Cooking for yourself just isn’t that fun and I’ve been doing a lot of it lately.  That’s why, DAYS before leaving for Davis, I had come up with an entire menu to cook for housemates when I went home last weekend.  For whatever reason, I was craving southern soul food, so the menu that unfolded turned into a somewhat of a southern feast!  Rather than giving you the whole menu now, I’ll post it dish by dish.  That way I’ll leave you in suspense!  Right…

First I’ll start with the main course, spicy blackened catfish.  I know it’s not the world’s most glamorous fish, but it’s a southern classic and I like it.  I like blackened catfish better than fried and it’s a little healthier, so that’s what I went with.  This was my first time attempt at cooking fish this way and I found a recipe online that looked promising.  The whole process, start to finish doesn’t take very long and since it wasn’t critical that my other dishes be piping hot, I made the catfish last–just before I was ready to serve the meal.

You probably noticed that my catfish didn’t turn out very black.  I think the oil/butter mixture in the skillet wasn’t hot enough, but I’m not sure.  It still tasted good, but it didn’t quite deliver on spiciness.  Next time, even though I’m not very tolerant of heat, I would add more cayenne pepper to the seasoning mix.  If you know you like things spicy I might double the amount this recipe calls for.  I would just be careful not to go overboard on adjustments since the heat of different cayenne peppers can vary a lot.

If you decide to make this, I hope you enjoy it!  The side dish (and dessert!) recipes will be up soon!
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Spicy Blackened Catfish
from Gourmet (via epicurious.com)

Serves 2.

Ingredients
2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (I would try 1/2 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 catfish fillets (about 1 pound)
1 large garlic clove, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
lemon wedges as an accompaniment

Directions
1. In a small bowl combine the paprika, the oregano, the thyme, the cayenne, the sugar, the salt, and the black pepper, pat the catfish dry, and sprinkle the spice mixture on both sides of the fillet, coating them well.

2. In a large skillet sauté the garlic in the oil over moderately high heat, stirring, until it is golden brown and discard the garlic.

3. Add the butter, heat it until the foam subsides, and in the fat sauté the catfish for 4 minutes on each side, or until it is cooked through. Transfer the catfish fillets with a slotted spatula to 2 plates and serve them with the lemon wedges.

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