Archive for June, 2010

Squash Blossoms

Friday, June 11th, 2010

I’ve been doing very well at getting to the farmer’s market recently–it requires good time management on Sunday mornings–much better than I’m doing getting out running today :)  Last Sunday one of my favorite vendors was selling squash blossoms, and I gave in to the temptation.  I’ve never tried stuffing squash blossoms before, but I’ve eaten and loved other people’s versions of the dish.I prepared a mixture of herbed goat cheese and ricotta, adding a bit of low-fat peppercorn ranch at the end because I had it around, and it helped smooth the texture.  Proportions can be chosen according to your taste, and what makes an easier texture to deal with.  Stuffing the blossoms is not easy: I want to have an icing bag type of thing next time, it will be easier to get it inside the flowers without tearing them.I found a recipe on Epicurious which had a great batter recipe: 1/2 cup + 1 T flour, 1/3 cup grated parmesan, and 3/4 cup chilled club soda.  I mostly followed it, and it made a fabulous light and crispy batter for the blossoms.  Since I didn’t use a fryer (or deep enough oil) the blossoms got stuck a little, and certainly weren’t as pretty as they could have been, but they were delicious!  Dipped in marinara (I used an artichoke marinara) I loved them!

Adventures with Tilapia

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

I’m new at working with fish.  I’m comfortable with salmon now, but have not done well with other types of fish I’ve attempted to cook (the swordfish was an exceptional fail).  The problem being that I don’t really like fish, but I’ve been trying to slowly change my palate over the last couple of years.  I love food in general enough to be disappointed in myself for not being able to say, order a chef’s menu without restrictions, so I’m trying to change.I was very brave my last night of vacation in Germany, and ordered a fish dish–the fish was Zander (which might have helped my decision 😉  and it was served over a tomato sauce with asparagus and morel mushrooms.  It was exquisite.  Two weeks in Europe, eating in England, Amsterdam, Paris, and Germany: and the restaurant Florian in the small German town of Radolfzel produced my best meal by far this trip.  I attempted it tonight, sort of–I used tilapia, since that’s what looked good and was reasonably priced at the market, and the results were delicious.  It was very simple, and though it creates a decent pile of dishes, could be completed in less than 30 minutes.  Even better!The tomato sauce was made with approximately one part tomato paste, 2 parts chicken broth, and 1 part white wine (I used the Sancerre I was serving with the meal).  Simmer for around 15 minutes, until it’s got a bit of thickness to it.  Add salt and pepper if you wish, but only at the end: reducing intensifies flavor!  **Important edit: I added a heaping teaspoon of sour cream to the tomato sauce at the very end, which added an important creamy kick to it!**I served this with israeli couscous, a tiny round pasta.  To wash one less dish, I sauteed the morels in olive oil in the saucepan destined for the couscous, then removed them when they were done and added the couscous, sauteed until browned, then added the water to cook (per box’s directions).  You can use as many morels as you want: I had 5-6 small morels per person, cut in half and well rinsed before sauteeing.  They’re bloody expensive, but I had enough for three people for $4, when they were $30 per pound.I love a flash saute on asparagus, with a large garlic clove per person diced and done with it.  Olive oil, garlic, asparagus, and fresh basil sliced and added in at the last minute (or asparagus with 1-2 T of pre-made pesto), sauteed for 4-5 minutes is delicious.  I did the tilapia at the same time, frying in a cast iron skillet in olive oil for 2-3 minutes per side, until opaque and maybe starting to brown.  I squeezed half a lemon (total) onto each side of the fish, and did 3 filets.It was delicious, and was a beautiful pair with the Sancerre we drank.  I’m finishing the last glass of the Sancerre now, and it’s still too lovely.