I was in Des Moines, Iowa last week working on a photo shoot for the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens. When I wasn't being wined and dined by the exceptionally lovely women of Meredith Publications, I spent the bulk of my time in their in-house photography studio, which was incredible! There were multiple shoots going on at the same time and it was a lot of fun to peek into the various sets. If I lived in Des Moines, I'd definitely want to be an intern there.
I also had my first experience shooting video, which was fun and nerve-wracking at the same time. Now, at least, I can cross it off my "life's most dreaded experiences" list. I had a great team with me, which helped immensely. But the experience gave me a new appreciation for people who spend most of their time on-camera. It's not easy to hit your mark, remember what you want to say, keep smiling, look at the camera, and not look like a complete fool all at the same time.
I returned home just in time to prepare for Tropical Storm Lee, which (thankfully) was mostly a non-event for New Orleans, and round two of super virus for my son, which he thoughtfully passed on to my husband and I. Still, we managed to squeeze in a good meal before all hell broke loose.
Fried catfish, potato salad, and blueberry pudding cake were on the menu. We have a deep fryer, which makes frying an absolute breeze, and I use the same type of fish fry that my grandmother always used - light as air, so that the coating is thin, delicate, and crisp. I can't imagine it any other way. It doesn't get greasy and it's just as good cold. The potato salad is my grandmother's as well. Nothing fancy, but supremely satisfying.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!
(This recipe calls for filets, but you can also cut your catfish into smaller pieces or long, thin strips)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
Zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
8 catfish filets
1. Pour oil into a large, deep cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet to a depth of 3 inches and heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, 350-360 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Meanwhile, put the lemon zest, 3 Tbsp. salt, and ½ tsp. peppercorns into a coffee grinder and grind together. Combine cornmeal, flour, seasoned salt and pepper, cayenne, and pepper to taste in a large shallow dish, then thoroughly dredge catfish filets, gently shaking off excess.
3. Working in 2 batches to avoid crowding, fry catfish in the hot oil, without turning, until golden and crisp, 5-6 minutes. Transfer filets with a slotted spatula to paper towels to drain. Season to taste with salt, if needed.
(most ingredients are to taste. Even better after being refrigerated overnight)
12-15 red potatoes
8 boiled eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
Vinegar (to taste - I use 2 or 3 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper
You can find the Blueberry Pudding Cake recipe here.