Saturday, April 9

Lavender & Honey. Can it get any better?

Wow when I came across this recipe in a cookbook I didn’t really see much else past ‘Lavender Honey Sauce’.  I’m a sucker for honey and can you believe I already had lavender honey in my kitchen?!  How perfect!  Ryan and I went to a really tasty restaurant in Novi called Toasted Oak Grill & Market.  We had an amazing appetizer with all different kinds of cheeses, game meat, nuts, pickled grapes and incredible sauces to compliment everything.  One of the sauces was a bacon caramel sauce (yes, it was great), but the one I really enjoyed was lavender honey.  I suppose you can find lavender honey at a farmers market but I’ve never looked as I hadn’t thought beyond the realm of traditional honey.  I was in luck, though, as the restaurant had a store inside where they sold their wines, meats, cheeses, and sauces!  I purchased a small mason jar of lavender honey for only $7.  I thought that was a pretty good deal.  I hadn’t opened the honey yet as I didn’t want to waste it on just any recipe.   Then I stumbled upon this dish and I knew I had to make it.

The fish recipes that I recently cooked have mostly been salmon so I was open to trying a new variety of fish.  The original recipe for this dish calls for Grouper however I’ve changed it to Tilapia.  I didn’t know what type of fish Grouper was, but I figured Meijer would have it in their fresh fish section.  I was wrong.  The attendant at the seafood counter wasn’t very familiar with Grouper and said it might be more of a seasonal fish.  I decided the next best white fish to use would be Tilapia.   While you’re buying fish and the remaining ingredients at the store, look for shelled pistachios.  Buying pistachios that are shelled is a huge time saver.   I don’t mind de-shelling pistachios, but the recipe calls for 5 tablespoons and I remembered that I had seen shelled pistachios at Costco not too long ago.    Costco carries a very large bag of shelled pistachios that costs around $20.  I didn’t want to have pistachios in our household forever so I decided to see if Meijer carried them but in a smaller quantity.  As I went down the nut aisle I searched high and low but did not find any.  I was bummed and finally decided to put the bag of regular pistachios in my cart.  As I was leaving the aisle, and passing the bulk section, right across from the bulk nuts were shelled pistachios!  Meijer’s had a bag that was about the half size of Costco’s for $10.  

As you read the ingredient list, you’ll notice that bread crumbs are incorporated into this recipe.  One of the tips I would offer is to make your own bread crumbs.  It’s easy and I think they taste much better than buying a can of bread crumbs. Bread crumbs from the store are very condensed and have a good amount of seasoning added to them. When you make your own bread crumbs they tend to have a lighter and fluffier texture.  I made mine awhile ago when I baked a large loaf of bread that we weren’t going  to finish.  After the bread sat for a few days I used my food processor to grind the bread pieces to crumbs while adding my own seasonings.  You can freeze bread crumbs as well so that they don’t spoil.  I put mine in a large Ziploc bag and froze them.  Now whenever a recipe calls for bread crumbs I pull them out of the freezer, pour what I need, and put them back.  Keep in mind you can make bread crumbs from any loaf of bread, not just homemade bread.  In addition to using my own bread crumbs I also combined them with Panko bread crumbs.  Panko is a variety of flakey bread crumbs that are used in Japanese cuisine.  The traditional recipe does not call for both types of crumbs, however I was very pleased with the results, so if you’d like to try this modification I’ve made a note in the recipe below.

As I was preparing the fish I had an accident in the kitchen that I thought might ruin this dish.  I was practically out of pepper and as I was pouring it out of the container I held it over the fish.  I didn’t think I’d have enough pepper so this would ensure any extra would fall onto the fish and not be wasted.  Well it turns out I had plenty.  As I tipped the pepper over (practically vertical) to try and squeeze out a ¼ teaspoon, my measuring spoon overflowed with pepper as it dumped all over the fish.  I’m not talking a little dusting, I mean a lot.  I kind of panicked and then decided to either wipe it off OR run the fillet under water.  I chose to use a paper towel to wipe it off and luckily it worked!  The only downfall was that breathing in all that pepper made me sneeze quite a few times.  So if this ever happens to you, don’t worry, your dish can be salvaged.

In addition to having fish, I thought it would be nice to make a vegetable for the side dish.  My husband loves broccoli and has been wanting to add it as a side with our meals.  I on the other hand do not care for broccoli that much but decided to find a recipe that could please us both.  The recipe below is for pan roasted broccoli. From reading the directions you’ll see that it’s actually quite simple and fast.  The original recipe does not call for garlic or red pepper flakes, however after reading others reviews of additions they added, I felt we would enjoy these too.

When we began eating dinner, Ryan started with the broccoli and said that it had a nice flavor.  I didn’t have high hopes for the broccoli, but I actually really liked it.  The additional spices gave it a nice subtle kick.  I have to say I was totally geeked to try the fish recipe, so when I took my first bite of Tilapia I was a little let down.  I thought it’s good but it’s not AS good as the other salmon recipes.  I’m not quite sure how to describe what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I had pictured.  The lavender honey sauce had a nice flavor, however I thought the sauce would be a little bit thicker.  I spooned the sauce right from the stove onto the fish, without letting it sit, which could be why it wasn’t as thick as I had imagined.  I figured Ryan would feel the same about the fish, but as we continued to eat he said he really enjoyed the fish and it had a nice nutty flavor.  I told him how the breading was made with pistachios and as he continued to eat he said “This fish is awesome.” He felt the sauce had a great flavor and was a nice touch with the fish.  Then as we were clearing the table he said that he would really like it if I made this dish again for us.  So in the end I’d say this meal was a winner.  

Pistachio-Crusted Tilapia with Lavender Honey Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast: Over 280 Incredibly Flavorful 5-Ingredient 15-Minute Recipesby Editors of Cooking Light Magazine (Amazon affiliate link)
Serves: 2
Prep Time: 12 mins.
Cook Time: 12 mins.

  • 5 tablespoons dry bread crumbs*
*(Or if preferred: 3 tablespoons bread crumbs & 2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted shelled dry-roasted pistachios, finely chopped
  • 2 Tilapia fillets
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  2. In a small bowl mix bread crumbs and pistachios together.  Pour crumbs onto a large plate. 
  3. Sprinkle Tilapia fillets evenly with salt and pepper.  Dip fillets in egg whites.  Place fillets on top of bread crumb mixture.  Scoop bread crumb mixture on top of fillets and gently press into the fish.  Turn fillets over repeating scoop and pat process. 
  4. Line a jelly-roll pan or baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place fillets on pan and bake for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.  Drizzle fillets evenly with Lavender Honey Sauce (recipe listed below). 

Lavender Honey Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast: Over 280 Incredibly Flavorful 5-Ingredient 15-Minute Recipesby Editors of Cooking Light Magazine (Amazon affiliate link)
Serves: 2
Prep Time: 2 mins.
Cook Time: 2 mins.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons lavender honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add honey and lemon juice, stirring to combine well. 

Pan Roasted Broccoli
Serves:  4
Prep Time: 10 mins.
Cook Time: 5 mins.

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 lbs chopped broccoli
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  1. Stir water, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add chopped broccoli; spread out into an even layer.
  3. Do not stir for about 2 minutes until broccoli starts to lightly brown.
  4. Mix broccoli well and let rest in an even layer for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the water/spice mixture. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Uncover and cook until desired doneness.

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