In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ninety-sixth Post ~ Bruschetta-topped breaded tilapia

This was a really simple meal.  So simple, in fact, I considered not blogging about it.  But then, after thinking about my post labels such as "quick dinner," I thought, perhaps I should blog about it for just that reason.

So here you go.

Here's what you'll need:
~ 1 tilapia fillet (I used frozen, and recommend going fresh.  However, this method of preparation will be so flavorful, you won't even notice the difference)
~ Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
~ Premade bruschetta
~ Coarse-ground sea-salt
~ EVOO and/or butter

For the side I made the always-delectable roasted brussels sprouts.  See this post for easy-to-follow instructions to for preparing one of my favorite veggies in an oh-so-sweet way.  The only change I made was to exchange fresh thyme for garlic.

Start the brussels sprouts roasting.  Sprinkle ample breadcrumbs on a plate.  Generously coat both sides (including the little nook and cranny) of the tilapia fillet.  Start some EVOO heating in a pan.

: : PAUSE : :

Today something unimaginable happened.  I ran out of EVOO.  Somehow, I thought there was more in the bottle than there was, but sure enough, I tipped it into the pan, and about a teaspoon-full came out.  I thought it might be enough to sautee the tilapia, but unfortunately, it wasn't.  So I added about a tablespoon of butter (not too bad, calorie-wise, right?) and that gave the fillet the most delicately, deliciously browned edges.  Definite accidental win.

: : UNPAUSE : :

So after the tilapia is breaded, set it into the oil or butter or both.  Let it sizzle away while you stir the brussels sprouts.  Salt the upturned side of the tilapia, then flip it.  When it's done, top it with the bruschetta (remaining juice and all).  It doesn't take a lot (I saved about a tablespoon of bruschetta for this meal from when I cooked the lamb and tortellini earlier this week).

I enjoyed tonight's meal with another fabulous chilled glass of the Vinho Verde by Gazele.  Absolutely divine on such a hot summer's night!

Yours in the love of good food and wine,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ninety-fifth Post ~ Prep Ahead Mussels with White Wine, Garlic, Herbs & Tomato

After I get done lecturing, I feel emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted, in a really rewarding kind of way.  Typically, I do call-ahead take-out from Panera, where I can grab my healthy, foodie meal to go, drive back to my apartment, and collapse in front of my TV to dine on panini, salad and a nice glass of wine.

But I'm trying to think outside the lunchbox for some easy alternatives.

Enter mussels.

You all know my love affair with these mollusks - easy, inexpensive, quick and oh-so-yummy.  What's not to love?  It's a quick meal in and of itself, but I thought I'd do some prep to make it even quicker.  My efforts paid off.

Here's what you'll need for tonight's meal:

~ Mussels (1 lb does it for me - unfortunately, Wegmans misplaced the special order I had called in early this morning, and I ended up having to wait for a while with two exceptionally apologetic and friendly seafood staffers while they painstakingly looked for the code to ring up a single pound of mussels, which is not a usual purchase.  Hence the call-ahead.  But we found it - #6755.  Immortalized herein)
~ White wine (tonight's was a lively Portuguese Gazela vinho verde - as clear and effervescent as sparkling water - but with a great deal more citrussy, fresh character!
~ Garlic (1 clove)
~ Fresh herbs on hand (savory, thyme and oregano for me!)
~ 10 or so pieces of oven-roasted tomatoes from the Mediterranean bar.  Super yummy.
~ 2 tbs. butter
~ Coarse-ground salt to taste

In the afternoon, I prepped the broth.  Into my pan went some white wine, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, two pats of butter and salt.  I slapped a lid on and put it into the fridge.

End of story.

I came home this evening with my pound of mussels and a baguette, let the pot come to temp while I greeted my puppy and set my bags down, and then started it simmering, rinsed the mussels and plopped them in.  They cooked covered for 3 minutes while I poured myself a glass of chilled wine and sliced the baguette.

Not 10 minutes in the door, I was sitting down to one heck of a savory meal.

Panera, you know I love you - and I'll probably see you Thursday.  But this was a great way to kick off my week!

Yours in the love of good food and wine,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ninety-fourth Post ~ Mediterranean-inspired lamb and tortellini (okay, not really)

I say "not really" because I'm lying in the title.  "Inspired" implies forethought and premeditation.  This was a very un-pre-meditated dinner, insomuch as I didn't realize what meat I was working with until it hit the pan.  This is one of the posts through which I truly feel I've earned the "Accidental" in my blog name.

