Tag Archives: Dinner

Summer Menu. Or What’s Cooking?

I’m a fairly good cook. Not entirely self-proclaimed. Being a decent cook certainly has its plusses. Friends will happily accept dinner invitations, and nobody orders delivery just before meal time. But it also has its minuses. You see, I love eating out. Hubby might say It’s your birthday, let’s go out. Or maybe it’s Mother’s Day. Or a special meetup with out-of-town friends. That’s about it.

So what does a girl do? She develops an array of effective strategies to get out anyway. This week, for example, I have two lunch appointments in reputable restaurants. Cheers to that.

Happy hour 3 ud71To tell you the truth, deep inside I love cooking. But I’m not into following recipes. I find it boring. Following a recipe leaves no room for creativity. It also requires all kinds of measuring devices and detailed mathematical conversion skills. And I’m a big picture person. So that’s not for me. But don’t get me wrong, I love reading recipes from all over the world. They give me ideas.

flounder fillets ud71Anyway, last night I invented a new dish, suitably light for hot summer evenings. Filet de Flet à crabe. Or flounder fillets topped with a crab meat concoction (a heap of crab meat, one egg, olive oil mayonnaise, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs, one poblano pepper, one shallot, black pepper and salt). To be served with spicy baked zucchini, tomatoes and if preferred, some cheese-lemon sauce on the side. After 35 minutes in 400F/200C oven – bon appetite.

filet de flet UD71Everyone will survive and accolades will follow. I know.

Tonight it might be pizza. I like the artistic freedom to throw tasty toppings on a super thin crust. After so many years in Africa, my favorite is the Kilimanjaro. BBQ-alfredo-mustard sauce and extra cheese to remind us of the yellow grass on the surrounding savannah, then small heaps of thinly sliced beef fillet for mini-mountains, topped with snow of feta cheese. A few chopped green bell peppers for bushes and some pineapple chunks for lions lurking around. And mushrooms for other animals. So yummy it requires a long after-dinner walk on the savannah….or at the salt marsh.

So that’s what’s cooking at my place.

island in the bay ud71Figuratively speaking, more things are cooking in the summer heat. Like a meetup with a bird photographer/blogging friend and his family early this week, family visits, photo hikes and overseas travel to cooler latitudes. And also on the summer menu: just relaxing. Recharging mind, body and soul.

What’s cooking at your place? Literally or figuratively.

Baked Tilapia Anyone?

We learned to love Nile Tilapia when we lived in Uganda. This fish was the only one we could get guaranteed fresh every day. Now of course we have a huge variety of fresh fish and other sea food right here at our doorstep, and we can only get farm raised tilapia, but I still buy it every now and then. Normally I would just pan fry it (parmesan crusted!) and serve with small potatoes and a cold dill-based mayo-sour cream sauce, but last night I decided to prepare it in the oven. This is a recipe I created many years ago, but had not tried recently. It’s truly simple to make and guaranteed delicious! Here’s how I threw it all together.

As you may know from my previous cooking posts, I cook creatively from the ingredients I find in the fridge, so here’s what I had (for two people – you can scale it up by counting one large fillet per person and adding more wine, cream & cheese to the sauce):

3 small/medium-sized tilapia fillets

little less than 1/2 pint/2 dl cream

about 1/2 bag (4 oz/110 g) shredded part-skim mozzarella/Philadelphia cheese ( you can also use shredded swiss/Philadelphia mix or any light swiss cheese spread, like Laughing Cow wedges)

2 leeks

about 1/2 glass of white wine, and

spices.

First I preheated the oven to 350F/175C. Then seasoned the tilapia fillets with lemon pepper and lemon & herbs spices (add salt if needed), put them into an oven dish,  sprinkled over the leeks (cut in small pieces), poured in the white wine to almost cover the fish, and “pre-baked” the fish under lid for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, I prepared the cheese-cream sauce. I mixed 2 table spoons of flour (vary depending on how thick sauce you want) with olive oil, added the cream before the flour browned and then mixed in the cheese slowly. I let it all simmer together for a couple of minutes (you can add salt and pepper to taste if desired, I didn’t). The sauce should be very thick at this point.

