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Fish and Seafood

Easy Fish Taco Bowls

April 6, 2017
Easy Fish Taco Bowls Recipe | Fake Food Free

We are not hurting for good tacos here in the Central Valley. There are plenty to choose from. But when it comes to fish tacos, we have to find our way to a coast like everyone else. 

The most recent coast was, of course, Kauai last month. Speaking of which, you can expect some round-up posts about that wonderful island to show up here next week. 

I remain inspired, and hungry for fish tacos.

I haven’t said much about it yet, but we are embarking on a huge kitchen remodel. Demo starts next week. That means I am in use-up mode in the kitchen. This includes reaching to the far depths of the freezer to find the things I’ve long forgotten about. 

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Smoky Chipotle Shrimp Dip with Shrimp Cucumber Salad

June 28, 2016

This shrimp dip layers flavors and textures to create a delicious and easy to make summer appetizer. It pairs well with the 2015 Cultivar Napa Valley Rose that I received from Cultivar Wine!

Smoky Chipotle Shrimp Dip with Shrimp Cucumber Salad Recipe | Paired with Cultivar 2015 Napa Valley Rose | Fake Food Free #cultivarwinebloggers #partner

Shrimp is a summer food to me. I rarely have it in the kitchen until hot days begin to bring about thoughts of the beach and ocean.

My shrimp recipes are pretty standard — tossed with pasta, stirred into sweet corn risotto or wrapped into Asian-inspired spring rolls. When I found a bag of sustainably harvested small shrimp (often called salad shrimp) at the market last week, though, I was too excited to use it in one of my regular recipes. 

I’d been having trouble finding shrimp from a good source so when that find lined up with my shrimp season, I needed to celebrate a little. 

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Ceviche Recipe with Cod and Cucumber

May 23, 2016

This ceviche recipe is made with cod, colorful bell peppers, cucumber and two kinds of citrus! Serve it in avocado halves as a salad or with tortilla chips.

Ceviche Recipe with Cod and Cucumber, served in an avocado half | Fake Food Free

I’ve been trying to remember the first time I learned about ceviche. I think it was when we were living in Brazil and my husband traveled to Peru for work. He returned from that trip and told me all about it. I’m not certain, but given my food experience at that point, I’m pretty sure I turned my nose up at it. 

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Smoked Salmon Sandwich

January 18, 2015

This smoked salmon sandwich is a re-creation of one of the many great meals we had in Copenhagen. It’s super simple, but so delicious!

Smoked Salmon Sandwich with Dill Pesto and Avocado | Fake Food Free   

We had a mission to try all the Danish specialties we could get our hands on during our recent trip to Copenhagen. That meant a lot fish — pickled herring, curried herring, gravlax and a delicious smoked salmon sandwich. 

I’ve had that sandwich on my mind since we returned. The flavors here aren’t unfamiliar, but the idea of smoked salmon on a sandwich was new to me. It’s not something I would think to make at home, but that has all changed now. 

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Grilled Chipotle Peach and Nectarine Tilapia Packets

August 19, 2014

Grilled Chipotle Peach and Nectarine Tilapia Packets |

We’ve lived in California less than two years and I’ve already started to lose track of the seasons. I grew up around all sorts of berries in Indiana and I visited the orchards in Kentucky so I could tell you exactly when strawberry, blueberry, peach, plum and apple season where in full swing at different points throughout the summer.

But here? Here, most of those fruits last all summer long.

It’s quite the experience for the fruit and vegetable lover. I aim to cherish every moment of it, while still grounding myself with thoughts of those produce-lacking winter seasons spent in Kentucky.

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Salmon and Spinach Cakes with Fried Eggs Recipe

August 12, 2014

Salmon and Spinach Cakes with Fried Eggs |

Protein for breakfast.

Of all the improvements we’ve made to our eating habits over the past year or so, this has been the best one by far.

