Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fish Boil

Usually boiling fish is not a good practice and I would have to discourage it unless you are A. making chowder or B. doing a Door County fish boil. Kevin and I always make it a point when we are in Bayfield, WI to stop at the fish boil at a little bed and breakfast in town. Then we decided we would try it at home. How easy is a fish boil? Well, if you can boil water, you can do a fish boil!

It starts with a nice, hot fire. (Kevin's job) We have some bricks that we put in the fire pit and a round grate on top of the bricks. Kevin builds a hot fire and we put on a big pot of water that has about a cup of salt in it.The best fish to use in a fish boil are whitefish. I order about three whole whitefish from Morey's. I use an electric knife and cut them into steaks. You need a five pound bag of red potatos, three good sized onions, three lemons and lot of tartar sauce and melted butter.The first thing to go into the water is the potatos. Cook them for about ten minutes. Add the onions, cook for another 10 minutes. Wrap the whitefish in cheesecloth and drop them in at the last. Cook for another fifteen minutes. Check the whitefish by poking it with a fork. It should be flaky.Now comes the fun part! Flashing the fire! No, don't lift your shirt up, silly. Grab a bottle of lighter fluid after you are sure everything is cooked. Stand a little bit away and pour the lighter fluid onto the fire. Do not use gasoline! Why do we do this? So the fire gets hotter and boils the pot over and in doing so, the fishy oils and impurities that have floated to the top are now in the fire pit instead of your food. Perfect! Time to chow!

Don't buy a ton of tartar sauce, make your own. It's super simple and tastes better than most of the crap you buy at the store. Put a cup of mayo in a bowl and add half a cup of pickle relish and however much garlic you can stand. That's it! Serve your fish boil by draining the water from the pot and dumping everything onto a cookie sheet or baking pan. Your guests can scoop up what they want and pour butter over it to their hearts content.

Finish it off with a sweet dessert. Paulie brought goat cheesecakes with strawberries. The tradition Door County dessert is cherry cobbler but anything will work. After your fish boil, make sure you leave enough time to take a nice, long Sunday afternoon nap! You will need it after that backyard feast!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pannu Kakku

I went to a bachelorette party last month (congratulations, Andrea!) where there was a campfire, dancing girls around said campfire, lots of alchohol, friends and a ton of good food. After rolling out of bed the next morning with a fuzzy, hazy feeling in my head, one of the dancing girls suggested making pannu kakku. It's a Finnish oven pancake. With Kevin being Finnish, I couldn't understand why I had never heard of this delicacy but apparently, neither had he. "What kind of Finn are you that you've never heard of this?" I scolded after I googled the recipe a couple of weeks later, made it and watched him wolf down a couple plates. But his mouth was too full to answer and after a couple of "hmpphs" and frantics gestures with his fork in the air, I concluded that my Finn liked the "pancake." It is a cross between a custard, a popover and french toast. Learn from my mistake and don't forget to grease the pan! Here is the recipe. How do the Finns say "bon appetit?" Maybe it's "hmpph" coupled with fork waving?
4 cups of milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar (I was out of sugar and used brown sugar)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract (you could use vanilla if you want instead)1 and 1/2 cups of flour4 tablespoons melted butter

Beat the eggs and add the milk, sugar, salt, almond and flour. Mix well, then add the melted butter and mix until blended. The batter will be very thin. Grease a 9x13 pan and pour the batter into it. Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour or until the custard is set and top is browned. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with warm syrup and sausage.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blue Heron Bed and Breakfast

If I could pick a place I would like to eat at every single night, I would pick the Blue Heron Bed and Breakfast in Ely. Kevin and I went there this weekend and I felt like Jillian on the "Bachelorette" when she takes a guy to a restaurant and they magically have the place all to themselves. There was no one in the tiny, quaint place except for us, the server and the chef for most of our meal.The restaurant is small, it only has about five tables in it. Kevin had said I would like this place; he had come here for his cousin Chris' grooms dinner about eight years ago. He was right, I loved it and the food was to die for. You order your main dish ahead of time when you make reservations and it is a five course meal. The first thing was an appetizer of walleye ragoons that I need to figure out to make myself. They are a spoonful of warm cream cheese, walleye and spices baked in phyllo dough and topped with sweet chili jelly. My favorite thing in the whole meal! The next course consisted of huge, fluffy popovers, spring greens and homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. Then the next course was this cute little scoop of lemon sorbet. Sweet and tangy, it cleaned the palate perfectly.
Just in time for the showstopper of the meal, a tournado steak with a twice-baked potato and broccoli. The steak was juicy and could have been cut with a butter knife. It was so tender. Each perfectly seasoned piece melted with a couple of chews in your mouth. I wanted to go on eating steak forevvvvvver.
However, that wouldn't have been fair to the blueberry creme brulee that I was almost too stuffed to eat. Notice I said almost. It was an ingenius idea to use a teacup for the creme brulee instead of a ramiken. And it was the perfect amount. Not much and not too little. The sugar was carmelized nicely without a bit of burnt flavor.
I asked if I could take a picture of the man who created all this and this is Chef Fred. I didn't find out much about him on the internet but I have a sneaky suspicion he is a foodie.

