Dinner · Fish Course · 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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Appetizers · Sides

Oven Roasted Okra

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A side dish or snack—simple, healthy and pays tribute to fried okra.  I like it hot from the oven with some spicy salsa.

Ingredients:

1lb of fresh okra, diced (frozen does not crisp up well)

1 tbsp of water, cornmeal and white poppy seeds

2tbsp of oil

salt, pepper and chilli powder according to taste

spicy, chunky salsa for serving!

Method:

Chop the okra and put in a bowl.

Add water, cornmeal, poppy seeds and seasonings.  Toss to combine and coat.

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Coat a cast-iron skillet with oil and add the okra.

Roast for 20 mins at 400F.  Halfway through roasting, stir and toss the okra a little bit.

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Serve hot!

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Breakfast · Brunch

Gluten-free Blueberry Corn Muffins

  • 1 1/4 cup stone ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (one 6-ounce cup) vanilla yogurt Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • Blueberries (fresh or frozen ones that have been thawed)
  • sugar for sprinkling.
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin. (You can use liners, but I find the muffins can stick to the papers.)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal,GF  flour, oatbran, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl or a large measuring cup, beat the eggs, yogurt, milk, honey, and  oil and whisk to combine well.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together until just incorporated. Add the zest and mix again.
  6. I like to use my ice cream scoop to fill the 12 muffin cups easily and without mess.
  7. Add  4-6 berries into each cup.
  8. Sprinkle sugar over each cup.
  9. Then bake 12-15 minutes or until the muffins are just cooked through. As all ovens vary, check a few minutes early; they will cook quickly at the high oven temperature and over-baking will create a dry baked good.   
Cookies

Tangerine Butter Cookies–Christmas Cookies #10

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Yield: 84 cookies
Prep 45 mins Bake 350°F 9 mins per batch

Ingredients
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons finely shredded tangerine peel or orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange extract
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white cornmeal
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
Directions
1. In a very large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1 1/2 cups sugar, the baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Beat until light and fluffy, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs, tangerine peel, vanilla, and orange extract until combined. Gradually beat in oil until smooth. Beat in cornmeal. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. If necessary, cover and chill for 30 to 60 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, press an “X” into each ball of dough.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until tops are very lightly browned. While warm, lightly press again with wooden skewer to make deeper “X” indentations. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes 84 cookies.

Comfort food · Dinner · Fish Course

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 !!!