Sunday, February 18, 2018

Simple gourmet treats


Creamy Zucchini & Mushroom Soup

Mark Fraser

Are you craving an extra special something today but don’t want to go out to an expensive restaurant? 

Here are a few gourmet meals made simple for you to try courtesy chef Gaitree Allah-Bachan. 

Recipes courtesy Trinidad and Tobago 

Hospitality and Tourism Institute 


 Creamy Zucchini & Mushroom Soup


Prep time: 20 mins, 

Cooking time: 30 mins. 

Serves: 6



1 tbsp butter

1 medium size onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1lb mixed fresh mush


rooms, chopped

7oz  zucchini, chopped

Several sprigs of fresh thyme 

2 bay leaves

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup pure cream

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Melt the butter in a medium sized heavy base pan over medium heat and cook your onion and garlic until softened and translucent, approximately five minutes. Add your mushrooms, thyme and bay leaves and cook for approximately five minutes. Then add your zucchini, cooking until the vegetables release their juices, approximately 10-15 minutes.

2. Add the stock to the vegetables and bring to the boil then immediately reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. Add your cream and stir through, simmer another five minutes.

3. Remove the thyme sprigs (if used) and bay leaves from the soup and process with a stick blender.

If your soup is a little runny, you can thicken it by dissolving one teaspoon of tapioca or cornstarch in half a cup of water. Add this slowly to your soup on low heat whilst stirring well. Take care not to over-thicken.



Lemon Mandarin Sauce



1 mango (ripe), deseeded and diced

2 tbsps lemon juice (freshly squeezed) 

¼ cup mandarin juice

1 1/2 tbsps sugar 

1 ea hot pepper, deseeded



Combine all ingredients in blender and blend till smooth.

Use as a cold sauce for fish.



Grilled red fish stuffed with lemon



2 whole red snapper

About 1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

A handful of summer herbs: basil, oregano, thyme, zest

1 lemon, cut into slices



1. Clean the grill rack and fire up the grill, medium-high. Let it get hot while you prepare the fish.

2. Rinse the fish, outside and inside. Pat dry with paper towel. Lay on a plate. Snip off the fins with sharp scissors (keep the tails — they make for a yummy crunchy bite off the grill). 

3. Brush both sides of the fish generously with olive oil.

4. Sprinkle a generous coating of salt and pepper on both sides of the fish.

5. Stuff the herbs and lemon slices into the incision in the belly. 

6. Lay the fish in the middle of the grill and cover the grill to keep the fish moist. Cook for about 7 minutes. Scoot a spatula carefully under the fish so the skin doesn’t stick to the grill and the fish doesn’t fall apart — flip! 

7. Cook the other side of the fish, grill closed, for about 7 more minutes. 

8. Insert a knife into the thickest part of the fish to see if it’s done: the flesh should be white and flaky. 

9. Remove the fish and transfer to a bed of herbs on a platter and don’t forget to pass around the lemon wedges. This can be served with a spicy mango lemon sauce.




Creamy Saffron Risotto







2 1/2 quarts light chicken stock or low-sodium broth 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter 

1 medium onion, minced 

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads 

3 1/4 cups arborio rice (1 pound 10 ounces) 

1 1/2 cups dry white wine 

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 

Salt and freshly ground pepper



In a large saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil over high heat. 

Cover and keep hot over low heat. 

In a heavy 6-quart pot or casserole, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over moderate heat. 

Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. 

Crumble in the saffron threads and cook for 1 minute, stirring. 

Add the rice and stir to coat thoroughly with butter, about 2 minutes. 

Add the wine and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until evaporated. 

Add enough hot stock to cover the rice (about 1 1/2 cups) and bring to a boil, stirring.

Reduce the heat to moderate. 

Cook, stirring the rice constantly, until the stock has been absorbed. 

Continue adding the stock, 1 1/2 cups at a time, and stirring until it is absorbed before adding more; the risotto is done when the rice is just tender and the liquid is thick, about 25 minutes total. 

Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the cheese. 

Season the risotto with salt and pepper and serve. 


Make ahead: 

The risotto can be prepared through Step 2 (with all but the last 2 cups of stock added) and kept at room temperature for 1 hour. 

Bring the risotto to a simmer over moderately high heat, stirring constantly. 

Stir in the reserved 2 cups of stock and cook until the risotto is creamy before proceeding.




Strawberry Mousse


Time: 10 minutes

Ready In: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Yield: Serves 6 



3 cups fresh strawberries

2 oz/ 1 leaf gelatin

1/2 cup boiling water

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

Whole strawberries and whipped cream for garnish



1. Wash and hull strawberries. Cut each in half and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside. 

2. In a large bowl, pour boiling water over gelatin and sugar. Stir until dissolved. 

3. Pour pureed strawberries into gelatin and stir until combined. The mixture should be room temperature at this point. If not, refrigerate until cool. 

4. Whip cream until stiff and fold into gelatin and strawberry mixture until well blended. 

5. Spoon into individual serving dishes or keep in bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.




Mango Apple and Blue Cheese Salad


READY IN: 30 mins

Serves: 6




1 cup diced half ripe mango

1 cup diced tomato

1 onion chopped

1/8 cup cilantro chopped

2 oz lime juice

1/8 cup white sugar

1tsp cumin

10oz spinach leaves

10 oz mesculun leaves

2 cups diced apples

2 tbsp toasted almonds

½ cup blue cheese

1 tsp jalapeno



1. Whisk olive oil, 1/4 cup lime juice, sugar, cumin together in a bowl; set aside.

2. Toss ingredients in a bowl except blue cheese.

3. Sprinkle lime dressing over salad and top with bleu cheese.

Note from chef: If you are not a fan of blue cheese you can substitute with brie.