Flour
1 cup  Oat Flour (ground Quaker Oats work great)
4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 cup Butter or Margarine, melted
4 Eggs, well beaten
1 cup Sugar or equal amount of Splenda
2 tsp Vanilla
4 medium Bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350. Combine both flours, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt. In separate bowl, combine butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla; add to flour mixture and stir only until flour is moistened. Fold in mashed bananas. Pour into 2 well-greased 8" x 4" loaf pans and bake for 60 - 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

** Time Saver -- For quick and easy clean up, line the loaf pans with foil and do not grease.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

It's easy to turn a few simple chicken breasts into a delicious meal, but what if you only want to make lunch for 2 people?  Recipes for larger quantities can be difficult to break down into smaller numbers of servings because the amount of seasonings and spices has to be reduced to such a small measurement. 

This recipe for Buffalo Chicken Breast Sandwiches is a quick and easy to make lunch that you can prepare with ingredients most people have on hand. The sauce can be made spicier by adding the red pepper flakes, but if you just want a little heat, leave them out and the sandwich is just as tasty.

2  Sandwich Rolls or Buns
1-1/2 TB  Butter
1/2 tsp  White Vinegar
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 TB  Franks Red Hot Sauce
1/4 tsp Red Chili Flakes, optional
Leaf or Romaine Lettuce Leaves, optional
Sliced Provolone Cheese

Lightly butter the inside of each of the sandwich buns.  In a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, place the buns in the skillet open side down and heat until lightly brown.  Remove from the skillet and place on 2 plates.

In the same skillet,  melt the butter, then add the vinegar, black pepper, garlic powder and Frank's sauce.  Stir to combine and heat for 4-5 minutes until garlic powder is fully blended and the mixture is warm.  Pour the sauce into 2 small serving dishes, leaving 1-2 teaspoons of sauce in the skillet.

Lightly season the chicken fillets with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet. Grill chicken breasts for 4-5 minutes on each side until juices run clear.  The butter and sauce in the skillet will coat the chicken nicely as it cooks.

Place chicken breasts on the buns and top with lettuce, provolone cheese, a spoonful of the Buffalo sauce and then top of bun. Serve with carrot and celery sticks and blue cheese salad dressing.

**  GIVEAWAY!! ~~ Be sure to enter the Rice Select Giveaway.  Click  HERE!  for more details. The winner will be selected on Wednesday, April 4, 2012.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Seared Salmon with Balsamic Glaze

Once again, it's so amazing that a handful of simple ingredients can produce such a wonderful and  healthy meal.  As a bonus, this dinner requires minimal prep time and less than 15 minutes to cook.

Salmon is a great go-to meal for weeknight dinners because of the quick cooking time.  It can be grilled, broiled or even cooked in a skillet on the stove top and there are many tasty sauces that can be made ahead of time and are ready to serve at dinnertime.  In addition, it's mild flavor makes it a favorite for children.

For this dish, a sweet balsamic glaze is the perfect addition to this pan-seared salmon. Brown sugar balances the acidity of the vinegar, to create a glaze that can be used for vegetables, fish or even chicken.  Don't worry, you don't need a $50 bottle of balsamic to make this simple glaze, just use any dark balsamic available at your local market and the results will be just as delicious.

1 cup  Balsamic Vinegar
2 TB  Brown Sugar
2 tsp  Lemon Juice
1 tsp  +  1 TB  Olive Oil - divided
4 Salmon Fillets - about 4 -6 ounces each, deboned and skin removed
Salt and Pepper

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the vinegar and brown sugar to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and syrupy. When reduced, it should measure about 1/3 cup.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Season salmon fillets with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil is hot, but not smoking, add salmon and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Carefully turn fillets over, spoon about 1 tablespoon of glaze over the salmon and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until just cooked through. **Note: You want to be sure to use a very hot skillet to get a good sear on the outside of the salmon.

Transfer salmon to individual plates and drizzle with additional balsamic glaze. Serve with a side of rice, steamed asparagus and maybe a few hush puppies for the kids.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Guinness Ice Cream and Root Beer Float

Is it possible to use Guinness in one more recipe this week?  Oh, yes!

I stumbled across some IBC Root Beer at the grocery today and since it already feels like summer here in Florida, I thought the kids might like something special to drink.  If you're going to drink root beer, IBC is the one and only choice. It has that old fashioned flavor that is just unmatched by the other brands.

