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Mar 1, 2009 07:12 AM

March 2009/July 2012 COTM Fish Without a Doubt: Fish Cakes & Burgers and Pasta and Rice

**March 2009 Cookbook of the Month** is Fish Without a Doubt by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes for fish cakes and burgers as well as pasta and rice here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating!

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  1. Linguine with Clam Sauce, Pg. 382

    This is a nice take on a classic Italian clam sauce. We both liked it very much.

    The clams are steamed open then they're drained and chopped and both are set aside separately. 1/3 cup chopped garlic is brought to a sizzle in 1/3 cup of olive oil, the heat turned down and the garlic infuses oil for 15 minutes. The trick here is to not let the garlic color. Red pepper flakes and oregano are then added to the infused oil and cooked for a few minutes. The reserved clam juice is then added, the heat turned to high and the sauce reduced by half.

    In the meantime, the linguine has been thrown into boiling water and cooked to the al dente stage. When done drain the pasta, pour back into the pot and add the sauce, the chopped clams and 1/2 cup of Italian parsley. I actually did the opposite... tossing the pasta into the sauce pan, not wanting to lose a drop of the sauce. Toss well and serve. This is a very easy dish to make and quite suited to a Friday during Lent.

    A mixed greens salad completed the meal....

    10 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      That sounds wonderful, Gio. And Linguine with Clam Sauce is one of my favorite dishes. Not sure why I've been putting that off, but now that I've read your report I'm sure I'll be getting a round tuit sooner rather than later.

      1. re: JoanN

        It's one of mine too - though that sounds like an awful lot of garlic ....

        1. re: MMRuth

          It Was quite a lot of garlic...much more than I usually chop for my version. We liked it well enough at dinner but the next day... well, let's just say it's a good thing there are two rooms here where one can restore one's personal comfort......

      2. re: Gio

        I love linguine with clams too, but I'm having a hard time imagining how or why you'd c hop the clams. The clams we get here are pretty small and it just seems unecessary too cook them separately. Just my twopennorth....

        1. re: greedygirl

          I always cook the clams separately to make sure that no sand gets into the dish. I strain the liquid that comes out of the clams, and then add it to the pasta at the end. If I can't get the tiny clams (Manilas?), I will cut up the larger ones.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Yes, That's what I do too... I did not have to chop the clams I used for this dish. He mentions it in the recipe, though.

        2. re: Gio

          Linguine with Clams (page 382)

          Were we having a conversation elsewhere about linguine with clam sauce? Because I’ve been craving it for a few days now and decided tonight was the night to scratch that itch. And now I’m annoyed that it took me so long.

          I’ve been cooking from this book for nearly four years and I’ve made probably half of the recipes in it. Why in the world did it take me so long to make this one? Can’t remember what used to be my go-to recipe, but I know it had whole clams (in the shell) in it. Doesn’t matter, because this will be my go-to forever more. It isn’t just the rather generous amount of garlic that puts his over the top, but the saving and reducing of every bit of clam cooking liquid that intensifies that clammy goodness. Loved it. Just loved it. Can you tell?

          1. re: JoanN

            I completely forgot that I made this dish, Joan. In fact during the conversation you refer to I said I've never cooked linguine with fresh clams. Arrrrgh. (usually I make it with good canned clams in juice) This will be a perfect first course for Christmas Eve dinner here on Monday. We're paring the whole thing down this year... So glad you liked it. So glad you wrote your report.

          2. re: Gio

            Linguine with Clam Sauce, p. 382

            Clams are one of my favorite foods and after reading the reviews, I had to try this recipe. Wow! I loved the garlicky, briny sauce. Following Gio's lead I tossed the pasta in to the pan with the the sauce in an effort to get every morsel I could. I also reduced the sauce slightly less than suggested and let the pasta finish cooking in the broth. Such little effort for clam bliss.

            1. re: Gio

              LINGUINE WITH CLAMS – p. 182

              Well I'm embarrassingly late to the party and the loss is all mine as this dish was a major hit here at casa bc.

