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.