How to Make Fish Stock

How to Make Fish Stock

This past weekend my husband and I hosted a dinner party. On the menu we had an entire grilled grouper stuffed with lemons and herbs. The fish was so large we had to chop off the head so it would fit on the big green egg.

What in the world can you do with a leftover fish head? Luckily, for Christmas I was given the newest James Beard cookbook Waste Not. The idea behind the book is to use your kitchen scraps instead of throwing them out. The idea to make my very first fish stock was a no brainer.

This recipe is truly easy. Once you see how easy it is, you will not go back to using store bought stock.

The best part is that you can make the stock then freeze it. One fish head makes a very large batch of stock, and there is no way you will be able to use it all immediately. I let my stock cool, then placed it in sealed containers and into the freezer immediately. I hope to post a yummy recipe using the stock I made very soon.

Read more about the book Here.

A few tips about making your own stock:

  • A fish head or the bones from one fish is enough for one batch of stock.
  • Remove the gills from you head, if you do not it will make the stock taste awful.
  • This recipe is more of a guide. You can throw anything into the mix: shrimp shells, different herbs, carrots, celery, etc.
  • If your finished stock is milky or cloudy you need to throw it out.
  • I will warn you, making fish stock will stink up your house for a bit.
  • Fish stock freezes extremely well and tastes exactly the same after freezing.

Cooling jar of strained homemade fish stock

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Prosciutto & Manchego Cheese Crackers

Prosciutto & Manchego Cheese Crackers

Nutty, salty, crunchy, cheesy crackers—what could be better? I absolutely adore this recipe. It is easy yet a show stopper.

On top of that, this recipe is my take on a southern classic: cheese straws. As a southern girl, my go to cooking style is just that. When I get the opportunity I jump at the chance to revamp a classic southern recipe.

Every true southerner has been to a party or shower and sampled some homemade cheese straws. They are nutty, spicy (because of the use of red pepper), baked crunchy little cheese treats. Like sweet tea, cucumber sandwiches, or deviled eggs, you will can usually find cheese straw on the table of a party that is below the mason Dixon.

A stack of square baked manchego cheese crackers

Although I could not find any reliable sources on the true origins of this southern delicacy, I can tell you the idea behind them (at least in my not-so-expert opinion). The base recipe is a simple, half biscuit-like mixture and half shredded cheddar cheese. You pipe out the cheese mixture onto a sheet pan and bake them until nice and crispy.

Since you use shredded cheese, it is very easy to swap out cheddar with any comparable semi-hard cheese. To make my version a bit more fancy (cue my favorite Reba song), I swapped out the cheddar for Spanish Manchego cheese. Manchego is close to the top of my list of favorite cheeses.

A jar of manchego cheese crackers filled with cripsy proscuitto ham

I wanted to take the flavors a little further and balance the cheese flavor, so I crisped up some prosciutto and tossed it into the mix. You do not have to toss ham in, you can keep the prosciutto soft and serve it on the plate with the cheese crackers. I also thought a note of sweetness would be nice, so I plopped a jar of fig jam next to the platter.

The result, a slightly updated classic that everyone at the party I attended loved just as much (if not more) than the tried and true original version.

As with most of my recipes, this one is interchangeable. You can use any semi-hard cheese, toss in something extra, pair the finished crackers with any cured meat, and use any type of jam you would like. Challenge yourself and see if you can come up with your own winning flavor combination.

A slate tray of two types of manchego cheese crackers and proscuitto ham

Ultimate Cornbread

Ultimate Cornbread

Officially, it is the time of year for parties, potlucks, family gatherings, and anything in-between. Fall is the time of year that I love most, mainly because all of the festivities gives me an excuse to cook – as if I needed one. For most cooks, the love of cooking comes from sharing your finished dish with others.

But with all of the doing and making everyone gets a bit tired, which is where quick and easy recipes come into play. A home cook can never have too many delicious quick recipes, the kind you lean towards when in a pinch or too busy to really put work into a dish.

A homemade batch of cornbread can easily fill in the gaps for any potluck or gathering. For me, the problem is that making perfect cornbread is not something I have mastered – until I came up with this recipe.

There are many schools of thought on cornbread; some like is sweet, some like it course, some like it filled with things, etc. Personally, I love the sweet version that comes straight from a box. I grew up eating sweet skillet cornbread, so anything short of what I grew up with was was never good enough.

Until this recipe, I did not know out how to make sweet cornbread that stayed together when sliced. And because everyone has their own preference in cornbread, I wanted to include as much in one recipe as possible…creating the ultimate cornbread.

My version uses honey as one of the sweeteners along with fresh sweet corn on the cob stirred right in. To balance everything out, fresh jalapenos are added for a little heat. Finally, smoked cheddar cheese is grated over the top to add a final layer of umami. As the cornbread cooks, the cheese becomes bubbly and browns on the top of the bread.

The best part, the dish takes only 15-20 minutes to mix together and bake – perfect for anyone in a pinch or just plain overworked.

