Red Snapper with Strawberry Avocado Salsa

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Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fish fry, and during Lent there are many to choose from in Cedar Rapids. However, a person can only eat so much deep-fried fish, and I really do not like deep frying anything, let alone fish, inside my house. (I set up my fryer outside or in the garage when I do deep-fry.)

This red snapper topped with a strawberry-avocado salsa is a welcome flavor fest this time of year and it just may get you through the last days of winter doldrum.

The red snapper can be cooked several different ways for this recipe and each of them are equally good. I have grilled, pan seared, and broiled the fish while making this and each time with excellent results.

If using a gas grill, I like to heat the grill to high temperature and then turn the burners down. This gets the grates very hot and the residual heat helps cook the foods. You will need a good 15 to 20 minutes to get the grill up to its high temp and then another 10 to 15 minutes for the grill to balance out the temperature to your desired cooking temp.

If broiling, begin with fish skin side up about 6 inches from broiler.

If pan-searing, you will need an additional 2 tablespoons of your preference of olive or vegetable oil. I recommend using a cast iron skillet if pan-searing.

Here is what I did:

Red Snapper with Strawberry Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
2 cups strawberries, hulled and medium chopped
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoon finely grated lime zest
4 (5- to 6-ounce) skin-on red snapper fillets

Directions

In a medium bowl, stir together jalapeños, strawberries, onions, cilantro, lime juice, avocado and salt to make a salsa. Set aside. I prefer to make this several hours ahead to allow the flavors to marry.

Preheat grill to medium heat, heat broiler to high, or heat 2 tablespoons oil in cast iron skillet on medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, prep the fish by combining oil and zest in a small bowl then brush all over both sides of fillets. Season both sides with salt and pepper. When grilling, grill fillets skin side down and do not flip. Grill until just cooked through and crisp around the edges; about 8 to 10 minutes. For pan-searing, begin with fish skin side down. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes and flip cooking an additional 4 to 5 minutes. If broiling, begin with the fish skin side down and broil for 3 to 4 minutes then flip and broil skin side up for and additional 5 to 6 minutes. For all methods of cooking, the fish will become opaque and easily flake when thoroughly cooked. Remove and discard skin and transfer to plates. Top with salsa and serve.

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Comfort Foods: Creamed Eggs on Toast

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I don’t know what it is, but I love Lent if not for any other reason but for the food. I have very fond memories of my Catholic upbringing when it comes to the foods we ate: tuna and noodles, fish fries at the Knights of Columbus, tomato soup and grilled cheese, and even a few odd ones my mother made like “rice and eggs.”

That last one sounds very weird but was always quite tasty. It was white rice cooked in whole milk that was topped with sugar and cinnamon and served with hard boiled eggs. My brother and sisters and I just ate it up. I think it was our second favorite Lenten meal following very close behind tonight’s meal; creamed eggs on toast.

There is story about me and creamed eggs on toast that my brother and sisters still bring up whenever this meal is mentioned.

As I mentioned, we loved this meal. One evening when I was no more than seven or so, I took a tremendously large helping of creamed eggs on toast. My siblings were not happy with me as it left very little for them. They demanded that I put some back but I swore that I would eat every last bite. I believe it was my brother who said, “If you don’t eat every bite, we are going to tie your hands behind your back and force you to eat it.”

Now, creamed eggs on toasts is a very filling meal and about halfway through, you guessed it, my little stomach got very full. My brother and sisters were mad. Yes, they lived up to the threat. One sister held my hands behind my table chair, the other plugged my nose so I would have to open my mouth to breath, and my brother shoveled fork full after fork full of creamed eggs on toast into my mouth.

Anyway, I still like creamed eggs on toast. I just go a little easy on the portion. In case you were wondering, I still like my brother and sisters too. Here’s the recipe. The following recipe will serve four normal people.

Ingredients

6 Hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
¼ Cup unsalted butter
¼ Cup all purpose flour
2 Cups whole milk
Salt
Fresh ground pepper
8 to 10 slices of toast

Directions

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and then add flour to make a roux. When the roux starts giving you a nutty aroma, add the milk and cook over medium high heat until the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then stir in chopped eggs, cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cut toast into roughly 1″ square pieces. Place toast squares on serving platter and pour creamed eggs over toast. Serve immediately.