Today would have been my Dad's 51st birthday.
I could easily pour my heart out about how, on September 20, 2007 my entire life changed forever when my Dad passed away unexpectedly. That day still doesn't make sense to me, and I'm still angry and upset and so very very not over it. One of the most important people in my life was taken from me that day.
|Halloween was always my favorite holiday!|
But today is a gorgeous day, a record high for April in the Northeast, and so that's a sign of some sort that today is not a day to go into detail about why I'm upset and how much it still hurts. We're just getting to know each other, after all, dear readers, you don't need my baggage just yet.
|At Storyland in New Hampshire, |
one of our favorite family vacations.
Today is a day to celebrate my Dad's life. I decided that this blog would only contain positive energy, so I'll leave my hurt at that and tell you that I had the best Dad there is. He was such a happy, loving person, and I'm grateful for the close relationship we had.
|Dad LOVED to camp|
Seriously, what kind of Dad sneaks his daughter vodka into her dorm room hidden in a Perrier bottle? An awesome kind, that's who. Though in my younger years I was embarrassed at how he would cry at the end of Disney movies, or at just about anything vaguely sentimental really, as I got older he became my best friend and the one I could come to for anything.
Oh, by the way, he was a pretty bad cook.
He tried, and you could nearly taste the love in every bite--if you could get through the wincing.
He could follow a recipe just fine, it was when he strayed from what was written to add his own personal touches that he ended up ruining the dish. My brother and I learned to prepare ourselves whenever Dad proclaimed from the kitchen that he was "doctoring up" the fajitas, or that the chili was a "secret recipe." I have now-fond, then-terrifying memories of dipping into a hearty beef stew only to find large, tart pieces of fruit thrown into the mix. Or the time he tried to make a carton of milk last by adding water and sugar. Or whenever he tried to cook anything without salt--usually using this horrid imitation thing instead. He added American Cheese to frozen pizza... you get the idea.
What he could cook, was fish.*
When he and my Mom separated (I was ten at the time), he made it a point to cook us fish on a regular basis. My Mom never really let him cook fish in the house, since it made the house smell and she really didn't like most fish. I think he went a little nuts with it once he could finally cook it--after all, I remember a fishing pole planted firmly in his fist throughout every family vacation.
He would cook a salmon to perfection, and accompany it with a homemade creamy dill sauce. Or bread and fry a whitefish with all the expertise of a practiced chef. For whatever reason, this culinary talent was restricted solely to the fruits of the sea, as memories of his jambalya still haunt my dreams.
So I decided that it was only fitting to celebrate my Dad's life and magical fish cooking abilities by attempting my first-ever fish dish.**
This is from Rachel Ray's website: Tilapia Piccata. This is basically a cut and paste with very minimal changes, so I shall say now that this is entirely Rachel Ray's recipe. I originally found it on the website for Everyday With Rachel Ray, but the link isn't currently working.
Rachel Ray's Tilapia Piccata
(makes 2 servings)
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 pound angel hair pasta
- 3 thin tilapia fillets
- Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided (I used more like 5)
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided (I used more like 6)
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (definitely used 5, LOVE garlic)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup drained capers
- A handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 3/4 pound fresh spinach, cleaned and trimmed
-Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook until desired consistency. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
-Pat the fish dry and season with salt, pepper and a good sprinkle of Old Bay. On a plate, mix the flour and cornstarch. Coat the fish in the flour mixture.
-In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter and let it foam up, then add the fish fillets and cook, turning once, until golden-brown and firm, 4-6 minutes. Transfer the fillets to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
-Wipe out the pan and return to the heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to melt. Stir in the garlic for 1 minute, then stir in the wine for another minute. Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel and the juice of 1 lemon. Thinly slice the remaining lemon and stir the slices into the sauce, along with the capers and parsley. Spoon the sliced lemons and half of the butter sauce over the fish.
-Add the reserved pasta water and the pasta to the skillet. Add the remaining butter sauce and season with salt and pepper; toss. Transfer the pasta to a platter. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon EVOO, a half turn of the pan, to the skillet. Add the spinach, season with salt, pepper and the nutmeg and cook to wilt. Serve the fish with a little pasta and spinach alongside.
*Fish and his Famous Boston Baked Beans, which I'll try to replicate at a later date you best believe.
**Minus one time where I helped my roommates bake a salmon. No recipe, just lots of citrus fruits and dill and lots of hope.