Once we had our fill of Manchester-by-the-Sea, we moseyed on up to Rockport, at the tip of Cape Ann. It’s a famous (and very tourist-y) arts colony with plenty of galleries, boutiques, beaches and beautiful architecture.
We visit the north shore at least once every year and make sure we visit one shop in particular, the J. Lerch gallery on Bearskin Neck in Rockport. My husband and I love this guy’s photography. This year I got a very generous Visa gift card for my birthday from my father and my sister, so I decided to indulge a bit and buy myself one of his photographs. It’s a photo of an old-fashioned kitchen from Monhegan Island in Maine.
This photo is now on my table at home, waiting for an inspirational moment to hang it. Lovely. By the way, I nabbed this photo from the artist’s website, at http://www.rlerchgallery.com/index.html. Go visit and view his other photos.
We spent a lot of time just talking to the photographer, who also just happens to be a native of Buffalo, NY, my old stomping grounds. It was another treat in a day of treats – the chance to talk to the artist and find out what made him tick.
Rockport’s got some very pretty scenery: more coastline and cute little boats, along with tourist-clogged streets that nonetheless retain their charm and interest.
And lots of galleries, along with ice cream shops, trinket shops and what-not.
We eventually went on our way, deciding that we (okay, I) was too hot and tired to do any more walking. We decided to forego Halibut Point State Park and just get on with dinner. For that we drove out to Essex and settled on a place called Periwinkles. It was my birthday dinner and we were both of the opinion that the meal should be a bit more upscale than a picnic bench at Woodman’s (not that Woodman’s is a bad place, mind you).
We looked out over a cove with more boats. This time we actually got to see somebody take their boat out of the water. I find that very cool to watch. You back your boat trailer almost completely into the water, then get in the boat and drive it up onto the trailer.
And dinner? Well, fish of course, for me. What else, in the land of fish and fishermen?
I visited the Arlington Farmers' Market this afternoon and came home with some produce for a fish stew I prepare every summer. It's easy and absolutely delicious, particularly with farm-fresh vegetables. I stopped by our local supermarket for some additional supplies and found some catfish trimmings, which was perfect since this stew tastes best with this kind of fish.
Visit a farm stand and, if you're of a mind to, whip together this easy and tasty dish!
2 tbs olive oil
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
8 small red potatoes, cut into small pieces
1 cup clam broth
3 cups water
1/2 lb green beans cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 pound flavorful firm white fish (catfish is excellent), cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried
2 tbs heavy cream (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan heat the oil. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until softened. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook one minute. Add the potatoes, clam broth and water and bring to a boil. If using dried oregano, add now. Cook for 15 minutes. Add green beans and cook an addition 7 – 10 minutes. Add the fish and stir gently. Cook for five minutes.
When the fish is cooked, stir in fresh oregano and cream (if using). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
My husband brought some catfish home from the supermarket. I really like this kind of fish, although it's a bit tougher than some other varieties. It's flavorful and cooks to a marvelous tenderness when done right.
I decided to try a breaded, baked fish recipe for this evening. I've been fighting off a virus all week and the last thing I felt like doing was slicing and dicing, opening cans of this that, that and the other and wrestling it all together. I wanted easy, tasty and fast and I got it with this recipe.
The breading is adapted from a recipe I got from a cooking buddy of mine on grouprecipes.com: chefmeow. She's a marvelous cook and I follow her many additions with a great deal of anticipation. The original recipe called for cod or a similar, more tender fish. You only cook it 10 minutes or so, unlike catfish, which requires more time. I also added garlic powder and salt and cut back on the pepper. Any way you make it, though, it's terrific!
1-1/4 pound catfish
1 egg lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1 teaspoon paprika
1/3 to 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 to 12 tsp salt
Black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450.
Place a large cookie sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray in the oven.
Meanwhile cut fish into chunks.
Put beaten egg into a small bowl.
Combine breadcrumbs, herbs, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl.
Remove cookie sheet from oven.
Dip fish first into egg then into breadcrumb mixture and on to the cookie sheet.
Repeat with each piece of fish.
Bake 20 minutes turning once until fish is cooked through.
I just couldn't get enough of this fish tonight. It was served with Near East brand rice pilaf and steamed broccoli.
Crumble the saffron threads into a small, heatproof bowl. Add a very small amount of boiling water (just to cover) and set aside.
Prepare the remaining ingredients. Melt the butter or heat the olive oil in a non-reactive skillet. add the garlic and saute for a minute or two until golden but not brown. stir in the lemon juice, fennel, tomatoes and saffron solution. Add salt and pepper. Add fish fillets, spoon a little of the sauce over the fish. Cover and cook 5 – 10 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.