Fish & Seafood, Savory

Blackened Tilapia with Crispy Okra

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When I saw fresh okra at the grocery store I knew I had to make this.  And what goes well with okra? Something “blackened” of course!!!  If you are not a fan of fish, you can rub the spices on the chicken and bake/grill chicken.  You could also pair this with baked chicken or fried chicken.  I personally love blackened fish, it reminds of my childhood, as does okra.  So, this meal is truly comfort food for me.

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Ingredients:

For the Okra:

2 cups chopped okra (medium-rounds)

3 Tbsp of cornmeal

3Tbsp of rice flour

1 tsp of salt

1tsp of chipotle chili (or any kind of chili powder)

1/2 tsp of cumin

5 Tbsp of oil

3 Tbsp of water

1 egg

For the blackened spice rub:

1tsp of each of the following

  • salt
  • black pepper
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • smoked paprika
  • garlic powder

For the fish:

1 Tbsp of oil

3-4 tilapia fillets

Method–For the Okra.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Chop okra and add to bowl.  MIx with cornmeal, rice flour, and spices.

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In a separate bowl, mix 3 Tbsp of oil, water, and 1 egg.  Beat thoroughly to mix and add the okra

Spread the mixture on a baking sheet or a cast-iron skillet and drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil.

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Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring the mixture every 10 minutes.

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Method–For the Tilapia.

Mix the blackening spices with 1 Tbsp oil to create a paste.

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Pat dry the fish fillets and massage the spice paste on to the fillet.

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Arrange fish on a lined baking sheet, if you are using aluminum foil, you lightly spray the foil to prevent the fish from sticking.

Bake the fish for 20 minutes till flakey,

Serve with fish with okra and corn and enjoy!

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Fish & Seafood, French, Savory

Scallops with Le Puy Lentils

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Ever since I had this dish at the Blue Heron Restaurant, I have been looking for a recipe to recreate it.  A few months ago a friend of mine, send me a link to the restaurant’s recipe and then I realized that the recipe was published in Bon Appetit magazine!  You can find the original recipe here, but this is how I adapted the recipe for home cooking.  I omitted the mascarpone cream and reduced the amount of butter in the recipe and it still turned out delicious!

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Ingredients:

For the Cider reduction
2 cups apple cider
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped shallots

For the Lentils
6 whole cloves
1 medium onion, peeled
6 cups of water
1 1/2 cups French green lentils (lentilles du Puy; about 12 ounces)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of salt
6 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

For the Scallops
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
10 sea scallops, patted dry

Method:  For the Cider Reduction

Place cider, vinegar, and shallots in a saucepan.

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Boil until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 15-25 minutes.

Strain; discard solids in strainer.

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Cider reduction can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate if you are not using immediately

Method:  For the Lentils

Press the thin end of cloves into peeled onion. Place onion in a large pot. Add 6 cups of water, lentils, and bay leaves.

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Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally about 30 minutes.

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Drain lentils, discarding onion (with the cloves) and bay leaves.  I did this in the morning and left the lentils in the strainer, till I was ready to sautee them

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Cook bacon in large pot or skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels.

 

Pour all but 1 tablespoon of fat from skillet. Add shallots to skillet and sauté over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes.

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Add reserved bacon, lentils, and thyme to shallots.  Continue to sautee and then add the cider reduction to the lentil.  Adjust for salt and pepper.  in the original recipe, the cider reduction is mixed with a lot of butter to make a finishing sauce.

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Note: I wanted to use all of the reduction and reduce the amount of butter used in the recipe.  The cider reduction is very tart and a little sweet, so instead of adding the entire reduction to lentils, add it a little at a time to see if you enjoy the flavor.  

Continue to cook until most of the cider reduction is absorbed by the lentils.

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Lentils can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring often.  There will be plenty of leftover lentils, but I wanted leftovers so followed the original recipe.

Method for the Scallops:

Pat the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper.

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Melt 1 tablespoon butter with oil in a heavy-bottomed large skillet/cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat.

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Add scallops and cook until brown, about 2 minutes per side.

 

Spoon lentils onto a plate and arrange scallops on top. Serve hot and enjoy a restaurant-style meal, right at home!