I wasn’t a complete stranger to a high protein morning meal. I’d have eggs on occasion, or a shake with nut meal, but it wasn’t until we started focusing on eating a lot of protein first thing that I realized how much I relied on carbohydrates for breakfast.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I still work in yogurt with fruit and oatmeal, especially when we are training for a race, but these carb focused breakfasts seemed to be making me crave something sweet every morning.

Once we made the switch, things changed pretty drastically.

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White Fish with Tomatoes and Olives Recipe

April 3, 2014

Earlier this year I mentioned that we set a goal of eating more fish. I’m happy to say we’ve kept up with it. Salmon, tilapia, sole, Pacific cod and several types of seafood have been the focus of our dinners a few nights a week.

The best part of this venture has been discovering new types of fish. I’m constantly coming across new options to research. The most recent is swai. It’s imported, but Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch considers it a Good Alternative.

This week, I was craving something with a rich tomato sauce so I decided that would be my first experiment with the swai. It turned out to be the ideal match for this firm white fish!

I’ve seen recipes that call for slipping the raw fish into the sauce to cook, but I felt better about baking the fish and adding it just before serving. Thoroughly cooking the fish helped it hold up better in the sauce.

I was surprised to find swai compared to catfish in my research. I guess the texture is similar, but the flavor isn’t nearly as fishy as what I remember when eating catfish. (My grandpa was the family catfish fisherman and I grew up attending plenty of Catholic Friday fish frys, so I’ve had my fair share of it over the years.) 

The simple tomato and olive sauce is versatile. If swai isn’t your thing, this would be equally good with a cod or even tilapia. Although, the tilapia would likely be more delicate. If you want to forgo the fish altogether, chicken cutlets or portobello mushrooms would be a delicious substitute as well.


White Fish with Tomatoes and Olives

Serves: 4

4 white fish filets
1 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil
¼ cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. crushed or diced tomatoes (I use Trader Joe’s unsalted, crushed)
½ cup sliced green olives
½ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp smoked sweet paprika
¼ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
¼ to ½ tsp fine ground sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the fish filets with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the fish is barely cooked through and just begins to flake.

In a large skillet*, heat the olive oil over medium high. Add the onion and garlic, cook for about 3 minutes, until the onions begin to soften.

Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the olives, basil, oregano, paprika and red pepper. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, until warmed through. Taste, and then add in the desired amount of salt. (The olives will make it slightly salty so this is based on personal preference. I use about ¼ teaspoon.)

Place the baked  fish filets in the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to low. Let cook for about 5 more minutes until the fish is reheated. Serve each filet with ¼ of the tomato sauce.

*Young cast iron can sometimes create an unappealing flavor when it comes into contact with acidic tomato sauce. The older and more seasoned your pans are, the better they hold up to things like tomatoes. I use my cast iron for tomato sauces, but choose a non-cast iron skillet if yours are not seasoned well. 

Grilled Rosemary and Garlic Salmon with Smoked Sea Salt Recipe

January 27, 2014

Salmon is one thing that I never order when we go out to eat. It’s not that I don’t like it, but that it is so simple to make at home. I can’t justify paying so much more for it when we are out. (I have similar feelings about pasta.)

I’m perfectly capable of tossing some herbs, citrus, salts or oils on a beautiful piece of salmon and putting it on the grill. Not only is it healthy, it one of the fastest meals I can throw together.

With commitments to both eating more fish and firing up the grill more often in the new year, this salmon has been making the dinner rotation quite a bit. I realize not everyone lives in the mid-60 degree temperatures of the East Bay right now, so grilling may feel out of season. You can easily broil or bake the salmon, it just won’t have the same smoky flavor so be sure to try it again when the temps warm and you pull out the grill.

