Monday, March 7, 2011
March 3 Turkey meatballs, tomato/red pepper/ mushroom sauce and cheese tortellini (supperworks)
March 4 Out for dinner with family
March 5 Sauce from march 3 with spaghetti, hot chilis and lots of fresh parmesan
March 6 Whole roasted tilapia, couscous and broccoli
Just in case you didn't already think that the three of us are slightly insane for even attempting this year long project, I had to roast 100 chicken drumsticks at 9pm Thursday night to serve the next day for a fund raising lunch at school. I volunteered. The chicken was even my idea. Nobody held a gun to my head. Clearly I am nuts.
Anyway, dinner on Thursday was pretty good. I had to work all day, my car wouldn't start when I got home and I had to make those chicken drumsticks so I just took out a supperworks meal of tortellini with turkey meatballs and tomato sauce and it was surprisingly tasty. No complaints from anyone.
Friday night we met two of my lovely nieces and my sister in law for dinner downtown at the Queen Mother, a place where I used to eat all the time in my twenties. I really, really wanted the pad thai but in the spirit of no reEATS, I thought I would order something new and I have been eating their pad thai for more than 25 years (HOW SCARY IS THAT??? ). I ordered something else expecting a nice, rich thai curry with rice but I got a yellow curry that just kind of tasted of curry powder with noodles swimming in it. I am still bitter.
Saturday night I crushed a can of plum tomatoes, sautéed them in some olive oil and then added the leftover sauce from Thursday and we ate that with spaghetti, hot chili flakes and lots and lots of freshly grated parmesan.
Sunday I wanted to make fish. I bought two small red snappers and filleted them but they were smaller than I thought and there wasn't enough meat for all three of us. I remembered that Shack had bought a big box of frozen tilapia for his dad so I cut open the box, thinking I would steal a few fillets. Imagine my surprise when I found a big box full of frozen, whole fish! Good thing I checked before we gave it to his dad because I think he would have had a heart attack to find whole fish in a box, staring up at him, daring him to eat them. Since I had already filleted the red snappers, I decided that I would roast the tilapia whole, using this recipe, more or less. I am saving the filleted snapper to use for fish tacos on Monday.
It's been a very long time since I cooked a whole fish in the house. I always bbq whole fish or steam it chinese style and then pour hot sesame oil, ginger and green onions on top so I had to some research. i found a few methods that sounded good but I decided to settle on this one from My Kitchen Snippets. It sounded like I would end up with a finished product that would be as close to grilling as possible.
I thawed the fish, rinsed them, stuffed them with lemon, cilantro and basil after salting and peppering. I cut a few slashes in both sides, rubbed them with olive oil and then more salt and pepper. Since I was already doing whole fish, which Shack doesn't really love, I thought I might as well make some couscous because both of them claim to dislike it but I like it a lot. I used up the bit of leftover purple and green cauliflower, some yellow pepper and almonds. Very colourful and light.
Oven Roasted Tilapia
2 whole frozen tilapia, thawed (if they haven't been removed for you, you must cut off all the fins and the dorsal fin along the top - it's really sharp so be careful)
half of a lemon sliced
handful of fresh cilantro and a few big basil leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
I will assume that your fish is scaled and cleaned and if it's not, make pasta instead. Nobody should scale a fish in their own kitchen.
Rinse your fish well with cool water, making sure to give the cavity a good rinse too. Dry it off with some paper towel and salt and pepper inside the fish. Lay a couple of lemon slices in there and then shove in some fresh herbs. Slice two or three diagonal slices on each side of the fish, rub with some olive oil and salt and pepper both fish and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400F and put in the cast iron pan or the baking sheet that are going to roast the fish on to preheat as well (you can line the pan with foil if you like but I never do). When the pan and the oven are good and hot, add a bit of oil to the hot pan and lay both fish on there and cook for about 35-40 minutes. When the fish is almost done, turn on the broiler and broil the fish until the skin starts to brown and gets crispy. I still have some leftover chimichurri that I just can't throw out so instead of making her tasty sounding asian topping, I decided to drizzle chimichurri over the fish.
While the fish is roasting, make the couscous.
I am using this recipe from Simthfield.com as my base.
2 tbls butter
1 leek, thinly sliced, white portion only
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup purple cauliflower, chopped small
1/4 yellow pepper, chopped
2 small sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups couscous
3 cups chicken stock
cook leeks, sundried tomatoes and garlic in the butter over med heat in a pot for a few minutes. Add the veggies and sautéed another couple of minutes. Add the almonds and sautéed for another few minutes. Add the chicken broth and taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover and take of the heat, letting it sit for ten minutes to cook and absorb all of the liquid.
I have to tell you, Little Shack kind of prides himself on his adventurous eating skills and likes to gross us out. He ate the top eyeball, which was all toasty and crispy but then when he flipped his fish over, the eye and the goo in the head was all gelatinous and disgusting and because the two of us were gagging and turning away, he HAD to eat it ( I also think he ate the gill or something else in there as well as all sorts of wrong from inside the head the but I don't really want to know unless it's going to kill him). He choked it down, Shack had to leave the table and Little Shack finally admitted defeat. He insists that the taste was fabulous but the texture did him in at last. I still feel slightly ill today thinking about it.
Now, the no good, terrible thing is that I have no photos. I took lovely photos of me filleting snapper for our Monday night fish taco dinner and photos of the fish being prepped, stuffed and baked and even a couple of not so great photos of them after they were cooked. Unfortunately, my card was in the card reader and NOT in the camera, which I discovered this morning when I went to get a shot of my pretty couscous so you are just going to have to take my word for it. It was delicious, it was a great cooking method and if you enjoy a whole fish, you will like it. It's not like a whole, roasted tilapia is even pretty so please accept my apologies and just trust me, it was a tasty bit of fish.