Jan 10, 2012

Catfish Divan "down at da camp"

Every fall my whole family goes "down to da camp" where Louisiana splays her webbed feet into the Gulf.

It's really something to wake up to this.

And end the day with this.

You might remember (if you've been here a while) last year's trip was after the BP spill.  It hurt me to see what I saw.  And the mess and sludge had already been cleaned up by then.  It was more about what I didn't see: life.  Wildlife.  Mainly birds.  So quiet and still and eerie last year.  So different and troubling.

Normally I look forward to this annual trip.  This year I found myself on edge the closer it came.  Almost dreading it.  Not knowing what I'd find.  Or wouldn't, rather.

The pelicans were back!  I couldn't stop taking pictures of them perched on pilings and flying overhead.  Other birds, like egrets and blue herons had returned too (although not in the numbers I saw before BP).

This year we outdid ourselves, throwing in some extra activities.
Like crabbing in Lake Hermitage w/ grandpa.

And a crab boil.

And BB gun mania.

Dahlin', you know you passed a good weekend when
"fun & exhausting"
sum it up.

And no one shot their (or anyone else's) eye out.
A couple of years before he died, my grandpa gave me From Woodstoves to Microwaves...Cooking with Entergy, a cookbook published in 1997 by the electric company in New Orleans. It's more than a cookbook, it's New Orleans food history. The cookbook is a collection of recipes that Entergy mailed alongside it's customer's bills and used in cooking demonstrations (to show people how to use modern appliances). Recipes that reflect what the people of New Orleans eat and have eaten for many years. The introduction to From Woodstoves to Microwaves explains:
"...this cookbook is a reprint of...many recipes that are, in many respects, the essence of this city. These are as much an archive of New Orleans' culture and community as any work of history or anthropology. And with the history comes a little lagniappe--the opportunity to taste New Orleans."

I love to flip through this book, reminding myself of meals eaten on Sunday afternoons at my great-grandma's house, or dishes my grandpa experimented with.

Today's fish recipe, Catfish Divan, is an adaptation of a recipe found in this book.

I absolutely loved this dish! So much that I made it twice last month. The fish is first poached in white wine and green onions.
Waste not want not...the poaching liquid is used in the sauce. The tasty, tasty sauce.

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Catfish Divan
adapted from From Woodstoves to Microwaves
1 pound catfish fillets
1/2 lemon
3-4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup half & half, room temp or warmed
1 tsp salt, divided
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
about 8 oz frozen broccoli spears, thawed (roughly 1 package)
black pepper to taste
1/4 sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350.

Rub the fish fillets with the cut side of the lemon. Add green onions and wine to a shallow pan large enough for the fish to fit in one layer. Place the fish in the pan. Simmer over low heat, basting occasionally, until the fillets begin to flake.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour and stir. Cook for a few minutes, then stir in the half & half, about 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Stir while cooking until the sauce thickens and bubbles, about 4 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and squeeze the remaining juice from the lemon half into the sauce.

Grease a casserole dish large enough to lay the fish flat in one layer. Place the fish in the casserole and season with the remaining salt (or to taste) and with black pepper. Top with the broccoli. Pour the sauce over the broccoli, sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and the sliced almonds. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

linking with:

Nap-Time Creations
Things that make you say:
 Hearth and Soul blog hop at Premeditated Leftovers PermanetPosies.com

Cookbook Sundays


  1. What an awesome story and great to see the wildlife coming back, it'll take some time but a start is what it needs :)
    Take care..

  2. This is one I've got to try. Thanks for sharing. That cookbook sounds like an interesting read. I love books like that, very authentic, local food. One of my favorite books is one that my grandma received from her local women's republican club. It captures that time and our city perfectly.

  3. so glad to see the coast is recovering, our side is doing fine with wildlife too - my biggest concern in the still ongoing, like the so unusual numbers of dolphins washing up this past year, for no reason...
    love your recipe, I have made one similar but the addition of broccoli is most delightful sounding...

  4. Delicious dish, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop.

  5. Sounds like you guys really got the most out of your trip! Looks like so much fun.

    I love the sauce for that divan....anything that starts off with white wine has to be delicious.

  6. I am so happy to read that the birds were back and your trip was fruitful. I loved all the pictures!

    Do you know I've never had catfish? Crazy, I know because they literally sell it everywhere. I love this sauce with the wine and the cheese and the broccoli. I'm craving broccoli in a major way lately.

  7. Lovely pics (especially the crab pics, yum!). I've never heard of catfish divan but I've had chicken divan and it's delicious, so I know this would be as well. :)

  8. Love your photos, and so wonderful to know that the wildlife is starting to return to the area, though I imagine it will take many years before the gulf recovers completely.

    What a treasure of a cookbook. I have never eaten catfish - not something we have in New Zealand - but I love the idea of this dish, and I know the broccoli lover in my house would love it too. I will give it a try with some local fish - looks like maybe sole would be a good alternative.

    Thanks for sharing this at Cookbook Sundays.

    Sue xo

  9. Nothing like some great seafood cooking. http://www.momtrends.com/2012/01/friday-food-recipe-linky-kung-pao-beef/

  10. I have only been to New Orleans once and it was long before Katrina. But, I grew up going to Gulfport as a child to visit relatives. I used to love to go crabbing and shrimping.....and deep sea fishing. You brought back memories. Your fish looks divine! Glad the pelicans are back.

  11. I love the culture & the photos you shared! Sounds delicious. Thanks for linking up!

  12. I so enjoyed this post! What beautiful photographs, and I am so glad the birds are back!

    Thank you also for sharing your delicious catfish divan recipe. It looks and sounds absolutely scrumptious! I'm not sure if I can get catfish here (sadly, as I have eaten it in the past and know how yummy it is!) but I hope to try this with another firm white fish very soon!

  13. What a great looking fish. I am featuring it at Bake with Bizzy. Come visit. I always enjoy your comments.

  14. Anonymous1/19/2012

    I'm so glad your pelicans are back! The recipe sounds great too. We finally went to Louisiana last spring, before we moved from TX to CO, and my whole goal was finding real local food.

    Thanks for linking up to Friday Food on Momtrends.com!

  15. Sorry I'm so late. This looks great. Thanks for sharing with simply Delish.

  16. Tried this today. Sooo yummy! We'll be returning again and again to this recipe!


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