This past weekend featured a range of different meals: some simple classics and some more complicated. For starters, we decided on a less expensive fish to prepare for fish Friday this week. Instead of going for something like last week’s Halibut, or even red snapper, we went back to a good old flounder filet.
This is similar to, but a step up from, tilapia in my opinion. They’re both flaky white fish and are probably interchangeable. Because we chose a simple, inexpensive white fish, I tried to jazz up the preparation a little bit to elevate it. I happen to have a lot of almond flour in my pantry, so I figured it would work well for a nut crusted fish preparation. In the past, I have always had trouble with my nut coatings coming off of fish when I’m cooking it. My guess is I’ve had trouble because (1) I wasn’t using a proper breading procedure, which starts with flour, then and egg wash, and then the breading agent, and (2) my nuts weren’t ground finely enough. I attempted to remedy both of these problems this time around: I did, in fact, use the proper breading procedure with gluten free flour, and my almond flour is already very finely ground almonds. I think it worked pretty well, so next time I may try to actually grind whole nuts with my mini food processor, which has a “grind” function.
To go with the fish, I served mashed potatoes and green beans amandine (or something akin to it). We haven’t had mashed potatoes in a long, long time, so it was something a bit different. Also, we purchased a giant bag of potatoes at the grocery because I needed some for another dish I planned to make (coming up next in this post), so I figured I might as well use them. I peeled my potatoes, though I don’t always, then boiled them in water for 20 minutes. Because I cut the potatoes into pretty small pieces, they were super tender by the time they finished cooking. I didn’t even need to use my potato masher to crush them! I was able to mash them with a fork. To make the potatoes a nice consistency, I added several tablespoons of sour cream. For the green beans, I simply steamed them then tossed them into a pan with some butter and chopped almonds. I added the almonds to make the green beans a little fancier, give them some texture, and echo the flavor of the breading on the fish.
For Saturday’s lunch, I experimented with a classic French recipe: Vichyssoise, which is cold potato and leek soup. It seemed like it would be relatively simple to make, plus potatoes are cheap, and it doesn’t require heating to serve. All winning characteristics in my book.
This soup actually ended up being easier to prepare than I expected. There really was more chopping than there was to the cooking, and there wasn’t very much chopping. I peeled and cut up three medium sized potatoes (the basic brown baking potatoes they sell in big bags at the grocery store). Then I cleaned (the most laborious part of the whole cooking experience) and chopped three large leeks. I put both the potatoes and the leeks in my stock pot, added the required quantity of chicken broth, and let it simmer on the stove top for 25 minutes. When the vegetables were finished cooking, I pureed the whole thing with my immersion blender (the absolute best tool for making pureed soups). Then I added the heavy cream called for in the recipe, let everything simmer together for maybe five more minutes, and turned off the heat. Beyond that, it was just seasoning with salt and pepper and letting the soup cool completely before putting it in the refrigerator.
To make this extra special, on Saturday I rendered a few pieces of bacon to serve on top of the soup. Then I topped it off with a sprinkle of fines herbs. It was delicious! And also, incredibly easy. I made enough soup for four main course servings, so we had this for lunch on Sunday too. I will totally make this again. And, surprisingly, my stomach wasn’t upset by the leeks, which are a member of the onion family. So, overall it was a win. It didn’t use nearly as many potatoes as I had anticipated, though, so I will have to come up with creative ways to use potatoes in several dishes this week.
Dinner on Saturday was a more complicated and fancy meal: crab cakes. Actually, I think I made this too complicated, and I’m really not pleased with how it looked. I’m giving you the photographs anyway, though.
We bought some really nice quality lump crab meat in the seafood section of our grocery store. My first problem was choosing to buy 16 oz. instead of 8 oz. I guess I lost my marbles for a minute there and forgot that I aim to serve 4 oz portions of protein. I sometimes serve larger portions of seafood because I don’t find it that filling, but I certainly didn’t need a pound of crab meat for two people.
I haven’t attempted crab cakes in a while, so I used a recipe from one of my many cookbooks. This, too, was sort of a mistake. The recipe I used called for a lot of seasonings and spices. Honestly, I think it was really too many. Maybe you need that many if you’re using canned crab, but we bought fresh crab meat, and I think my aggressive seasoning just covered the flavor of the crab too much. The breading and cooking of the crab cakes was fine, though. To serve with the crab cakes, I made a very simple aioli (flavored mayonnaise) in my food processor with mayonnaise, whole grain mustard, lemon zest, and parsley. The sauce was actually perfect, in my opinion, but the crab cakes themselves were too complicated in the flavor department.
With the crab cakes, I served broccoli and rice. The broccoli was all well and good, although I think there was too much of it. I just steamed the broccoli for 7 minutes over a pot of boiling water with some slices of lemon in it.
And then there was the rice. Another mistake. I wanted to do something less boring than plain white rice, and the hubby suggested curry rice, but I vetoed that (because I’ve already posted several curry rice pictures on this blog). Instead, I went for a mixture of paprika, a dash of chili powder, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground ginger, dill, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting that was also in the crab seasoning. Although the rice tasted fine, it was still too much with all those crab cakes, and I completely failed to think about what color everything would be. The yellow curry rice or white rice would have looked better. This turned into a big plate of brown. I was originally thinking the crab cakes would be white, but I forgot they were going to be coated with gluten free breadcrumbs. So we have a lot of brown, and it really didn’t look appetizing. I tried to hide the rice underneath the broccoli for a better presentation, but I really wasn’t happy with it at all. And it all ended up being too much food, so I felt lousy later that evening. Ginger ale to the rescue! (Upset stomach is the only time I will drink soda, and ginger ale is the only one I’ll drink.)
I originally wanted to make these traditional Hungarian crepes (called palacsinta) for dessert on Saturday night, but I was way too stuffed. I felt better on Sunday morning, so they ended up being breakfast instead!
I absolutely love these crepes. They remind me a lot of my childhood. My great grandmother always made these with sour milk, so I use buttermilk in my recipe, and I added a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice too.
I actually took the lazy way out and filled these crepes with mascarpone. This was a bit of a naive move. My mom told me my great grandmother used to fill hers with something like a cheese blintz filling, but chefs on Food Network are always raving about adding mascarpone to things. I figured I would try it instead of looking for a cheese blintz filling recipe. Mistake. I guess that’s one way to learn that mascarpone has absolutely no flavor whatsoever. It was kind of like eating delicious crepes filled with butter, only without the flavor of butter. Good thing these are traditionally served with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar. The hubby and I actually ate the rest of them without the filling!
I guess this means I need to go on the hunt for a filling recipe. I hope I can find something that works to make these even more delicious than they are plain. If any of you want the recipe for these, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to do a post about them with the recipe included.
I hope you all enjoyed this look at what the hubby and I ate over the weekend. My next food post will be right back to the normal weekday menu. Bon appetit everyone!