December 16, 2014

Panko & Pecorino Crusted Tilapia

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The holidays are here! Can I say Happy Holidays? I’ll take any friendly holiday greeting happily… I love this time of year. We celebrate Hanukkah in our house and there isn’t much decorating or preparing. It kind of sneaks up on me every year, especially when it comes early. In fact, I just figured out over the weekend that the first night is tonight! See what I mean?

Truth be told, we just pull out the menorah and that’s about all the festive decorations you’ll find in our house. I know some fellow Hanukkah peeps go to greater (and better) lengths to make it a festive occasion. We don’t seem to put much effort in these days, but it works nicely for us and there’s always my mother’s latkes – the most important part of the holiday. I love having Hanukkah dinner with the family. Personally I only need 3 things for Hanukkah: latkes, applesauce and sour cream.

I know this isn’t a very holiday’ish recipe, but if you find yourself running around like a crazy person preparing for the holidays and you need something fast to make for dinner on a weeknight, this is it!

If you’re not a tilapia lover you can definitely make this with another firm white fish. Tilapia is so mild, it works really well here, and it’s generally pretty inexpensive, too. I know there are some folks out there that say cheese and fish are a “no-no.” I disagree. With linguine and clam sauce, I must have Parmesan… zuppa di pesce, I like a little grated cheese and how about cream cheese and smoked salmon? Is cream cheese actually considered a cheese? Anyway, the combination of the panko and grated Pecorino makes an addictive crunchy topping. If your kids eat fish, this might be one they’ll like.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 tilapia fillets (one per person)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 6 tbsp panko
  • 4 tbsp grated Pecorino Romano cheese (you can use Parmesan if you prefer)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt & cracked pepper
  • About 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon, sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil. Brush the foil with a little olive oil.

2. Combine the panko, Pecorino, red pepper flakes and a little salt and pepper in a small bowl, set aside.

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3. Place the fish fillets on the foil lined pan and lay 2 slices of lemon under each piece.

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4. Brush about 2 tsp of Dijon mustard on each fillet. It doesn’t have to be exact, just make sure you get the whole top of the fillet coated, like I’ve done above.

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5. Sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the fish. You want a nice thick crunchy topping. Then lightly drizzle a little olive oil over the panko crust. Place pan in your preheated oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Timing will depend on how thick your fish is.

6. Right when the fish is done, transfer it to the broiler to finish browning the crunchy topping. Keep an eye on it and don’t walk away. It only needs a minute or two. You can rotate the sheet pan to make sure it browns evenly. Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon.

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Enjoy!

 

November 25, 2014

Arugula & Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

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Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. Probably because the whole thing revolves around eating and doesn’t involve stressful gift-giving or decorating. The only thing that causes me Thanksgiving stress is worrying about whether there will be enough food. Not for the dinner itself, but for leftovers. What a tragedy it would be, going to the refrigerator at midnight on Thanksgiving and discovering all the stuffing was scarfed down by your gluttonous relatives! It’s a Thanksgiving version of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Since I’m not hosting this year, my destiny is in the hands of my fabulous relatives. There’s never a shortage of food with this gene pool, so no worries.

If you’re looking for a delicious and easy salad to make for Thanksgiving, this is it. It’s a crowd pleaser. Refreshing when paired with all the heavy sides that grace our holiday table. A little leafy green stuff alongside everything else is delish. 

To make it really easy on yourself, buy pre-crumbled cheese and pre-washed greens. You can throw this salad together in minutes.

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Dressing adapted from Epicurious.

INGREDIENTS

For the dressing…

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp minced shallots
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  •  A scant 1/2 cup good olive oil

Combine the ingredients together in a small bowl, adding the olive oil last. Whisk to emulsify. Set aside.

For the salad…

  • 7oz. baby arugula
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola
  • 1/3 cup of toasted pecans
  • 2 large apples, large dice

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, lightly drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss. You probably won’t need all the dressing. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

I’ve made this several times and it’s also delicious with these variations:

  • Toasted walnuts
  • Crumbled feta or big shards of Parmesan cheese
  • Diced fresh pears
  • Baby kale or fresh spinach

I should mention that I’m an apple snob. Chalk it up to living in beautiful Bucks County with all our local farms. I love honey crisp, sun crisp or fuji apples, something super crisp and sweet is best. I don’t even peel the apples for the salad.

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