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Celebrate The Holidays With Steamed Catfish, Collard Greens

Our episode includes foiled steamed catfish that is presented like little individual presents to the diners and collard greens that will have you thinking fondly of Brazilian beaches and 80-degree weather.

Hungry For The Holidays

Next to Thanksgiving, Christmas is the busiest day of the year at the Community Kitchen of Monroe County. According to Executive Director Vicki Pierce the need this year is the highest it's been in her 14 years of work at the kitchen, and highest percentage of people they serve is children.

"We tipped that over 50% a couple years ago, and in 2009 61% of the people we served were children," she says. This lines up with the report recently released by the USDA stating that 1 in 4 children were food insecure in 2009.

Food for the kitchen comes in from various agencies around the area as well as individual donors. Folks grow food and walk it into the kitchen or stop by on their way home from work. The Community Kitchen of Monroe County recently purchased a new and bigger building, and they look forward to all the advantages more space will provide, like growing their own food. What's the first thing Pierce says they will plant? Onions!

"We have to buy them regularly because they don't get donated and we use them a lot - and they've gotten quite expensive. When gas went up a couple years ago and doubled in price, onions doubled and haven't come all the way back down."

More: Hungry For The Holidays: Community Kitchens Fight Food Insecurity (Earth Eats)

Foil Steamed Catfish

This recipe uses a variety of vegetables to create an Asian-inspired fish dish. It employs a French cooking technique, en Papillote, where the food is folded in parchment and then baked. We're using foil today!


  • 2 catfish fillets
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 slices jalapeno
  • 1 teaspoon julienne ginger
  • 10-12 soaked shitaki mushroom caps with liquid
  • 1 cup julienne carrots
  • 1 cup julienne leeks
  • Chinese garlic chives
  • Fresh chiles (optional)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • Aluminum foil (2 pieces), 1 foot long
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. Soak dried mushroom caps before preparing dish.
  2. Place vegetables and fish in the middle of the 1 foot long sheet of aluminum foil. Add water to help it steam.
  3. Fold foil into fish-shaped packages for some extra fun.
  4. Cook 8-10 minutes. The packages will puff up and fill with steam. That is how you know the fish is cooked.

Brazilian-Style Collard Greens

This recipe for Couve a mineira serves 4 to 6. Garlic and shallots add just the right amount of tang and flavor to this traditional, yet simple side dish.


  • 2 bunches collard greens
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • freshly grated lemon zest
  • freshly minced ginger
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ground pepper, to taste


  1. Cut tough end stems off collard greens. Rinse leaves and gather them together into 2 piles. Take each pile and roll it tightly. Cut them into thin strips crosswise. You should have about 8 cups.
  2. Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.
  3. Sauté shallot with garlic, stirring often, until they are lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add greens and salt and pepper.
  5. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until greens are tender but bright green.
  6. Add lemon zest and ginger and stir to incorporate.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning. Collards should be crunchy but tender. If they aren't tender enough add a touch of water.

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