Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tilapia & Mashed Potato Loaf with Lemon Dill Dressing

Tilapia gets a bad rep most of the time. Chefs write recipes for it because they have to. It's one of the cheapest fish on the market so Americans gravitate toward it. Not only because it's cheap, but because it's versatile. Think of it as a white canvas. And that's exactly why it works perfectly in this recipe. Not worried about sacrificing cost or flavor (if there is any), I pulverized the meat of the tilapia until it was nice and flaky. I then infused it with garlic, lemon, mayo and dijon mustard. Layered with fresh aromatic dill and finished with creamy fried onion, home made mashed potatoes, it makes an impressive gourmet and delicious dinner for the family or company. 

I would like to apologize if I degraded tilapia the previous paragraph. I didn't mean to. But what I said is very true. Tilapia are large and reproduce really easily which is why they are so cheap, not to mention their lack of culinary gourmet-ness (just made that word up). You don't walk into a fancy restaurant and find tilapia on the menu. No, you find salmon, ahi tuna, sea bass. Not tilapia. But that' doesn't mean it doesn't have good use for cuisine. It's my fish of choice for many of my incredible dishes. And this is one of them. It presents flavors so well without letting a fishy flavor interfere, which means it can be flavored in thousands of ways. 

Lemon and dill play the staring role in this recipe. The fish is baked with a little salt and pepper until just cooked through. 

Then I throw it into a bowl and break it up into flakes using a wooden spoon.

                      Add some fresh  Italian parsley and the zest and juice of one lemon....

Add some mayo and a good Dijon mustard....

Season with salt and pepper and taste it. It's phenomenal! It turns tilapia into a fabulous fish! Like turning aluminum to gold! :)

Line a loaf pan with enough foil to over hang and grease with non stick spray. This will make it easy to get the mold out when it's ready. 

Place the fish mixture inside and press down till it's compact and flat.

Now chop up a HUNK of fresh dill. Dill and fish are like batman and robin.

Sprinkle this over the fish. Hmm the second it hits the hot fish it begins to release it's lemony scent!

Now for the last layer, place the prepared mashed potatoes (Entire recipe follows) on top and pat flat. 

Drizzle and brush with some olive oil.

And throw under the broiler for 10 minutes or until you get a nice golden crust. 

LET IT COOL! If you don't it will fall apart when you try to slice it...... umm.. I kinda know...... :-/
Don't refrigerate it because that will make the mashed potatoes grainy and weird. 

Carefully slice into 1 inch pieces and serve with the lemon and dill dressing. 
Can we talk about that dressing? Oh it's so good. The citrus flavors coming from the dill and lemon combined, added to a drop of mayo is so good, I could eat it with a spoon... I mean I did, until my husband walked in.
It's not too lemony but lemony enough that your tongue curls but doesn't twist. It's amazing! And it goes perfect with this dish. 

This recipe might look like there are alot of steps, but every step takes 2 minutes... that's like... 10 minutes... or something....  just make it!

Tilapia & Mashed Potato Loaf with Lemon Dill Dressing
Serves 8.

For the Tilapia: 
8 Tilapia fillets
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. mayo
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

For the mashed potatoes:
1 large onion, chopped
5 potatoes peeled and boiled until fork tender
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

For the dill dressing:
1/2 cup dill
1 heaping tbsp. mayo
juice of half a lemon
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place tilapia fillets in one layer and season with a little salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through. DO NOT BROWN EVEN A BIT! Place in a bowl and break up the meat with a spoon until flaky. Add parsley, lemon, mayo, Dijon, salt and pepper. Mix well until sooth and creamy. Place into the foil lined and greased loaf pan and press down till compact and flattened. Sprinkle on the chopped dill. 

In a bowl mash boiled potatoes, minced garlic, and chopped onion that has been fried till golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Top this over the dill and press down. Drizzle with olive oil and brush to evenly distribute. Place under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown and gets a nice crust. 
Let cool to room temperature. Carefully flip over onto a platter and remove the pan and foil. Slice and serve with the dressing. 

For the dressing:
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix. Using a hand blender, blend until smooth and a light mint green color. Serve with the fish. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cozy Onions

Happy new year everyone! Hope you had a smashing night (to some, that's probably literally what they had) Hoping the new year will be filled with many great recipes! Now on to a recipe I created a few months ago for the holidays when I was stuck in a cooking rut. You know when you just feel like you keep making the same things over and over again? Or even when you try to change things up you seem to be using the same ingredients or techniques? Well this recipe is what got me out of my rut. A fabulously stuffed onion.

