Palm Valley Fish Camp : An Afternoon Lunch

Originally published in 2012:

Recently I stopped by for lunch after being out shooting some photos, my other passion.  I was immediately greeted with a smile and an eager server.  I was asked if I’d prefer to sit at the bar or a table.  I don’t sit at the bar often these days after my liver transplant, as it brings back memories of a time in my life I have put into the past.  I chose a booth with the sun nicely warming my side of the booth.  I read down the daily specials board as my waitress went to get me my soda.  My plan had been to order an appetizer as I didn’t feel I was starving.  I was quickly drawn to the fried green tomatoes and maybe a side of their bacon butter beans which I love.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Bacon Butter Beans

Ready to order the waitress returned with my soda and offered to explain the specials.  I agreed even though I was certain I knew what I was going to have.  I smiled and said, “I’ll have the cod special.”  She had sold me on the roasted cod knowing I could have the fried green tomatoes and butter beans anytime.  I realized this would be my first time here not having the bacon butter beans in nearly a year.  I love them that much.  I waited and watched the interactions of the staff as they took orders, filled drink orders, interacted with the cooks and delivered each meticulously designed plate.

Specials Board

Soon my meal arrived, roasted cod with black-eyed pea succotash, and squash puree all resting on a fried green tomato.  I instantly knew I had ordered the right meal today.  There was a voice in the back of my mind screaming out for a side of butter beans, but I ignored it on this occasion.  It is rare when I am at Palm Valley Fish Camp that I will order anything that is not a local wild sustainable fish, but the cod was very fresh and flown in from the west coast.  The cod was lightly roasted with just a bit of color and flaked off easily so you could see how moist it was.  One of the things that keeps me returning over and over again is that they hardly ever overcook a piece of fish.  It sounds easy, but I’ve lost count at how many seafood restaurants server a dry tasteless and thoroughly unsatisfying fish fillet.

Roasted Cod

The cod had a nice salt balance which was perfectly complemented by the sweetness of the fresh corn and black-eyed pea succotash.  My first bite was of the fish alone.  It was very pleasant, but did not blow me away.  When eaten with the succotash the flavors melded into a delightful light tasting lunch.  The squash puree was richly sweet and left me perfectly wanting more.  Then there was the thick sliced fried green tomato upon which the cod rested.  It was nicely crisp and hot inside with just the right amount of breading.  The tang of the tomato was a nice counterbalance to the lightly roasted cod.  After all the fried green tomatoes was what I had planned to order the whole time anyway.  I was very pleased that my waitress had enticed me with her suggestion of the special today.  I would go away with only a slight yearning for their bacon butter beans, but I’ll be back and quite soon I am sure.  It was a great lunch for only $16.00 with the soda.  As I left I made reservations for the Friday after Thanksgiving.  I wonder if I’ll make it the two weeks between visits.  I know those bacon butter beans will be calling me to return sooner…

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Miso Soup with Shitake Mushrooms and Tofu

IMG_14988 cups Traditional Dashi

¼ cup Miso Paste

1 block of firm tofu

1 cup thinly sliced Shitake Mushrooms

Bring dashi to a simmer over medium heat, do not boil.  Wrap tofu in double layer of paper towels.  Place tofu between two plates and place 28 ounce can on top for twenty minutes.  Whisk in miso paste.  Cut tofu into small squares.  Add mushrooms.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add tofu.  Cook for 10-15 minutes more.  Serve immediately.

Traditional Dashi

One 3 x 6 inch piece of konbu

8 cups of water

2 handfuls of katsuo-bushi

Rinse the konbu.  Combine it with water in a saucepan.  Bring water to a simmer.  Turn off stove.  Steep for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat.  Add the katsuo-bushi.  Cover and let steep for 7 minutes.

Strain the dashi through cheesecloth.

Mulligatawny Soup

12 Cloves Garlic Minced

2 1” Pieces Fresh Ginger, Peeled And Chopped

1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander

1 Teaspoon Black Pepper

½ Teaspoon Turmeric

½ Teaspoon Curry Powder

2 Tablespoons Water

4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 Lb. Ground Beef

1 Large Onion

2 Quarts Chicken Stock

4 Tablespoons Uncooked Brown Rice

6 Tablespoons Cornstarch

½ Cup Water

2 Tablespoons Lemon And Lime Juice

Coriander or Mint Springs For Garnish, Fried Onions For Garnish

Combine garlic, ginger, cumin, cayenne, coriander, black pepper, turmeric, and curry with 2 tablespoons of water and mash into a coarse paste.  In a large pot heat oil over medium heat.  Add beef, onion, and spice paste.  Cook fifteen minutes or until beef well browned.  Add stock and rice.  Bring to a boil.  In a small cup blend cornstarch and water until smooth.  Add to soup and stir constantly to reheat to boiling.  Cover,  reduce heat and simmer forty minutes. Add lemon and lime juices.  Stir well and serve hot in small bowls for an appetizer or over bowls of white rice for a main dish.  Top with garnishes.


Spoon Bread

A long time family standard, which is admitedly odd for someone from Montana.  Spoon Bread always conjures up memories of my time in Virginia growing up when I was with my grandparents.  So many amazing memories of trips to Williamsburg, Monticello, Mount Vernon and the Smithsonian.  This is an easy version of spoon bread which anyone should have no trouble making.

1 ½ Teaspoons Sugar

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Cup Cornmeal

4 Tablespoons Butter

1 1/3 Cups Boiling Water

3 Eggs

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

1 1/3 Cups Hot Milk

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease deep dish.  Mix sugar, salt, cornmeal.  Add butter and pour in 1 1/3 cups boiling water.  Stir.  Allow to cool.  Beat eggs with baking powder until fluffy.  Add to mix.  Stir in milk.  Bake 35-40 minutes in shallow pan of water.

