Gourmet Tuesday

So this was our dinner last night:

It looks like a fancy-schmancy weekend meal, but I promise it’s really not.

Ok. I guess that’s sort of a lie. It is a fancy meal. But here, fancy does not mean hard or even really expensive. The only expensive ingredient in the entire meal was the prosciutto (discussion of that comes later). See, what happens to me in the summer (even when I’m busy teaching and with other random things that come my way) is I do lots of “fun” cooking. For some reason, it’s easier for me to justify doing a random gourmet meal in the middle of the week in the summer than it is any other time of the year.

So I based this meal mostly around the fact that we’d be going to town on some prosciutto, because I got a wild hair on my way home yesterday and just HAD to go to Whole Foods to get some to go with my cantaloupe that came with my farmer’s market basket last week. Never had prosciutto? It’s like ham, only way, way better.  I always get prosciutto di Parma, just because it’s fan-freaking-tastic. It’s a definite splurge – something like $25 per pound at my market – so use sparingly. This is a once or twice a year treat for Team Dawmilam. Get it sliced very, very thinly (paper thin, preferably) and get maybe .25-.3 pound at a time. This isn’t exactly something you “pile on” to a sandwich. Instead, you could place a couple pieces delicately on top of a slice of French bread that’s been lightly buttered (see bread off to the side on our little platter) (because, let me tell you, there’s nothing quite as decadent as pork fat on top of butter on top of fresh bread) or eat tiny bits of it with cantaloupe. For some reason, the sweetness of the melon combines perfectly with the salty prosciutto. I tried it with peaches (also on the platter), but the melon was much better. Oh, and there are some pieces of robusto cow’s milk cheese on the plate, too.

Given we had such a hearty appetizer, I sprung for a lighter meal. That’s what’s actually on the plate: a seared filet of tilapia atop a bed of wilted spinach drizzled with a lemon burre blanc. Y’all, really, it’s not hard to make. For the spinach, just throw a couple handfuls of fresh spinach in a nonstick pan with a pat of butter or oil, and some salt & pepper. Cook it over medium heat. It’ll reduce down quickly and amazingly well.

For the fish, take two tilapia filets (that are dirt cheap, by the way), rinsed & patted dry (and thawed if using from frozen). Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning (some sort of blend of rosemary, oregano, thyme, etc.). Cook 3 minutes per side on medium high heat in a nonstick pan with some butter & olive oil. Remove from pan, then replace pan on the heat. Immediately add another pat of butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, some white wine (just save some to drink with the meal), and about 1/4-1/3 cup heavy cream. Bring to a boil, stirring in at least 2 more tablespoons of butter, some more salt & pepper. The sauce will thicken up as it simmers, and it only takes a couple of minutes. Pour over the fish and the spinach, and enjoy.

Oh, and dessert was a puff pastry apple tart with salted caramel gelato. But I didn’t have time to take a picture of that one. We were too busy licking our plates. Maybe next time.