Bringing Them Back To Life
This most recent dish is a mixture of three inspirations…I just love when things come in threes. The first inspiration comes from a cook book I inherited from my grandparents. They used this book since they were newly wed back in the 1930s. I was surprised to find that it was first Grandpa Henry’s in 1929 when he was a bachelor. I had no idea he was interested in cooking. Then Grandma Mary took it on as her guide to cooking as you can see in the note at the beginning of the book, she wrote the “& Me” (in the photo) when they became married in 1931. It’s just like her to stick her two cents in…she was a stinker like that, but that was part of her charm. Grandpa has been gone since I was five years old but I love to imagine him as a cook (he was an engineer by trade) and I bet a pretty competent one. These books with their handwriting in them are so special to me and I love to use them and bring their recipes back to life. A pastry recipe in this book became the foundation for this dish I made.
The second inspiration came from a fellow blogger, and a most creative musician, cook, artist, poet, you name it, Just a Smidgen can do it. She created these lovely hors d’oeuvres aptly named “Shrimp Oodles”, made with Phylo dough, shrimp, and topped with hot pepper jelly. I would like to try Smidges Shrimp Oodles some day, but it will be a day I have Phylo dough in the freezer and some hot pepper jelly handy though. I’m sorry to have to wait.
The third influence came from another blogger, Avian101, a very talented and experienced wild bird photographer, (photographing wildlife requires a special patience) and connoisseur of good cooking who has inspired me to use tilapia instead of shrimp when making a quick lunch of shrimp and vegetables wrapped up in a flour tortilla. You may find it in a previous entry titled Fastest Lunch Ever. Shellfish isn’t for everyone and Avian suggested this wonderful substitute for shrimp.
With the filling inspired by Avian, and Smidge’s spicy Shrimp Oodles for the basic construction, added to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s pastry recipe from the Great Depression era, I’ve made these tilapia treats to honor all of these culinary lovers.
I made the pastry from the recipe in the photograph omitting the sugar, as this pastry was originally a jelly tart. It’s an easy recipe with every day ingredients. For the filling, I used tilapia, carrots, and leeks cooked in a small skillet on medium high until the fish was done throughout, then combined it with sweet chili sauce and a squeeze of lime for brightness, which was reduced and became a spicy savory saucy filling. This rendition of the pastry recipe required more cooking time and a higher heat because of the filling producing much more steam than the jelly would produce in the original.
It easily came together and I baked them for about 20 minutes at 400°. When they came out, I gave them the finishing touch of a drizzle of sweet chili sauce (man, I wish I had some of that hot pepper jelly) and a garnish of thin strips of carrot and lime zest to make them Diva dressy.
They were so good hot out of the oven it was insane! It’s Friday and these would make a great Lenten lunch or even a dinner with a salad of greens. I thank those who gave me the inspiration and a special thanks to those who are gone, but during this season of resurrection, I hope all of you get to try this sometime before Easter…heck, anytime would be good. Enjoy!