Archive for March, 2007

Tilapia

Jim and I don’t eat a lot of fish. With the exception of shellfish, Jim doesn’t like the taste, bones, or texture of most seafood, especially “fishy fish,” and I never have excessive cravings for it either. But in an attempt to mix up our weekly dinner menu and continue with our “Healthy Living in 2007″ (kind of a take-2 of the unfortunately-aborted “Healthy Living in 2006″), we recently decided to experiment with what are, to us,  somewhat fearsome creatures.

And so a few weeks ago we wandered into Fish Tales, our local fish store.  After a really scientific conversation with our fishmonger regarding “fishiness,” we walked out with two tilapia fillets. Our fish guy had advised us to create some sort of citrus marinade, but after perusing our Gourmet cookbook, we decided to blacken the fillets,because really, why actually taste the fish? Just cover the things up with some spices, powders, and crinkly little leaves and go from there.

We had all the necessary spices in our pantry: paprika, oregano, thyme, cayenne, sugar, salt, and black pepper. All we needed to do was slather the little guys up, saute some garlic in olive oil, remove the cloves, add some butter, and finally, saute the fish.

The fillets came out surprisingly well, with the spice combination creating a thin crust surrounding the fish’s mild, gentle flesh. Jim and I were very pleased with ourselves. Who’s afraid of fish now? 

This week I returned to Fish Tales and bought two more tilapia fillets. I swung my bag casually in the air as I walked home, a confident smile on my face. This time I whipped up a marinade of olive oil, fresh orange juice, shallots, and fresh parsley. I marinated the fillets for about half an hour, then sauteed them in a little butter and olive oil.

I wasn’t thrilled with the final results. The fillets didn’t take on the taste of the marinade very strongly, and the fish itself wound up a little soggy. I hope one day to repeat the glory of the blackened fillets, but I’m feeling rather discouraged. It’s obvious the experimentation must continue. If anyone has any advice or interesting recipes, let me know.

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The pasta machine comes out

sa401043_post.jpgJim Cracking an EggYesterday during a snowy Brooklyn afternoon, a rather miraculous event occured. My pasta machine, gifted to me  by my parents at least 6 years ago for Christmas, finally made its debut. That’s right, Jim got up on a ladder, delved into our serpentine storage space, and brought that still-encased-in-plastic piece of kitchen machinery down into our culinary reality. 

I had never attempted to make pasta from scratch, ever. And with my affection for the stuff, it seems rather strange upon reflection. But after mixing together a few eggs with some Farina di tipo “O”, it wasn’t too difficult, and this is coming from one of the dough-challenged. With a quick reference to Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef, which shows you how to mix and roll the dough out step-by-step, stress was minimal. Except when Jim informed me of my dough-deficient perspective, and took the the mixing of the dough away from me. More water or more flour? Another egg? He figured it out while I went to get the laundry. Maybe that’s why the stress level was low.

We left the dough in the fridge for about an hour, and I started the ragu while we waited. It was Jamie Oliver all the way on Saturday, and I referred to his newest for the meat sauce. I don’t mean to be such an Oliver freak in this post, but I’ve been really inspired by his Italian cookbook lately, with its gorgeous pictures and really fresh, delicious recipes.

Like I said earlier, rolling the sheets out was pretty simple, and left minimal mess–much less than when I have made pizza dough by hand. The only problem was, we made too much, and it was too late to invite anyone over to share it with us. And silly me, instead of freezing the extras, I cooked it all. But we made a valiant effort to finish it, and I’ll know better next time. Stay tuned for ravioli.

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