Chef Bonnell’s Seafood Cookbook Review

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Spring is always my favorite time of the year to indulge in new cookbooks and recipe trials.  It’s probably because of the heady scent of local fresh fruits and vegetables that start making their way into the stores about that time.  So it was with great gusto that I opened up Chef Jon Bonnell‘s new cookbook Waters Fine Coastal Cuisine who owns a restaurant right down the highway from us in Ft. Worth, TX; Waters – Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine.

Naturally the cookbook revolves around dishes prepared with fish of all kind; fresh water, salt water, shellfish and Chef Bonnell explains how, precisely, one masters the art of preparing these dishes, from the simple to the complex, there’s a plethora of recipes ranging from chilled & raw to roasted or baked.  Rounding the book out are some fantastic sides to eat along with the fish and voila you have yourself some fine coastal cuisine, right in your own kitchen.

Water, in any form, has always been Bonnell’s favorite playground.  The cookbook pays homage to “what’s fresh” and starts off with a tasty selection of recipes such as Ceviche of Grilled Striped Bass and Oysters on the Half Shell with Southwestern Serrano Sauce.  The book also features how to home cure smoked salmon and smoke a trout.

Every chef has their own favorites and Waters Bay Blend is one of Chef Bonnell’s own brands of dry spice mixes.  It’s used in many of the recipes in the book, and he’s happy to share it with you all.

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Makes 1 3/4 cups
Recipe by Chef Jon Bonnell – He mixes this up in a big batch to keep handy.

1 teaspoon black peppercorns 4 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns 1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon white peppercorns 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons coriander seeds 1/2 teaspoon chili de arbol powder
1 teaspoon celery seed 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
10 tablespoons sea salt 1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 bay leaf 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
4 tablespoons dill Pinch of ground cloves
2 tablespoons basil Pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons chives Pinch of ground ginger
1 tablespoon tarragon Pinch of ground allspice

Toast the peppercorns, coriander, and celery seeds together then let cool.

Combine the toasted seeds, sea salt, bay leaf, dill, basil, chives, and tarragon in a spice mill and grind until a smooth powder is formed.  Mix with all other ingredients and whisk together well.  Store in an airtight container.
Fans of fish and seafood will be inspired by the gorgeous photography of the recipes.  This book may cause excessive purchases from the fish counter at your grocer. You have been warned.

Waters Fine Coastal Cuisine is sold at, throughout Texas at Central Market Grocers, and nationwide at Barnes and Noble (in stores and online) as well as on (where you can also take a look inside the book) in hardcopy and Kindle.  Suggested retail price is $35.  Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are right around the corner so if you have a parent that enjoys fresh fish or seafood, it would make a great gift.

As for myself, I’m making plans to head down to Waters – Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine for dinner one evening; because the only thing better than the success of making good fish for dinner at home, is having someone else clean up the dishes for me .

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