Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Sautéed Tilapia with Lemon-Caper Sauce

I know I'm not the only one who's been craving lighter, brighter flavors lately. Eggnog, cookies, cheeses, meats, sauces, pies, cakes, and all those wonderful holiday foods are terrific, but after eating them for awhile, it's nice to enjoy something a little different.

Not only does this tilapia give your palate a break, but as it's easy to pull together, it give you a break from slaving in the kitchen, too. This dish is light yet satisfying, and completely delicious. I found it made quite a bit of sauce, perhaps because I didn't reduce it as much as I could have. But it was nice to mop up the sauce with a good slice of bread, and would be tasty over rice as well.

Sautéed Tilapia with Lemon-Caper Sauce (adapted from Cooking Light)

1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. drained brine-packed capers, lightly crushed
2 Tbsp. butter, divided
2 tsps. vegetable oil
4 (6-ounce) tilapia or sole fillets
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp butter
Lemon wedges and parsley (optional)

Combine first three ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

Melt 1 Tbsp of butter with oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat.

While butter melts, sprinkle fish fillets with salt and black pepper. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge fillets in flour; shake off excess flour.

Increase heat to medium-high; heat two minutes or until butter turns golden brown. Add fillets to pan; sauté three minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove fillets from pan, place on a serving dish and keep warm.

Add broth mixture to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to about a cup. Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter. Serve sauce over fillets. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley, if desired.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Lace Cookies (Now Gluten Free!)

I've written about these before but here I go again: these cookies are really so delicious that they're irresistible. Lace cookies (aka, Florentines) are crispy, wafer thin cookies with an amazing carmelized sugar and browned butter flavor that sandwich a thin layer of dark chocolate.

Jenny is throwing a party on Sunday and wanted a few goodies that can be eaten by everyone, including a few guests who can't have gluten. If you take a look at the original lace cookie recipe, you'll see there's a minimal amount of flour, making it easy (ridiculously easy) to adapt to gluten free.

We swapped out the flour for almond meal (left over from December's Daring Baker Challenge) and, to be on the safe side, used gluten free oats (meaning, they were not processed in a facility near wheat products). The result is virtually identical: the only differences I've noticed are a slightly nuttier flavor than the originals (duh) and the GF version seem to have stayed crisper longer.

But still friggin' delicious.

Lace Cookies
1-1/2 cups uncooked regular oatmeal
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. almond meal
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup melted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350-degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix the oatmeal, sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Arrange the batter by half-teaspoonfuls on the sheet, about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly and remove the cookies with a spatula as soon as they are firm. (If they become to hard, pop them back in the oven for a moment to soften –- but my kitchen if icy and I've never run into this problem, so you probably won’t have to worry about it.) Yields about 60 cookies. Once the cookies cool, place them gently in an airtight container or continue to the next step.

Chocolate Filling
1 bag of dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli's 60% cocoa)

Place chips into a microwave-safe, plastic zip-top bag. Microwave for approximately 1 minute on 40-percent power, and “smush” the chocolate with your hands. Continue microwaving the chocolate for 30 second intervals at 30-percent power until melted, smushing between turns.

Once your chocolate has melted, snip a small corner off the bag to create a homemade pastry bag. Place a small dollop of chocolate in the center of a lace cookie (flat side up) and delicately top with another cookie (flat side down against the chocolate). Press the cookies together gently so the chocolate spreads evenly. Rest to dry on a cooling rack.

If you have leftover chocolate after filling the cookies (you probably will) squeeze the chocolate into another zip-top bag. Line your cookies up on your cooling rack, placing paper beneath the rack to catch extra chocolate. Make a tiny snip in the zip-top bag’s corner so that when squeezed, you’ll get a thin ribbon of chocolate. Working quickly, squeeze the chocolate over the cookies on a diagonal from left to right. Your cookies should have little chocolate stripes. Repeat the technique, this time moving from right to left. Now your cookies should have a diamond pattern on them. Don’t worry about being perfect; they’ll look beautiful. (If you’re feeling ambitious, melt white chocolate and drizzle on the cookies for a nice contrast.) Once dry, store in an airtight container.