League City couple enjoys cooking together in kitchen with Old World charm
Keisha and Slade Zapp work together, fish together and bake together.
“It works really well,” Keisha Zapp said. “We own our own business, share a home office and also share the kitchen. If he’s cooking something in the kitchen, I’ll come in and take over and if I’m cooking, he’ll come in and help me. We both love to bake and it’s a toss up if we’d rather do that or go fishing.”
With Galveston Bay practically in the backyard of their League City home, the couple makes it a point to take their boat out to fish whenever time permits. A handy fish-cleaning station is dockside with running water and electricity.
When the Zapps initially looked at the home four years ago, they were smitten by the open-concept layout, Keisha Zapp said.
“Plus, we didn’t have to do one thing to the kitchen due to its Old World charm, which is exactly our style,” she said. “I particularly love the Viking double oven, gas range, pot filler and the slate backsplash.”
The custom-wood cabinets with subtle decorative rope patterns and corbels on each side of the range hood are striking architectural details. Matching granite on the countertops and island is Venetian gold. A tray ceiling above the island is a nice touch, although the overhead bronze hanging pot rack is now used as a place for holiday décor. Floors are classic multicolor slate tiles of pearl gray and rust.
An adjoining dining room with glass rectangle dining table, buffet and antique bar cabinet — a family heirloom — add to the Old World charm.
The entry hall, living room, breakfast room all lead to the kitchen, which is the heart of the home, Zapp said.
“My husband and I both love to bake — biscuits and beer bread from scratch, sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies, sand tarts, all types of pound cakes and Bundt cakes,” she said. “I keep measuring cups in my flour and sugar containers, which saves time when baking, and I have the same pans and cookie sheets that belonged to my grandmother.
“I have several of her cookbooks, like ‘Favorite Recipes of America — Desserts,’ and ‘Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking’ published in 1947. Both are falling apart and are full of handwritten notes.”
Baking is therapeutic for the Zapps, but they also find relaxation in fishing, she said.
“We do a lot of fish fries outside and catch trout, redfish and flounder in the bay,” she said. “We fry, grill, bake — whatever we’re in the mood for. We also fix shrimp different ways and shuck our own oysters. We have a lot of fish-cleaning tools, like the Bubba Lithium Ion Electric Fillet Knife that has different blades.
“With all that fish, I like to make ceviche, even though it takes a lot of time,” she said. “But the outcome is delicious, so it’s worth the effort.”
Best baking tool: T-Fal Kitchen heavy duty rolling pin
Best seafood cookbook: “Gulf Coast Cooking: Seafood from the Florida Keys to the Yucatan Peninsula”
Best way to serve seafood: Chinet paper platters
1 pound fresh, skinless snapper, bass, halibut or other ocean fish fillets, cut into ½-inch dice
1½ cups fresh lime juice
1 medium white onion, chopped into ½-inch pieces
2 medium-large tomatoes (1 pound), chopped into ½-inch pieces
Fresh hot green chiles (2-3 serrano or 1-2 jalapeños), stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1⁄3 cup chopped cilantro, plus a few leaves for garnish
1⁄3 cup chopped pitted green olives (Manzanillos for Mexican flavor)
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice or ½ teaspoon sugar
1 large or 2 small ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
Tostadas, tortilla chips or saltine crackers for serving
In a 1½-quart glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the fish, lime juice and onion. Use enough juice to cover the fish and allow it to float freely; too little juice means unevenly “cooked” fish. Cover and refrigerate for about 4 hours, until a cube of fish no longer looks raw when broken open. Drain in a colander.
In a large bowl, mix together the tomatoes, green chiles, cilantro, olives and optional olive oil. Stir in the fish and season with salt, about ½ teaspoon. Add the orange juice or sugar. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately. Just before serving, gently stir in the diced avocado.
Make ahead: The fish may be marinated a day in advance; after about 4 hours, when the fish is “cooked,” drain it so that it won’t become too tangy. For the freshest result, add the flavorings to the fish no more than a couple of hours before serving.
Ways to serve: Place the ceviche in a large bowl and let people spoon it onto individual plates to eat with chips or saltines; spoon the ceviche into small bowls and serve tostadas, chips or saltines alongside; or pile the ceviche onto chips or tostadas and pass around for guests to consume on the edible plates. Garnish with cilantro leaves.