Thursday Dinner – Tilapia
Well, it’s dinner time again. This last four weeks Maus and I have eaten out quite a bit, and honestly it’s taken a bit of a toll on our food budget. I was so caught up in feeling anxious, creatively blocked, and self-defacing, I forgot one of my jobs: housewife!
Housewives cook dinner (and they clean and do laundry, I’m working on those in the next several days). Maus suggested we try cooking a bit frugal given the circumstances. I have just about every cookbook you can imagine (three shelves worth, I’ll post a picture sometime) and it just happens that I have The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook. I haven’t given a final verdict on this one yet as I haven’t tried out too many recipes from it. Unlike the Grain Brain (Cookbook), whose recipes… well, just don’t work. If you click on the image to the left you can take a look at the book and purchase it on Amazon.
The book includes quite a bit on how to eat healthy, and strategically shop and plan for dinner meals for maximum effectiveness. There are LOTS of recipes, which I always appreciate. Tonight I’m making a tilapia dish from the book for the first time.
The thing about the recipes in this book however is that they are definitely frugal. I have an authentic cookbook from the Depression floating around my apartment somewhere, and in some ways it’s a bit similar. For example, there is a recipe for three cups of Basic White Sauce in this cookbook which is pretty much butter, flour, milk, salt and pepper. Nothing too fancy, which is a theme throughout the book.
But that’s fine with me. The less ingredients a dish has the more simple it is to make (as long as it works), and I like simple most of the time. I love complex dishes too, but not all the time. That’s also why I have quite a few books from the seventies from Better Homes and Gardens (I’ll post about that collection sometime soon, probably when I make something from it) that are kind of handy because they are recipes real people use to make real dinners.
The thing about cookbooks these days, and I love them for this, is that many of them are gourmet. This may also potentially be an issue of what cookbooks I tend to look at. I like more specialty things, like, citrus recipes, or chocolate recipes. I also like Martha Stewart. The general trend I notice from magazines and current books is that the recipes are often complex, or require special ingredients, or have some other caveat. I’ve discovered this even with those ‘quick fix recipes’ that allegedly take 15 minutes. When you’re making dinner every night it’s nice to have some stuff you can just whip together.
So tonight I made the tilapia dish. A thing I also enjoy about this book is that each recipe is meant to be an entire dinner. That means it suggests and budgets in sides along with the main dishes. This night it’s baked sweet potatoes (in 1/4″ water), peas, and honey-mustard tilapia.
Normally a sauce for something like this, at least in my experience, has a bunch of ingredients like spices, and so on. However, in the frugal nature of this book the sauce is very easy. It’s just a mixture of honey, rice vinegar, and dijon mustard. Easy to whisk together, and because of the thickness of the honey, easy to apply.
You actually bake the tilapia fillets in foil, capturing the juices and sauce. My tilapia fillets were frozen so I had to thaw them. I couldn’t remember how long I can let seafood sit out thawing without refrigerating it, so I hope it all went well. I mostly used the sink to warm the fillets up manually
After some baking at 350º (for the potatoes) and 400º for the tilapia they looked delicious:
Well. I apparently don’t know how to cook tilapia correctly. I put it at 400º and cooked the fillets for 13 minutes. I pulled them out and had to cut through the thick part with a steak knife, which… is not so good. So I baked it for another eight minutes, and everything started to flake away.
I ate a couple mouthfuls of undercooked tilapia though… o.o I hope I’m okay.
Anyway, I got it cooked correctly this time. So, like I said, the recipe is a bit frugal so flavor is a bit… sparse. I didn’t add any salt or pepper during cooking, so it was all added on plate. That’s a lot of peas!
It was very basic flavors. I don’t know if tilapia is my favorite thing, but it did have flavor, and I don’t remember sweet potatoes quite having the taste that these had. They kind of left a weird taste in my mouth.
But I made it, I ate it, and it was good enough for me.