Thursday, September 18, 2014

Polish Fish Cakes Over Asian Broccoli Slaw

Looking through my grandmothers and mothers old cook books, I came across some interesting Polish recipes. Growing up we always incorporated some Polish cuisine because of my heritage on my fathers mothers side. Every Easter we would have kielbasa and hard boiled eggs and New Years would always include pickled herring (which is actually not as horrid as it sounds).


I have made fish cakes before but never ones with potatoes in them. At first I thought that mashed potatoes wouldn't make an ideal texture for fish cakes, the key is you have to mash the potatoes extra "dry" so they form a light and fluffy consistency, this alone acts as the binder so you don't need any bread crumbs or egg (we save that for the outside). The result is a crispy outer edge with a moist flaky inside. I wanted to pair this with something light, so I decided to go the salad route and serve it with some Asian slaw. The acidity and added texture made for one delectable bite!

Polish Fish Cakes Over Broccoli Slaw

serves 3-4

2-3 large fish fillets, you can either use cod, haddock, or Swai
1/2 cup milk (give or take)
2 dried bay leaves
1 medium sized russet potato, peeled and boiled until tender, and cooled
½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 TBS fresh white flatleaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

for breading procedure...
1 egg
flour (to shape cakes)
1 cup breadcrumbs (plain)
3-4 TBS vegetable or sunflower oil, for shallow frying

1.Lay the fish and bay leaves in a frying pan. Pour over just enough milk to barely cover the fish. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 3 mins. Take off the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 mins to gently finish cooking the fish. Lift the fish out of the milk with a slotted spoon and put on a plate to cool.

2.In a mixing bowl, mash cooled potatoes with a fork, you should have a light, dry fluffy mash. Season with salt and pepper, then add lemon zest and parsley.

3.Drain off liquid from the fish, grind some pepper over it, then flake it into big chunks into the pan of potatoes. Using your hands, gently lift the fish and potatoes together so they just mix. You'll only need a couple of turns, or the fish will break up too much. Put to the side and cool.

4.Meanwhile prep the breading station. Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl, then place the bread crumbs on a large plate. Carefully shape fish cakes with hands (you might want to dredge hands in flour first so the cakes won't stick), one by one, sit each cake in the egg, and brush over the top and sides so it is completely coated. Sit the cakes on the crumbs, patting the crumbs on the sides and tops so they are lightly covered. Transfer to a plate, cover and chill for 30 mins (or up to a day ahead).

5.Heat the oil in a large frying pan. To test when ready, drop a piece of the dry breadcrumbs in - if it sizzles and quickly turns golden brown, it is ready to use. Fry the fish cakes over a medium heat for about 5 mins on each side or until crisp and golden. Serve on top of slaw.

Broccoli Slaw

I sort of cheated with this one, I bought this pre-portioned brand at the store, but sometimes all you can find is the plain slaw and in that case I buy sunflower seeds, craisins, and ginger miso dressing and simply toss.

I also have a home made recipe HERE

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Basil Chicken Curry Over Jasmine Rice

Man, I wish there was a way to transfer smells through computers because this meal smelled heavenly.


If I could physically marry a spice, I would elope with curry. It would be a small intimate ceremony and our good friends butter and onion would definitely be invited. There's something so creamy and indulgent about curry dishes, I love it because it has that perfect back heat on your palette that prevents it from being overly heavy. I remember the very first time I had curry was in a small local Thai restaurant, I accidentally ordered the level 5 spice (which is melt your face off spicy) and even though it was so ungodly painful, I had to keep eating it because it was just so gosh darn delicious.

Don't be scared, this curry is pretty mild, I would recommend only adding 1 TBS of curry for all you curry virgins out there, and then you can gradually add more if you would like. Please remember that the intensity of the spices becomes more powerful as it sits and cools so keep that in mind. I love the addition of fresh basil into the mix, at first I thought it would be to Italiany but it actually brings a fresh herb quality to the dish that I really enjoyed.

Basil Chicken Curry Over Jasmine Rice

serves 2

1 cup uncooked Jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups water (to cook rice)
2 raw chicken breasts, trimmed and diced into eatable chunks
1 small onion, diced
1 TBS coconut oil (you can use vegetable oil)
1 TBS yellow curry powder (I usually add more but it's up to you)
1 tsp paprika
1 can of light coconut milk (14oz)
1 TBS cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 minced garlic
3-4 fresh basil leaves, sliced fine
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.Cook rice according to package instructions. In a small mixing bowl, whisk coconut milk and cornstarch and set aside (I also added a pinch of curry powder as well).

2.Add the chicken to a small bowl and sprinkle the curry powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Toss the chicken so that each piece is well seasoned. Set aside.

3.In a large skillet add the olive oil and heat well. Add onion and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and basil and stir. Add chicken to skillet and cook chicken until it is no longer pink in the middle, about 5 to 7 minutes.