Hearty Swiss Cheese Bread

This hearty bread is one of my favorites to make to accompany soups and stews.  It is  very easy to make and always a crowd pleaser.  I have brought this to numerous family and friends parties and dinners.  I am constantly asked for the recipe, so here I give it to the world.

½ Cup Sour Cream

1 Package Active Dry Yeast

1 Cup Warm Water

2 Tablespoons Sugar

2 Tablespoon Shortening

2 Teaspoons Salt

3 Cups Flour

1 Cup Shredded Swiss Cheese


Heat sour cream until lukewarm.  Disolve yeast in warm water in a large mixer bowl.  Add sour cream, sugar, shortening, salt and 2 cups of flour.  Blend 30 seconds on low speed.  Constantly beat two minutes on medium spped, or beat by hand 300 strokes.  Stir in remaining flour and cheese until smooth.  Cover and let rise in a warm space until double in size, about 45 minutes.  Grease round layer pan, 9 X 1 ½ inch.  Stir down batter by beating for 25 strokes.  Spread evenly in pan.  Cover and let rise until doubles, about 40 minutes.  Heat oven to 375 degrees and bake until loaf sound hollow, about 45 minutes.  Brush top with butter.

Mandarin-Almond Salad

This is a family recipe I grew up eating.  I always enjoyed and looked forward to this being served with dinner.  The only salad I liked more was my mother’s caesar salad.  I still view it as a special treat when I serve it.  I often make some changes like not using canned mandarin oranges.  On occasion I also add marinated artichoke hearts, pickled asparagus or whatever strikes my fancy.  A great salad to accompany a nice rare steak.

6 Cups Torn Romaine Lettuce Lightly Packed

1 Cup Mandarin Orange Segments, Drained

3 Green Onions, Sliced

1 Tablespoon Chopped Parsley

3/4 Cup Sweet & Sour Dressing

1/2 Cup Slivered Almonds

Place romaine, oranges, onions and parsley in a large bowl.  Just before serving toss with dressing.  Spoon onto individual plates and top with almonds.

Sweet and Sour Dressing

1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil

1/4 Cup White Wine Tarragon Vinegar

1 1/2 Teaspoons Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon Tarragon

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1/8 Teaspoon Pepper

Dash Liquid Hot Pepper Sauce

Whisk together all ingredients until creamy.  Refrigerate at least twenty minutes to blend flavors.

Butter Poached Scallops

This is an easy technique for butter poaching several types of seafood.  With the example of the scallops in this recipe it illustrates the technique.  Can just as easily be used to make butter-poached shrimp, lobster tails, etc.  Butter-poaching is a nice addition when you make shrimp & grits.  Make sure you use some of the poaching butter in the grits to impart the subtle shrimp flavor.

12 Scallops

1 ½ (Approximately) Cups Of Unsalted Butter

Sea Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Arrange scallops in a saucepan just large enough for all the scallops to fit snuggly in one layer. Add water to just cover scallops. Pour water into measuring cup and pat scallops dry with paper towels.  Season scallops well with salt and pepper.

Melt an equal amount of butter to the water in measuring cup.  Melt butter in saucepan at 185 degrees, do not overheat.  Add scallops, turning once, until they are cooked 2-4 minutes.  If necessary test a scallop by cutting in half; it should be opaque in the center.

Transfer scallops to warmed serving plates.  Drizzle scallops with a little butter.  Serve immediately.

Quick & Easy Teriyaki-Ginger Copper River Salmon

We all have found ourself wanting something quick and delicious for dinner more than we would like to admit.  This is a simple recipe I developed due to my love of Copper River Salmon.  If you’ve never tried it, then you really should.  It will blow away any salmon you have ever tried before.  Every year around May 15th I look forward to eating several meals of it during its short season.  You can eat three types: King, Sockeye and Silver salmon.  The high oil content of Copper River salmon contains Omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce heart disease and lower cholesterol. Additionally studies have found that fish oil can help combat ailments such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer, and migraines. Of course also salmon is an excellent source of
protein and essential amino acids.

1 Copper River Salmon Filet

1 Tablespoon of Prepared (or homemade) Teriyaki Marinade

1 Inch Of Fresh Ginger, Grated or Finely Chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil baking dish.  Brush teriyaki marinade liberally on salmon filet.  Sprinkle with fresh ginger.  Cook for 10-15 minutes or until just cooked through.  Multiply recipe for number of diners.  An ear of corn or some fresh fruit and you have A great quick healthy meal.

Pacific Northwest Spaghetti

While living north of Seattle in Bellingham, Washington, almost twenty years ago now, I came upon a version of this pasta sauce.  Over the years I have experimented and manipulated the sauce, mostly with the amount of herbs, type and whether fresh or dried.  You can also vary the types of sausage to meet your taste or the taste of your guests.  This recipe feeds a lot of people.  The sauce also freezes very well.  I hope you enjoy.

1 Kielbasa Sausage

1 Pkg. Hot Links

1 Pkg. Smokies

1 Large Can Tomato Juice

1 Large Can Tomato Sauce

1 Small Can Tomato Paste

x Garlic

x Garlic Salt

x Garlic Powder

x Basil

x Italian Seasoning or Herbs de Provence

x Salt & Pepper

Slice sausage.  Combine all ingredients, with seasonings to taste.  Simmer on low uncovered for a minimum of 6 hours stirring often, or in a crock pot all day.  Serve over Angel Hair pasta.

x = to taste

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