Poached Tilapia

Poached fish is a simple technique for can cooking lean fish like tilapia, cod, sole, haddock, snapper or halibut, as well as fatty fish like salmon or trout.  Poaching preserves moisture and adds flavor without adding fat — though you may want to serve poached fish with a sauce made from the leftover water.

~POACHED TILAPIA~

Ingredients:

  • Filet of fish
  • Large skillet
  • About 4 cups of water, fish stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 Lime (1/2 sliced and the other 1/2 left for juice)
  • A few sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 White Onion (sliced into “coins”)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of either Sea Salt or Kosher Salt

Preparation:

  1. Start by making a series of shallow, diagonal cuts on the skin side of the fish fillets. These cuts prevent the fillet from curling during the poaching process.
  2. Heat the liquid on med-low until it reaches the point of almost simmering– the liquid should be hot but NOT boiling.
  3. Add the fish to the hot liquid, skin side down.  The fish should be covered completely by the liquid.
  4. To this, add the sliced onion, minced garlic and lime slices.
  5. Cook for about five minutes or until the fish is just done without being overcooked. (It should just have reached the point of becoming opaque and is no longer translucent.)
  6. Carefully remove the fish and the onions– set aside. Cover the fish to keep it warm while you do the next step of preparing the sauce.
  7. Remove the lime slices and discard.
  8. Cook the liquid over high heat until it has reduced by half.
  9. To the reduced liquid, add 1-2 Tablespoons of butter and whisk into the liquid.
  10. Next, add the same amount of all-purpose flour to the mixture (equal amounts flour to butter)
  11. Whisk until flour is cooked and mixture has thickened (it should smell more like toasted bread rather than “doughy” when the flour has reached the point that it is cooked).
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Place the fish on a plate and garnish with the onions that you set aside.
  14. Top fish with the sauce, garnish with some freshly chopped cilantro, lime juice and an extra pinch of salt (sea salt if you have it; if not, then Kosher salt will do.)

*Instead of making a white sauce to top the Tilapia, you could instead top with a Roasted Salsa Verde (or a Basic Salsa Verde) which you can make ahead of time.  You can serve the fish with rice, pasta or on top of a bed of fresh spinach.

fish

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Katie’s Matzo Balls

This recipe is taken from Passover Seders Made Simple by Zell Shulman.  Thanks for sharing, Katie!

Ingredients:Matzo Meal3browneggs

  • 3 Large Eggs (separated)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup Matzo Meal

Preparation:

1. In medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, salt, pepper and cinnamon.

2. Beat egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold them gently into the egg yolk mixture.

3. Gently fold in the matzo meal 1/4 cup at a time; it should be absorbed but still hold air and not become think like paste. You may not need the entire 3/4 cup; it all depends on the size of the yolks. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

4. Partially fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Remove the matzo ball mixture from the refrigerator. Moisten your hands with cold water, then take 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the mixture into your wet hands. Form it into a ball and drop it in to the boiling water. When all the matzo balls are in the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.

5. Remove the matzo balls with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. When cool, add them to your soup. Simmer in the soup for 15 minutes before serving.

*Note: Matzo ball mixture can be made 1 or 2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.

matzohballs

I doubled the recipe without any problems. The key to light fluffy matzo balls is the egg whites! Its taken me a few years and a TON of egg whites to be able to get them right! I had never made meringues before so I had very little experience with how temperamental egg whites can be!

Hope you enjoy!

~Katie

The Soup~~~~~~~~~~

You can use them in pretty much any soup you would like. Typically its a chicken soup. Last year I used them in a simple vegetable broth that was really tasty. Below is the recipe from the same recipe book!

  • 2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
  • 1 rib celery
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 parsnips, sliced
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 16 black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 cups water

1. place all ingredients in a large stockpot, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for at least 2 hours or until potatoes are soft when pierced with a the tip of a knife.

2. Strain the stock through a colander lined with cheesecloth. Press liquid from the vegetables and discard. Refrigerated for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

From what I have read they are basically a substitute for noodles or dumplings since you can not use typical flour/leavening during passover! They are funny little things!