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Fish & Seafood, Lent, Mexican, Savory

Chili lime Shrimp

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I have said this before and I will say it again, I love shrimp tacos! The only problem is that my husband is a hard-shell-beef-taco purist and, in my opinion, tacos are a social food.  It is rather sad to have all the elaborate fixings just for one!  Nevertheless, in grad-school, when I would have to cook for one, I would make simple small-batch shrimp tacos, but it never really “feels” the same.  So, I rarely get to eat shrimp tacos, unless we go out for Mexican food.  Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo and I love “occasion” cooking.  Obviously, we had tacos–my husband made beef ones and I made myself some shrimp tacos, only because we had cooked shrimp for “cocktail” sauce in the freezer.  I wanted to make a warm dressing to sautee the already cooked shrimp in, hence this recipe.  This is a super quick preparation and packs a punch for pre-cooked shrimp.  They were delicious, and my only complaint was that I wish I had soft-shells!

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp of chopped scallions, only the white and light green parts.  Save the green tops for garnish

1 Tbsp of olive oil

1 tsp of ground cumin

1 tsp of chipotle chili powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp of salt

1 and 1/2 Tbsp of fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp of water

16-18 medium-sized pre-cooked shrimp.

Method:

Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.

Add all the scallions and spices.  Bloom the spices with the scallions in the oil for 2-3 minutes.

 

Add the shrimp, lime juice, and water and cook for an additional 3 minutes till the liquid reduces to create a “dry” sauce.

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Remove from heat, you don’t want the already cooked shrimp to cook any longer, they will become really rubbery.  If you were starting with raw shrimp (which I would have preferred) cook till the shrimps are pink in color.

 

Garnish with chopped green scallions and get ready to stuff those tacos !!

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Fish & Seafood, Savory

Baked Cod with Red Chermoula

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It was time to change up my Cod recipe.  I usually stick to the classic, New-England Style, cracker crusted cod.  But I was out of wine and crackers and really needed a change in flavor.  I found this recipe from bon appetit magazine and changed it slightly–I replaced the cilantro with parsley and did not add the cherry tomatoes.  You can read the original recipe here.  Refer to my version below:

Ingredients:

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  • ¼ bunch parsley, leaves and stems separated, stems finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon  red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Method:
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix cilantro stems, garlic, oil, tomato paste, paprika, red pepper flakes, honey, allspice, and 1 Tbsp. vinegar in a small bowl.


Place fish in a 3-qt. shallow baking dish.  Pour chermoula over the fish, spreading across the surface with the back of the spoon. Season with salt and pepper and bake until fish is cooked through.  This will take about 15-20 mins.  Broil on High for an additional 5 minutes once the fish is cooked through, it gives the sauce a nice finish.
Serve hot with your choice of vegetables.  I made oven-baked zucchini sticks.This was a goo recipe and I would really want to try the sauce on chicken breast.  You could even marinate chicken tenders in the sauce and grill them.

For another version of the “charmoula” sauce, you can check out this tilapia recipe.

 

Fish & Seafood, Lent, Savory

Roasted Salmon

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You either love it or hate it.  I happen to love salmon and my husband is not a big fan.  So on nights when I am cooking for myself, this is a go to favorite.  It is quick and simple, but the most important step is to purchase fresh, sustainably sourced salmon.  Frozen fillets never taste good, especially when the preparation is so simple.  I love to have a fresh garden salad with this roasted salmon.

Ingredients:

2 fillets of salmon (6-8oz)

1/4 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp of coarsely crushed black pepper

Zest of one lemon

Olive oil for drizzling.

Method:

Pat the fillets dry and arrange on a tin foil lined baking tray.

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Season fish with salt, pepper and lemon zest.

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Drizzle with olive oil

Bake at 350F for 25-30 mins.

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Now FEAST!

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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, Dinner, Fish & Seafood, Lent

Cracker Crusted Cod

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I was recently chatting with my best friend and fellow-food blogger (An Artsy Appetite) about baking, food, school and just life in general—when I realized that I have had no time to post a single recipe on my own blog!  Well, a lot of things have been happening.  Primarily, both my husband and I are trying to finish up grad school.  As a result, it has been a lot of slow-cooker soups and stews.  I decided to cook a proper meal (not heat up leftovers from the freezer) and have a nice fish dinner (fish Fridays during Lent).  This recipe is from Epicurious and is a classic New England favorite much like my New England Baked Scallops  and Parker House Scrod.  I hope it makes it to your dinner table too!