When the tilapia had pre-baked, I took some of the liquid/wine and added it to the sauce to achieve desired consistency, and discarded most of the rest. Make sure you don’t leave too much wine around the fish – it doesn’t need to swim any more!  Next, I poured the sauce over the fillets and baked for an additional 25 minutes so that the cheese was lightly browned on the top.

You can serve this dish with wild or brown rice or small potatoes, sautéed asparagus and a fresh salad. I happened to have a few previously boiled small potatoes so I put them into the oven to heat up and sprinkled some of the shredded cheese on the top.

Very simple and yummy tilapia dinner. Enjoy!

What’s Cooking?

I’m a fairly good cook, not entirely self-proclaimed. Being a decent cook has its plusses. Friends will happily accept dinner invitations, and nobody orders pizza just before meal time. But it’s also a curse of sorts. Everyone always wants to eat at home. Like my hubby would say it’s your birthday, let’s go out. Or maybe it’s Mother’s Day. He doesn’t use Hon, it’s your whatever day… but often volunteers to peel and chop the ingredients if I put them on the kitchen counter. So I just need to throw them together, easy.

But I like eating out.  So I’ve come up with some creative solutions to that problem. First, the freezer is a helpful invention. Second, I can try to have most of my work meetings at restaurants. Oh, I’m sooo booked, back to back, can we meet for lunch? Hmm, but it usually works.

drink

To tell the truth, deep inside I love cooking. The issue is that I’m not into following recipes. I find it booring. Just following a recipe leaves nothing to the imagination, not much room for creativity. It also requires all kinds of measuring devices and mathematical skills. So that’s not for me. I like to shop groceries about once a week, but I don’t plan the meals in advance. No grocery lists based on recipes. And it’s not possible to buy .275 oz, 1/2 dl or 2 teaspoons of anything anyway. So my shopping lists tend to have only a few things on them, items that we don’t buy that often, like batteries or light bulbs. Who remembers to buy light bulbs when they now (finally) last for 2-5 years, if they are not on the list? I know what we like to eat, mostly healthy stuff, so I simply wander around the store and browse what I see.  Then I make meals of what we have. That’s simple, and so much more fun. A bit of an artistic challenge, rather than just mechanical work.

Incredients

Don’t get me wrong, I love reading recipes. I look at them to get ideas, for inspiration. I can sit and browse recipes from the whole world for hours! I particularly like to learn about spices and herbs. If I can’t grow them, and they are not available in the local stores, I can always get them online. So recipes are good, I just can’t follow them.

Last night I had some chicken breasts and made a pasta sauce.  In addition to the chicken, I threw together onions, red bell peppers, lemon and then added a little bit of this, a dash of that and a pinch of the other. And a tiny “pour” of cream. It was really tasty with low carb pasta and a fresh salad. But it’s close to impossible for me to remember how I did it…so next time will be a different culinary adventure. I kind of like that.

Chicken pasta sauce

Today, or maybe tomorrow, I think it might be time to make some pizza. To use some good leftovers. We don’t have pizza very often, maybe three or four times a year, but I like making them. Artistic and tasty toppings on a super thin crust. Like the Kilimanjaro. It has a yellowish alfredo-type mustard sauce and extra cheese to remind us of the surrounding savannah, then small heaps of really thinly sliced beef fillet for mini-mountains, topped with feta cheese for the snow. And a few green bell peppers for bushes and yellow ones for lions lurking around. And some mushroom pieces for other animals. Maybe.

Or it might be time for a completely new one. I’m thinking something like the Red Earth. With a barbeque-tomato sauce and small villages of …say, asparagus-topped chicken and zucchini? Or the Western Farm, with a light tomato-based sauce, just lightly sprinkled with cheese and lots of ongoing activity represented by different veggies? And black olives for tractors in the field?

So that’s what’s cooking.