Speaking of onions, I have not researched this, (which I could do right now on Google in about 2 seconds) but I would assume that the French discovered the onion. Maybe because they just have so many delectable recipes featuring the onion as the star. Anyways, back to my stuffed onion recipe. As for the name? Cozy Onion? My husband came up with it. Why you ask? Well doesn't it look like the onion is wearing a scarf? Cute no?

The onion is stuffed with a selfishly spoiled mashed potato that boasts fried onions, tiny diced and sauteed rib eye steak and a sprinkle of curry. Then the onion gets wrapped up like a pretty present with puff pastry dough which is then baked. What you get is a gorgeous gift filled with magnificently palatable mash that is both luxurious and comforting.

In order to stuff the onions, slice off the top and bottom and then make a cut from the center of the top of the onion all the way down, so that you can peel off the onion layers. But don't do that just yet. After making the cut place the onions in a bowl of luke warm water for about half an hour. The warm water will loosen up the layers, making it easy to separate them without braking the layers.

Now on to the mash potatoes. The onion and steak sautee consists of a rib eye steak that has a generous amount of fat that is finely diced and sauteed with the onion until nice and brown. The entire mixture along with the oil is added to the bowl of your freshly boiled potatoes. A little salt, pepper, parsley and a sprinkle of curry (which is optional, but I find it is wondrous with the meat) and you're good to go.

After stuffing the onions, two strips of puff pastry dough are wrapped around the onion like a present. Brushed with a little egg wash and into the oven it goes. I think my favorite thing about this recipe is that it can fit effortlessly into the category of complicated and fancy, as well as simple and comforting. So basically after you have served this at your next elegant dinner party, you can enjoy it as a midnight snack alone in your pajamas. If there is any left!

Cozy Onions
Makes 8 Stuffed Onions

8 white medium white onions
5 medium potatoes boiled till fork tender
1 red onion finely diced
1/2 generously fatty rib eye steak, finely diced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. curry powder
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 sheets of puff pastry dough
2 tbsp. olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 
Slice off the top and bottom of the white onions. Make a cut from the center of the top all the way down, and peel the onion. Place the onions in a large bowl of luke warm water. Let sit for half an hour. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the diced red onion and saute until lightly brown. Add the steak and cook until the meat has browned nicely, scraping any bits that stick to the pan. Add this mixture to a bowl with the boiled and mashed potatoes. Add the salt, pepper, curry, parsley and garlic. Mix well and set aside. 
To separate the onion layers, gently pry your fingers in between the layers and run them around. Stick the onion back in the water often, to get some water between the layers to help separate. Carefully separate them or let the inner onion slip through the hole of the outer layer. Stuff the onions. They don't have to be packed. Close the onion by simply squeezing it gently, overlapping the openings if necessary. Slice the puff pastry into 1 inch wide strips. Wrap one strip around the onion covering the "seam" or cut side of the onion, overlapping if necessary. Wrap a second strip crossing over the first strip and make a little twist at the top. Place the onions in a casserole dish. Brush with egg and bake uncovered in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Best Sufganiot (Jelly Doughnut) Ever!

Ya, ya I know, that batch of dough you make, is your moms recipe, your grandmothers recipe, your great grandmothers recipe, it's the best. Whatever. If you don't try this recipe for sufganiot, then you won't know what an honestly delicious and amazing experience it is to eat the perfect jelly doughnut.

It's Chanukah, and the first thing I think about when I think of Chanukah is....if you guessed presents, you're wrong. It's doughnuts. It's the one time of year I can shove my face with doughnuts and just say that I am being a good Jew and celebrating my holiday the right way! I make them every year. But not this year. This year my husband Yossi came home with super excitement that he was going to make doughnuts. When it comes to anything with yeast dough, my husband is the pro. He used to have a successful pizzeria in Israel. He, of course makes the best pizzas but that's for another post.