~Katie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

No-Boil Mac ‘n Cheese

     This mac ‘n cheese is mostly a recipe that I got from my dad, and it’s (in my opinion) the BEST!  You can eat it simply as-is or add beans and vegetables to the mix to up the nutrition factor.  I have made it with garbanzo beans and edamame (fresh whole soy beans), but you could also try carrots, peas, green beans… whatever you’d like.  As a refresher (or, if you’ve never made a cheese sauce before), you may want to read over: Basic Cheese Sauce

  • In about 3 Tablespoons of Butter, sautée 1/2 Cup of diced White Onion
  • To the onion, add a table spoon of Dijon Mustard, a dash of freshly grated Nutmeg and a pinch of Salt and Pepper
  • Once the onion is soft, add 1-2 cloves of minced Garlic; heat for about a minute
  • To the mixture, add about 3 Tablespoons of All-purpose Flour; whisk constantly until the flour is cooked (see: Basic White Sauce for tips)
  • After the sauce is a toasted blond color, add about 3 cups of Whole Milk
  • Whisk constantly over high heat until the sauce comes to a boil.
  • Once the sauce boils, take it off the heat and then stir in about 8oz of shredded or crumbled cheese (I prefer a mixture of sharp cheddar and mozzarella).  Whisk until the cheese is all melted and the sauce is smooth.
  • In baking dish, place 16oz of uncooked Macaroni pasta, and pour the cheese sauce over the pasta so that the pasta is completely submerged– if you need to add more milk to raise the level of the sauce so that the pasta is completely covered, do so.
  • Top with more shredded cheese if you desire a cheesy crust!
  • Cover the dish and bake at 375° for about 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, increase the temperature to 400° and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  *You can add bread crumbs on top at this point if you’d like.
  • You’ll know it’s ready when the cheese on top starts to bubble and brown.  Yum!

mac 'n cheese

Split Pea (w/Ham) Soup

      This recipe calls for ham/ham stock, but it can easily be made into a vegetarian dish by using vegetable stock.  If you prefer the vegetarian version, just disregard any steps that mention the ham.  I like to make the meaty-version whenever I have leftover ham at Christmastime. 

  • Soak about a pound of dried split-peas overnight in a large bowl of water.green split peas
  • The next day, take your ham and place it in a large pot.  Fill the pot with water (making sure to cover the ham) and cook, covered, over low heat for a few hours– until the meat is falling off of the bone.
  • Strain the liquid from the pot and set aside.
  • Put the meat aside to cool– you will be cutting it up and adding it to the soup at a later point.
  • Next, strain off the liquid from the beans that have soaked overnight.
  • Place the beans in your pot and add the ham stock that you have just made.
  • Add a bay leaf and a bit of pepper, and then cook the peas over medium heat for about an hour.
  • You’ll notice that, as the peas cook, there will be foam that forms on top of the liquid.  Simply skim this off as it forms.  Eventually, the foam will stop forming.
  • As the peas are cooking, mince a few cloves of garlic (about 3-4), and dice up some white onion (about 2 cups) and carrots (about 1 cup).  You can also cut up some potatoes to add to your soup if you’d prefer a more stew-like soup.
  • Once the peas are soft, remove the bay leaf.  Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until the consistency is smooth.
  • Add about a teaspoon of dried oregano (or 1 Tablespoon of fresh oregano if you have it) and the other vegetables, and cook, covered, over low heat until the carrots and potatoes are soften.
  • While the soup continues cooking, turn your focus back to the ham.  Remove all bones and dice up the meat into bite-size chunks.
  • After the vegetables have softened, add the diced ham back into the soup and turn off heat.  After the soup has cooled enough for you to taste it, you’ll want to taste to make sure that it doesn’t need any additional salt.  The ham (or vegetable stock) will often be salty enough to flavor your soup.
  • (If needed) Salt and Pepper to taste.

ham split pea spoup

Fresh Marinara Sauce

tomato sauce

This  recipe is my own take take on an America’s Test Kitchen recipe.  I LOVE making my own marinara sauce– it’s so simple and tasty that I doubt you’ll ever buy a jar of spaghetti sauce again!

 

  • In a large saucepan or pot, melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat.
  • Once the butter is melted, but before it starts to bubble, add 1/3 cup of finely chopped or grated white onion. (The larger-sized grate is fine for this.)
  • As the onion cooks, add either fresh (chopped) oregano, or you can use dried oregano–to taste (You could also use marjoram).
  • Sometimes, I chop some fresh parsley and add it at this point– whatever you like.
  • Once the onion is cooked-through and soft, add minced garlic.  (You can use a couple of cloves, but since I love garlic, I would probably use 4 or 5!)
  • To this, now you can add a pinch or two of of salt (I use kosher salt).
  • You don’t need to cook the garlic much at all.  In fact, I would go ahead and have the other ingredients ready to throw in within a minute or so of adding the garlic to the onions.
  • After just a minute or so, add freshly cracked black pepper (or you can use dried red pepper flakes)–to taste.
  • Next, add 1-2 can(s) of crushed tomatoes. (I like Muir Glenn Fire Roasted crushed tomatoes!)muir glenn
  • Then, add about 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and about 1/2 cup of water (optional).
  • Stir together, then let the sauce simmer on low for at least 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens to your liking.
  • After the sauce has simmered, add salt to taste, but be sure to taste the sauce before salting. (Remember, other ingredients in the sauce have already been salted, and using canned tomatoes, while tasty and convenient, often have some salt in them already.)  If you added water and have the time to let it simmer, you can let the sauce cook down for as long as you like– the longer it cooks, the more flavor develops! If the sauce ever gets too thick, just add a little more water and stir to incorporate.
  • Sometimes, I use an immersion blender to blend the sauce into a smooth consistency– it all depends on your taste and liking.
  • Once you’re done simmering the sauce, turn the heat off of your pan and stir in about 1/2 cup of freshly chopped basil.
  • If you have any other vegetables that you cooked prior to making the sauce, this is when you’d want to add them: sautéed mushrooms, roasted peppers, capers, etc.
  • Finally, add about 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and stir in to incorporate. (Adding the olive oil at the end will give you that olive oil flavo while keeping your sauce from having a bitterness that can come from over-worked olive oil.)

