Restaurant Re-creation

Last weekend, I had dinner with my boyfriend Steve and his parents at Firebirds.  I’ve only been there a couple of times, but I really like it!  There’s a great atmosphere, I’ve always had great service, and I have found some really tasty things  on the menu.  Such as: Pecan Crusted Trout

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I love a good cheeseburger, but in the past couple of years I’ve read a lot about the dangers of eating too much red meat – overly-processed and antibiotic-ridden or not – and so I’ve been trying to save my cheeseburger indulgences for things like the Fourth of July.  As such, I’ve been eating a lot more chicken and fish and trying to learn different ways of cooking those.

It’s a good thing, too, because this meal was heavenly.  Trout is a pretty mild fish, but the pecans really jazzed it up.  As I mentioned in my last post, I have a bit of a sweet tooth, and sugary pecans are right up my alley.   What surprised me about this dish was the peach salsa on top.  It added another dimension to the fish, and the cilantro really popped against the sweeter flavors.

Obviously, I had to re-create this.

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I had some tilapia in the freezer that I’d picked up from Trader Joe’s, another grocery favorite, and I decided to adapt this recipe to that.   I did a much simpler salsa – just tomatoes and cilantro – but the effect was quite similar.  The whole process was really easy – the hardest part was getting the pecans to stick to the fish (pan-frying may help – next time!).  It turns out, by the way, that even if they don’t all stick, it’s still delicious.  You just have to call it pecan-topped instead of pecan-encrusted. 😉

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Whether as a topping or a crust, pecans take fish to a whole new level.

I served this with a side of roasted asparagus with a balsamic-soy sauce.  I was never a huge fan of asparagus until my mom roasted some and topped it with Parmesan cheese.  I was amazed at how tasty it actually was.  Recently, she made some and topped it with a balsamic and soy sauce mixture, which is what I did for this meal.

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You have to be sure to cut off enough of the ends of the asparagus.  I made this mistake once, but know much better now.  Trust me, if you don’t cut them down before you cook them, you’ll just end up doing it once they’re on your plate.

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I’m really happy with how this turned out.  It was easy to make, had a variety of good flavors, and was filling.  A perfect summer meal.

Balsamic Sauce

– 2 tablespoons butter

– 2 teaspoons soy sauce

– 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

01. In a saucepan, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat

02. Stir in 2 teaspoons of soy sauce

03. Stir in 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar

Roasted Asparagus

– 1 bunch asparagus

– Balsamic Sauce

– Olive oil

– Salt

– Black pepper

01. Cut off about an inch of the ends of asparagus (they’re tough and not so tasty)

02.  Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and black pepper

03. Roast at 400 degrees for 10 minutes

04.  When removed from oven, pour balsamic sauce over them and serve

Roasted Pecans

– 1 cup pecans

– 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar

– 2-3 tablespoons honey

01.  Using a food processor, chopper, or Ziploc bag and rolling pin, chop 1 cup of pecans

02. Spread on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet

03. Cover with 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar

04.  Roast at 300 degrees for 10 minutes

05.  Remove from oven and drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons of honey (do this on the baking sheet – the heat will help everything mix together – you can transfer to a bowl right after)

Cilantro Salsa

– 2-3 tomatoes or tomatillos (I used a combination)

– 1 bunch cilantro

01. Dice 2-3 tomatoes /tomatillos

02. Finely chop a handful of cilantro

03.  Toss together

(Salsa is one of those fantastic things that you can adapt to your taste – add onion, fruit, or whatever you have that sounds tasty)

Pecan Tilapia

– 2 tilapia filets

– RoastedPecans

– 1/2 cup buttermilk

– Cilantro Salsa

01. Dip tilapia filets in buttermilk and then in Roasted Pecans

02. Place tilapia and any remaining pecans on a baking sheet.  Be sure there are pecans on both sides of the filets (they may not all stick at this point)

03. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes

04. Top with Cilantro Salsa

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