              I picked up some fabulous, sweet Chesapeake Bay clams in Buffalo yesterday and all I could think about on our drive home was linguini with clams!! I love this dish and it’s such a classic that at some point you’re bound to think there’s no room for improvement. That said, I’ve been so impressed with every single recipe I’ve prepared from this book that instead of making my go-to version this evening, I opted to use this recipe as I’ve had it on my “must-try” list since 2012. This turned out to be a very wise choice as we absolutely loved RM’s version; so much so that it will now become my new “go-to” recipe. I made one slight revision by replacing the parsley with basil as we always make this substitution since the licorice-y flavour of the basil plays so well with seafood. The slow-simmered garlic takes this dish from great to remarkable. Fabulous! Thanks to all the wise hounds that went before me on this one, I'm delighted your positive reviews prompted me to keep this on my "must-try" list.

            2. Tuna Burgers with Harissa Mayonnaise (page 367)

              These were just great. There are a number of different components, but you can make most of them at least a day or two ahead.

              The burger is hand-chopped tuna mixed with chives, dill, and Harissa Mayonnaise. You can use store-bought harissa to make the mayonnaise, but I made his recipe using guajillo chiles, fennel and coriander seeds, a bit of crushed red pepper, garlic, and olive oil. Really tasty stuff. You mix that with store-bought mayo, lemon zest, and lemon juice to make the mayo mixture.

              The burgers are sauteed in a bit of oil, he says about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare. I cooked mine a bit longer than that and they were cooked all the way through, but they were still perfectly juicy.

              You spread hamburger rolls (I used brioche rolls) with more harissa mayonnaise, add the burger, and top the burger with Mom’s Cucumber Salad (page 459). I served the burgers with German-Style Potato Salad (page 467).

              My friend and I loved these. The whole lunch reminded us of summer. We felt as though we should be sitting on beach chairs somewhere watching the waves come in. The burgers are rather fragile so I’m not sure how you’d manage to cook them on an outdoor grill, but I sure think it would be worth a try. They’re just a delightful and surprising combination of flavors and textures with the spiciness of the harissa mayo playing off the vinegary cucumber and onions. These would just be so wonderful for a special barbeque.

              6 Replies
              1. re: JoanN

                That sounds like something I'd like, Joan. The recipe was overlooked during my first scan of the book. Now I'll have to give it a go. Thanks!

                1. re: JoanN

                  I am excited to try these, JoanN... I had a fantastic burger on this idea in Provincetown a couple of summers ago, and I enjoyed the *kick*

                  Was it hard to keep these from falling apart as you cooked them? I've never made fish burgers but I had a bad experience with black bean burgers (the ones in Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) getting all crumbly and weird on me. I would like to try these for sure and just want any tips to keep them from getting fall-aparty as I cook them-- Yum!

                  1. re: foxy fairy

                    I had no fall-apart issues at all. Looking at the photo, I may have chopped the tuna more finely than I should have and that might have helped. I just wasn't sure that they'd hold together as well on a grill. But in a skillet, no problems at all.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      Coming back to add that the formed, uncooked tuna burgers froze brilliantly. I thawed one in the fridge overnight and cooked it up for lunch today. Every bit as good and juicy as it had been when fresh.

                  2. re: JoanN

                    Just made these tonight. Won't go into too much detail as there is a great description above. Suffice it to say, the most challenging aspect of this project is chopping the tuna into small dice. The next challenge is shaping the burgers, getting them in the pan, and turning them. This went surprisingly well considering these are held together by a 'wing and a prayer'.
                    I made all the suggested components and thought this was just a terrific recipe - especially since
                    I've relegated beef to a 'once in a while' status in my diet.
                    Now what do I do with all that leftover Harissa ?
                    The homemade harissa recipe makes quite a quantity, but apparently it keeps!

                    1. re: Blythe spirit

                      Happy to hear the good reports on these, I've got my eye on this recipe. I love both tuna and harissa (and have both on hand), but hadn't imagined them paired.

                  3. Linguini with Tuna Sauce (pg. 383)

                    We loved this. Not only was it positively delicious, but it was quick and easy with mostly pantry supplied goods. Plus, it was pretty to boot.

                    The recipe is so basic and simple, but the flavors just melt together. Saute chopped garlic, then add chopped anchovies and a can of tuna in olive oil. Then add a large can of chopped tomatoes and crushed hot pepper flakes. Simmer for a short bit. Lastly add mostly cooked pasta and chopped parsley to the sauce.

                    The recipe called for 1/2 cup parsley and 4 chopped anchovies. I used more of both. I also used whole wheat pasta, thinking correctly, that the sauce would be so flavorful that it wouldn't matter that it was ww pasta v. regular (my natural preference).

