I have to admit that I had never paid too much attention to cod until I spent a few days on Matinicus Island about 12 years ago. I had taken the ferry over from Rockland, and for the first time in my life I experienced seasickness. To feel better, I had to partake of a very rare afternoon nap after a lunch of Pilot crackers and ginger ale.

I was awakened by a knock on the door and opened it to Andrew, an island boy who was holding a bucket with a big fish hanging out of it. Thankfully, my tummy trouble was well over and we were all happy to look forward to fresh fish for supper, especially since this young man took the creature away to the summer kitchen in the shed to ready it for frying up.

My hostess, Leona, sauteed the white fillets in butter and added lemon I’d brought from the mainland. This mild fish, along with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers brought from a Route 1 farm stand, was one of the best meals I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. I felt like I was living in the middle of an Elizabeth Ogilvie novel.

For your fish dinner, you may want to steam some tiny potatoes and make a batch of my very own Freelancer’s Salad that is cool, crunchy and full of flavor.

As a freelance writer who works all hours, I’m often scrounging around in the fridge for something half-way healthy to eat. As I work all day within just steps of the kitchen, it’s far too easy to snack on naughty things, but when I have a bowl of this on hand, it’s more likely that I’ll make a good choice.

And since the raspberries are coming on, we must eat some. These little jewels can be incorporated into many elements of a summer meal, so I’ll be sharing some more recipes over the next couple weeks.

For now, roll up your sleeves and take some time in the morning to make these mini-cheesecakes and chop up those salad ingredients before the kitchen gets too warm. Then take off that apron and go read a good book in the shade, knowing that you have an easy meal to prepare come evening time.

Freelancer Salad goes beautifully with a pan of simple Buttered Cod. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Buttered Cod

2 lbs. cod fillets

4 tbsps. butter

Juice of 2 lemons

Fresh parsley, minced

Heat butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cod to the melted butter in the skillet. Cook 2 minutes. Turn heat down to medium. Turn cod over, top with remaining butter and cook another 3-4 minutes. Drizzle lemon juice over the fish and top with fresh parsley. Yield: 4 servings

Freelancer Salad

3/4 cup celery stalks and leaves, diced

3/4 cup carrot, shredded

3/4 cup cabbage (red or white), shredded

3/4 cup broccoli, chopped

3 large radishes, julienned

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/4 cup cucumber, julienned

1/2 cup fresh herbs, minced (I love parsley, cilantro and a little mint.)

1/2 cup sliced almonds for garnish

Combine all ingredients except almonds in a large bowl. Just before serving, toss with dressing and garnish with almonds. Yield: 4 servings

Lime Vinaigrette

1/3 cup olive oil (a lime-flavored one is especially good)

Zest and juice of 1 large lime

1 clove garlic, peeled

2 tbsp. honey

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a jar. Cover and shake. Allow a couple hours for flavors to mingle before serving. Yield: 1/3 cup

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecakes

Crust

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsps. graham cracker crumbs (7 crackers)

1 1/2 tsp. sugar

3 1 /2 tbsps. butter, melted

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a bowl then pour in melted butter and stir until evenly moistened. Line muffin pan with 12 paper-lined muffin cups and spritz them with cooking spray. Add 1 slightly heaping tablespoonful of crumbs to each paper liner and press firmly into an even layer with the back of a spoon. Bake 5 minutes then remove from oven and allow to cool.

Raspberry Swirl

4 oz. fresh raspberries

2 tbsp. sugar

Crush raspberries and sugar together with a fork in a small bowl or use a food processor and pulse until pureed, about 30 seconds. Press mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl to remove seeds. Set aside.

Cheesecake Filling

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp. flour

2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. lemon zest

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup sour cream

Fresh raspberries for garnish

In a bowl, whisk together sugar and flour. Add cream cheese and lemon zest using an electric mixer, blending just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla and sour cream just until combined. Tap bowl against countertop about 10 times to release any large air bubbles.

Divide mixture evenly among cups, adding about 1/3 cup mixture to each and filling nearly full. With a small spoon, add about 3/4 tsp. raspberry sauce onto each cheesecake. Using a skewer, swirl raspberry mixture with cheesecake batter to create a swirled design. Bake 22-25 minutes at 325 degrees until cheesecakes are puffed and nearly set.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours, until set. Garnish with fresh berries when ready to serve. Yield: 12 servings


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