4.Add the coconut mixture to skillet. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Stir and bring to a boil and turn the heat down and simmer for 5 more minutes. The spices will increase when the mixture cools, so keep this in mind!
Serve hot over rice.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Review (Southside Location)


Despite my love of healthy eats and smoothies, I have surprisingly never been to Tropical Smoothie Cafe. When I think of a typical smoothie place it usually doesn't involve food of any sort, more like your basic fruit and veggie blends, so I was surprised when I found out that this place offers salads, wraps, and even Asian noodle bowls!

To view their menu, click HERE

I was particularly intrigued by their new "Unbeetable" smoothie which combines fresh beets, strawberries, blueberries, banana, and cranberries. I'm not gonna lie, it scared me a little. Although I am a huge fan of roasted beets I'm not quite sure what my consensus would be of eating them in a cold, blended form. I very hesitantly asked the cashier what he thought of it and his response was, "well... it tastes like beets" and with that very descriptive response, I decided to go for it. Your palette picks up on all the flavors from the other fruits and then towards the very end of the sip you're hit with a certain sweet beetyness, which was not the least bit unpleasant. In fact, I became increasingly more fond of this smoothie with every sip and by the end I was kinda sad it was gone.


I also tried one of the indulgent smoothies, which had peanut butter, banana, and chocolate. It was creamy, thick, and indeed indulgent but let's be honest, is it even possible to make peanut butter and chocolate NOT taste good? Oh, and let me also take this change to mention how HUGE these smoothies are, each one is 24oz. and believe me, they're a meal in themselves (FYI I was sharing all of this with a friend).

For my main entree, I had to try the Ginger Miso Chicken, which had carrots, edamame, baby spinach, scallions, cucumber and noodles with sesame seeds and Ginger Miso Sauce. Although I didn't see any sesame seeds or cucumbers in mine, it was still delicious. The noodles had a great texture, the sauce was plentiful and had that great little zing of ginger, and the edamame and spinach were two great additions. I was happy to see that it was served warm and not cold (like soba noodle salads I've had before) and like the smoothies, the portion size was impressive!


The Verdict:
Tropical Smoothie Cafe offers way more than the name implies, the portion sizes are more than adequate for the price, and the ingredients are fresh and satisfying. I would definitely return for a refreshing drink or a quick meal.

What To Order:
Definitely give the noodle bowl a try, and even though I've only tried a couple, I am willing to bet you really can't go wrong with any smoothie.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Waldeinsamkeit

Here are some of my favorite mountain adventure pics from last week! My family and I have been going to Cloudland Canyon State Park for years now and it has remained one of my all time favorite places. Even though I consider myself a city gal, I also crave to be surrounded my trees and mountains every now and then (okay, more like every day). I love this state park because it has some of the most diverse trails in the southern U.S. including two waterfalls! It's funny how man was actually designed to be attracted to nature, when you dissect it, all it really is are a bunch of rocks, dirt, and twigs yet somehow it evokes emotion.

This brings me to the title of this post, Waldeinsamkeit, which is a German word that really translates to a feeling rather than a literal definition. It consists of two words: “Wald” meaning forest, and “Einsamkeit” meaning loneliness or solitude. It is the feeling of being alone in the woods, but it also hints at a connectedness to nature. When I researched it further, I found a poem my Emerson with this as it's title and I fell in love with it.

What are some of your favorite places to get lost?


"I do not count the hours I spend
In wandering by the sea;
The forest is my loyal friend,
Like God it useth me.

In plains that room for shadows make Of skirting hills to lie,
Bound in by streams which give and take
Their colors from the sky;

Or on the mountain-crest sublime,
Or down the oaken glade,
O what have I to do with time?
For this the day was made.

Cities of mortals woe-begone
Fantastic care derides,
But in the serious landscape lone
Stern benefit abides.

Sheen will tarnish, honey cloy,
And merry is only a mask of sad,
But, sober on a fund of joy,
The woods at heart are glad.

There the great Planter plants
Of fruitful worlds the grain,
And with a million spells enchants
The souls that walk in pain."

-Exert from Ralph Waldo Emerson if you would like to read the whole poem, click HERE

Thursday, September 11, 2014

An Ode To Mushrooms

This past week we got to go on a mini-vacation to the mountains! Despite growing up in Florida I have always craved being in the mountains, to me they offer so much more diverse and interesting sites - better tree varieties, wildlife, waterfalls, etc. some things you NEVER get to see in the deep south. I don't know why but I have always found mushrooms to be attractive, which is odd when you think about it considering they are a fungus and some of them don't have the most pleasant odor. During this trip I noticed so many different varieties of mushrooms, not sure if it was the weather or if September is officially shroom season in Georgia but either way, I enjoyed photographing these beauties.

(Look for more vacation pics soon!)
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