OK so what's so special about this recipe. Well for one thing, but I think this is pretty common is that it contains the zest of a lemon. I've heard people also do orange zest which sounds even better to me. Although I have heard these additions before I have never actually tasted a doughnut with citrus zest. The second thing is that it uses fresh yeast instead of dry yeast which is what I usually make my doughnuts with. Well, it turns out our grandmothers were right. Fresh yeast is better. The third addition which is my favorite, is that it has a little liquor in it, cognac to be exact but you can use brandy or another such liquor because it's not so much the flavor that is what's needed, it's the action that it does. It supposedly reduces the amount of oil that the dough will absorb when fried. What more could a girl ask for?! Lastly, it's dairy, with milk and butter, and EVERYONE knows any dessert is better when it's dairy. So here is the recipe. It has to be followed EXACTLY. Everything from the order of the ingredients to the measurements to the steps. Everything has to be done. And the result? A crisp outside with a fluffy sweet inside that has a slight zing from the lemon. These are light and airy and delicious. And yes it actually tasted less oily than other jelly doughnuts I have tried!
These are the best doughnuts I have ever tried. Period.

Have a happy, delicious and skinny Chanukah!

The Best Sufganiot Ever!
Makes 15 large or 35 medium to small doughnuts ( we made half large, half small)

1 1/2 sticks of fresh yeast (the 57g size sticks by Fleishman's)
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
7 cups plus 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg whites
2 tbsp. cognac or other liquor (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 stick or 13 tbsp. butter at room temperature
Vegetable oil for frying
Filling: Jam, chocolate, whatever you prefer.
Powdered sugar for dusting.

In a medium bowl, crumble the yeast and pour in a 1/2 cup of the warm milk. Mix it until the yeast has dissolved and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, place the flour, sugar, egg whites, cognac, lemon zest, vanilla and remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Pour in the yeast mixture last. Turn on the mixer to low speed for 1 minute. Melt the butter and pour it in to the mixer. Raise the speed to med-high until the dough forms and pulls away from the sides. Turn off the mixer. Cover the bowl with a towel and place in a warm spot for 1- 1/2 hours until it has risen and doubled in volume.

When the dough has risen, transfer it to a generously floured surface and divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Gently with VERY LIGHT PRESSURE, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a 2-3 inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles and very gently place them aside, careful not to break their rise. Cover all the circles with a towel for another 1 hour to rise.

Heat oil in a deep skillet or sauce pan on medium heat. Test a small piece of dough by placing it in the oil. If the dough does not rise to the top and bubble immediately, the oil is not hot enough. If you have a thermometer, it should read about 320 -340 degrees. Gently place the doughnuts in the oil and fry for 2 minutes per side or until a deep golden color. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels.
Place your filling in a piping bag and, either through the side or top, inject enough filling until you feel the bag being pushed back. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Old Recipe, Perfect For Chanukah

This is an old post that is perfect for right now. Chanukah! Traditional latkes are made with potato and onions, but this is a healthier (as healthy as you can get if you are already frying!) version. Instead of potato, zucchini and carrots along with onion make this latkes irresistible. It's slightly sweet from the carrots but it has all the crunchy fluffy goodness that an ordinary latkes has. You won't miss the old latkes, that leave you feeling really full and heavy. Feel good about grabbing another one, even if it was fried in oil. Hey it's Chanukah, the holiday of OIL!

Fried Carrot and Zucchini Latkes
Makes about 12 latkes.

4 Zucchini shredded  (I scrub mine and leave the peel on but do as you like)
4 carrots peeled and shredded
1 small onion shredded
3 eggs
3 heaping tablespoons of flour
1/2 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable oil

Shred veggies and lightly season with salt. Wait 10 minutes and then over a sieve, strain as much liquid as you can out of them. Place them in a bowl with eggs, flour, salt and pepper. Mix to combine. Heat oil over medium heat. Scoop out golf ball size spoons of the mixture and flatten into a pattie. Fry in oil for about 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Cool on paper towel  lined plate to absorb excess oil.

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Old Recipe For Sweet Potato Royal

Skimming through the pages of The Buffalo Jewish Review for the firs time since I moved here, I came across a page with a recipe by a holocaust survivor. Not only did I find this really nostalgic, to make this recipe for shabbos, but the main ingredient is sweet potato which I just happened to buy and was thinking of what to make with it. 