                    The red of the sauce and the green of the parsley was just lovely to behold. My one minor pet peeve is that the recipe called for 3/4 lb of pasta. I hate when recipes do that because then I am left with a weird amount of pasta.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: beetlebug

                      Ooh, I can totally do that! I thought most of the dishes were made with fresh fish! I'm going to pick up the book from the library today, and now I'm super excited!

                      1. re: Katie Nell

                        If you want me to post the recipe, I'll be happy to do so.

                        1. re: beetlebug

                          I just went and picked it up at the library last night- I had it on hold. Everything looks so good! I told my husband I would like to move now, for the fish that is! ;-)

                          (The only thing I can't get behind is the catfish sloppy joes- the thought of those just kind of disgusts me! I think Oprah had that on her show when Gayle went around to try the top 10 sandwiches, or something along that lines.)

                      2. re: beetlebug

                        It's so good to know that you liked the Pasta & Tuna sauce, beetlebug! It's on my list for this coming Friday. I noticed that there is much less garlic in this recipe than in the clam sauce.... thank heavens.

                        I always use the whole pound of macaroni no matter what the recipe calls for and adjus,t as well as I can, the other ingredients. I can't be bothered saving 1/4 lb....

                        1. re: Gio

                          I thought about throwing the whole box in and have done so in the past. However, the wheat pasta box was also some weird amount (I think, almost 18 oz). And, I was concerned about the tuna to pasta ratio. One can of tuna didn't seem to be enough protein for the sauce. I also thought about throwing in two cans of tuna but worried about the taste ratio being off with the other ingredients.

                          Regardless, we both really liked this recipe and I'll be making it again. I don't do Lent, but C does and he said it's so much better than tuna noodle casserole that he grew up with.

                        2. re: beetlebug

                          My plans for dinner last night suddenly fell through, but thankfully I remembered this post, beetlebug. We absolutely LOVED this. And it is a pantry meal that I would feel very comfortable serving to unexpected guests (if only I remember it!)

                          I used two small cans of (good) tuna, about 3/4 of a tin of anchovies, Muir Glenn toms, crushed red pepper, probably 5 cloves of garlic, and plenty of parsley. I forgot to save some pasta water to mix back in - when that timer goes off, I'm on automatic pilot.

                          Bursting with flavor and made for a terrific weeknight dinner.

                          1. re: mirage

                            So glad you liked the dish. I'm looking forward to next Friday, when I'm having it again.

                          2. re: beetlebug

                            My second time with this dish was not as successful. It was still delicious but not swooningly so. But, I pinpointed the problem as I was cooking the sauce.

                            This time, I used two cans of tuna in olive oil and a big can of chopped tomatoes. But, this can, the tomatoes were in chunks v. more of a puree. Last time, it was definitely saucier. And, the sauce result didn't have the proper balance to it - too much tuna but not enough sauce. Even as I was cooking it, there wasn't as much red color as there was tuna color. And, when I added the parsley with the pasta, it wasn't as vibrantly colored as my first batch.

                            I think that's the reason why the author has you pureeing a can of whole tomatoes. I'm probably going to revisit this recipe again, and either buy a can of pureed tomatoes or pure a can of whole tomatoes.

                            1. re: beetlebug

                              My turn on the pasta with tuna. I was especially excited about this recipe because of the whole "everything already in the pantry" nature of it. I followed the recipes to a t, pureeing the tomatoes before adding, using his suggested amounts of garlic/hot pepper, tuna and anchovy. We liked this, but thought it needed more "oomph." If made again (and I likely will, just since it is so easy to throw together if you didn't ge to the grocery store) I would add a LOT more of the garlic, anchovy and hot pepper.

                              Photos shows a very messy plate - sorry. Husband gave me a drink while cooking ...

                            2. re: beetlebug

                              Linguini with Tuna Sauce, p. 383

                              It has been a long week of work and another late day with no time to stop by the grocery store before I had to get home and let the nanny go (and make dinner). I was despairing about the choices between frozen pizza and scrambled eggs for dinner when I saw the reviews for this dish while I was looking up the reviews for Moonen's paella (for a special dinner during a much needed vacation next week).

                              This dinner was a true pantry meal (with the exception of the parsley). I actually added in some oven dried tomatoes which I had in the fridge (chopped) along with the canned, with added a little extra texture and sweetness.

