Archive for March, 2013

Broiled Tilapia with Cajun Boiled Potatoes

Cajun food scares me.

I don’t know the first thing about Cajun cooking. It seems to involve a lot of shellfish and pots large enough to boil small children in their depths. People argue about whether to call the creepy-crawly things crawfish or crayfish or crawdads or mudbugs. They pronounce “boil” as “berl.” They insist that the only possible way to “berl” anything is with Zatarain’s Crab Boil, and they do not want to hear that I won’t be putting a single crawbeastie into the mix.

paddles

These are for stirring giant murky cauldrons of crawdads, apparently, though I suspect they’d do in a pinch to paddle a small canoe.

 

You can’t boil tilapia. I mean, you can try, but I’m betting it’ll fall apart. So the fish here gets broiled or smoked, and the potatoes get boiled–er, berled.

This hardly qualifies as a recipe. It’s insanely easy. Thank goodness for that.

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Ingredients (serves 2)

For the fish:

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2 tilapia fillets

1/4 t white pepper

1/4 t steak seasoning (essentially black pepper and garlic)

1 1/2 T hot paprika

salt to taste

2 T smoker chips (if smoking)

For the potatoes:

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8 small red potatoes

1 1/2 quarts water

1/3 cup Zatarain’s Crab Boil seasoning

2 t salt

Directions

For the fish:

Mix the white pepper, steak seasoning, paprika, and salt together. Rub the tilapia generously with the spice mixture. If using a stovetop smoker (which I highly recommend), add the wood chips underneath the drip tray and smoke on medium-high for about 15 minutes. If broiling, heat the oven and broil about 5 minutes per side.

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For the potatoes:

Add salt and seasoning to the water and bring it to a boil. It will be terrifying and murky. Add the potatoes. Boil 15 minutes or until fork-tender.

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Add a side of steamed vegetables and voilà, dinner.

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A word of warning–hot paprika isn’t all that hot, but this fish uses a lot of it. If you’re not a fan of spice, sweet paprika will do nicely in its place.

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Asparagus Tart

I’m a big fan of savory tarts. The broccoli cheddar tart is a winter favorite around here, and quiches filled with spices and greens crop up quite often as well. If I have a few scraps of cheese and a couple of different vegetables in the fridge, there’s a good chance they’ll be thrown together in a tart without any real recipe or planning.

All these things are delicious. Cheese, flaky crust, eggy filling; who could say no? But they aren’t exactly healthy. And that’s a shame, because there’s no reason they shouldn’t be.

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So I tried for healthier. No more all-butter crust: I went with whole wheat flour, olive oil, ricotta cheese, and loads of vegetables. It could be leaner, with low-fat ricotta and broth or low fat milk instead of cream, but I didn’t go there. Honestly I’ve never bought a low-fat cheese in my life and don’t intend to. This recipe is easy to modify. Don’t like asparagus? Try greens, mushrooms, carrot coins, squash, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

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Ingredients (serves 6-8)

For the crust:

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1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 t salt

1/2 t white pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

3 T ice water

For the filling:

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1/2 cup ricotta cheese

4 oz goat cheese

1 egg

1/4 cup cream

1 lb asparagus

about 1/2 t salt

parmesan, to taste

Directions

For the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the olive oil.

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Stir with a spoon until the mixture is uniform.

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Add the water and knead until the dough forms a ball.

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Press the dough into a buttered tart pan or pie tin. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.

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Boil the asparagus for 3-5 minutes while the crust is baking.

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When the crust is done, spread a layer of ricotta across the bottom of it.

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Crumble the goat cheese over the ricotta. Mix the egg and cream in a small bowl.

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Pour the egg and cream over the cheese, and top with the asparagus. Sprinkle the tart with salt.

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Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes.

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Serve immediately.

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This crust is different, very crumbly and complex. I didn’t expect to like it; ordinarily I don’t even keep whole wheat flour in the apartment, because the texture annoys me. The simplicity of it with the olive oil, and the soft, rich filling offset that enough to make me go back for seconds on this one.

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