The food is only half the reason to make a reservation at this wonderful place. The atmosphere is homey and with the birds and the lake closeby, it is a beautiful setting. You also feel like you are being given special treatment since there are only a few tables in the dining room. Check out their website at for reservations and the menu.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


My favorite summer drink: mojitos! Of course, you know I can't buy the pre-mixed junk, I have to go homemade or go home. So since mint is a key ingredient in the mojito, I decided to grow my own. Every summer I have a nice pot of mint growing on my deck for just this reason!
A couple of springs of mint will fix you up. Grab those and grab your mortar and pestle. I have a nice ceramic one that works great for this. Put the mint in there, squirt some lime juice on it and start grinding. Once the mint is smushed, (is that a word?) pour it into your cup or a shaker. Add some sour, rum (vodka works, too) and some sprite or 7-up. Stir or shake and let's get the partaaaay started, people!!

Smoked Trout

Kevin and Ross went fishing on fishing opener weekend (which is a national holiday in Minnesota) and caught a bunch of trout in the mine pits in Crosby. They have been sitting in our freezer (the fish, not Kevin and Ross) and we have been slowly eating them. Then Kevin's friend Maury called to ask if we wanted to buy a charcoal smoker that his dad had won and of course I said yes. We decided to try our hand at smoking fish up at the cabin in our new smoker.

I thawed the fish in the refrigerator the night before and brined them the next day. For the brine I used a gallon of water, two cups of salt, a cup of brown sugar, a couple of tablespoons of raw garlic, a tablespoon each of garlic powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder and all-spice. I put the fish in a bowl, submerged them with the brine, put a plate on top so the fish wouldn't float and put the bowl in the refrigerator.
To set up the smoker Kevin soaked the wood chips and put them in a aluminum foil packet that he punched holes in. Then he filled up the top bowl of the smoker with a quart of water and in the bottom bowl he started a charcoal fire. When the charcoal was gray, I put the wood chip packet on top of the coals.The racks were sprayed with cooking spray and the fish was pulled out of the brine and washed. It was then put in the frig to dry for a little bit. Once the fire was smoking, I put the racks of fish in the smoker.The smoke started billowing out of the smoker and we closed it up tight with the lid and let it cook for an hour.After an hour we couldn't resist peaking at them. Oh my, they looked good. I pulled them off and we dug in.We had to save some for Karla and Eric because they weren't at the cabin yet and I suggested we eat them all and say the fish hadn't turned out. Kevin didn't think that was very nice so I was overruled. The fish was the best thing I have tasted in a long, long time. It turned out fantastic! Each smoky, salty, warm bite of flaky fish melted in your mouth. It was incredible. I hate to brag but it was so good I think I could eat nothing but that for the rest of my life and die a happy woman. Just another excuse for Kevin to fish more, I guess!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


If I could list my perfect day, this would be it.
-Wake up at the cabin in Ely.
-It's a beautiful, sunny day with not a cloud in the sky.
-I have miraclously lost twenty pounds overnight. (ok, moving on)
-I have breakfast at the Front Porch where they have awesome ham and cheese breakfast burritos. (Does anyone besides me wonder why I can't loose weight?) -We hike to my favorite waterfall and feel the spray from the water hitting the rocks.-I discover that Chapman Street Market has opened back up for the summer and I buy a baugette, brie cheese with mushrooms and this wonderful, new, Spanish blue cheese wrapped in maple leaves. It is called cabrales and the woman asks me if I am allergic to penicillin before I buy it. Sweet! -Miss Chocoholic decides that she loves broccoli and never begs for chocolate again. (hey, leave me alone, it's my dream!)
-I find a trashy book at the bookstore that smells like incense.
-I find an amazing, old-as-dirt, handpainted, antique pin at the antique store that only I can love.
-Kevin has bought me a carmael malt while I was shopping and only eaten half of it.
-I peacefully eat the bread and cheese on the pontoon with a bottle of champagne. Hopefully my doctor will prescribe blue cheese from now on. Aren't maple leaves suppose to be healthy?

