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

Roasted Salsa Verde

This salsa is great with chips, as a topping for grilled fish, as a base for chicken enchiladas– it’s a MUST-HAVE, GO-TO Tex-Mex sauce that can be used in a variety of ways!  This particular recipe is a rather involved process starting from scratch and roasting all the vegetables.  For a simpler version, try the Basic Salsa Verde.  If you DO decide to the time to make this roasted version, you’ll come to appreciate complexity and layering of flavors!

Ingredients:salsa-ingredients1

  • One pound of fresh tomatillos
  • 8-10 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Juice of 4 limes (or about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 1-2 Tablespoons ground cumin*

*I suggest toasting whole cumin seeds in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes (making sure to keep the seeds moving around so as not to burn one side) and then grinding the seeds with a mortar and pestle– this will give you more of smokey flavor than just using pre-gound cumin. But, if you’d rather not take the time, regular ground cumin will work just fine.

tomatillosalsa9Preparation:

  1. Start by peeling and rinsing the tomatillos– they will be sticky, so be sure that all the mud/dirt is rinsed off of them.
  2. Peel garlic cloves (trying to keep them intact if possible)
  3. Peel the onion and quarter it.
  4. Wash the jalapeño pepper– don’t feel the need to take the stem off or the seeds out; just leave it whole.
  5. Place all of the prepared vegetables in a roasting pan, drizzle with vegetable oil, and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Roast vegetables at about 425°F for approximately 30 minutes (or until the vegetables are starting to brown and are softened to the point that they could easily be punctured by a fork).
  7. Once the vegetables are done roasting, take the stem off of the jalapeño pepper (it should be so soft that it can easily just be slipped right off), and put all ingredients into a blender.
  8. To the vegetables, add cilantro, lime juice and cumin.
  9. Blend until smooth.

*Make sure to taste the salsa and add more salt if needed.  Also, if you would like to tone down the spice of the salsa, you can add plain yogurt or sour cream to the mix and blend it in– this will make the salsa creamy as well!

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Thai Curry Sauce

There are a great many varieties of curry.  This is a recipe for how to make a yellow-curry sauce that is a kind of Thai Curry.  It is a versatile sauce that you can use with a variety of meats, vegetables and tofu.

  • Start by making a blond roux (or basic white sauce)
  • To this, add about 2 Tablespoons of Curry Powder

* Curry Powder comes in a few different varieties: green, red and yellow.  What I am using is yellow curry powder that is made up, generally, of tumeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, red pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, cloves, cardamon, fennel, nutmeg, laurel, allspice and garlic.  If you don’t like the flavor of any of these ingredients, you can always make your own curry powder out of any of the ingredients I just listed.

  • Add 1 can of coconut milk (be sure that it is coconut milk and not coconut juice– big difference!)
  • After the sauce is homogenous, add the juice of one lime. (Taste the lime first to make sure it isn’t bitter.)
  • Salt to taste and top with freshly chopped cilantro and/or thai basil.

 

Goat Cheese Alfredo Sauce

  • Over med-high heat, melt 2 Tablespoons of Butter in a large sauce pan
  • Once the butter is melted, add 1/2 Cup of chopped Onion
  • After the onions have cooked until they’re soft, add 3-4 cloves of minced Garlic
  • After only a minute or so, add 2 Cups of Milk
  • Stirring constantly so that the milk does not scorch, cook until the milk is good and hot.
  • Add a 4oz package of Goat Cheese and stir constantly until the cheese is fully incorporated.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

* You’ll want to wait and salt at the end because the goat cheese itself will be rather salty.  To this sauce, you can add sautéed mushrooms, fresh chopped parsley and even some cooked white (or navy) beans to add variety and depth of flavor.  Serve over pasta or use for a baked casserole.  It’s a rather versatile sauce!

How to make a basic Cheese Sauce

Making a simple cheese sauce may seem a little daunting at first (Wouldn’t be so much easier to just use a packet or a hunk of Velveeta?), but it’s worth the time (and money) to learn how to make your own.  Once you’ve learned how to do it, you won’t ever want to go back!

  • Start by sautéing a half a cup of finely diced onion in about 4 Tablespoons of Butter on med-high heat in a large pot or deep skillet.
  • Once the onions are soft, stir in about one Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard, and add a dash of freshly grated nutmeg.
  • If you’d like the flavor, you can add a couple of cloves of minced garlic at this point, making sure to not cook the garlic very long.  You’re only really heating it up– it will burn quickly
  • To this mixture, add 4 Tablespoons of All-Purpose Flour (You’re making a basic White Sauce at this point).
  • Once the sauce becomes cooked and is blond in color, add 3 Cups of of milk.
  • Stirring constantly, cook the sauce down until it thickens a bit.
  • Once the sauce has thickened, take the sauce off the heat.
  • Then, stir in about 8oz of grated cheese (I prefer to use Sharp Cheddar)– make sure that you have taken the sauce off the heat before you add the cheese.  Otherwise, the cheese will break.

Now that your sauce is ready, you can pour it over pasta, vegetables or make a casserole with it.  Done!

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Basic Salsa Verde

This is a simpler version of the Roasted Salsa Verde that can be used in a pinch when you need to whip up a green salsa with only a little bit of time.

Ingredients:hatch tomatillos

  • One can of crushed tomatillos
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 Cup of chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)

Preperation:

It’s pretty straight-forward: combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Remember to add salt at the end only if needed– many times the canned tomatillos are already salted.  The flavor of the salsa will develop as it sits, so set aside for a while if you have time.

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