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Hootie and the Blowfish.. and Couscous :)

Blow Fish with Couscous

Quick stop today! Have you tried the Blowfish before? No not the band (although those stories are welcome) but the fish.. :) yes, from that same family as Puffer fish but not quite as sinister!

Blowfish is a white fleshed, mild flavored fish that easily picks up the flavors that you coat it in. It is much like chicken in that respect as also in the way you eat it.. like a drumstick.

For a quick meal, I paired Smoked Paprika and Oregano Breaded Blowfish with a fresh Couscous with cucumber, sundried tomatoes and walnuts.

Smoked Paprika and Oregano Breaded Blowfish
(serves 2)

4 plump blowfish, cleaned and de-finned
2 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper as needed
4 T flour for dredging (you can use rice flour to go glutenfree)
1 tsp oregano
oil as needed for sauteeing

Season the fish with salt, pepper and paprika. Mix the oregano into the flour and lightly salt it.

Heat oil on medium high in a heavy bottomed frying pan. Touch the edge of a fish to the oil, if it sizzles then we are ready to go. Using the tails to hold the fish, lightly pat both sides in the flour. Dust away excess flour and place in frying pan. Do not touch for 2 minutes. Gently lift turn over and cook for 4 minutes. Serve immediately.

Quick lunches and Seafood

Stuffed Squid

Summer is the time for most things perfect.. beautifully ripe produce and the high season for meat. Except it is perhaps a bit too hot, in many places, to do much with all that good stuff.

Easy, quick meals that do not require prolonged periods of standing over the flame are my way of cooking through these few months of heat. Yes, and things that require the oven to be turned on are kept to necessity.

Crawfish Boil

Seafood becomes the go to choice of meat. It's fresh, ridiculously succulent and flavorful and cooks in a jiffy.. not to mention the versatality of use.. from salads to, full blown gourmet entree that you can put together with minimal sweat (pun intended!)

Sometime back, my favorite seafood market was carrying fresh crawfish. So we had a simple lunch of a couple of pounds of the shell fish cooked in a spicy, Creole inspired broth.

Another day, as I was perusing one of my few cookbooks, I came across a Spanish recipe for Stuffed Squid, which, made quite a lot of sense and packed a whole lot of flavor. That's my recipe today!

Stuffed Squid sliced

Enjoy, and stay cool (or warm!) this week! :)

Stuffed Squid in Saffron Tomato Sauce

For the Squid:
8 baby squid, cleaned, tentacles removed and reserved
4 shallots, diced fine
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T golden raisins
1/4 cup bread crumbs
salt and paprika for seasoning

For the sauce:
1 medium red onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced small
3 T dried apricots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp saffron
1/2 cup stock
salt, pepper and oil as needed
cilantro, red onion, tomatoes for garnish

To prepare the squid:
Finely chop the tentacles and mix all the stuffing ingredients together. Season with salt and paprika. Gently fill the squid cavity with the stuffing taking care to not be greedy! {the bodies shrink while cooking, so overfilling runs the risk of bursting at the seams}. Lock the ends with toothpicks. Set aside until ready for cooking.

To make the sauce, saute the garlic and onion in oil. When soft add tomatoes, apricots, saffron aand all the seasoning. Gently place the stuffed squid in the pan and pour the stock over. Cover with lid and cook for 15 minutes, then lift the lid and cook for another 10 minutes. During this time, turn the squid around for even cooking. Serve immediately garnished with diced onion, tomatoes and cilantro sprinkled.

Leek and Prosciutto Tart with Warm Apple Cider for Fall Brunch

Yay! I made it! You wondering what? Well, I have been planning this brunch for the past three weekends and something or other just kept pushing it on to the back burner. This weekend, I finally decided to tell my Google calender whoz boss! I put my foot down, cleaned out all the scribbles in my schedule and got down to the baking....

Now, you wonder, why all this fuss to get this done. After all, brunch is my favorite meal of the weekend especially because it has such a leisurely note to it! Well... the thing is, Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey is hosting a Brunch today and I don't want to be late for it. It isn't polite, is it?; to RSVP yes and then show up after the party! Very very not acceptable in my hostessing and guesting book....

Anyway, I do get like that when I have to host or cook something by a deadline. I frazzle about and worry till the table is all set and ready. Even then, I can think of just a few more garnishes and little stuff that would make it better and more so... The never ending quest for perfection, ain't it?! :)

Anyway, I have made the typical brunches / breakfasts at home; pancakes and bacon, over easy eggs with Mornay Sauce, Eggs on Toast with Fruit Sauce and more. I love brunching at home. It is my favorite meal, as I said, but I do not particularly relish standing in a line for hours to get it (as inevitably happens at any decent brunch place in the city on a weekend.. New Yorkers' discretionary patience just amazes me sometimes :)))..

This time, I wanted to make something different but still brunch-y. I wanted to play with eggs, cheese, ham and fresh fruit, all typical brunch items for me.

So I thought, why not bake? And, ofcourse, quiche immediately popped into my head. That's a bit more lunch-like for me and quite heavy. So I went with a lighter tart and to bring in that bacon/ham angle, I chose the delicate and flavorful prosciutto paired with mild leeks and goat cheese. And the fruit; well, it's Fall and you guessed it.. Apples!! I made fresh warm spiced apple cider with a hint of citrus...

So, that is the lovely brunch I plan to take to Meeta's - Leek & Prosciutto Tart with Arugula Salad and Warm Apple Cider....

Let's toast!

Leek & Prosciutto Tart
(makes 2 six inch individual tarts or 1 9inch tart)

1 butter crust (Recipe here)
4 oz goat cheese, room temperature
2 T sour cream
2 eggs, room temperature
1 small leeks, sliced fine
1/4 lb prosciutto
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp pimento sauce or other hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the prosciutto into squares, reserving a slice or two for garnish. Cream goat cheese and sour cream together to get a smooth, creamy mixture (this is why, it is important to bring the cheese to room temperature). Add the eggs one at the time and whisk to incorporate fully. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

If you are making individual tarts, cut the tart crust accordingly. Blind bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool the tarts a little, so the eggs don't scramble. Fill and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until cooked and the center is set.

Rest for a few minutes till cool enough to handle. Serve the tarts, garnished with the reserved prosciutto and a few leek rings..

For the salad, I dressed the arugula simply with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and topped with toasted pignolis.

Fresh Spiced Apple Cider

4 Macintosh apples, cored, peeled, diced
1 tsp lemon juice
2 slices of lemon
1 tsp sugar
2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
5 cloves
1 star anise
2 cloves cardamom

Puree the apples with the lemon juice to as fine a consistency as you can. Add a little water if needed to get the blades working. In a sauce pan, add the apple puree with the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes with lid on. Cool for a few minutes and let the flavors steep. To serve, strain the cider through a fine sieve. Garnish with a slice of lemon or some mint.

Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK