Today you are in for a treat! Here’s another installment of recipes from my very talented brother. Enjoy!
So far the Eat Happy, Be (Somewhat) Healthy, Live Well recipes have been reasonably healthy and thus not quite living up to my mantra. Today we change that with two recipes inspired by Halloween and my sister’s Peach Picking post. I titled this post Two Recipe Tuesday: The Dichotomy between Good and Evil because one of my favorite culinary things to do is to combine somewhat opposite flavors and textures in a dish or meal, and the juxtaposition of Blackening spices (name and heat) with the velvety goodness of my dessert seemed to lend itself to Halloween-esque parody and comparison. Without further ado…
Evil: Blackened Tilapia with Lime-Cilantro Butter (serves 2)
The dinner recipe comes from this month’s issue of Men’s Health with some tweaks to the amounts called for. I loved Blackened anything, and the thought of adding a richness and zing with the butter was just too good of a treat to pass up. *Sorry there aren’t any pictures of this one, I really only had about 20 minutes to get this on a plate before my little nugget woke up from her nap.
- · 2 Tilapia filets
- · Your favorite Blackening Seasoning – I like Paul Prudhomme’s Blackening Magic for Red Fish
- · 2 TBSP Olive Oil (or other oil for high heat searing)
- · 1 TBSP Butter at room temperature
- · 1 Clove of Garlic finely minced
- · A small palm-full of fresh Cilantro
- · 1 Lime
Well before it’s time to start making dinner pull out the butter and let it get to room temperature, though if you’re pressed for time you can nuke it for about 7-10 seconds to soften it up.
Step 1: In heavy bottom stainless-steel or cast-iron skillet, heat the oil on medium-high until it just starts smoking. While the oil is heating up season both sides of your fish, and when the oil is ready place the fish into the skillet. Sear for roughly 4-5 minutes and then turn for another 3 minutes or so.
Step 2: While the tilapia is blackening mince the garlic with a press or by hand, chop the cilantro as roughly or finely as you wish and place into a bowl with the butter. After adding the lime (see below) mix everything together with a hand mixer or fork depending on the relative hardness of the butter. With the lime you have a choice in how subtle or potent your flavoring is:
– If you want very subtle, grate/zest the entire lime into the butter mixture, beware this could lead to the lime being completely overwhelmed by the richness of the butter.
– If you want a light lime flavor, cut the lime in half and give one of the halves a quick squeeze to get a few drops of lime juice out.
– If you want the lime to be the star of the show, entirely juice one half of the lime.
Step 3: Plate your tilapia and put a dollop of the butter onto the filet immediately and serve so the butter can melt on top of the tilapia. Serve with vegetables and carb of your choosing, I did a Broccoli, Onion, and Bell Pepper Sauté Medley mixed into some quinoa.
Good: Nectarine Dream (serves 4)
When I first read the peach picking post, my mind immediately jumped to dessert though not as rustic and fall oriented as Kristin’s mini Honey-Peach cobblers; instead I thought about the smooth and decadent luxury that is Crème Brûlée.
Ever since my freshman year in college, I’ve loved Crème Brûlée, mostly for the flavor and texture, but a little bit of it was because of getting to play with fire while making it at the restaurant I worked at. I found a small brûlée torch (though I do miss the extinguisher-sized blow torch/flame thrower I used to have at the restaurant) and have been making this dessert somewhat regularly at home for my wife. Though, I’ve only ever strayed from the basic vanilla flavor once by adding a pinch of freshly ground coffee to the basic vanilla recipe (gave it a nice crunch and some awesome flavor). However, I’ve been waiting for inspiration to strike and provide me with a soft velvety flavor profile to marry with that rich custardy goodness.
Enter Peaches. The second piece of inspiration for my spin on this dish comes from my childhood and my bartending days – you see I loved (and still do) Orange Dreamcsicles or Creamsicles so whilst bartending my way through college I figured out how to make a frozen cocktail that tasted exactly like the orange dreamsicle (Amaretto is the secret). Finally finding my inspiration I created something I’m calling my Nectarine Dream Crème Brûlée, and though my finished product didn’t turn out perfect, I’ve modified the recipe to give you a shot at the perfect dessert.
- · 2 Large or Extra Large Egg Yolks
- · 1 Tbs Sugar plus more later
- · 1 Cup Heavy Cream
- · 1 Pot of water
- · 1 Nectarine cut into a few good size pieces
- · 1 splash (no more) of Amaretto or Almond Extract if you prefer to go sans booze. If you do use the Almond Extract I would use even less than a splash since the flavor comes across extremely heavy-handed if you use too much
While continuously beating the egg yolks slowly add the cream mixture little by little; if you add too much too quickly the temperature difference will cause the eggs to scramble. Once all of the cream mixture is incorporated into the eggs let sit for approximately 5-10 minutes so the bubbles start to disappear. Strain the entire mixture through a very fine sieve to help remove the rest of the bubbles (this is very important for presentation and texture). I don’t have a fine sieve, nor did I have patience that night due to my nugget wanting some attention.
Take out your blow-torch and evenly flame the tops of the brûlées until the sugar starts to turn a beautiful amber color all over – if your torch is weak-sauce, like mine is, tilt the ramekin such that the caramelizing sugar starts to drip downwards which helps raise the temperature of the uncaramelized granules so they can brown quicker.
For some extra flair you can fan-slice another nectarine and sprinkle some sugar on the fan for caramelizing as an edible garnish, though you’ll have to use a healthy pinch of sugar – I used too little and only got a tiny bit of caramelization on the edges. Within about 45 minutes of actual work and some sitting around waiting, you’ve just created one of the most decadent desserts found only in the better restaurants, so sit back and savor the delicate flavor and rich, creamy texture.
If you prefer the standard vanilla flavor, I suggest switching out the nectarine and amaretto for a single Vanilla Bean. Slice the vanilla bean in half with a paring knife and scraping the vanilla out of the bean pod. You could also add a dash of cocoa powder or finely, freshly ground coffee to the cream and sugar mixture as it’s scalding.
FYI – I picked up my torch at Bed, Bath, and Beyond in a “Crème Brûlée set” though do yourself a favor and make sure you get some deep ramekins instead of the shallow ones that come with that set, it’s much easier to keep your water bath out of the velvety goodness if the ramekins are tall. Also, be wary when filling your brûlée torch, the butane often spittles out of the entry point so make sure you test the torch pointing away from the area you just filled it in; this one time…I created a 6 foot fireball in a friend’s kitchen and luckily only singed half of my arm hair and a little portion of my eyebrows.
If you haven’t checked out today’s Tuesday Trainer, you’re missing out! I didn’t submit a video this week, but you should still check it out for an awesome workout!