* Special Hint: the pasta you serve will be all the more delicious if you cook it just until it’s al dente, and then combine the (cooked, un-rinsed) pasta and sauce together.  Let it sit for just a few a few minutes before serving.  Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a little fresh basil– to taste.

tomato sauce ingredients

Stuffed Butternut Squash

This dish can be served as a side or as a main dish.  It’s a great vegetarian option for a Holiday Dinner because of the flavors and seasonality of the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Butternut Squash (I prefer smaller, round squashes)
  • 8oz. 0f Bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 6-8oz. Fresh Spinach or Seasonal Greens* (chopped)
  • 4oz. mushroom* (diced)
  • 2oz. of sweet peppers*
  • 1/4 cup of Flat-leafed Parsley*
  • 8oz. extra-firm Tofu* (optional)
  • Lemon (or 1 Tbsp. lemon juice)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter (softened)
  • Olive Oil
  • Spices:
    • Sage,
    • Rosemary
    • Salt & Pepper to taste

*These ingredients should be organic whenever possible

Mise en place~

Before you begin, it makes sense to complete your mise en place— this makes assembling the dish much easier.

  1. Turn on oven and pre-heat to 450ºF
  2. Dice bread, then spread out on dry backing sheet.  Put into oven while you wait for it to pre-heat.  The bread should toast until dry (but not crumbling).
  3. Dice onion (preferably white) and then rinse in cool water; set aside.
  4. Mince garlic cloves; set aside.
  5. Rinse and dice sweet peppers; set aside.
  6. Rinse, dry, and chop Spinach (or whatever seasonal green you like/have on hand); set aside.
  7. Clean mushrooms by wiping down with a clean towel.  Chop them to roughly about the same size; set aside.
  8. Rinse, peel, and scoop out butternut squash– be sure to keep the squash intact, and also to cut the bottom off so that the squash is flat enough to bake “sitting up”. (If you want to take the time, you could save the seeds that are scooped out during the cleaning process; rinse, salt to taste, and toast until yummy!).  Once cleaned, oil the squash inside and out with olive oil; set aside in roasting pan.
  9. Be sure to check on your bread in the oven– you don’t want to overly toast or burn it.  (This is a great way to use up any stale bread you might have in your fridge.)
  10. In a bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs, softened butter and  1/4 Cup of milk.  Add salt, pepper, sage and rosemary to your taste/liking.

Now comes the fun part!

Directions:

  1. Let toasted bread cool to room temperature.  Once cooled, add them to the egg mixture.
  2. To the bowl, add the rest of the mise en place vegetables and juice of 1/2 of a lemon.
  3. Mix ingredients together until ingredients are uniformly dispersed.
  4. At this point, if you have decided to include tofu in your recipe, this would be a good time to gently fold it into the mixture.
  5. Once finished, stuff the dressing into the empty cavity of the squash. (If there’s not enough room inside the squash, you can always oil some ramekins and bake the dressing separately, covering ramekin with foil.)
  6. Once stuffed, return squash to “sitting position” in roasting pan, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper (It should stick because the squash was oiled during prep.), cover pan loosely with foil
  7. Bake at 450ºF for 30 minutes.
  8. Then, uncover the squash and reduce heat to 400ºF
  9. Bake for another 20 minute (or, until the butternut squash is well-roasted– you should be able to easily puncture the squash with a fork).
  10. When squash is done, take it out of the oven, and let it rest for a good 10-15 minutes.
  11. Once it has cooled a bit, turn squash over onto it’s side and carve horizontally.

Once plated, you can sprinkle a few of the toasted seeds (if you so choose to save them) and/or a little bit of finely, freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

MARTHA’s Mango-Chicken Soft Tacos!!