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Balsamic Onion Jam

Balsamic Onion Jam

For us in the low country, summer’s end is marked by the beginning of hurricane season. It is a period of months that I absolutely dread, especially considering I did not grow up here. Where I am from, our only worry was the occasional lighting storm or tornado.

With summer marking its end, last week I dug up my summer garden to replant my winter one. Now I am not so certain my tiny little plants are going to make it through the impending storms of hurricane Florence that everyone on the east coast is tracking so closely. Even if Savannah does not get hit directly this week, I can assure you that a gust of torrential rain and wind will likely wipe out my tiny plants.

Part of summer ending and fall/winter replanting means using up the last bit of fruit from the garden. For most southerners this results in canning and saving for the winter. When canning comes around, I tend to lean towards jams and pickles.

Making a jam doesn’t only have to be reserved for fruit or sweet items. I often make onion, bacon, or tomato jam to keep and pair with a hefty cheese plate or put out for a gathering.

The basics of jam are easy, unlike jelly which often requires the addition of pectin or gelatin. To make a jam I employ a few standard techniques, cooking down the star ingredient with a liquid and sugar until it becomes sticky and reduced.

For this jam recipe I use two types of onion, Vidalia and red, to achieve a well rounded flavor. The addition of balsamic vinegar cuts through the sweetness and adds a deep savory flavor.

You can save the recipe by canning the finished jam or store it in the fridge for up to a week.

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Boiled Peanut Hummus

Boiled Peanut Hummus

For this post, you get a very short and simple recipe. This recipe that I love and go back to time and time again, so just because it is easy does not mean it is not delicious. I also wanted to share with you a savory recipe, which I feel as though I so rarely do.

Boiled peanuts are about as southern as it comes, and if you have never tasted them I am truly sad for you. For many southerners boiled green peanuts, although the concept of are one of those snacks that we turn to time and time again. Stop in almost any gas or this post, you get a very short and simple recipe. This recipe that I love and go back to time and time again; however, just because it is easy does not mean it is not delicious. I also wanted to share with you a savory recipe, which I feel as though I so rarely do.

Boiled peanuts are about as southern as it comes, and if you have never tasted them I am truly sad for you. For many southerners boiled green peanuts are one of those snacks that we turn to time and time again. Stop in almost any gas station below the mason Dixon, and you can grab a cup of hot (maybe not so fresh) boiled peanuts. On the short drive to Tybee Island from Savannah, there is a stop to get fresh steaming hot boiled peanuts, and let me tell you there is nothing better than sitting on the beach eating salty peanuts with an ice cold Coke. I even served boiled peanuts as a passed hors d’oeuvre at my wedding alongside pimento cheese sandwiches.

Often times our eyes are much bigger than our stomach, and we buy a bag that is too large to consume. Instead of letting the extra peanuts go to waste, I use them up replacing garbanzo beans with boiled peanuts in my hummus recipe. The result is something salty and delicious, perfect for scooping up with a toasted triangle of white bread.

I use this recipe time and time again because it is one of those dishes that your friends rave about when you bring it to a party or tailgate. When I am feeling extra fancy, and southern, I love to put a jar of the hummus on a platter next to homemade pimento cheese, bacon jam, and my pickled vegetables.

For those of you that have never tried boiled peanuts, I hope this recipe pushes you to step out of your comfort zone, or at a minimum inspires you to create something totally new from an everyday classic recipe.
I included red pepper in the recipe, which is optional. If you are like me and like a little kick, then add it. The hummus is just as delicious without it, so use however much you like.

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Georgia Hotdogs + Low Country Boil Corn

Georgia Hotdogs + Low Country Boil Corn

Today, you get two recipes in one post. Thanks to none other than my fried and fellow blogger: A Common Connoisseur.

A few days ago, she asked that I come by, spend the day cooking, and take pictures of what we made. What we came up with were funky grilled hotdogs, a side to go, and of course a dessert. She has a pool at her house, so we were naturally drawn to hanging out by the pool while making yummy food.

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I wanted to go with all things southern because I am slightly obsessed with southern food, and her portion was a bit more tropical. Both flavors are perfect for grilling on a lazy summer day lounging by the pool while avoiding turning on the oven.

Hotdogs (and hamburgers) are the perfect summer food, but we did not want to make just any old hotdogs with ketchup and mustard. For this recipe, we take hotdogs up a notch by topping them with simple, delicious, and unique ingredients.

My topping pays homage to my home state, Georgia, with the use of fresh peaches and Vidalia onions. To take the dog over the edge, bacon and a creamy buttermilk mayonnaise were added.

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The side, corn, is inspired by elote, the delicious Mexican street corn, and Savannah’s favorite party food — low country boil.

