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Salt Crusted Snapper

salt packed fish 2

When Julia was here a few weeks ago we finally got the chance to try something we’ve been wanting to do for a while- salt pack a fish. Cooking fish with a salt crust seals all of the juices and moisture together, the end result being a rich and flavorful dish that comes with the benefit of a pretty stunning presentation.

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salt packed fish 5

We picked up a whole pink snapper on the way home from Carolina Beach (we asked for the fish dressed- cleaned, gutted, and scaled) and stuffed it with lemon, butter, rosemary, and pepper. One pound of sea or kosher salt per pound of fish, 1 egg white per pound, and a drizzle of olive oil on top to add a little flavor, and the fish was in the oven.

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 We served it with braised greens and lemon quinoa and white wine, feasting on steamed crabs as an appetizer and ending the night with Caiphirnhas, full stomachs, and happy hearts.

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The fish was perfect- not too salty, wonderfully moist, full of flavor. And while this is definitely a technique I’d try again, it won’t be something that we do regularly. The amount of salt needed for the recipe makes this a dinner party dish, something we pull out when we want to impress.

salt packed fish 1 Salt Crusted Snapper

1 red or pink snapper, 3-4 pounds

4 pounds kosher or sea salt

4 egg whites

1 lemon

Fresh rosemary

1/2 stick butter

Olive oil

Pepper

At the fish market, ask for your fish dressed- gutted, scaled, and cleaned. Mix together egg whites and salt and preheat your oven to 400. On a large baking sheet make a bed of salt with half the mixture. Stuff your fish with sliced lemons, rosemary, pepper, and butter and place on top of salt bed. Drizzle with olive oil and use the remaining salt mixture to completely cover the fish, pressing the salt around the fish. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the fish is golden brown.

 

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Strawberry Rhubarb Caipirinhas

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Last week I had the great pleasure of seeing my dear friend Julia twice, which was basically a miracle. Almost a decade after we left high school we’ve been separated by states or continents or oceans, so being close enough to have her down for a weekend or pop up for her birthday party has been an amazing change of pace.

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Julia came down to visit for Memorial Day weekend with a friend that she met studying abroad in Brazil so naturally they also came down with a bottle of cachaça, a sugar cane rum that is vital in making the country’s national drink, the Caipirinha. Caipirinhas are made with cachaça, lime, and sugar, and have been one of our favorite cocktails to enjoy since a neighbor introduced us to them last year. Julia and Caroline wanted to try a strawberry twist and since I’d just made rhubarb syrup we threw together a version that was sweet, tart and very photogenic.

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strawberry caipirinhas 1 We spent most of the day Sunday at the beach, soaking up the sun and the warm weather and the ocean that was almost too cold to get in but just warm enough because we really wanted it. For dinner we made more Caipirinhas, steamed crabs, braised greens, and salt packed a fish, enjoying what I hope will be one of many long summer nights spent with friends in our backyard.

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I clearly can’t get enough strawberries lately, and when we had some friends over later in the week (and still had rhubarb syrup chilling in the fridge), I decided to pick up another bottle of cachaça and try our hand at making Caipirinhas without the supervision of people who speak Portuguese. It ended up being a very successful experiment (though got a little rocky when I forgot to add the lime juice) which means I have a new favorite cocktail until the strawberries (and cachaça) run out.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Caipirinhas
(serves 1)

rhubarb syrup:

3 stalks fresh rhubarb

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Caiphirinhas:

3 strawberries, hulled and diced

1/2 oz rhubarb syrup

1 oz cachaça

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tsp cane sugar

To make your syrup clean and thickly slice your rhubarb. Combine rhubarb, sugar, and water in a sauce pan. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the rhubarb has almost disintegrated. Strain out the rhubarb and chill the syrup.

To make your cocktails, muddle strawberries in the bottom of a glass with the sugar. Add in syrup, lime juice, and cachaça. Stir in a few ice cubes and serve.

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Honey Pie

honey pie 1 Yesterday I celebrated the end of my first school year as a Montessori preschool teacher. Since November I’ve been with a local school that serves 3-6 year olds (and growing!). It’s a bit of a career shift away from Museum Education, but one that I’ve been happy I’ve made every day since I started. The commute is an easy bike ride from our house, the families we serve are lovely, and I adore my two coteachers. It’s been wonderful working with the same students day in and day out, getting to know them as independent and creative people. I feel so lucky to be a part of their lives, and they definitely keep me on my toes!

honey pie 2

For our end-of-the-year celebration we had a potluck picnic at Greenfield Lake, a lake in downtown Wilmington that is gorgeous, huge, and home to a fair amount of alligators (Dan saw his first alligator in the wild yesterday!). We gave each student a certificate and a rose (a Montessori tradition), sang songs, and ate as a community. It made me feel so thankful for this Wilmington family we’ve been welcomed into. We’ve only been here 7 months and yet this feels more like home than I could have ever imagined.

honey pie 4 For the celebration pie I was able to get my hands on local wildflower honey, local strawberries, and local blueberries. The pie was so simple but the flavor was overwhelmingly honey. It was the perfect Spring dessert- light, bursting with flavor, and just sweet enough.

honey pie 3 Honey Pie

crust:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

Pinch of ginger

Pinch of cinnamon

1/4 cup shortening

1 stick butter

1/2 cup cold water

filling:

1 cup wildflower honey

3 eggs

3 tbsp flour

1 tsp vanilla

Pinch of salt

topping:

2 pints strawberries

2 pints blueberries

3 tbsp wildflower honey

Stir together dry ingredients for flour. Work in shortening. Cube butter and work it in with your hands until the texture of the dough is like coarse cornmeal. Stir in water, a little at a time, until a ball forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Melt butter. Mix together butter, honey, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add flour and salt.

Roll the dough out and press into a pie dish. Heat the oven to 400 and pour the filling into the crust. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes and then drop to 350 for an additional 50 minutes. Pie should be golden brown. Let rest for 2 hours or until center has firmed.

Hull and halve strawberries. Toss berries in honey and spread over pie once set.

Slice and serve.

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