Couscous and Cucumber Salad

This is a very quick, easy, and customizable dish. I found the recipe via the NYT, which includes mint. Even without the mint, it’s very refreshing, with a smooth, neutral, and delicate flavor. A really lovely lunch or a welcome side dish that goes with pretty much anything. couscous

•  1/2 cup Pearl Couscous
• 1 Cucumber
• 1 large tomato, or lots of tiny ones
• 2 T red onion, diced
• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1 – 2 T olive oil
• About 5 sprigs parsley
• salt & pepper

1. Lightly toast couscous in olive oil [enough to coat] over medium high heat, about 5 minutes.

2. Add 1 cup water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat, cover, and simmer until 10 minutes, just until tender.

3. Remove from heat, strain if necessary, and pour couscous in large bowl.

4. Chop cucumber, tomatoes, and onion. Add to couscous, along with lemon juice, herbs, and the rest of olive oil. Toss, let breathe, and serve.

Falafel Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

The garbanzo patties are so savory & delicious they can be eaten on their own, alongside a nice rice dish, or a bright vegetable. They pair nicely with hot flavors, like chili/Sriracha, and cream or yogurt sauces. For a gyro, fill a pita with fresh tomato, onion, lettuce, tzatziki, and falafel.

falafel

• 2 cups canned, boiled garbanzo beans, or 1 can, drained
• 1 carrot, grated or minced
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 large garlic cloves, smashed and minced
• 4 – 6 T garbanzo bean flour
• 1/2 tsp each thyme, coriander, cumin
• 1 tsp paprika
• dash pepper, salt

1. Mince or dice vegetables and add to food processor with beans. Add about a teaspoon of water if your device requires liquid.
2. Blend to desired consistency. Bigger pieces of everything will allow you to use less flour, so a mealy mix is actually really good. The blending process is just to crush the beans and to combine the mix, not to liquify. If you find your batter won’t form or stay together in a firm way, add more flour, cornstarch, or similar thickener depending on your budget. (garbanzo bean flour is more expensive than standard flour)
3. Add flour and spices, mix, and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
4. Heat a little over an inch of your chosen frying oil, preferably vegetable or sunflower. Form dough into rough golf-ball shape and drop in oil. Or, flatten to make patties if that is preferable. Fry on one side a couple minutes, until fully brown. Flip once to brown, and turn on sides for full coverage.

Tzatziki Sauce
• 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
• 1/3 cucumber
• 1 lemon
• thyme
• dill
• cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine ingredients, adding more or less of whatever you like most or least. You can cut the cucumber to whatever consistency you desire-it can be minced, thrown into a food processor, grated, etc.

Poached Tilapia with Beurre Blanc

Tilapia

This recipe is based on Jacques Pépin’s Poached Trout in Vegetable Broth (video here). While there are lots of ingredients and while I list lots of steps it doesn’t take much longer than his presentation. If you don’t make sauce you could easily create this and eat within 20 minutes. Also, I imagine this basic method could make any other type of fish super flavorful and delicate.

The slow, weird, complicated part is the Beurre Blanc, a sauce that has eluded me for some time. I’m not sure if it worked this time because I used Amish butter or if it was due to trial and error… I’m not sure but I do know that even my failed, ultra-melted attempts were still absolutely delicious, so even practice is worthwhile.

This time, the sauce was appropriately creamy, but I didn’t get a good capture because I was too busy eating to care about staging…

Fish
• Tilapia or any fish that wants to be poached
• 1 small white onion, potatoes (as many as you will be serving), a few mushrooms, 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot
• 2 – 3 cups water
• 1 tsp olive oil, butter, or homemade vegetable stock
• 1 large bay leaf
• fresh & dried thyme
• sage
• oregano
• 1/2 – 1 tsp peppercorns
• fine sea salt
• lemon juice and zest
• If serving with roasted vegetables, preheat oven to 425 degrees

1. Squeeze lemon juice onto fish and sprinkle with dried oregano, a dash of sea salt, and pepper.

2. Add enough water to a sauté pan so that the fish will be partially immersed. Boil water, white wine, sliced onion, sliced carrot & celery, small potatoes cut in half or regular potatoes cut into edible pieces, bay leaf, thyme, sage, and a bit of lemon peel. Crush and add peppercorns. Add olive oil or butter if you wish–I went with an ice cube of vegetable stock.

3. Reduce heat to medium, then rest fish upon vegetables and cover pan.

4. Check from time to time: skinned fish will exhibit doneness more obviously than fish with skin. Either way, it should take about 10 minutes.

5. Remove fish from pan and place on a plate with a bowl on top while you make the sauce and roast the potatoes.

6. Remove potatoes from liquid and sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt. Spread out on baking sheet along with asparagus. Roast while making the beurre blanc, about 20 minutes.

Beurre Blanc
• 1/2 c fish stock
• 1/4 c white wine
• 2 T vinegar (white allows it to be blanc- I used red so it looked more like gravy)
• 1 T minced shallots
• 1/2 c – 1 c butter

1. The liquid from the poached fish will serve as the base for this sauce, so strain out the vegetables. Add about 1/2 c liquid back to the pan.

2. Add white wine and boil until the liquid is reduced by about half.

3. Reduce heat to medium and add vinegar, shallots, and 2 T butter.

4. Reduce heat to low and add butter 1 T at a time, whisking continuously until each is absorbed by the liquid. It is important that the butter is cold and that there is continuous movement with a whisk as it can melt very easily, making for a deflated, watery sauce.

5. Remove from heat completely and add the last few pieces of butter, continuing to stir. The final result should be creamy and heavenly.. Pour liberally over both fish and asparagus.

**Anti-waste tip: Save any remaining fish stock to enhance dinner the next day.. I used it for fish tacos, but it would make a very hearty soup, vegetable cooking liquid – – anything, really. Its also useful to save the vegetables for a small batch of vegetable or fish stock, and/or to season & eat as a simple side dish.**

Meyer Lemon Tart

lemon tart

Tart Crust
•  1 c flour
•  2 T sugar
•  1/2 t salt
•  1/2 t Meyer lemon zest
•  1 stick cold butter
•  1/2 t vanilla extract

1. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest.

2. Cut in thick slices of butter with fork until dough roughly holds together.

3. Stir in water and vanilla. Shape into disk and refrigerate in plastic wrap for a half hour.

4. Press dough into tart pan, then bake at 375 degrees until golden for 25 minutes.

5. Remove tart from oven, then increase temperature to 400 degrees.

Lemon Curd Filling

•  2 large eggs
•  3 large egg yolks
•  1/4 c and 2 T sugar
•  1/4 t cornstarch
•  3T Meyer lemon zest
•  1/3c Meyer lemon juice
•  6 T butter, cut into pieces

1. While tart crust is in the oven, whisk eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch

2. Whisk in lemon zest & juice

3. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until thick (5-10m)

4. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, one piece at a time

5. Pour into tart shell and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees until slightly brown and/or set

5b. Midway through baking, check and deflate puffiness- I lined the outer edges of my tart with lemon slices, leaving the inside clean. It puffed up very slightly, requiring a knife poke

5c. If you cover or decorate the tart with lemons, its a good idea to coat the lemons with brown sugar beforehand-perhaps dip them in sugar to coat both sides. They retain tartness after baking, which is delicious/interesting but not for all palates.

6. Decorate with dried lemon verbena and serve warm or chilled

via Martha Stewart