For those that have never had low country boil, let me explain the basics of what it is. Most of the low country has a favorite food that they love to serve at parties, mainly because it feeds a ton of people and highlights the coast’s sweet local shrimp. Low country boil is comprised of a huge batch of corn on the cobb, sausage, shrimp, and potatoes all boiled together in Old Bay seasoning or something the like. After it is cooked, the entire batch is dumped out onto a table that is covered in newspaper for everyone to gather around and eat with their hands.

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Maria went with a bahn mi inspired hotdog, which turned out absolutely yummy due to the use of a homemade peanut sauce. She also took care of dessert, which was a no churn ice-cream layered with fig and orange jam. The crazy part, she made it into an adult ice-cream float by topping it with sparkling rosé.

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Here recipes can be found here.

As for the photos, some of hers can be found on this post as well as all of mine!

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Georgia Hot Dogs

Ingredients:

• 12 Hotdogs
• 12 Hotdog Buns
• 2 Peaches, halved
• 1 Vidalia Onion, sliced with the rings in tact
• 1/2 Package of Bacon
• 1/2 Cup of Mayonnaise
• 3 Tablespoons of Buttermilk
• 3 Tablespoons of Fresh Parsley, chopped
• Salt and Pepper to Taste
• Olive Oil

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Directions:

1. Prepare and heat your grill.
2. While the grill heats, in a small bowl whisk together your mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of parsley, buttermilk, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside in the fridge.
3. Grill your bacon to your desired doneness. Remove bacon from grill once cooked and drain on a plate covered with paper towels
4. Lightly coat your onion and peaches with olive oil to prevent sticking. Grill the onion and peaches until they have light char marks.
5. Remove from the grill and set aside to cool.
6. While the peaches and onion cools, grill your hotdogs.
7. Chop your onion, bacon, and peaches into large chucks then combine together. Set aside.
8. Remove your hotdogs from the grill, and lightly grill your hotdog buns.
9. Prepare your hotdog by placing the hotdogs into the hotdog buns, topping each hotdog with your peach and onion mixture, then pouring your mayonnaise sauce over the peaches.
10. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Truffle + Black Pepper Brioche

Truffle + Black Pepper Brioche

Warm, tender, melty, buttery…what taste better than fresh baked bread still warm from the oven? The aroma alone that fills your home as you bake is amazing.

When it comes to cooking, baking has always been my strong suit. The precision comes easy, which is difficulty for many. What has not come easy, in my baking journey, is making homemade yeast risen bread. Yeast is one extremely finicky and easy to kill. I have read and watched countless lessons on how to bake your own bread, so I hope I can share a few tips with you so you can skip the years of struggling I endured to get yeast right.

If you’re not a baker or good at making bread, brioche is a great place to start. The recipe is almost foolproof, mainly because a lot of the work is done overnight in the fridge.

With my exuberant attempts to make bread I have learned that letting the dough rise at room temperature for twice as long does the trick. Not only does it enhance the flavor of the bread, but you do not risk killing the yeast by adding heat. I also don’t use warm liquids, again to avoid destroying the temperamental yeast. Room temperature will stills activate your yeast. Finally, make sure to place your salt on the opposite end of your yeast in your mixing bowl.

Making your own starter deepens the flavor of the bread. A starter is extremely simple to make, and it only adds a bit more preparation time to your recipe.

This recipe is extremely adaptable, you can make it into rolls, a loaf, or baguette; you can also interchange the featured addition. Cheese, dried fruit, or anything you could imagine would be delicious in this versatile bread.

This bread takes about 2 days to make.

Brioche Starter:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of Room Temperature Water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Instant Yeast
  • 1/2 Cup of Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1 Large Egg

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl combine all of the ingredients, mix until fully combined.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter for at least one day, but no more than two days.

Dough:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Plus 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Bread Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Teaspoons of Instant Yeast
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs at Room Temperature
  • 8 Tablespoons of Very Soft Unsalted Butter
  • 2/3 Teaspoon of Truffles in Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cracked Black Pepper
  • Egg Glaze, 1 Egg Mixed with 1 Teaspoon of Milk

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and yeast, last whisk in the salt.

2. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the starter. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it stand for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at room temperature.

3. In your stand mixer, add in the mixture you let rise for two hours.

4. Add two eggs and mix with the dough hook on low for about 1 minute. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with an oiled spatula and continue beating for about 5 minutes longer or until the dough is smooth and shiny but very soft and sticky.

5. Add the pepper and truffles, then the butter by the tablespoon, waiting until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next tablespoon, beating until all the butter is incorporated. The dough will be very soft, elastic, and sticky.

4. Using an oiled spatula scrape the dough into a large greased bowl, and lightly oil the top of the dough.

5. Cover at let rise for at least 1 1/2 -2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 10 hours, allowing it to continue to rise in the fridge.

7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and gently press it down to deflate it. Cut the dough into 8 pieces, and with floured hands kneed and shape into balls.

8. Grease your desired pan for baking, and arrange your dough balls within. Lightly cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for at least one hour or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 425°F 1 hour before baking.

9. Lightly beat together the egg yolk and milk, then brush the top of the brioche.

10. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.