Grilled Rosemary and Garlic Salmon with Smoked Sea Salt

Makes: 6, 4 oz. Servings

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tbsp olive oil + plus extra to brush on the grill
1 ½ tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves, about 2 small sprigs
½ tsp smoked sea salt (this Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt from Kentucky is my favorite)
1 ½ lb. filet of salmon, skin-on (check Seafood Watch for the best varieties)

Fire up the grill and take it high heat, about 475 to 500 degrees F.

In a small dish, stir together the garlic, olive oil, rosemary and salt. Place the salmon on a baking sheet, skin-side down, and rub the herb and oil mix over the fish.

Brush the grill with olive oil and place the salmon on the grill, skin-side down. Grill for 15 to 17 minutes, until the thickest part is cooked through and begins to flake.

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International Food Bloggers Conference Seattle

September 21, 2013

I realized something today. I’m spoiled.
First, I’m currently in Seattle attending the International Food Bloggers Conference with about 300 other food lovers. If you’ve never attended a food blogging conference it’s basically 48 plus hours of eating, drinking, laughing and discussing those things that bore all your other non-food obsessed friends. Complemented by helpful information for blogging, writing and food photography, of course.
I got a good laugh when Mark Briggs, the instructor of the Entrepreunerial Journalism session, said that we (as food bloggers) are different with all our happy attitudes, eagerness to meet people and introduce others. I’ve mentioned this before. You simply can’t be grumpy when it comes to food. We are a great bunch to be around.
So that’s one reason I’m spoiled. The second has to do with my visit to Pike Place Market today. My husband and I visited Seattle several years ago and the one thing I could not wait for was this market. I absolutely loved it.

Fast forward to my life now. I walked to the market today as soon as I got into downtown. I marveled over the gorgeous flowers, the European shops and the seafood. I stopped by the water, snapped a few photos. Then I sighed, feeling disappointed.
What is wrong with me? I’m at one of the most awesome markets in the world and I feel disappointed? How much of a food snob can I be? It was then I realized what has happened.
I’m becoming a full-fledged California girl and California foodie. At that moment it became even more evident to me just how lucky I am. You really cannot beat California agriculture (big and small).
So here I am at the this conference feeling like the luckiest person in the world both because I have access to amazing food, but also because this food is now my job as a freelance writer, recipe developer and food photographer outside of this blog. Life is good.
As part of attending this conference I made a commitment to blog about it, so I’ll be taking a short break from recipe posts to share some of the amazing food and drink from the weekend. And if you are a blogger, I’ll share any great tips I learn, too.
After my self-reflective trip to the market, the conference got off to a great start. We started with food, of course. Burrito bowls from Chipotle (the pickled onions were a tasty touch) and Red Velvet ice cream from a local sweet shop, Cupcake Royale.
Next came an inspiring keynote from Dorie Greenspan (an honor to hear her speak), then a food tasting of natural products from Grocery, and learning sessions. Then a Taste of Seattle and Gourmet Fair. See, more food.
Not to make you hungry or anything, but here are a few highlights from my day.
Sablefish Ceviche with guajillo chile, lime, onion, cilantro, serrano and black sesame, and Huitlacoche Tamale (you know, that Mexican corn that grows fungus), from Poquitos. Both delicious.

Great sushi from the W hotel.

Baked potato and tofu sushi from Blue C Sushi. Interesting, but so good!

Purple potato gnocchi with pork belly. I had to try this since I’ve played with my own blue potato gnocchi. This version was outstanding!

Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Bisque from Volunteer Park Cafe. One of my favorites!

Asian inspired guacamole with ginger. And my very favorite for the night — smoked scallop from Boka. It was one of the best things I have hand in long time, and I told the chef so. The flavor was amazing. Now I want to experiment with smoking scallops.

Disclosure: I was required to write 3 posts about my experiences at IFBC in order to receive a discounted registration fee. This is email 1 of 3. The weekend will involve many free products and foods from companies and restaurants that I may or may not write about. Thoughts are my own. I am not required to write about these foods or companies and will receive no compensation for doing so.