Saturday, October 28, 2006

cooking ahead

something i absolutely cherish is my freezer - and not just because we were without it for a bit. there's little more satisfying on a particularly stressful evening than defrosting a meal you prepared yourself and sitting down to a home-cooked meal with little-to-no effort.

my friends (especially you, duffpower) may remember when the freezer obsession began last year. okay. it got out of control. this year will be different, i promise. soups are always wonderful to freeze, and frozen homemade burritos were a big hit for lunches last year. prepared pasta sauces (butternut squash, pestos, roasted tomato) are also oft-frozen items. the wonderful magazine Everyday Food (the most beautiful food photography i've seen) always has a "Freeze It" recipe, and last month's issue had several. the recipe i chose was wonderful, though i think i'd substitute panko for the saltine cracker crumbs next time.

Everyday Food's Lemon-Horseradish Fish Cakes
3 T. olive oil
2 lbs. tilapia fillets
salt and pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup light (or better, reduced-fat) mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 T. bottled white horseradish (i just used the wasabi i had)
1 1/2 cups coarse saltine cracker crumbs (crushed in a plastic bag with a rolling pin)
tartar sauce, for serving (optional - i made my own low-fat version)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a baking sheet lined with foil with 1/2 t. oil. Place fillets on sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until cooked through, 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely; pat dry with paper towels. With a fork, flake fish into small pieces.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, mayo, parsley, lemon juice, and horseradish. Fold in fish and 1/2 cup cracker crumbs; season with salt and pepper. Place remaining 1 cup crumbs on a plate. Form 16 cakes using about 1/4 cup fish mixture for each. Gently dredge each cake in crumbs, pressing to help adhere. (To freeze - i froze half - place uncooked cakes on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Wrap each in plastic and put in freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost in fridge before cooking.)

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat 1 T. oil. Place 8 cakes in skillet; cook until golden brown, 4-6 minutes per side.

i served these with sauteed greens and our favorite baked sweet potato "fries". to make these, just preheat oven to 425 degrees, cut 2-3 sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch steak fries. brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. roast 45-60 minutes, turning occasionally until crispy all over.

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