I love to cook. I don't talk about it much because, well, I'd hate to show up Martha or Rachel or one of those "TV" cooks, but I love it. And I rarely use recipes because I'm lazy and reading and measuring and all of that is just too much work. Plus, how can you read a recipe and measure out the correct amount of anything and cook, while holding onto a glass of Sauvignon Blanc? You can't; so I don't.
But after our excursion to the Peaceful Villa and the bags'o'veg we brought home, I went wild on Monday's dinner.
I used my trusty mandolin slicer and thinly sliced carrots, which I then painstakingly cut into thin noodle-esque pieces. I slivered celery and red peppers and poblano peppers into noodle shapes; I thinly sliced onion and mushroom and garlic....loads of garlic. Our 'round the corner neighbors, David and Neal, gave us some penis peppers, which I also thinly sliced. The actual act of thinly slicing a penis pepper was quite difficult, given my, um, er, well, gender.
But I did it.
We had two large Tilapia fillets and I seasoned them with Peaceful Villa Hot Curry powder, a hint of cinnamon, some chipotle pepper seasoning, ginger powder, salt and pepper, and set them aside to "marinate." When I had all my mise en place--see, I could be on Top Chef...I'd probably go home first but I know some o'them fancy kitcheny words--I floured the Tilapia, dipped it in egg, then dredged it in Panko bread crums--the BEST BREAD CRUMBS EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR....sorry, I had an Oprah moment. Then I quickly sauteed the Tilapia, browning both sides, set them on a baking sheet and covered them loosely with parchment paper and baked at 350 for about twenty minutes.
While the fish was baking, I heated up some peanut oil and sauteed garlic slivers and red pepper flakes; I added the thinly sliced onion and cooked that all together, with a sprinkling of Kosher salt. Then I added the carrot noodles, the pepper noodles, and the celery noodles, sprinkling again with kosher salt. As the veggies began to soften I drizzled some Ponzu--a citrus seasoned Asian sauce...a must for my kitchen--all over them, then added some Soy sauce and the mushrooms and cracked pepper. I kept tossing and turning the veg, and then drizzled the whole thing with honey and some Dijon mustard, stirring it all together.
I layered rice at the bottom of the plate then set the Tilapia on that. Then I topped each piece of fish with a very healthy dosing of the Peaceful Villa vegetables, and added chopped scallions.
As we sat down to dinner, I became Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio and teased Carlos with "layering of flavors" and the "crisp crunch of the breaded fish" and the gently seasoned "garlic and ginger" rice. I pronounced myself the winner and gave myself a prize.
I think if it hadn't been so good, Carlos might have killed me.
And that's the way I cook.