Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia in Coconut Curry Sauce

It has been a long time since I last cooked a curry dish. And for no real reason except that I've been busy cooking other things. But I am always drawn back to the intensity and spiciness of curries. You could say it's second nature, having come from a background where curried foods featured often in homes and restaurants.

My typical curry dishes are Indo-Caribbean (a style of cooking brought to the islands by groups of Indian indentured laborers in the 1800's.) In general, dry curry powder is added to hot vegetable oil, and toasted. At that point, some liquid ( sometimes water, coconut milk or a
mixture of both) will be added which forms the base of the sauce. Finally, raw, seasoned meat or fish is then added to the sauce and simmered until cooked.

For this curry recipe, I am doing the opposite: adding cooked fish (in this case, tilapia) to an already prepared sauce. While this method reduces the overall cooking time, in no way does it diminish the "curry-ness" of the dish.

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia in Coconut Curry Sauce
Serves 4

4 tilapia fillets
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Coconut Curry Sauce (see recipe below)

1. In a shallow dish , combine the cornmeal, cilantro, and garlic powder, and set aside. Pour the buttermilk into another shallow dish and set that aside. Season the tilapia fillets with salt and pepper.
2. Set up a work station beginning with the seasoned tilapia fillets, then the buttermilk, followed by the cornmeal mixture. Coat each fillet in the buttermilk and dredge with the cornmeal mixture, making sure that both sides get a substantial layer of cornmeal.
3. Cook the now cornmeal-coated fillets in a skillet coated with a thin layer of vegetable oil, about two tablespoons, until cooked throughout, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a serving dish and pour over the coconut curry sauce.

Coconut Curry Sauce

1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp yellow curry powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock

1. Cook the onion and garlic in two tablespoons of vegetable oil until the edges brown lightly. Add the curry powder and cook for another minute.
2. Pour in the chicken stock and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and continue to cook until reduced by about a quarter and slightly thickened.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spicy Tomato Soup

Making tomato soup from scratch, I discovered, is relatively easy. It starts with chopped vegetables and a can of tomatoes, and ends with a quick whiz in the blender. To make it spicy, I added two jalepenos but of course you can add more or less; it is up to you. But be warned, two can be plenty spicy.

Spicy Tomato Soup
Serves 2

1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, mined
2 jalepenos, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup low fat evaporated milk

1. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large pot over medium heat. Cook the onion, carrot, celery, and jalepenos until softened, about five minutes. Add the tomatoes, lemon zest, cilantro, and vegetable broth. Simmer for another 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the evaporated milk and bring back to a simmer.
2. Carefully transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches, or topped with tortilla strips and low fat sour cream.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yesterday evening was spent with a bunch of friends, just laughing and dancing and eating and drinking. Then I got to spend all day today with Saul and Charlie. And I cannot think of a better way to spend a Valentine's weekend. And to top it off, we had cupcakes!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
Makes 10

1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 oz milk chocolate
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup low fat milk
2/3 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
2. Combine cocoa powder and milk chocolate in medium bowl and pour the boiling water over. Whisk until mixture is smooth then whisk in the milk.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in another medium bowl.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended. Whisk in the cocoa mixture followed by the flour mixture. Beat until blended (batter will be thin.) Pour into prepared cupcake cups (fill each half way up) and bake for 15 minutes until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting. (See here for frosting recipe. )