Hushpuppies or Cornballs?

Depending on where you are in the world I believe there is some variation of hush puppies or cornballs cooked in every culture, either savory or sweet - such as the falafel, sorullitos and festivals. Typically you may think of hush puppies as a BBQ or seafood side dish; originating in the southern region of the USA - tasty comfort food. Yes, I included my own version of it in my Know Your Fire Cookbook. Cook some up!

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Chef George’s Hushpuppies

Where the name HushPuppies came from:

The name "hushpuppies" is often attributed to southern cooks who would fry some basic cornmeal mixture (possibly that they had been bread-coating or battering their own food with) and feed it to their dogs to "hush the puppies" during cook-outs or fish-fries.

Hush Puppies | Recipe by George Hirsch, Know Your Fire Cookbook, Putnam 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1 Tablespoon fine chopped parsley

Vegetable oil for frying

* optional suggestions: onions, hot pepper, crisp cooked bacon, finely chopped ham or crab meat

Combine cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the milk, add egg and beat with a whisk or fork until the batter is smooth and no lumps remain. Stir in the butter, parsley and set the batter aside for 15 to 20 minutes. 

Fill a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer with 2 to 3 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 360 degree F. Scoop up a scant tablespoon of batter off the spoon into the hot fat and when the hush puppies rise to the top in about 1 minute, turn them over and cook until evenly brown, about 2 minutes total. Remove and drain on paper towels. Hush Puppies should always be served piping hot.

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The Feast of Seven Fishes

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The Feast of Seven Fishes

A popular southern Italian tradition celebrated all over the world is the Feast of the Seven Fishes. In Italy it is called “la cena della vigilia,” or Christmas Eve Dinner, December 24th, observed by abstaining from eating meat on Christmas Eve, enjoying the holiday meal with family, filled with a seafood spread. 

George Hirsch Lifestyle, Feast of the Seven Fishes

WHY SEVEN? Some say the number seven represents the seven sacraments, seven days of creation, or simply the fact that seven signifies perfection in the Bible. This may be speculation, however what is known is that this celebration is something that is very much appreciated and shared by most Italians and lovers of fish.

Fish: You will find virtually any Mediterranean fish prepared from this region. Everything from anchovies to eel. Popular fishes in the feast include calamari, smelts, clams, and shrimp. 

One of my favorite is baccalá, a dried, salted cod. 

Baccala How To: To reconstitute the baccalá, you soak it for two days, changing the water three or four times.

I prepare the baccalá several ways including sauted and with tomatoes, but it's also quite popular to prepare it in the oven with potatoes or even in a salad with potatoes and black olives.

The Seven Fishes is a feast that brings family and friends together to celebrate a very important evening, and the seafood is only the centerpiece of what really takes place..keeping a tradition alive with family and friends. Isn’t that what holidays are really about? Buone feste! 

Seafood Chowder

Fritto Misto

Linguini Calamari Sauce

Baccala and Potato Recipe

Capitone Arrosto & Fritto

Clam Pie Recipe

Mussels in White Wine Sauce

Stuffed Calamari Recipe

Shrimp Risotto Recipe

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Cedar Planked

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Can late summer get boring with another burger on the grill. You bet! So, it's time to change it up. 

You are going to need cedar planks for today's fish recipe. I am encouraging you to step outside + grill with this recipe. Soak planks for 30 minutes before you fire-up the grill. Make sure the grill is good and hot, this is key! Grilled cedar planked fish takes on a wonderful smokey flavor with more flair and a lot less hassle as you grill. The plank will be charred, but the fish will be perfectly cooked. This technique of cooking on planks is not new. The Indians in the Pacific Northwest cooked on cedar and alder, a tradition done for many centuries.

This weekend when you are running errands, head to the hardware store and pick up some cedar planks. Oh- be sure they are untreated non-resined wood, no thicker than 1 inch. Cedar and alder are popular choices, but mesquite, cherry, peach, apple, and oak also add their own unique flavors. Just give it a try and have a good time. Enjoy.

Cedar Plank Fish

makes two servings

chefgeorgehirsch.comGeorge Hirsch Lifestyle

1 cedar plank

Two 10-ounce salmon, trout or halibut fillets

juice of one fresh lemon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons olive oil

Fresh ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons butter

Soak plank in water to cover 1 hour; drain.

Pre heat Grill to high.

Rub plank with one tablespoon olive oil. Place fillets on plank; season with pepper, parsley, syrup and lemon juice. Top with remaining olive oil.

Grill 10-14 minutes or until fish is cooked. The thickness of the fillets will determine final cooking time.

Prior to serving top with fresh butter and serve with extra fresh lemon slices.

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Divided BY Chowder

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

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If there is one thing I have learned as a chef there as many versions of chowder recipes as there are people who enjoy this soup, err..I mean stew..no I think soup?  

George Hirsch Chowder

Each of my cookbooks and TV series has a version of some sort of a chowder recipe. I have judged chowder contests, participated in chef chowder tastings, and been a referee at a few chowder-boxing matches. Well, not really, but people do get heated up over red or white chowder. 

What really is chowder? The word "chowder" comes from the French word chaudiere, or caldron, the vessel in which the dish was cooked. And, derives from the word "jowter," meaning fishmonger, a term that was used in 16th century coastal regions of England.

George Hirsch Seafood

Is it a soup or stew? Early versions of chowder simmered from the New England area and was basically a frugal recipe of pork fat, onions, potatoes, fish, herbs, dry biscuits or flour for thickening, layered in a pot and cooked in water, with a little milk added at the end. In the 1800’s the Manhattan clam chowder was notable because it contains tomatoes. James Beard described Manhattan clam chowder "that rather horrendous soup called Manhattan clam chowder resembles a vegetable soup that accidentally had some clams dumped into it." All respect Mr. Beard, but those are fighting words. As a New Yorker and from coastal Long Island, an East Ender we take our chowder VERY serious. See, how a discussion on chowder can turn into a sparring match.

Tomato-based clam chowders came about with the newfound popularity of the tomato in the mid-1800s with the large population of Italians and Portuguese in New York and Rhode Island region. Still, there is no chowder harmony. In 1939, Maine legislators introduced a bill outlawing the use of tomatoes in chowder because it is far more of a vegetable soup. What? 

I can end this entire soup divide right now. Aside from any vegetables, corn, chicken or other non-seafarer ingredient for the stew--here are three versions you can enjoy from my TV series and cookbooks. They have satisfied many and with hope can prevent a nation from future chowder conflict. 

Manhattan vs. New England Chowder N.E. not my fav..

Seafood Chowder Yes, now this is a stew!

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