Monday, October 31, 2011

Tilapia with a Sweet Onion, Tomatoes and Tarragon Salsa

Tilapia is not a common fish that I would go out and buy to cook; as it is mostly farm raised and I prefer wild fish.  However, one of the chefs I was speaking to earlier this morning, was talking about the Tilapia Fish Tacos he had made last week and it was absolutely delicious, low in fat and very tasty.  So, I did a bit of research on Tilapia and this is one of the facts I found out about Tilapia that got me to the Market today, to buy some for dinner tonight: 

"Tilapia have very low levels of mercury, as they are fast-growing and short-lived, with a primarily herbivorous diet, so do not accumulate mercury found in prey. Tilapia is a low saturated fat, low calorie, low carbohydrate and low sodium protein source. It is a source of phosphorus, niacin, selenium, vitamin B12 and potassium."

Perfect.  Low in saturated fat, low carbohydrate and vitamin B12, just what I was looking for in a meal.  Now, let me just start adding ingredients to it to make it tasty and still keep it low in saturated fat.

Let the chef in the kitchen, apron on, hair in ponytail, heels on and ready to cook:
Baked Tilapia ready to serve!


1 pound Tilapia
3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 medium sized organic sweet onion, chopped
1 medium sized organic tomato, seeded and chopped
1 Bay leaf
2-3 tablespoons fresh Tarragon, chopped (I add 3 tbsp, as I love the flavor of tarragon)
2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dry basil
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 lemon
3 tablespoons of capers
Salt and pepper (white pepper) to taste

Fish should be refrigerated until ready to cook.
  1. In medium skillet pan, heat oil on medium low heat; add onions and cook until onions are translucent. 
  2. Add chopped tomatoes to cooked onions with bay leaf, tarragon, basil, minced garlic clove and red chili flakes; cook for about 5 minutes while stirring. Add a little bit of salt and white pepper to taste.
  3. Let the mixture of onions, tomatoes and herbs cool completely (this can be made ahead and refrigerated; until ready to use). Squeeze 1/2 lemon juice and stir well.
  4. Preheat oven to 375*F
  5. Rinse Tilapia in cold water and pat dry with paper towel.
  6. Add some EVOO (1 tablespoon, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan) to a baking pan and place Tilapia on baking pan.
  7. Spoon cooled onion and tomato mixture on top of Tilapia and add capers on top of each fillet. Be sure you remove bay leaf and discard.
  8. Place in the center of the oven and Bake for 30-35 minutes
Serve this recipe with  1/2 cup of rice medley (brown rice, wild rice and heirloom red rice) and some sliced lemon!

Buon Appetito

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Croque Monsieur

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh baked bread in your home; it is truly blissful!  

I just finished baking Brioche, but not just any brioche; Thomas Keller's brioche, which is found in all his cook books in honor of his friend Jean-Louis Palladin; one of the greatest French chefs that immigrated to the USA in the late 70's.  You can read about Jean-Louis Palladin here 

Croque Monsieur
Bless the French for their incredible culinary cuisines; Croque Monsieur is definitely one of the best ham and cheese sandwiches our family loves.  For years, we have eaten Croque Monsieur or even a Croque Madame (notes on the Madame later) in fine restaurants, but nothing compares to eating this sandwich in France.  Our girls love, love eating Croque Monsieur whenever it is offered on a menu and lucky for them; they've had it in many of our travels such as: France, London, Canada and when we visit my home town of Los Angeles.  When we dine at Bouchon in Beverly Hills and they have it on their menu; we are definitely ordering it. We also loved Croque Monsieur at Anisette Brasserie located in Santa Monica, which sadly closed this year; but it was outstanding and one of our favorite places that made it very similar as our favorite restaurants in France.  In Seattle, well, we have yet to find a great Croque Monsieur we like in a restaurant, but we sure love it at home at the Laurenti Whitley Casa.

For the Brioche recipe; well, I cannot share Thomas Keller's recipe on my blog (it really is Jean-Louis' recipe), but you can purchase any of Thomas Keller's cook books and you are sure to find it in there.  Thomas Keller made sure to have the recipe [printed] in his cook books as it is the best brioche recipe and definitely, the best I've ever tasted.  You can find part of the recipe written without measurements at , but I highly recommend to buy one of his books (for the at-home-cook, buy Ad-Hoc, it's one of his easiest cook books to follow and with ingredients you can find in your local grocery stores.

Sadie's Croque Monsieur Sauce and Sandwich Recipe for 4

Mornay Sauce with Dijon
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup of whole milk
freshly ground nutmeg (dash)
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard "Grey Poupon" is my favorite
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

Making a roux for 4 Croque Monsieur sandwiches.
Melt butter on medium low heat, add flour and stir with whisk for about 4 minutes.  Slowly add milk while whisking; add nutmeg and mustard and continue whisking until roux is almost thick; add cheese and salt; continue to whisk until thick.   Set aside
(If holding sauce for a while, be sure to cover the surface with a plastic wrap so that it does not create a crust on top).

Ingredients for Sandwich
4 slices of a high quality black forest ham
4 slices of a high quality Gruyere
Freshly baked Brioche; cooled and sliced (4 slices for open faced sandwich or 8 slices for sandwiches)
1/2 cup grated Gruyere
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 sheet pan covered with parchment paper

Heat oven on Broil and while it is heating, build the sandwiches

1. Heat a skillet pan (preferably a cast iron skillet)
2. Brush melted butter on outside of bread
3. Build sandwich with a little bit of Mornay Sauce on the inside of your bread, gruyere cheese  and ham; top with second slice of bread. If making an open faced sandwich, do not add second slice of bread on top. Brown sandwich in skillet; carefully turning over to both sides. 
4. When both sides are toasted, place sandwiches on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper (the pan is covered with parchment, not the sandwiches).
5. On the top slice of your bread add Mornay Sauce and top with grated Gruyere. (For open faced sandwich, top with Mornay Sauce and Gruyere on top of the ham).

Broil sandwiches for 1-2 minutes until sauce and cheese begin to bubble and turn slightly golden in color.

Serve with French Fries or serve on its own.

Wait, did you think I forgot about Madame?  No, I did not.  Croque Madame is the recipe above, but with a fried egg to complete the top of the sandwich.  Place the egg on top of your sandwich after the sandwich comes out of the broiler. It's common to have it on an open faced sandwich, but I've seen it served with a full sandwich as well and it is just as delicious!

Bon Appetit