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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seared scallops with corn, tomato water and mint.

Who loves beautiful and elegant dishes that are absolutely ridiculously easy to make? *Raises hand*.

In my last post, I mentioned that I bought tomatoes with the intention of making a tomato water. What is tomato water you ask? It’s really just a fancy way of saying that it is the collected juices from chopped tomatoes that were sprinkled with sea salt. And that, my friends, is the hardest part of this dish. Chop the tomatoes, give them a generous pinch of sea or kosher salt, toss them in a fine mesh strainer, stir occasionally for an hour or so, voila! You will be left with a thin, opaque “water” that is delicate in flavor. The perfect thing to be spooned around plump sea scallops that have been seared so they are golden brown and glorious on both sides, yet tender and medium-rare in the middle.

scallops

I stumbled upon this recipe in an old copy of Bon Appetit magazine and was at once both intrigued and skeptical.¬†Intrigued by its beauty, skeptical of the ingredients. Do tomatoes, limes and mint sound like they’d go together? With seafood no less? I was intrigued enough to find out, and I’m so so glad I did! This is¬†insanely delicious.¬†I find lots of things delicious, but as I ate this, I actually couldn’t believe how good it was. Partly because my misguided skepticism, and partly because this is almost absurdly simple in preparation. I wanted to add a veggie into this dish (you know how much I love my veggies!), so I simply cut raw corn off the cob and added to the bowl right before adding the scallops and tomato water. I really liked the raw corn, it’s sweet and crunchy. You can cook it if you’d rather, but I’d highly recommend trying the raw. Sweet corn is in season, so let’s take advantage! The squeeze of lime adds a welcome punch of acidity and brightness, and the mint just refreshes your palate when you eat a leaf and ever so gently perfumes the dish.

I made this for one, but if you are cooking for someone (or multiple persons)¬†you love, it’s easily doubled or tripled. Enjoy a crisp glass of white wine or rose, and prepare for the exclamations of¬†gastronomic delight!

seared scallops with corn, tomato water and mint.
adapted from bon appetit. 

scallops 2

ingredients

2 heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/2 lime
1 tablespoon fresh mint, leaves torn
4 sea scallops
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon butter
black pepper
1 ear sweet corn, raw kernels removed

directions

Place chopped tomatoes into a fine mesh strainer that is sitting atop of a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally to collect juices (should have about 1/3 cup). Meanwhile, cut raw corn off of ear, set aside.

Heat a cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet (not non-stick) over medium-high heat. Add oil and butter. Once hot and melted together, add scallops to pan. Cook until deeply golden brown on one side, about 90 seconds. Turn and let cook on opposite side for additional 45-60 seconds until lightly browned and opaque. Remove to paper towel and drain for 30 seconds.

In a shallow bowl, add corn kernels. Add scallops to bowl and gently pour tomato water around the scallops. Squeeze the half of lime over the bowl, garnish with mint. Serve immediately.

Serves 1. Easily multiplied. Plan for four scallops a person.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**