Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Local cooks are winners

From walleye recipes to brunch ideas, Toledo area residents continue to shine in national recipe competitions.

Michelle Hartman of Bryan, who loves to fish, not only catches dinner and cooks it, she also managed to impress the judges of a national recipe contest with a recipe.

From thousands of entries in the Comstock and Wilderness Family Reunion recipe contest, 10 winners were selected. Ms. Hartman's Raspberry Walleye won the $10,000 grand prize.

She used part of her winnings to throw a family reunion for 60 of her family members in her hometown in Northwest Ohio. Of course, she served Raspberry Walleye. She says that the recipe is equally good with pike, bass, and perch.

Recipes were judged on originality, taste, and overall appeal to all ages.

Raspberry Walleye

4 large walleye fillets (1/4 pound each)

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

8 tablespoons lemon juice

2 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced

1 medium minced onion

1 can Comstock Raspberry Filling

3 tablespoons fresh sweet basil

1 teaspoon fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon pepper or to taste

1/4 teaspoon salt


FUD Raspberry Walleye. Photo courtesy of Comstock/Wilderness

comstock Enlarge

Mix all herbs and spices together in a small bowl. Wash fresh or thawed frozen fillets and pat dry. Soak in mixture of buttermilk, cayenne, minced onion, and lemon juice for 1 hour. Gently remove fish and place into well-greased baking dish.

Arrange fillets so that they touch. Put three to four tablespoons of buttermilk mixture onto each fillet to cover. Sprinkle 1/2 herb mixture over fillets. Slice tomato and carefully remove seeds leaving the walls of meat intact. The slices look like wagon wheels.

Using a tablespoon, drop raspberry filling onto fillets to cover and smooth to about 1 inch thick. Place two slices tomato wheels on each fillet on top of raspberry and fill hollows with feta cheese. Put one tablespoon of raspberry filling in the middle of each tomato wheel and sprinkle with remaining herbs.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 5 to 8 minutes depending on thickness of fillets. Place on serving platter and serve immediately with baked potato and tossed salad.

Yield: 4 servings

Source: Michelle Hartman, Bryan, Ohio

Meanwhile, Lori Shamszadeh of Toledo competed against seven other amateur brunch experts in New York City on Oct. 18 for the title of America's Most Amazing Brunch Host.

The contest was held at the Institute of Culinary Education, formerly known as Peter Kump's Cooking School, in Manhattan. Not only did contestants prepare their recipe, they also decorated a brunch table.

Mrs. Shamszadeh's entry was Crunchy Caribbean Baked Bananas with Caramelized Honey Ginger Lime Sauce. “My brunch table paints a picture in the colorful palette of the islands, the cerulean blue of the sea, vibrant greens, and myriad colors of the flora,” said the freelance graphic designer.

The winner was Camilla V. Saulsbury of Bloomington, Ind., with Calypso Crab Cakes with Fresh Mango-Papaya Relish made with Great Grains cereal. The winning recipe will be served in one of B. Smith's New York or Washington restaurants. Style expert B. Smith was one of the judges.

For those who may think these competitions are all play, this cook-off was held at 5 a.m. “The cooking school had classes later that day,” said Mrs. Shamszadeh, who also had to write a 250-word essay describing the brunch theme.

The 2002 Zagat New York City Restaurant Survey ($12.95) has just been published. Since the fateful attacks Sept. 11, much has changed the New York restaurant landscape, especially in and around Ground Zero.

Perennial d cor leader and crowd-pleaser Windows On the World was destroyed. Prominent downtowners - Nobu, Danube, Montrachet, Tribeca Grill, Hudson River Club, Chanterelle, City Hall, and Bouley Bakery - were forced to close during cleanup efforts. Later when Bouley Bakery reopened, the kitchen was devoted to preparing hot meals for recovery workers, while serving the general public at its nearby Danube location.

More than 30 downtown restaurants including fast food and takeout shops closed permanently as a result of the terrorist attack. Many restaurants in TriBeCa and other downtown neighborhoods were able to reopen in one to two weeks after the tragedy, but business continued to be adversely affected. A common complaint among the restaurants as far east as the Seaport, is lack of reliable phone service due to damaged infrastructure.

Among the restaurants that have opened, several, such as Danube and Chanterelle, have added bargain prix fixe dinners as an option, and other restaurants have discounted their normal a la carte prices, according to the Zagat Survey.

Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor. E-mail her at

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