Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Julie's Fish Delish!

Wow, it's great to be back! I missed everyone here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen during my sabbatical. Thank you, Sheila Connolly, for stepping in for me and thank you all for making Sheila feel welcome. I was lucky enough to read her new release, Fundraising the Dead, while it was in production and I think Sheila's got another hit on her hands with Nell Pratt.

As for me, I found out that my next Manor House Mystery will come out in June, 2011 under the title Grace Interrupted. Berkley came up with that one and I really like it. I'm still being far behind schedule writing the next White House Chef Mystery, but I intend to meet my deadlines one way or another. On top of all the other book-related busy-ness going on, I got my galleys for Buffalo West Wing (comes out in January) and those are due back to Berkley as we speak. Almost done... about two more chapters to proof and then I can turn them in. Nothing like waiting to the last minute, huh?

While I was out, I did manage to take a lovely trip with my husband and I *know* I'll be sharing tidbits, pictures, and food stories about that trip in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, however, I want to share a brand-new recipe. Just came up with it. You may remember that last March my husband and I headed down to Disney with two of our daughters. One of my favorite things about vacation is the food and we were able to visit a couple of Disney restaurants we hadn't tried before. One of them, in Epcot, is the Coral Reef restaurant where Robyn ordered the trout. I had a taste and... Holey Moley! Was it fabulous! Although my dinner was great, hers was spectacular. To this day she says it was the best meal she's ever had.

She tried recreating the dish here at home, but didn't have too much luck. I listened to how she'd prepared it, and decided to try again myself. Instead of trout, however, I substituted tilapia. Why? Well, because I had it on hand.

But the bigger question is - does it measure up?

I think it does. Robyn thinks it does. My husband who doesn't care for fish asked for seconds - twice. Whether it exactly matches the flavors of Disney's creation, I can't say. But this is one recipe we will use again and again. It's pretty darned fabulous. And easy.

Julie's Fish Delish

5 or 6 Tilapia filets
Olive Oil
6 (or so) cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano (My brother-in-law, Mitch, gave me fresh-dried from his garden)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
Small handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (I prefer grape tomatoes)
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained (Italian white kidney beans)
Handful of washed, dried arugula

Drop a couple of glugs of olive oil (I didn't measure, exactly) into a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 3 - 4 of the minced garlic cloves and heat until they're golden. Add the chopped onion. Also heat until golden.

Now, add the tilapia filets and cook over medium, turning carefully and repeatedly until these are gently cooked, but not cooked through. You can put the burner on low and cover if you like. Just keep an eye on them and don't overcook.

Ready a baking dish and preheat oven to 300. I used a cookie sheet lined with foil turned up at the sides and it worked fine. The tilapias don't take up a lot of room and I thought they'd be lost in a 9 x 13 pan.

Anyway, once they're mostly done, remove the filets to your baking dish (don't discard the flavored oil in the frying pan - we'll use that in a minute) and top the filets with butter. I like butter so I used about three tbsp, maybe even a bit more. Dot butter atop fish and place in oven.

Head back to your frying pan. Add the rest of the minced garlic and maybe a little more olive oil, if you think it needs it. Get that garlic nice and hot, then add the drained cannellini beans. Cover and allow to simmer until the beans are soft and a little smooshy. Add the halved tomatoes, cover and allow the flavors to blend.

(NOTE: when I experimented I only used one can of beans, hence the picture isn't quite accurate. I doubled the recipe above to account for two cans.)

Check your filets in the oven. Cooked through? Hot enough? Great!

Rip up the arugula. Add it to the frying pan, warm it for a few minutes then spoon out the mixture onto your dinner plates. Top the mixture with a tilapia filet and serve.

Truly delicious! I can't wait to make this one again.
Experimenting is always fun. Especially when things turn out this well.

Have fun, and enjoy!

