dijon tilapia fish cakes with baby arugula.

Today we’re having fish cakes! Tilapia cakes, to be exact. Why should crab cakes have all the fun??

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This recipe is lovely because it can do triple duty: a fresh first course? An elegant yet simple lunch? A light dinner? Check, check, and CHECK.

The key to successful fish cakes is to chill the cakes for thirty minutes minimum after shaping the patties. You may find that the patties are a little wet when you form them, but you’ll be amazed once you’ve let them hang out in the fridge. They really set up nicely, and will not fall apart during the cooking process; which I think is the biggest issue people (myself included, countless times) have when they try to make any type of fritter or cake. Letting them chill for 30-60 minutes is absolutely essential to the success of this recipe. When cooking them, you can press down gently with your spatula to ensure an even browning; I did not do this on my first two cakes, as I was curious about them holding their shape but once they did, I lightly flattened the subsequent patties, as it makes for a prettier presentation.

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See how the bottom cake is unevenly browned? That was my test cake. ūüôā

I used 2% greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise, and whole wheat panko instead of white. Both of these swaps up the nutrition and lower the calorie count, so you can feel even better knowing how healthy these are.

I served these with baby arugula tossed with a quick french vinaigrette (recipe below) and a squeeze of lemon: easy and elegant!

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dijon tilapia cakes with arugula. 

ingredients
1.25 pounds tilapia filets
1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 eggs
3 tablespoons chives, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 cup whole wheat panko
6 ounces baby arugula
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I tend to use 4, but go up depending on how acidic you like your dressings)

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with nonstick spray, place each tilapia filet on the sheet and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each sea salt and pepper and drizzle with the teaspoon of olive oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cooked through (opaque all the way through). Let cool and using a fork, break into medium flakes. 

In a mixing bowl, add the yogurt, dijon mustard and eggs and whisk to beat the eggs and combine the mixture. Add the sliced chives and stir to incorporate. Add the flaked fish, panko, remaining salt and pepper and lemon zest and fold in to incorporate.

With a cutting board near you, form the mixture into eight cakes (about 1/4 cup each). Do not overwork; the mixture will feel wet. Place the cakes on the cutting board and place in the refrigerator. Let chill for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 hour.

Heat a cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and add half of the cakes (this will depend on the size of your skillet; I was able to cook 4 at a time in 2 batches). Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, pressing gently to slightly flatten. When the cake is ready to flip, it will easily move. Once golden brown on each side, remove to a plate and continue with the next batch, adding the remaining oil.

While the cakes are cooking, make the salad dressing. In a jar or small bowl, whisk the dijon mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper and oil. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Toss with the arugula.

Divide the arugula amongst four plates and top each with two cakes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 as a main, 8 as an appetizer.

*Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible* 

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southern ham, greens + black eyed pea soup.

Hi there! I hope you’ve been enjoying the holiday season, and your Christmas and Hanukkah were (and are!) filled with joy, celebrations, relaxation, and of course, delicious food!

My dad and I cook Christmas dinner for our family, and this year we cooked a whole beef tenderloin, a grilled whole salmon, and I was responsible for everyone’s favorite hasselback potato gratin (probably everyone’s ‘favorite’, because it’s positively laden with cream and cheese, and I only make it once a year because it’s so unhealthy but OH-SO good. I use Kenji Lopez-Alt’s recipe, which can be found here). I also made these beans, which are simple and delicious. Everything was lovely and delicious, and I ate way too much. As you do for the holidays.

Speaking of holidays… let’s usher in the first holiday of 2017 with this soup.

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This recipe is one that I came up with a few years ago, when I was flipping through a cooking magazine and stopped on a warm ham, black eyed pea, and barley salad. I morphed that salad into a soup, surprised my boyfriend who loved black eyed peas with it, and it quickly became a favorite. Legend has it in the South that eating black eyed peas on New Years will bring you prosperity in the following year. So it’s the perfect time to bring you this recipe.

Starting this recipe by frying up a few pieces of bacon imparts a nice smokiness that will carry over to the finished soup. Because we’re using bacon and ham, go light on the salt and only use if needed; tasting often as you cook and develop the flavors. The collard greens and barley will cook for almost an hour, allowing the soup to develop a deep, complex flavor.¬†At the very end, we’re going to add in a splash of hot sauce and cider vinegar, which adds a delectable bit of kick that finishes the soup beautifully.

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As it’s traditional in the Southern US to eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day, they’re traditionally made with fat back ham, bacon, ham hocks, or other smoky pork. They’re typically eaten with some type of slow cooked green, like collards, turnip or mustard greens. A lot of preparation goes into those dishes; so I love that this soup incorporates all those elements into a one pot dish.

I hope 2017 is a healthy and limitless one for you and all of your loved ones!

southern ham + black eyed pea soup. 

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ingredients
1 medium onion, large dice
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cans black eyed peas, rinsed/drained
1/2 bunch collard greens, thinly sliced
6 cups low sodium chicken broth (up to 2 additional cups to thin out, if needed)
2 pieces bacon, diced
2 cup diced ham
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. cider vinegar
Tabasco
salt and pepper to taste

directions
Cook bacon in large pot until browned. Remove and drain. Dice onion, carrot and celery into a large dice. In large pot that bacon was cooked in, saute garlic, onion, carrot and celery in bacon drippings over moderate heat until onion is translucent.

While onion mixture is cooking, discard stems and ribs from collards and finely chop leaves. Set aside.

Add broth, oregano and barley to the onion mixture, add bacon. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium/medium low and let simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Add collard greens and chopped ham and let the whole mixture for about 20-25 minutes longer, until collards and barley are tender.

Mash half of the black eyed peas with a fork, and add the beans to the soup. Simmer 10 minutes longer, add pepper, salt, Tabasco and cider vinegar to taste. (Because the ham and bacon are salty, additional salt may not be needed). Serves 6.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**