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WaterShapes LogotypeBy Eric Herman

For all the technical savvy, design sophistication and overall smarts demanded of those who reach for the heights in the aquatic arts, I’m often reminded that, at its core, watershaping is largely about fun and enjoyment.

For years now, that message has come through in any number of ways in these pages.  Take the columns of Brian Van Bower:  Just about every month, he does an amazing job of persuading us that watershaping is really about good times and the pursuit of the good life.  And he’s not alone in repeatedly driving home the point that a big part of this pleasurable scene revolves around dining and entertaining.

That’s why I’m sure Brian and like-minded colleagues will particularly appreciate “Outdoor Living” by Scott Cohen in this issue.  Cohen is an accomplished designer and self-styled “garden artist” who plies his trade in the warm environs of southern California’s San Fernando Valley.

At the same time as he’s become widely known for creating scores of lavishly appointed backyard watershapes and landscapes, he’s also become well known as an authority on designing and installing outdoor kitchens – so much so that he’s one of HGTV’s go-to guys on the subject.  

In this month’s article, he generously shares what he’s learned in working with clients as they winnow through the vast array of options and possibilities that are part and parcel of these projects.  He also makes it deliciously clear that spaces for cooking, dining and socializing outside can become a sumptuous form of art when approached with tasteful planning and a few dashes of design sophistication.

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Inspired by that spirit, allow me to join the party and share one of my favorite summertime recipes – one that’s particularly well suited for an outdoor grill.  

It’s a dish of my own concoction, based loosely on recipes picked up from Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme, two of my culinary heroes.  I call it “Eric’s Zesty Crusted Fish Filets.”

The ingredients include four six-ounce fish filets (sole, talapia, sea bass, trout, redfish, halibut or any firm-fleshed fish), four strips of bacon or pancetta, a quarter cup of lemon zest, a quarter cup of grated fresh horseradish, a quarter cup of grated parmesan cheese, eight to ten finely sliced pepperoncinos, two eggs (whites only), a dash of red pepper flakes, a dash of black pepper and a healthy pinch of sea salt.

Prepare a sheet of aluminum foil for each of the filets.  Lightly brush the fish with the egg white and then coat them with a mix of the lemon zest, parmesan and horseradish before dusting with the black pepper and sea salt.  After placing them on the foil, spread the sliced peppers down the length of the filets, then lay a slice of bacon on top of each.  Loosely wrap the filets in the aluminum foil.

Place the wrapped filets on the grill over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.  When you can smell the bacon, the feast is ready.  I would suggest serving this main course with grilled vegetables (asparagus is a personal favorite), a fresh baguette and sparkling fruit juice or a good chardonnay.

To the joys of summer – bon appétit!

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