Today is Sweetest Day. I didn't consider using this day as some sort of ruse to get my husband to buy me something nice or to take me out to eat. He did, after all, take me out to eat last night. We went to this little Dutch restaurant called Vincent. Dutch food is sort of interesting in that it's not widely popular and there isn't really anything in particular that you might point to and say, "Oh, yes, that's Dutch food." Even if Vincent is really just some variation of New American and German with a dash of Dutch (zaansemosterdsoep, bitterballen, moules) I still love it. It's unique and wonderful. The restaurant itself is very European. It's small, dark rich woods, and very romantic.
So today I had an idea to do my version of the meal I ate last night (which actually turns out to be nothing like what I ate last night). I had Beer Battered Haddock on Snert. You probably already know what beer battered haddock is, but you may not know what snert is. Snert is pea soup, essentially. I wanted to photograph the plate that was brought out to me last night, but I thought it might be rude since I was in such a nice and romantic setting with my husband. The snert came out more like the consistency of mashed potatoes. So smashed peas that tasted of ham and garlic. Perfect.
I don't have peas on hand but I do have lots and lots of sweet potatoes. This meal is for two. For the side (as well as the sweet potatoes) I decided that green beans would be good. I needed a little greens to go with the rest of the meal.
The first step is to chop the sweet potato up into smaller pieces about the same size and boil the potatoes. I used 3 large sweet potatoes and this made way too much for only 2 people but I figured I could just make something with the leftovers for breakfast in the morning. Perhaps some sweet potato cakes? I let the potatoes boil for about 20 minutes until I started to prepare the fish.
Crouton Crusted Tilapia
2 tilapia fillets
1/2 cup smashed croutons or breadcrumbs
sprinkle of dried tarragon
sprinkle of sweet paprika
Rinse and pat dry the tilapia. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and dried tarragon. Not much of the seasoning is needed because the croutons have a lot of flavor already. I used croutons that were pre made. I purchased them from World Market as a last minute decision to make a quick Caesar Salad. I had these leftover and needed to use them before they went bad. If you are using fresh homemade croutons yours will probably not be as salty as these prepackaged ones are. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
Take the egg and place in a shallow bowl or tupperware dish. Mix thoroughly and dip the tilapia fillets into it. Have the breadcrumbs or smashed croutons near in another shallow bowl or tupperware dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the fillets and place into a hot and well oiled pan. You can use whatever oil you choose. I sprayed canola oil onto the pan and lightly seared the tilapia until gold brown and a fork placed in the middle went in easily and the flesh was white - about 3 minutes on each side.
At this time I started my green beans which was just canola oil in another pan. I seasoned the beans with salt, pepper, garlic and dried tarragon. Low heat.
Check the potatoes by placing a knife or fork into one of the potatoes in the pot. If it easily slides into the potato and it falls apart you know the potato is done.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
4 cups chopped sweet potatoes (scale down if you need)
1/2 stick of butter
2 TBLSP half & half (I used fat free)
1 TSP dried tarragon
Dash of nutmeg
After boiling potatoes drain and then place back into pot. Add ingredients and mash with potato masher until all ingredients are well incorporated.
Green beans should only take about 5 minutes. When you begin making the green beans it should be right after you start cooking the tilapia. Once the green beans are seasoned and in the pan you can mash your potatoes, flip the tilapia. Plate the food and finally the green beans should be just ready. You don't want to cook the green beans too long because they will lost their vibrant green color.
Hope your sweetest day was as sweet as ours!