INGREDIENTS

    • 4 tablespoons (divided) butter
    • 1/2 package – 1/2 sleeve buttery round crackers (e. g. Ritz), crushed
    • 1 pound thick-cut cod loin
    • 1/4 cup dry white wine
    • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
    • 1/2 lemon, juiced
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

PREPARATION

    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
    • Place 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave-safe bowl; melt in microwave on high, about 30 seconds. Stir buttery round crackers into melted butter.
    • Place remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a 9×9-inch baking dish. Melt in the preheated oven, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove dish from oven.
    • Coat both sides of cod in melted butter in the baking dish and season with salt and pepper.
    • Bake cod in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
    • Remove from oven; top with lemon juice, wine, and cracker mixture. Place back in oven and bake until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 10 more minutes.

I served it with oven roasted fingerling potatoes and sautéed green beans.

 

Classics, Fish & Seafood, Lent

New England Baked Scallops

 

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A classic New England dish that an turn any weeknight dinner to date night !

Ingredients

24oz of Bay scallops

1 cup crushed Ritz (or similar) crackers

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Garnish: Lemon slice, chopped fresh chives or parsley

 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 325º, and set a rack to the second-to-top position.

Wash the scallops and pat dry.

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Arrange scallops in a 8- by 8-inch baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, garlic salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the scallops evenly with the breadcrumb mixture. Pour the butter over all, then sprinkle evenly with the lemon juice. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

 

Turn the heat up to “broil” and, with the oven door ajar, brown the top for an additional 2 or 3 minutes (keep a constant eye on the dish to avoid burning). Serve hot!

 

Asian, Dinner, Fish & Seafood, Lent

Coconut Curry Shrimp

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My husband thinks he does not like Thai food.  In my opinion if you like Indian food, you will like most Thai food.  This recipe made it to our dinner bowls because I wanted to cook something in the neighborhood of “Thai” food and also something quick.  I saw Ree Drummond make this recipe on TV once.  I did not “follow” here recipe, I just recalled what she did and made this dish.  So here goes !

Ingredients:

1 lb of shrimp.  I usually get the EZ-peel shrimp and remove the tails myself.  I get whatever is on sale, however, the larger shrimps taste better in this recipe.

1 package of frozen peppers and onions.  If you don’t have this, I would take 1 yellow, red and green bell pepper and 1 onion, slice them length wise and use it.

1.5 tbsp of curry powder

1 can of coconut milk (not cream)

1/2 tbsp of olive oil

1/2 tbsp of ginger paste

1/2 tbsp of minced garlic

1 tsp of red pepper flakes

salt to taste

Method:

Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high, and saute ginger, garlic, salt,peppers and onions

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Once they are soft add the red pepper flakes and curry powder and saute for till the raw smell of the curry powder it gone, about 10 mins

Add the coconut milk and the reduce the heat to simmer.

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes till the sauce thickens. Check and adjust seasoning, keep in mind that the shrimp will absorb some of the flavor so if the sauce is on the saltier or spicier side, its ok

 

Add the shrimp and cook till it turn pink. DO NOT over cook the shrimp !

Immediately remove from heat ans serve over warm Jasmine or Basmati rice.

If you have Thai Basil, you could fold some in the end

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Fish & Seafood, Lent, Quick Dinner

Oven-Poached Swai with Lemon Caper Sauce

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Swai Fillets
  •  Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 quarter onion sliced
  • ½ cup chicken stock

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • Frozen artichokes, thawed (however much you like)
  • 1 tablespoons capers (optional)
  •  fresh lemon juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (optional)

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil one baking dishes large enough to accommodate the fish fillets in one layer. Lay the fish in the dish and season with salt and pepper.

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  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small or medium skillet and add the garlic and onion. Cook, stirring, until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the stock to the pan, bring to a boil, and add the thawed artichokes. Add lemon zest and juice and remove from heat. Pour over the fish.

 

  1. Cover the baking dish with foil and place in the oven. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or 5 minutes for each 1/2 inch of thickness, until the fish is opaque and pulls apart easily with a fork.

 

  1. Remove from oven, garnish with capers and parsley, serve.

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Note: if using dried parsley add it to the pan while the fish bakes.  I also like to use some red pepper flakes.