Archive for the 'Food' Category

Fishing for Flounder

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017
A wily, tasty flat fish: flounder.

A wily, tasty flat fish: flounder.

This is Passport to Texas

Flounder’s flat shape and ability to blend with its surroundings, makes it nearly invisible and difficult to catch—unless you’re Brian Treadway…

I think I’ve got a hit. Fish on! Fish on! I give you the southern Flounder. They live to be about six years of age. The state record’s 13 pounds. So, a 20-inch flounder’s considered a trophy fish.

Treadway fishes for flounder in Chocolate bayou, which he says is ideal flounder habitat.

The edge of the shoreline is a prime example of what you want to fish. It’s not flat. It’s simply curvy, and lots of points. Lots of edges. Drains are coming out of the marsh. It’s just a prime example of great, great terrain for the flounder.

December 1st -14th, the daily bag limit is two flounder, taken by any legal means. The current minimum size for a keeper is 14 inches with no maximum.

Oh, shoot. I stepped on him.

When Coe Parker’s not stepping on flounder in Christmas Bay, he’s gigging them.

The tools you need for gigging are a good gig—two prong preferably. I have mine marked off with the legal size limit. You have an underwater gig light, as well as a 12-volt deer feeder battery. That’s pretty much all you need.

Gigging with the best of them. Tomorrow.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Less is More When Cooking Fresh Caught Fish

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017
Chef Cindy Haenel

Chef Cindy Haenel

This is Passport to Texas

You may be tired of eating those heavy, Thanksgiving leftovers by now. If that’s true, it’s easy to find a nearby fishing hole where you can reel in something light, fresh and delicious. Chef Cindy Haenel says there’s nothing like catching your own dinner.

It’s fabulous. I know exactly how old that fish is, when it came out of the water and how long it’s been dead. And that’s important with fish especially. Fresh is always best.

Cindy, an avid angler, is a chef instructor at Central Market in Austin.

I love the saltwater as well as freshwater. But the saltwater you have more variety. You never know what you’re going to pull up. It’s exciting – like Christmas morning.

Immediately place your catch on ice, and if there’s a cleaning station on shore, Chef Cindy says consider doing the dirty work there. And when you get your catch back to the kitchen, be careful not to overcook it.

Most people, if they don’t like the taste of fish, it’s probably because they’ve overcooked it. And, as it cooks, and the oil of the fish starts to come out of the flesh, it burns very, very quickly. So, if you will undercook your fish, or protect that fish with either a salt crust, or even if it just has a little butter, or some kind of fat on the outside it still protecting that fish while it’s cooking.

Find fish recipes from Chef Cindy as well as a link to other fish and game recipes at

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and works to increase fishing and boating opportunities in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.


Trout Amandine
by Chef Cindy Haenel


8 (4-ounce) lake or rainbow trout fillets
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup (about 6 ounces) sliced, blanched almonds
Handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 lemon, wedged


Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Combine egg and milk in a tin pie plate, beat with a fork. Place a cup of flour in a second pie tin and season well with salt and sparingly with pepper. Coat trout fillets in egg and milk, then in seasoned flour. Collect fillets on a plate until all of them are dredged and ready to be cooked.

Add 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil to your skillet. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter to the pan. When the butter foams, add trout and gently saute 4 fillets for 2 or 3 minutes on each side, until golden. Transfer trout fillets to warm platter in oven.

Return pan to the stove and add 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. When butter foams, repeat cooking process. When all of the trout is cooked, add last tablespoon of butter to the pan. When the butter melts, add almonds and brown until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove trout from oven and pour almonds over the platter. Garnish platter with chopped parsley, lemon wedges, and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Food Week: Flavor Forward Game Cookery

Friday, November 24th, 2017
Solana Ranch near Salado, TX.  Photos for TPW Magazine story "Hunting with Chef Marcus"

Solana Ranch near Salado, TX. Photos for TPW Magazine story “Hunting with Chef Marcus”

This is Passport to Texas Food Week

To coax the best flavor from the deer hunters harvest this fall, proper care from field to plate, is a must. Just ask Marcus Paslay. He’s chef and owner of Clay Pigeon Food & Drink in Fort Worth.