When everyone spotted the root beer they immediately asked for root beer floats, which led my husband to ask if we could use the Guinness Ice Cream instead of plain vanilla.  A Guinness Ice Cream float?? Hmm, not sure, but  why not give it a try. (He does come up with some great ideas!!)

So we added 2 scoops of the Guinness Ice Cream to the glasses and topped it off with a few ounces of root beer.  The flavors combined perfectly and added a new twist to the traditional drink.  The rich, creamy ice cream and the bold flavor of the root beer made a seriously good float.  Enjoy!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Lamb Stew

As the main course for our Guinness Three Ways tonight we made an Irish Lamb Stew.  This creation was a compilation of several recipes as there are so many ways to make this classic dish.  Some methods used a crock pot or stove top dutch oven to cook in and used either a lamb shoulder or leg of lamb as their cut of choice.

Many of the recipes I came across used lamb shoulder, which is the traditional cut, but lamb shoulder proved to be impossible to find in any of the markets in our area.  Leg of lamb was an option, but I didn't want this ultra-tender cut of meat to completely fall apart when it was cooked for an extended amount of time.  To solve this problem we combined the tender leg of lamb and cooked it for a shorter time on the stove top.  The result was a thick-gravy stew with tender chunks of lamb and perfectly cooked vegetables. 

When choosing a leg of lamb remember the bone will account for about 3/4-1 pound of the total weight. The piece I used was 3.15 lbs and it netted about 2 lbs of meat once it was cut off the bone and trimmed.

The addition of Guinness Stout to the stew rounded out the flavors and was the perfect compliment to the lamb and beef stock.  Serve with a loaf of Irish Soda Bread or crusty French bread.  Enjoy!!

3 TB  Olive Oil
1  Large Onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp  Dried Thyme
1/4 cup  Flour
3 lb  Leg of Lamb, meat cut off the bone and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1-1/2 to 2 lbs total)
2 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 bottle  Guinness Stout
1 TB  Tomato Paste
2 cups  Beef Broth
2  Bay Leaves
5 - 6  Yukon Gold Potatoes, cubed
6  Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 TB  Dijon Mustard

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper, then add the lamb pieces and toss to coat evenly.  Shake off excess flour and add the meat to the pot.  Saute for about 5 - 7 minutes until the lamb is browned on all sides.

Remove the lamb and onions to a platter and set aside.  Pour the Guinness into the pan and simmer over medium-high heat, loosening any browned bits while stirring.  Reduce mixture for about 5 minutes, then add the tomato paste, broth and bay leaves.  Stir to combine then add the lamb and onions back to the pot.

Bring stew to a low boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Add the potatoes and carrots to the pot, stir and replace the cover.  Simmer for 1 hour longer. 

Just before serving add the Dijon mustard to the pot and adjust salt and pepper accordingly.

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Mmm..Chocolate + Guinness. Today is the big finale to our Guinness Three Ways Challenge and the Chocolate Guinness Cake is ready and waiting for dessert.  The aroma of this cake cooking is wonderful and makes the whole house smell like a German bakery!  Check back later for an update to our main course, Irish Lamb Stew.

This would be a great treat for St. Patrick's Day or as a special dessert for anyone who is a fan of dark beer.  The "stout" flavor is mellowed slightly by the cocoa, cinnamon and vanilla, but it is not an overly sweet cake.  Enjoy this cake with a scoop of Guinness Ice Cream, a little whipped cream or just a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.
1 3/4 cup Flour
3/4 cup Natural Cocoa Powder (not Dutch processed)
1 3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
2 sticks + 5 TB Unsalted Butter, softened
2 1/4 cups firmly packed Light Brown Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Guinness Stout (do not include foam when measuring)
1 cup Finely Chopped Pecans, divided
Confectioners Powder for dusting, optional

Preheat oven to 325 and place oven rack in the center position. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan or a springform pan. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with a 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the brown sugar and beat at high speed until very light and creamy, about 3 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and reduce speed to low. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the stout in 2 batches and mixing until well blended. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of chopped pecans and mix just until combined.

Remove bowl from the mixer stand and stir a few times with a spatula to make sure the batter is evenly blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 70 to 75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan and on a rack for 20 minutes.

Invert the cake onto the rack and cool completely.

Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with confectioners sugar or add a scoop of Guinness Ice Cream vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream as a final touch.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guinness Ice Cream

If you like Guinness Beer, you are going to LOVE Guinness Ice Cream. We found this recipe in Food and Wine Magazine awhile back and had to try it for Al's birthday and as part of our Guinness Three Ways birthday challenge.