Grace Under Pressure, first in the Manor House Mystery series
Buffalo West Wing, fourth in the White House Chef series (coming January, 2011)


  1. Julie's back!! Yayyyy! This sounds good, Julie - I'll have to try it one day when I find Tilapia on sale and Chris isn't home (he doesn't like fish).

  2. We love eating fish here and this recipe sounds like a winner, Julie! I remember the Coral Reef restaurant--what a cool place!

  3. I'm heading to Disney World with the granddaughters the end of next week! While I know the kids would be convinced I was trying to poison them if I suggested they eat fish, my hubby and I might just give it a "nibble", ha! Nurse JudyMac

  4. Woo-hoo! It's so much fun to be back! Shel, one of our local grocery stores carries tilapia super reasonably. And Curt doesn't usually care for fish, but I've turned him to the dark side with tilapia. Nowadays he's more willing to try others (a little).

    Elizabeth and NurseJudy - it's a beautiful restaurant. I'd resisted going for years because I thought it would feel weird to eat fish while watching them swim around me, but I got over it. Our vegetarian daughter was off with her band, so we didn't feel bad about that either LOL It's a stunner of a place and that trout (not tilapia) was exceptional. Have fun on your trip NurseJudy. I love Disney!

  5. Welcome back, Julie. Wow, do you have a busy schedule. I'm so glad you shared a terrific fish dish. The cannellini beans sound terrific for it! My husband is on a strict diet with plenty of fish so this fits the bill.


  6. First of all: Welcome Back!! We missed you, J, and are so happy you've settled back into the kitchen -- and with such a great recipe, too. Disney has such fabulous restaurants. Eating is always a fantastic part of the amusements in their parks. Love your inspiration for the dish and can't wait to try. Have a great week -- can't wait to visit with Chef Ollie again in Buffalo West Wing!

    ~ Cleo
    Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. I missed you guys! Happy to be back and Avery, I'm glad this recipe will work for your husband. Have fun. It's really pretty easy, as you can tell.

    Cleo - my very favorite part of Disney is the food. Heck, my very favorite part of every *day* is the food LOL

  8. Welcome back, Julie!

    I love tilapia. Such a nice fish to cook. But I have a question that I'm tossing out to everyone -- doesn't tilapia swim wild somewhere? I've *never* seen wild caught tilapia in a grocery store. It's always farm raised. I asked my fish guy and he was clueless, but admitted he'd never seen wild caught tilapia for sale, either. Anyone know?

    ~ Krista

  9. Interesting question, Krista. I have no idea. But I bet someone here does.

  10. Welcome back, Julie!!!!
    You were missed!
    I love tilapia and this sounds delish. Donald is not a seafood eater (silly man!), but I save up recipes to try when he's out of town; that would include this one.

  11. Hey Kaye!!
    Thanks so much. I hope you like this one - I think you will. Maybe I'll make it again this weekend to take my mind off of missing Bouchercon this year... At least we're together in this one. But 2011 isn't that far, right? Hope to see you in St. Louis! (Hmm... isn't there a movie title like that ::grin::)

  12. Julie, it's great to see you back! The fish dish looks delish (I just had to), and I can't wait to fix it for my fish-loving hubby. His favorite is trout, and that's what I have on hand, so I might go back to the origins and see what Robyn actually had at Disney.

  13. Ooh, Laine, let us know how it turns out, okay? I'd love to try it with trout, but I've never made that fish at home. Can't wait to hear!

  14. Welcome back Julie!

    I'm adding this to my pile of recipes to try.

  15. Welcome Back, Julie!!!!
    Just finished the White House Chef series and was disappointed to find I have to wait until January for more of Ollie's adventures!! But on the other hand I have a new recipe to try!!! We love tilapia and I'm always looking for a new way to fix it...THanks!
    Again, welcome back!!

  16. Thanks so much, Booklover! I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed the WHChef books. I just turned in my final proofs for Buffalo West Wing and I'm feeling pretty good about it. Have fun with the tilapia!