Every step of the way—the way it’s handled—drastically affects flavor. You know, in the field, it’s something you want to get cleaned out as soon as you can, and get it cold as soon as you can. It keeps that flavor a little bit more clean.

A bit more clean, and a lot less gamey – but not without some gaminess.

It is an acquired taste. So, I think whoever’s eating it is going to have to have a sense of adventure to a certain extent. But there are ways to overcome it a little bit. I always like using brines. Soaking the meat in a sugar, citrus, salt bath overnight—or whatever it takes. That really helps out well with big game such as venison, or hog.

Brining is just one method Chef Paslay uses to impart flavor into game.

Another way I really love on venison is rubbing it down with coffee grounds. And the tannins in the coffee help break down the proteins and they also impart a pretty strong flavor themselves, which masks the gaminess of the meat.

Find a link to Chef Marcus Paslay’s recipe for coffee rubbed venison loin at

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Food Week: Respecting the Source

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017
Venison burgers cooking in a cast iron skillet.  Image: Bruce Biermann

Venison burgers cooking in a cast iron skillet. Image: Bruce Biermann

This is Passport to Texas Food Week

Holly Heyser, Communications director for California Waterfowl took up hunting to spend more time with her boyfriend who is a hunter, author and chef.

I got sick of being alone on weekends when he was out duck hunting all day long. He would get up at two in the morning and be out forever….well…it didn’t take that for me to join him. What it took was for him to cooking a lot of ducks, and wild ducks, especially where we live in the Sacramento Valley. Amazing. Really great food.

It’s appropriate that on Thanksgiving, Holly shares that hunting deepened her respect for animals and the meat they provide, and not just the wild ones.

Since I started hunting, I am so much less wasteful of meat. Even if I’m at a restaurant, if there’s a burger on my plate, I will not leave one single bite of meat on my plate, because I know an animal died for that. And when it’s animals you hunt, especially…we invest a lot of time. We can spend 12 hours and a lot of money on gas, to go and maybe get two ducks one day. That’s a precious gift, and you don’t waste it. So it’s really made me understand the value of the food we eat. And, I appreciate it a lot more than I ever used to. And the fact that it’s wild food and it’s absolutely delicious is icing on the cake.

Wild game is free range, organic, sustainable, and nutritious.

Find game recipes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our show.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Passport to Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Food Week: Wild Game Ups His Chef Game

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017
Jack Gilmore says working with wild game helps him to "up" his chef game.

Jack Gilmore says working with wild game helps him to “up” his chef game.

This is Passport to Texas Food Week

Hunters call them feral pigs. Chefs call them wild boars. Names don’t matter as long as the end result is delicious.

We use wild boar for a lot of chilis and things like that.

Feral pigs cause millions of dollars in damage to cropland in Texas, and tear up wildlife habitat, too.

Chef and restaurateur, Jack Gilmore serves game dishes at his namesake restaurants Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Austin and Round Rock, and says cooking wild boar offers challenges and rewards.

You really can’t write a recipe for it, because each time it’s different because it’s wild. It might be a little gamier, or a little fatty – or it may not have enough fat in it. You really have to be a chef again and say: ‘Well, if it doesn’t have enough fat in it, we could add bacon to it. If it has too much fat in it, we have to render it.’ You never know what a wild boar eats. You just don’t know. But, if they’re raised in the Hill Country, you know they’re eating persimmons; you know they’re eating acorns; you know they’re eating pretty good. But, sometimes you just have to realize what you’ve got and make it taste good.

Braising feral hog meat in the oven on low heat over a long period of time creates a tender and tasty result.

Find wild game recipes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.