                              The result was SOOO much better than frozen pizza, and really didn't take any longer to make. I found the flavors fairly subtle, for something that starts with anchovies and garlic. But that went over well with my crew. My fish-averse daughters ate it up and actually ate some of the tuna and my fish-loving son had 3 helpings! I personally thought it could maybe use a little extra kick (maybe kalamata olives for a puttanesca riff) or a little lemon zest to lift it up? But overall a great save for a busy night. This one will definitely be going in the "there's nothing to eat for dinner" file.

                            3. CATFISH SLOPPY JOES, page 373, together with BARBEQUE SAUCE, page 437

                              I admit, this recipe did not call to me at all. But, my husband wanted me to try it, so I did. He indulges my COTM fascination, so, surely I could indulge him this once.

                              This was pretty good, if you're a person who likes sloppy joes. I find them too sweet and this was no exception, especially since you start with ketchup (which already has sugar in it), then add sugar. For my tastes, I would have pulled back on the sugar, but I think for most tastes it was probably about right. I made the mistake of serving this on a "local and organic" bun that was more firm and smaller than the ideal, so, our joes were even sloppier because nothing stayed on or soaked into the bun, it just fell off. Moonen suggests a soft potato bun and I agree, a big soft bun would have been a better choice.

                              We didn't top our sandwiches with potato chips as he recommended. While I, too, think chips on a sandwich provide a nice, salty crunch, we didn't need the extra calories (or an open, nearly full bag of chips around the house), so we skipped it. It was just fine without.

                              Overall, I think this was a winner, especially if you're a fan of sloppy joes and just want to try to mix it up a bit. One small quibble: I did think the clam juice in the barbeque sauce was too much. It gave this a fishier taste than necessary. I was a little short on ketchup as well as on the clam juice, so, perhaps my proportions were off, but I didn't think they were that far off. Next time, I'll try less clam juice.

                              I can't believe we're nearly halfway through March and this is my first attempt from this book. Well, it's not actually my first attempt. Twice I've purchased fish, then just decided I was too tired to follow a recipe and just broiled it instead. The problem is that weeknights, when I have little time to cook, is when I drive right past the fishmonger, whereas, on weekends, I have to go pretty out of my way to get there.

                              Sorry, no photos.


                              10 Replies
                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Could someone explain to a confused Brit what a sloppy joe is? Thanks!

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  Basically, a Sloppy Joe is browned minced meat, and sauteed onions, garlic, and other vegetables like celery and carrots cooked together in a sweet-sour tomato sauce served on a bun.

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Sounds, er, interesting. Maybe you have to be American to appreciate this!

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      I'm an American and I didn't have my first SJ until I was about 45. I'm not sure I even appreciate it and only have had it a few times since then. It's one of those quick & easy recipes busy folks throw together and call it dinner. Or lunch. Or snack.....

                                      I saw that catfish recipe in the book but passed it by. If I do make it I'll definitely take TDQ's advise and cut down on the sugar. I prefer savory.

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        I am also from the US and I've never eaten a sloppy joe :) My mom never made them, and then I just couldn't get into the idea of trying one later.

                                    2. re: Gio

                                      Good description, Gio. GG--here's a photo of a sloppy joe. I think it's one of those things that's easy to feed to large groups because it has an easy to vary portion size (i.e., you can give a child just one spoonful and an adult two spoonfuls) and is also an easy way to "extend" beef. I think it, or variations of it called loosemeats or maid-rites, are more common in the Midwest than in other parts of the country.

                                      As for our leftovers, I'm going to re-heat them right now and serve them over eggs for breakfast. Will let you know if it's a giant mistake!


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        We made the Catfish Sloppy Joes last night and liked them very much. For the BBQ sauce we used the sugar for the caramel but subbed chicken stock for the fish stock called for. That gave the sauce a more mellow flavor, I think, and seemed to counterbalance the sugar. DH had bought a smallish bag of Cape Cod potato chips so they were placed on the side. Finally, we served the Joes on a large roll very similar to a potato roll....used a knife & fork BTW. I made the Classic Cole Slaw from Bon Apettit Y'All which was a good accompianment. All in all a very tasty Saturday night meal which we both liked.

                                        We have leftovers too; I thought I reheat them and serve over rice for lunch.....

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          I'd love to read a report on the cole slaw from Bon Appetit Y'All. Has anyone started a thread? If not, could I twist your arm?

