Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Casual DINNER avec kids: easy, quick, nutritious, TASTY...all the familiar dishes...tilapia, potatoes, shrooms...

We have a low round coffee table on wheels I like to use as the buffet when we have families with kids over. Easy access for the kids allowing the freedom to graze and choices.
Tuesday night dinner with friends! I stuck with easy, quick and familiar dishes that can't go wrong. Tonight, we had the following:

(1) Plate of Strawberries and Blueberries (straight fruit, no added sugar OK?)
(2) Bowl of Fussili Pasta tossed in Olive Oil and Sea Salt (you always need a comfort-food back-up for picky eaters)
(3) Grilled Tenderloin Steak with Lime (carnivores)
(4) Grilled Tilapia with Tomato Avocado Cilantro Scallion (healthy types)
(5) Mommy Potatoes tossed in Garlic and Parsley (for everyone!)
(6) Stir-fry Mushrooms and Crab in Oyster Sauce, Garlic and Ginger
(7) Walnut & Raisin Bread, Olive Bread

4 thick fillets of Tilapia
Olive Oil
Granulated Garlic
Tomatoes - 2 yellow, 2 orange, 3 red
1 bunch Scallion
1 bunch Cilantro
1 and 1/2 Avocado
*Fish Sauce*

(1) First, set the Grill on HIGH. Marinate/season the Tilapia fillets on both sides with generous amounts of Salt, Pepper and Granulated Garlic. Add Olive Oil to coat both sides. Set aside
(2) Cut up Tomatoes and Avocado into bite-size pieces and add some salt and pepper. Chop up Scallion and Cilantro. Set aside.
(3) Time for Grilling. Grill the Tilapia on one side for about 5-7 minutes with the cover down, or until charred. Turn over and grill with the cover down for another 4-5 minutes. Time will depend on the thickness of the Tilapia and how cold it is when you place it on the grill.
(4) Transfer the fish to a large platter. Add the Tomatoes, Avocado, chopped Cilantro and chopped Scallion across the entire dish. Drizzle some Prepared Fish Sauce. Put the rest of the Fish Sauce in a container on the fish platter. Add leftover bundles of Cilantro or Scallion to garnish. (I should have used a white platter for such a colorful dish, but I had the yellow one near - too much yellow...)
With the beautiful colorful tomatoes and green avocado, scallion and cilantro, plating is really fun. (I really should have used a whilte platter, uh!) This could have looked MUCH more elegant (I know you are thinking about how sloppy it is!), but I sort of threw those topping on without thinking that I was going to post this.
Now we'll do the Mushroom Crab dish.

Mushrooms - any assortment (here: Empire Mushrooms, Enoki, etc.)
Olive Oil, Garlic, Onion, Ginger
Sugar, Salt/Pepper, Sesame Seeds, Scallion
King Crab meat, about 2 pounds, shell off
(1) Gorgeous giant fat Empire Mushrooms. So meaty. I like to cut them into smaller bite-size pieces. Since this one is especially thick, cut down the center first, then slice.
Since they are so chunky, I use 2 saute pans coated in Oil to cook them. High heat, with enough movement so that they don't burn.
Remember, add larger thicker mushrooms first. Then add the smaller mushrooms after a few minutes. Kids LOVE helping, especially when it's a challenging danger task involving knives;)
For Max, I instruct him to place the trimmed mushrooms on a cold pan (kids safety first!) coated in Olive Oil...then heat on HIGH.
Add the minced Garlic, chopped Onion, julienne Ginger...
Add a tablespoon of sugar, salt, pepper...and a tablespoon of Oyster Sauce
Then add the teeny delicate Enoki mushrooms...
Last, throw in, toss in the crab meat, sprinkle with salt, pepper, scallion, sesame seeds.
MOMMY POTATOES again! Crispy, salty, garlic-ky, delicious...People LOVE these potato circles - LOVE IT! I made 3 batches this time since I expect many kiddies to be munching on these all night long.
Fingerling Potatoes
Minced Garlic
Dried Parsley
Olive Oil
(Parchment Paper, Baking Sheet)
I was excited to find the colorful variety in a huge bag at Costco yesterday. Make sure you check that they are not soft, bruised or sprouting (!!), but are firm and good-looking.
First off, preheat the oven to BAKE or Convection Bake to the highest 500+ setting. Clean and peel the bad parts off. Since they are so itty little, a peeler can be tricky - careful not to cut yourself.
Then slice them into 1/4 inch disks. This could be tedious, but once you get into a rhythm, before you know it, you'll have a pile of perfect imperfect circles!
Add Olive Oil and toss to coat.
Take a big baking sheet and line with parchment paper (not aluminum!).
Put the tray onto the lowest rack for 12-15 minutes. Check at about 8 minutes to see how they are. Cooking time will vary with ovens, altitude, potatoes, etc.
When you take them out, toss with minced garlic, lots of salt, pepper and dried Parsley. Here, I poured them onto an Ikea tray lined with a napkin and added a bowl of ketchup. Repeat until all the potatoes are cooked!