I did make some adjustments to the quantities so that the ice cream would work in our ice cream machine and I also added just a touch of vanilla.

The flavor is almost coffee-like,  oh and this is definitely not low calorie ice cream!  It's the real thing, full of heavy cream and egg yolks, but it's worth every decadent bite. 

The strong, malty flavor of the ice cream can only be made better by sprinkling crushed chocolate-covered pretzels on top.  Enjoy!

1 cup Guinness (you'll have to drink the remaining 4 oz!!)
1 cups Heavy Cream
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup Whole Milk
7 Large Egg Yolks  (save the white for another dish)
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp  Vanilla Extract
Chocolate-Covered Pretzels, crushed, for topping optional

In a large saucepan, combine the beer, cream and milk and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar.  Slowly add several tablespoons of the hot Guinness cream to the yolks, whisking constantly until well blended. (NOTE: Do this very slowly so the mixture will not separate. This is called tempering.)  Continue to add the warm mixture to the egg yolks until the egg yolks are thinned and you have added about half of the Guinness mixture.
Guinness Ice Cream in the works

Pour the Guinness/egg yolk mixture back into the into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it coats the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes;  do not let it boil.  You will have a custard-like consistency.

Pour the custard into a medium bowl set in a large bowl of ice water.  Let stand until the custard is cold, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturers directions.
When the ice cream process in complete, pack the ice cream in an airtight container and store in the freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Scoop the ice cream into bowls and top with crushed Chocolate-Covered Pretzels or Guinness Chocolate Cake.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Guinness Three Ways

My Sous Chef/Photographer has submitted his birthday dinner request and it consists of, what else, BEER!  Not just any beer, but Guinness.  Smooth, rich and velvety Guinness. And we are going to enjoy this delicious beer in three different ways in honor of his birthday on March 16th and St. Patrick's Day on March 17th!!
It's sad that he was born one day too early to be a St. Patrick's Day baby, because he does do his part to celebrate this special holiday. Without a single drop of Irish blood in his veins, he has enjoyed (endured?)  almost 16 years of me cooking St. Patrick's Day food such as Irish Soda Bread, Corned Beef and Cabbage, and Irish Beef Stew with Guinness, plus more than a few bottles of Guinness.  (That's what you get when you marry an Irish girl!)

For his birthday dinner we will be starting off with Irish Lamb Stew served with Irish Soda Bread.  My daughter had a slight look of horror in her eyes when I said we would be eating lamb, so we'll have to work on her a bit.

Dessert will cap off the night with Chocolate Guinness Cake and Guinness Ice Cream.  Check back soon for more details and recipes.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

French Onion Soup

Soup has been a main component of nearly every culture for thousands of years and is a great way to bring people together to share a meal.

Think back to a favorite soup your parents or your grandparents prepared for you.  Those are the memories we need to pass on to our children.  Cooking has sadly become almost a lost art, but making a pot of healthy, hearty, soul-warming soup is a way to create new memories with your family, keep the art of soup making alive and well and keep those family recipes going into the next generation. It's all up to you...and one pot of soup...Enjoy!

The secret to the rich beefy flavor and silky texture is in the homemade stock.  This is delicious when served with a Prime Rib Dinner and a salad, or serve with French Dip Sandwiches.

1 Large Onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup  Butter
1  Rack of Prime Rib Beef Bones, 3 or 4 bones  (ask your butcher for these or if you serve a Whole Prime Rib Dinner, save the rack of ribs for this recipe)
1 tsp  White Pepper
1 tsp  Salt
1 cup Dry White Wine
6 cups  Beef Stock
Croutons, homemade or store bought
Swiss, Provolone, Gruy√®re or Mozzarella Cheese, 6-8 very thin slices
Parmesan-Romano Cheese, grated

In a medium soup pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and beef ribs and saute until onions are tender. Add white pepper, salt and wine and simmer about 3-4 minutes until mixture begins to bubble. Add beef stock and reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  (Cooking the beef bones in the soup will maximize the flavor. If you have time, simmer for an extra 30 minutes and the flavor will get even better.  If the soup cooks down more than you would like, just add 1 cup of water or beef stock near the end of the cooking time.)

Ladle soup into bowls and add croutons and cheese. Let cheese melt slightly, then sprinkle with Parmesan-Romano cheese.  Serves about 4-6.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Catfish Allison

This is a delicious way to enjoy catfish fillets and is very easy to prepare.  I came across this recipe in an old cookbook I have from the Catfish Institute, (Yes, there really is a Catfish Institute!) and since we have a daughter named Allison, we had to give this dish a try.   The flavors were great and the green onion and Parmesan cheese paired well with the fish.