This is from Martha’s blog.  A crock-pot-clean-out-your-fridge-wonder!

Enjoy!

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (Sprouts has these on sale all the time for really cheap, and they have way more flavor than breast)
a splash of chicken broth, though you may not need depending on how juicy the mangoes and lemons are
3 over ripe mangoes (you could probably use frozen too)
2 lemons, juiced
1 onion
7 small cloves of garlic
3 tsp dried mint
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I always have the nuts that I just use a microplane to grate)

Corn tortillas
2 ripe avocados sliced or diced
1 tomato chopped
Monterrey Jack cheese (Sprouts always has blocks of cheese on sale, it is MUCH better to grate it yourself)
Annie’s chunky salsa (refrigerator section at HEB, best salsa EVER!!)

I warm up the tortillas on a comal, grill, or microwave.  Add cheese, mango chicken filling, avocado, tomato, and salsa!  Yummo!!

I hate puns, but the name describes this sauce perfectly

I hate puns.

No, really.  I hate them.  My husband would have you believe otherwise, but it’s really true.  Unfortunately, and much to my husband’s delight, I’m sure, as it helps to prove his case, there is no better name for the dish that I’m about to share with you other than,

PASTA FAUX-LOGNESE!

(I’ll give you a moment.)

This is a recipe for a marinara sauce that would traditionally be made with ground beef, therefore, making it a “Bolognese“.  However, because I have been, for several reasons, sticking to purchasing very little meat for our family, I had to improvise.  Thus was born a tasty treat made with beans instead of meat!

I’ve made this dish a few times, and each time, the types of beans used were a little different depending on what I had on hand.  The following recipe is my favorite version thus-far:

The BEANS:

  • Start by soaking 1 cup of dried beans overnight.  I prefer a combination of red beans and garbanzo beans at a ratio of about 4:1 respectively.
  • After the beans have soaked, put them in a pot of cold water, and bring it to a boil.  The beans should be boiled, uncovered, until they are thoroughly soft (notal dente“). This can take some time, depending on the beans used and the amount.
  • You may want to note that boiling raw beans that have been dried usually requires skimming the foam and film that is produced early in the boiling process.  Also, DO NOT add salt at this point– that will dry out the beans and make them crumble.
  • Once the beans are thoroughly cooked, take them off the heat and set them aside, keeping them in the hot water in which they were boiled.

The SAUCE – this taken, mostly, from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe

  • In a large saucepan or pot, melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter on medium heat.
  • Once the butter is melted, but before it starts to bubble, at 1/3 cup of grated white onion. (The larger-sized grate is fine for this)
  • As the onion cooks, add dried oregano to taste (I also use marjoram).
  • Sometimes, I chop some fresh parsley and add it at this point– whatever you like.
  • Once the onion is cooked-through and soft, add minced garlic.  (You can use a couple of cloves, but since I love garlic, I would probably use 4 or 5!)
  • To this, now you can add a pinch of salt (I love cooking with kosher salt).
  • You don’t need to cook the garlic much at all.  In fact, I would go ahead and have the other ingredients ready to throw in within a minute or so of adding the garlic to the onions.
  • After just a minute or so, ladle the cooked beans into the sauce pan using a slotted spoon so as to keep from adding too much of the water (though you might need it later if your sauce gets too thick for your liking).
  • Stir together, and add pepper to taste.  I like a bit of cracked black pepper and also a couple of teaspoons of red pepper flakes.
  • After the beans have been incorporated, let it all cook together uncovered for about 3-5 minutes.
  • If at any time during this process you find that the vegetables and/or beans are sticking to the pan, you can add a little more butter or a touch of canola oil– you’ll want to wait to use olive oil!
  • Next, add 1 can of crushed tomatoes. (I like Muir Glenn Fire Roasted crushed tomatoes!)
  • Stir together, then let the sauce simmer on low for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens to your liking.
  • After the sauce has simmered, add salt to taste, but be sure to taste the sauce before salting. (Remember, other ingredients in the sauce have already been salted, and using canned tomatoes, while tasty and convenient, often have some salt in them already.)
  • Take the sauce off the heat, and stir in about 1/2 cup of freshly chopped basil.
  • Add about 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and stir in to incorporate. (Adding the olive oil at the end will keep your sauce from having a bitterness that can come from over-worked olive oil.)

The PLATE

  • In a wide bowl, start with a handful of fresh baby spinach leaves.
  • On top the bed of spinach, add a hot serving of your favorite pasta (this works well with spaghetti, penne, or rigatoni– just to name a few).
  • To your bed of pasta and greens, ladle on a helping of the hot fauxlognese sauce.
  • Top with grated Parmesan and/or Pecorino and a sprig of parsley for color.

Et Voila!