Greetings from the Big Apple! You will all be happy to know that I survived the first three days of being home. It was doubtful at first whether or not I would make it, and I will concede that there were some spotty patches along the way (most of which involved me proselytizing on the benefits of eating at least 5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables a day), but I like to think that now that the first leg is over it will be semi-smooth sailing from here.

So what have I been up to, you ask? Mainly cooking. And eating. And running. Is it really so different from what I do in Boston? I did 6.7 miles on Saturday and then on Sunday, I started a $20 trial membership at the local New York Sports Club. This gym was beautiful. I mean, gorgeous. Each cardio machine had its OWN tv. I think that I foresee myself starting up a real membership when I move back. It’s a bit pricy but I’m willing to cut costs elsewhere to avail myself of all of their equipment. I also made a trip to the Amish Market that was in the same shopping complex as the NYSC. Does anyone else out there swoon when entering a really great gourmet market? Or is it just me? I refrained from buying anything that wasn’t what I went in for (pre-baked polenta) but I plan on making a trip back for some essentials before I go back to Boston. They had tons of varieties of Italian whole wheat pasta, as well as faro, which I have been searching for. Also, many MANY varieties of bbq sauce. I see more pulled pork in my future.

As many of you may have guessed, I am Catholic. By birth. Personally, I am more agnostic than anything else. I disagree with many of the trappings and rules of the Roman Catholic religion, and I can’t really say that I believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead, but I do believe that there is some higher power out there. You can agree, disagree, have no opinion…so be it. It is also my contention that, if there is a god, he (or she) is going to evaluate a person based on their morality and inherent “goodness” and not on what specific religion he adhered to, so to each his own. My parents, though mostly lapsed, still follow some of the conventions of Catholicism. My mother insists on getting ashes on Ash Wednesday, for instance. She doesn’t go to church any other day of the year, but you better believe that she will be making an appearance on that day in February. She thinks it will save her soul for the rest of the year. Or something like that. For some reason, my parents are also very serious about sticking to the no meat on Fridays thing this year, so it was my job to come up with either a fish or vegetarian dish for Friday’s dinner. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, my father and brother are meat and potatoes kinds of guys. They like their animal protein source along with some carb, so to satisfy their cravings I decided to make a simple fish dish along with some mashed potatoes. The fish was good, not amazing. I really liked the way that the bread crumbs kind-of melted into the top as the fish baked. The mashed potatoes were the real hit though. They were based off a Rachael Ray recipe that I had been planning to make for a while but never got around to. All-in-all a pretty well balanced meal.

Baked Flounder with Tomatoes and Bread Crumbs
Serves 4, adapted from the Food Network

2 lb flounder fillets
2 lb tomatoes
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Score the tomatoes and blanch for 1 minute. Rinse with cold water and then peel. Remove the seeds from the tomatoes and chop up the meat.

2. In a non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil. Saute the garlic for 30 seconds and then add the tomatoes for a few minutes.

3. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Place the flounder fillets in the pan. Salt and pepper them. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs so that they are completely covered and top with tomatoes. Bake for 10 minutes.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Spinach
Serves 6, adapted from Rachael Ray

3 lb potatoes, cubed
1 lb baby spinach
4 tbsp butter (I used light butter)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
(the original recipe also called for nutmeg, which my father doesn’t like so I excluded it although I bet it would have added a nice nuttiness)

1. Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are fork-tender.

2. While potatoes are cooking, spray a saute pan with some cooking spray. Add the spinach in increments and cook until all is wilted. Remove to a dish and, when cool, squeeze out the excess water.

3. When potatoes are ready, strain them and set them aside. In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the garlic, minced, and cook for 2 minutes on low heat. Add in the half and half and spinach. Mix in the potatoes and mash to desired consistency. Salt and pepper them to taste.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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8 Responses to Meat and Potatoes: The Lenten Way

  1. I’m Catholic too. Flounder is #2 as far as my favorite fish and spinach is my #1 vegetable. The combination of both of them together is spectacular!

    Thank you for visiting my blog!

  2. Natashya says:

    Love garlic mashies! The spinach in them is a great idea!
    Sigh, at least you got parents with “normal” religion. I got a new ager -angels, white robes, chanting… with bits picked from other religions as she sees fit.
    The last time I lost something she told me to picture Guru Nanak on my head and ask him. I believe he is Sikh. Sigh.

  3. Pam says:

    I agree, those potatoes sound fantastic. I’m sort of a lapsed Catholic too. I think there are lots of us.

  4. ttfn300 says:

    i totally swoon in gourmet shops! i love grocery shopping 🙂 most of the time perusing!

  5. Reeni? says:

    I used to have an Amish market nearby, sadly it closed down. What a great idea to add spinach to mashed taters, and I love flounder, such a delicious meal!

  6. Debinhawaii says:

    Love the spinach in the mashed potatoes and garlic makes them heaven. The whole dinner looks wonderful. I can spend hours looking at great gourmet food stores too. They are what I like to visit most when I travel!

  7. Cate says:

    I do (or try really hard) the no meat Fridays too, but when I’m not planning ahead, I’m always stumped about what to make. This looks delicious! I didn’t know that there was an Amish market in NYC – can you tell me where? I go to one in PA sometimes, but would love to check this one out.

  8. Joanne says:

    Katherine – I had never had flounder before, but I told my dad to get any white fish and this is what he came up with. It was really good!

    Natashya – From what I know about you, I can’t really imagine your mother as being an alternative religion fanatic. But that’s the thing about family I guess – can’t live with em or without em.

    Pam – Thanks for the comment! Yes there certainly are a lot of us…I think the lapsed Catholics may outnumber the arduous believers these days.

    ttfn – It’s an addiction, but better than narcotics, so I figure it’s okay.

    Reeni – This one just opened up and I’m so glad I discovered it! Thanks for the comment.

    Deb – My motto is that while you can’t judge a book by its cover, you CAN judge a town by its grocery stores. I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting ingredients.

    Cate – Thanks for stopping by! Your blog was one of the first I became addicted to when I discovered the existence of food blogs. The Amish market I went to is in Queens and is part of the Atlas Park Complex. It’s pretty close to Woodhaven Blvd exit off the LIE. This is the URL:

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