Cooking the catfish is actually a 2 step process, almost like a twice-baked fish.  The fillets are first poached, then placed in the oven with a cheesy topping to finish the dish with a slightly crispy and browned top.

We did make a few adjustments to update the original dish.  Instead of poaching the fish in just water we added some lemon juice and dill seasoning to give it a little more flavor.  The next addition was panko crumbs.  Adding just a sprinkle more before baking adds a touch of crunch to the topping.

This recipe has a lot of possibilities so I'm sure you will see some variations of this dish on the blog in the near future.  I think the next time I make this I might add some crab meat to the cheese topping, and maybe a little white wine to the poaching liquid. I love fish and this will be a fun recipe to experiment with in so many ways.

1 cup  Shaved Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup  Butter or Margarine, softened
4 TB  Hellman's Light Mayonnaise
2  Green Onions, finely minced
1/2 tsp  Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 tsp  Tabasco Sauce
1/4 tsp  Salt
1/3 cup  Panko Japanese Breadcrumbs
6 Catfish Fillets
1/3 cup  Lemon Juice
Lemon/Dill Seasoning

In a small bowl combine butter, mayo, green onions, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and salt.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, add about 1/2 inch of water then add the lemon juice and seasoning.  Heat water to a simmer, add fillets and poach for 4 - 5 minutes until fish becomes slightly opaque.

Gently lift the fillets from the poaching liquid using a slotted spatula and place side by side in a baking dish.  Use a paper towel to remove excess liquid from the pan, if needed.

Add the 1/3 cup panko crumbs to the cheese topping mixture and stir to combine.

Spread 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture over each fillet.  Sprinkle lightly with panko crumbs and place the fish in a preheated oven on the BROIL setting, and broil 3 - 5 minutes or until the cheese mixture is bubbly and slightly browned.  (To check for doneness, if needed, use a fork to flake the fish.)

Carefully lift fillets from the baking dish and place on serving plates.  Spoon a little of the pan drippings onto each piece of fish and serve.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Country Style Pork Ribs with Mustard and Dry Rub Marinade

Apply Yellow Mustard
We added a little twist to our usual Dry Rub for this dinner.  I've been wanting to try mustard as a rub for pork ribs for some time now, but I didn't want to miss out on the flavors of the Dry Rub.  So, we did both!  Using about 3 1/2 pounds of Pork Country Style Ribs, we rubbed the pork generously with regular yellow mustard, then added the dry rub and let them chill for about 5 hours.  The ribs were tender and  mouth-watering, juicy inside and just slightly crispy on the outside.  Even better, they only took about 30 minutes to cook on the grill.

This is the same Dry Rub Mix that we use when we smoke Pork Butt or Chicken Quarters and it worked equally well on the country ribs.  It's the perfect balance of flavors for a slow roast in the smoker.  Enjoy!

Apply Dry Rub Mix
3 - 4 lbs  Country Style Pork Ribs
French's Yellow Mustard
Dry Rub Mix

Place the ribs in a glass baking pan and coat generously with yellow mustard. 

Next, sprinkle on the prepared dry rub mixture and rub into the meat, making sure to coat evenly.  Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, but 5 hours worked great for this batch.

Heat grill to about 325 - 350 degrees.  Cook ribs on low to medium heat for about 30 - 40 minutes or until juices run clear.

** NOTE: For an extra layer of flavor, combine a 1/2 cup of apple juice and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar in a plastic squeeze bottle.  Drizzle the mixture lightly onto the ribs during the last 15 minutes of cooking.  This adds a touch of sweetness to the ribs and helps caramelize the exterior.

Dry Rub Mix

2 TB Garlic Powder 
1 TB Onion Powder
1 TB Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 TB Paprika
2 TB Sugar
1 TB Salt
1 1/2 tsp Dry Mustard
1 TB Seasoned Salt

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chinese Sticky Chicken Drumsticks

This recipe is adapted from a Giada de Laurentiis recipe and your kids are going to love this meal.  Just tell them it's called Sticky Chicken and you will already have them interested.  As a bonus for you, there is very little prep needed.

This chicken with a quick marinade is so easy to throw together in the morning, then when you get home from work, just bake 30 minutes, and dinner is ready.