I dont think I ever thought  to combine the sweet potato with dried apricots. I would think that it would just be too sweet. But I think that's the point here, since brown sugar is added and the sweet nuttiness of almonds is tossed  in here too. Since this is the first time I am ever hearing about this recipe Sweet Potato Royal, please correct me if I am wrong, or at least tell me, that you have heard of this, that this seems to be a dessert. 

 Give it a try this shabbos. I will and I will let you know how it came out. 

Sweet Potato Royal
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup brown sugar
2lbs sweet poatoes
Peeled and baked in the oven whole)
1/4 margarine
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Soak apricots in 2 cups of water for 2 hours. Add the brown sugar and pour everything (water, apricots and sugar) into a pot. Cook until boiling.
Slice potatoes 1/2 inch thick and layer with apricots in a casserole dish. Top with melted margarine and almonds. Bake for 35 minutes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hot Chocolate Party

If you know me well enough, I will find any reason to throw a party, and the winter is the perfect one for me. It's no secret that I love the cold season. With the rain or snow making music outside your window, what's a better way to get warm than to throw a hot chocolate party?!
The newest trend this winter is the hot chocolate bar. A steamy cup of chocolaty goodness with a side of yummy toppings.

Invite your friends over and welcome them into your home the right way. Have a basket of slipper socks to toast those toes, and soft throw blankets to wrap up in.

Whip up some homemade hot chocolate and lay out the fixings. Let your friends top their mugs with their favorite flavors for a cup of hot chocolate that will warm up their souls.
Keep them awake with freshly ground espresso beans. Add half a teaspoon into your mug for a cafe mocha treat.
Serve biscotti to dip into the hot chocolate for a comforting bite. Add a luxurious touch by first dipping the biscotti in white chocolate and letting it set before serving.
Throw on some mini marshmallows and watch them melt to bring our the child in you.
Get naughty by spiking your coco with some dark rum. A teaspoon will be enough to heat you up on the inside.
Sticks or crushed, peppermint candy is a refreshing take on the classic hot chocolate.
Chocolate and orange become the best of friends during winter. A few ribbons of orange peel bring out the richness of the chocolate.
Spice up with some cinnamon sticks, a classic combo, and always sure to get you into the winter mood.
What goes better with chocolate, than more chocolate?! Give your guest delicious choices by serving dark, milk and white chocolate shavings to sprinkle onto their mugs.

Pop in a favorite movie and I promise you, your friends won't want to go home!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dressed Up Shepard's Pie

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Shepard's Pie? If it's comfort food, we're on the same page. Shepard's pie is easy to make and just makes you feel good. The ground beef, the mashed potatoes, what's not to like? Originally shepard's pie was called so because it was made by shepard's using, well, what else? Lamb meat. Although I think of lamb as the meat of meats, I don't know if I would love it as much as I love the cheaper version of basic ground beef. I could be wrong, but my take is that lamb meat is so delicate and gamey that I think the slightly sweeter tomato flavors in the sauce of  the shepard's pie recipe would overpower the lamb, so there would really be no point in using lamb meat.

So here is my idea of a dressed up shepard's pie. Instead of mashed potatoes, I topped my ground beef with paper thin slices of potatoes brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with dill. All the flavors are still there, but you get a slightly crisp crust with all the soft and buttery potato goodness. Another thing I changed was that I added red beans to the meat to make it heartier since the mashed potatoes are not there to do so. It works really well here. I think England would be proud.   This recipe idea has been in my head for a really long time. The delay of getting out was a debate of if I should do layers or just do the original meat on the bottom, potatoes on top. I think that layers of ground beef, and thinly sliced potatoes, a few times would also be wonderful. I just went the easy route, as I have three hungry boys to feed in under an hour!

I hope this recipe will bring your lots of comfort and that you enjoy it as much as I do!

Dressed Up Shepard's Pie
Serves 4

2lbs ground beef
4-5 small potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, and sliced paper thin using a mandolin
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill chopped
1 can red beans
1 small can tomato paste
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
4 tbsp. olive oil.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in large skillet over medium high heat, and fry onion until translucent. Add beef and cook for 3 minutes. Add beans and continue to cook, stirring often for another 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, ketchup and spices and cook until meat is cooked through, 10-15 minutes. Pour into a baking dish and flatten out evenly. Decoratively layer the potatoes over the meat. Brush with remaining olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper and sprinkle with dill. Broil on high for 10 minutes or until the potatoes get crisp and golden in color.