Save The Bay - Eat A Ray and Ask Chef Dennis

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Last week at Wegman's as I looked over my seafood options, I saw a new item in the case, Chesapeake Bay Ray.  It had  a rich red color, and looked a little like a tuna steak, but best of all it was only $7.99 a pound.    I watched as another customer purchased a nice piece of the Ray, and asked her if she had ever had it before, she replied no......the draw was the price.  With the ever increasing prices of seafood, it was an unheard of steal! 

Chesapeake bay ray

Not really being sure I quizzed the staff, how can I cook it?  Broil, bake, pan fry, or grill they told me, okay lots of options but it really didn't tell me what I wanted to know.   What's it taste like?  No one knew for sure, the Ray had just arrived and no one had taken any home yet to try, but they offered what little they knew.  It taste's like veal, now I just couldn't accept that a logical explanation for the flavor, how could seafood taste like veal!  Then the staff proceeded to tell me that the Ray was destroying the balance of the Chesapeake Bay, eating everything in its path, lobster, clams, crabs, and also disrupting the oyster beds, and the slogan was "Save The Bay, Eat A Ray".  

Ok, they had me with that slogan.   I love my Chesapeake bay  clams, and crabmeat, and if this almost prehistoric creature was disrupting the delicate balance of the Chesapeake Bay it was my duty to help!

While the Chesapeake Bay is still a hundred or so miles away, it terms of Local, it still falls into that category, and I do try to eat local foods when ever possible.  So I purchased two good sized pieces and was on my way home.

Once I got home I started to do a little research and found that the Chesapeake Bay Ray, aka as the Cownose Ray, was indeed damaging the balance of the bay.  Opinions on the Ray went both ways, it was delicious, or it was terrible, but nothing conclusive either way. I found recipes that included blackening, marinating, and one for a Marsala sauce......I thought, who in their right mind would put a Marsala sauce on fish?  But I also found more people saying it tasted like veal.....Now I was really confused.....sigh

So when in doubt I fall back on my traditional preparation methods, of Olive Oil, salt and pepper.  It is grilling season and I thought that grilling would be the best way to cook the Ray.

What I found was that the shape of the steak made it difficult to cook properly, it started off as a nice thick piece a little more than an inch thick and narrowed down to about a half an inch. so I ended up finishing the Ray in the oven to make sure it was fully cooked.  I may have overcooked it slightly, when I first opened it up it was still a little rare in the center which may have been the best way to serve it, but I knew there was no way my wife would touch it if it wasn't fully cooked.  Cooking it long enough for the thickest part to be done, really overcooked the one end.  My suggestion would be to cut down the pieces and cook the thinner parts separately.

 Chesapeake Bay Ray
 

Now here is the major discovery about Ray, it does taste like Veal!  It eats like a roast of a not real tender steak, has absolutely no fish flavor or  odor, and would have been wonderful with a Marsala sauce or possibly even a demi glace.   The Ray desperately needs more flavor in the preparation, I think comparing it to veal would be accurate in the terms that it was fairly non descript in flavor.  Blackening or a really strong Asian marinade would have definitely improved the flavor. 

So to all you Pescatarians out there, or those of you who miss veal, give it a try, I don't think you'll be disappointed, just remember to amp up the flavor a little more than you think you should, and for non fish eaters it would be a wonderful compromise, you get all the health benefits of fish without any of the flavor!

Ask Chef Dennis

Desitination Asheville

Everything is in place for the Southeastern Food Lovers Associations First Annual Food Bloggers Festival  on August 12th and 13th!!!   Wow that was a mouthful!!  Just click on the link to register for the festival!

This year we are proud to be partnered with the WNC Mzgazine's Wine and Food Festival, and my friends let me tell you it's going to be a stellar event!  The cost of the two day ticket is only $69.00, which includes a breakfast with us at the Early Girl Eatery with a Q & A session afterwards as well as some other goodies!

There are a lot of great hotels in the area ranging in prices from very affordable to extravagent, just do a search on Hotels.com and you should find something to make you happy!  If your flying into Charlotte, its about a two ride to Asheville, and Charlotte is a US Air and United Hub, so check their options first for direct flights.

If you have any questions, please drop me a line at drayden4@verizon.net, or click on this link to register and pay through paypal, Southeastern Food Lovers Associations, click on the  Register button.

Photography

A subject near and dear to every food bloggers heart is how to take better food pictures....sigh, well I have news for you!!  I recieved an email from my friend Elin at Elinluv's sweet delights with a link to a great site for food bloggers with 31 days of Food Photography Tips at Learn Food Photography and Food Styling  their on day 5 so head on over and check out the posts!  They have other valuable information on their site, so when you have time check the other posts out as well.  They also recommend Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin  which is an incredible book and a steal at $16.00 at Amazon!

FoodPorn

I have been asked to repost my  list all of the foodporn sites that I know of, so here they are with a few new additions.

Bakeolicious

Vegolicious

Make Me Drool

Savory Sights

Foodie View

Cookbook Karma

Here is an interview I found from the Editor of TasteSpotting, at Learn Food Photographycheck it out if you would like some insights into the process.

Now remember its important to get your images on some of these sites because they will send traffic to your blog, more traffic = more exposure.   Just don't spend all your time uploading images, find the ones that generate the most hits for you.

When you shoot start shooting a set for uploads, squares seem to be what works best on some sites, so make your image large enough to crop into a square. 
Keep your composition interesting and compelling, good lighting, and good focus.   Those seem to be the main reasons for having your images denied(at least mine).

Food Writers
For all of you aspiring food writers  or any writers, who hope to someday make a little something (or a lot) to help defray the costs of your blog, or just as an added income I have a new site for you!  Its called Suite101.com, click on the link and then what ever topic that interests you.  You  submit a sample of your writing or a link to your blog, and when they approve you, your all set to start on your writing career, and you actually get paid!  check it out when you have time.

Health

For those of you that may not know, the USDA has come up with a new site and a new image for the old food pyramid, its called Choose my Plate, it really does make a lot more sense, so check out the site when you have the time.  We will be using this at school this year.

 Well my friends that's it for today, I had a great holiday weekend, the weather has been hot hot hot, but thats ok it's summertime!  I hope everyone is enjoying good weather where ever you are and you have some time to get out and enjoy the summer!  Have some fun, eat something delicious, and spend time with your family and friends, after all that's what its all about! Till nest time, remember.....

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