The combination of just a few simple ingredients once again proves that making dinner at home can be so easy and it tastes even better than the food you get from the Chinese take-out place down the street.  These chicken legs are moist and flavorful as the marinade becomes a sweet glaze as it cooks.  If you have time, before you place the chicken in the marinade, score the chicken legs by making 3 or 4 slices into the meat all the way thru to the bone.  This will allow the maximum flavor to be absorbed by the drumsticks.

1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Dark Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
5 cloves Garlic, minced
10 - 12 Chicken Drumsticks

Pour marinade ingredients into a large Ziploc bag. Add drumsticks, zip bag closed and turn bag over several times to coat the chicken. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2-4 hours or all day for the best flavor.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil (I use Reynolds Non-Stick for easy clean-up) and place the drumsticks on the pan so they are not touching. Reserve the marinade.

Bake until drumsticks are dark brown in spots and slightly caramelized, about 30 - 35 minutes.

Pour the marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes. Brush the chicken with the marinade, return to oven for 3 - 5 minutes and serve with Veggie Stir-Fried Rice.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pan Seared Cod with Compound Butter Served Open-Faced

This recipe puts a new twist on the traditional fish sandwich. Served open faced on grilled shallot and garlic seasoned Texas toast, the finishing touch is a slice of dill and lemon infused compound butter.

After coming across a package of Texas toast at the grocery I was determined to find a new dish using the toast.  I had used this bread years ago when I worked in the restaurant business and we always enjoyed coming up with new ways to use this thick-sliced toast.  (It's pretty hard to find in grocery stores and I'm still amazed that I was able to find it in our small town.)

The next thing that I came across was Atlantic cod.  Not only was the fish on sale, the shapes of the fillets were just the right size to be placed on top of...the Texas Toast!!  Like an open faced fish sandwich!  (The best ideas come to me in the middle of the grocery..lol.)  Anyway, for those of you too young to have heard of the term "open-faced", it is simply a sandwich served on one slice of bread without the top piece of bread.  Therefore the "sandwich" is eaten with a knife and fork.

The next components of the dish just seemed to come together naturally.  I wanted to sear the very lightly seasoned fish, but what about a sauce?  Instead of a heavy creamy sauce I went with a compound butter flavored with lemon and dill plus just a pinch of saffron threads for a bit of color and depth in the flavor. 

(Quick Butter Lesson: Compound butter, also called maitre d'hotel butter or simply hotel butter, is made by combining unsalted butter with a variety of herbs, spices or liquids.  The butter mixture is then placed in parchment paper and rolled into a cylinder shape and chilled until the butter is firm enough to slice. The butters can be used on vegetables, fish, chicken or even grilled steak and add a delicious layer of flavor to any dish. The flavor options for compound butter are endless and the butter can even be frozen for up to 3 months for later use.  Just be sure to wrap it very tightly in plastic wrap, then place in a Ziploc bag to keep the butter fresh.)

When the chilled butter was placed on top of the still sizzling fish, the butter began to melt into the fish, then onto the bread and the flavors combined with the garlic and shallots on the toast.  This is, without a doubt, how a fish sandwich should taste and it was thoroughly enjoyed with a glass of Chardonnay.

Compound Butter - make ahead so it has time to chill
1 stick  Unsalted Butter, softened
2 tsp  Lemon Juice
1 tsp  Dried Dill
Pinch of Saffron Threads, crushed until very fine

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, mixing with a fork.  When fully blended, place the mixture onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper and gently roll into a cylinder shape.  Place the butter in the freezer for 5 minutes, then keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Butter for Toast
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
1 tsp  Garlic Salt with Parsley
Pinch of Black Pepper
1 small Shallot, finely minced

Combine all 4 ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

6  4-5 oz  Cod Fillets, thick slices work best
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 TB  Olive Oil
2 TB  Unsalted Butter

Place the cod fillets on a baking sheet and lightly season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  You will need the skillet to be very hot in order to get the proper sear.  Carefully add the fish to the pan and let them brown undisturbed for about 5 minutes.  Add the butter to the pan and it will melt around the fillets.  Use a spatula to check the bottom of the fillets for brownness and turn them over once the desired sear has been achieved.  Once turned, the fish will only need to cook for about 3 - 4 minutes longer.   When the fish feels firm to the touch and has begun to brown on the bottom, it is ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place 6 slices of Texas toast on a foil-lined baking sheet and generously spread each slice with the garlic-shallot butter.  Bake the toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, turn the oven setting to low-broil and bake until the edges are nicely browned.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Place a piece of the browned Texas toast on each plate, top with a piece of cod and quickly add a slice of the compound butter to the top of the fish.  Serve with steamed asparagus.  Enjoy!