-I soak up thirty gallons of sunshine. Afterward, there are cheesy ballpark hotdogs just waiting for their chance to be skewered and put in the fire.

What a day! I can't complain.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Boundary Waters wheat beer

I just haven't been inspired lately. I don't know what it is. I haven't made something really yummy and fun for awhile and therefore I haven't done a lot of blogging. There. I'm done apologizing for not blogging and hope I will start being inspired and blogging more.

I decided to make beer this afternoon, Kevin was gone and there wasn't much to do because it was raining and I was on-call for work. This was the second batch of beer I have ever made. I took a class with Paulie and Will this spring and we made a batch of Irish Stout that tasted very similar to Guiness. Kevin loved it and slurped it down pretty quickly. So I decided to try some on my own, bought a fish fryer and spent most of the morning trying to put it together and mangling my fingers. Putting things together is not one of my strong points. But I finally got it all assembled and out to the garage and spent an extemely pleasant Saturday afternoon all by myself brewing beer.

The reason you want to do this outside is because there is a good chance you will boil the beer over. This can be super messy to clean up so a garage is ideal.
I hooked up the propane tank and opened the garage door. Miss Chocoholic was snuggled down in the house with a couple of movies. I pulled a chair over to watch the boiling process, watch the rain come down and think about life.

I made this from a kit I bought online. I have been sticking with kits until I feel super comfortable with what I am doing. Here is the bag of grain steeping in the hot water.The aroma of the beer mixed with the smell of the rain makes my soul happy. Miss Chocoholic came out once to check on me and said, "That smells like hot chocolate!" I think it smells more like homey, comforting oatmeal.

It was time to mix in the barley malt. I had to stick my finger in it and eat a little. It's a wonderful, sticky syrup. I could eat it on ice cream. Hmmm, maybe I will save some next time and try that.After the malt comes the hops. I love the smell of hops. They smell like fresh cut grass or a lawn after a rainstorm. These came in little pellets. There were two bags of hops; one bag boiled with the mixture, the second bag was called finishing hops and was added two minutes before the boil was done. The second bag had more of a fruity smell, kind of like an apple or pear mixed with hay. And then it was just time to boil and relax. I made a mojito and sat there stirring. The neighbors were having a graduation party and I am sure they probably thought I was some weird, modern-day witch with my steaming cauldron but I was happy and for one rainy afternoon, the world was a perfect, peaceful place.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sushi and Juicy Lucy

We had a houseful of friends this weekend. Chris and Abby were here (who you met in a couple of older posts) along with Chris's brother, Graham (Big Sal) and their friend Chad (Green Bay.) Chris likes to nickname everyone. The Nelson brothers love to eat as much as I do and the weekend revolved around fishing and eating.We had planned to make sushi on Sunday but Big Sal was very adamant that sushi was never going to fill him up and thought we should have more food. As we were standing around a campfire on Saturday night, we started talking about good places to eat and the boys had eaten at a bar called Matt's that had hamburgers called Juicy Lucys. They are basically stuffed hamburgers. Green Bay said he could make them at home so we decided we would also have stuffed hamburgers. We didn't want Big Sal to go home with his tummy rumbling . I put Green Bay in charge of the hamburgers the next day and he did an excellent job. He built them with one thin hamburger patty, a slice of velvetta cheese, creole seasoning and another thin patty. Then he mashed the patties together to form a seal and put them on the grill. By the time people started rolling into the driveway that afternoon, the smell of those burgers were almost enough to get a vegatarian to switch. We actually did have a couple of vegatarians there who said if they were going to switch, those burgers were where they would start.We cooked some onions and mushrooms in aluminum foil on the grill as toppings for the burgers. At one point I saw some flames shooting out of the grill and started to worry but Green Bay was calm, cool and collected and rescued the burgers by putting them on the top grill. He gets high cooking points for the weekend.

The burgers were delicious, with lots of hot, gooey cheese dripping down the sides of the bum when you took your first bite. I will probably never make burgers the same way again.

While Green Bay was busily grilling, Chris and I cooked rice, cut up fish and veggies and got ready to roll sushi. We had three bamboo mats so three people could roll.

We let the rice cool down and it was time to roll. Hannah really got into it.

Big Sal had to admit that he would have gotten filled up on sushi because we kept cranking out the rolls.

May your house be too small for your friends!