Dinner, Fish & Seafood, Lent

Cornmeal-crusted Catfish with Cajun-style Orzo

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One of my fondest memories from growing up in Texas was eating fried catfish.  Of course catfish also made the rotation in regular fish curries – a staple for Bengalis.  more recently, I had cornmeal crusted catfish at Husk, an amazing southern restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina.  So, when I saw catfish in the market in New England, I just had to recreate some of these food memories.  Hope you like it !

Ingredients for fish:

2/3 cups cornmeal

1/3 cup flour

½ tsp of Paprika

1 cup of milk

1 Tbsp of hot sauce

3 large catfish filets

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive for drizzling

Method:

Preheat oven to 425F

Mix milk, hot sauce, salt and pepper in large dish.

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Marinade fish filets in the milk mixture for 15-20 minutes.

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In another plate/shallow dish, mix cornmeal, flour, paprika, more salt and pepper.

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Shake off excess milk from the fish and coat them in the cornmeal mixture.

Line a baking sheet with foil, spray with oil and arrange the filets.  Drizzle olive oil on the fish.

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Bake for 15 mins and broil on high for another 5 mins.

Let the fillets rest for a minute or so before serving.

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Ingredients for Cajun-style Orzo:

1 medium sized zucchini, diced.

1 small tomato, de-seeded and diced

1 medium yellow pepper, diced

½ white onion, diced

1 cup orzo, cooked according to package directions

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp of garlic

2 tsp of Cajun spices (you can change this to Italian seasoning—depending on the rest of your meal).

A pinch of dried oregano

1 & 1/4  cup water.

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat oil (high heat) in a pan and sauté zucchini till golden (tip: don’t salt the zucchini, it won’t brown).  Once it is browned, add a pinch of salt and set aside.

Reduce temperature to medium high and In the same pan, sauté the remaining vegetables with garlic, salt and pepper.  Once the vegetables soften, add ¼ cup water, cover and simmer till the vegetables become saucy.

Add the cooked orzo, remaining 1 cup water, and oregano.  Cover and simmer, stirring ever so often to prevent the pasta from sticking.  The pasta is cooked, and it will get over cooked, but that gives it a creamy consistency, almost like a risotto. Taste and adjust salt and pepper accordingly. You can serve immediately or stop the cooking process while there is still a little bit of liquid left in the pan.  Reheat right before serving.  I would not wait for more than two hours between pre-cook and serving.

Add the sautéed zucchini mixed with the orzo, or you can have it on the side.

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Classics, Comfort food, Fish & Seafood, Meat, Poultry, Soups, Stew

Gumbo

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound spicy andouille (or smoked) sausage, sliced
8 chicken tenderloins (or 2 skinless/boneless chicken breasts), cut into bite-size pieces
• Salt
• Pepper
3 celery stalks, finely diced
1 large onion, finely diced
8oz of frozen mixed peppers                                                                                                             2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon Creole seasoning
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon, heaping, tomato paste
16 oz bag of frozen, sliced okra.
1 (28 oz) can organic diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups chicken stock, hot
½ pound peeled and cleaned, medium size shrimp (cooked)
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Preparation:

-Place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil; once the oil is hot, add the sliced sausage in, and allow it to caramelize and brown for a few minutes; once well browned, remove the sausage from the pot, and set it aside for a moment; next, add the chicken pieces into the pot along with a sprinkle or two of salt and pepper, and allow them to brown in the oil/sausage drippings for about 2-3 minutes; remove the chicken pieces from the pot, and set aside for a moment; next, add in the diced celery, onion and bell pepper, and caramelize it for about 2-3 minutes in the oil, then add in the bay leaves, the Creole seasoning, the cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper, and stir to combine; next, add in the garlic and stir, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the tomato paste, and cook for about 1 minute to cook out the “raw” tomato flavor; next, add in the sliced okra, the diced tomatoes with juice, the hot chicken stock, and the browned sausage and chicken, and stir to combine

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allow the stew to simmer gently on low/medium-low, uncovered, for 20 minutes; after 20 minutes, add in the shrimp (you can season it with a sprinkle of salt/pepper if you wish), and simmer for only 2 minutes more as to not overcook the shrimp; finish by stirring in the chopped parsley and cilantro, and serve over rice.

 

Comfort food, Dinner, Fish & Seafood

Cormeal Crusted Pollock

It seems that I have been on a fish and southern food kick.  This is yet another recipe where I took a southern classic, cornmeal crusted-deep-fried fish and tried to make it healthier and less messy (you the huge oil splaters with deep frying !!!!!!).  Pollock, may sound like an unusual fish but it is actually quite nice.  I tastes like most firm white fish and is much less saltier than cod.  This recipe was experimental, I like it and I will be making it again for myself.  Please try it and let me know how it works.

Ingredients:

1lb of pollock, approximately 4 medium-sized fillets

1/4 cup cornmeal (cornbread mix could work too)

3 stalks of scallion, chopped

Cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt and pepper ( I am not including measurements since this is the place you will be adjusting the flavour to your taste.  I like my crust salty and spicy so I added a little extra dash of salt and lots of pepper).

1/2 Tbsp of olive oil

Just enough water to make the cornmeal come together in a thick paste.

Method:

Preheat oven to 375F

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl till they combine to a thick spreadable paste–kind of like thick peanut butter.

Pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper and top with the cornmeal topping.

Bake for about 15-20 mins till the fish is cooked through and crust is nice and golden.

Serve hot !!!

Classics, Comfort food, Fish & Seafood, Lent

Blackened Catfish

My ode to a Southern staple.  Its broiled, not fried in butter so its tasty and figure friendly.  Serve it with grilled corn, collard greens and warm dinner rolls.

Ingredients:

1 lb of catfish cut into tenders.

1 Tbsp of dried thyme, oregano, paprika, garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste.

Method:

Mix all the spices together and rub it on to the pieces of fish and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 mins.  I have kept it in the rub overnight and it comes out just as well.

Preheat the broiler to high and broil the fish till cooked through, about 15 mins.  The cook time will change depending on how thick the pieces are.

Serve hot and that is how simple this recipe is !

Breakfast, Classics

Buttermilk Biscuits

A southern staple.  Warm and fluffy pairs well with bacon and eggs, as a side dish with fried chicken or the way I like it–with honey, butter and berries.  Its quick and easy–so make it this weekend for breakfast !

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 tsp of baking powder

1 tsp of salt

8 Tbsp of chilled butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup buttermilk

Method:

Preheat oven to 425F

In large bowl whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.

Next, using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour, till the mixture resembles a course meal.

Mix in buttermilk with a wooden spoon.

Add flour to a clean surface and on the rolling-pin and roll out the dough to about a 1″ thickness–this will yield 4 large biscuits.  I wanted thinner biscuits ans more of them so I rolled it thinner to about 1/2″ thickness.

Cut out rounds of desired size and arrange on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 15-20 mins.

Serve with your choice of sides, for me, honey, butter and blueberries.

YUM!