Often, a bad couple of weeks coincides with time away from my kitchen. The first sign that I’m unhappy about something is when I stop caring about what I eat, so when I need to re-center and mull things over, I get to cooking. I try out some new recipes and return to some good, old standbys. When I’m excited about cooking again, I feel anchored and I know there are better days ahead.
- Old standbys: For Sunday supper, I made Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk again. The preparation is so very simple and unlike many good roast chicken recipes, requires little or no tending. The first time I made this, I used split chicken breasts, skin-on, bone-in. It was delicious but I didn’t find that the all-white meat benefited much from this preparation. This time, I sprang for a whole chicken, and though I’m not normally a dark meat person, I found the chicken thighs to be the best part. I enjoyed it with some mashed sweet potatoes and a heaping of roasted brussel sprouts. Next time, I’ll probably just use a package of skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs.
- New recipes: Earlier in the week, I made a batch of Momofuku Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies. Don’t be turned off by the name. These cookies are to die for. I made mine with dark chocolate chips, rolos, lay’s potato chips, and rold gold pretzels. The preparation is a bit fussy (the butter needs to be creamed for a very long time) and this is basically impossible to make without the assistance of a very good stand mixer, but the results are incomparable. I didn’t have a six ounce scoop so my portions were a bit smaller but I don’t think the cookies suffered one bit. The dough is fine in the fridge up to a week (in fact, I think the cookie dough actually benefits from sitting around for a day or two) so these are easy to bake off in small batches. Nothing quite like a warm chocolate cookie!
- A recipe to share: Another new recipe I tried was Shutterbean’s Tilapia and Quinoa with Feta & Cucumber. I’m thinking about taking a beach vacation in May and in the interest of looking remotely presentable in a swimsuit have decided it’s time to add some good light recipes to the repertoire. This totally hit the spot, being healthy but immensely satisfying and it takes almost no time to prepare. Plus quinoa, unlike many of the starches/grains that I love so much, is so good for you, so I don’t feel too guilty eating a big bowl. The tzatziki sauce (if you can find it or feel compelled to make your own) is not absolutely essential to the dish but transformed this dish from one that I liked to one that I loved. Since I adapted this recipe a bit to fit this week’s grocery list, I’m posting my version of it here.
Tilapia and Quinoa with Cotija & Cucumber
(recipe adapted from Shutterbean’s Tilapia and Quinoa with Feta & Cucumber)
- 1 cup quinoa
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless tilapia fillets, divided into 4 pieces
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup English cucumber, diced small
- 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
- 1/3 cup coarsely grated cotija cheese
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- one container of Trader Joe’s Tzatziki sauce (for topping)
1. In a small saucepan, bring quinoa, 2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a medium simmer, cover, and cook until water is evaporated, about 15 minutes. Transfer quinoa to a medium bowl and let cool 15 minutes. (I added additional cooling time because I didn’t want to the cotija to completely dissolve in the heat. Cotija adds a similar salty bite to the quinoa like the feta called for in the recipe, but will break down a lot more than the feta.)
2. While quinoa is cooling, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with paprika. Cook fillets until opaque throughout, about 4 minutes, flipping halfway through. Stir cucumber, scallions, cotija, 1 teaspoon oil and lemon juice into quinoa. Season with salt and pepper. Divide quinoa among plates and top with fish and a generous dollop of tzatziki sauce.