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            Yes... I plan to start that thread Joan, but I thought I'd wait till April 1..... hah. Just kidding. I don't have the book in front of me.... i usually make my notes after dinner because I won't remember the exact procedure, senior moments being what they are, ya know. IIRC.... the final result was not too sweet with a tartish flavor having shredded carrot, a bit of minced onion, mayo (she recommends her home made but I used TJ's organic, some vinegar.... I'll write it up properly tonight when I start the thread.

                                            Have a Happy Sunday!

                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Catfish (Pickerel) Sloppy Joes – p. 373

                                    I’ve had an interest in cooking since I was a little girl. We moved to Canada from England when I was 7 and I was fascinated with the variety of “unusual” foods my friends were eating. It stands to reason that when my mother gave me some of her blank recipe cards, one of the first recipes I wrote out was for “Sloppy Joes on Toasted Buns.” I hadn’t ever eaten one but I still remember the photo in a women’s magazine at the Doctor’s office. And wow, I’d only recently developed a knowledge of and passion for ketchup so imagine my delight to find a recipe cooked w ketchup!! I still have the recipe cards I wrote out way back then and though I never did make that particular recipe, needless to say, Sloppy Joes hold a special place in my heart!!

                                    DQ & Gio have the prep well covered above. I had some of the barbecue sauce left over from another dish I’d prepared. FYI, it freezes well so all I had to do was defrost it and away I went with this recipe. As noted above, I used Pickerel instead of catfish and I don’t love green peppers so I went w a yellow bell pepper instead.

                                    The book instructs you to top these with some potato chips for some added crunch. Though it wouldn’t have been my first instinct, we went with it and really enjoyed them. Kinda’ made a nice dish a little “naughty”!!

                                    I have to admit, mr bc wasn’t as excited (read…he was dreading this meal!!) about trying these as I was but the dish won him over. We both enjoyed this very much and I’ll definitely make it again.

                                  3. Linguine with Tuna Sauce, Pg. 383

                                    Last night DH made this recipe all by himself; No help from me at all !
                                    Took the book, got his mise en place and cooked it start to finish while I worked on the rug I'm making. Ahhh, the life....

                                    It's a very simple tomato sauce starting with 4 chopped garlic cloves sautéed in olive oil. Anchovies are added (he used a whole tin) and cooked till melted. A can of tinned tuna in oil is then added (he used 2 tins), plus a can of tomatoes, and either cayenne or crushed red pepper (CRP here). The whole thing is brought to the boil, then with heat reduced is simmered while the linguine is cooking. The recipe calls for 3/4 lb. but he used the whole pound. When al dente, the pasta is drained, tossed into the sauce with 1/2 cup chopped parsley and cooked for a minute adding some pasta water if necessary... he didn't.

                                    This was nothing very special and I thought somewhat blah for what it was. The tuna was not discernible and the anchovies didn't seem to do their usual job of boosting the flavor. In any case, it was satisfying and the dear boy was very proud of himself. That's worth it's weight in something or other.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Gio

                                      So sorry that you didn't love it as much as I did. Interesting that you found it blah for what it was. When we had this for dinner, we couldn't believe the explosion of flavors coming out of this tomato sauce. I wonder if it's the difference of one tin of tuna v. two since our sauce was more tomatoey with hints of tuna and anchovies.

                                      It's funny, C mentioned this dish again and wants it soon. To me, it's also the perfect pasta dish for a pre-long run dinner (carbs and protein mix, plus fast to make).

                                      ETA: I already know I'll be making this in two fridays. ha.

                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                        Wow - what a difference. I wonder if it was the "brand" of ingredients we used. I mean, we used Bumble Bee canned albacore, the ubiqutious tin of anchovies in olive oil you see everywhere... can't remember the name now, and Pastene Kitchen Ready instead of Pomi tomatoes. We usually buy TJ's tinned tuna in EVOO because it has such a wonderful taste, but used the albacore since we're trying to go along with the sustainable seafood lists. That's increasingly more difficult than I want it to be.

                                        Edit: The brand of TJ's tuna we usually buy is Genoa, in olive oil.

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          I used Cento tuna packed in olive oil, ubiquitous tin anchovies and Muir Glen diced tomatoes (why chop whole tomatoes when it comes chopped?).

                                          Maybe it's the tuna that made the difference, both in brand and proportions.