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Puttin' on The Mitts: A splurge and a sweet

Coconut Milk-Poached Halibut with Mango Salsa Chelsey Perkins / Brainerd Dispatch1 / 2
No-Bake Lemon Dessert. Brainerd Dispatch / DeLynn Howard2 / 2

When Chelsey told me she came up with this great recipe using halibut, I nearly panicked. The only fish I ever make is in the oven—and it's frozen tilapia from Costco!

So, I turned to one of my favorite social media sites in search of something, anything I could make that would pair up well with her halibut recipe.

No-Bake Lemon Dessert sounded like a winner, so I went for it.

This dessert is so light, fluffy and refreshing. It was easy, which you know I love, and it didn't require heating up my kitchen during some of the hottest days in August so far.

The wheels are already turning with how many versions of this recipe I can create on my own now using this particular recipe as guidance. I've already bought the ingredients to make a cheesecake-type dessert, using cheesecake pudding and blueberry pie filling. The options are endless since Oreo is continually creating new versions of their famous cookies. It really changes the dessert game on several levels.

Now, if they could just make some calorie-free!

NO-BAKE LEMON DESSERT

(From the website crazyforcrust.com)

  • 36 golden Oreos, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1-3.4 ounce box instant lemon pudding (or coconut, cheesecake or vanilla pudding)
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 4 cups whipped topping (about 12 ounces, from two 8-ounce packages regular or fat free) Recipe said to use Cool Whip, not an off-brand whipped topping.
  • 1 cup lemon pie filling (or lemon curd, jarred or homemade)

Place 20 cookies in a gallon-sized sandwich bag.

Roll with a rolling pin to crush the cookies.

Add the melted butter into the bag and press with your hands to distribute evenly.

Dump the cookie crumb mixture into the bottom of an 8x8 pan. The crust should be loose, not like a traditional crust.

Make the pudding using the milk.

Whisk until smooth.

Let set for 2 minutes.

Fold in about 1 1/2 cups of Cool Whip to the pudding.

Carefully spread over cookie crust in the pan.

Crush remaining cookies in a few gallon-sized sandwich bag.

Sprinkle half of those over pudding.

Mix lemon pie filling with an even cup of Cool Whip.

Spread that mixture over pudding.

Spread remaining Cool Whip over the lemon pie filling mixture.

Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbles.

Cover with lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.

- DeLynn

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It isn't often I work with ingredients as premium as halibut, and when you like to experiment with recipes like I do, it's a bit nerve-wracking—if it doesn't work out, that's a pretty penny down the drain.

Fish is a tricky endeavor anyway, with its tendency to overcook quickly and stick to cooking surfaces. So when I was provided a $45 fillet of halibut and asked to prepare it with mango, I knew I wanted to use a cooking method offering a greater margin of error than sauteing or grilling. Poaching isn't a technique I use often, but it popped into my head and I ran with it.

I didn't really know what I'd end up with, but the beauty of learning to cook is usually you can rely on things you've learned along the way to help the process along. Do I know how to poach fish? Not really. But I do know how to make a sauce, what flavors go well with coconut milk, and I can make a mean salsa any day of the week.

It turns out, poaching fish is pretty easy. Just plop it into whichever liquid you're using for cooking and patiently wait. You'll want to stick close to the stove and monitor the cooking process, because it doesn't take much to turn a beautiful halibut fillet into a dry and chewy experience.

The best part about this recipe is you could use any fish you'd like. I have no doubt it would go well with salmon, or apply this tropical-inspired approach to a fish you caught on your dock. You don't have to lay down the big bucks to enjoy this dish, but trust me, a quality piece of halibut is an experience worth splurging on.

COCONUT MILK-POACHED HALIBUT WITH MANGO SALSA

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2-pound halibut fillet, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with 1 tablespoon water (if needed for thickening)
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 lime, or more to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the salsa:

  • 1 mango, pitted and chopped into 1-inch dice
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno, chopped
  • Chopped cilantro, lime juice and salt to taste

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan, big enough to accommodate the fish fillet.

Add onion and garlic and cook 5-7 minutes, until onions are clear.

Add spices and stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant.

Add the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil before turning down to simmer, about 15-20 minutes until it begins to thicken.

Meanwhile, prepare the salsa by combining all ingredients and set aside.

Carefully place the halibut fillet into the coconut milk and cover, cooking for about 5 minutes or until fish is flaky, careful not to overcook the fish.

Remove fillet from poaching liquid and set aside.

If coconut milk is not thick enough, add the cornstarch slurry to thicken.

Stir in the jalapeno, cilantro and scallions to the sauce and remove from heat.

Add lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: place halibut in a large shallow dish and spoon sauce over it, topping with mango salsa. Place remainder of sauce and salsa on the table.

-- Chelsey

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