Let us begin at the beginning...

I occasionally reap the benefits of large meat purchases made by my parents.  Here and there, I'm bestowed gifts of meat which I merrily store away in my freezer and use throughout the year.  Tonight, I found, buried in the back of my freezer like a lost Christmas present beneath the tree, a particularly tempting parcel of... hamburger.  For that's what I was certain it was.

So I decided that hamburger sauteed with bruschetta would render a lovely meaty, savory sauce, perfect for the remaining tortellini that was just shrieking to be eaten up in my cupboard (only a true tortellini-lover knows how loudly and plaintively cheese-filled pasta can shriek).  So I thawed out the rich, red parcel of meat, got out my ingredients, and set the patty into the hot pan into which had already been spooned a large helping of bruschetta.

Where my senses were greeted with decidedly "NOT BEEF" messages.  The savory, rich smell hit me first - one that, for lamb-lovers, is positively intoxicating.  The juicy texture reached my spatula next.  This was not ground beef - this was ground lamb.  I had brought it home intending to make my mother's delectable orange-glaze sauce (caramel, really) that she serves these patties with (along with a bed of white rice to soak up the remaining sauce).

I would not normally have thought lamb+bruschetta = tortellini dish!  But that's what I had in front of me in the pan.

And I'm here to tell you that this was one happy accident!

Here's what you'll need:

~ 1 ground lamb patty (you'll most likely have to special-order these from your butcher, but they're oh-so worth it)
~ Pre-made bruschetta
~ Touch of black truffle oil
~ Dash of balsamic vinegar
~ Tortellini
~ Fresh oregano

So, as previously mentioned, start a pan heating on low-medium with 2-3 heaping tablespoons of bruschetta.  Start a small pot of boiling water going at the same time.  Add the ground lamb to the bruschetta.  Break it up and stir it around.  Let it cook uncovered for about 5-7 minutes, adding some truffle oil (this puts it over the top) and covering it for the remaining time the pasta cooks.  Drain the pasta and uncover the sauce.  Relish in the savory aromas!  Toss the tortellini in the sauce and allow it to meld for a minute or so on low-to-no heat.  Top it with fresh oregano for a truly wonderful dish.

I paired this meal with the Petite Sirah by Crane Lake from last night.  Oh, dear readers, this was a good, good pairing.  Perhaps Sirah and lamb were made for each other, for fruity notes sang from this wine that hadn't been as evident last night.  Spices came to the fore as well, blending harmoniously with the rich flavor of the lamb but not fighting the bruschetta at all.

All in all, a good meal.  Accidentally, of course!
Yours in the love of good food and wine,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ninety-third Post ~ Bruschetta chicken atop zucchini ribbons

I spent the afternoon at Janeen's house, where we dined on savory salsa and cream-cheese pizza, baked brie with apricots, veggies, cookies, wine - you get the idea.  I decided to do something light for dinner, so I opted for veggies instead of the usual pasta that I enjoy with breaded meat.

Here's what you'll need for this meal:
~ 1 zucchini
~ Bruschetta (as you know, I'm a fan of Wegman's bruschetta)
~ Chicken tenderloins
~ Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (I keep my signature breadcrumb-parm-herb mix ever at the ready in my freezer)

This is an easy, quick meal.  Into a pan, slice the zucchini.  I used a veggie peeler, but would recommend a mandolin the next time.  Prevents knuckle scrapes.  Add about a tablespoon of bruschetta with about a tablespoon extra of the liquid from the container and sautee for a few minutes.  Set to the side in a bowl with a plate covering it so they steam a bit more.  Ideally, cover them with the plate you're going to serve it on so you can flip it onto the plate when you're ready.

In the pan, add a bit of EVOO and the breaded tenderloins.  Cook until done (often heralded by the fire alarm).  Place the tenderloins over the bed of zucchini ribbons and top with bruschetta.

I served this tonight with a glass of Petit Sirah by Crane Lake.  It was a fuller-bodied wine than I expected, tasting of ripe cherries, licorice and spice.  In another life, I might have thought ahead and chilled a white French table wine, as I think it would have gone with the meal better, but this wine was so heady and tasty it was more like a side dish.  Not the best pairing, as it overpowered the delicate zucchini and light freshness of the bruschetta, but overall, an enjoyable wine.

And you know, to make the wine feel better, I broke out some dark chocolate for dessert.  A better pairing has not been seen since Romeo set eyes on fair Juliet.

Yours in the love of food, wine, and food & wine,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.