A conversation with Chef Nancy Waldeck
Member of the Forever Oceans Culinary Board
Nancy Waldeck what is your position?
I’m a Healthy Chef Partyologist at Taste and Savor – I travel, taste and teach.
What are your Interests:
I specialize in better-for-you, easy-to-enjoy recipes for the home cook. And I love to pair interesting, affordable wines with my recipes. My recipes are based on what I discover while traveling, the recipes and flavors I learn from other cuisines and using that learning to create recipes to for home cooks. I want to bring my clients with me to experience new cultures, cuisines and wine, so I guide small groups of interested adventurers to destinations in the United States and abroad. Healthy food and accessible wines are my passion, so I pursued both a Health Coach certification from Emory University and an Advanced Wine Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust.
How did you become a chef?
After experience as a corporate trainer in the pharmaceutical and consumer goods sector, I was
ready for a new challenge. The culinary world beckoned from my knowledge of back and front of
house – as a cook, a caterer and a flight attendant. Being a consultant trainer enabled me to group work together and volunteer for visiting chefs on book tours in Atlanta, and take classes at the CIA, Atlanta and in Europe. After 4 years of volunteering, I was finally paid for my work and 2 years later I started teaching others.
Why do you think it’s important to be on the Forever Oceans Culinary Board?
What an honor to be included among such a vast array of culinary talent. Forever Oceans understands that in order to translate a sustainably good practice of aquaculture they will need to show chefs and home cooks the many ways that this seafood can be served and enjoyed. I am constantly amazed at just how delicious this fish is – and how in every preparation the flavor and
texture shines through.
Nancy, do you have any educational tips on fish, how to choose a great piece of fish,
cooking methods to why it’s important to include fish in your diet?
Using our senses is an easy way to ensure that we buy good fish. The first thing to use is our nose by checking the smell – we can tell if it has a fresh aroma, not a fishy one. Our eyes can see if the skin of the fish looks moist and the color of the fish is bright. After purchase, fish filets should be stored in the coldest part of the fridge, and on ice. Fish kept this way will be good for up to 3 days.
Simple cooking methods make good fish even more flavorful. One of the easiest ways to enjoy fish at home is cooking fish filets in the oven, whether simply marinated, rubbed with spices and herbs, or as part of a casserole. Grilling is also an easy option. Making sure that the grill is clean, and oiling it with half an onion dipped in oil, pierced with a fork and run over the grill grates adds flavor and a non-stick surface to the grill. Another easy way to capture the smoky flavors of grilling is to use a cast iron skillet directly on the grill.
Fish can be a daunting protein for home cooks! Many are afraid of buying fish, because the media has portrayed some of the worst scenarios with farm raised fish. There are so many misconceptions out in the general public. Explaining aquaculture in simple terms, and visually is
the best way to help people to buy fish that tastes great and is sustainable.
Nancy give us your thoughts on sustainability and what it takes to be environmentally
friendly to the planet.
We must look farther than just our city or local area. Fish is eaten all over the world, and it’s a privilege to be able to buy it, especially such a wide assortment of seafood. Sustainable means that we can enjoy it now and later – and so can others in faraway places.
Nancy, what would you like to cook for us today?
This Mediterranean inspired fish recipe is flavorful and beautiful whether for a weeknight meal, or a festive dinner with friends. Sustainably delicious Kahala adds a hearty meaty texture to the dish after its quick marinade with herbs and garlic and the rich tomato sauce topping the casserole makes it an easy one dish dinner.
Kahala with Fennel, Olives and Fingerlings
Serves 6 – 8
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Tsp Sea Salt
2 Tsp Herbes de Provence, or Italian Seasoning
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
2 TB Lemon Juice
½ Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 LB Kahala, Skin Removed and 1 – 2” chunks
8 – 10 Small Gold Potatoes or Fingerlings, cut into 1” pieces
1 Head Fennel, Chopped
3 TB Olive Oil
5 Garlic Cloves, Grated
2 (15 oz) Cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Crushed style
2 Roasted Red, Yellow or Orange Bell Peppers, chopped
1 Cup Chopped, Pitted Green Olives
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste
¼ Cup Chopped Fennel Fronds
Make the marinade by placing the garlic and salt in a food processor, pulse to chop. Add the Herbes de Provence, cumin, lemon juice and pepper, pulse to combine. Add the oil and puree.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Reserve 2 TB of the Marinade. Add the rest of the marinade to a resealable plastic bag, (or place in a bowl), with the fish. Make sure the fish is completely covered with the marinade. Set aside at room temperature while you make the tomato sauce..
While the fish is marinating, place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water by 1”. Bring to a boil, add a generous sprinkle of salt and cook for about 10 minutes or until just barely done.
Heat the ¼ Cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan, when warm, sauté the fennel until soft – about 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat. Then add the garlic and cook and stir until aromatic. Add the tomatoes and cook and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the peppers and reserved marinade to the tomato mixture. Stir in the olives. Let cook while you assemble the casserole.
Place the potatoes and fish in the bottom of a flat wide casserole dish, individual casserole dishes or a skillet that can be used at the table. Spoon the tomato sauce over and place in a preheated 400F oven and cook until the fish is done, about 15 – 20 minutes – the fish will be opaque and flake easily, and the tomato sauce will be bubbling. Sprinkle the dish with fennel fronds. Serve with a baguette to scoop up the juices.
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