Good meal vs. Bad Meal

Lately I’ve been going back to some recipes I like that are simple, easy and dependable. Not too much excitement, just good food. So of course I got bored and tried a few new things. Screwed one up fairly well, the other was interestingly good.

This is a bubbling citrus sauce reducing a bit. Also part of my “good” meal:


Growing up in Central PA did not expose me much to Cajun cooking except for Spats Cafe & Speakeasy in State College. I waited tables there for a time while at Penn State and enjoyed the flavors Duke the owner fixed up. I got the idea in my mind last Tuesday to make shrimp and oyster Po’boys.

I should have known something was amiss when I couldn’t find oysters anywhere, but I got shrimp, cornmeal, buttermilk and figured it would work out. Also got a few fresh, soft rolls, iceberg lettuce, a ripe tomato and made a very good Creole mayonnaise. What I didn’t know is that I got a more coarse version of cornmeal than I should have. After soaking the shrimp for a while, I got the oil going in a pot, estimating what 350 degrees would be for the shrimp. I dredged them in the cornmeal, dunked them in the pot….and the cornmeal basically fell off the shrimp, forming clumps in the oil as the shrimp curled up on themselves. What I was left with were little shrimp with little to no cornmeal batter on them. What was left on the shrimp was hard, crunchy, and tasted more or less like sand. Not good. Lesson learned….very fine cornmeal for one. The other is that deep frying anything on an electric range is a dicey proposition.

Last night I found some redemption. Talapia with a citrus sauce paired, topped with a small crab cake, with a smoked mozzarella and pepper ravioli and green beans. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how the citrus sauce would taste with the ravioli, but it was pretty solid.

Talapia: Soaked the filets in the buttermilk I had left over from the Po’boy adventure. Dredged them in flour with just salt & pepper. Sautéed them lightly in a pan with a little butter and olive oil. 3-4 minutes per side, then took them off and kept them warm. Crab cakes were baking in the oven on 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

The citrus sauce was simple: Juice from 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange. Deglazed the pan with a little white wine, threw in minced garlic, diced red onion, the citrus juice and a little more butter. Brought to a quick boil, reduced heat and let it simmer for a minute or so.

Plated up the food and lightly spooned sauce over fish/crab cakes and ravioli. Here is the result:


The red onion and citrus made for a tangy combo. Still trying to figure out how I could have presented it better. Not a ton of color and a bit messy! I don’t go nuts with garnish when I cook for two people…..any suggestions, I’m all ears.

Happy Saturday, all.


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